Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli forces raid Palestinian-owned publishing house
IMEMC/Agencies 30 Jan — Israeli forces raided a Palestinian publishing house in the West Bank district of Ramallah and seized equipment, the Palestinian News and Info Agency reports. The owner of al-Nour Publishing House, Khaled Musaffar, said Israeli forces ransacked the office overnight and confiscated four printers as well as a computer. All of the equipment that remains in al-Nour was irreparably damaged during the raid. The Times of Israel – without mentioning al-Nour by name – reported, this morning: “the [Israeli] army shut down two printing shops, which it said were publishing ‘materials being used for incitement to terrorism.’” Israeli raids on Palestinian publishing offices are not uncommon. Last month, Israeli forces violently raided Zuwar Advertising in the West Bank city of Hebron….
Palestinian youth shot, injured near Tulkarem-area checkpoint
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 30 Jan — A Palestinian teenager was reportedly shot and injured in the knee by Israeli soldiers near a checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem on Monday. Yahya Omar Ali Sarhan, 19, told Ma‘an that he was walking towards the Jabara checkpoint, where he sells lighters, when he saw two Israeli soldiers deployed in a nearby field of olive trees. Sarhan said that one of the soldiers fired once at him without warning, injuring him in the knee. The youth added that the soldiers ran towards the checkpoint after firing at him. The Palestinian Red Crescent in Tulkarem said its staff rushed to the area, and took Sarhan to the Thabet Thabet Governmental Hospital in the city of Tulkarem. The Red Crescent said that Sarhan’s injury was moderate. Palestinian police took Sarhan’s testimony at the hospital. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that they were looking into the reports. However, a source in the Tulkarem office of the Israeli Civil Administration told Ma‘an that they had investigated the incident, and denied that the army was involved.
Settlers target Palestinian vehicles with stones, injuring one
IMEMC/Agencies 30 Jan — Israeli settlers have reportedly injured a Palestinian man while throwing stones at Palestinian vehicles traveling on the main road between the occupied West Bank cities of Ramallah and Nablus, on Monday afternoon, local sources said. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an News Agency that Nahed Qabaha was wounded when Israeli settlers threw stones at his minibus, near the village of al-Sawiya. Nahed was taken to a hospital for treatment. Daghlas added that ten vehicles were damaged by the stones. An Israeli army spokesperson said that the case fell under Israeli police jurisdiction. However, Israeli police made no mention of the incident. The Palestinian government has no jurisdiction over Israelis in the West Bank, and violent acts carried out by Israeli settlers often occur in the presence of Israeli military forces who rarely act to protect Palestinian residents.
Opinion: Plowing into the defenseless / Amira Hass
Haaretz 30 Jan — An Israel Defense Forces soldier ignored his commander’s request to help him and four other soldiers overpower three settlers. The settlers had violated a military order by entering Palestinian land to disrupt plowing work. Or, as the IDF spokesman put it, “The company commander, who was in charge during the incident, gestured to one of his soldiers to come and help. But due to the rapid overpowering [of the settlers], the commander noticed only afterward that the soldier hadn’t come. At the conclusion of the incident, the company commander held an inquiry and dealt with it at the command level.” But Amiel Vardi, an activist in the Ta’ayush Arab-Jewish organization, said he saw the officer gesture to two soldiers who were standing next to their jeep and were watching their comrades try to overpower the settlers. “Nothing happened; the soldiers didn’t come. And then the commander sent one of the soldiers with him over to them, but he returned by himself,” recalled Vardi, who was amazed to see two soldiers showing such contempt for their comrades. True, this is old news: it happened a month ago. But during a chance conversation, several Ta’ayush activists told Haaretz the incident was more dramatic than described in the Israeli media. Therefore, we’re revisiting it here, along with video footage [3 videos] that can be seen in the online version of this column. [and here on YouTube if you can’t access Haaretz] Ta’ayush activist Michal Peleg let me steal her eyewitness testimony. “On a cold Shabbat morning, December 31, 2016, in a small field below the village of Sussia, a family was plowing: three men, a woman, a teenager and a child [the Nawajah family], iron plows attached to two donkeys, difficult furrows in hard, rocky soil. First, they politely asked the trespasser to leave the field. The trespasser, who called himself Daoud, joked with the soldiers and occasionally went wild, threatening and shoving the plowers and their donkeys. “The soldiers continued begging him to be kind enough to leave. He demanded proof, an order. They sent for, and showed him, a map on which the area was marked as out of bounds for Israelis due to previous harassment. The Jew laughed and left. “The plowing resumed. The men and the woman pulled hard on the donkeys and urged them to speed up, as they were now afraid. “Sure enough, the Jew returned, accompanied by two other men, and the three stormed the field, prancing about gleefully….
Israeli forces detain Palestinian during raid in East Jerusalem hospital
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 1 Feb — Israeli forces Wednesday raided the Makassed hospital in occupied East Jerusalem, and detained a youth from the Jenin district of the occupied West Bank. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the hospital and conducted searches in all of its sections before raiding the obstetrics and gynecology departments and detaining a Palestinian youth there. The youth had arrived in an ambulance earlier in the day in order to escort his mother to the hospital. The reasons behind the raid remained unknown, and the identity of the Palestinian youth has not yet been released.
Israeli forces detain 23 Palestinians in overnight West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Jan — Israeli forces detained at least 23 Palestinians, including former prisoners, during overnight and predawn raids Monday across the occupied West Bank, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources. Israeli forces carry out detention raids across the occupied Palestinian territory on a near-nightly basis, with the UN recording an average of 95 weekly raids in the West Bank in 2016. Hebron district According to local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awwad, 26-year-old Mahmoud Haitham al-Salibi, who spent three years in Israeli prisons, was detained from the Hebron-area village of Beit Ummar. Also in Beit Ummar, Israeli forces summoned 37-year-old former prisoner Yousif Badr Ikhlayyil, who had spent four years in Israeli custody, for interrogation at the Gush Etzion detention center. Awwad added that Mazen Abu Atwan, Munir Samir Abu Sharar, and Khalil Ahmad Amro were detained from the village of Dura, while Islam al-Asafin was detained from the city of Hebron. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma‘an a total of six detentions from the Hebron district, citing two from Hebron city, three from the village of Dura, and one from Beit Ummar. Bethlehem district Though Palestinian sources did not report any detentions from the Bethlehem area in the southern west Bank, the Israeli army told Ma‘an that army forces detained two Palestinians from the village of Nahhalin, and one from the village of al-Khader. In the central West Bank Jerusalem district, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported that five Palestinians were detained from across the Jerusalem-area villages of Qatanna, Biddu, and al-Ram….
Israeli forces detain 5 Palestinians during West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — Israeli forces Tuesday detained at least five Palestinians during overnight raids across the occupied West Bank, according to Israeli army sources. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that a Palestinian was detained in the city of Qalqiliya in the northern West Bank, another in the village of Budrus in the Ramallah district, two in the village of Beit Fajjar in Bethlehem, and another Palestinian was detained in Hebron city in the southern West Bank. Palestinian sources did not provide additional details on the detentions.
