Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian dies after being shot by Israeli troops on his way to his last chemo session
Haaretz 17 Feb by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — No one bothered to keep the young Palestinian’s family informed — On his way to what was supposed to his final chemotherapy session, last November, he boarded the wrong shared taxi. Discovering his mistake, he got off and ran across the highway to catch a taxi going in the opposite direction. Israel Defense Forces soldiers who may have thought he was going to attack them, shot him, seriously wounding him. For the next three months, he was bedridden in Beilinson Hospital, in Petah Tikva, most of the time in the intensive care unit. Throughout that entire period, no one in the IDF thought of updating his parents and family about the condition of their loved one. His mother was the only one allowed who was supposed to be allowed to visit him, but even though she came a few times, on all but one occasion, she was not permitted to enter his room. Just as his condition seemed to be improving, he died, apparently last week. No one thought to inform the family about his death, or the circumstances surrounding it. Israel has not yet returned the body. In his native town of Tul Karm, in the northwestern part of the West Bank, no one believes that Mohammed-Aamar Jalad tried to attack soldiers on the way to his last chemo session. His father is the city’s legendary driving instructor – 45 years behind the wheel – and his grandfather was the first local resident to serve in the Israel Police. A photo of the grandfather in uniform hangs on a wall of Mohammed’s family’s house. This, then, was the life and death of the 25-year-old student, who dreamed of living in the United States, and who in 2010 won a U.S. green card through the lottery – but had fulfillment of his dream delayed by cancer, and terminated by Israeli soldiers...
Together with the mourning and grief, the family living in this sedate home in Tul Karm is reeling under a cloud of helplessness and lack of information. What did their loved one die of? Why was he arrested? What must they do to get possession of the body? Time and again they asked, and time and again their questions hung suspended in the air, unanswered.
Israel to return body of Palestinian who succumbed to injuries a week earlier
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 16 Feb — Israeli authorities will return the body of slain Palestinian Muhammad al-Jallad at 3 p.m. on Friday at the Enav checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem, according to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs. Al-Jallad — also known as Muhammad Amr — died on Feb. 10 in Israel’s Beilinson Hospital from injuries he sustained after Israeli forces shot him in the chest on Nov. 9, 2016 at the Huwwara checkpoint south of Nablus following an alleged stabbing attempt. Al-Jallad was being held in the hospital’s intensive care unit at the time of his death. The committee added that al-Jallad had also suffered from lymphoma. Israeli authorities claimed that al-Jallad had attempted to stab an Israeli soldier with a screwdriver before Israeli forces opened live fire on him. No Israeli injuries were reported at the time. Al-Jallad became the ninth Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces this year, after 112 Palestinians died as part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2016, according to Ma‘an documentation.
Palestinian man injured after being struck by Israeli settler car near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 16 Feb — A Palestinian man was injured Thursday evening after being hit by an Israeli settler’s vehicle at the entrance of the town of Beit Ummar in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad identified the injured man as 36-year-old Rafat Muhammad Shihdeh Abu Arrar Masalmeh from the Deir Samet town west of Hebron City. Awad added that the incident occurred when Masalmeh stepped out of his car in order to talk to his brother, who had parked in front of him on the side of the road. He added that Masalmeh was talking to his brother when an Israeli settler in a private vehicle “deliberately” ran him over. Masalmeh sustained several injuries across his body and face and was immediately transferred by a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance to a hospital in Hebron City. Awad added that the settler fled the area, and that Israeli police later picked up the settler in in a military jeep and claimed that the incident was an accident.
Israeli forces raid Nablus-area village, set up checkpoints, deploy snipers
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 16 Feb — Israeli forces raided Huwwara village Thursday evening, deploying heavily in the area and searching several houses after claims that a Molotov cocktail was thrown at an Israeli settler’s car from the main road near the village, which is located just south of Nablus city in the northern occupied West Bank. Awwad Najm, a Fatah spokesperson in Huwwara, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided several houses in the village including the village’s mayor, Nasser Jihad. Najm added that forces broke down the doors of the mayor’s house before searching it. Awwad added that Israeli forces deployed several snipers on rooftops of houses along the main road, in addition to setting up several military checkpoints throughout the village.
Family accuses Israeli soldiers of torching its home in Hebron area
HEBRON (WAFA) 14 Feb – A Palestinian family Tuesday accused Israeli soldiers of torching its home in Deir Razih, a village southwest of Hebron. Jihad Hajjeh told WAFA in a telephone call that soldiers threw flammable material inside the house when his wife and children had left it. “When my wife returned home few minutes later she saw it on fire and the soldiers were standing next to it,” he said. Hajjeh said they found yellow material on the floor, which he believes was the material the soldiers threw inside the house to set it on fire. He said hundreds of Israeli soldiers were in the area conducting military drills. Hajjeh said he and his three sons were detained a month ago after soldiers took over his house for three days. The house is located close to a main road and about 300 meters from a settlement outpost and a military camp.
Palestinian youths throw Molotov cocktail at Israeli army patrol
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Feb — A group of Palestinian youths allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli army patrol on Wednesday west of Ramallah city in the central occupied West Bank. Hebrew-language media sites reported that Palestinian youths threw a Molotov cocktail at Israeli forces patrolling the village of Shuqba. Israeli forces were reportedly searching for the Palestinians responsible.
Palestinian boy detained after attempting to steal Israeli soldier’s weapon in al-Ludd
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Feb — Israeli police detained a 13-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel on Wednesday for allegedly attempting to steal the weapon of a female Israeli soldier in the Israeli town of al-Ludd’s train station. According to Israeli spokeswoman Luba al-Samri, Israeli witnesses reportedly said that the Palestinian boy attempted to steal the soldier’s weapon, but failed. He tried to escape, however he was chased by Israeli civilians who eventually caught him and turned him into the Israeli police. She added that Israeli police had opened up an investigation into the incident.
Israeli forces detain 26 Palestinians in overnight West Bank detention raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Feb — Israeli forces detained at least 26 Palestinians in raids across the occupied West Bank before dawn Wednesday. -Southern West Bank- Israeli forces launched multiple raids in towns and villages across the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, detaining at least 11 Palestinians. Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awwad said that several houses were raided in central Beit Ummar as well as in the al-Bayyada area of the town. Israeli forces raided the house of 40-year-old Raed Muhammad Mahmoud Ikhlayyil and detained him. According to Awwad, Ikhlayyil was not able to move properly as he was suffering from a live gunshot wound in his pelvis that he sustained after being shot by Israeli soldiers in December at the funeral of his relative Khalid Ikhlayyil, when at least 20 other mourners were shot. Two others were also detained after Israeli soldiers raided their homes in Beit Ummar, identified by Awwad as 19-year-old Muhammad Ghazi Issa Zaaqiq and 16-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Abdullah Awad, who were taken to the Etzion military camp in northern Beit Ummar. Awwad added that 28 Palestinians have been detained in Beit Ummar since the beginning of 2017, including 11 who were under 18 years of age. Meanwhile, in the town of Dura, Israeli forces detained Dafaa Hantash, as well as Yousif Shahin and Nour al-Bustanji from the Wadi al-Shajina area after raiding and searching their homes, according to local sources.
-Central West Bank- Local sources in the central occupied West Bank told Ma‘an that Saad al-Zghayyar was detained in the Jerusalem district village of Kafr Aqab, and that Rami al-Barghouthi was detained in the Ramallah district village of Kafr Ein. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the two detentions, saying that the detention in Kafr Ein targeted an alleged Hamas operative, though she did not identify him by name. She added that elsewhere in the Ramallah district, Israeli forces also detained a Palestinian in Bil‘in, four in Ni‘lin, and one in Kafr Nima….
