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Defying settlers and Islamophobic legislators, Palestinians build 240-foot minaret in Jerusalem

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Issawiya residents inaugurate ‘tallest minaret in Jerusalem’
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — Residents of the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya inaugurated what was described as the highest minaret in Jerusalem on Friday. Activist Omar Atiyeh, who was among a number of locals who supervised the construction of the minaret, told Ma‘an that the structure was 73 meters high. According to Atiyeh, the concept for the mosque’s minaret emerged more than a year ago as an attempt to emphasize the Arab and Islamic character of the neighborhood, which he said has been “completely surrounded” by Illegal Israeli settlements, a building belonging to Israel’s Hebrew University, and Israel’s Hadassah Hospital.” Organizers chose to build the minaret atop ‘Issawiya’s oldest mosque. Atiyeh said the minaret cost approximately 1 million shekels ($275,550) to construct, and was funded by donations from Issawiya residents.
The inauguration of the minaret came a week after Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed a preliminary reading of the contested “Muezzin bill” — which seeks to impose limits on the Muslim call to prayer in Israel and in occupied East Jerusalem. Member of ‘Issawiyya’s local follow-up committee Muhammad Abu al-Hummus said on Saturday that the minaret was a clear message to the Israeli occupation that “minarets won’t be silenced and the adhan (call to prayer) will continue to ring out in Palestinian villages and cities.” He said that the mosque’s old minaret was built 47 years ago, and that due to increasing construction in the neighborhood, the sound of call to prayer coming from the minaret had been weakened over time. Palestinians have denounced the proposed Muezzin bill as “racist” and “a violation of religious freedom,” and argued that the draft legislation was superfluous given existing noise regulations, and therefore could be construed as an attack specifically targeting the Muslim right to worship.

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Palestinian teen shot dead and another seriously injured near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 17 Mar — A 16-year-old Palestinian was shot and killed and another Palestinian teen was moderately to seriously injured, after Israeli forces opened fire at a group of Palestinian youth in al-‘Arrub refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Friday evening.  The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed at around 9:30 p.m. that 16-year-old Murad Yusif Abu Ghazi succumbed to a critical gunshot wound in his chest, after he was evacuated to the intensive care unit at Hebron’s Al-Ahli Hospital. Doctors at the hospital told Ma‘an that another Palestinian, identified as 17-year-old Saif Salim Rushdi, was brought to the ICU after he was also shot in the chest by Israeli forces in the camp, describing his condition as moderate to serious. An Israeli army spokesperson claimed that the incident came after “firebombs were hurled at passing vehicles on a road near the village of al-‘Arrub. In response to the immediate threat, forces fired toward suspects.” … Abu Ghazi was the 13th Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of 2017.
His death also marked the second time this year that Israeli forces fatally shot a Palestinian minor. The Israeli army also claimed that 17-year-old Qusay Hassan al-Umour was throwing Molotov cocktails — a claim that was widely contradicted by video evidence and investigations undertaken by rights groups. In January, Israeli forces shot al-Umour in the chest with live fire at least three times, in what was branded by rights groups as an unlawful and unjustified killing….
[Doctors told Ma‘an on Saturday that Rushdi remained in critical condition, as his left lung was severely damaged and he suffered from fractures in his rib cage.]

Clashes after funeral for slain Palestinian teen leave 8 injured by Israeli fire
[with photos, short video] HEBRON (Ma‘an) -18 Mar – Clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli forces following a funeral procession held Saturday for 16-year-old Murad Yusif Abu Ghazi in al-‘Arrub refugee camp north of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank, which was attended by hundreds of mourners and came a day after the boy was shot dead by Israeli forces. Sources from the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service told Ma‘an that eight young men were hit with rubber-coated steel bullets during clashes with Israeli troops that erupted after the funeral.All eight received treatment on the scene, and dozens of others — including women, children, and elderly people — were treated for severe tear gas inhalation. Local sources said an Israeli border guard sustained minor wounds after he was hit with a stone. The clashes came after a motorcade of vehicles brought the body of Abu Ghazi from al-Ahli hospital in Hebron to his home in al-‘Arrub camp. After family members said their goodbyes, the teen’s body was carried to the camp’s mosque for the funeral prayer, and then to the cemetery for burial.  Mourners chanted slogans hailing Palestinian ‘martyrs’ and denouncing the Israeli occupation. Clashes broke out immediately after Abu Ghazi was laid to rest, with young Palestinian men hurling stones at an Israeli military post near the camp, while Israeli troops fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at the protesters and at the camp’s houses.

Palestinian slain by Israeli settler laid to rest in Hebron-area village
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — A funeral procession was held Saturday afternoon in the town of al-Dhahiriya south of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank for 24-year-old Saadi Mahmoud Ali Qaisiya, who was shot and killed by an Israeli settler on March 1.  Qaisiya’s body was transferred from Hebron city’s al-Ahli hospital to his home, where mourners carried his body to a mosque in the village for funeral prayer before marching to the town’s cemetery where he was laid to rest. Qaisiya was killed by an Israeli settler in an illegal settlement outpost in the South Hebron Hills after he allegedly committed a stabbing attack. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an at the time of Qaisiya’s death that an “attacker armed with a knife entered a house” and stabbed a settler, injuring him lightly. The settler then shot towards Qaisiya, the spokesperson added, killing him. The spokesperson said that they were not aware of whether the Israeli army was investigating the case.

Israeli army injures a young man in Sebastia
IMEMC 18 Mar — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Friday evening, Sebastia town, north of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, to remove a Palestinian flag and its pole, and shot a young man with a live round. The soldiers invaded the town from several directions and headed to its center to remove a Palestinian flag and its pole, while firing many live rounds. Medical sources said a young man, identified as Ahmad Sami Sha‘er, was shot with a live round in his thigh, and was moved to Rafidia Hospital, in Nablus.

Locals in Duheisha refugee camp warn of escalating violence by Israeli forces
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Mar — Days after five residents of Duheisha refugee camp were shot and injured during a violent military raid, locals have again warned of Israeli forces deliberately targeting unarmed Palestinians in the camp with live fire without justification. Detention raids in Duheisha, which is located south of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, have become a near daily occurrence. Due to the aggressive nature of the raids, clashes often erupt between local Palestinian youth who throw stones and are met in response with live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets, and tear gas, often resulting in serious injuries. During a predawn raid in Duheisha and the neighboring town of Doha on March 15 carried out to detain one person, 34-year-old Iyad Ibrahim Ramadan was shot in the leg while he was standing unarmed on his rooftop, attempting to observe the clashes to see if it would be possible to go to work that morning. After his brothers Mahmoud and Shadi rushed him the Arab Society Hospital in Beit Jala for treatment, Israeli forces opened fire on their vehicle, with Mahmoud sustaining a head wound from shrapnel. The incident was captured by a nearby surveillance camera, showing [below] a Volkswagen Golf driving a few hundred meters from Iyad’s home in Doha, before Israeli forces suddenly open fire, prompting Shadi, the driver, to turn back and take another route to the hospital …
Three other locals were shot and injured amid the clashes. One of the three, a now wheelchair bound 22-year-old who asked to remain anonymous, told Ma‘an after undergoing knee surgery that he was shot while trying to rescue another young man who had also just been shot. Arab Society Hospital doctor Nasser Jawabra told Ma‘an Saturday evening that while the conditions of all five of the men were improving, dozens of leg and knee injuries he’s seen in recent months have caused permanent disabilities.
“Knee injuries are no longer surprising. We have treated dozens of young men hit in the knees, which indicates that Israeli soldiers are deliberately aiming their guns at this part of the body, because it contains main nerves and arteries and could result in disabilities,” he said….