PPS: ‘Israeli army abducts 15 Palestinians in the West Bank’
IMEMC 1 Feb — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers have abducted, during massive invasions of homes, on Wednesday at dawn, at least fifteen Palestinians, from different parts of the occupied West Bank. In the southern West Bank district of Hebron, the soldiers invaded and ransacked several homes in Beit Ummar town, north of the Hebron city, and abducted six Palestinians, including a child. They have been identified as Mohammad Monir Ekhlayyel, 37, Ahmad Khader Abu Mariya, 50, Maher Ibrahim Sabarna, 35, Waheed Abu Mariya, 14, Ayman Ali Abu ‘Arqoub, 32, and Omar Rajoub. Also at dawn, the soldiers invaded Silwad town, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, violently searched and ransacked homes, and abducted a former political prisoner, identified as No’man Hamed, 21….
Bethlehem: Israeli soldiers abduct twelve Palestinians in ‘Aida refugee camp, one in Husan
IMEMC 2 Feb — Updated: Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Thursday at dawn, ‘Aida refugee camp, north of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, searched many homes and abducted twelve young Palestinian men. The soldiers also summoned two Palestinians for interrogation, and abducted one Palestinian in Husan town, west of Bethlehem. The Bethlehem office of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said the soldiers violently invaded and searched many homes in the refugee camp, and interrogated many Palestinians before abducting twelve.
Israeli forces close 2 roads in Ramallah district
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 2 Feb — Israeli forces closed Route 60 in the Ramallah district of the occupied West Bank on Thursday, while continuing the closure of the Beit El (DCO) checkpoint for the second consecutive day. Israeli forces closed the part of Route 60 that connects the Mikhmas junction in the north to Wadi al-Haramiya junction in the south. The Beit El checkpoint was also closed for the second consecutive day. According to locals, these closures were being implemented as part of a “security campaign” as Israeli authorities have cautioned Israeli passengers about the dangers of roads shared with Palestinians. It was unclear as of Thursday what prompted the “security” operation.
Israeli forces reopen main entrance to Nablus-area village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 30 Jan — Israeli forces on Monday reopened the main entrance to the town of Beita south of Nablus city in the northern occupied West Bank, which they had sealed on Thursday evening over allegations that Palestinian youth were throwing stones at Israeli vehicles in the area. Beita Mayor Wasif Mualla told Ma‘an that the Palestinian liaison office had notified the municipal council of the Israeli decision prior to the reopening. Locals told Ma‘an at the time of the closure, which was implemented at the Beita-Huwwara crossroads, that Israeli forces imposed “strict security procedures” and searched hundreds of Palestinian vehicles passing in both directions near the crossroads, in addition to vehicles using the main road of the nearby Huwwara village for more than two hours.
Prisoners / Court actions
Committee: Palestinian prisoners forced to stand outdoors naked after alleged stabbing
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Feb — Tensions escalated on Wednesday afternoon at Israel’s Nafha prison in the southern Negev desert, as reports surfaced of a Palestinian prisoner allegedly stabbing an Israeli officer inside the prison. Israeli news sites reported that a Palestinian prisoner affiliated with the Hamas movement “attacked an Israeli prison warden with a sharp tool,” causing the warden to suffer from a light injury. Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs head Issa Qaraqe said in a statement that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) “claimed that the Palestinian prisoner stabbed that Israeli officer,” highlighting that immediately following the incident, IPS officials began conducting punitive procedures “humiliating Palestinian prisoners.” Qaraqe said IPS officials conducted an “unprecedented raid” in Section 1 of Nafha, forcing the Palestinian prisoners to fully undress, leading them outside of the section “while naked in the cold weather, also searching and destroying their personal belongings and cutting the electricity off.” Qaraqe called the situation in Nafha “unbearable,” and said that the stabbing was a Palestinian prisoner “reacting to these [common] procedures and trying to defend himself.” Noting that the IPS has banned family and lawyer visitations to prisoners inside Nafha, Qaraqe called upon the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to immediately intervene and visit the prison … Later on Wednesday, Qaraqe said in a statement that 400 Israeli prison officers raided section 2 and 12 of Nafha prison, handcuffing prisoners and forcing them out into the prison yard.
Palestinian prisoners on Tuesday set fire to a cell in Nafha prison after IPS wardens stormed the prisoners’ cells and assaulted prisoners. Qaraqe told Ma‘an at the time that “prisoners announced a state of alert and set fire inside a room at Nafha prison” after Messada officers, the “takeover” unit of the IPS, reportedly stormed Section 2 of the prison and assaulted prisoners. Earlier in January, IPS forces raided Section 4 of the prison and injured several prisoners, “beating them violently and firing tear gas,” according to Qaraqe, who spoke to Ma‘an at the time of the incident.
Two Israeli soldiers stabbed in Negev detention camp, as army continues assault against the detainees
IMEMC 2 Feb — The head of the Palestinian Detainees’ Committee, Issa Qaraqe‘, has reported that two Israeli soldiers have been stabbed in separate incidents, as the army, and special forces, continued the invasions into the detainees’ rooms, and the assaults against them. Qaraqe‘ said that one of the detainees slashed a soldier with a blade, in section 16 in the Negev detention camp, and that the army fired many gas bombs. He also stated that the soldiers then cut the power supply, and started extensive searches for the detainee who stabbed the officer. The army conducted extensive searches in Sections 13, 14, 15 and 16, and assaulted many detainees in the process. Earlier Thursday, a detainee attacked a soldier with a sharp object, and wounded him, before other soldiers intervened, assaulted the detainee and placed him in solitary confinement. The detainees in the Negev have lately been subject to extensive assaults by the soldiers, especially the Matzada special forces, causing mounting tension.
Detained father of slain Palestinian teen declares hunger strike
IMEMC 1 Feb — The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that Shafiq al-Halabi, the father of Mohannad, who was killed by the army last year, has declared a hunger strike, protesting his detention without charges. Shafiq was taken prisoner on Sunday January 29, 2017, after he was summoned for interrogation at the Ofer Israeli prison and interrogation center, west of Ramallah, in central West Bank. After officially holding him captive, Shafiq declared a hunger strike, protesting his illegal detention, and being targeted by the military. Shafiq is the father of Mohannad Halabi, 19, who was killed by Israeli army fire, on October 3rd 2015, in Jerusalem’s Old city, after allegedly stabbing to death an armed Israeli man, grabbing the gun of a settler who intervened, then killing another person and wounding two others.
Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem sentenced to life in prison for 2015 attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — A Palestinian resident of occupied East Jerusalem was sentenced to life in prison by an Israeli court on Monday for killing an Israeli and injuring another in a car-ramming attack in April 2015, according to Israeli news website Haaretz. Khalid Kutina, a resident of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, was convicted of murder for the death of Shalom Yohai Cherki, 26, and ordered to pay monetary damages to Cherki’s family. According to Haaretz, Israeli prosecutor Jonathan Avni said in response to the sentencing that “the sentence reflects the determined fight by law enforcement authorities against terrorists signaling that anyone seeking to take a life for nationalistic reasons will be punished to the fullest extent and sent behind bars for many years.” At the time of the attack carried out by Kutina, tensions had been running high in East Jerusalem since the summer of 2014, when Jewish extremists kidnapped and burned alive 16-year-old Palestinian Muhammad Abu Khdeir. Several attacks were carried out by Palestinians on Israeli civilians in the months following Abu Khdeir’s death.