Israeli soldiers abduct ten Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 16 Feb — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Thursday at dawn, several districts in the occupied West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, violently searched homes, and abducted ten Palestinians, including three children, the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) reported. The PPS stated that several army vehicles invaded the al-‘Eesawiyya town, in the center of occupied East Jerusalem, violently searched homes and abducted Khalil Nasser, in addition to three children, identified as Mohannad Ma’moun Abu ‘Assab, 13, Mahmoud Mohammad Mustafa, 13, and Wisam Abu al-Hummus, 15. In addition, the soldiers abducted three Palestinians from their homes in ‘Azzoun town, in the northern West Bank district of Qalqilia. The Qalqilia office of the PPS identified the abducted Yahia Hamza ‘Hussein, 21, Anas Badwan, 24, and Wahbi Mousa al-Khouli, 27. The Tulkarem office of the PPS said the soldiers invaded Shweika area, north of the city, searched homes, and abducted Morad Monir Mahdawi, 26. It added that the soldiers invaded Ezbet Shoufa village, south of Tulkarem, also searched homes and abducted Mohannad Salem Abdul-Razeq, 36. The soldiers also invade Beita town, in the northern West Bank district of Nablus, searched homes and abducted Luay Mustafa Daoud, 22.
In related news, Israeli navy ships opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats close to the shore, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, causing damage.
PA governor of Jerusalem denounces Israeli violations in holy city
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 16 Feb — The Palestinian Authority (PA)-appointed governor of Jerusalem denounced on Wednesday statements by Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem. Adnan al-Husseini said that comments made on Monday by Erdan affirming that “the Temple Mount was the holiest site for the Jewish people, and only for the Jewish people” — using the Jewish term for the Al-Aqsa compound — were “extremely dangerous.” Al-Husseini said that Israeli measures in Jerusalem, including visits of the Al-Aqsa compound by extremist Israelis and detentions of Al-Aqsa employees, were “unprecedented.” According to the Islamic Endowment, 2016 saw the highest number of incursions on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by right-wing Israelis than previously recorded years, these incursions being often accompanied by assaults on employees of the endowment.
Israel imposes punitive measures on Bethlehem-area village after stone-throwing
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Feb — Israeli forces imposed punitive measures on residents from the village of Husan in the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem on Wednesday amid a crackdown on relatives of alleged Palestinian stone throwers. Israeli forces prevented workers in the village from entering the illegal Beitar Illit settlement where they are employed, while confiscating several Palestinian-owned vehicles. According to a Ma‘an reporter on the scene, dozens of workers from Husan were surprised when they were barred from entering the nearby Israeli settlement for work, despite having permits. The Israeli military had reportedly issued an order preventing any family members of Palestinian “stone throwers” from working in the settlement. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma‘an that measures were taken in Husan after “violent activities,” saying that Israeli forces had seized vehicles and “addressed the support systems” of the alleged stone throwers, although they could not elaborate on what that meant. Israeli forces had also closed the main entrance of the village connecting Husan with Bethlehem city several days ago with large cement blocks, while military checkpoints were also erected at other entrances of the village. In addition, Israeli forces raided Husan during predawn hours on Wednesday, confiscating five Palestinian-owned vehicles they claimed were “illegal.” http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=775478
Israeli forces install checkpoint at main entrance of Salfit-area village
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 16 Feb — Israeli forces installed a military checkpoint at the main entrance of a village in the central occupied West Bank on Wednesday evening, locals said. Ahmad Shqeir, a resident of the village of al-Zawiya in the Salfit district, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces were questioning residents, inspecting their IDs, and searching their cars at the checkpoint, causing traffic congestion. A spokesperson for the Israeli army told Ma‘an that they would look into the reports. Palestinian communities are routinely subjected to road closures by Israeli military forces for purported “security reasons,” an act which rights groups have denounced as amounting to collective punishment.
Prisoners / Court actions
Video (45:29) — Lost Time: Palestinian prisoners in Israel
Al Jazeera 15 Feb Filmmaker: Mustafa Al-Nabih — The poignant stories of Palestinian prisoners in Israel and the effects of imprisonment on them and their families — There are an estimated 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Since 1967, around 750,000 Palestinians have been in custody. Lost Time hears the deeply personal stories of some of the prisoners and their families, exploring the social, emotional, financial, physical, and psychological effects of long-term imprisonment. Diya and Mohamed Al-Agha were imprisoned in 1992 and 2003, respectively, and their mother, Najat, feels that she lost precious years with her boys. When Mohamed was released, Diya went on hunger strike. “I hope God grants me life to see them like any mother would see her children. I’ve missed 46 Eids and 23 Mother’s Days. It is unfortunate that I don’t get to celebrate,” laments Najat, who’s husband was also detained in 1973. As trauma and stress affect Palestinian prisoners, they also affect members of their families. Mohamed Hashash’s mother wasn’t allowed to visit him for 15 years. When she did, she suffered three strokes and is now confined to a single room the size of her son’s prison cell. Prisoner Mohammed Al-Basyouni smuggled his sperm out of jail when his wife, Ahlam, decided she wanted to have in-vitro fertilisation. Now she has twins – but they don’t know their father, are not allowed to visit him and are considered illegitimate under Israeli law….
Two detainees announce hunger strike
IMEMC 16 Feb — In a press release, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that two detainees held by Israel have declared an open-ended hunger strike, starting today – Thursday, protesting their continued imprisonment without charges or trial. The PPS identified the two detainees as Jamal Abu al-Leil and Raed Fayez Mteir, and added that the two detainees received three consecutive arbitrary Administrative Detention orders, each for six months, since they were abducted. It stated that Mteir was taken prisoner on February 14, 2016, while Abu al-Leil was abducted just one day later. It is worth mentioning that Abu al-Leil is a former member of the Revolutionary Council of Fateh movement, while Mteir is the head of Qalandia Youth Center. Both are from Qalandia refugee camp, north of occupied East Jerusalem, and were previously abducted and imprisonment several times.
Palestinian teenage girl convicted of ‘attempted murder’ in Jerusalem court
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 Feb — The Israeli magistrate’s court in Jerusalem convicted an imprisoned Palestinian teenage girl on charges of attempted murder and possession of a knife on Tuesday. According to defense lawyer Ramzi Kteilat, 17-year-old Malak Muhammad Salman was convicted for allegedly attempting to stab Israeli officers on Feb. 9, 2016 at the Damascus Gate entrance to occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. Israeli police claimed at the time that they stopped Salman for “moving in a suspicious way,” and then asked her to open her bag for inspection, when the teen allegedly pulled out a knife and attempted to stab the officers who “quickly controlled her without injuries.” Salman has been held in Israel’s HaSharon prison since her detention, and Kteilat said that the girl would have another court session for sentencing on March 26. Salman’s conviction is the latest in an Israeli crackdown on young Jerusalemite Palestinians, many of them women, who have been accused of involvement in attacks, while Israeli authorities have ordered lengthy prison sentences for Palestinians as young as 14 years old in both East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.
Palestinian sentenced to 17 months in prison for Facebook ‘incitement’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Feb — A Jerusalem magistrate court sentenced a Palestinian to 17 months in Israeli prison on Tuesday for “supporting terrorist organizations” on Facebook. Israeli news outlet Arutz Sheva reported that the Palestinian was a resident of the Shu‘fat refugee camp, which is cut off from the rest of occupied East Jerusalem by Israel’s separation wall. He was reportedly convicted of 12 counts of “incitement to violence and terrorism” on Facebook. Shu‘fat refugee camp is located in northeastern Jerusalem within Israel’s municipal boundaries of the city, but is encircled on three sides by Israel’s separation wall, forcing residents to pass through a congested military checkpoint to access the rest of Jerusalem where most claim residency status.
In September, the camp experienced at least seven consecutive days of violent raids in the weeks following the fatal shooting of a camp resident [Mustafa Nimir] by Israeli forces while he was driving home.