Israeli soldiers injure two Israeli activists, cause many protesters to suffer effects of teargas inhalation in Kafr Qaddoum
IMEMC 18 Mar — Israeli soldiers invaded, Friday, the town of Kafr Qaddoum, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, and fired at the protesters, wounding two Israeli peace activists with rubber-coated steel bullets, and causing dozens of protesters to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. Morad Eshteiwy, the media coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Annexation Wall and Colonies in Kafr Qaddoum, said the soldiers used excessive force against the local, Israeli and international nonviolent protesters, and fired rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades. He added that two Israeli peace activists were shot with the rubber-coated bullets; one in the face and the other in his arm, and added that many residents suffered the effects of teargas inhalation. The soldiers broke into and ransacked many homes in the town, and occupied several rooftops before using them as monitoring and firing posts. They also filmed the protesters, and tried to ambush them in various areas of the town.

Settlers attack Nablus area school with gunfire
NABLUS (WAFA) 16 Mar – Israeli settlers on Thursday opened gunfire towards a Palestinian secondary school in the village of Burin, south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, according to local sources. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in the area, told WAFA that a group of Israeli settlers opened gunfire towards the school to intimidate the students. There were no reports of injuries, however. The settlers also took pictures of the school before they left the scene.

Just a small sample of the constant raids and arrests;
Israeli army detains 14 Palestinians in West Bank raids
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 19 Mar — Israeli forces detained at least 14 Palestinians in predawn raids Sunday in multiple areas across the occupied West Bank.  Locals sources said that Israeli troops raided the home of Muhammad Khader Hawamda in the village of al-Samu‘ south of Hebron in southern occupied West Bank. Israeli forces detained Hawamda and his four sons Khalil, Ali, Yousif, and Ahmad.  The Israeli army also claimed they found a handgun and ammunition in al-Samu‘. Locals in Hebron said Israeli forces also detained Mamoon al-Natsha in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood on Saturday evening, with the Israeli army claiming he was carrying a screwdriver and planning a stabbing attack. In the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem, locals said Israeli forces detained 22-year-old Hasan Ahmad Sabatin and Yazan Sabatin from the town of Husan, 22-year-old Muayyad Salah Taqatqa in Beit Fajjar, as well as 18-year-old Jamil Ibrahim Taqatqa and another unidentified woman from Umm Salamouna … An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed one detention in Beit Fajjar and one in Umm Salamuna, and informed Ma‘an of another detention carried out in Sawahira al-Sharqiyya in the central Jerusalem district. In Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank, Israeli forces detained Omar Ghalib Abu Bakir and his brother Jamal, locals in the area said. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the two detentions. Israeli forces also detained Saeb Alawna from a flying checkpoint in the district, locals said.
The UN recorded an average of 95 weekly raids in the West Bank in 2016, and 73 weekly raids on average thus far in 2017.

Israeli army opens investigation into filmed beating of Palestinian detainee
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Mar — Five months after a video emerged showing Israeli forces brutally assaulting a handcuffed Palestinian detainee, Israel’s military police announced that a criminal investigation into the incident was underway, according to Israeli media. Israeli news site Ynet reported on Friday that the soldiers involved in the beating of 29-year-old Haitham Siyaj have been arrested, and that an Israeli military judge issued a gag order on further details of the case. According to Ynet, the Israeli soldiers alleged that during his detention, Siyaj attempted to escape, prompting the soldiers to “forcefully prevent him from doing so.” The soldiers claimed Siyaj attacked them, giving the Israeli commander of the group a black eye. Israeli army officials reportedly responded to the footage by claiming it was edited to mislead the public. According to rights group Yesh Din, of 186 criminal investigations into suspected offenses against Palestinians opened by the Israeli army in 2015, just four resulted in indictments.

Deadly Umm al-Hiran raid reenacted to investigate potential police misconduct
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 17 Mar — The ‘Machash’ unit within Israel’s Ministry of Justice, which serves to scrutinize and investigate Israeli police misconduct, re-enacted on Wednesday evening the events that led up to the shooting and killing of Yaqoub Abu al-Qian by Israeli police during a January demolition raid in the Negev-area Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran. In one of several contested claims by Israeli police over the circumstances of the killing, the police and Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan claimed that 47-year-old Abu al-Qian, a local math teacher, was driving toward police without his headlights on with the intention of committing a car-ramming attack against Israeli forces. However, a video released by Al Jazeera last month shows clearly that Abu al-Qian did indeed have his headlights on before his car rammed into a group of police, killing one policeman. Meanwhile, numerous eyewitnesses reported that Israeli police fired at Abu al-Qian, while he was driving normally, which then caused him to spin out of control and crash into the Israeli officers. Family members also firmly denied Abu al-Qian intended to carry out an attack and refuted claims by Erdan and police spokespersons that the man was influenced by the so-called Islamic State. Israeli police footage published in January by Haaretz also appeared to show police officers shooting at Abu al-Qian as he was driving at a slow pace, and only several seconds after the gunfire does his car appear to speed up, eventfully plowing through police officers, raising questions on whether the incident was intentional or the result of Israeli gunfire.

Resistance / Activism

Opinion: The conscientious objectors threatening the Israeli system / David Zonsheine
Haaretz 18 Mar — Tamar Alon and Tamar Ze’evi have been incarcerated in a military jail for over 100 days, after refusing to be inducted into the Israel Defense Forces. They were recently joined by a third conscientious objector, Atalia Ben Aba. You might think they are the only three in their age group who are not doing military service. But the truth is different: more than a third of all prospective draftees do not serve. In other words, Alon, Ze’evi and Ben Aba are exceptional not because they decided not to join the army – everyone knows it’s very easy to avoid military service in Israel – but precisely because they decided to enlist in the service of publicly exposing the principal apparatus that inductees serve: Israel’s violent rule over the Palestinian people. Why is the army not releasing them? After all, even if there were 100 or 200 like them (and not just three), that would be a negligible number for the IDF. One reason the army continues to keep them locked up is simple: they pose a threat to the mechanism … The left is afraid that open support for refusal to take part in the occupation will scare off the few voters that still remain … Alon, Ze’evi and Ben Aba are offering Israeli society a different path. They are not burying their heads in the sand and leaving the tough moral decisions for a future on a distant horizon. They have no effective political force behind them, apart from a handful of Knesset members. They are in prison because they want people to listen to what they have to say. It’s my fervent hope that many Israelis will hear them out.

Scores join Freedom March near Hebron
IMEMC 17 Mar by Ghassan Bannoura — At least 200 Palestinian and Israeli peace activists joined on Friday the freedom march “United Against the Policy of Home demolishing and Evictions” that was organized by Combatants for Peace and Standing Together coalition at the village of a-Tuwani near the southern West Bank city of Hebron. The protest started at the settlers’ road of Ma’on nearby settlement as people marched all the way to the village chanting anti-settlement and occupation slogans and demanding an end to the Israeli policy of systematic transfer of village residents from their lands. The children from the villages in the South Mt. Hebron who study in a-Tuwani had suffered from settlers’ harassment while walking to school on a path passing near the settlement Chavat-Ma’on for years before the Israeli authorities decided to assign soldiers to escort them in response to settlers’ violence. Even now, the children’s right to education is being constantly violated when the soldiers show up late – sometimes with a few hours’ delay.  At the village, local activist and resident of a-Tuwani, Hafiz Al Ehranie, welcomed the protesters and said “there is a systematic policy being implemented to purser us and other villagers around here to leave. The protest today comes in the same day when US peace activist Rachel Corrie was killed by the Israeli army in Gaza, we promise to continue her path of nonviolent resistance to end the occupation and achieve peace.”….

