Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Border policeman gets plea deal after admitting negligence in shooting death of Palestinian teen
Haaretz 30 Jan by Yotam Berger — Ben Dery will not face manslaughter charge after saying he mistakenly fired live bullets, killing 17-year-old Nadi Nuwara in May 2014 — The prosecution has reached a plea bargain with a former Border Police officer indicted for manslaughter following the death of a Palestinian teenager in the West Bank in 2014. According to the deal, Ben Dery will admit to causing severe bodily harm and causing the death of Nadim Nuwara, 17, through negligence at Beitunia checkpoint. The prosecution had delayed presenting the plea deal to the court because Nuwara’s family has announced its intention to petition the High Court of Justice against the arrangement. Dery claimed he did not know his rifle magazine contained live rounds and that he thought he was only firing rubber-coated bullets. According to the plea bargain, the state will drop the manslaughter charge against Dery and his claim that he thought he was firing rubber bullets will be stated in the deal…. [See also Four identical mistakes on one day. Really? by Amira Hass ]
Palestinian killed by Israeli forces last month laid to rest in Qalandiya
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — A funeral was held on Sunday for slain Palestinian Hussein Salem Abu Ghush, whose body was returned by Israeli authorities on Saturday after withholding it for 11 days. Abu Ghush, a 24-year-old from Qalandiya refugee camp in the Ramallah district of the occupied West Bank, was killed by Israeli soldiers on Jan. 25, after he allegedly attempted a car-ramming attack at a bus stop near Kochav Yaakov, an illegal Israeli settlement directly southeast of Ramallah. No Israelis were injured in the alleged attack. Thousands of mourners attended the funeral in Qalandiya on Sunday, where Abu Ghush’s body was first taken to his family’s home. The body was then brought to the refugee camp’s main mosque for funeral prayers, before being carried to the cemetery for burial. Masked gunmen marched in front of the funeral parade firing into the air, as thousands of mourners shouted slogans lauding Palestinian martyrs and vowing to continue the struggle against the Israeli occupation. Witnesses had told Ma‘an following Abu Ghush’s death that Israeli soldiers had left the young man bleeding on the ground until he died. Abu Ghush is one of eight Palestinians to have been killed by Israeli forces in 2017. Six Israelis have been killed by Palestinians during the same time period.
B’Tselem: Palestinian ‘did not pose any danger’ when killed by sniper during clashes
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — A Palestinian youth killed by Israeli forces in December did not represent a threat when he was shot dead by an Israeli army sniper, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said in a report published on Sunday. Ahmad al-Kharroubi, 19, was shot by Israeli with live ammunition during clashes in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Kafr ‘Aqab on Dec. 22, as Israeli forces were carrying out a raid to partially demolish the house of Palestinian Misbah Abu Sbeih, who was shot dead by Israeli forces in October after carrying out a deadly shooting attack. Al-Kharroubi was shot by a sniper in the neck, succumbing to his injuries shortly before arriving to the hospital. According to Ma’an documentation, the youth was one of 112 Palestinians to have been killed in 2016 in Israeli-Palestinian violence, 23 of whom were killed in clashes or army raids. Fifteen Israelis were killed during the same time period. At the time, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that Israeli forces had shot and killed al-Kharroubi after he threw improvised explosive devices at soldiers.
However, testimonies collected by B’Tselem stated that “no incendiary device was thrown at the security forces from the area where al-Kharroubi and the other youths were positioned.” The organization reported that a group of Palestinian youths, including al-Kharroubi, were hiding in between two buildings behind a low wall nearly 100 meters away from Israeli jeeps forming a roadblock between them and the bulk of the clashes that night. “There were hardly any clashes on our side of the roadblock,” D.D., one of the Palestinians who witnessed the scene, told B’Tselem. “From the south, on the other side of the jeeps we heard the sounds of stun grenades and live gunfire, but we couldn’t see the clashes. “Fifteen minutes after we arrived, a sniper fired a live bullet that hit Ahmad, but no one could see him or work out where the sniper was — on a roof or on the ground,” D.D. added. “One of the guys approached Ahmad and another shot was fired toward him, but it didn’t hit anyone. The guys who were close to Ahmad lifted him up and moved him to the sidewalk.” B’Tselem stated that the youths’ position between 80 and 100 meters away from Israeli soldiers meant that “they could not pose any danger.”….
Israeli raid into village in response to alleged rock throwing sparks clashes
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — Israeli forces raided the village of Qarawat Bani Hassan northwest of Salfit in the northern occupied West Bank on Sunday night, causing clashes to erupt between Israeli soldiers and local youth. Local sources told Ma‘an that a number of Israeli forces raided the town, claiming that Palestinian youth from the village had thrown stones and Molotov cocktails at the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Netafim, which is located just a few hundred meters east of Qarawat Bani Hassan. Israeli troops fired tear gas canisters and sound bombs as they stormed the small village. During the incursion, forces raided a local gas station, confiscating all security cameras from the business, and installed a flying military checkpoint at the village’s main entrance, preventing residents from entering or leaving the area. No reports of detentions were made during the raid.
Illegal Israeli colonizers attack shepherds in Northern Plains
IMEMC 4 Feb — On Saturday evening, several extremist Israeli colonists living in outposts illegally established on Palestinian lands in the West Bank’s Northern Plains attacked Palestinian shepherds and forced them out of grazing lands. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency quoted Aref Daraghma, an expert in Israeli settlements’ file and violations, stating that the colonists attacked many shepherds, and chased them out of Palestinian grazing lands. Daraghma added that the attack was part of repeated violations that escalated, several months ago, after the colonists installed tents, creating illegal colonist outposts, in Khirbit Mzoqah and Khallet Ahmad areas. He stated that the colonists have since then frequently chased the Palestinian shepherd, and assaulted many of them, to gain control over the area.
Palestinian injured after Israeli settlers raid village, throw stones
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 4 Feb — A Palestinian man sustained bruises on Saturday evening after dozens of Israeli settlers raided the town of Huwwara south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank and hurled stones at his vehicle. A local official who monitors settlement-related activities in the northern West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, told Ma‘an that the settlers came from the illegal Yitzhar settlement and stormed the western neighborhood of Huwwara and threw stones at Salim Salemeh’s car. Daghlas added that the settlers also started to attack Palestinian homes in the neighborhood, but residents fought them back and forced them to leave the area. Last week, Israeli settlers injured a Palestinian man and damaged ten vehicles while throwing stones at Palestinian vehicles on the main road between Ramallah and Nablus.
Palestinians in Nablus-area village claim settlers cut down hundreds of olive, almond trees
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — Palestinian residents of the Nablus-area village of Burqa went to check on their farmlands on the outskirts of the village Monday to find some 700 olive and almond trees cut down, allegedly by Israeli settlers from a nearby illegal settlement. Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement related activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that the trees, which belonged to Khalid Salah, Mahmoud Daghlas, and Khalid Nasser, were planted nine years ago in the al-Qubeibat and al-Qusour areas east of Burqa. The trees, added Daghlas, were planted two years after the eviction of the nearby Homesh settlement which was located in northwest Nablus. He explained to Ma‘an that after the eviction, the Palestinian landowners obtained decisions from Israeli courts including the high court that neither settlers, nor Israeli forces would harass the landowners. However, he said, in 2016 settlers started to “camp” in the area under protection of Israeli troops, making it very difficult for farmers to tend their fields and water their trees. One of the landowners, Khalid Salah, managed to reach his field on Monday and notified other farmers, as well as Daghlas, that Israeli settlers had chopped down all the trees they planted in 2007. Daghlas added that Burqa villagers will organize a protest in the fields on Friday.