Israeli prosecution accuses 2 Palestinian prisoners of stabbing prison guards
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 14 Feb — The Israeli general prosecution in Beersheba filed charges Tuesday against two Palestinian prisoners accused of stabbing prison guards in separate incidents on the same day in Israel’s Nafha and Ktziot prisons earlier this month. Officials representing the Beersheba prosecution told Ma‘an that 22-year-old Mahmoud Amir Nasser was charged with stabbing Ktziot prison guard Tzvika Lahme in the face and the upper extremities. According to the indictment, the incident came after Nasser, who is serving a 52-month sentence, was subjected to a search by Israel Prison Service (IPS) officers on Feb. 1. Nasser’s lawyer has said that at least 30 Israeli prison officials raided the section of the prison where Nasser was held, firing sound bombs and using pepper spray on the prisoners, and violently assaulted Nasser. According to the Israeli prosecution, Nasser responded to the raid by stabbing Lahme with a sharp object, formerly reported to be a razor blade, while shouting “Allahu Akbar.” Not mentioned in the list of charges filed Tuesday was the case of Mahmoud Nasser’s brother, Ahmad Nasser, who appeared in court previously for his involvement in the Ktziot prison raid, in which he said he was assaulted by IPS officers without any clear reason.
On the same day of the incident in Ktziot, 27-year-old prisoner Khalid Khalil Silawi allegedly stabbed prison guard Faris Mushalab during a cell inspection in Nafha prison. Both Nafha and Ktziot are located in Israel’s southern Negev region.Silawi, who is serving a 18-year sentence, also shouted “Allahu Akbar” before he stabbed the guard, according to the prosecution. The indictment against the two, which says that both Nasser and Silwai are affiliated to the Hamas movement, was submitted at the Beersheba magistrate’s court by lawyer Rami Makkawi.
Palestinian teens detail their torture at the hands of Israeli authorities
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Feb — Two Palestinian teenagers held in Israel’s Ofer detention center have been shot, abused, and tortured during their detention and interrogation by Israeli authorities, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs. Lawyer for the committee Hussein al-Araj said that 17-year-old Musab Muhammad Ghneimat from Surif in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron and 16-year-old Ayad Amr from Dura in the Hebron district told him they were tortured in Israeli custody. Ghneimat was was shot and injured in the foot by Israeli forces on Oct. 23, 2015, after he allegedly stabbed an Israeli soldier. He told the lawyer that after soldiers claimed he carried out a stabbing attack, they chased after him and shot him in the foot, immobilizing him. When he stopped, an Israeli soldier fired two rounds on the ground near him and a third at his wounded foot from point-blank range. Minutes later, he added, an Israeli ambulance arrived to evacuate him. “I almost fainted, but the soldiers kept hitting me on the shoulder to keep me awake.” He said that he was then taken to Israel’s Hadassah hospital ,where he was held for 18 days, saying he was interrogated before receiving treatment for his injuries…..
Congresswoman tells Netanyahu: End abuse of Palestinian children
EI 15 Feb by Nora Barrows-Friedman — A member of Congress said she had “a clear message” for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in Washington on Wednesday: he must respect the rights of Palestinian children. As US President Donald Trump and the Israeli leader held a joint press conference at the White House, Representative Betty McCollum of Minnesota challenged Israel’s systematic abuses of Palestinian children in a post on Facebook. “Israel’s military detention system arrests, interrogates and prosecutes as many as 700 Palestinian children – as young as 11 years old – every year,” McCollum says. “Abuse is rampant and children often have no lawyer or parent present during detention and interrogation.” “Israel must end the abusive military detention of Palestinian children,” she adds. “Israeli children, Palestinian children – all children – should be able to live free of systematic, state-sponsored human rights abuses! Respecting the human rights of children is the only path to peace and security in the Middle East.”….
Young Palestinian man dies from wounds suffered in 2005
IMEMC 17 Feb — The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza has reported, Thursday, that a young man died at an Egyptian hospital from serious wounds he suffered after Israeli soldiers shot him in 2005, near Khan Younis, in the southern part of the coastal region. The Ministry said Samed Fahmi Abu Shanab, 29, suffered various injuries, including paralysis, after the soldiers shot him in the spine, and suffered numerous complications afterwards, eventually leading to kidney failure. It added that Abu Shanab was eventually moved to an Egyptian hospital for treatment, where he was awaiting kidney transplant surgery, but died from serious complications. Media sources in Gaza said Abu Shanab was shot near a former Israeli colony, prior to the Israeli military withdrawal and evacuation of settlements in the Gaza Strip.
Gazan youth dies after work accident, man commits suicide in Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 16 Feb — A 20 year-old Palestinian died on Thursday, succumbing to wounds he sustained during a construction accident one week earlier in the central Gaza Strip, according to locals, while a 37-year-old committed suicide in the city of Jabaliya. Muhammad Najib Wishah, a resident of the Bureij refugee camp, was accidentally electrocuted last week while working at a construction site, along with another worker. The identity and condition of the second injured worker remained unknown.
Meanwhile, a 37-year-old Palestinian committed suicide Thursday in the city of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip. Palestinian police spokesperson in the Gaza Strip Ayman al-Batinji said that a Palestinian identified as “S.M.” was suffering from psychological issues that led him to commit suicide, adding that police found his body in the Abu Safiya district in Jabalia. He said that police have opened an investigation to uncover all circumstances of the incident.
Egypt to open Rafah crossing with Gaza for 1 day
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Feb — Egyptian authorities decided on Thursday to open the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip on Saturday for one day. The Gaza crossings and borders committee said in a statement that the decision was made to allow those Palestinians stuck in Egypt to enter Gaza. According to the statement, “hundreds of youths” had left from Gaza to Egypt earlier in the week to take part in a youth conference and are expected to return on Saturday.
Israel allows entry of diesel into Gaza via Kerem Shalom crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — Israeli authorities opened the Karam Abu Salam (Kerem Shalom) crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip on Friday to allow diesel into the besieged coastal enclave. A member of the Gaza Union of Gas Station Owners, Nour al-Din al-Khazandar, told Ma‘an that 500 thousand liters of diesel were expected to be allowed into Gaza. Gaza’s power authority said in a statement Thursday that its main electricity plant had been operating with only two generators, causing “confusion in the schedule of electricity distribution,” especially amid high demand of electricity supply due to cold weather. The authority also highlighted that there was a “stall” on the entry of Turkish fuel aid to Gaza.
Report: Fatah objects to Qatari accusations that PA ‘impeding’ Gaza electricity situation
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Feb — The Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party has reportedly rejected criticism made by a Qatari official last week, who said the PA was impeding efforts to resolve the besieged Gaza Strip’s ongoing electricity crisis. Qatari special envoy to the Gaza Strip Muhammad al-Amadi’s interview with Hebrew-language news outlet Walla, which was also published in the English-language Times of Israel, was said to be the first time an official Qatari representative gave an interview to an Israeli news outlet. In regards to the besieged Gaza Strip’s severe electricity crisis, al-Amadi told Walla that he believed Israel was “ready to help with the plan Qatar proposed, but the Palestinian Authority is impeding it.” He said Qatar has given several suggestions to solve the ongoing crisis, including the establishment of a new power line from Israel to fuel the besieged coastal enclave’s sole power plant. “The long-term stage concerns the supply of gas to the Strip in a manner that would increase the output of the power plant, thus allowing for more power in Gaza. Gas costs one-fifth of the price of the diesel currently operating the power plant,” al-Amadi reportedly said. A statement from the Fatah movement on Sunday night published by Times of Israel condemned the allegations, saying that while Fatah welcomed support provided by Qatar for the benefit of Gaza, it totally rejected accusations that the PA was not committed to the residents of the besieged coastal enclave….
Israeli forces open fire towards Gaza fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Feb — Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning. Fishermen told Ma‘an that Israeli military ships fired at them off the coast of Beit Lahiya. No injuries were reported.