Israeli military court sentences minor to 18 months in prison
JENIN (WAFA) 31 Jan – Israeli military court at the Salem military camp Tuesday sentenced a 16-year old Palestinian girl to 18 months in prison for alleged attempted stabbing, according to security sources. Amal Jamal Qabha, from the village of Tura, southwest to the city of Jenin, in the occupied West Bank, was also fined $5,300. Qabha’s parents told WAFA the military court sentenced their daughter to prison and fined her under security charges. They confirmed that she is currently being held in HaSharon prison in central Israel. Israeli forces detained Qabha at a military checkpoint near her village in August 2016 for allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli soldier.
‘Free The Hares Boys’ campaign produces free e-book on tragic first anniversary of sentencing
Mondoweiss 30 Jan by Annie Robbins — Saturday, January 28, 2017, marked the tragic one-year anniversary of the day an Israeli military court sentenced 5 youths from the West Bank village of Hares — Mohammed Kleib, Mohammed Suleiman, Amer Souf, Tamer Souf, and Ali Shamlawi, known internationally as the Hares Boys — to a grueling 15 years in prison for manslaughter for a crime that did not even take place, despite a total lack of evidence. The Free The Hares Boys campaign team has published a free 39 page e-book, The Hares Boys, From Palestine to Israeli Prison, to mark the occasion. The book includes a timeline, a myriad of family photos, many of them precious, as well as posters, artwork and cartoons produced over the 3 years the youths were imprisoned and tortured leading up to their sentencing. The book chronicles not only the Hares Boys history, but a documented history of Israel’s imprisonment of Palestinian children. From the Free The Hares Boys campaign team letter accompanying the announcement: After being forced to sign ‘confessions’ and pushed to accept a plea deal under the atmosphere of threat to be locked up for longer if they didn’t, the five youth were condemned to be released at 30-31 years of age, having spent almost half their lives in a colonial prison. One year ago today, the Zionist Israeli military court had already received the NIS 30,000 ($7,500) from each boy’s family – a total of NIS 150,000 ($37,500) – as a ‘fine’ and ‘compensation’ to the illegal settler-colonist family whose member had a car accident a couple of days before the boys were kidnapped and imprisoned by the Zionist army….
Israeli court sentences Palestinian citizen of Israel to more than 2 years in prison
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — An Israeli court sentenced a Palestinian citizen of Israel from the Israeli city of Tira to 26 months of imprisonment on Tuesday. A lawyer from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, Ruslam Mahajneh, said in a statement that the court sentenced Firad Zahran Sultan, 24, to 26 months in prison and imposed a 4,500 shekel ($1,194) fine. Israeli authorities had detained Sultan on Oct. 10, 2015 for allegedly making and throwing Molotov cocktails.
Israeli prosecutors file charges against former Palestinian MK
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Jan — Israeli prosecutors on Monday filed a list of charges against Palestinian lawyer and former member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, Talab al-Sani, accusing him of assaulting Israeli policemen and “obstructing police works” while carrying out its tasks in recent protests against Israeli Prawer Plan, which would forcibly relocate tens of thousands of Bedouin Palestinians in ‘unrecognized’ Palestinian villages in Israel’s southern Negev desert. Israeli media reported that a court session would be held in the Beersheba magistrate court on Feb. 2 at 9 a.m. to “look into the list of charges.” The prosecution accused al-Sani of sitting with other activists in front of an Israeli police vehicle to prevent Israeli forces from detaining an activist during a protest that was organized at the entrance of the Sde Boker kibbutz in the Negev. Al-Sani said in a statement that the charges brought against him and the impending court session aimed “to spread fear in an attempt to stop the public struggle,” stressing that “these Israeli procedures will only strengthen the determination of the public.”….
Arab Israeli man charged with terrorist shootings in Haifa
Times of Israel 30 Jan by Judah Ari Gross — Catalyst behind Muhammad Shinawi’s attacks was girlfriend calling him ‘Jew lover,’ Shin Bet says; 2 indicted as accessories — After his girlfriend called him a “Zionist Jew” and a “Jew lover,” an Arab Israeli man allegedly carried out two shooting attacks, which left one man dead and another seriously wounded, in the northern port city of Haifa earlier this month, the Shin Bet security service said. On Monday, the suspect — 21-year-old Muhammad Shinawi — was charged with murder and attempted murder in a Haifa court for the attacks, along with two other men accused of helping him. Yehiel Iluz, 48, a senior judge on a Haifa rabbinic conversion court, was moderately wounded at 9:30 a.m. on January 3, in the first shooting on the city’s Haatzma’ut Road. A few minutes later, the shooter opened fire at a Jewish woman, but missed. And a few minutes after that, Guy Kafri, 47, a van driver from Haifa’s Nesher neighborhood, was shot and killed on the nearby Hagiborim Street. During his interrogation, Shinawi said he carried out the attacks “out of a nationalist motivation and hatred of Jews,” the Shin Bet said Monday in a statement. After the attack, Shinawi allegedly hid the Carlo-style submachine gun — an illegal, cheap improvised firearm — used in the attack, along with other belongings, in a grove near his parents’ house, the Shin Bet said….
Islamic Jihad master drone hacker convicted in plea bargain
JPost 30 Jan by Yonah Jeremy Bob — Islamic Jihad master hacker Maagad Ben Juwad Oydeh was convicted by the Beersheba District Court in a plea bargain on Monday for hacking IDF drones hovering over Gaza, thereby enabling Hamas commanders to view the device’s video feed. An indictment filed by the Southern District Attorney’s Office in March 2016 also charged Oydeh with hacking into the IDF, the police and the transportation authority’s video cameras, enabling the terrorist group to study the location of civilians and IDF personnel in real-time, at a time during conflicts when it was firing rockets. The plea bargain, which included dropping some charges, contained a suggested jail sentence of nine years, but the court is not bound to the recommendation. According to the indictment, Oydeh’s hacking also allowed Islamic Jihad to keep track of the movement of airplanes at Ben-Gurion Airport; view passenger lists on incoming and outgoing flights; and see the type of airplane and its weight and landing and departure times. Known as a computer and electronics engineer and master hacker, Oydeh joined Islamic Jihad in 2011 and first successfully hacked into the IDF drones as early as 2012….