Israeli supermarket chain glorifies army killer on grocery bag
Mondoweiss 6 Feb by Jonathan Ofir — “What distinguishes us from our neighbors is that we denounce and condemn murderers in our midst and pursue them until the end, while they name public squares after child murderers”, said Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in August 2015, two days after the Dawabshe family in the West Bank town of Duma was torched by Jewish terrorists. He made the same claim a year earlier, after Muhammed Abu Khdeir, another young Palestinian, was burned to death in Jerusalem. I have already provided a long list of Israeli streets named after Jewish terrorists, but now Netanyahu’s contention is being challenged in the most unlikely of places — the grocery store. A freely distributed nylon grocery bag featuring a photo of Elor Azarya the medic-soldier who murdered the wounded and incapacitated Palestinian Abdel Fatth Al Sharif in Al-Khalil (Hebron) last March is being distributed at the Rami Levy supermarket chain, one of the major chains in Israel. The bag has a likeness of Azarya, who was recently convicted on the reduced charge of ‘manslaughter,’ smiling whilst holding a semi-automatic gun in ready-to-fire position. The text on the bag says “Bag is free. ELOR PAYS FOR US ALL. Happy birthday. Love from the nation of Israel” [which means ‘Jews’ – ed.]….
Israeli police target families of slain and incarcerated Palestinians in Jerusalem
(Ma‘an) 6 Feb — Israeli police detained at least 14 Palestinians and seized tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of cash and property in large-scale overnight [Sunday-Monday] raids in occupied East Jerusalem, which targeted the families of Palestinians who were either slain or incarcerated after carrying out or allegedly carrying out attacks. The massive raid came amid a surge in what rights groups have denounced as widespread collective punishment measures against Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement that the families were targeted for allegedly receiving support and financing from the Hamas movement, and that the raid was based on intelligence gathered by the Israeli general security service and police.
He said seven homes were raided and searched across East Jerusalem in Jabal al-Mukabbir, Ras al-Amud, al-Tur, and Shu‘fat refugee camp. According to Rosenfeld, one of the homes belonged to the family of Ghassan Abu Jamal, shot dead alongside his cousin Uday after allegedly carrying out an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue in 2014 that left four Israelis dead. The Abu Jamal family, from the neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir, has repeatedly been targeted by police in the years following the attack. Their homes were punitively demolished in 2015, and just last month, Abu Jamal’s wife Nadia was detained. During Sunday night’s raid, Israeli police detained Abu Jamal’s 71-year-old father, Muhammad Ali Abu Jamal, while Uday Abu Jamal’s 58-year-old father was summoned to appear at Israel’s Russian Compound interrogation center, according to the Wadi Hilweh Information Center. The homes of Ramadan and Fahmy Mashahra were also raided. Rosenfeld said the two were serving sentences in Israeli prison for their alleged role in planning a 2002 suicide bombing in the illegal Israeli settlement of Gilo that left 19 Israelis dead … Finally, the family of Imad Shaer was also targeted in al-Tur. According to Rosenfeld, Shaer is serving a prison sentence for planning and attempting a kidnapping in 2013. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said Israeli police detained his 51-year-old mother Rabiha Shaer, his father Adnan al-Shaer, 55, and their sons Subhi, 28, and Mustafa, 23. Rosenfeld said that the cash seized in the raid amounted to 200,000 shekels, (approximately $53,367), while checks, two vehicles, and a truck were also seized. Locals reported that Israeli forces also confiscated jewelry….
Israeli forces detain 10 Palestinians in West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — Israeli forces detained at least 10 Palestinians in overnight raids before dawn on Monday across the occupied West Bank, according Israeli and Palestinian sources. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘n that Israeli forces detained two Palestinians from ‘Askar refugee camp east of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), however, said that three Palestinians were detained in ‘Askar, identifying them as Bassem al-Afghani, 35, Ahmad Jamal Marshud, 22, and Muhammad Alaa Bashkar, 24. The Israeli army said that three Palestinians were detained from Jalazun refugee camp north of Ramallah — one of whom they said was a Hamas operative. PPS identified two of the Jalazun detainees as Jihad Muhammad al-Faqiyeh, 24, and Othman Arabi Nakhla, 28. In the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, the Israeli army said two Palestinians were detained from the village of Tarqumiya and one from the town of Idhna. PPS, meanwhile, said 35-year-old Nader Abu Mayala was detained in the city of Hebron.
Israeli forces detain 9 Palestinians in West Bank raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Feb – Israeli forces detained nine Palestinians in predawn military raids Sunday across the occupied West Bank districts of Nablus, Ramallah, Hebron, and Bethlehem. State-run Palestinian news agency Wafa identified those detained in the southern Bethlehem district as Muhammad Rashad Issa, his brother Ahmad, and Qusay Issa from the town of al-Khader. Ahmad Ibrahim al-Umour, 19, was detained in the village of Tuqu‘, while 16-year-old Muhammad Raed Hamamra was detained in Husan. An Israeli army spokesperson said that six total detentions were carried out in the Bethlehem area, though she said two were made in al-Khader, one in Tuqu‘, and two alleged “Hamas operatives” in Husan. The spokesperson added that another Palestinian was detained in the central occupied West Bank village of Deir Nidham in the Ramallah district, and two alleged Hamas operatives were detained in Hebron in the southern West Bank. Wafa’s report also said that Israeli police detained a Muhammad Abd al-Samad Shawahna from his workplace in the Israeli city of Ashkelon for lacking a work permit to enter Israel. The news agency said Shawahna was a resident of Silat al-Harithiya village in the northernmost West Bank district of Jenin.
Israeli soldiers abduct eighteen Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 7 Feb — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, several districts in the occupied West Bank, searched many homes and abducted eighteen Palestinians … In a statement, the Israeli army confirmed the abduction of 18 Palestinians in several parts of the West Bank, including communities in Jenin, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron. The invasions were focused in Jaba‘ and Qabatia, in Jenin district, Kobar, Silwad and Kufur Ni‘ma, in Ramallah, ar-Ram town, north of Jerusalem, Husan in Bethlehem, al-‘Arroub and Sa‘ir town, in Hebron.
Prisoners / Court actions
January 2017 report: 590 Palestinians seized by Israeli occupation
Samidoun 6 Feb — Palestinian prisoners’ and human rights associations, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission, issued a monthly report on Sunday, 5 February on the imprisonment of Palestinians in January 2017. The following translation is provided by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. Occupation authorities arrested 590 Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem in January 2017, including 128 children, 14 women, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a journalist. Israeli occupation authorities arrested 156 Palestinians from Jerusalem, 90 from al-Khalil, 66 from Bethlehem, 64 from Nablus, 50 from Jenin, 56 from Ramallah and el-Bireh, 37 of Tulkarem, 27 of Qalqilya, 13 from Tubas, 13 from the Gaza Strip, 10 from Jericho and eight from Salfit. There were 91 administrative detention orders for imprisonment without charge or trial issued in January 2017, including 29 new orders, including one against PLC member Ahmed Mubarak. Another such order was issued against journalist Nidal Ab Aker. The total number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails is around 7,000, including 52 women, of whom 11 are minor girls. There are 300 child prisoners, approximately 530 administrative detainees and 21 journalists in Israeli jails. January also saw dozens of aggressive night raids against Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails….