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Jerusalem mapping office allowed to reopen days after it was shuttered for ‘tracking Palestinian land sales to Jews’
Haaretz 17 Mar by Nir Hasson — A Palestinian office that monitors settlement building and which was shut by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Tuesday reopened on Thursday with the approval of police, who also restored all the computers and documents that had been confiscated from its director, Dr. Khalil Tufakji.  Erdan’s office and the police said in a statement on Tuesday they had ordered the office in Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina quarter shut “on the basis of information received by Jerusalem police that the Palestinian Authority is operating an office in Jerusalem used as a mapping office” that monitors Palestinian land in East Jerusalem and follows “changes Israel makes, presenting them as “land grabs by the Israeli government.” They said further that the office provides Palestinian security forces in  Ramallah with the names of people who seek to sell property and homes in East Jerusalem and that “when there is a suspicion of a forgery or an attempt to sell a home or property to a Jew, an investigation is opened by Palestinian security.” … In raiding the office on Tuesday, police arrested Tufakji, a well researcher about the settlements and the geographic aspects of the Israeli, Palestinian conflict. Tufakji has also participated in past peace negotiations and is well-known by Israeli peace negotiating teams. He also once operated out of the historic Orient House building in Jerusalem, which housed Palestinian institutions until its closure by Israel during the second intifada, in 2001 … He said the office has nothing to do with the Palestinian Authority and that he also does not operate inside Jerusalem, as part of Beit Hanina lies beyond the municipal boundaries, in the West Bank, and that is where the office is located….

Israel to give highest honor to leader of group that settles Jews in Arab Jerusalem
Haaretz 16 Mar by Yarden Skop & Nir Hasson — Israel will give its highest civilian honor to the director of the Ir David Foundation, commonly known as Elad, which works to settle Jews in East Jerusalem and operates controversial archaeological projects outside the Old City, Education Minister Naftali Bennett announced on Thursday.  David Be’eri, Elad’s director, will be awarded the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement along with Zvi Levy, who has mobilized support for soldiers who enlist in the Israel Defense Forces from abroad and have no family in Israel – lone soldiers, as they are called in Israel.  Be’eri founded Elad in the late 1980s. At first the organization tried unsuccessfully to build 200 housing units for Jews in the City of David area. It then worked to move Jews into the adjacent predominantly Palestinian Silwan neighborhood, in part using controversial means to evict Palestinians living there. In recent years, the organization has used Palestinian middlemen and straw companies registered abroad to acquire homes in the neighborhood. The organization also seeks to settle Jews in other East Jerusalem neighborhoods, such as Ras al-Amud, Abu Tur, and A-Tur.  The group also runs the City of David National Park, an archaeological dig in the Arab neighborhood of Silwan, where Jerusalem had its earliest origins.  Commenting on the decision to award Be’eri the Israel Prize, left-wing Meretz Knesset member Tamar Zandberg said: “If there is one party that is responsible most clearly and in the most organized manner for driving a wedge in East Jerusalem, for destroying our joint future and destroying any prospect for a diplomatic solution [of the conflict with the Palestinians], it’s Elad.

Israel’s Netanyahu repeats promise to build new West Bank settlement
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (Reuters) 16 Me — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday he would honour his commitment to build a new settler unit in the occupied West Bank, the first in two decades. The Israeli leader made the remarks hours before meeting with Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy. Netanyahu said he hoped an agreement could be reached with Washington on future of Israeli settlement units on land Palestinians want for a state. “To the settlers of Amona, I repeat, I gave you a commitment to build a new settler unit and I will honour my commitment,” Netanyahu said in public remarks at the start of a Cabinet meeting. The Amona settlement unit was built in 1995 without government authorisation. It was razed last month after the Israeli supreme court ruled the homes must be removed because they were built on privately owned Palestinian land. Netanyahu is under pressure from his far-right coalition partners to follow through on the promise to Amona’s residents. However, at a meeting in Washington, Trump asked him to “hold back on settlements for a little bit”.  “We are in talks with the White House and our intention is to reach an agreed policy for building in settlements which is agreeable to us, not only to the Americans,” Netanyahu said….

Israel demolishes Bedouin home in Negev desert, leaving 6 homeless
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 16 Mar — Israeli forces demolished a Palestinian home in the Bedouin village of Umm Batin in the Negev desert in southern Israel on Thursday morning, locals told Ma‘an.  According to locals, Israeli police raided Umm Batin and escorted bulldozers into the village, demolishing a wooden house belonging to Faris Abu Kaf.  Abu Kaf, his wife, and their four children were left homeless as a result of the demolitions. An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.  Locals highlighted that Israeli authorities have carried out demolitions in the village despite the fact that, unlike many Bedouin villages in the Negev, Umm Batin was officially recognized by the state of Israel in 2005. Demolitions targeting Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, specifically Negev Bedouins, have sharply increased since the beginning of 2017…

Israeli settlers uproot grape seedlings on Palestinian land near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Mar — Israeli settlers on Thursday uprooted dozens of grape seedlings and destroyed part of a grape arbor in the town of al-Khader in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem. Coordinator of a local popular resistance committee Ahmad Salah told Ma‘an that Israeli settlers uprooted 90 grape seedlings belonging to Nader Salah Abd al-Salam and destroyed part of his grape arbor in the Khilet al-Fahm area that is surrounded by the illegal Israeli Eliazar and Daniel settlements.
A spokesperson for Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the agency responsible for enforcing the Israeli government’s policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, was not immediately available for comment. Israeli settlers commonly attack Palestinians and their properties, particularly in Palestinian villages in the West Bank close to Israel’s illegal settlements. Settlers are very rarely reprimanded by Israeli authorities for such attacks, which they often carry out in the presence of armed Israeli forces.

Salfit farmers ask for help to rid their areas of pigs
SALFIT (PIC) 18 Mar — Palestinian farmers from the villages and towns of Salfit province in the central West Bank have pleaded for assistance to get rid of the growing problem of wild boars that keep destroying their cultivated fields. They reiterated their accusation that Jewish settlers from the illegal settlement of Ariel had brought those pigs to the area intentionally in order to destroy their agricultural lands, and force them to leave their lands and stop their farming activities. Pigs have ballooned very fast in Salfit and turned into large sounders [groups of sows and their piglets], causing widespread damage every day to cultivated plots of land owned by Palestinian farmers, according to local officials. Field researcher Khalid Maali said that the disturbing problem of pigs had never been there before the existence of settlements, affirming that all the Salfit farmers incur heavy losses every growing season as a result of those wild animals that come from nearby hills and mountains and wreak havoc on their lands. He expressed his belief that the Jewish settlers plagued Salfit with pigs in order to drive the farmers away from their lands and make it easy for the Israeli occupation authority to seize them later on allegations they were neglected and abandoned by their owners.

