Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem / Israel
Israeli forces shoot elderly Palestinian man in foot, pelvis at Huwwara checkpoint
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 28 Feb — Israeli soldiers shot and wounded an elderly Palestinian man [WAFA: from ‘Awarta] at a checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank early on Tuesday. Medics from the Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma‘an that Hussein Hassan Qawariq, 72, was shot by Israeli forces at the Huwwara checkpoint south of Nablus. They added that Qawariq was hit in the foot and pelvis, and evacuated by the Red Crescent to the Rafidiya hospital in Nablus. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that “overnight, a Palestinian suspect approached (Israeli army) forces near the entrance to Nablus.” The soldiers called for the man to halt before firing at him when he did not heed their commands, the spokesperson said, claiming that Qawariq was only “lightly wounded.” They added that the “situation was being reviewed” by the army. Critics have slammed Israeli forces for regularly shooting at Palestinians at checkpoints when they did not cause a threat, pointing out that many Palestinians were shot after not understanding instructions given by soldiers or police officers in Hebrew.
Palestinian killed by Israeli settler in illegal Hebron outpost after alleged stab attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Mar — A young Palestinian man was shot and killed by an Israeli settler in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron after allegedly carrying out a stabbing attack on Wednesday afternoon, the Israeli army reported. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that an “attacker armed with a knife entered a house” in the illegal settlement outpost of Havat More in the Masafer Yatta area — also known as the South Hebron Hills — and stabbed a settler, injuring him lightly. The settler then shot towards the Palestinian, the spokesperson added, killing him. The spokesperson said that they were not aware of whether the Israeli army was investigating the case. A relative told Ma‘an that the slain Palestinian was 25-year-old Saadi Mahmoud Ali Qaisiya, from the village of al-Dhahiriya west of Masafer Yatta. According to Ma‘an documentation, Qaisiya is the tenth Palestinian to have been killed by an Israeli since the beginning of the year. Six Israelis have been killed by Palestinians during the same time period.
Palestinian killed after falling into a quarry as soldiers chased him and other workers
IMEMC 28 Feb by Saed Bannoura — Palestinian medical sources have reported that a young Palestinian man was killed, earlier at dawn Tuesday, after falling into a deep quarry when Israeli soldiers chased him and other workers, while trying to enter Israel for work, without permits. The sources stated the Palestinian, Rabea‘ Najeh Salman, 20, is from Askar refugee camp, in the northern West Bank district of Nablus. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers chased many Palestinian workers west of Salfit, in central West Bank, especially as they climbed the Annexation Wall, near the Zawiya village, west of the city. The Palestinian then fell into a Stone Masonry quarry that was approximately 50 meters high. Palestinian medics rushed to the scene after receiving a call about the incident, but the young man died from the fall, and was officially pronounced dead before the ambulance even reached Rafidia governmental hospital, in Nablus.
The tragic case of the IDF shooting a mentally ill man at a checkpoint south of Nablus
JPost 1 Mar by Adam Rasgon & Anna Ahronheim — To the IDF soldiers at a checkpoint, Hussein Kawareek [Qawariq] looked like an attacker, but to Kawareek’s friends and family, he is known as a kind-hearted, mentally disabled middle-aged man, who has recently been prone to late night wandering. But on Tuesday morning, Kawareek, a 54-year-old resident of ‘Awarta, a village south of Nablus, ventured into the wrong territory, leading to a major injury. “Hussein is always on the streets — walking around and talking to everyone,” 30-year-old Samir Awad, who also comes from ‘Awarta, said. “Sometimes he can be overwhelming, but he is a well-intentioned person, who would never hurt a fly.” In the past two months, Kawareek has been going on long walks in the middle of the night. According to his sister, Sumaya Kawareek, Hussein started walking to the border areas of ‘Awarta in the black of the night in January, but in the last week, he has been going for walks well beyond the edges of his village … Hussein went for a third long walk in the early hours of Tuesday morning, this time heading for Nablus. After he left the vicinity of his village, he reached route 60 and started to approach a fortified army pillbox, where the IDF forbids pedestrians … As Hussein came within 50 meters of the pillbox, the soldiers stationed there instructed Hussein to stop, but he continued moving forward, Adass added. “Then the soldiers shot two bullets into the air, which startled Hussein and he started running. When he was approximately 200 meters away from the tower, they shot a round of bullets at him, hitting him in the leg and lower half of his hip,” Adass stated. “I’m positive that Hussein had no idea where he was.”….
