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Israel arrests 18 Palestinian members of a WhatsApp religious chat group

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Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Israeli forces detain 18 Palestinians for being in WhatsApp group
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Mar — Israeli forces have detained 18 Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem and West Bank for being in a WhatsApp group with a Palestinian who was killed by Israeli forces on Monday [near the Lion’s Gate to the Al-Aqsa Mosque] after allegedly carrying out a stabbing attack. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement on Sunday that the detained were all members of a group called “Road to heaven” on the messaging application, which she said was used to share religious messages. Al-Samri implied in her statement that Ibrahim Mahmoud Matar, the slain Jerusalemite youth, had been influenced by the WhatsApp group to carry out the alleged attack, and added that 10 of the 18 had their detention extended to Monday. However, Matar’s family has insisted that the 25-year-old blacksmith was “executed in cold blood” and was not committing an attack at the time of his death.

Israeli settler hits elderly Palestinian woman with car in northern West Bank
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 21 Mar — An Israeli vehicle hit and injured an elderly Palestinian woman on Monday evening in the northern occupied West Bank. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that Hilweh Abu Ras, 70, was hit by an Israeli settler driving near the village of al-Sawiya in the Nablus district. Abu Ras was evacuated to al-Najah hospital in Nablus, where doctors said she sustained moderate to serious wounds. The settler fled the scene in the direction of an Israeli military checkpoint near the village of Zaatara, Daghlas said. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that they were aware of the incident, but that it fell under the jurisdiction of Israeli police. An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. Incidents involving Israeli settlers hitting Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory are a relatively regular occurrence, and are usually treated by Israeli security forces as accidents, even in cases when witnesses claim the car rammings were deliberate.

Palestinian amputee, 14, recalls detention by Israeli forces: ‘I wasn’t afraid of being hit’
Haaretz 17 Mar by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Issa tells Haaretz how soldiers and police beat him, dislodging his prosthetic leg — He’s no longer a boy. It’s hard to believe he’s just 14. Not by his appearance, not by his speech, certainly not by what he’s undergone in the past two years. He tells his story in a dry, businesslike manner, as though he’s talking about someone else. Without tears, without pain (visible, at least), without self-pity; a boy acquainted with suffering, and beyond fear. Terrifyingly tough, hardly smiling. Where do you get your strength from, I ask him. “When I was shot,” he replies, “I felt that my leg was exploding. After that, do you think I’d be afraid of being hit by an interrogator?” In September 2015, Issa al-Mouati was shot and wounded by soldiers who suspected him of throwing a firebomb. Five live rounds slammed into him. After two and half months in the Ein Karem branch of Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem, he had his right leg amputated below the knee. During the first month, he was officially under arrest and was handcuffed to his bed. He was 13 at the time. Following his release from detention and discharge from hospital, he was sent to a hospital in Detroit, Michigan – expenses paid by a charitable organization – to have a prosthetic leg fitted. At age 13, he was in the United States alone for a month … Early this month, during a routine night raid by the Israel Defense Forces in Deheisheh refugee camp, a raid that was met with violent resistance by local youngsters, Issa, the boy amputee, was arrested. He was sleeping over in the home of his ailing grandmother, whom he and his mother look after every few nights in rotation with other family members … Issa denies throwing stones at the soldiers. He says he was holding the bag with the pitas before he was arrested and that he was on his way back to his grandmother’s house … He was dragged to a military vehicle parked a few hundred meters away, the soldiers constantly urging him on, fearing volleys of stones. When they reached the vehicle, Issa tripped and fell. A soldier pulled him in and made him lie on the floor, face down … On the way, he says, a soldier poured water on him, adding that the soldiers cursed his mother and hurled other obscenities and stepped on him. An amputee boy of 14….

US State Dept. reports grave violations against Palestinian kids
RAMALLAH (DCI-Palestine) 17 Mar — A U.S. government human rights report released this month highlights grave violations against Palestinian children living under Israeli military occupation. The annual country reports on human rights practices, which include a specific section covering the situation of human rights in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), raises a number of issues related to ill-treatment of Palestinian child prisoners and denial of fair trial rights in Israeli military courts. It notes other grave violations against Palestinian children, including unlawful killing and excessive use of force against Palestinian children by Israeli forces. A senior U.S. official released the annual report and answered questions by phone on condition of anonymity. The report noted a “significant increase in detentions of minors” in 2016, and that “Israeli authorities continued to use confessions signed by Palestinian minors, written in Hebrew.” It also highlighted the renewed use of administrative detention against Palestinians, including children. “The U.S. government is well aware of ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian child detainees as well as unlawful killings,” said Khaled Quzmar, Defense for Children International – Palestine’s general director. “Until the U.S. government demands Israeli authorities comply with international law, U.S. authorities are simply enabling abuse and perpetuating injustice against Palestinian children.” The report highlights the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Mahmoud Rafat Badran near the West Bank village of Beit Ur Al-Tahta on June 21, 2016. Six teenage cousins and a driver were in a car heading home around 1:30 a.m. after a night of family fun at a swimming pool in the nearby West Bank village of Beit Sira. Israeli soldiers opened fire on them as they drove through an underpass beneath Route 443. Mahmoud Rafat Badran died at the scene. Two of his cousins and the driver were injured….

Israeli Supreme Court to hold session over release of slain Palestinians’ bodies
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 Mar — The Israeli Supreme Court is scheduled to hold a hearing on Wednesday to discuss an appeal submitted for the release the bodies of slain Palestinians still being held by Israel, amid an ongoing legal battle by the families of the deceased Palestinians fighting for the right to bury their sons.  Lawyer from the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Muhammad Mahmoud highlighted in a statement Monday that the appeal included a demand for the release of the bodies of Abd al-Hamid Abu Srour and Misbah Abu Sbeih, who were both killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis … In February, the Israeli Supreme Court agreed to a demand by the Israeli government to postpone a ruling regarding the return of the bodies of six Palestinians who died while committing or allegedly committing attacks on Israelis. The Israeli state also demanded that the court back down from a decision made in June that initially agreed release the body of Abu Srour. In January, Israel’s security cabinet said that the body of Abu Srour, along with those of two other slain Palestinians — Muhammad Tarayra and Muhammad al-Faqih would not be returned to their families due to their alleged affiliation with the Hamas movement, and that they would instead be buried inside Israel in a “graveyard for enemy dead.” Israel considers the bodies to be a bargaining chip that could be used in a future exchange deal with Hamas, the de facto rulers of the besieged Gaza Strip, where the bodies of two Israeli soldiers are believed to be held….