Israeli court in Jerusalem sentences 16-year-old Palestinian girl to 6 years in prison
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — An Israeli court sentenced a teenage Palestinian girl from Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem to six years in prison on Sunday morning after she was charged with knife possession and planning a stab attack. Hayat Shweiki told Ma‘an that the Jerusalem magistrate court formally sentenced her daughter Manar Majdi Shweiki to six years in prison after the girl had already spent more than a year in detention, highlighting that the court postponed the sentencing twice since the beginning of 2017.Her lawyer Mustafa Yahya said last week that the ruling was postponed because the court was awaiting a report regarding Shweiki’s behavior over the course of her detention, though Yahya said at the time he already reached a plea bargain with the Israeli prosecution that determined the six-year sentence. Since her detention in December last year, Shweiki has been moved between Israel’s Ramla and HaSharon prisons. Israeli police first detained her on Dec. 6, 2015 in the Wadi Hilweh area of the Silwan, claiming they found a knife in her bag after searching her belongings, though it was unclear what had prompted the search in the first place. Ma‘an reported at the time that Palestinian youths filmed the search and arrest of the girl on their phones, which were later confiscated by Israeli forces, and clashes subsequently broke out in the area, with one youth being injured from shrapnel after a stun grenade exploded nearby. Two days later, Israeli authorities released Shweiki, but on Dec. 22, 2015, Israeli police detained her again on the streets of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City in the al-Sharaf neighborhood. It remained unclear what prompted forces to detain her the second time.
Women prisoners update: 16-year-old Manar Shweiki sentenced to six years in Israeli prison
[with photos] Samidoun 6 Feb — Palestinian child prisoner Manar Shweiki, 16, was sentenced on Sunday, 5 February to six years in Israeli prisons. Detained since 22 December 2015, Manar has spent 14 months in HaSharon prison with 10 more minor girls, among 52 Palestinian women prisoners currently held. Manar, from Jerusalem, was accused of seeking to carry out a resistance action because Israeli occupation forces found a knife in her school bag as she walked.
Manar is the latest Palestinian child prisoner to be sentenced to a lengthy sentence in Israeli prisons; others include Muawiya Alqam, sentenced to six years; Ahmad Manasrah, sentenced to 12 years; and Nurhan Awad, sentenced to 13 years. She is one of over 300 Palestinian children currently imprisoned by the Israeli state. The trial of fellow child prisoner Malak Salman, 17, was postponed on Monday, 6 February until 14 February; Malak is accused of attempting to stab Israeli occupation forces at Jerusalem’s Damascus gate….
Majd Oweida of ‘Palestinians Got Talent’ ordered to 9 years in Israeli prison
Samidoun 6 Feb — On Thursday, 2 February, Palestinian Majd Oweida, 23, of Gaza City was sentenced to nine years in Israeli prison; he was accused of hacking into the Israeli military’s drone network, Israeli police street cameras and air traffic information at Ben-Gurion airport. Oweida was seized by occupation forces at the Erez/Beit Hanoun crossing in February 2016 as he attempted to travel to the West Bank; he had previously received a permit for travel. As president of the Palestinian Talents Club, he had been contracted to create the program, “Palestinians Got Talent.” He had earlier managed the band al-Takht al-Sharqi, which reached the semifinals of the 2014 edition of “Arabs Got Talent.” Oweida, an electrical engineer, reported that he had been held in solitary confinement and subjected to ill-treatment during lengthy interrogation sessions. Oweida’s family have been actively involved in campaigning for his release and have been denied family visits repeatedly. They issued a statement upon his sentencing saying that his imprisonment “is part of a systematic and continuous policy of the occupation against our people and especially against young people, forcing them into the dungeons of the prisons with the exploitation of the crossings in order to make them a trap for our young people.”
Muhammad al-Qiq begins new hunger strike to protest latest administrative detention
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — Prominent Palestinian former hunger striker Muhammad al-Qiq began a new hunger strike on Monday to denounce his latest detention by Israel. Palestinian outlet Quds News Agency quoted relatives of al-Qiq as saying that the 34-year-old journalist had started an open-ended hunger strike on Monday to protest being sentenced to six months in administrative detention — Israel’s controversial practice of detention without trial or charges. Al-Qiq, who lives in Ramallah and is originally from Dura in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, was released from prison in May last year after have gone without food for a grueling 94 days — also to protest his administrative detention at the time. However, al-Qiq was redetained in mid-January after he participated in a protest in the West Bank city of Bethlehem demanding the release of bodies of slain Palestinians held in Israeli custody. According to Palestinian prisoner solidarity network Samidoun, Israeli authorities had not garnered confessions or issued charges against al-Qiq as of late January, although they had earlier expressed that they were investigating him for alleged “incitement” on social media, amid a crackdown on freedom of expression among Palestinian activists and journalists….
Palestinian woman sentenced to 20 months in prison for attempted stabbing attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — An Israeli military court at Ofer detention center in the central occupied West Bank sentenced a Palestinian woman from Hebron to 20 months in prison and a fine of 6,000 shekels ($1,600), after she was accused of planning to carry out a stab attack. Lawyer Akram Samara from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said 29-year-old Abir Tamimi was detained on Dec. 22, 2015. Ma‘an quoted an official from Hebron’s Ibrahimi mosque at the time as saying that “Palestinian in her 20s was on her way to the mosque with a knife in her hand” when Israeli soldiers rushed to the woman and detained her. Local activist Raed Abu Rmeila said that Israeli forces prevented him from documenting the detention, and told Ma‘an he saw the woman “tied up in chains with blood on her face.”…
Some of the harsher sentences to be handed down in the past two months have included a 22-year-old Jerusalemite sentenced to 35 years in prison for allegedly assisting in a deadly stabbing attack, an eight-and-a-half-year sentence for an alleged stabbing attempt by a 17-year-old East Jerusalem girl, 16 years in prison and a $20,929 fine for a 19-year-old Palestinian girl who was shot and injured while allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli settler, while a Palestinian youth was sentenced to 18 years in prison for allegedly throwing a rock at an Israeli vehicle that caused the death of an Israeli — representing the harshest sentence ever handed down for stone throwing.
3 Palestinians accused of arson in November West Bank fire
Times of Israel 5 Feb — Men indicted for blaze that destroyed homes at Halamish settlement; indictment doesn’t allege terror or ‘nationalistic motives’ — Three Palestinian men were formally accused on Sunday of starting a fire outside of the central West Bank settlement of Halamish in November that destroyed 17 homes and damaged 25 others. The incident came during a wave of blazes across Israel that was described as an “arson intifada” at the time, although police have so far filed only a handful of indictments in connection with them. According to the Israel Fire and Rescue Services, there were hundreds of fires nationwide during the nearly week-long span of blazes, of which 39 were considered major. The fires were fueled by unseasonably dry weather and strong winds. Despite claims by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan during the outbreak of fires countrywide that the blazes were deliberate terrorism, no one has yet been charged with starting the fires with such motives. Sunday’s indictment charged Muatasem Mahmud Yusef Zahran, Salem Othman Salem Zahran and Ahad Issa Yusef Zahran, all from the Palestinian village of Deir Abu Mashal, with arson, malicious damage to property, disturbing public order and damaging protected nature, making no mention of terrorism or nationalistic motives.