Israel issues 35 administrative detention orders against Palestinians
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — Israeli authorities issued 35 administrative detention orders against Palestinian prisoners, including a Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member and a journalist, between Jan. 18 and 31, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS lawyer Mahmoud al-Halabi said in a statement on Tuesday that Israel sentenced Palestinian MP Ahmad Mubarak, who was detained on Jan. 16, to six months of administrative detention — the widely criticized Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial. Israel also renewed the administrative detention of Palestinian journalist Nidal Abu Aker for another six months. Abu Aker was detained on Aug. 9, 2016, after he had previously spent 13 years in Israeli jails, nine of them under administrative detention. Al-Halabi added that 12 of the orders were issued against first-time prisoners as well as former prisoners who were redetained after having been released. The orders were issued against: [list of those affected follows]
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israeli forces finalizing evacuation of Amona outpost
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Feb — Israeli forces continued the evacuation of Amona on Thursday, as a synagogue remained the only building left in the illegal outpost after a day of violent resistance by settlers and their supporters. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement on Thursday morning that police forces were “talking to leaders of the community to deal with the situation and complete the evacuation of the synagogue without major incidents.” Rosenfeld added that 24 police officers had been lightly injured since Wednesday by Israelis protesting the evacuation of the outpost, who reportedly threw stones, furniture, and unspecified irritating liquids at Israeli forces. According to the police spokesman, 13 Israelis were detained for “throwing stones at police officers and being involved in disturbances,” adding that 800 people had been “removed from the area” during the evacuation.
Hundreds of Israelis had gathered on Wednesday to oppose the evacuation and demolition of Amona, which was ordered by the Israeli Supreme Court on the grounds that the outpost was built on private Palestinian lands. Arab Joint List head Ayman Odeh, a member of the Knesset and a Palestinian citizen of Israel, criticized on Wednesday the police’s double standard between use of force in Amona and in Bedouin villages in the Negev. “Amona is being evacuated after being built on Palestinian lands that were stolen 20 years ago, while Umm al-Hiran residents were being evacuated from their own lands, without stealing anyone else’s lands,” Odeh said in a post on Facebook, referring to the deadly evacuation of a Bedouin village in January, during which the MK himself was injured. “Unarmed Israeli police is evacuating Amona in broad daylight, where they are being very cautious in dealing with Israeli settlers, while Israeli police carried out demolitions in Umm al-Hiran completely armed and equipped with military supplies,” Odeh added….
Netanyahu announces plan for new illegal settlement to host Amona outpost residents
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Feb — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday evening that he had taken preliminary steps to establish a new illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank to house settlers residing in Amona, on the same day as Israeli forces evacuating the illegal outpost faced violent resistance. After years of court battles and months of delays, Israeli police forces carried out the evacuation of Amona on Wednesday due to it being built on privately held Palestinian lands. Hundreds of Amona residents and supporters have adamantly opposed the evacuation of the outpost, which is deemed illegal under both Israeli and international law. Israeli news outlet Haaretz reported that Netanyahu had named a panel, which would reportedly include representatives from Amona, the Ministry of Defense, and the prime minister’s office, to push forward the establishment of a new settlement. According to the Israeli newspaper, if carried to fruition, the plan would lead to the creation of the first new settlement officially established by the Israeli government in more than two decades. Netanyahu’s announcement came mere hours after the Israeli Supreme Court overruled a plan to relocate the Amona settlers to plots of land nearby, which also happened to be privately owned Palestinian property. Israeli human rights group Yesh Din — which represented the residents of nearby Palestinian villages whose lands would have been affected by the relocation — welcomed the ruling on Wednesday….
Israel greenlights 3,000 new settler homes hours after ‘Legalization bill’ approved
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Feb — The Israeli government gave its approval for the construction of more than 3,000 new illegal settlement homes across the occupied West Bank, just hours after the widely condemned outpost “Legalization bill” — which would retroactively legalize dozens of illegal Israeli outposts — passed its final committee vote in Israel’s parliament on Tuesday. Israeli daily Haaretz reported late Tuesday evening that ultra right-wing Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to approve the construction of the housing units in existing West Bank settlements, with more than 2,000 slated for immediate construction. “We are in a new period in which life in Judea and Samaria is back on track,” Lieberman said in a statement announcing the plans, using the Israeli term for the occupied West Bank. According to Haaretz, some of the settlements in which construction was approved were listed in Lieberman’s statement:100 housing units in the Shilo settlement in the Nablus district; 70 housing units in the Shave Shomron settlement in the Nablus district; 700 housing units in the Alfe Menashe settlement in the Qalqiliya district; 200 housing units in the Oranit settlement in the Qalqiliya district; 100 housing units in the Qarne Shomron settlement in the Qalqiliya district;….
Arab Lawyers Union to file objection against new Umm al-Hiran demolition orders
NEGEV (Ma‘an) — The Arab Lawyers Union in Israel said Monday that it would attempt to file a court order to stop the demolition of newly donated mobile homes, which were delivered to the village of Umm al-Hiran on Sunday. The union said in a statement that it would attempt to gain a court order, while members of the Joint List, which represents parties led by Palestinian citizens of Israel in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, would head to Israeli Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon to demand that he freeze the demolition orders. Locals also reported that a sit-in tent would be set up in Umm al-Hiran for protesters and “supporters from all over the country.” Israeli police forces had raided the unrecognized Bedouin community in the Negev region of southern Israel on Sunday, surrounding mobile homes that were donated the previous day to provide housing for families that were left homeless two weeks ago after Israeli authorities razed their homes to the ground. Locals in the village said Israeli forces were preparing to dismantle the newly donated homes….
Rights groups petition Israel’s High Court against discriminatory land law
HAIFA (WAFA) 31 Jan — Challenging an amendment to a law that allows the Israeli government to transfer part of its land-use authorities to a private body that acts exclusively to advance the interests of Israeli Jewish citizens, Adalah–The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) submitted a petition last Tuesday to the Israeli High Court demanding its cancellation, an Adalah statement said on Monday. The amendment to the World Zionist Organization – Jewish Agency (Status) Law (originally approved by the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, in 1952), passed a Knesset vote on December 24. It grants the World Zionist Organization’s (WZO) Settlement Division authority over settlement, land acquisition, and the establishment and expansion of development projects. Adalah attorneys Suhad Bishara and Myssana Morany and ACRI attorney Roni Pelli argued in the petition that the amendment harms the constitutional right of Palestinian citizens of Israel to dignity and equality. “The Settlement Division, like the WZO as a whole, sees itself as obligated to serve the interests of the Jewish people exclusively. It is clear to all that its actions do not take the interests of Arab citizens into consideration. Furthermore, these interests are more often than not advanced at the expense of the Arab citizens’ rights, particularly when it comes to the allocation of ed resources such as land and settlement rights,” the Adalah and ACRI attorneys wrote in the petition.
The new law is an additional effort by the government to bypass the landmark Supreme Court Qa‘adan decision in 2000 (HCJ 6698/95, Adel Qa’adan v, Israel Land Administration). In that case, the Supreme Court held that discrimination between Jewish and Arab citizens of the state in the use and allocation of state-controlled land is impermissible: the state may not transfer authority to a third party “that discriminates in land allocations on the basis of religion or national origin.” In the petition, Adalah and ACRI stressed that this delegation of authority is forbidden as it violates Israel’s Basic Law – The Government, which authorizes the delegation of government authority only to government ministers:
Mapping the Palestinian villages erased and replaced with Jewish towns
+972 blog 29 Jan by Tom Pessah — A new map seeks to provide new information on the Palestinian cities, towns, and villages that were erased and replaced since the inception of the Zionist movement — Immigrants coming to Israel are unlikely to know the name “Mlabes,” but Israelis are more acquainted with it. After all, it is the name of a local newspaper, a young singer, a shawarma joint, and a chapter of the Israeli Scouts. But all these have one thing in common: they are associated with the city of Petah Tikvah, northeast of Tel Aviv. According to the Petah Tikvah City Archive’s website, Mlabes was the name of a village that existed well before the establishment of the city. It appears on a map prepared for Napoleon’s invading army around 1799. There is archaeological evidence of settlement in the same spot during the Byzantine Era, as well as by the Crusaders. A famous song by iconic Israeli singer Arik Einstein mentions how the village was visited by Zionist pioneers in 1878….