Israeli forces detain 13 Palestinians in West Bank raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 20 Mar — Israeli forces detained at least 13 Palestinians during predawn raids Monday in multiple areas across the occupied West Bank. Israeli forces raided the central occupied West Bank town of Birzeit before dawn, detaining student and former member of Birzeit University’s student council Istabraq al-Tamimi after breaking into her dormitory, locals sources said, adding that several other houses were raided in the area. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement that Israeli forces detained four Palestinians from the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem, without providing further details.
In al-Jalazun refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, Israeli forces detained brothers Muhammad, 19, and Ibrahim, 21. According to an Israeli army spokesperson, a total of three Palestinians were detained in al-Jalazun.
In the Jericho district, PPS said that Israeli forces detained 18-year-old Wadi Issa Jibril Manasra in Ein as-Sultan refugee camp, as well as 23-year-old Saleh Ibrahim Nimr Sawarka in the village of Marj al-Najah. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed both detentions.
Israeli forces also detained Uday Samir Abu Haniyeh in the village of ‘Azzun in the northern Qalqiliya district, according to PPS, which was confirmed by an Israeli army spokesperson who claimed he was a Hamas operative.
Israeli forces also detained former prisoner Ayyad al-Hreimi, who was recently released from Israeli prison after conducting 48-day hunger strike against administrative detention, the PPS statement said, without specifying the location of the detention.
An Israeli army spokesperson added that two Palestinians were detained in the southern occupied West Bank — one in the city of Bethlehem and one in the Hebron-area village of Idhna.

Prisoners / Court actions

Group: 500 Palestinian prisoners now serving life sentences in Israeli custody
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 20 Mar — A Palestinian was sentenced to life in prison on Sunday, making him the 500th Palestinian currently serving a life sentence in Israeli custody, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies (PPCS) said on Monday. PPCS spokesman Riyad al-Ashqar said that the Israeli military Ofer court had sentenced Muhammad Abd al-Basit Hroub, a 23-year-old resident of the Hebron-area village of Deir Samit, to four life sentences and a 750,000-shekel ($206,900) fine for his involvement in a shooting attack in November 2015 which killed an Israeli settler, an American, and a Palestinian bystander. Hroub’s home was punitively demolished by Israeli forces in February 2016. Al-Ashqar said that Hroub was the fifth Palestinian to have been handed a life sentence since the beginning of the year, adding that Israeli law defined life sentences as lasting 99 years….

Film review: The eternal jail: Palestinians bring trauma of Israeli prisons to the screen
+972 Blog 17 Mar by Anat Matar — A new documentary shows how the degradation and physical abuse suffered by Palestinians in Israeli jails means that even after their release, they haven’t escaped prison —  A month ago, on January 29, Abdallah Moubarak was released from a year-long administrative detention. Three weeks later, the film he acted in a short time before his detention — “Ghost Hunting,” directed by Raed Andoni — won best documentary at the Berlin Film Festival. Why was Moubarak arrested? Why was he released a year later? Those are questions I have learned, over the years, are useless to ask. Not because there isn’t an answer; actually, there is. Rather, because the answer isn’t related to anything specific that Moubarak, or anyone else, did. The mistake is in searching for a reason, rather than a target. Abdallah Moubarak, Raed Andoni, Mohammed Khattab, Ramzi Maqdisi, Aatef Al-Akhras, Adnan Al-Hatab: these men and their friends, who we meet in this movie, were detained so that their spirit would break, so that every bud of resistance to occupation would be erased. Merely insisting on remembering that the human spirit is free is a crime, even while in reality the bodies and spirits of the Palestinians have been subjected to decades of oppression. This insight isn’t explicitly and clearly expressed in “Ghost Hunting.” We also aren’t told that the movie, which interestingly and originally documents a fraction of the experiences of detained and imprisoned Palestinians in the occupation’s prisons and detentions centers, uses the prisoners as a parable for the Palestinian population as a whole. Don’t let the under-stated, quiet nature of the film fool you — it is a major contribution. From the film ‘Ghost Hunting”: [1-minute clip]  Andoni, 50, born in Ramallah, was stopped, tortured, interrogated and detained for a year when he was 18. Now, in interviews, he returns to the fact that a fifth of the population of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip personally knows what it’s like to be detained or imprisoned by Israel …  There isn’t a Palestinian family which doesn’t have a prisoner — and yet this disturbing statistic can be understood in an even larger sense. The Palestinians trapped under the occupation, even those who have never been locked up, are also prisoners.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Judaization

Opinion: A spoke in the wheel of Israeli colonialism / Amira Hass
Haaretz 20 Mar — The government is constantly looking for tricks to expel the native population, so the High Court’s ruling on Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem is a welcome twist — The Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are natives, according to last week’s ruling by the High Court of Justice. In other words, they cannot be compared to non-Jews who immigrated to Israel out of choice, received residency status and then left. As Nir Hasson wrote in the article published last Friday, this is a precedent-setting decision. Here are a few remarks regarding that precedent-setting decision: …  *The cumulative rulings of the District Court and the present High Court ruling have in effect emptied of content the ruling by former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak. In June 1988 he allowed the Interior Ministry to expel Mubarak Awwad, an activist who preached nonviolent resistance against the occupation, who was born in Jerusalem in 1943 and was also a U.S. citizen. Barak’s winding and lyrical arguments explaining why Awwad should be treated like any immigrant who “enters Israel,” and why therefore it was permissible to expel him, has ever since then been the Interior Ministry’s guiding policy and its advocates. This is what is called expulsion activism … *We can be cynical, angry and rightly say, “The Palestinians in East Jerusalem (as well as those in the entire country) are natives even without the High Court’s seal of approval.” But we are living under an active colonial regime in a post-colonial era which is constantly looking for tricks in order to expel the native population. The ruling reminds us that it’s still possible and obligatory to put spokes in the wheel of colonialism … *Can we expect procedural, political and constitutional tricks used to counter this ruling? Probably. And all we can do is find other spokes to put into the wheel.