Families of Palestinians killed in Gaza war protest at Palestine TV office
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Feb — Dozens of family members of Palestinians killed during the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip broke into the office of the state-run Palestine TV news network in Gaza City on Tuesday for second time in two weeks. The relatives have been protesting since January against the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) failure to disburse allowances to “martyrs’ families.” The protesters said on Tuesday that they wouldn’t leave the offices of Palestine TV until PA President Mahmoud Abbas responded to their demands. They added that they had chosen to protest at the channel’s headquarters due to its affiliation with the Palestinian government: “The station is affiliated with Abbas, and so the message should be conveyed through that station.” …
According to a PLO official, 2,000 families were still eligible to receive allowances more than two and a half years after the devastating Israeli offensive on Gaza as a financial compensation for the deaths of their relatives. The 50-day offensive caused the deaths of 2,251 Palestinians, 1,462 of them civilians, and 72 Israelis, five of them civilians, according to UN documentation.
Video: Residents evacuated from flooded Gaza camp
Euronews 16 Feb — Rescue workers have evacuated the elderly from their homes flooded with sewage and rainwater in a refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. At least eight families have been evacuated from their dwellings in the Jabaliya camp. Rescuers could be seen evacuating people from their homes in small boats. Other residents waded through knee-high water to reach safety. Rain water and sewage have flooded the streets as the drain system has clogged up. A winter storm Winter storms have brought freezing rain and severe flooding across the Gaza Strip. The territory’s struggling sewage system has been overwhelmed. Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on the Palestinian territory after Hamas took power in 2007. The restrictions, as well as ongoing conflict, have taken a heavy toll on Gaza’s infrastructure. What they are saying “The sewage and water flooded our homes, she says. We were bailing it out with buckets, but it was no good. My son fell in the sewage and I pulled him out. I got soaked with dirty water, my clothes have dried but I don’t know what to do. We have been suffering like this for 20 years here,” – Basema Al-Beshawi, local resident.
Heavy rain inundates homes in Gaza Strip, forces schools to shut down
GAZA (Ma‘an) 16 Feb — Damage caused by heavy rain forced all schools in the besieged Gaza Strip to close on Thursday, local sources said. The head of the emergency committee of Gaza City, Saad al-Din al-Atbash, said that crews were working non-stop to deal with the consequences of the inclement weather. The Ministry of Education in Gaza decided to close all schools due to the persistent bad weather, while some universities suspended classes. Gaza civil defense spokesman Muhammad al-Maydana told Ma’an that ten homes were flooded in the northern Gaza Strip neighborhood of Saftawi and had to be evacuated, adding that no one was injured. The Ministry of Agriculture, meanwhile, said that Gaza had witnessed a 65 percent occurrence of rainfall in the past 24 days. Ministry official Shafiq al-Arawi said that the rain would benefit plants and soil and replenish the aquifer water supplies in the Gaza Strip. The flooding came as Gaza’s power company said on Thursday that Egyptian lines feeding the blockaded coastal enclave with 20 megawatts of electricity had been damaged.
Photos: Streets flooded in Gaza
PIC — Streets of Gaza City flooded with rainwater on Thursday 16/2/2017 after two days of heavy rainfall
Photos: Rainbow in Gaza
PIC — rainbow decorating the skies of Gaza on 16/2/2017
Gaza crossings’ operations status: monthly update January 2017
Infographic from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) 12 Feb
Special report: Israel’s ongoing aggression against Gaza
RAMALLAH (PNN) 14 Feb – with chart from the Palestinian Monitoring Group (PNG) summarizing Israeli violations by type, district, and number — ...Israel continues to use its full-fledged military force to strengthen its heinous illegal blockade of Gaza. This report summarizes the ongoing Israeli aggression against besieged Gaza since the beginning of 2017 and until February 9th and presents examples of ongoing Israeli violations of international humanitarian law … PALESTINIANS INJURED During the period covered by the report: nearly 138 fire attacks were carried out as well as 7 air strikes, leading to the injury of 9 Palestinians including 2 children. The following examples highlight several attacks carried out by the Israeli occupying forces: On 14 January, Israeli Naval vessels opened fire towards Palestinian fishing boats off the shores of Al-Sudaniya area located in west Beit Lahiya town and as a result injured fisherman Eyad Abu Al-Amarin….
Gaza series wins international photography prize
EI 14 Feb by Maureen Clare Murphy — Anne Paq, a French photojournalist who has worked in Palestine for more than a decade, has been awarded a top prize in an international photography competition for her series documenting families affected by Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza. Titled “Obliterated Families,” the multimedia project profiles 10 of the more than 140 families who lost three or more members during the 51-day bombardment. Paq was in Gaza during the offensive, “photographing attack after attack, and countless bodies,” she told The Electronic Intifada last year. “But it’s really hard in this situation to get to the stories of people. So for me it was important to go back,” she said … With the assistance of Al-Mezan, a human rights group in Gaza, she would visit 50 families. Early iterations of the “Obliterated Families” project were published by The Electronic Intifada in January and July 2015. It has since grown into a comprehensive web documentary produced by Paq and Ala Qandil, with the involvement of dozens of other media professionals, and is also available as a downloadable exhibition kit. The project took first place in the editorial documentary category of the International Photographer of the Year for 2016. The prize was announced this week … Paq, who told The Electronic Intifada that she was “honored and very moved to receive this award,” is back in Gaza after a two-year absence, working on a full-length documentary that “follows one of the families’ struggle for justice.” “Since my last visit, not much changed,” she added. “True, some homes have been rebuilt, but the people are still broken.” The years of isolation due to Israel’s decade-long siege and the trauma of repeated Israeli offensives, with no improvement on the horizon, have had a profound impact on Palestinians in Gaza. “Many of my friends left, and the ones who stay, they are struggling,” Paq said. “How [do you] rebuild yourself when waiting for the next bombs? How can you mourn your loved ones if there is no justice?”….
Israel’s eye on Gaza: The IDF’s electronic observation unit
JPost 16 Feb by Anna Ahronheim — While the IDF’s evaluation is that Hamas currently has no interest in engaging Israel in another conflict, Israeli soldiers are on guard, watching the Gaza Strip 24/7. The IDF has surveillance techniques such as micro-observation balloons that collect high-resolution, image-based intelligence and also assist ground units in operations, but nothing can replace the IDF electronic observation unit, made up solely of women, which acts as the eyes of Israel. For the female soldiers who spend all day, every day, watching the Gaza Strip, it is clear that the scene has changed since Operation Protective Edge. Hamas has built military outposts all along the border with Israel and also carries out regular patrols, both to impose its control on the Strip and to watch what is happening on the Israeli side. Capt. Tuval Tzadok and Capt. Naama Dill, who serve in the IDF’s electronic observation unit in the northern and southern sectors of the border with Gaza, respectively, spoke to The Jerusalem Post about the unit’s importance. “We see everything on the border, every person who wants to cross. Everyone who tries to cross the border, we see as a threat.” Tzadok and Dill, who are stationed at two different edges of the Strip, told the Post that “both sectors are the same,” that no matter if it’s Islamic State in Sinai or Hamas in Gaza, “the enemy is the same, and we are watching them.” Tzadok and Dill said that the quiet in their sectors depend largely on the work that the 130 female soldiers under their command carry out around the clock. According to them “it’s hard for male soldiers to multi-task.” In the electronic observation unit, one has to be able to watch and locate any terrorist infiltration while at the same time alert troops to the infiltration and then communicate with them, once they are in the field….