Prisoners / Court actions

Israel’s high court rules to restore residency rights of East Jerusalem Palestinian man
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — Israel’s high court ruled on Thursday to restore the residency rights of a Palestinian man born in present day occupied East Jerusalem who had lived outside of Jerusalem for over a dozen years, setting a precedent for residency rights of Palestinian Jerusalemites, who for decades have had their residencies revoked for living outside of Jerusalem. Israeli news daily Haaretz reported that the court ruled in favor of Jerusalem-born Palestinian Akram Abd al-Haqq, 58, who was nine years old when Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967. In 1970, al-Haqq moved with his parents to the United States, where he eventually became a US citizen. Nearly 20 years later, in 1989, al-Haqq attempted to return to Jerusalem, only to find out that Israel had revoked his residency, and rejected his request for a renewal. When Israel annexed East Jerusalem, unlike Palestinians living in other areas inside Israel, Jerusalemite Palestinians were given “permanent residency” status, as opposed to full citizenship.
According to Haaretz, like al-Haqq, over 14,000 Palestinians have had their residency rights revoked in the years since 1967 because they had been absent from Jerusalem for more than seven years. After moving twice to Jerusalem without proper documents, and years of appeals, al-Haqq was restored his residency by a three-justice panel that ruled that residents of occupied East Jerusalem “have a strong affinity to the city which must be taken into consideration with respect to residency rights,” Haaretz reported. One of the justices wrote of the decision that “when the interior minister must examine a request to restore a permanent residency to a resident of East Jerusalem, they must consider the special circumstances of these residents – that as opposed to immigrants seeking status – they have a strong affinity to the place where they live, as people born in this area – and sometimes even their parents and grandparents were born there – and where they have enjoyed family and communal life for years.”….

Israel continues to imprison 2 injured Palestinian teens shot by Israeli forces
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — Two injured Palestinian teenagers remained in Israeli custody as of Saturday, with one still in a critical condition, after they were both shot by Israeli forces in separate incidents, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement. According to PPS, 17-year-old Jihad Hammad, from the town of Silwad in the central occupied West Bank, regained consciousness on Saturday while being held in the ICU at Israel’s Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem. Hammad, who Ma‘an previously reported to be 19 years old, was shot and injured in the head with a live bullet fired by Israeli forces on March 10 during clashes in Silwad. PPS reported at the time that Hammad was in stable condition after undergoing surgery, but remained unconscious.
Meanwhile, 16-year-old Fatima Taqatqa, a resident of the southern occupied West Bank village of Beit Fajjar, remained in critical condition at the Shaare Zedek hospital.  Taqatqa was shot and injured by Israeli forces on Wednesday at a junction near the illegal Israeli settlement bloc of Gush Etzion in the southern occupied West Bank Bethlehem district, after Israeli authorities alleged that she was attempting to carry out a vehicular attack. The Israeli army told Ma‘an at the time that no Israelis had been injured in the incident. The Israeli Ofer military court on Thursday extended Taqatqa’s detention for eight days, with the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs saying that that the court extended her detention in absentia, as the teen remained in critical condition under anesthetics and on respirators.

Palestinian prisoner enters 22nd day of hunger strike
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — Palestinian prisoner Muhammad Nasser Alaqma entered the 22nd day of hunger strike on Saturday that he launched in protest of his administrative detention — Israel’s widely condemned policy of internment without charge or trial, according to the Ramallah-based radio station Sawt al-Asra (Voice of Prisoners). The 27-year-old resident of the village of Barta‘a in the northern occupied West Bank [area of] Jenin has been held in Israeli custody since Aug. 16, 2016, when he was detained at an Israeli military checkpoint on the way to his village. His administrative detention order has been renewed three times, each time for four months, since his initial detention. The radio station noted that Alaqma is a husband and father of two.

Israeli occupation issues 35 administrative detention orders so far in March
Samidoun 13 Mar — Israeli occupation authorities issued 35 administrative detention orders between 1 and 12 March, reported Palestinian lawyer Mahmoud Halabi of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society. Administrative detention orders are used to imprison Palestinians without charge or trial; they are issued for one to six month periods, but are indefinitely renewable. Therefore, Palestinians can spend years at a time imprisoned with no charge and no trial. There are currently around 600 Palestinians imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention orders. Among the Palestinians issued administrative detention orders in this group is Ihsan Dababseh, former prisoner and one of two Palestinian women currently held in administrative detention. Among the orders, 13 are new orders and 22 are renewals of existing administrative detention orders. The list of prisoners against whom orders were issued are: 1. Mumin Fathi Fashafsheh, Jenin, 4 months extension  2. Khaled Mansour Abdel-Nabi, al-Khalil, 3 months, new order….


Israeli army shells Gaza Strip after rocket lands in open area in Israel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — Israeli forces fired three artillery shells near the town of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip Saturday morning, local sources told Ma‘an. No injuries were reported.  Palestinian security sources in Gaza said the Israeli artillery targeted the al-Ghoul area in western Beit Lahiya. Additionally, Israeli the air force launched an airstrike at a military post for the “Palestinian resistance” in northwestern Gaza City, locals told Ma‘an. An Israeli army spokesperson said in a statement that “a projectile was fired from the Gaza Strip and hit an open area in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council,” which caused no injuries or damage. “In response,” the statement said, the Israeli army targeted two Hamas positions in the northern Gaza Strip with tank fire and airstrikes. Palestinian sources in Gaza said that three rockets were fired from the besieged coastal enclave towards Israeli towns surrounding the Gaza Strip, two of which landed inside Gaza and one which landed in the Ashkelon coast.  Israeli forces have launched airstrikes in Gaza in a number of instances since the beginning of the year, injuring at least seven Palestinians, with the Israeli army saying the attacks came in retaliation to rockets fired into Israel that did not cause any casualties.

Israeli power line feeding southern Gaza Strip damaged
GAZA (Ma‘an) 19 Mar — Gaza’s power company said in a statement on Monday that the Israeli power line feeding the southern region of the besieged coastal enclave was damaged. Israeli power line 9 powers the Khan Yunis and Rafah districts with 12 megawatts of electricity, according to the statement, which noted that the power company was in contact with Israel to repair the power line. Even at full capacity, Egyptian and Israeli electricity grids, together with Gaza’s sole power plant, fail to cover the Gaza Strip’s energy needs, as the usual electricity schedule alternates eight hours of power followed by eight hours without.

Milk used in medical treatment in short supply in Gaza
MEMO 16 Mar — Special milk substitute powder essential for the treatment and well-being of patients suffering from phenylketonuria (PKU) is in dangerously short supply in the besieged Gaza Strip, Quds Press has reported. Almost 300 Palestinians in the enclave are known to suffer from the rare genetic condition that causes an amino acid called phenylalanine to build up in the body. According to a spokesman for the Association of the Families of PKU Patients, Musallam Al-Najjar, the lives of the children with PKU in Gaza are at serious risk due to the restrictions imposed on the import of the milk for the past five months. The milk substitute is the sole treatment and food for PKU patients … The acute shortage was confirmed by the Director of the Pharmaceutical Department in the Ministry of Health in Gaza, Muneer Al-Borsh. He pointed out that there is a serious shortage of all medicines on the essential drugs list in Gaza, 30 per cent of which are no longer available….