Israel continues construction on separation wall in Hebron
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Feb — Israeli forces have reportedly finished a 10-kilometer section of the Israeli separation wall in the south of the occupied West Bank district of Hebron, Hebrew-language media reported on Saturday. Hebrew-language site Walla reported that the order to complete the wall in the area came as a punitive response to a deadly shooting attack in Tel Aviv carried out in June last year by Palestinians from the village of Yatta in Hebron. According to Walla, the plan was set by the Israeli Defense Ministry and states that the separation wall would start from the Tarqumiya checkpoint in western Hebron to the Meter checkpoint in the south. The wall is 42 kilometers long and is erected on the side of Bypass Road 35, constructed for the use of settlers illegally residing in Palestinian territory to connect them with Israel. The wall is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, according to Walla.
Israel began building the separation wall with concrete slabs, fences, and barbed-wire inside the occupied West Bank in 2002 at the height of the Second Intifada, claiming it was crucial for security. The ICJ issued an advisory opinion in 2004 stating that the wall was illegal under international law and its construction must stop immediately, adding that reparations should be paid to Palestinians whose properties were damaged as a result of the construction. Twelve years later, the construction of the wall has continued unabated as more than 62 percent of the construction has been completed, encroaching deep into the Palestinian territory, leaving Palestinian neighborhoods stranded on both sides of the barrier, and isolating communities from their agricultural lands. When complete, the majority of the wall’s construction, 85 percent, will have been built inside the occupied Palestinian territory over the Green Line, consuming vast tracts of Palestinian land along its way and consuming land in Area C — the two-thirds of the West Bank under full Israeli military and civil control — where illegal settlements have been built or are planned to be constructed in the future.
Israeli authorities allow reopening of road in Hebron after 2 year military closure
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 3 Feb — Israeli authorities reopened a road in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Friday after a two-year closure. A local bulldozer was allowed by Israeli authorities to remove dirt mounds and reopen the road after two years of it being closed by Israeli forces. The road connects other Hebron-area villages to the villages of Deir Razih, Dura, and Al-Dhahiriya.
Israeli forces continue airstrikes in Gaza, 2 Palestinians injured
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — Israeli forces resumed attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip Monday evening, injuring two Palestinians, after injuring a Palestinian earlier Monday in a series of Israeli army airstrikes in northern Gaza, in response to a rocket that landed in an open area in the Ashkelon region of southern Israel Monday morning. Witnesses told Ma‘an that at least eight Israeli missiles were fired at several locations across the besieged coastal enclave. One airstrike hit agricultural land in the center of Khan Yunis city in the southern Gaza Strip. A spokesman of the Gaza Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra confirmed that two people were injured in Khan Yunis. According to locals, the airstrikes hit a “resistance” military post as well as an agricultural area east of Gaza City in the northern Gaza Strip, in addition to the al-Shujaiyya neighborhood in Gaza City, causing damages to several residential buildings. The air strikes also hit agricultural lands east of al-Maghazi and al-Bureij refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip.
Palestinian factions released statements warning of the consequences of the ongoing Israeli attacks on the coastal enclave. A spokesman of Hamas movement Hazim Qasim said the current escalation represented ” a new chain in the series of ongoing Israeli occupation’s assaults against the Palestinian people and the Gaza Strip.” …
The Israeli army released a statement saying that on Monday evening Israeli air forces “targeted three Hamas posts” in the northern Gaza Strip “in response to the projectile fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli communities earlier today and the attack against [Israeli army] forces operating near the border with the southern Gaza Strip as well as other incidents from Gaza in the last month.” The statement quoted an Israeli army spokesperson as saying that “Hamas is accountable for the unacceptable aggression that threatens the wellbeing of Israelis and breaches Israeli sovereignty. This reality jeopardizes the stability and security in the region. The [Israeli army] will continue to defend Israeli civilians against the threats emanating from Hamas’ Gaza.” Despite accusations from Israeli army officials that the ongoing attacks on the Gaza Strip are in response to rockets fired from Hamas forces in Gaza, Hamas has yet to claim responsibility for the rocket fire.
Israeli army carries out a limited invasion, navy attacks fishermen, in Gaza
IMEMC 6 Feb — Update: One fisherman, identified as Mohammad Sa‘dallah, was injured by Israeli navy fire, after the soldiers fired many live rounds at fishing boats. Several Israeli military vehicles, including armored bulldozers, invaded Palestinian agricultural lands, east of Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, while navy ships opened fire on fishing boats in Palestinian territorial waters. Media sources in Gaza said seven armored Israeli military vehicles, including three bulldozers, left the Kissufim army base, across the border fence, east of Deir al-Balah, and invaded Palestinian agricultural lands. The sources said the vehicles advanced more than 150 meters into the agricultural lands, and bulldozed several sections, while surveillance drones hovered overhead. Furthermore, Israeli navy ships fired many live rounds at Palestinian fishing boats less than four nautical miles from the shore, causing serious damage, and forcing the fishers away.
Israeli forces fire at fishermen, farmers in besieged Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — Israeli forces opened fire towards Palestinian fishermen and farmers in separate incidents Sunday morning, local sources told Ma‘an, with no injuries reported in either incident. Israeli military vehicles stationed near the Sufa military post east of the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah fired with heavy machine guns towards Palestinian farmers who were tending their crops in the area, eyewitnesses said. Meanwhile, in the northwestern Gaza Strip, Israeli navy ships fired at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Beit Lahiya, forcing them to sail back to shore.
Hamas fighter killed in ‘accidental explosion’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — A Hamas fighter succumbed on Sunday to wounds he sustained a day earlier in an “accidental explosion” in the northern Gaza Strip, the Ministry of Health said. Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told the Palestinian Information Center that 37-year-old Muhammad Walid al-Quqa died in the hospital on Sunday morning following an “accidental” explosion in al-Sudaniyya in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday evening. The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, said in a statement that al-Quqa was killed during “preparations” without giving details. However, the statement went on to add that al-Quqa had been involved in “jihadist activities, including manufacturing and assembling explosives.”
Gaza’s cancer patients: ‘We are dying slowly’
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 6 Feb by Mersiha Gadzo — “I’m like a bird in a cage,” Hind Shaheen told Al Jazeera as she lay in bed at Gaza City’s Al-Rantisi hospital, surrounded by family members. “Outside of my cage I can see water and food, but I can’t reach it. This is my condition right now.” Shahin, who suffers from breast cancer, says that her condition has been deteriorating ever since she was denied exit from Gaza for treatment. The Gaza Strip does not have adequate resources to provide her with appropriate treatment, yet she cannot leave, as Israeli authorities at the Erez border crossing, known as Beit Hanoon to Palestinians, rejected her permit three times in a row without explanation … Her struggle is familiar to thousands of patients in Gaza, where around 1,500 people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Chemotherapy drugs are not always available, nor are radiotherapy, molecular therapy, PET scans or isotope scans. Gisha, the Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement, says that patients in Gaza have increasingly been blocked from leaving due to “security” precautions. Others are interrogated at the crossing or forced to wait lengthy periods of time for a response … “[The patients] ask for permission again and again, but the response from Israeli authorities is always that it’s under [assessment],” Awad Aeshan, a radiation oncologist at Al-Shifa hospital, told Al Jazeera. “They continue to assess for one year, two years until the patient dies. So this is a massacre of our cancer patients….