How Israeli photography creates a world without Palestinians
+972 mag 17 Mar by Amjad Iraqi — The myth of the land of Mandate Palestine as an untapped oasis waiting for Jewish habitation is still thriving on both sides of the Green Line. Photographs are a key tool for perpetuating — and challenging — that myth — David Rubinger, Israel’s most famous photographer, died on 1 March at the age of 92. His photograph of three Israeli paratroopers gazing at the Western Wall, taken minutes after Israeli forces seized Jerusalem’s Old City during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, was widely revered as a symbol of Zionism’s triumphant destiny. Rubinger, however, was not particularly fond of the picture: “Part of the face is cut off on the right side,” he said, “in the middle the nose protrudes, and on the left there’s only half a face … photographically speaking, this isn’t a good photo.” The soldiers’ faces were not the only things cut out of the shot. Behind Rubinger were the buildings of the Mughrabi Quarter of the Old City, home to about 650 Palestinians. Three days after the picture was taken, the Israeli army evicted the residents and demolished their houses and mosques. An open plaza now welcomes worshipers and visitors to the Western Wall, with no trace of the area’s former life … Israeli visual history has always required the erasure of Palestinians. The National Library recently released forty aerial photos, taken by Zoltan Kluger in 1937, of what it described as “pre-state Israel” rather than Mandate Palestine. The images, which include views of the Nahalal moshav and Tel Aviv, bolster the Zionist myth of the land as an untapped oasis waiting for Jewish labor and habitation … But images are not only a tool for the colonizer; they are a means of resistance for the colonized, too. In Walid Khalidi’s Before Their Diaspora, 474 photographs reconstruct the lost world of pre-1948 Palestine to debunk the myth of the region as “a land without a people.”….

Israel delivers demolition, stop-work orders to Palestinian family in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 21 Mar — Israeli authorities delivered demolition and stop-work orders to a Palestinian family in the southern occupied West Bank on Sunday evening. Muhammad Abd al-Nasser Jumaa, a resident of the Hebron-district village of Beit Ummar, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces delivered two warrants to his father — a demolition order for a 200-square-meter house under construction in the area of Beit Zaata, and a stop-work notice for a 100-square-meter home also under construction in the area.
Jumaa said that his father had filed a complaint in an Israeli court against the demolition order three months ago, adding that eight relatives were currently living in a shack made of tin sheets and had been planning on moving into the two buildings once they were completed. Israeli authorities reportedly informed the family that the first house would be demolished within six days.

Israeli authorities renew order to confiscate Palestinian lands in Qalqiliya
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) — Israeli authorities have renewed a military order for the confiscation of Palestinian lands in the villages of Jayyus and Falamya in the northern occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya, official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported. Jayyus Mayor Ghassan Harami told Wafa that local Palestinian farmers received the order Monday morning, noting that a similar order was issued four years ago for the same land, which he estimated to represent 169 dunams (41.76 acres). Harami denounced the move, saying that under the guise of “false” security pretense, Israel has continued to seize Palestinian-owned lands located beyond the illegal separation wall. He added that the village’s local council, along with municipality officials and local farmers from both towns, would continue to challenge the order until the seized land was returned to its Palestinian owners. Israeli authorities have seized thousands of dunams of land from Palestinians in Jayyus and Falamya over the years, for alleged and unspecified military purposes, as well as for the expressed purpose of building the illegal separation wall, according to the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ)….

Palestinians, not Israelis, being kept off land of evacuated West Bank outpost
Haaretz 20 Mar by Yotam Berger — Israel evicted the settlers from Amona last month because the unauthorized outpost had been put up on private Palestinian land — The army’s order barring access to the land from which the illegal outpost Amona was evacuated last month is apparently being enforced only against Palestinians, not settlers or other Israelis. A Haaretz reporter visiting the site saw Israelis wandering around freely without the security forces monitoring them, while local Palestinians say they are not allowed onto the site. The Israel Defense Forces, for its part, says the order is being enforced against both Israelis and Palestinians. The road between the outpost and the adjacent settlement Ofra remains open, with Israeli cars traveling freely between the two sites, and the reporter had no trouble driving in from Ofra. Even the Palestinians living in adjacent villages or who own the land on which Amona had been built − including ones who sued to have the outpost moved − have been barred. Amona was evacuated last month at the order of the High Court of Justice because it was built on privately owned Palestinian land. In the days after the evacuation, a roadblock was set up on the road to the outpost, and the Border Police prevented Israelis from climbing the hill to reach Amona, but now the roadblock is unmanned. Still, Palestinians living nearby told Haaretz they are not allowed onto the outpost’s land. Cameras facing Palestinian villages film anyone climbing the hill to reach Amona.  When a vehicle approaches from a village, the army is alerted and turns the vehicle back.

The little NGO that managed to move an Israeli settlement
SILWAD, West Bank (WashPost) 19 Mar by Ruth Eglash — For Palestinians in the village of Silwad, the eviction of 40 families from a nearby Jewish settlement last month was a clear-cut victory. The way they see it, justice prevailed two decades after a group of messianic Israelis set up their homes at a place Palestinians once called Al Mazaria, or “farmers hill,” and declared it Amona. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the settlement was built illegally on Palestinian farmland and ordered its demolition. But for activists at Yesh Din, a small Israeli human rights organization that spearheaded the legal battle on behalf of about 80 Palestinians, victory was never a sure thing and the battle is not over … Maryam Hammad, 83, a Palestinian villager from Silwad who once harvested wheat and barley with her husband and children there, remembers that she thought the Jewish settlers were just tourists when they arrived 20 years ago. “We tried to go back to the land a few times, but each time, the army pushed us back,” said Hammad, who has kept small mementos from her life as a farmer — a bucket of barley seeds, an old wooden pitchfork and even a dry bundle of wheat placed in a vase atop her television set. Hammad said the settlers offered her money a few times in exchange for the land. “I told them, ‘Even if you filled my house from floor to ceiling with $100 bills, I would not give up my land,’ ” she said. The day last month that Israeli security forces finally evicted the settlers, Hammad handed out candy and cake to friends and neighbors … As for the next step, the Yesh Din team says it must make sure the landowners get to use their land. “We are doubtful Israel will do the right thing, but we are not ready to give up,” Sfard said.