Report: Israeli-issued exit permits for Gaza see drastic drop
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — The number of Gaza residents that were allowed to enter Israel dropped by 40 percent last month compared to the 2016 monthly average, according figures from legal nonprofit organization Gisha cited in a report published Saturday by Israeli daily Haaretz. Furthermore, the number of Palestinian businesspeople who entered Israel from the besieged coastal enclave fell by 60 percent compared to February 2016. The report said that in Feb. 2017, only 7,301 people passed through Israel’s Erez crossing — the only land crossing for Palestinian civilians to access Israeli from Gaza, which is heavily restricted by Israeli authorities as part of a crippling blockade on the coastal enclave in place since 2007. According to Haaretz, the figure represented the lowest number of people allowed to pass through the checkpoint since the end of Israel’s devastating assault on the Palestinian territory in 2014. The figure was just over half of the number of permits issued in February 2015, while the monthly average for 2016 was 12,150 people. The report said that the greatest drop in permits was among Palestinian traders, including those with many years’ experience in the business. Gisha recorded only 3,287 exits for traders in February, a drop of over 50 percent compared to the monthly average in 2016 (6,637) and a 60 percent reduction compared to February 2016, when the figure was 8,226….

Gaza suffers annual fresh water deficit
Days of Palestine 18 Mar — Palestinian Water Authority has warned of the dangerous situation of fresh water in the Gaza Strip, due to increasing salinity and decline of aquifer levels. In a press conference, the head of the water authority in Gaza, Yasser Al-Shanti, stressed, according to Days of Palestine, that the annual fresh water deficit in Gaza is 110 million cubic metres, noting that the 2 million people in Gaza need 200 million cubic metres of fresh water every year. “Gaza suffers from a sharp decline in the quality and quantity of fresh water,” he said. The groundwater wells have witnessed a sharp decline in the water level which, in some areas, reached up to 15 metres below sea level. Al-Shanti stressed that Gaza’s population mainly depends on groundwater as a source of fresh water, noting that this natural reservoir was affected by the increasing urban sprawl. Groundwater wells decline due to the Israeli theft of deep underground water via hundreds of wells surrounding the Gaza Strip. Based on an earlier UN report,  Quds Press said that the Gaza Strip is expected to have no freshwater valid for human use by 2020 due the increasing salinity, pollution and the continuing effects of the Israeli siege.

At sit-in, Gaza widows demand unpaid benefits
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 17 Mar by Entsar Abu Jahal — Families of Palestinians killed in Israel’s 2014 war against the Gaza Strip held a sit-in March 7 outside the offices of a PLO-run foundation, the Families of Martyrs and Wounded Support Foundation, in Gaza City. The organizers of the sit-in — the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the National Committee for Families of Martyrs (NCFM) — demanded that victims’ families receive their promised allowances, which they say have not been paid for political reasons. In July 2016, protesters set up an open-ended protest camp outside the PLO foundation’s office. The NCFM warned of even further escalated measures should the leaders continue to ignore them. On Feb. 28, women tried to set themselves on fire during a protest in front of the building. Al-Monitor attended the March 7 protest, where PFLP leader Osama al-Hage Ahmed said that victims’ families have the right to receive allowances under the 2003 Basic Law, which states that “maintaining the welfare of families of martyrs, prisoners of war, the injured and the disabled is a duty that shall be regulated by law. The National Authority shall guarantee these persons education, health and social insurance.”….

A message from Cindy and Craig Corrie
Rachel Corrie Foundation 16 Mar — Painting by Malak Mattar; read more about her painting at We Are Not Numbers. — March 16th marks the 14th anniversary of the day our daughter Rachel stood in Gaza with other international activists and challenged the Israeli military’s illegal confiscation of Palestinian land and the demolition of Palestinian homes. Rachel’s life was stolen that day, but her spirit was not. As these anniversaries approach, there are sometimes tensions as we struggle to find the best way to remember, and to explain why we do so. But in a moment of illumination, we are reminded that each March 16th is for us another opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to Gaza. It is a place that overflows with suffering, yet is filled with so much more.  Rachel wrote to us about the people.  “…I am also discovering a degree of strength and of the basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances…I think the word is dignity. I wish you could meet these people.  Maybe, hopefully, someday you will.”
During the past fourteen years, we have been blessed with our connections to Palestinians in Gaza, in the West Bank, and elsewhere in the world. We have built relationships with them and with Palestinian and Jewish Israelis who reflect the strength and dignity Rachel recognized, and with open hearts and minds steadfastly pursue justice….

Film review: New Palestinian documentary assaults viewers with uncensored look at last Gaza war
[with trailer] Haaretz 16 Mar by Nirit Anderman — In the summer of 2014, on the day that Operation Protective Edge began, ​Mohamed Jabaly was working in the hospital in Gaza. He was filming an operation there for a movie he was making. When he heard about the outbreak of the fighting between Israel and Gaza, he asked permission to join one of the ambulance crews, without giving too much thought to it. From then until the end of the war, he and his camera were, like the paramedic team, a constant presence in the ambulance racing around Gaza for the next few weeks, rushing to help anyone they could. The result is “Ambulance,” an hour-long documentary that has been shown in many international documentary film festivals, including the prestigious IDFA festival in Holland, and was also recently shown on Channel 8 on Israeli cable television. For Israeli viewers, a film like this offers a rare opportunity to get a more in-depth view of what went on in those days in Gaza, from a different angle. This is a direct, penetrating view that doesn’t try to soften or sanitize the difficult scenes, which haven’t been cut and edited into something that would fit into the format of a television news program. Accompanying the ambulance crew, Jabaly reached the wounded just minutes after the bombardments and was able to film people and places that were affected even before the clouds of dust could settle, and to capture the looks of terror on the faces of those who’d just seen death pass before their eyes. Many of the scenes, therefore, are stomach-churning. This film confronts the viewer with the uncensored seething mass of blood, dust and fear that was hidden that cursed summer behind the dry headlines and often overly-sterile reports that filled the newspapers and news programs….

Activism / Solidarity / BDS

Listen: Gaza student in UK speaks out against harassment
EI Podcast 17 Mar by Nora Barrows-Friedman — Pro-Israel groups have launched a smear campaign against a student leader at the University of Exeter in the UK over her Palestine activism. Malaka Mohammed, a contributor to The Electronic Intifada and a leader in the student government at Exeter, is from the Gaza Strip. For the past several years she has been organizing direct actions in support of Palestinian rights. The attacks against Mohammed began after she launched her run for vice president of the students’ guild – the union representing students across University of Exeter campuses – while publicly organizing rallies against racist graffiti found on campus and in protest of US President Donald Trump’s travel ban. Being a Palestine solidarity activist, she said, “means that you’re also standing against all forms of racism, from Islamophobia to anti-Semitism.” The Campaign Against Antisemitism, a Zionist charity in the UK, has accused Mohammed (who is referred to by her family name, Malaka Shwaikh), of being a “terrorist-supporting anti-Semite,” sparking a barrage of threats and harassment by Israel supporters. “This is not the first time Israeli-aligned groups in the UK [have] attacked Muslim women of color in positions of power,” she told The Electronic Intifada. She added that Israel supporters demanded that the university expel her and urged the students’ guild to sack her from elected leadership positions. Mohammed said she is seeking legal advice.Palestine activists in the UK are facing expanding repression by university administrations under pressure from Israel lobby groups….