Relatives of Fatah supporters jailed by Hamas demonstrate in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — Relatives of Fatah movement supporters jailed by the Hamas-led security services in the Gaza Strip demonstrated on Monday outside the building of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza City. Demonstrators told Ma‘an that they wanted Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Legislative Council to intervene and get their relatives released “immediately.” “Our children should be honored and dignified rather than being jailed,” they said. The wife of Samer al-Nims, who has been sentenced to lifetime imprisonment, said that “these prisoners have been jailed only because they are affiliated to Fatah.” She explained that her husband was convicted by Hamas, the de facto ruling party in Gaza, of “harming revolutionary unity” in violation of Article 178 of the Revolutionary Penal Code of 1979….
Turkish delegation visits Gaza to discuss power crisis
GAZA CITY, Palestine (Andolu Agency) 6 Feb by Ola Atallah & Mohamed Majed — A Turkish delegation of top energy official arrived in Israel-blockaded Gaza Strip on Monday to discuss solutions for a decade-long electricity crisis in the Palestinian territory. The 4-strong delegation crossed into Gaza via the Erez crossing for talks with their Palestinian counterparts, Ghazi Hamad, Gaza’s foreign ministry undersecretary, said. “The delegation will discuss solutions and necessary mechanisms for fulfilling Gaza’s energy needs,” he told the Anadolu Agency. On Sunday, a Turkish technical delegation held talks with Palestinian energy officials to discuss ways of solving Gaza’s power crisis. “The delegation’s visit is part of Turkey’s efforts to provide solutions for the energy crisis in the Palestinian territory,” Ahmed Abu al-Amreen, spokesman for the Gaza Energy Authority, said. Last month, Turkey provided 15 tons of fuel with a view of operating Gaza’s power plant. Gaza – which needs 400 megawatts of electricity — continues to suffer from a severe power crisis that has forced local authorities to adopt a rotation system, cutting power from some areas in order to supply electricity to other areas. Israel provides 120 megawatts of electricity to the Gaza Strip, while Egypt provides 32 megawatts. Gaza’s power plant provides only 60 megawatts, according to the Palestinian Energy Authority figures.
Gaza committee announces boycott of ICRC over NGO’s ‘failures’
GAZA (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — The prisoners’ committee of the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces coalition in Gaza announced on Monday that it had decided it will boycott the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In a statement, the prisoners’ committee admonished ICRC for its “failure to fulfill its duties” towards Palestinians held in Israeli custody, and said that it would continue to hold weekly protests in front of ICRC’s headquarters in Gaza. However, it remained unclear what the committee’s specific criticisms were vis-à-vis ICRC. ICRC acts as an institutional medium between the families of imprisoned Palestinians and Israeli authorities, making prisoners’ relatives heavily reliant on the international NGO for a number of issues, including arranging visitations. ICRC was the target of protests last summer after the group reduced family visits to male Palestinian prisoners from twice a month to just once. ICRC has also been criticized for its perceived inability to improve incarceration conditions in Israeli prisons.
Gaza Situation Report 179 24-31 January
UNRWA 5 Feb — Highlights The UNRWA communications with communities team, part of the Gaza Field Communications Office, has launched its first comic drawing workshop in cooperation with a Community-Based Organization in Gaza city. Approximately 25 young graduates from all areas of Gaza are participating in the training which will last for one month and focus on topics such as early marriage and Gender-Based Violence (GBV). Comic drawing is a form of story-telling, and through story-telling UNRWA attempts to empower and provide persons (directly affected or others) with a platform and a voice to advocate for change and support inside their community and beyond. After the training, the comics will be made available to the public through social media … Shelter Update Completed cases: The reconstruction of 172 totally destroyed homes was completed Repair works for 2,029 housing units were completed Disbursement of payments: The first installment of reconstruction assistance was disbursed to 240 refugee families who had been approved in the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism in December 2016 In total UNRWA disbursed approximately US$ 13.5 million for various forms of shelter assistance, including: For reconstruction: US$ 4,316,320 For repair works: US$ 5,758,840….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Apartheid
Opinion: I’ve never lived in a stolen home. Maybe leaving it is harder / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 2 Feb — From Umm al-Hiran to Amona, the comparison shrieked to the skies: apartheid police. One police for whites and one police for natives — Once, I moved house. It was sad. It was sad to part from the walls and the memories. The sorrow passed. I got over it. I am not alone: A lot of people have moved home, some because they wanted to, others not: because of a contract that expired, a relationship that fell apart or a new job. It’s always sad to leave home, though not every such departure features (ostensibly) heart-wrenching articles, phony assertions, utterly incredible cries for national compassion and scandalous compensation. It doesn’t always take eight Israeli army battalions and 3,000 policemen to move a person from what had been his home. On second thought, I’ve never lived in a stolen home. Maybe leaving it is harder. On Wednesday the Amona Show arrived at its last act. More than anything else, the illegal outpost’s evacuation proved how racist the Israeli police are. It seems that people can be evacuated using bare hands, without need for rifles or helmets, without truncheons and mainly, without the discourtesy and penchant for violence that the police and border police have demonstrated when facing the weak, Arabs or Ethiopians. Suddenly the demonstrators are not shot with live fire. It was not the police who swept into Amona, but “Salvation Army” soldiers in blue jackets with an Israeli flag sewn to the sleeve. Why? Because the evacuees are white Jews, representatives of the most privileged, most powerful group in Israeli society. Because the chief of police hails from the same neighborhood. Because the government didn’t want heart-rending pictures to start making the rounds. From Umm al-Hiran to Amona, the comparison shrieked to the skies: apartheid police. One police for whites and one police for natives. It can no longer be denied … The army that cordons off the area but allows hundreds of youngsters to freely infiltrate, barricading themselves inside homes while vowing to eschew violence; the soldiers demonstrating their sensitivity as they prepare for action – any moment now they’ll be bursting into tears; the nauseating headlines – “This was my home,” “The final hours”; the Palestinian landowners for whose benefit this show has been put on, who will never be allowed to get anywhere near their land, now evacuated; the childish name chosen for this mission – “Locked kindergarten” [from the song based on Rachel’s poem, “It’s not nice to see the kindergarten locked”] – how very poetic and moving. And, of course, the appropriate Zionist reaction, without which no eviction could possibly proceed – build another 1,000 housing units, and counting.
Israel approves controversial settlement expansion bill
Al Jazeera 7 Feb — Israel has passed a controversial bill that retroactively legalises thousands of settler homes built on privately owned Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, drawing widespread anger by Palestinian leaders and rights groups. The Israeli Knesset voted 60 to 52 to approve the contentious bill late on Monday despite warnings by the government’s own top lawyer who had previously called it “unconstitutional”. Minutes after the vote, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) slammed the new law as a means to “legalise theft” of Palestinian land. The law demonstrated “the Israeli government’s will to destroy any chances for a political solution,” the PLO said in a statement, stressing that the “Israeli settlement enterprise negates peace and the possibility of the two-state solution”. The so-called “Regulation Bill” applies to around 4,000 settlement homes in the West Bank for which settlers could prove ignorance that they had built on privately owned land and had received encouragement from the Israeli state to do so. The bill is seen as another step towards at least partial annexation of the West Bank, and could lead to a host of illegal settlements built on privately owned Palestinian land being legalised retroactively.