Israeli forces shoot Palestinian girl north of Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 27 Feb – Israeli forces Monday afternoon shot a Palestinian girl at Qalandia military checkpoint, north of Jerusalem. The Health Ministry confirmed a girl was shot and injured when she approached the checkpoint, but did not describe her injury. Israeli police claimed the girl was shot because she attempted to carry out a stabbing attack. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samiri claimed “the suspect approached Qalandiya checkpoint on foot using the vehicular lane. She did not respond to calls of the soldiers to stop,” prompting soldiers to shoot and “neutralize” her. However, police confirmed later that the girl did not have a knife in her possession. The girl was only identified as in her 20s and a resident of the Jerusalem district village of Kafr ‘Aqab.
Meanwhile, an elderly Palestinian woman sustained injuries after being hit with a concussion bomb fired by Israeli forces at the checkpoint. She was identified as Khadija Saramih, 65, from al-Eizariyya town, southeast of Jerusalem.
Israeli forces injure 9-year-old Palestinian girl, teen boy with rubber bullets during raid
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 27 Feb — Two Palestinians, including a 9-year-old girl, were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets fired by Israeli forces on Monday afternoon during clashes in the Shu‘fat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem, according to a Fatah spokesman in the camp. Thaer al-Fasfous told Ma‘an that dozens of Israeli police officers stormed the camp and started to ransack stores, prompting local young men and teenagers to clash with them. Israeli forces, he said, “showered the camp” in tear gas and fired rubber-coated steel bullets “haphazardly.” As a result, a teenage schoolboy [Abdullah Haroun al-Anati, 14] was hit with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the chest. The Israeli soldiers “detained the injured boy for more than half an hour at a checkpoint in Shu‘fat before an ambulance, followed by a military jeep, was able to take him to a hospital,” al-Fasfous said. A 9-year-old girl was also hit in the foot with a rubber-coated steel bullet and received treatment at a medical center in the camp. Al-Fasfous added that Israeli forces also detained a young man “after beating him violently,” and that during the raid, Israeli police officers delivered traffic fines to several drivers.
Palestinian teen shot by Israeli forces remains handcuffed to hospital bed in ICU
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) 28 Feb — Palestinian child Abdullah Haroun al-Anati from the Shu‘fat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem was shot by Israeli forces with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the chest during a violent raid in the camp Monday afternoon, and has since remained chained to his hospital bed at Israel’s Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem despite being in the intensive care unit. Al-Anati’s mother Abir told Ma‘an Tuesday that her 14-year-old son was being held in Israeli custody while receiving medical treatment, as Israeli forces accused the boy of throwing stones at Israeli military vehicles during Monday’s raid, which also left a 9-year-old girl with a rubber-coated steel bullet injury to the foot. “The bullet ripped through his left hand and his lung and has caused internal bleeding,” Abir said, “soldiers are present in the room and they don’t allow me to talk to my son or come close to him.” She added that an Israeli interrogator questioned al-Anati on Monday evening for approximately two hours. The interrogator, she added, took away the boy’s shoes and clothes. Abir denied claims that her son was throwing rocks, saying that she was walking him and her daughters home from school when he was shot.”I was with Abdullah and the girls on Monday afternoon escorting them from school in Kafr Aqab to our home in the camp,” she said, adding that that when she and her children entered the camp, there were clashes near the Israeli military checkpoint at the entrance to Shu‘fat. According to Abir, she managed to cross the checkpoint into the camp along with her children and walked away from the area where clashes were taking place. Abdullah, she said, walked at a faster pace ahead of his mother and sisters, causing her to lose sight of him. Moments later, she learned from local youth that her son was shot. She added that she took her son to a local medical center before he was taken in an ambulance to the hospital. “Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint allowed the ambulance to pass after holding it for more than half an hour.” The soldiers, she said, insisted on following the ambulance with a military vehicle and demanded the driver to go to Hadassah hospital.
Israeli soldier lightly wounded in shooting attack near Bethlehem-area settlement
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Feb — An Israeli soldier was lightly injured in a shooting attack near an illegal settlement in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem on Monday night, the Israeli army reported. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an on Tuesday that overnight, “a gunman opened fire at forces in the vicinity of Efrat, lightly wounding a soldier who was treated at the scene.” The spokesperson added that Israeli forces were searching the area, but did not have immediate information as of Tuesday morning regarding whether anyone had been detained in relation to the attack.
Israeli settlers close Nablus-Tulkarm main roads
NABLUS (WAFA) 28 Feb – A number of Israeli settlers Tuesday morning blocked off main roads north from Nablus city in the northern West Bank, said locals. Settlers from the illegal Shavei Shomron settlement closed the main roads north of Nablus city. They hurled stones at Palestinians in their vehicles, obstructing traffic in both directions and forcing passengers to take alternative routes. Shavei Shomron is an Israeli settlement that was founded in 1977 on lands seized from the Palestinian villages of Deir Sharaf and An-Naqura, north of Nablus.