Other news

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (9-15 March)
PCHR 16 Mar — Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian in occupied Jerusalem. 11 civilians, including 3 children, were wounded in the West Bank. Israeli forces continued to target the border areas in the Gaza Strip, and no arrests were reported. Israeli forces conducted 80 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one was conducted in the central Gaza Strip. 80 civilians, including 9 children and 4 women, one of whom is a PLC Member, Samira al- Halyqa, were arrested in the West Bank. 35 of them, including 5 children and 2 women, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem and its suburbs. 3 children were arrested while sneaking through the border fence into Israel to look for work and were then released after interrogation. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. Two houses were demolished and a civilian was obliged to self-demolish his house. Closure of Arab Studies Society’s Mapping and arresting its director. Israeli forces continued their settlement activities in the West Bank. A mobile house was confiscated in Farosh Beit Dajan village, while a vegetable stall was demolished. Israeli settlers uprooted and stole (143) olive trees, south of Nablus. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. 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. 2 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were arrested at military checkpoints in the West Bank.  [Details follow].

Al-Shobaky: President Abbas to visit Cairo for talks with Egypt’s Sisi
CAIRO (WAFA) 18 Mar – Palestinian Ambassador in Egypt Jamal al-Shobaky said on Saturday that President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Egypt Sunday where he will hold talks with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. The Ambassador said in a press statement that President Abbas was officially invited by Sisi to visit Cairo for a round discussions that will held Monday over the recent developments on the Palestinian and Arab arenas. President Abbas is keen to hold talks with the Egyptian president about the Palestinian cause ahead of the Arab Summit meeting to be held in Amman later this month, al-Shobaky said. He added that President Abbas will brief the Egyptian president on his recent talks with the US Administration, especially the discussions about the Palestinian commitment to two-state solution as well as pushing forward with the idle political process

Arab MK: Israel must ‘pay a price’ for occupation
Al-Monitor 17 Mar by Daoud Kuttab — Ahmad Tibi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, believes that a two-state solution is still the best way to address the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In an Al-Monitor interview during Tibi’s short visit to Amman March 15, he acknowledged the declining fortunes of the two-state solution, but added that “despite a slow erosion of support among Palestinian citizens of Israel and despite not having a good chance of it ever being accomplished, I am still in support of the two-state solution.” Shortly after the Feb. 7 press conference between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump, Tibi succeeded in grabbing the headlines. Commenting on Trump’s assertion that he was equally open to a two-state solution or a one-state solution, whichever the two conflicting parties preferred, Tibi told CNN Feb. 16 that in the case of a single state, “I will be running for the post of prime minister, and I can assure you that I will win [over] Bibi Netanyahu.” … Tibi said that the one-state solution is far-fetched. “Until today, polls show that the majority of Palestinians still favor a two-state solution,” he said … According to Tibi, there are only three possible solutions to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: two independent and sovereign states; a one-state solution with an apartheid-like structure and political discrimination against Palestinians; or a one-state solution where all citizens have equal rights. Tibi added, however, “Israelis will not agree to a single state for all, and are unlikely to tolerate a blatant apartheid regime, so the only viable and practical option is the two-state solution.” That said, he also observed that every Israeli leader who has been asked to choose between a two-state solution and a one-state solution has chosen a third option, namely, maintaining the status quo….

Palestinian police wage war on stolen Israeli car traffic
AFP 17 MarAt the police officer’s gesture, the bulldozer smashes its shovel into a blue Hyundai — the latest of thousands of cars destroyed by Palestinian police every year. The car’s owner and her children protest, but receive little sympathy. “This car has not been legally registered since 2007, despite its Israeli licence plates,” the officer, who declines to give his name, tells AFP. “I asked her to produce documents and she couldn’t present any.” The operation is part of efforts to combat a large underground car market that sees vehicles stolen in Israel or deemed unfit for the roads there transported into the occupied West Bank. Palestinian authorities are concerned in part because crimes are often carried out using such unregistered cars still carrying their old Israeli plates. Throughout the West Bank, vacant lots covered with stacks of hundreds of cars crushed by bulldozers bearing Israeli plates are an indication of the police crackdown. Two vehicles of armed police and two bulldozers were involved in the recent roadside demolition at Al-Ram, a Palestinian area on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The officer heading the operation said he had seized 100 vehicles lacking documents in a day. Many are crushed on the spot without a longer trial, before being taken away to landfills. In 2016, 16,000 vehicles met the same fate, Palestinian police said, with 5,000 in January and February in the small territory occupied for 50 years by Israel….

Get your own facts, ignore media, Palestinian artist Halaby tells successors
DUBAI (Reuters) 14 Mar by Tarek Fahmy  — Palestinian painter Samia Halaby has blunt advice for aspiring Arab artists – get your inspiration first-hand, whether from ordinary people or historical documents, avoiding the “lies” of the media. Halaby, who made her name with abstract paintings, drew on both kinds of source for her most overtly political project, a series of drawings of the 1956 massacre of Palestinians by Israeli border police at Kafr Qasem. The drawings, and a separate exhibition of her multicolored abstracts called “Illuminated Space”, make up a Halaby double bill on display at Dubai’s Ayyam Gallery for Dubai Art Week. “My advice to young aspiring artists in the Arab world and other similar countries that are torn by political, economic and social problems caused by imperialist challenges is to concentrate on history and its details, and to not follow the existing media, because there are a lot of lies,” she told Reuters. “They should be attentive to their surroundings and their societies … specifically the common class of society.” The Kafr Qasem project grew out of a visit in 1999 to the village where, on Oct. 29, 1956, Israeli border guards killed 48 people and an unborn child. More than half the dead were women and children. The victims were returning home from work across the de facto border between Israel and Jordan, unaware that they were infringing a military curfew declared on the eve of war with Egypt….

Israel lawmakers delay vote on West Bank settlement annexation
JERUSALEM (JTA) 14 Mar — A Knesset committee vote on a bill that would annex the large West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim was postponed to avoid a conflict with a visiting Trump administration official. The Ministerial Committee on Legislation was scheduled to take up the bill, which would subject the settlement to Israeli law, on Tuesday, but delayed the discussion due to the visit by Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s adviser on international relations, who is meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to gauge attitudes on peacemaking. Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the right-wing Jewish Home party, agreed on Monday to postpone the discussion of the bill shortly after a five-hour meeting in Jerusalem between Greenblatt and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, The Times of Israel reported. Greenblatt was scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Tuesday. The bill’s sponsors had initially rejected a request to postpone a vote on the legislation by three months, according to the news website. Some 40,000 Jewish settlers live in Maale Adumim, which Israel considers a settlement bloc that would become part of the nation under a peace deal with the Palestinians.

Israel blacklists Palestinian fund as US envoy visits
JERUSALEM (AP) 16 Mar  by Ian Deitch — Israel declared the Palestine Liberation Organization’s main financial body a terrorist organization on Thursday, infuriating the Palestinians as U.S. President Donald Trump’s envoy wrapped up his first visit to the region. The fund makes monthly payments to about 35,000 families of Palestinians killed and wounded in its long-running conflict with Israel, including suicide bombers and other militants who targeted civilians and soldiers. “The decision to declare the fund a terrorist organization stems from its continuing and ongoing activity in providing massive support for elements responsible for committing severe acts of terrorism against Israel,” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said. “As of today, all necessary actions will be taken in Israel and overseas in order to seize and confiscate property and assets designated for, or belonging to, the fund,” he added. The Palestinian National Fund’s main offices are in Jordan, and it was not immediately clear how the measures would be implemented. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the move, which came after U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt wrapped up several days of meetings with both sides aimed at reviving the peace process, which last collapsed in 2014. Abbas called it “an Israeli attempt to obstruct and sabotage U.S efforts” to relaunch peace talks….