Emotional drama marks start of Gazan doctor’s civil suit over war deaths of two daughters, niece
Haaretz 16 Mar by Almog Ben Zikri — Dr. Ezzeldin Abuelaish says through tears, ‘I’ve waited eight years for this moment’; Israeli judge expresses ‘great sorrow and profound shock over the tragedy that happened to your family.’ —  Dr. Ezzeldin Abuelaish, the Palestinian doctor whose three daughters and niece were killed in an IDF tank shelling during Operation Cast Lead, came to court in Be’er Sheva Thursday. Accompanied by activists, Abu Al-Aish, who has lived in Canada for several years, came to give testimony in the civil lawsuit he filed against the state in 2010.  On January 16, 2009, the IDF fired a pair of shells at the home of Abuelaish on Saladin Street in Jabalya. The army claimed the shells were fired at the building because enemy observation posts were spotted there. Killed in the shelling were Abu al-Aish’s three daughters: Bisan, 20, Mayar, 15, Aya, 14 and his niece Nur, 17.
Before the court session commenced, Abuelaish, a gynecologist who had worked at two major Israeli hospitals, Tel Hashomer and Soroka, told the media outside the courtroom, “I’ve waited eight years for this moment. God kept us strong with patience and tolerance. I am crying because I see my daughters before me. They are with me. My niece is with me. It pains me that I have to come here to defend them and prove that they are victims, rather than for those who did this to take responsibility. It hurts when I think about the girls. Today my daughter Bisan would have been 28 years old, with a family of her own. She had dreams. Mayar was going to be a doctor. She was number one in math in all Palestine. Aya was going to be a lawyer. Nur was going to be a teacher. This is why I came here. And they are with me. I miss them. I’m embracing them. I want to tell them, You are still here with us, we haven’t forgotten you. I am keeping them alive.” As he spoke, tears fell on his cheeks. “These are tears of pain and of hope. To say that we were able to give others life from their death. This tragedy was a cause of the ceasefire….

Navy attacks fishermen off Gaza coast
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Mar — Israeli occupation naval boats resumed, on Monday, persistent gunfire attacks on Palestinian fishermen sailing within the unilaterally imposed six-nautical-mile fishing zone offshore Gaza, according to local sources. WAFA correspondents said that the navy opened machine gunfire on fishermen’s boats while they were sailing offshore Gaza City, inflicting financial damages to some of them. There were no reports of casualties, however.

Gaza receives first batch of construction trucks in 10 years
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 20 Mar by Ahmad Abu Amer — In the context of the recent openness policy that Egypt has come to adopt toward the Gaza Strip, the Egyptian authorities allowed the entry of dozens of trucks loaded with construction materials and food through the Rafah crossing on March 9. For the first time since the siege on Gaza, Egypt allowed the entry of heavy construction trucks, namely concrete pumps. Ten years ago, Israel had banned concrete and several other substances in Gaza for being of dual use (civilian and military). The industrial sector in the Gaza Strip expects these deliveries to help finance the deficit in the construction field in the Gaza Strip, as the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza destroyed more than 65% of construction facilities. The trucks, however, have raised the ire of Israel, according to whom the deliveries damage its own interests given that Hamas could use the goods — along with other construction materials — to build attack tunnels into Israel….

In first, Hamas-run court in Gaza hands two drug dealers death sentences
Haaretz 19 Mar by Jack Khoury & Reuters — A Hamas-run military court in the Gaza Strip sentenced two drug dealers to death on Sunday, the first such punishment handed down by the Palestinian judiciary in a narcotics case, officials said. Marijuana and prescription painkillers have been flooding into the coastal enclave, prompting Hamas officials to seek tougher penalties for smuggling drugs. Both convicted dealers were caught smuggling marijuana, opium and tramadol through tunnels under the border with Egypt, according to a list of their charges. “Such actions represented a threat to Palestinian national security, with its economic and political dimensions,” the court said. It remains unclear whether they will be executed immediately or in the coming months. One of the dealers was sentenced to death by firing squad, since he is a member of Palestinian security forces, and the other by hanging.

Man attempts to set himself on fire in Gaza amid crackdown on street vendors
GAZA (Ma‘an) 19 Mar — Palestinian police in Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip prevented a man from setting himself on fire in a local market on Sunday, amid a police campaign to remove street vendors’ carts from the market. Witnesses said they saw the man pour gasoline on his body and try to set himself ablaze in an apparent suicide attempt before police intervened. The man was unharmed. Locals said that the man owned a street vending cart that was seized by police during the raid…. The blockade has plunged residents into extreme poverty where some of the highest unemployment rates in the world are recorded — reaching 42 percent last year.  A similar incident occurred in January in the occupied West Bank, when a Palestinian woman sustained moderate burns after she set fire to herself in front of a police station to protest the removal of a a vendor stand used by her husband.

Laughing together: The unlikely story of a Gaza clown who grew up in Israeli hospitals
Haaretz 20 Mar by Eetta Prince-Gibson  — Abdallah Abushaban, a 23-year-old from Dir al-Balakh in Gaza, wants to be a medical clown. Ten years ago, sick with a virulent form of cancer with no options for treatment in Gaza, he was brought to Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv. After chemotherapy that almost killed him, he was cured. “I’ve been healthy since, and I’m grateful,” Abushaban says by phone. “I remember how much the clowns at Sheba made me laugh and helped me believe I could be healthy. I wanted to give something back. So I decided to be a clown.”  Abushaban speaks gently, hesitantly, in fluent Hebrew. He recently completed his BA in journalism at the Islamic University of Gaza. Unemployed, he volunteers as a clown at Rantisi Hospital in Gaza City … On the web, he came across the site of Sasha Kapustina, 31, an American filmmaker making a documentary on Israeli medical clowns entitled “I Clown You.” Abushaban contacted her, hoping she could help him find some formal training, and she responded quickly … She persuaded the authorities to provide Abushaban with a six-week permit to be in Israel. She persuaded Dush (David Barashi — a clown with 16 years experience who heads the eight full-time medical clowns at Hadassah University Hospital − to mentor Abushaban. And she persuaded Hadassah to provide him with a dorm room for the entire period….