Israel expands remapping effort in bid to claim more West Bank land
Haaretz 30 Jan by Yotam Berger — Special team is reexamining which areas are under Israel’s legal jurisdiction so it can build or expand settlements — Israel has enlarged the territories it is remapping in the West Bank with the aim of declaring them state lands, according to a survey conducted by a nonprofit that monitors Israel’s land policies in the region. Kerem Navot’s report is based on data supplied by the Civil Administration (the branch of the Israeli military that deals with civilian matters in the West Bank) through a freedom of information request. The group says that more than 62,000 dunams (15,320 acres) were remapped in 2015. The group notes that there was an increase in the territory remapped east of the West Bank separation barrier and in areas currently designated as firing zones. The report also claims that thousands of dunams were negligently declared state lands … Kerem Navot compared the maps of declared state lands with old aerial photographs, and found that land cultivated by Palestinians was nevertheless declared state land. According to the group, 14,716 dunams has been wrongly classified as state land. For example, the group has aerial photographs from 1983 showing that lands on which parts of the settlements of Susya, Mitzpeh Yishai and Revava were built were being cultivated by Palestinians – which should have blocked their being declared state land.…
Civil Administration demolishes homes of three families in Badu al-Baba community
B’Tselem 30 Jan — On Thursday 26 January 2017. Large Civil Administration and Border Police forces arrived at the community of Badu al-Baba, located near al-‘Eizariyah, northeast of Jerusalem. The forces destroyed tents that were the homes of three families, and two livestock pens, leaving 17 people, including 9 minors, homeless. The forces did not allow the families to remove all of their belongings from the tents and pens before the demolition, resulting in extensive property damage. The Badu al-Baba community numbers 350, about half of them minors, and it is located in an area designated by Israeli authorities as Area E1, where an expansion that would connect the settlement of Maaleh Adumim to Jerusalem is planned. In 2016, the Civil Administration demolished structures in the community on two different occasions.
Israeli army halts construction of Tubas home, water pipeline
TUBAS (WAFA) 31 Jan – Israeli forces ordered on Tuesday a Palestinian from the village of Kardala, east of Tubas in the northern Jordan Valley, to halt construction of his home and a water pipeline, according to local sources. Muataz Besharat, who monitors Israeli violations in the area, told WAFA that staff from the Israeli Civil Administration notified Tareq Foqaha to stop the construction of his home. The army notified Foqaha to stop works on a 2000-meter-long water pipeline intended for agricultural purposes in the village.
Israel to seize over 36 dunums in northern Jordan Valley village
TUBAS (WAFA) 1 Feb – Israel plans to seize over 36 dunums of the Palestinian village Bardala, northeast of Tubas in the northern Jordan Valley, said a local monitor Wednesday. Mutaz Bsharat, who monitors settlement activity in the Tubas district, told WAFA the so-called Israeli Civil Administration staff escorted by a military vehicle stormed Bardala and handed locals an official notice to seize 36.88 dunums of their land for security purposes. Bsharat said the land would be seized to complete the construction for parts of Israel’s separation wall near the village. He said the land belongs to Nimer Sawafta, Sami Tamimi, Rashid Swafta, Mustafa Sawafta, Rateb Sawafta and Saleh Sawafta … Israel is planning to annex the Jordan Valley into a completely Israeli area, primarily in agriculture, which some speculate aims to prevent a territorial contiguity between a future Palestinian state and the rest of the Arab world. To this end, tens of settlements and agricultural outposts have been established by Israel in the Jordan Valley, which makes up about one-third of the total area of the occupied West Bank.
Inside a settler-run tour of an East Jerusalem tourist trap
EI 1 Feb by Matt Broomfield — The so-called City of David is a leafy promontory, running out from the southern wall of Jerusalem’s Old City to bisect the Palestinian community of Silwan. The tourist trap and archaeological site is moments from the Western Wall, the Haram al-Sharif and al-Aqsa mosque. On a map near the site entrance, the City of David itself is picked out in bright colors. Surrounding Palestinian neighborhoods are faded by comparison. Another sign near the doorway, which was surrounded by Israeli school children gobbling packed lunches, claims tours are run by “local volunteers.” It neglects to mention that these “local volunteers’” are part of the extremist settler organization Elad. They are not drawn from the Palestinians who live in the area. Elad – a Hebrew word which means “God’s eternal faith” and is also an acronym for “To the City of David” – has full control of the site. As the site expands under flimsy pseudo-archaeological pretexts, Elad is able to demolish Palestinian property and infrastructure and drive Palestinians from their homes, in collusion with state authorities and backed by Israeli police muscle … And each year, 400,000 visitors to the city are exposed to Elad’s highly selective, ethnocentric version of history, privileging Zionist claims to Palestinian land … Credulous tour-takers swallowing Elad’s narrative will leave with the sense Jerusalem stood empty for centuries until Zionist settlers returned to reclaim it. The constant Arab presence encompassing centuries of culture, conflict and religious tolerance is ignored. And nor do the tours cover what is happening around Jerusalem today.
Family of boy paralyzed by Israel sues for damages
EI 31 Jan by Charlotte Silver — On his 15th birthday, Atiya Nabahin was shot in the neck by Israeli soldiers while he was on his way home from school. That was in November 2014, less than three months into the ceasefire that ended Israel’s bombing campaign against Gaza during the summer of that year. At the time Atiya was shot, there were no so-called “clashes” occurring at the boundary between Gaza and present-day Israel. The Israeli soldiers opened fire across the boundary at the young teen. After spending six months at an Israeli hospital, at the expense of the Palestinian Authority, doctors admitted Atiya was permanently paralyzed in all four of his limbs. He would be dependent on others for the rest of his life. Now his family is seeking damages from the Israeli army. They believe the army should compensate the family for the burdensome costs they now face to care for Atiya. In 2014, the Israeli army tried to justify the shooting, saying the boy was in a prohibited area. But, in response to the family’s lawsuit, the state is now arguing that the army is not accountable to any victim of its violence in Gaza because they are residents of an “enemy territory.” Sweeping impunity Ofer Shoval, deputy district attorney in Tel Aviv, has asked a judge to reject the suit, arguing that Israeli law “explicitly states that the state is not responsible for damages in these circumstances.” Shoval is correct. But the two human rights groups representing Atiya’s family – Adalah in Haifa and Al Mezan in Gaza – hope to challenge the laws granting impunity to Israeli soldiers….