How Hamas’ new Gaza leader came to power
Al-Monitor 14 Feb by Shlomi Eldar — Even as reports were emerging of Yahya Sinwar’s Feb. 13 election to replace Ismail Haniyeh as the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, other reports from Gaza are pointing to a significant decline in the health of Mohammed al-Deif, the commander of the movement’s military wing. Some Gaza sources even claim he is at death’s door. Deif is considered a living legend for surviving all Israeli attempts on his life. The top of Israel’s most wanted list was injured in September 2002, during the second Palestinian intifada, when two missiles fired from an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) helicopter hit a car in which he was traveling on Salah al-Din Street in Gaza City. Deif was severely injured, sustaining head wounds and face burns, and lost his sight in one eye. He underwent complex treatments by doctors sent from Egypt to Gaza and survived. Deif survived another assassination attempt in July 2006, when the IDF attacked a house where he was staying. Once again, he was seriously hurt, forced to undergo a series of orthopedic treatments and vacate his position as head of the Hamas military wing. Command of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades was handed over to Ahmed Jabari, who was subsequently killed by Israel in November 2012 on the eve of its Operation Pillar of Defense in the Gaza Strip. Deif was once again called to take charge despite his serious disabilities, the fierce headaches from which he suffered and the daily use of painkillers in order to keep going. During Operation Protective Edge, in August 2014, another attempt was made to take him out, when an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a house in which he was staying with one of his wives and two of his children. The wife and the children were killed in the attack. Deif survived, once more. Over time, each injury he sustained only added to Deif’s glory and to the belief in his immortality and protection by Allah. Even after Operation Protective Edge, and despite his declining health, he is still considered the dominant figure of the Hamas military wing. But according to sources in the Gaza Strip, he is gradually growing weaker. Deif can no longer carry out the demanding tasks of a military leader….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel to use Regularization law to confiscate private Palestinian land in Ramallah
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Feb — In what could be the first move to legalize Israeli settler structures on private Palestinian land since the passage of the outpost “Regularization law” last week, the Israeli government reportedly informed Israel’s Supreme Court that it was considering using the controversial law to confiscate Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, Israeli media reported on Tuesday. According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Israeli government has plans to legalize seven structures built in the Israeli outpost of Adi Ad, including roads built to connect the settlers to the rest of Israel, all of which have been constructed on private Palestinian lands in the West Bank district of Ramallah … According to Haaretz, Palestinians had petitioned the Supreme Court in 2014 to demand that Adi Ad be demolished, as six structures in the outpost’s area were built on land that was not Israeli-declared state lands, including a “number of roads” and “paths within the outposts.”….
Opinion: A shadowy edict of Israeli occupation / Amira Hass
Haaretz 15 Feb — Military Edict No. 1933 is a far more effective tool than the blatant land-theft law (the “Regulation Law”). In contrast to that civil statute, there is no High Court of Justice that can overrule the military edict. And contrary to formal military orders, this one is shadowy. It obliges every foot soldier and commander to obey every settler, to fulfill his every wish. This order has evolved of its own accord over the years, deriving from the concept of the Jew as belonging to a superior nation, and from the idea that every settler embodies the wishes of the Creator to rid the land of its indigenous natives or at least to concentrate them in closed reserves. One of the corollaries of this edict is that army commanders obey settlers’ instructions to prevent members of the lesser race from reaching their lands in order to work them. The instructions are translated into weapons, dogs, batons, stones, saws, shooting, fire, blows, threats and their enactment; and smiles, lots of smiles. Anyone who hasn’t witnessed the white-toothed smile of an armed master removing farmers and shepherds from their land has not seen a real smile. The armed master knows that ultimately the High Court of Justice will confirm that he has been on this plot of land for 3,200 years, which gives him ownership rights over it. If you’ve scarcely heard of these instructions it’s because giving them is not the kind of event Israeli media define as news, and because in many locations the edict has already attained its objectives. On one hand, Judeo-Samarian troops indeed frighten and deter Palestinian farmers from reaching their orchards and fields and shepherds from going to pasture, while on the other hand our army has issued orders barring these farmers from entering their land. The Judeo-Samarians attack? The military commander will prohibit Palestinians from moving around. This results in curfew, closure, orders for closing off areas, binding shepherds tending their flocks, detention….
Israeli forces demolish house in Bedouin village, leaving disabled woman homeless
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 15 Feb– Israeli bulldozers escorted by the Israeli police’s Yoav unit, the section created to implement demolitions of Bedouin homes in the Negev, demolished a house in the unrecognized Bedouin village of al-Zarora in the Negev of southern Israel on Wednesday morning, leaving a wheelchair-bound woman in her forties homeless. Head of the regional council for unrecognized Bedouin villages Attiya al-Asam told Ma‘an that the Israeli demolition campaign in the Negev had “crossed all lines” by targeting the homes of disabled residents, adding that the recent wave of demolitions were “inhumane” and were motivated by “hatred for the Arabs.” He added that Israeli police and authorities had dealt with the recent evacuation of the illegal Israeli outpost of Amona with “patience,” while the government has “done everything to solve the settlers’ problems, pay them compensation, and provide them new homes.” However, the demolitions carried out on Palestinian homes are done with “cruel methods,” while leaving “women, children, and even handicapped individuals homeless in cold weather and rain.” A Ma‘an reporter on the scene said that Israeli forces and bulldozers were still present in the area, including in the area of Beersheba, since the early morning, sparking fear among residents that more demolitions might be carried out. Israeli forces also leveled lands at the Gulim bus station in Rahat, a recognized Bedouin city in southern Israel, on Wednesday. The head of the Galim Public Transportation Company in Rahat held the mayor responsible for the activities in the area.
Israeli authorities demolish 3 buildings in East Jerusalem neighborhood
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 Feb — Israeli authorities demolished at least three houses, two of which were under construction, in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya on Tuesday, local sources said. Homeowner Salih Turk told Ma‘an that a large number of Israeli police officers, including special forces, stormed his home in the neighborhood on Tuesday morning and forcibly evacuated his family, “preventing us from taking our belongings.” Bulldozers then demolished the house, Turk said, adding that 11 family members, including six minors, were left homeless by the demolition. Turk said that the Jerusalem municipality had postponed the demolition a year ago to Feb. 8, and fined him 25,000 shekels ($6,680), which he was still paying off. Turk said that neither he nor his lawyer had been informed of the planned date of the demolition. Meanwhile, local popular committee member Muhammad Abu al-Hummus told Ma‘an that two houses under construction were demolished in the al-Kharuba area of ‘Issawiya that same morning.
Israeli forces demolish 2 houses, room in Hizma
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 15 Feb — Israeli forces demolished two homes and a room of a third house on Wednesday morning in the neighborhood of Hizma in the occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem. Hizma’s mayor Muwaffaq al-Khatib told Ma‘an that Israeli forces demolished a house and a room belonging to the Abd al-Aziz family, leaving eight members of the family homeless. Al-Khatib added that an under-construction house belonging to the Othman family was also demolished, with Israeli authorities claiming that the family lacked Israeli-issued building permits. Both COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, and the Jerusalem municipality denied being involved in the demolitions.
Israel extends ‘Orient House’ closure [yet again] for six months
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 14 Feb – Israeli authorities Tuesday extended the closure of the “Orient House” in occupied East Jerusalem for another six months, according to local sources. The decision to extend the closure was issued by the Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan. The Orient House, described as the national headquarters of the Palestinian people in East Jerusalem, was built in 1897 by Mussa al-Hussayni, a major Palestinian figure and owned by the Hussayni family since. The house was shut down in 1988 and reopened in 1992 and became the official Palestinian political address in Jerusalem and the official body in charge of negotiating the final status of Jerusalem and headquarters for multilateral negotiations. According to its website, on August 2001 the Israeli Authorities illegally occupied and closed the Orient House. “The Israeli army and police have confiscated all the computer equipment, files, data and valuable confidential information regarding issues on Jerusalem, which were intended to be used in negotiations with the Israeli government.” See also: Jerusalem’s Orient House a symbol of Palestinian struggle
Palestinian Jordan Valley February 7, 2017 – Machsomwatch report
Nurit Popper, Daphne Banai, translated by Tal Haran — “Please help us get back our tractors, we have no water!” said Ali Bani Odeh’s 5-year old son who approached me and handed me a balloon. His home had been demolished just one hour earlier. Three months ago I wrote “Ali’s Rage” after his home was demolished, his tractor – his source of livelihood – confiscated, and to top it all off, the army, under the pretext of military maneuvers, chased him out of the temporary dwelling tent organized for him by emergency organization. Today at 10 a.m. once more the yellow destruction machines arrived, escorted by army jeeps and the Civil Administration’s white pickup trucks (the administration that was founded after the 1967 war to cater to the needs of the civilian Palestinian population, but in fact serves mainly to damage that population in the most effective, cruelest manner). Ali lives in Ras Al Ahmar with his wife Dalal and their five children. The place is highly fertile, its ground containing plenty of water. Ali, however, may not pump a single drop. Since the region has been declared a firing zone, many generations after Ali’s family began living there, he may not even introduce a tractor to carry water and feed for his flock. For three months Ali’s tractor as well as the tractors of 6 other residents have been held by the Civil Administration. These people call me on a daily basis, desperate – these tractors are as vital to them as hands and feet. Two weeks ago they were notified of the fine they must pay. They ran to the postal bank and paid. All of them. But then the Civil Administration got clever – now they must also sign a commitment not to re-introduce tractors into the area. What can they do with the tractor if it cannot bring them water? Without water, this is no less than expulsion. It has no other name!….