Meet the men behind Gaza’s first female sports club
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 19 Mar by Rasha Abou Jalal — Rajab Sarraj and Hassan Skaik from the Gaza Strip are preparing to launch the first women’s sports academy by June 2017. This unprecedented initiative aims to help revive women’s sports in Gaza and will allow girls and women, between the ages of 4 and 40, to practice sports and become professional athletes. Sarraj, the director of sales at Wataniya Mobile, told Al-Monitor that this is an athletic investment project that, amid a current absence of female sports clubs, will now give women in Gaza the chance to practice sports. This would allow them to blow off some steam and get rid of the stress caused by the hard political and economic conditions in the Gaza Strip. He said, “The project, which costs about $350,000, will be initiated in three different phases over the course of three years. Each phase will include a new set of sports. The first one — to be launched in June — will include soccer, karate, running and cycling. The second phase will include basketball, volleyball and swimming. Ballet and gymnastics will be added with the beginning of the third phase.” Sarraj added, “The second and third phase will be launched before the end of 2017.”….

Palestinian women try to bring baseball to Gaza
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) 20 Mar by Fares Akram — The young Palestinian women don baseball caps on top of their Islamic headscarves and field tennis balls with fabric gloves, giving a decidedly local feel to the great American pastime. They are trying to bring baseball to the Gaza Strip, an effort that is still in its early innings. The players, who work out on a small soccer pitch in a southern Gaza town, admit they are still trying to understand the rules of the complicated sport. With pitches lobbed underhand, the game they play is closer to softball. “I only know it through TV,” said Valentina Shaer, a 23-year-old English literature student. Mahmoud Tafesh, the team’s coach, said he has dreamed of bringing baseball to Gaza since he was introduced to the game last year. Although baseball is a fringe sport throughout the soccer-crazy Middle East, the game has grown in popularity. Iraq has a national team, and one of the country’s coaches introduced Tafesh to baseball last year while both were in Egypt, which now boasts a baseball and softball federation….

Photo Gallery: Batter up! Palestinian women try to bring baseball to Gaza
Yahoo News Photo Staff 20 March

Restriction of movement

Photos: Palestinian village protests 17 years of military closure
19 March – Photos and text: Ahmad Al-Bazz/ — Some 250 Palestinian residents of the West Bank village of Qalqas, south of Hebron, protested on Friday against the Israeli military’s closure of their village’s main entrance, which has been in place since the Second Intifada — which started 17 years ago. Before the protest, the demonstrators held the Muslim Friday noon prayer beside the large rocks and cinder blocks placed by the Israeli army at the entrance to the village. Children held signs, some of which read “End the siege of Qalqas,” and “17 years of blockade is enough.” Other signs blamed the municipality of Hebron for “not intervening.” According to one resident, there was never any good reason for the army to target Qalqas, but the closure was part of a strict set of controls that were imposed on the West Bank during the the violent confrontations between Palestinian fighters and the Israeli army during the Intifada. Due to the Israeli closure, the residents of Qalqas are forced to use alternative routes to leave the village, which are often between 3-4 miles longer than the main one. Yousef Abu Sneneh, an activist from the village of Qalqas, told Activestills that the protest was organized by residents following the death of Haytham Irfa‘iya, who was killed after being hit by a vehicle while crossing Route 60 last week. “Five residents of Qalqas have been killed since 2000 while crossing the road on foot due to the Israeli roadblock,” Abu Sneneh mentioned. He added that many promises have been received from the Israeli authorities to solve the issue, such as building a bridge or a traffic circle and digging a tunnel, but “none of them were implemented.”….

Seems to be a new strategy – now if they would only try this in places where settlers attack Palestinians….
The IDF operation that returned peace to West Bank road
JerusalemOnline 19 Mar by Becca Noy — The Husan bypass road in the West Bank has become a dangerous road for Jewish Israeli drivers over the past year. However, the IDF is currently conducting an operation in the area that has yielded promising results so far. In the past month, not one stone-throwing incident was reported — About two months ago, however, Etzion Brigade Commander Colonel Roman Gofman decided to take a different course of action that took into account the unique characteristic of the Husan town area. In this part of the West Bank, the lives of the Palestinian and Israeli residents are greatly intertwined. For example, dozens of Israeli and Arab residents enter the local shopping center on a daily basis and conduct their routines side by side without any reports of problems or disputes. The IDF’s special operation aimed at returning the peace to the Husan bypass road was carried out with the assistance of the Shin Bet and Israel Police. The Israeli security forces decided to stop granting the residents of Husan permits allowing them to work in Israel until the stone-throwing comes to an end. Dozens of Palestinians were arrested for disturbing the peace and an entire battalion was assigned to patrolling the dangerous road. In addition, the military closed off some of the exits of the town so that the residents would have to travel on the same road as the Jewish drivers. The stone throwers were now faced with a dilemma because they could also harm the Palestinian residents. Eventually, IDF snipers and soldiers who specialize in surveillance were positioned near the road in order to spot stone throwers. The IDF even distributed flyers in the town and posted updates on the Husan town Facebook page in order to explain to the residents the reasons behind the operation. In addition, Gofman met several times with the leaders of the town in order to explain to them the logic behind the operation.

Palestinian Authority

Palestinian officer killed, 2 gunmen injured during armed clashes in Balata
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 20 Mar — A Palestinian policeman was killed Sunday night during armed clashes that erupted in Balata refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, after Palestinian forces raided the camp to detain “wanted fugitives,” Palestinian security forces said.  The clashes left another policeman and at least two gunmen injured — one of whom was detained while the other managed to escape. Local sources told Ma‘an that Palestinian security forces ambushed the camp at the eastern cemetery dressed as civilians, sparking clashes with gunmen that lasted some 15 minutes. Governor of Nablus Akram Rujoub said that Palestinian security forces officer Hasaan Ali Abu al-Hajj was killed after being shot in the head, and was declared dead sometime later after succumbing to the injury. Rujoub noted that Abu al-Hajj was newly married, just six months ago. Abu al-Hajj was buried on Monday afternoon in his hometown of Kobar northwest of Ramallah. A Palestinian security forces official said that “the most wanted man” in Balata refugee camp — identified as Ahmad Abu Hamada and known as “al-Zabour” — was seriously injured during the gun battle.  Official Palestinian news agency Wafa quoted Palestinian security forces spokesperson Adnan Dmeiri as saying that as forces surrounded Abu Hamada and asked him to surrender, he refused and opened fire at police, fatally wounding Abu al-Hajj … According to Dmeiri, Abu Hamada was wanted for murder, weapons dealing, and shooting at security forces in multiple incidents….