Relatives of Palestinians killed in 2014 Gaza war break into Palestine TV office
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — Dozens of relatives of Palestinians killed during the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip broke into the office of Palestine TV on Tuesday. A spokesperson for the Committee of slain Palestinians’ families, Alaa al-Birawi, told Ma‘an that the family members entered the building in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City, demanding to be given an opportunity to appear live on Palestine TV and discuss their demands to the Palestinian Authority. One day earlier, members of the Committee of slain Palestinians’ families had shut down an office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Association for the families of the wounded and martyrs to protest the national organization’s failure to transfer allowances. Al-Barawi added that the families threatened to shut down the office if their demands were not met. A source in Palestine TV’s Gaza City office confirmed to Ma‘an that live transmission from Gaza had stopped as a result of the situation. They added that Palestine TV executives had suggested that families record their demands and appeals to be aired later, but that the relatives refused. 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.
Toronto doctor may soon see justice for his daughters, 7 years after an Israeli tank killed them
Toronto Star 30 Jan by Oakland Ross — More than eight years after Israeli tank fire sundered his family forever, a Palestinian medical doctor now living in Toronto will finally have his day in court. “It’s time for Israel to take responsibility and apologize,” Izzeldin Abuelaish told the Star in an interview. A celebrated advocate for peace, Abuelaish, 61, has spent nearly a decade trying to right at least a few of the wrongs committed in a terrible war, the three-week Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip that began on Dec. 27, 2008, and ended on Jan. 18, 2009. Known to Israelis as Operation Cast Lead, the invasion sought to punish Palestinians for almost daily rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel. The operation claimed more than 1,400 Palestinian lives, many of them civilians, including three of Abuelaish’s daughters and a niece. Thirteen Israelis also died. Soon, if all goes according to plan, Abuelaish will finally have a chance to offer his testimony in a courthouse in the Israeli city of Beersheba, where he will back up his claims against the Israeli state. He seeks a formal apology from Israel as well as financial compensation. The doctor’s testimony is scheduled to be heard on March 15, more than six years after he launched a lawsuit against the Israeli Defense Ministry, an action he was forced to take when Israel refused to apologize or pay damages voluntarily … For the gynecologist and his family, the worst moments of the conflict unreeled during its waning hours, in the late afternoon of Jan. 16, when a pair of shells fired by an Israeli tank blasted through a wall of their residence in northern Gaza, killing three of Abuelaish’s daughters — Bassan, 20, Mayar, 15, and Aya, 13 — as well as his 14-year-old niece, named Nour. Another daughter — Shatha, then 16 — lost sight in one eye during the attack. Another niece — Ghaida, then 14 — was permanently disabled. Their deaths attracted international attention at once, partly because of Abuelaish’s prominence as a champion of peace in the region and partly because the doctor immediately got on the phone to Israeli TV journalist Shlomi Eldar. Abuelaish’s frantic pleas for help were broadcast live on Israeli TV and soon went global via various Internet websites….
Egypt allows passage of goods through border crossing with Gaza
Ahram Online 1 Feb — Egyptian authorities allowed goods to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing during the past four days, including shipments of cement, iron, wheat, food and medical supplies, the German News Agency DPA quoted Gaza’s Economy Minister Abdel-Fattah Abu Moussa as saying. The step came one day after a delegation from Gaza’s Ministry of Interior, under the control of Hamas since 2007, arrived in Cairo to discuss border control with Egyptian officials. Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing on Saturday for four days for humanitarian purposes.
Egypt closes Rafah crossing after 4-day opening
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 Feb — Egyptian authorities closed the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday after four days of opening it in both directions. The Gaza borders and crossings committee said that 2,624 Palestinians were permitted to leave the besieged coastal enclave during the four days, including humanitarian cases and Egyptian passport holders. The committee added that the Gaza Strip received 3,095 Palestinians returning to the small Palestinian territory, while Egyptian authorities denied passage to 203 passengers for unspecified reasons. The crossing initially opened on Saturday for three days, but Egyptian authorities decided on Monday to keep the crossing open on Tuesday. Two travelers died “of natural causes” at the crossing on Sunday, the Palestinian border committee said on Monday, without providing further details on the circumstances surrounding the deaths. However, many of the Palestinians who are given priority to leave the blockaded Palestinian enclave are seeking medical treatment abroad. Prior to the four-day opening, the Rafah crossing had been closed for 38 days.
Can Hamas’ Haniyeh accept Egyptian demands?
Al-Monitor 30 Jan by Shlomi Eldar — Senior Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh went home to the Gaza Strip after a 4½-month sojourn in Qatar. Haniyeh decided to return from Qatar even though the process of his appointment as Hamas leader had not yet been finalized. Hamas’ supreme body, the Shura Council, had elected Haniyeh to replace current political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal. Residents of the Shati refugee camp in Gaza welcomed Haniyeh with great excitement on Jan. 27, hoping to hear good news from him regarding Hamas-Egypt relations after the series of meetings he held with Egyptian intelligence heads in Cairo. However, Haniyeh kept mum. In the near future, he will have to make one of the most difficult decisions of his life: whether to accept the conditions dictated to him by Egypt for a significant easement of the blockade on the Gaza Strip, or remain entrenched in his position and continue to cope with the harsh situation there. Almost no one in Hamas today thinks that the movement can continue to rule over more than 1.8 million residents in the Gaza Strip indefinitely without the end of the closure or at least a significant loosening. The head of Egypt’s general intelligence, Khaled Fawzy, knows this, and told Haniyeh loud and clear: You must hand over to us any wanted person we ask for, whether he was directly involved in terror attacks in the Sinai Peninsula or just assisted jihadi agents. Other Hamas officials who participated in the Cairo talks included Mousa Abu Marzouk and Ruhi Mushtaq, who were stunned by the Egyptian ultimatum. Any such suspects extradited to Egypt could be sentenced to death. Handing over suspects to another state, whether they are Hamas operatives or belong to other organizations, is likely to be seen in the movement as unforgivable surrender and betrayal.
Israeli forces fire at Gaza farmers, fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — Israeli forces opened fire towards Palestinian fishermen and farmers in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning, locals told Ma‘an. Witnesses said that Israeli military vehicles stationed near the Sufa military post fired towards Palestinian farmers tending their crops between the cities of Khan Yunis and Rafah. No injuries were reported. Meanwhile, Israeli navy ships fired in the direction of Gazan fishermen off the coast of Rafah, forcing them to sail back to shore.
Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian fishermen, farmers in Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 2 Feb — Israeli forces opened live fire at Palestinian lands east of Gaza city, while Israeli naval forces also opened fire on fishermen off the coast of Beit Lahiya in the northern part of the besieged enclave on Thursday morning. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces stationed behind the border fence between Gaza and Israel opened live fire at Palestinian farmers. No injuries were reported. Witnesses also told Ma‘an that Israeli forces opened live fire at fishermen off the coast of Beit Lahiya, without any injuries being reported.