Three Israeli NGOs – Peace Now, Yesh Din and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel – said they intend to petition the Supreme Court to cancel the law … The bill was a key demand for parts of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing cabinet, including the hardline Jewish Home party, who argue that settlers would be able to live without fear of being driven from their homes – many of which they have lived in for years … Though passed, the bill could still be challenged. Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said last week: “The chance that it will be struck down by the Supreme Court is 100 percent.” Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from West Jerusalem, said the Palestinian land owners could take their case to the Supreme Court as early as Tuesday.
Thousands rally in Tel Aviv against ‘racist’ Israeli state and home demolitions
TEL AVIV (Ma‘an) 4 Feb — Thousands rallied in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv on Saturday evening in protest of home demolitions targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel, with demonstrators calling the Israeli state’s demolition campaign “racist” and an act of “incitement” against Palestinian citizens. Protesters reportedly called on Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan to resign for “lying” to the Israeli public, saying they held him responsible for the killings that took place during a raid to evacuate the Negev region Bedouin community of Umm al-Hiran last month. Local math teacher in Umm al-Hiran Yaqoub Abu al-Qi‘an was shot dead on Jan. 18 by police before Israeli authorities demolished more than a dozen structures in the village, with authorities claiming he was carrying out a deliberate vehicular attack, in contradiction to numerous eyewitness reports and video evidence that attested his car spun out of control only after Israeli police opened fire on him. Some 5,000 Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel joined the march Saturday night, traveling from Jerusalem and across Israel to protest the demolitions and the Israeli state’s discriminatory policies against Palestinian citizens in general. Members of a local committee from Umm al-Hiran also participated, with at least four busloads of Palestinian and Jewish citizens from the Negev arriving to join the rally. Demonstrators raised posters in Arabic and Hebrew, which included the slogans: “When the government is against the people, the people will be against the government,” “Enough of the government’s racism…we demand equality,” and “Jewish and Arabs together, we fight fascism.”….
PLO chief slams ‘extremist’ Israeli state over treatment of Palestinian citizens
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Feb — Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization(PLO) Saeb Erekat denounced the ongoing escalation by the Israeli government against its Palestinian citizens as “fascist” and “extremist,” in the wake of a demolition campaign targeting homes belonging to Palestinian citizens of Israel. “This escalation, characterized by home demolitions and other restrictions against Palestinians in Israel, as well as in the West Bank, and Jerusalem, is a result of fascist alliances between (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and extremist forces in Israel,” Erekat said Saturday at a gathering held at the Palestinian Red Crescent Building in the occupied West Bank city of al-Bireh. The gathering was held to show support for the Palestinian citizens of Israel, and was attended by members of the PLO’s Executive Committee, members of the Central Committee of the Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and a delegation representing Palestinian citizens of Israel headed by Muhammad Baraka, the head of the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel….
Israeli court freezes 4 demolition orders against homes of Palestinian citizens of Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — A magistrate court in northern Israel froze on Sunday four demolition orders targeting the homes of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship following an appeal by the homeowners. The homeowners, represented by lawyer Mahmoud al-Najib Mahajna, expressed relief and appreciation for the decision taken by Hadera magistrate court Judge Jacob Goldberg to freeze the demolition orders in the towns of Ara and Musheirifa in the Wadi Ara region in northern Israel. Yousif Jabarin, a member of the Arab Joint List coalition representing political parties led by Palestinian citizens of Israel, said he was closely following up on the cases in Wadi Ara, and stressed the need to keep up popular support for families whose homes are threatened by demolition. The ruling came a day after a large-scale protest in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv denouncing home demolitions targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel. Some 5,000 Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel joined the march Saturday night, traveling from Jerusalem and across Israel to protest the demolitions and the Israeli state’s discriminatory policies against Palestinian citizens in general. The issue of home demolitions in Israel has been in the limelight since the beginning of the year, notably due to the outrage caused by the demolitions in the town of Qalansawe and the deadly demolition raid in Umm al-Hiran in January.
The home demolitions Israel’s media isn’t talking about
+972 blog 6 Feb by Michael Haramati & Sahar Vardi — Forty Israeli Jews set out for a tour beyond Jerusalem’s hills of darkness last week, paying a visit to the neighborhood of Ein al-Loza in Silwan. The tour was led by members of the neighborhood committee, who for over a decade have been trying to receive the same treatment from the Jerusalem municipality as residents of West Jerusalem do. The past few months has seen a steady increase in fines and especially home demolitions — likely a result of Mayor Nir Barkat’s right-wing turn as part of his election campaign. “Here is something that looks like a bus station,” Muntasar Abbasi pointed out to the group. “No bus passes here, but anyone who parks here will receive a fine.” The guides spoke about an increased presence of Border Police officers, who hand out fines in the name of Jerusalem’s municipality and the police in parking spots that have been there forever. “After all, there are no signs that say where one can or cannot park, there are no sidewalks, streetlights, sanitation services, drainage, and the city doesn’t pave any new roads. We are working on creating a new plan with architects and engineers, we are getting the permission of all the landowners — and nothing. There is never any budget for East Jerusalem, all the money is invested in the western part of the city,” Abbasi adds. While municipality representatives understand these problems and come to meetings in the neighborhood, the municipality intervenes only when it comes to demolish homes and hand out fines. What do the residents what? Exactly what the government provides its citizens: regulation. Dozens of people without homes One of the new developments of the last few months has been that many homes in the neighborhood — which house approximately 1,000 people — have received demolition orders. Not a single neighborhood in East Jerusalem has a master plan — and without a master plan the city cannot grant building permits … In the past, residents whose homes are slated for demolition could submit an appeal to delay the demolition by months or even a year. Recently, this “tradition” has been replaced by a new one: no more delays. Three houses, home to seven families, have been demolished — leaving dozens of people without a roof….
Inside the West Bank settlement Beit El, which has powerful American benefactors
BEIT EL, West Bank (CBS News) 3 Feb by Seth Doane — Hagi Ben-Artsy is encouraged by the thousands of new building permits issued to Israeli settlers since President Trump took office, including 100 in his settlement Beit El. “We shall see real houses because of president Trump,” he said among the small homes standing now. The international community has condemned the settlements. The United Nations has called them illegal and for decades the U. S. has opposed any expansion here. That may be changing. Beit El’s yeshiva, or religious school, has friends in high places. David Friedman, Mr. Trump’s pick for U.S. Ambassador to Israel, is the American president of fundraising efforts here, raising millions. The family foundation of Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law to Mr. Trump, donated $38,000 in 2013. And in 2003, Mr. Trump’s foundation donated $10,000….