Israeli forces shut down waste landfill in Nablus area
NABLUS (WAFA) 14 Feb – Israeli forces Tuesday closed a waste landfill in the village of Rujeib, Nablus in the occupied West Bank, and prevented Palestinians from accessing the site to get rid of garbage. Ghassan Daghlas, a local official who monitors settlement activity, told WAFA that Israeli forces prevented Palestinians living in the village from getting rid of waste in the landfill, claiming the site is an Area C, under Israeli control. He also added that soldiers seized two vehicles used to drain water.
In West Bank, Israeli and Palestinian archaeologists both lay claim to heritage
NPR 16 Feb by Samuel Estrin — If history is a matter of dispute in the Middle East, so too is some of the archaeology underway to document and preserve remnants of that history. The Israeli military has an archaeology unit that is responsible for excavations in most of the West Bank, land captured by Israel in 1967 and sought by Palestinians for an independent state. According to an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, the status of the West Bank — and the artifacts found there — are to be negotiated in eventual peace talks. Until then, the military archaeologists continue to dig — and grant excavation permits to Israeli academics to dig — in the West Bank. “Our work is mainly to preserve the history of the area,” said Benny Har-Even, the military’s deputy staff officer for archaeology, walking among the ruins of a village dating to the 2nd century B.C. Nearby, the Palestinian workers the army employs laid cement to reinforce a row of stones, preparing the site as a tourist destination. The military’s archaeologists see their job as a race to save some 3,000 known archeological sites in the area. “We need to take care of them, to protect them, to try to avoid bandits destroying them,” Har-Even said. But some aspects of Israeli archaeology in West Bank are not made public by the army, according to Israeli archaeologist Rafi Greenberg of Emek Shaveh, a left-wing group of archaeologists critical of the digging. “They do not publish the list of excavations or the list of excavators or the list of finds or the location of their storerooms,” said Greenberg. “That’s all kept as a state secret.” The group accuses Israel of using archaeology to strengthen its control of the West Bank, and it sued in court to find out which Israeli academics were granted permits to excavate there, among other information. An Israeli judge ruled in November that the identity of those archaeologists would remain classified, to protect them from boycotts by colleagues around the world who object to cooperation with Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank. Greenberg believes the secrecy speaks volumes….
Activists protest Palestinian home demolitions in front of Barkat’s Jerusalem house
JPost 15 Feb vy Daniel K. Eisenbud — “The mayor is advancing a racist policy that is unacceptable to most Israelis to make personal political gains,” says Free Jerusalem — Dozens of activists from the left-wing NGO Free Jerusalem gathered in front of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat’s home in the capital on Tuesday night to protest increasing Arab home demolitions. According to Free Jerusalem’s spokeswoman Michal Haramati, the municipality has recently expedited home demolitions of Arab residents who were forced to construct the illegal structures due to the inability to lawfully procure building permits from the city. Haramati claimed the right-wing mayor – who is rumored to be interested in running for national office – is now cynically increasing home demolitions to garner support in the Likud. “In the last month in east Jerusalem, there has been a major issue with increased Palestinian home demolitions, but the municipality is consistently not giving building permits to Arab residents and not planning appropriately for their housing needs,” she said on Wednesday. “It’s impossible [for east Jerusalem Arabs] to get a permit to begin with, and the result is that they have no choice but to build to accommodate their families, and end up paying hundreds of thousands of shekels to appeal the demolitions in court, which only postpones them. “He’s gone further to the Right over the last month,” Haramati said of the mayor. Moreover, Haramati said the mayor is flagrantly advancing a “racist policy” for political gain, a policy that is unacceptable to most Israelis….
Solidarity / BDS
Only five NFL players show up for Israel trip, after others refuse to be ‘goodwill ambassadors’
Haaretz 17 Feb by Allison Kaplan Sommer — What was supposed to be a high-profile image-buffing visit by a delegation of 13 NFL players to Israel ended up failing to draw enough players to field a team. In the end, only five of the players originally slated on the seven-day trip designed to make them “ambassadors of good will” for Israel ended up arriving to tour the Holy Land and seeing the sights, after a public relations fumble caused the majority to pull out … The decision of the other participants not to come on the trip took place after the visit was publicized by Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister Gilad Erdan on February 5, with a press release describing the trip as being part of an “intensive fight against the delegitimization and BDS campaigns against Israel, and part of this struggle includes hosting influencers and opinion-formers of international standing in different fields.” The football players would get “a balanced picture of Israel, the opposite from the false incitement campaign that is being waged against Israel around the world,” he said. The move was followed by the publishing of an “open letter” urging the players not to go, sponsored by pro-Palestinian activist groups and signed by high-profile activists and celebrities like Alice Walker, Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover. At the very beginning of the letter, Erdan’s words are cited as evidence that Israel was “aiming to use your fame to advance their own agenda: an agenda that comes at the expense of the Palestinian people.”….
London college invests in makers of Israeli weapons
EI 13 Feb by Shahd Abusalama & David Cronin — King’s College London has given a misleading explanation about its investments in firms that supply weapons and their components to Israel and Saudi Arabia. Over the past few months, students at the British university have been protesting at its financial connections to the arms industry. A group called Demilitarise King’s has researched how the college invests – via funds – in such companies as BAE Systems and GE. The group has calculated that King’s has invested more than £1.5 million ($1.9 million) in the weapons trade. Rather than address the concerns raised by the group, the chief administrator at King’s has tried to fob them off. “King’s College London does not have any direct investments in the arms trade,” Edward Byrne, the university’s president, told The Electronic Intifada. “We only invest through funds and in so doing seek to balance our financial objectives with wider societal considerations.” Byrne added that King’s uses a fund run by the financial services firm BlackRock, which, according to him, “purposely excludes investment in companies that produce controversial weapons.” -Distorting truth- Research undertaken by Demilitarise King’s suggests that Byrne is distorting the truth. The research shows that King’s has invested in GE via the BlackRock fund to which Byrne referred. GE provides equipment and services to Israel through the US military aid program…..
Palestine activists in Spain could face prison over Matisyatu boycott call
EI 13 Feb by Ali Abunimah — Activists in Spain are facing criminal charges for calling on a music festival two years ago to cancel a performer who has used his celebrity to fundraise for the Israeli army and to support anti-Palestinian causes. According to media in Spain, the complaint could land at least one of the activists in prison for up to four years because of five tweets he posted in August 2015 criticizing the Rototom Sunsplash music festival for inviting Matthew Miller, the American musician who uses the stage name Matisyahu. The complaint, which lists nine activists, was filed by pro-Israel lawyers, including Abel Isaac de Bedoya Piquer, who heads a legal group that purports to combat anti-Semitism. It appears to be the latest attack aimed at the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement by Israel’s surrogates. Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian human rights activist and co-founder of the BDS movement, called the charges “legal intimidation.”….