Gaza sees alarming increase in divorce rate
RAMALLAH (Gulf News) 1 Feb by Nasouh Nazzal — The Supreme Sharia Judicial Council in the Gaza Strip has reported an increase in divorce rates in the territory for 2016, with a total of 3,188 divorce cases being reported in the tiny coastal strip during that year. The number of divorce cases reported in 2015 was 2,627, according to Shaikh Hassan Al Jojo, who heads the council. Last year saw a rise of 17.6 per cent from that number. Al Jojo said in a statement that a total of 19,248 marriages were reported in Gaza during 2016, compared to 20,778 marriages in 2015 — a 7.3 per cent drop. Al Jojo said the figures were extremely alarming as 43.1 per cent of Gaza’s total number of break-ups took place before the wedding ceremony. “The main causes for divorces among Gazans were poverty, unemployment, the blockade, and the political and economic conditions in the strip,” the statement noted.
One baby born every 10 minutes in Gaza Strip, statistics
GAZA (Petra) 31 Jan — A new statistic by the Palestinian Interior Ministry in the Gaza Strip said that 58,170 newborn babies were registered in the enclave in 2016. The new statistics revealed that around 160 new babies were born per day, representing one baby every ten minutes. The new data showed an increase in the number of newborns in 2016 in the enclave by 8%.
Hamas confirms slain Tunisian engineer visited Gaza several times
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — A spokesman for the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, confirmed on Tuesday that the Tunisian aviation engineer, Muhammad al-Zouari, who is believed to have been assassinated by Israeli authorities last month, had visited the besieged Gaza Strip several times. Abu Ubaida confirmed in a news conference in Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip that al-Zouari had traveled to the small Palestinian territory several times to meet with leaders of the al-Qassam Brigades. The news conference followed an inauguration of a monument erected for al-Zouari in Rafah. “Late leader al-Zouari visited Gaza several times to share his science and creativity. His name will remain like a flag fluttering with each drone, missile, and explosive device that scares the occupiers on the land, sea, and air” Abu Ubaida added. The Hamas movement released a statement last month following the alleged assassination of al-Zouari by the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, saying that the aviation engineer was a leader of the group’s military wing. Hamas directly accused Israel of the assassination at the time, saying that “the coward Zionist hands assassinated the al-Qassam Brigades leader,” and called al-Zouari the “pioneer of the Arab Spring and the sponsor of the Palestinian revolution and resistance.” The statement highlighted that the Ababil drones, the Iranian-developed drones reportedly manufactured by al-Zouari, played a major role in the resistance during the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip.
Norwegian and Japanese ambassadors arrive in Gaza Strip
GAZA (Ma‘an) 1 Feb — The Japanese and Norwegian ambassadors to Palestine arrived in the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday via the Erez crossing to follow up on their countries’ projects implemented through the United Nations Development Fund (UNDF). A senior official in the Palestinian liaison said that Japanese Ambassador Tekeshi Okubo, his assistant, Norwegian Ambassador Hans Jacob, and three other Norwegian officials arrived in Gaza. The ambassadors were expected to leave the Gaza Strip Wednesday evening following a press conference.
Gaza security delegation travels to Egypt
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — A security delegation from the besieged Gaza Strip headed to Egypt via the Rafah crossing on Tuesday evening to meet with Egyptian officials, sources in the Hamas movement told Ma‘an. Sources said that the security delegation, led by Major Tawfiq Abu Naim, head of the Gaza Security Forces, traveled to Cairo to meet with Egyptian officials. Deputy Head of the Hamas politburo Moussa Abu Marzouq had said several days ago that the movement had received a list of men in the Gaza Strip wanted by Egyptian authorities. Marzouq added at the time that turning them into Egyptian authorities was not an option and that security officials would be meeting with their Egyptian counterparts to explain the circumstances of each person listed by Egyptian authorities.
Gaza’s women venture into comedy acting
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 30 Jan by Rasha Abou Jalal — Gaza’s women are rebelling against religious and cultural customs and joining men in comedy shows that are broadcast on social networking sites — Reham Kahlout, 19, is making her way in the world of comedy in the Gaza Strip, a society that has not generally been accepting of women taking part in acting roles that break with customs and traditions. “Society refuses my roles. It sharply criticizes my acting with young men and finds it a disgrace. It considers acting to be a waste of time and makes fun of comedians without showing any respect to them,” Kahlout told Al-Monitor. Despite this negative social outlook on Kahlout’s career choice, her family helped her and encouraged her to keep going. Yet they did not allow her to complete her university education in the field of cinema and acting, as they forced her to study law at the University of Palestine in Gaza and keep acting as a secondary option for the future. Kahlout found her hobby when she was a child, and she started acting when she was 16 years old….
Palestinians demand UN action over Israeli settlement homes
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 1 Feb — The Palestinian U.N. ambassador is accusing Israel of an “extreme barrage of illegal behavior” over the last 10 days and demanding that the U.N. Security Council take action. Riyad Mansour says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s approval to build 6,000 new homes for settlers is “unprecedented,” saying it exceeds the number for all of 2016. He says Netanyahu is “destroying the two-state solution by the continuation of this illegal behavior.” Mansour and the head of the Arab Group at the U.N. spoke to reporters Wednesday after meeting with Ukraine’s U.N. ambassador, Volodymyr Yelchenko, the current council president, to protest the action on new settler homes and call for the council to implement the resolution it adopted in December condemning Israeli settlements and demanding a halt to new construction.
PA announces new date of local elections, Hamas rejects decision
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — The Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) announced on Tuesday that local elections would be scheduled for May 13 in both the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip, a move which Hamas, the de facto ruling party of Gaza, promptly rejected. A statement released following the PA’s weekly cabinet meeting stated that elections “are a national need enabling citizens to practice the right to choose their representatives in local councils.” This process, the statement added, would assist in the development of services offered to Palestinian citizens. However, the Hamas movement rejected the PA’s decision, saying that elections should only take place after the more than a decade-long rivalry between Hamas and Fatah comes to an end and reconciliation is achieved. “Elections should take place after ending disagreements, achieving reconciliation, and uniting Palestinian institutions, including the political, judicial, and security levels,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasim said.
On Monday, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah encouraged Hamas to participate in the elections during a meeting with the Palestinian-European joint committee in Ramallah, when he announced that the date of elections would be determined….
Abbas meets with president of Pakistan
PAKISTAN (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas met with Pakistani President Mamnun Hussain on Tuesday following the inauguration of the Palestinian embassy in Islamabad earlier in the day. Abbas reportedly updated the Pakistani president on the latest developments in Palestine, and the experiences of Palestinians living under the nearly half century Israeli occupation. Abbas highlighted Israeli settlement activities and the continued practice of Israeli settlers taking over Palestinian lands. Following the meeting, another session was held and joined by the Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Abbas’ Islamic Affairs Councilor Mahmoud al-Habbash, spokesperson for the presidency Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Abbas’ Diplomatic Affairs Councilor Majdi al-Khaldi, and Palestine’s Ambassador to Pakistan Walid Abu Ali, in addition to several Pakistani officials. The meetings were part of Abbas’ three-day visit to Pakistan which commenced on Monday. Earlier in the day, PA-owned news agency Wafa reported that Abbas and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony and raised the flag of Palestine in the presence of a Palestinian delegation and Pakistani officials.