Committee investigating anti-PA protest to submit results in coming days
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 20 Mar — A committee formed to probe “events between protesters and Palestinian security forces” last week — when Palestinian police beat protesters and smashed journalists’ equipment — is to submit the results of the investigation by Wednesday, the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) said. The director of the Palestinian organization, Ammar Dweik, said that all procedures of the investigation, which began March 14, would be completed on Monday, and that the results would be revealed “Tuesday or Wednesday.” Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah announced the appointment of the fact-finding committee last Monday to investigate the “events,” after police assaulted protesters and journalists in front of a Ramallah courthouse, and after a similar protest in Bethlehem’s al-Duheisha refugee camp was also violently suppressed. However, Hamdallah did not explicitly say that the committee was established to investigate the police brutality….

Other news, opinion

What did the UN apartheid report expose in reality?
Al Jazeera 19 Mar by Mark LeVine — The most damning aspect of the new report [see it here] by the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which accuses Israel of being an apartheid state, is not the unearthing of allegedly long-discredited equations of Zionism with racism and apartheid. Rather, it’s that the authors have used the scalpel of international law and the seemingly moribund International Covenant on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid to create a new matrix of analysis of the occupation, its generative dynamics, and likely future path that will prove extremely hard for even Israel’s most ardent defenders to refute in the coming years (PDF). The report, “Israeli Practices Towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid”, immediately gained notoriety when the head of ESCWA, Rima Khalaf, was forced to resign after the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres denounced the report and asked for it to be removed from the Commission’s website.
Khalaf, a Jordanian national with extensive government and international experience who was a primary force behind the Arab Human Development Report series which has been highly critical of Arab regimes and the broader regional systems of governance, had to know that heralding the report as the first ever UN one to explicitly describe Israel as an apartheid and “racial state” would bring her downfall at ESCWA. This begs the question of what she hoped to accomplish by framing the report thus. Although it seems to be removed from the ESCWA’s website (only the executive summary is accessible), the full report can be downloaded here. As the journalist Ben White explains, the new report is a detailed analysis of Israeli legislation, policies and practices that enable Israel to “operate an apartheid regime” that “dominates the Palestinian people as a whole” and as such is a “crime against humanity under customary international law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court”. The report describes a panoply of practices, techniques and legal and administrative mechanisms by which Israel maintains a system that segregates Palestinians from Jews on both sides of the Green Line and outside Israel/Palestine based on membership in specific ethno-religious groups. What makes the report even more controversial is that unlike most accusations of apartheid-like behaviour, which are limited to the Occupied Territories, it accuses Israel of engaging in apartheid even against Palestinian citizens of the state and Palestinians outside the country….

Ghattas signs plea deal, resigns from Knesset over smuggled phones case

NEGEV (Ma‘an) 19 Mar — Arab Joint List member and Palestinian citizen of Israel Basel Ghattas officially submitted his resignation from the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, on Sunday, after signing a plea deal over charges of smuggling cell phones to Palestinian prisoners. Ghattas submitted his resignation to Knesset speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein after signing the deal over charges of smuggling cellphones to Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli custody. According to Israeli news outlet Ynet, Ghattas is expected to spend two years in prison over the charges. Ghattas had served as a lawmaker in the Knesset for four years. The Knesset reported in a statement that Jumaa Azbarga would replace Ghattas in the Knesset. Azbarga, a Bedouin citizen of Israel, is a member of the Balad party and the Joint List — the political bloc which represents parties led by Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Knesset — like Ghattas. The House Committee of the Knesset held its first discussion on Tuesday on the topic of unseating Ghattas, the first of its kind dealing with the ousting of a sitting lawmaker since Israel passed a highly contentious law last summer allowing the Knesset to oust a lawmaker for “incitement to racism” and “support of armed struggle against the state of Israel.”

In bid to expel Arab MK, Israel manages to break its own record
+972 Mag 18 Mar by Orly Noy — MK Basel Ghattas will serve two years for smuggling cellphones to Palestinian security prisoners. That’s a longer sentence than the one handed down to an Elor Azaria, who executed an incapacitated Palestinian — Congratulations are in order to the attorney general and the Knesset for the latest Arab they managed to put up on the cross. Palestinian MK Basel Ghattas (Balad), who was accused of smuggling cellphones to Palestinian security prisoners, agreed to sign a plea bargain according to which he will admit to committing an act that could lead either directly or indirectly to acts of terrorism, resign from the Knesset, and serve two years in prison.
This story takes me back to a decade ago, when I hosted a daily radio show on a Palestinian-Israeli radio station. As part of my program, I would often bring on Ramzi, a Palestinian administrative detainee who would speak to us directly from prison. The conversations with him would mostly revolve around the difficult conditions facing Palestinian security prisoners, as well as the abuse they face by prison authorities …
There are two issues at hand here: first, the inhumane conditions of security prisoners in Israeli prisons, far from the eye of the public’s eye or interest; second, the fact that there is a large number of cellphones circulating in Israel’s “security” prison wings. A human rights activist once told me that at the end of a routine visit to a number of prisons, a top official in the Israel Prison Service (IPS) told him, off the record, that prison officials are not only well aware that security prisoners have cellphones, they believe their presence is a good thing. After all, cellphones function as a pressure valve for prisoners, while providing Israel’s security services with a convenient way of monitoring their connections with the outside world. Anyone who denies the existence of this hush-hush deal is simply lying….

Israel’s closure of East Jerusalem mapping office was mistake
Haaretz 21 Mar by Amira Hass — 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 same day, the center was shut down and its director, Khalil Tufakji, a geographer, was detained for questioning. It was only while Tufakji was being questioned that the police learned of its error; Tufakji and his lawyer, Ziad al-Hidmi, were told the same day that Tufakji was free to leave and to reopen the center immediately … 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.