Stephen Hawking fundraises for Palestinian physics students
The Forward 14 Feb by Naomi Zeveloff — Palestinian physics students just got a boost from world famous British physicist Stephen Hawking. Hawking, perhaps the most influential living scientist, asked his 3.8 million Facebook followers to pitch in to the Palestinian Advanced Physics School, a physics lecture series for West Bank masters students. Hawking gave a video greeting in the school’s 2016 session, where British, American and Jordanian scientists lectured in a range of topics in contemporary physics. On his Facebook page, Hawking promoted a fundraising campaign for the school’s continuation in 2017. “I support the rights of scientists everywhere to freedom of movement, publication and collaboration,” he wrote. Four years ago, Hawking drew the ire of Israel advocates when he withdrew from a conference in Israel celebrating the 90th birthday of former President Shimon Peres, now deceased. At the time, Hawking said that the Israel’s government’s policies toward the Palestinians would “lead to disaster.”
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory
PCHR-GAZA 16 Feb — A Palestinian Civilian succumbed to his wounds in the West Bank Four Palestinian civilians were wounded, including 2 journalists, in the West Bank. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Sea. Israeli forces continued to target the Gaza Strip border areas, but no casualties were reported. Israeli forces conducted 60 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and one limited incursion in the northern Gaza Strip. 51 civilians, including 4 children, were arrested in the West Bank. 9 of them were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. Settlers took over a room, store and yard in Silwan village. 3 houses and sheep barn were destroyed in al-‘Issawiya village, while a civilian was forced to self-demolish a store in Silwan. Two under-construction houses, part of an inhabited house and shop were leveled in Hezma village, northeast of occupied Jerusalem. 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. 9 Palestinian civilians, including a child and a girl, were arrested at military checkpoints. Israeli forces arrested Director of Tika Agency at Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. [Details follow]
Palestinian Fatah faction picks deputy leader to Mahmoud Abbas
Reuters 15 Feb — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction on Wednesday chose a deputy party leader but it was unclear whether Mahmoud Al-Aloul would also be favorite to succeed him as president. Aloul, for years a close Abbas confidant, has clout among the party’s grassroots and had a military background. He is the first deputy leader appointed since Fatah’s founding in the 1960s by former Palestinian president, Yasser Arafat. The 18-member Fatah Central Committee’s vote to elect a deputy to Abbas came after protracted debate. Fatah is the largest and most influential group in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the backbone of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority. The media-shy Aloul, 67, served as governor of the West Bank Palestinian city of Nablus for 10 years and as minister of labor but he is not the deputy leader of the Palestinian Authority and is therefore not seen as a certain successor as president to the 81-year-old Abbas. Aloul was a commander who led Fatah forces that fought Israel in Lebanon and were responsible for abducting eight Israeli soldiers there in 1983.
Israeli company threatens to cut West Bank electricity
MEMO 15 Feb — The director of the Israel Electricity Corporation threatened on Tuesday to cut off the electricity supply to parts of the occupied West Bank due to unpaid debts accumulated by the Palestinian Authority, Quds Press has reported. Yiftah Ron-Tal said that there are ongoing negotiations with the PA for payment of the debts worth $270 million. He pointed out that the PA had paid NIS600 million ($160m), but the debts are growing and the situation has “become unbearable.” “We achieved good results through the ongoing negotiations, but no sums have been paid yet and this is unacceptable,” he explained. The official said that if the current negotiations come to a dead end, the company will start reducing electricity supplies for the PA. In September last year, Israel and the PA signed an agreement regarding the outstanding debts. The Israeli Finance Minister, Moshe Kahlon, and Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein Al-Sheikh witnessed the agreement. It stipulated that the PA itself would have to collect electricity charges from the consumers instead of the municipalities and then pay the collected money to Israel. The electricity corporation has already reduced supplies to several areas across the occupied West Bank
Ramallah blackout due to cut in supply by Israeli company, say Jerusalem utilities
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 14 Feb – Blackouts in Ramallah on Tuesday were a result of cuts in power supply by the Israeli Electricity Company (IEC), according to the Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO), which supplies power to East Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho. It said in a statement that IEC reduced the amount of current needed to keep a steady flow of electricity to Ramallah causing total blackouts in some areas for several hours. According to the assistant company manager for technical affairs, Mansour Nassar, the cut in supply comes on top of IEC’s refusal to increase amount of supply to JDECO to allow it to meet rise in demand in its service areas. IEC says JDECO, a private Palestinian shareholding company based in occupied East Jerusalem, owes it millions of dollars for current bought from the Israeli company and therefore has decided to cut supply until the debt issue is resolved. Ramallah, which is the base of the Palestinian government and Palestine’s economic hub, is the most affected by the Israeli cut in power supply.
Poll: Israelis and Palestinians prefer 2-state solution
AP 16 Feb — The poll released on Thursday, which surveyed over 1,200 people, shows 55% of Israelis prefer 2 states to 1 state, while 44% of Palestinians prefer 2 states — A new poll shows the number of Israelis and Palestinians who support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state has dropped in recent months. But far more people continue to prefer the two-state solution to an alternative single-state arrangement. The joint Israeli-Palestinian poll was released on Thursday, a day after President Donald Trump and the visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu distanced themselves from the two-state solution. The poll found that 55 percent of Israelis and 44 percent of Palestinians support a two-state arrangement. That compares to 59 percent and 51 percent last June. Yet just 24 percent of Israelis and one-third of Palestinians prefer a single binational state. The EU-funded poll surveyed over 1,200 people on each side and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
UN, Arab League reiterate support for Palestinian state
Al Jazeera 16 Feb — The UN and the Arab League have issued a joint statement in support of the establishment of a Palestinian state, after US President Donald Trump dropped his country’s commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The statement on Thursday came a day after Trump and the visiting Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, refused to endorse the two-state solution as the preferred outcome of peace talks, abandoning what has been the cornerstone of US-led peace efforts for two decades. After a meeting in Cairo, Antonio Guterres, UN secretary-general, and Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, the Arab League’s secretary-general, said they agreed that the two-state solution is “the only way to achieve comprehensive and just settlement to the Palestinian cause”. The statement put them at odds with Trump, who said at a White House meeting with Netanyahu that Middle East peace does not necessarily have to include the establishment of a Palestinian state. Palestinian leaders and the international community have long favoured the establishment of an independent Palestinian state as the preferred way to peace in the region … Saeb Erekat, the PLO’s secretary-general, said: “Those who believe that they can undermine the two-state solution and replace it with what I call ‘one state, two systems’, maintaining the status quo now, apartheid, I don’t think that in the 21st century they will get away with it.” Osama Hamdan, Hamas’ foreign-policy chief, said the group will not be not be affected by the new US policy and will continue with all forms of resistance to Israeli occupation until statehood is achieved. Asked if resistance means just engaging military confrontations with Israel, Hamdan said: “That’s only a part of it, if we were attacked first. “Resistance for us could be peaceful one such as boycotting Israeli consumer products, challenging Israel legally and defending ourselves military should Israel attack us.”
Jordan’s worst nightmare could be yet to come if US embassy moved to Jerusalem
MEE 15 Feb by Mohammad Ayesh — For decades, the Jordanian role in the occupied city of Jerusalem has been an exceptional and rather sensitive case. For this reason, Trump’s repeated vows to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has disproportionately upset the Jordanian government which, at the moment, has no shortage of crises. It’s this nervousness that explains King Abdullah II’s rushed visit to Washington only a few days after Trump’s arrival at the White House, the first Arab leader to meet the new president reportedly coming without invitation or prior arrangement. Jordan’s role in Jerusalem Key to understanding Jordan’s anxiety is the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty – sometimes called the Wadi Araba Treaty because of where it was signed – signed in October 1994 which stated that Israel would respect the special role that Jordan had historically played in Jerusalem’s holy places and, further, would give priority to the kingdom’s role during final status negotiations. In other words, with the treaty, Israel formally recognised Jordan’s role, something it hadn’t been able to deny or ignore for decades. Israel also agreed at the time to refrain from changing – either geographically or demographically – the status of the holy city before reaching at a final agreement to which Jordan was a party. …even after Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, Jordan maintained the right to oversee the city’s holy Islamic and Christian places. To this very day, the Jordanian Ministry of Awqaf (Endowments) continues to provide custodianship and services at Al-Aqsa Mosque and other religious places in Jerusalem….