Palestinians fear US will block financial assistance
Al-Monitor 16 Mar by Shlomi Eldar — Even before the arrival March 12 to Jerusalem and Ramallah of Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s representative for international negotiations, the Palestinians were concerned. They were already aware of the voices in Washington calling for a halt of American aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) until payments to families of shahids (martyrs) are halted. Those in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ bureau tried to circumvent the problem. As reported by Al-Monitor last week, Abbas instructed the Finance Ministry in Ramallah to probe a possible discontinuation of salary payments to PA workers in the Gaza Strip who left Fatah and joined other groups that are categorized as terror movements by donor organizations. Indeed, the issue of salaries to Gaza employees is a separate issue, but Abbas’ entourage hoped that such steps would prove to the Americans that Abbas is acting with determination against Gaza employees suspected of joining other (terror) groups, and that he is taking each and every matter seriously. Obviously, this did not convince the Americans. When Greenblatt arrived at the meeting in the Palestinian headquarters at the Muqata on March 14, he immediately placed the issue on the table. A Palestinian source told Al-Quds newspaper that Trump’s emissary delivered an unequivocal ultimatum to Abbas: The United States will not hesitate to discontinue its financial aid to the PA if it continues to pay compensation monies to families of shahids … Those in the environs of Abbas turn an accusing finger at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom they feel is responsible for the incitement campaign against the Palestinian president. They claim that the Israeli prime minister encourages congressmen and senators to impose sanctions on the PA, even though these Americans do not have a full picture of the situation in the PA. Also, they do not understand that a shahid in Palestinian society is anyone who was harmed by the occupation forces, whether or not he or she carried out a terror attack….

Erekat: Lieberman’s decision on Palestine National Fund ‘revokes’ Israel’s recognition of PLO
JERICHO (WAFA) 18 Mar – Saeb Ekerat, secretary general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), expressed his rejection of the Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s declaration that the Palestine National Fund is a “terrorist organization.” Upon his meetings with Fernando Gentilini, UN Special Representative for The Middle East Peace, and China’s Ambassador to Palestine, Erekat said that Lieberman’s decision means Israel revoked its recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).  He called upon Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to clarify his government’s stance and explain whether it revoked its recognition of the PLO. On the other hand, Erekat said that the intensified activities of Israeli settlements on the ground, especially in East Jerusalem, is a part of the Israeli plan to destroy the two-state solution and replace it with the Apartheid system.

UN official quits over Israel apartheid report
Beirut (AFP) 17 Mar by Rouba El Husseini — UN official Rima Khalaf announced her resignation on Friday, saying the secretary general had asked her to withdraw a report in which she accused Israel of being an “apartheid state.” UN chief Antonio Guterres accepted the resignation of Khalaf, a Jordanian national, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York, while denying that the secretary general had acted under US pressure. Khalaf, under-secretary general and executive secretary at the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), told a news conference: “The secretary general asked me yesterday morning to withdraw (the report). “I asked him to rethink his decision, he insisted, so I submitted my resignation from the UN. “We expected of course that Israel and its allies would put huge pressure on the secretary general of the UN so that he would disavow the report, and that they would ask him to withdraw it,” she added. “It’s only normal for the criminal to attack those defending the cause of his victims, but I cannot accept being subjected to such pressures,” she told reporters in Beirut, quoting from her resignation letter. On Wednesday, the United States demanded that Guterres withdraw an ESCWA report entitled “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid”. The report concluded that “available evidence established beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid”….

Arab diplomat behind UN’s Israel ‘apartheid’ report to get top Palestinian honor
Haaretz 19 Mar by Jack Khoury — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has announced that he will be granting the highest Palestinian honor to a Jordanian diplomat who stepped down on Friday as the head of a UN commission over pressure to withdraw a report accusing Israel of apartheid. The announcement from the office of the Palestinian president said that he had spoken personally with Rima Khalaf and thanked her for her support for the Palestinian people. “Khalaf stood by her principles and the principles of international law and refused to remain in [her] position without the freedom of action to disclose the facts and the humanitarian situation in which the Palestinian people are living in under Israeli occupation,” the statement said. The report for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which comprises 18 Arab states, concluded that “Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.” The accusation – often directed against Israel by its critics – has never before been made by a United Nations body.

Dear Israeli government: I want to go to Palestine / Alison Weir
Palestine Chronicle 17 Mar — Dear Israeli Government, About Your New Travel Ban You’ve recently  banned  foreigners who support boycotts against Israel or Israeli settlements from being allowed to enter Israel – even Jewish foreigners, a first for the self-proclaimed Jewish state. After all, your “Law of Return” has allowed (and encouraged) Jewish foreigners to freely immigrate to Israel, even as multitudes of Palestinians have been banned from returning to their homes. People throughout the Western world have objected in outrage to your new law, particularly Jewish Westerners who have family and connections in Israel from whom they’ll be cut off in retaliation for their political positions. Critics, even some who oppose boycotting Israel and who have had no problem with excluding Palestinians, have called out the law for diverse reasons: its quashing of free debate and political expression, its anti-democratic nature, how it will affect them and others personally.
I support these objections.
But I’m not trying to visit Israel.
I want to go to Bethlehem and Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron, Jenin and Tulkarem. I hope to return to Khan Yunis, Rafah, Gaza City, and numerous other towns and villages in the West Bank and Gaza.  In other words, I want to go to Palestine – a country recognized by 136 countries around the world.  But your law, astoundingly, prevents me from visiting that country. You control entry and exit to the places I want to visit, even though they’re not part of your territory, or included in your exclusive democracy. Unlike the residents of every other country on earth, Palestinians are not free to travel to and from their own country unless a foreign country gives them permission …

During meeting in Khan Younis — Sourani: 6 submissions before the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israeli war criminals
PCHR 16 Mar –Raji Sourani, Director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), confirmed delivering 6 legal submissions to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and addressing them 7 times regarding Israeli war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). On Thursday, 15 March 2017, PCHR organized a meeting that was held in Khan Yunis branch. The meeting was attended by several national figures and journalists. It addressed the human rights situation in the oPt and the efforts to prosecute the Israeli war criminals on the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation and the closure imposed on the Gaza strip for 10 years. During the meeting, Sourani said that he hopes that the ICC’s decision to accept the cases of the Palestinian victims will be in the period from June to the end of this year. Sourani emphasized that the issued submissions are related to the Israeli offensive, the imposed closure on the Gaza Strip and the settlement activities …  Furthermore, Sourani stressed that it is forbidden to lose the legal battle of prosecuting the Israeli war criminals. He pointed out that there is an expanded work crew of Palestinians along with 14 international figures of the best legal minds, who work on this file believing in the justice of the Palestinian cause. Sourani emphasized that this battle is one of the serious battles facing Israel in the next stage. He stressed that this battle is not at the expense of the resistance or the economic and social aspect, rather, it is complementary to them….

In week of Middle East talks, Trump envoy avoids disruption
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 16 Mar by Luke Baker — President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy has spent the week shuttling between Jerusalem, Ramallah and the Jordanian capital Amman on his first official visit to the region, pursuing quiet diplomacy and avoiding controversy. A real estate lawyer who has worked for Trump for 20 years, Jason Greenblatt has met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan’s King Abdullah and other senior officials during a busy round of talks that U.S. diplomats have described as a “listening tour”. Rather than some of the bold pronouncements Trump himself has made on the region – last month he said he didn’t mind if there was a one-state or two-state solution to the conflict — Greenblatt, 49, has been circumspect, issuing a few tweets but not speaking to the media. “President Abbas and I discussed how to make progress toward peace, building capacity of Palestinian security forces and stopping incitement,” he wrote on Twitter, preceded by a picture of him shaking hands warmly with the Palestinian leader. The readout from the Palestinians and King Abdullah after their meetings was positive, if largely sticking to standard diplomatic pronouncements about the importance of peace negotiations and their ability to transform the region….