Palestinians urge EU to stop holding official meetings with Israel in Jerusalem
Haaretz 19 Mar by Nir Hasson — As U.S. mulls moving embassy, EU urged to stop ‘passive policy’ on Israeli actions in East Jerusalem, hold meetings with Israelis only in Tel Aviv — The Palestinians have called on EU nations to stop holding official meetings with Israel in Western Jerusalem, the part of the city held by Israel before the Six Day War. The demand was voiced in a letter attained by Haaretz and sent by senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini. In the letter, Erekat voiced anger at the EU for accepting Israel’s closure of Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem, and he called on the EU to end its “passive policy” on the issue which, he claimed, allowed Israel to “perpetuate and impose its illegal policies.”  Erekat further wrote that “I respectfully request that meetings with Israeli diplomats take place in Tel Aviv and not in West Jerusalem until the Orient House is reopened and Palestinian officials are able to meet with their diplomatic counterparts in East Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Palestine.” The Orient House, where the PLO once held official receptions, was closed by Israel in 2001 during the Second Intifada. Since then, Israel has strictly maintained a ban on all official Palestinian Authority activity in East Jerusalem. Two weeks ago the police dispersed a women’s conference over suspicions it was sponsored by the PA….

Historic restoration of Jesus’ burial shrine completed
JERUSALEM (AP) 20 Mar by Daniel Estrin — The tomb of Jesus has been resurrected to its former glory. Just in time for Easter, a Greek restoration team has completed a historic renovation of the Edicule, the shrine that tradition says houses the cave where Jesus was buried and rose to heaven. Gone is the unsightly iron cage built around the shrine by British authorities in 1947 to shore up the walls. Gone is the black soot on the shrine’s stone façade from decades of pilgrims lighting candles. And gone are fears about the stability of the old shrine, which hadn’t been restored in more than 200 years. “If this intervention hadn’t happened now, there is a very great risk that there could have been a collapse,” Bonnie Burnham of the World Monuments Fund said Monday. “This is a complete transformation of the monument.” The fund provided an initial $1.4 million for the $4 million restoration, thanks to a donation by the widow of the founder of Atlantic Records. Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also chipped in about 150,000 euros each, along with other private and church donations, Burnham said. The limestone and marble structure stands at the center of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, one of the world’s oldest churches — a 12th-century building standing on 4th-century remains….

Last Iraq veteran who fought Israel in 1948 passes away
Palestine Chronicle 19 Mar — The last Iraqi soldier to have fought against Israel in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War that saw the establishment of the State of Israel and the displacement of 700,000 Palestinians from their ancestral homes, passed away peacefully on Friday. Haj Hussein Muhammad Al-Samarrai passed away at the age of 95 surrounded by his children and grandchildren in his ancestral hometown of Samarra, 125 kilometres north of the capital Baghdad. Al-Samarrai was known for recounting his stories and memories from the battles he fought at the age of 24 in 1948, as a part of what he believed was a sacred struggle to defend Palestine from Jewish colonialism, and to preserve the Palestinian people on their own lands. Al-Samarrai’s family members and loved ones told the Arabi21 news website that they were surprised by how much Palestinian media outlets took note of and marked the passing of their aged hero. The fact that Palestinians remembered Al-Samarrai’s role in defending their rights and honour lifted the spirits of the family at a difficult and painful time. A member of his family said: “Our dearly departed never forgot, and even at an advanced age, the battles that he took part in as a soldier in the Iraqi Armed Forces. He reached Lake Tiberias but after that the Iraqi army was ordered to withdraw.” His family said that they viewed him as an exemplar and someone whom they were deeply proud of … The aged warrior’s family expressed the pain they felt at the state of affairs of their country, Iraq, and how the Iraqi military has departed from its valiant roots since the illegal US invasion in 2003. The Iraqi armed forces fought Israel in Palestine proper in 1948, and again on the Golan Front in Syria during the 1973 October War … Iraq’s military efforts to protect Palestine have been immortalized by the presence of many graves belonging to Iraqi soldiers on Palestinian soil. These Iraqi men gave their lives so that Palestine may be free. [sources include MEMO, ARAB21, PC, social media]

Negotiating the Arab-Israeli conflict in Rabin Square
JPost 19 Mar by Adam Rasgon — A day after US President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt completed his tour around Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan to explore avenues to revive peace negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships, hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians discussed peace in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. The event, which was organized by Minds of Peace, a nongovernmental organization committed to dialogue and coexistence, aimed to incorporate Israeli and Palestinian civilians in the peace process, according to organization founder Sapir Handelman. “Without the involvement of the people, making peace will not happen,” Handelman said. Minds of Peace has organized many similar, smaller-scale events in Tel Aviv and around Israel and the Palestinian territories over the past several years. Gathered under makeshift navy blue tents on Friday, the participants attempted to formulate basic agreements on a number of the conflict’s most difficult issues….

AIPAC gave $60K to architect of Trump’s Muslim ban
+972 Blog 15 Mar by Eli Clifton — The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has been noticeably quiet about the Trump administration’s slowness to denounce the spike in anti-Semitic attacks and bomb threats, its nomination of an ambassador to Israel who described J Street as “worse than kapos,” and its ties to ethno-nationalists like White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and senior adviser Stephen Miller. But AIPAC has done more than just tolerate the U.S. tilt toward extreme and often xenophobic views. Newly released tax filings show that the country’s biggest pro-Israel group financially contributed to the Center for Security Policy, the think-tank that played a pivotal role in engineering the Trump administration’s efforts to impose a ban on Muslim immigration….

Top Palestinian official: Trump committed to 2 states
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 20 Mar by Aron Heller — A senior Palestinian official expressed newfound optimism in the Trump administration Monday, saying he was encouraged by early signs that the new U.S. president was strongly committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state. Jibril Rajoub told foreign reporters that President Donald Trump made clear to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a recent phone call that he was his “strategic partner” in making a “real and serious” peace between Israelis and Palestinians. After initially shunning the Palestinian leader following his surprise election, Trump called Abbas 10 days ago to invite him for a meeting at the White House. His Middle East envoy then met with Abbas in his first visit to the region. “There is very, very positive progress,” Rajoub said. “This was a clear-cut message that the Palestinian issue is still a key for regional stability and security and Abu Mazen (Abbas) and his political regime is the partner.”….