Sources: Abbas met with CIA director prior to Trump’s meeting with Netanyahu
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with the director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Mike Pompeo on Wednesday, at Abbas’ presidential residence in the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, according to Palestinian Authority (PA) sources. Sources told Ma‘an that the two discussed political and security “headlines” prior to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with the US President Donald Trump Wednesday evening. Sources added that Head of the Palestinian Intelligence Major Majed Faraj also attended the meeting, which they described as “positive, productive, clear and serious” as officials discussed issues including the peace process, two-state solution, the security situation, and Israel’s continued expansion of illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.
Trump’s meeting with Netanyahu saw a radical departure from the US’ long-held position in favor of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Trump saying that he could “live with either” a one- or two-state solution. On the issue of illegal settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territory, Trump appeared to backtrack on his previously emphatic support, as the two leaders seemed at odds on the matter. “As far as settlements, I’d like to see you to hold back on settlements for a little bit,” he told Netanyahu….
Lieberman offers to invest in Gaza in exchange for returning Israelis
Ynet 16 Feb by Elior Levy — In Arabic message aimed at Palestinian population, the defense minister promises seaport, airport, industrial zone and more jobs in Gaza, demanding the return of three Israeli civilians and two soldiers’ bodies, as well as strip demilitarization — Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Thursday that Israel would be willing to help build infrastructure and create jobs in the Gaza Strip in exchange for the return of three Israeli civilians and the bodies of two IDF soldiers Hamas is holding. As part of the deal Lieberman is offering, Israel would allow the construction of a seaport, an airport and an industrial zone in Gaza, as well as help create 40,000 jobs in the strip. In exchange for that, the defense minister is demanding the return of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge and snatched up by Hamas, as well as three Israeli civilians who entered Gaza of their own volition—Abera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed and Jumaa Ibrahim Abu-Ghanima. Furthermore, Lieberman is demanding Hamas to demilitarize the Gaza Strip and remove an article in its charter calling for the annihilation of the State of Israel. Lieberman’s offer was posted in Arabic on the website of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) in an effort to create pressure on Hamas by the Palestinian population in the strip. “There is no reason for the residents of Gaza to live in the 21st century under lesser conditions than in Judea and Samaria or in the Arab world,” the defense minister said. “The Gazans must understand that Israel, which withdrew from the Gaza Strip to the last millimeter, is not the source of their suffering—it is the Hamas leadership, which doesn’t take their needs into consideration. The moment Hamas gives up its tunnels and rockets, we’ll be the first to invest.”….
Hamas: Release Palestinian prisoners to get Israelis back
Ynet 17 Feb by Elior Levy — A senior Hamas official countered the Israeli defense minister’s message on Thursday night by saying that his organization would only consider returning three Israeli civilians and the remains of two IDF soldiers in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar, one of the founders of Hamas, was responding to Avigdor Lieberman’s Arabic-language message of earlier that day aimed at the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip. The right-wing minister of defense had offered to help improve Gazan infrastructure, including permitting the construction of a seaport, an airport and an industrial zone in Gaza, as well as helping create 40,000 jobs in the strip … Al-Zahar replied to Lieberman, “Release the heroic Palestinian fighters from all factions so that there will be a reason to release the Israeli soldiers.”
Netanyahu denies reports of plans for Palestinian state in Gaza, Sinai Peninsula
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 16 Feb — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied during a press conference in Washington on Thursday that the Israeli government was discussing the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in Gaza extended into the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. On Tuesday, Israeli media reported that Israeli Minister Ayoub Kara said that Netanyahu would discuss such a plan with US President Donald Trump during their meeting on Wednesday. “Trump and Netanyahu will adopt the plan of Egypt’s (President Abd al-Fattah al-)Sisi. A Palestinian state in Gaza and Sinai. Instead of Judea and Samaria,” Kara reportedly wrote on his Twitter. “This is how we will pave a path to peace, including with the Sunni coalition.” The minister was referring to a reported 2014 offer from Sisi to transfer part of the Sinai to Gaza to create an independent Palestinian state excluding the West Bank, where Palestinian refugees could be resettled. Reports had said at the time that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had rejected the offer. However, the Egyptian authorities denied such a deal existed and several sources have claimed that the entire deal was a farce and had not existed in the first place. Netanyahu said during the press conference that the idea had not been discussed by the Israeli and US leaders and had “no basis of truth,” adding that the Israeli government considered Egypt an important party contributing to strength and stability of the region.
Unemployment rate 27% in 2016; 42% in Gaza Strip and 45% among women
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 156 Feb – Unemployment rate in Palestine reached 26.9% in 2016, with Gaza hardest hit at 41.7% unemployment compared to 18.2% in the West Bank, and the rate among women reached almost 45%, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said in a report published Thursday. Using International Labor Organization (ILO) standard, unemployment increased from 25.9% in 2015 to 26.9% in 2016, said the PCBS. It said that 360,500 were unemployed in 2016, including 206,800 in Gaza Strip and 153,700 in the West Bank. The unemployment rate in Gaza Strip was 41.7% compared with 18.2% in the West Bank. Females were also highest hit by unemployment with a rate of 44.7% compared to 22.2% for males. The highest unemployment rate in 2016 was 43.2% among youth aged 20-24 years, while based on years of schooling, the highest unemployment rate reached 50.6% for females with 13 years of schooling and more. Labor force participation rate of individuals aged 15 years and above was 45.8%, or 1,341,000; of which 844,600 (45.6%) were in the West Bank and 496,400 (46.1%) in Gaza Strip. The gap in the participation rate between males and females in Palestine was very big where it reached 71.6% for males compared with 19.3% for females….
Former US ambassadors urge Senate not to confirm Friedman as Trump’s Israel envoy
Haaretz 16 Feb by Amir Tibon — Five former U.S. ambassadors to Israel sent a letter on Wednesday to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urging them to reject the nomination of President Trump’s candidate for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, because of what they define as his “extreme positions” and because he is “unqualified for the position.” The letter, a copy of which has been obtained by Haaretz, is signed by former ambassadors Thomas Pickering, Dan Kurtzer, Edward Walker, James Cunningham and William Harrop – diplomats that have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations. The five former ambassadors stated that they “care deeply about Israel” since it is a U.S. ally and a democratic stronghold in the Middle East. Then they explain how they view the duties of the U.S. ambassador to Israel, which they said include strengthening Israel’s security and advancing the prospects of peace between Israel and its neighbors. They maintain that these have been bipartisan goals of U.S. foreign policy for decades. David Friedman, they claim, does not share this view regarding the ambassador’s role. The group quoted his position that the two-state solution is “an illusory solution” and his support for settlements in the West Bank. “We urge the committee,” they added, to “address the question of whether Mr. Friedman would defend as ambassador the established American view that annexation of West Bank territory, outside the context of an international resolution, would be counterproductive and a violation of international law.” The former senior U.S. diplomats also mentioned Friedman’s characterization of the U.S. State Department – his future boss – as anti-Semitic, and his repeated claim that supporters of the left-wing Jewish group J Street are worse than “kapos” — Jews who cooperated with Nazis during the Holocaust.
“These are extreme, radical positions,” the letter says, urging the Senators to examine whether Friedman “has the balance and the temperament required to represent the United States as ambassador to Israel.”