Palestinians in Hebron prepare for annual commemoration of Ibrahimi Mosque massacre
IMEMC/Agencies 6 Feb by Ahmad Jaradat — Preparations by Palestinian political parties, civil society groups, local committees, and human rights organizations begin this week for the 23rd annual commemoration of the the 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre. The bodies organizing the event this year have united under the slogan “Dismantle the Ghetto, Take the Settlers Out of Hebron.” The first statement issued by the coalition calls for widespread participation, including by international organizations and individuals in Hebron. “We encourage all activists who appreciate justice and human rights to come to Hebron on February 24th, and raise their voices, together with the Hebronites, to dismantle the ghetto and evict the colonizers out of the city,” Coordinator of the Hebron Defense Committee Hisham al-Sharabati told the Alternative Information Center (AIC). The Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre took place on February 25, 1994, when the American-born doctor and Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslim worshippers in the Ibrahimi Mosque, killing 29 Palestinians and injuring 150 others. The Israeli government subsequently instituted severe restrictions on Palestinian movement in downtown Hebron, including eventually prohibiting Palestinian foot traffic on Shuhada Street, near where the Mosque is located. Settlers’ access to the religious site and presence in the city has only increased since 1994….
Report: Illegal Israeli settlers to reach 800,000 in occupied territories in 2017
Palestine Chronicle 6 Feb — The Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem and Land Research Center revealed to European Union consuls and the Arab countries accredited to the Palestinian Authority that the number of settlers living in the West Bank is increasing as well as settlement construction, the PIC reported. Jad Isaac, Director General of the Applied Research Institute–Jerusalem, pointed out that “in 1992, a year before Oslo, settlements in the West bank covered an area of 77 kilometers with 248,000 Israeli settlers. In 2016, however, the area covered with settlements reached 197 kilometers, an increase by 156%, with 763,000 Israeli settlers, triple the number that existed in 1992.” Isaac warned of the Israeli pretext of natural growth, which is an pretense that is often exploited politically. The number of Israeli settlers grows much slower than the construction of new settlement units, which indicates that there is no need for building new settlements in the West Bank. The Israeli occupation authority, however, aims at seizing more Palestinian lands in the West Bank territories as well as bringing more immigrants,” he added. Isaac pointed out that Israeli settlers, however, are expected to reach 800,000 in 2017.
Palestinian refugees – Iraq
Photos: The forgotten generations: Palestinian refugees in Iraq
ERBIL, Iraq (Al Jazeera) 5 Feb— Inside Baharka IDP Camp, a government-run refugee camp that provides emergency shelter for over 4,000 internally displaced people, 18 Palestinian families live in a cluster of makeshift homes. Located near the Kurdish city of Erbil, the camp is managed by the Barzani Charity Foundation and the Erbil Refugee Council. Born and raised in Baghdad, 30-year-old Palestinian Yahia Mahmoud has lived in Baharka camp for over two years. Without permission to work, travel or build a life as a citizen, and with nowhere else to go, Mahmoud and his family, like other Palestinian refugees in Iraq, are trapped in a cycle of isolation, discrimination and continual displacement. For this family, as is the case for many Palestinians, their identity as stateless refugees is passed down from generation to generation. Mahmoud’s parents were also born as refugees in Iraq. His grandfather fled Palestine during the exodus of 1948, known as the Nakba, when 700,000 Palestinian Arabs were expelled from their homes. Mahmoud spent most of his childhood in refugee camps surrounding Baghdad. After being continually displaced throughout his life, most recently fleeing from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, known as ISIS) fighters in Ramadi, he now lives in Baharka camp with his wife and two children, together with his brother and other relatives. In August 2016, Mahmoud’s mother, Hudda Awad, died from cancer at the age of 57. For four months, she had been unable to continue with her chemotherapy in Iraq; her son believes that she was denied the treatment in part because of her ethnicity. “They did not give it to her because it cost a lot of money and also because we are Arabs, not Kurds,” he says….
PA announces timeline for 2017 local elections in West Bank and Gaza
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — The Palestinian Authority (PA) Central Elections Commission announced on Monday a timeline for local elections in 2017 across the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip. The Fatah-dominated PA had announced at the end of last month that local elections would be scheduled for May 13 in both the West Bank and Gaza, a move which Hamas, the de facto ruling party of Gaza, promptly rejected. According to the CEC’s Arabic website, the voter registration process will begin on the morning of Saturday February 25 and extend for five days. Following the registration process, candidacy applications will be open for ten days from March 28 to April 6, and the the preliminary list of candidates will be made public on April 9. On April 29, a final list of candidates will be made public and campaigns will start. Campaigns are set to finish on May 11, two days before the projected election day on May 13. According to a statement from the Palestinian Ministers Council, elections will be conducted as an “attempt to end national conflict and unite Palestinians in accordance with the law and to pave the road towards holding presidential and legislative elections.” Executive director of central elections’ committee Hisham Kheil told Ma‘an earlier this month that the election process will likely require $8 million. The decision to hold local elections has been rejected by the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements, while being accepted by Fatah and the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)….
Holding local elections requires comprehensive national dialogue to be successfully held in West Bank and Gaza Strip
PCHR-Gaza 6 Feb Press Release — On 31 January 2017, the Palestinian Council of Ministers issued a decision to hold local elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on 13 May 2017. The decision assigned the Central Elections Commission (CEC) to carry out the necessary preparations to start the elections and the Minister of Local Government to follow up the elections’ preparations and process. The Palestinian President previously issued a presidential decree to amend the Local Council Elections Law No.10/2005. According to this amendment, a special court was established to consider the electoral appeals as the First Instance Court in each city used to be responsible for the electoral appeals according to the old law. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) welcomes holding the local elections, considering it as a constitutional requirement. However, PCHR emphasizes that successfully holding local elections requires a comprehensive national dialogue and consensus on the procedures. PCHR is concerned over the amendment to the Local Council Elections Law without consulting the political parties, threatening the viability of holding the elections in Gaza and even the participation of some political parties, particularly Hamas movement. Meanwhile, PCHR understands that the amendment came as a necessity after the Supreme Court refused to recognize the lawfulness of the Gaza Strip courts. Thus, establishing a special court has become a necessity to prevent canceling the elections again….
B’Tselem’s response to Regulation Bill: a semblance of legality to ongoing plunder
6 Feb — The law passed by the Knesset today proves yet again that Israel has no intention of ending its control over the Palestinians or its theft of their land. Lending a semblance of legality to this ongoing act of plunder is a disgrace for the state and its legislature. Passing the bill mere weeks after UN Security Council Resolution 2334 is a slap in the face of the international community. While enshrining the dispossession in law is a new development, in practice it is another facet of the massive land grab carried out openly for decades by declaring “state land”
Hamas reportedly rejects prisoner swap offer by Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — Israeli media reported on Sunday that the Hamas movement, the de facto ruling party in the besieged Gaza Strip, had refused a prisoner exchange offer by Israel. The Israeli government offered to release a Hamas official in Israeli custody in exchange for the release of one of two Israelis thought to be held alive in the Gaza Strip, according to The Jerusalem Post, based on a Hebrew-language report from Israel Radio. Israel National News described the offer as “humanitarian,” due to the fact that both captives have psychological issues. Avraham Mengistu, an Israeli of Ethiopian descent, has reportedly been held by Hamas since September 2015 when he accidentally wandered into Gaza. Hisham al-Sayed, a young Israeli-Bedouin man who has schizophrenia, was last seen when he crossed into the Palestinian territory in April 2015. Israel Radio quoted an anonymous Hamas official as saying the exchange was rejected because such a deal would have to be “all or nothing.”