Emirati court jails Jordanian journo for blasting UAE over Gaza war
PressTV 15 Mar — A court in Abu Dhabi has handed down a prison sentence of three years to a Jordanian journalist over a Facebook post critical of the United Arab Emirates, among other countries, over the 2014 Israeli offensive against the blockaded Gaza Strip. The UAE state news agency, WAM, reported on Wednesday that the Jordanian was given the jail term and fined 500,000 dirhams ($136,130) for “insulting symbols of the state” on social media. The agency further reported that the defendant’s social media accounts would be closed while he faces deportation after having served his jail term. Meanwhile, the Jordan Press Association (JPA) identified the journalist as Tayseer al-Najjar, who was detained in December 2015 over a 2014 Facebook post, in which he expressed support for the resistance in Gaza Strip and criticized the UAE, Egypt and the Tel Aviv regime for the Israeli war on the Palestinian territory. “Message to some journalists and writers who do not like the Gazan resistance,” Najjar wrote, adding, “There is no two rights in one case, but the right one is the Gazan resistance and all else is bad – such as Israel, the UAE, [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-] Sisi and other systems that are no longer ashamed of shame itself.”…. (listserv) (archive)


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

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4 Responses

  1. just on March 20, 2017, 7:06 pm

    Such a depressing read, except about the new minaret!

    It seems that the US and Israel are ganging up again in their unholy alliance to prevent justice and deny human rights and abuse:

    “Israel, U.S. Trying to Persuade Western Countries to Oppose Five anti-Israel UN Resolutions

    Israel and the United States are cooperating to persuade as many Western countries as possible to oppose, or to at least abstain from voting on, five anti-Israeli resolutions scheduled for voting at the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday, a Foreign Ministry official said on Monday. 

    The U.S. boycotted UNHRC discussions on the five resolutions on Monday, adding that it would be voting against them.

    The five resolutions coming up for discussion and voting are pursuant to Agenda Item 7 of the UNHRC. The section is unusual in being devoted entirely to human rights abuses by Israel. As no other country has been treated similarly, Israel claims that the item is an example of the council’s bias against it. 

    The discussion on the resolutions took place on Sunday, and the votes will be held toward the end of the week, apparently on Friday.

    The five resolutions touch on the state of human rights in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heighs, construction in the territories, and the need for accountability in respect to human rights violations by Israel.

    The five decisions come up for voting yearly and are passed by a majority. In discussions held between Palestinians and European and Arab nations, a large part of the most problematic parts for Israel were softened, but the resolutions still level biting criticism at Israel. 

    As far as Israel is concerned, the most problematic part lies in the resolution touching on settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, which will include a call on the nations of the world and private enterprises to stop all commercial activity – direct or indirect – with the settlements. The resolution will also call for a special discussion on the topic of the settlements in the next meeting of the UNHRC later this year.

    The resolution on the settlements will also accuse Israel of deliberate, institutionalized discriminatory policy against the Palestinians, de-jure and de-facto annexation of territories on the backdrop of expropriation, and creating a one-state reality with unequal rights for Palestinian citizens. The resolution engaging in accountability will criticize Israel for harming human rights organizations and constraining their activity.

    A top official at the Foreign Ministry assessed that the resolutions are likely to pass, since the Palestinians have an automatic majority in the UNHRC.

    However, he stressed, Israel’s purpose is to ensure that the nations of Europe and other Western countries vote against the resolutions, or at least abstain from them. The senior Israeli official said the Palestinians are trying to reach a consensus with the European nations about the formulation of the resolutions, to enable their vote of support. He emphasized that Israel, with the help of the U.S., is trying to break the European consensus. 

    The official added that some weeks ago, Israel contacted the Trump administration and asked to coordinate activity in Geneva and other capitals around the world against the resolutions. A request to this effect was also transferred to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who undertook to help. Israel’s permanent envoy to the UN and other international institutions in Geneva, Aviva Raz Shechter, has been working in recent days with American representatives to influence Germany, Britain and other countries, hoping to persuade them to oppose the resolutions or abstain. The Foreign Ministry has instructed Israel’s ambassadors in the capitals of the countries that sit on the UNHRC to work with top political echelons in these places and ask them to vote against or abstain.

    As part of the coordination between Israel and the U.S., the Trump administration decided to boycott the discussion on the anti-Israeli resolutions held in Geneva on Monday. Mark Toner, spokesman for the U.S. State Department, stated that the U.S. believes the UNHRC is biased against Israel, which is why they decided not to participate in the Monday discussion on Agenda Item 7.

    “It does not serve the interests of the Council to single out one country in an unbalanced matter,” Toner said. He added that later this week the U.S. will vote against all the anti-Israeli resolutions and would encourage other countries to do the same. 

    Under former U.S. President George W. Bush, Washington withdrew from the UNHRC and only returned when Barack Obama came to the Oval Office. In recent weeks, the Trump administration has been examining the continuing activity of the UNHRC and possibly withdrawing from it again. 

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the topic with U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to Washington in mid-February. A top Israeli official said it was agreed that Israel and the U.S. would hold talks on the matter to shape joint policy toward the UNHRC.”

    “Our position is that the U.S. shouldn’t be on the [UN]HRC, and Netanyahu made that clear,” the official said. 

    Deputy Minister Michael Oren said much the same in a phone call last week with the U.S. secretary of state’s aide for international organizations. Oren clarified that the U.S. cannot really influence the council from the inside, so it would be better if it left it altogether.”

    read more:

  2. just on March 20, 2017, 8:13 pm

    It is surreal that Erdan et al have no clue where the mapping office really is… it goes to their thieving and supremacist groupthink:

    “Israel’s Closure of East Jerusalem Mapping Office Was Mistake

    Jerusalem police and the Public Security Ministry were not aware until last week of the precise border of the city. Figures in both organizations mistakenly believed that the Hadoar neighborhood (Dahiyat al-Barid), is within the boundaries of the capital when it is in fact in the southern part of Al-Ram, a town in the West Bank.

    On the basis of this lack of knowledge, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan last Tuesday ordered the closure for six months of the Cartographic Section of the Arab Studies Center, whose offices are in the Hirbawi building in Dahiyat al-Barid. The closure order signed by Erdan stated that the offices served as a “representation of the Palestinian Authority” that operated without a permit and in violation of the Oslo Accords in the neighborhood of Beit Hanina, within the boundaries of the State of Israel. …

    The separation barrier that Israel built in the 2000s does not follow Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries. It left part of Dahiyat al-Barid “on the Israeli side.” Residents of the West Bank who live in the neighborhood have permits that allow them to pass through the Qalandiyah checkpoint to reach their homes, but if they cross the road just meters to the west or the south, they risk being arrested for being in Jerusalem without a permit.

    Neither police nor the Public Security Ministry commented by press time.”

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    Ho- hum, no apologies, business as usual. Thanks, Kate.

  3. Marnie on March 21, 2017, 4:35 am

    It’s stunning and a bright spot on these pages –

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