Jordan court refuses US request to extradite wanted Palestinian-Jordanian woman
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Mar — Jordan’s Court of Cassation confirmed on Monday a government decision to refuse to extradite a Jordanian citizen to the United States, Jordan state news agency Petra reported. Ahlam Tamimi, a Jordanian woman of Palestinian origin, has admitted to having driven a suicide bomber to a restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001, during the Second Intifada, in an attack that killed 15 people, including an American citizen, and wounded scores. Tamimi was imprisoned by Israel for her role in the attack and received 16 life sentences, but was released in 2011 as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap. According to Petra, a letter requesting Tamimi’s extradition to the US was sent to Jordan in September 2016, on the basis of an agreement signed by Jordan and the United States in 1995 in which both states agreed to return wanted fugitives to one another. However, the court ruled that since the agreement had not been approved by Jordan’s parliament, Jordan was not bound to enforce it.

Israel to declare air defense shield fully operational: officer
Reuters 20 Mar by Ori Lewis — Israel’s multi-tier air defense missile system will be fully operational early next month with the deployment of the David’s Sling interceptor, a senior Israeli air force officer said on Monday. David’s Sling, designed to shoot down rockets fired from 100 to 200 kilometers away, will be the final piece of a shield that already includes short-range Iron Dome and long-range Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 missiles. “In the next two weeks we will declare operational the David’s Sling and at that time we will have completed our multi-tier (defense capability),” said the officer who could not be identified under military rules. “I’m sure that together with the Iron Dome and the Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 it will enhance our ability to deal with threats,” he added. Israel used Iron Dome extensively to intercept rockets fired by Palestinian militants in the 2014 Gaza war, and the Arrow missiles were developed with an Iranian missile threat in mind. David’s Sling, developed and manufactured jointly by Israel’s state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd and the U.S. Raytheon Co, would likely be used to intercept projectiles fired by the Iranian-backed Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah, which last fought a war with Israel in 2006. The Israeli military said it used an Arrow-2 on Friday to destroy an anti-aircraft missile fired from Syria after Israeli aircraft carried out strikes there….

Syrian truck driver reportedly killed by Israeli drone
JTA 20 Mar — A Syrian man was killed when the truck he was driving in the Quneitra region of the Golan Heights on the road to Damascus allegedly was fired on by an Israeli drone, Syrian media is reporting. The Israel Defence Forces is not commenting on the alleged air strike, neither confirming nor denying the Syrian reports. The alleged victim has been named as Yasser al-Sayed, with some reports calling him a terrorist member of Hezbollah and others identifying him as a civilian. Hours before the strike, Syrian media reported that Syrian army forces had repelled an Israeli drone in the same area. The actions come after the IDF confirmed carrying out aerial strikes in Syria and intercepting missiles launched at its aircraft from the ground on Thursday night. No Israelis were hurt during the strikes Thursday night or from the anti-aircraft fire, the first time that Israel has used the Arrow anti-missile system….

Will IS find popular base in Palestine?
Al-Monitor 20 Mar by Adnan Abu Amer — As the war on the Islamic State (IS) is ongoing in Syria and Iraq and fierce battles between IS and the Egyptian army in the Sinai Peninsula continue, IS seems to be shifting its attention toward the Palestinian territories and Israel. On Feb. 26, Israeli newspaper Haaretz said that Israel had arrested in Israeli and West Bank cities 83 Arabs affiliated with IS in 2016, after they were caught communicating online with IS members abroad and planned to carry out attacks in Israel. Some were arrested before being able to head for Iraq and Syria where they would join the ranks of IS, while others were arrested once they came back from fighting with IS. On Jan. 9, the Palestinian Authority (PA) arrested 22 Salafists and jihadis in the West Bank, whom it suspected of planning to plant rigged cars targeting Israelis. Meanwhile, on March 11, the families of dozens of Salafist detainees arrested by Hamas in Gaza since December 2016 issued a statement calling on releasing their children and rejecting the arrest policy against them.
Hussam al-Dajani, a political science professor at Al-Ummah University Open Education, told Al-Monitor, “The Palestinian environment does not tolerate IS’ ideology. Most of those who follow such ideology leave the West Bank and Gaza and head to Iraq, Syria and Sinai. Some supporters who believe in IS’ principles and ideology have managed to attract additional followers into their ranks, despite the Palestinian security pursuing them.” Dajani said, “However, the siege imposed on Gaza is believed to have created a welcoming environment for extremist groups that can easily spread under the prevailing despair and poverty and attract the youth who make up the majority of Gaza’s population.” … The Palestinian Interior Ministry refuses to reveal details about its efforts in confronting Salafists in the Gaza Strip. Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported March 9 that security services in Gaza arrested dozens of Salafists, aged between 19 and 25, without specifying an exact figure. Some of those arrested were tried in military courts in Gaza in early March on charges of supporting IS and owning unlicensed weapons, but no final sentences were issued …
Although IS’ ideology is somewhat spread among Palestinians, a poll conducted in July 2015 by the Arab World for Research and Development revealed that an overwhelming majority of 93% of Palestinians believe IS does not represent true Islam and think the group’s action are unjustified…. (listserv) (archive)


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

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2 Responses

  1. amigo on March 21, 2017, 3:49 pm

    “The settler fled the scene in the direction of an Israeli military checkpoint near the village of Zaata ”

    He fled to freedom and the opportunity to repeat his crime when he comes down off this high.

    ” An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that they were aware of the incident, but that it fell under the jurisdiction of Israeli police ” .

    Of course , the illegal squatter criminal is under Israeli law , the very best example of an oxymoron.

    • eljay on March 21, 2017, 6:33 pm

      || amigo: … He fled to freedom … ||

      The cowardly, supremacist Israeli colonist in not-Israel fled to the shelter of his country’s supremacist occupation forces goons stationed in not-Israel. Captain Israel underpants-wearing Zionists are touching themselves tonight.

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