Hamas has repeatedly insisted that Israel must release all prisoners who were freed as part of the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal who have since been redetained before starting talks of a new prisoner swap deal. In addition to Mengistu and al-Sayed, Hamas also claims to hold the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were pronounced dead by Israel during the 2014 war in Gaza, though Hamas has never explicitly said whether the two Israeli soldiers were alive or dead. According to Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer, some 7,000 Palestinians were held in Israeli custody as of October.
Palestinian forces disperse rally in Hebron, detain 25
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 4 Feb — Palestinian security forces dispersed a rally in the center of Hebron city in the southern occupied West Bank on Saturday, detaining at least 25 participants, Palestinian security sources said. Protesters were marching to the Russian Compound church, also known as Abraham’s Oak Holy Trinity Monastery, to protest a decision by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to officially cede ownership of the compound and its surrounding lands to the Russian Patriarchate Commission. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that police used tear gas in order to disperse the protest, and proceeded to detain demonstrators. State-run Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that authorities also declared the church and it surrounding areas a closed military area … Participant in the march and well-known local figure Kamil Mujahid told Ma‘an that the rally ended peacefully after participants succeeded in delivering their message. Initial reports had credited the political organization Hizb al-Tahrir with organizing the protest. However, Mujahid said it was a collective action among residents in Hebron.
PA bans Palestinian novel for ‘indecent’ terminology
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Attorney General Ahmad Barak on Monday decided to ban the distribution of a novel by Palestinian novelist Abbad Yahya for containing “indecent and improper terminology.” The Office of the Attorney General confirmed that a decision was taken to collect all copies of the novel “Crime in Ramallah” by Abbad Yahya. The novel, they said, includes indecent terminology and phrases which could “harm readers,” especially children and minors. The novel, according to the Attorney General’s office, “breaches both international treaties and Palestinian press and publication ordinance.” “In addition, the novel violates the law of child protection which bans any written or visual publications that addresses the child’s instincts and make children like inappropriate behaviors which violate public decencies.” The office of the Attorney General said that the decision to ban the novel did not violate the freedom of speech and freedom of expression. The author and the publisher of the novel have been summoned for questioning.
Israel not paying to de-mine Christian holy site
Al-Jazeera 4 Feb by Rania Zabaneh — Nearly half a million tourists annually walk past two fenced-in minefields to visit Qasr al-Yahud, meaning Castle of the Jews in Arabic – the site where Jesus was believed to have been baptised in the River Jordan. A $4m project launched last year by the de-mining charity Halo Trust is hoping to make the site safer, after the group struck an agreement with Israeli authorities, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and local churches that own plots in Qasr al-Yahud. The deal allows Halo Trust to work on de-mining the site, located several kilometres from Jericho. But Israel, whose army peppered the site with mines after the 1967 war, is not paying for these de-mining efforts, observers note. “None of the government is paying at the moment,” Ronen Shimoni, the head of Halo Trust’s operations in the occupied West Bank, told Al Jazeera. “We hope that they will contribute to the Halo Trust, which will allow us to carry on the project.” … In addition to Qasr al-Yahud, there are 16 minefields in the West Bank, most of which were laid by the Jordanian military in the 1960s to protect strategic positions and prevent Israeli forces from advancing. Halo Trust has worked with the PA to clear four minefields near Qalqilya, Bethlehem and Hebron, according to Brigadier Juma Abdel Jabbar, who heads the Palestinian Mine Action Centre. The projects were funded by the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and New Zealand, he said. “Israel laid the mines in Qasr al-Yahud and it is not paying to remove them,” Juma told Al Jazeera….
Israeli planes disperse possibly toxic products in Jenin district
JENIN (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — Israeli planes reportedly dispersed toxic products on lands in the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin, locals told Ma‘an. Residents of the Palestinian villages of Fandaqumiya, Ajja, Zababida, Raba, and Jabaa said that products resembling candy had been dispersed in the area. Palestinian medical sources who tested the products said that the materials were poisonous and had negatively affected wild animals and livestock in the area. They warned locals, especially children, against touching them. Spokespersons for Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority and Land Authority were not immediately available for comment on Monday. Pictures of the pellet-like products seemed to resemble rabies vaccine bait for wild animals, which the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority has reportedly dispersed aerially in the past.
IDF completes large-scale Gaza drill simulating Hamas infiltration
[with video] JPost 4 Feb by Anna Ahronheim — The IDF’s Gaza Division of the Southern Command completed its largest annual training exercise near the Gaza Strip on Friday. According to the army, hundreds of soldiers, including reservists, participated in the five-day drill, which simulated among other things a massive infiltration by Hamas commando units into communities in southern Israel. In the simulation, which was planned as part of the 2017 training programs, large numbers of Hamas commandos managed to infiltrate Israeli communities via tunnels, by paragliders and from the sea. During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, five Hamas naval commandos tried to infiltrate Kibbutz Zikim before they were killed by the IDF. Israel’s defense establishment has warned that the IDF must pay special attention to the strengthening of Hamas’s naval commando unit, which is reported to have more divers than before the conflict two years ago. IDF special forces units, as well as infantry and armored brigades, navy, air force and Home Front Command took part in the exercise.
Opinion: Israel and America: like brothers / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 7 Feb — The United States and Israel share the same values. These days that’s no source of pride for either country — Look at the new America, which is now returning with frightening speed to greatness. And look at us. All of those Israelis who are shocked by President Donald Trump’s policies don’t see where they’re living. It’s harder to see the hump on your own back. Beggars hate other beggars, liars hate other liars and the disdain felt for Trump in Israel may be the result of a frightening resemblance to him. The United States and Israel share the same values. This cliché has never been so much on the mark. America and Israel are brothers – brothers on the same path – now more than ever. That’s no great source of pride, or honor. With a draconian executive order, Trump shut the doors of his country to citizens of seven Muslim countries, a step that caused shock in Israel and around the world (although it has now been temporarily suspended by a federal judge). So what about the Israeli government? With similar arbitrariness, it closed its own doors long ago. First it was to Palestinians who are not authorized to use Israel’s airports. Those in the West Bank, not all Palestinians, are allowed to come and go via Jordan, while those in the Gaza Strip are under siege. Everything is cloaked in security, just as it is under Trump. A Palestinian doctor in Israel and an Iranian doctor in America pose the same imaginary danger. Most Palestinians are not allowed into Israel just because they are Palestinian and the same holds true for citizens from most Arab countries, just like in the United States under Trump. Even those who have simply visited these Arab countries may be subject to interrogation, just like in America. Even Arabs who are Israeli citizens are subject to a series of humiliations on their way in and out of Israel — merely because they are Arabs. Coming soon under Donald the Terrible. Also, coming soon under Trump, perhaps thought police like in Israel, where the country closes its doors to people according to their views and opinions. Utter the word BDS and you can’t come in. Say no to the occupation and soon you will also be barred from entering. Trump doesn’t want refugees in his country, just as Israel doesn’t want them. Bitter memories are evoked by America’s moves to close its doors to refugees who have fled for their lives. But those who are shocked by this should remember that Israel has not recognized most of the asylum seekers from Africa who have come here as refugees. Israel has expelled more foreigners from its territory than Trump has from the United States and it has done so using despicable means.…