How Palestinian authorities plan to clamp down on cybercrime
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 29 Jan by Entsar Abu Jahal — The establishment of a cybercrime task force in Palestine aims to deter e-crimes, which many Palestinians are falling victim to and are not reporting to the police out of fear and intimidation — On Jan. 2, Palestinian Authority (PA) Attorney General Ahmed Barak issued a decision to commission members of the Public Prosecution to start operating the Cybercrime Task Force in preparation for the issuance of the Cybercrime Law, which is expected to be passed in the first half of the year. The law would address all forms of electronic crimes, in light of the recent high number of cybercrimes in Palestine. Per Palestinian police statistics in Ramallah, 2016 witnessed more than 1,200 cybercrimes compared to 520 in 2015, according to officer Louay Azriqat, the spokesman for the Palestinian police in Ramallah. Amal (a pseudonym) is a 26-year-old woman from Jenin, working in a private production company. Her Facebook account was hacked, but she did not file a complaint with the police forces. Instead, she contacted an IT technician who managed to recover her account….
Circus troupe takes Jerusalem’s streets by storm
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 30 Jan by Aziza Nofal — Three young men have been putting on shows in the neighborhoods of East Jerusalem using basic props and a guitar. As soon as their show starts, parents and children gather to watch Ahmad al-Joaba and Moataz Qawasmi perform circus shows to the sound of Mo’men Abu Sabih’s guitar. Joaba, Qawasmi and Abu Sabih, three talented young men from the city of Jerusalem, founded the Street Circus team and started performing their free shows in December. Bashar Mashni, the head of the Tourism and Arts Jerusalem Cluster, volunteered to organize and coordinate the shows to support the three young men and whoever might join them in the future. He told Al-Monitor, “The idea came as the young men were sick of the institutions’ neglect when it comes to supporting their talents. We wanted to build a popular supportive environment and a platform for the talented youth to spare them the agendas of funders and foreign supporters.” Mashni said, “We are providing the people with new entertainment shows for free. The people of Jerusalem need to take their minds off things amid the worsening security and economic conditions plaguing them.”….
Sabastiya municipality completes Japan-funded power project
NABLUS (WAFA) 31 Jan – The Municipality of Sabastiya Tuesday announced the completion of the project for the rehabilitation of Sabastiya’s electricity network funded by the government of Japan. Takeshi Okubo, Ambassador for the Palestinian Affairs and Representative of Japan to the Palestinian Authority, visited Sebastiya in Nablus to celebrate the completion of the project funded through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP). The grant of $87,352 was extended to Sebastiya Municipality to improve the electricity network and the residential environment for the resident … Okubo emphasized Japan’s firm commitment of supporting Palestinian people from a human security perspective and the importance of implementing social and economic development projects needed for Palestinian communities.
Palestine signs first sports cooperation deal with Germany
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 31 Jan – Jibril Rajoub, chairman of the Palestinian Football Association and Peter Beerwerth, Germany’s representative to Palestine Tuesday signed the first bilateral sports cooperation agreement. The agreement, signed at the Joseph Platter Academy in al-Bireh city, in the central West Bank, comes after a series of meetings held between Rajoub and German sports officials in Germany to examine ways to enhance the sports sector in Palestine. Rajoub said under the agreement, German sports expert Gert Engels will visit Palestine over the period of two years to assist the association in advancing the football sector. He said the German government will cover all the expenses and fees. Eagles will focus on the youth. Rajoub described Eagles, 59, as one of the best German sports experts and coaches, who had worked in Japan for 20 years and helped score the highest ranks in Asia….
Israel weaponizes rape culture against Palestinians
EI 31 Jan by David Sheen — Lawmakers in Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition are trying to deflect attention from sex crime scandals involving the highest echelons of Israeli society by making false allegations against Palestinians and other non-Jews. In recent months, a long list of senior Israeli officials, including members of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s inner circle, have been investigated and, in some cases, convicted for sex crimes against women and girls. But rather than acknowledging the problem in their own ranks, right-wing members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, are renewing their efforts to paint Palestinians as the prime perpetrators. At a December 2016 session of the Knesset’s status of women committee, legislators from parties in the ruling coalition – particularly the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu – alleged that there was a pattern of Palestinian men and boys preying upon Jewish women and girls. Yulia Malinovsky, a representative of Yisrael Beiteinu, started off the session by asserting that in the Jerusalem area in the previous nine years, there have been 800 cases where Jewish Israeli women were sexually assaulted or sexually harassed by Palestinian men “based on nationalist motives.” … The lawmakers lacked evidence to back up their allegations. That much became clear when Ayelet Orenstein, head of the department for sex crime victims in the Israeli police, testified to the Knesset committee … In December 2011, the Knesset’s immigration committee convened for an “urgent” session on “the kidnapping of new [Jewish] immigrants by minorities,” the latter a euphemism for Palestinian citizens of Israel … Then, too, a representative of the Israeli police department for sex crime victims – Rachel Greibin – denied the existence of any such phenomenon or increase in attacks on Jewish women by Palestinian men. “That phenomenon has not been seen by the police, the phenomenon you have just described is unknown to us,” Greibin said.
Israeli firm that imprisons Gaza aims to build Trump’s wall with Mexico
EI 1 Feb by Ali Abunimah — A firm that has helped isolate Gaza from the outside world is hoping for a windfall building President Donald Trump’s wall on the US-Mexico border. Ironically, the firm already does a lot of business with Mexico’s own government. Shares of Israel’s Magal Security Systems, which also helped build Israel’s illegal barrier in the occupied West Bank, surged following Trump’s election victory last November. During the campaign, Magal touted its experience caging Palestinians as the ideal credentials to build the wall that Trump repeatedly promised during his campaign and which has united Mexicans in opposition. In recent decades, increasing US militarization of its southern border has torn apart communities on both sides, including indigenous communities that long predate the existence of the United States. Gaza “has become a key sales prop for Magal’s ‘smart fences,’” the financial news agency Bloomberg reported in August….
Rasmea Odeh defense team files motion to dismiss indictment
Samidoun 1 Feb — New Statement from the Rasmea Defense Committee: Prosecutors “Vindictive” After Losing on Appeal — Today, the lawyers defending Palestinian American activist Rasmea Odeh moved to dismiss the new indictment that was brought against her in December 2016. The motion and supporting brief argue that the government’s “superseding indictment has substantially broadened the scope of the trial and the evidence that will be relevant and at issue.” It also states that the new indictment, filed well beyond the statute of limitations in immigration law, is so different from the original 2013 indictment that it cannot be accepted by the court. The statute of limitations for the alleged 2004 offense is 10 years. This new indictment tries to bring fundamentally different charges against Rasmea. Finally, Rasmea’s defense exposes the U.S. Attorney’s filing of the superseding indictment as a retaliatory and vindictive act. The conviction that the prosecutors won in court in 2014 was overturned in 2016 because the court violated Rasmea’s right to a full defense. She was not allowed to present expert testimony that she suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the torture she suffered at the hands of her Israeli captors in Palestine in 1969. Now the desperate prosecution is trying to bring terrorism charges against her. This is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to prejudice the jury by using buzz words such as “terrorism” to paint an unfavorable view of Rasmea….