Israeli army closes main West Bank checkpoint due to attacks by Jewish settlers
NABLUS (WAFA) 28 Feb – The Israeli army closed Tuesday evening Hawwara checkpoint on the main road that leads into and out of the northern West Bank city of Nablus following Jewish settlers’ attacks against Palestinian commuters in the area, according to the Palestinian Military Coordination office. The settlers’ attacks came after the army evacuated on Tuesday settlers from Ofra settlement, south of Nablus, following a court order for building on private Palestinian land. The Military Coordination urged Palestinian commuters to use alternative routes in an out of Nablus to avoid being hurt by the settlers, who were throwing rocks at passing Palestinian cars.
Army abducts a young man, removes flag pole near Salfit
IMEMC 28 Feb — Several Israeli army jeeps invaded, on Tuesday evening, the town of Sebastia, north of Nablus, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, fired many live rounds and gas bombs, and removed a Palestinian flag and its pole. Mohammad ‘Azem, secretary of Fateh movement in Sebastia, told the WAFA Palestinian News Agency that the Palestinian flag, and its pole, were removed for the seventh consecutive time in the last two months. ‘Azem added that the invasion led to clashes between the soldiers, who fired many live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs, and local youths, who hurled stones and empty bottles on them; there have been no immediate reports of injuries or abductions. Also on Tuesday evening, the soldiers invaded Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, and abducted two children.
Israeli soldiers destroy and confiscate equipment in a Tulkarem print shop
IMEMC 1 Mar — Dozens of soldiers invaded, on Wednesday at dawn, Tulkarem city, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, and broke into a local print shop, before destroying much of its equipment, and confiscating machines. Abdul-Rahim Badawi, the owner of the print shop, said a large military force invaded the area, before the soldiers broke into his shop after smashing its main doors, and initiated violent searches, leading to excessive property damage. He added that the soldiers confiscated most of his equipment, and destroyed several computers and machines, during the violent invasion and search. Badawi further stated that his shop is licensed, and never received any notices or warnings from the Israeli military, or any other party. The soldiers also invaded several neighborhoods in Tulkarem, before storming several buildings and violently searching them.
Israeli forces detain 10 Palestinians across the West Bank
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 28 Feb — The Israeli army carried out multiple predawn raids across the occupied Palestinian territory on Tuesday, detaining at least nine Palestinians, while a young woman was also detained on Monday, according to a statement released by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). Israeli forces detained 24-year-old Jumana Numan al-Rajabi from the street near the Ibrahimi Mosque in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron around midday Monday, according to PPS.
Israeli troops also detained 22-year-old Musab Bassam Qattan in the Hebron district during predawn raids. In the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, two Palestinians were detained, identified by PPS as Muhammad Hamdi Taqatqa, 32 in the village of Beit Fajjar, and 16-year-old Muhammad Raed Hamamra, from Husan. According to an Israeli army spokesperson, two Palestinians were detained in Husan. In the Jerusalem area, PPS said that Ahmad Uweisat and Khalil Jabir were detained overnight. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed two detentions were made in the area, which she said were carried out in the central occupied West Bank town of ‘Anata northeast of Jerusalem. In the northern occupied West Bank, PPS said Israeli forces raided the village of Tayasir in the Tubas district and detained 29-year-old Juma Khalid Abu Amr, and 19-year-old Yazid Zahi Abu Ali. The statement added that 23-year-old Anas Jamil Ishtayya was detained in the northern Nablus district.
Israeli forces carry out detention raids across the occupied Palestinian territory on a near-nightly basis, with the UN recording an average of 95 weekly raids in the West Bank in 2016, and 100 weekly raids on average thus far in 2017.
Israeli forces detain 27 Palestinians across the West Bank
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 1 Mar – Israeli forces detained at least 27 Palestinians between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning from across the occupied West Bank, including at least three minors and three women … Southern West Bank Israeli forces raided several areas in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, including all three refugee camps located in the city, and detained at least eight Palestinians. Locals in Bethlehem’s al-‘Azza refugee camp said an Israeli military raid into the camp to detain Nizar Mustafa al-Najjar sparked clashes between local youth and soldiers who fired tear gas at homes … Meanwhile, during a raid into several houses in Duheisha refugee camp, located in the southern part of Bethlehem city, Israeli forces detained former prisoner Yousif al-Lahham. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed a detention in Duheisha, claiming he was a Hamas operative. The Israeli army also said they detained an alleged Hamas operative in ‘Aida refugee camp, identified by locals as former prisoner Omar Azziyeh.Elsewhere in Bethlehem city, Israeli forces detained former prisoners Walid Daoud al-Bustanji and Iyad Hamim Muhammad….
Almost 20% of Palestinians have faced arrest after online postings
MEMO 28 Feb — A recent survey of Palestinian youth has revealed the depth of Israeli spying on the indigenous population of historic Palestine. The poll by the Arab Centre for Social Media Advancement (7amleh — “Campaign”) indicated that 19 per cent of 15 to 25-year-olds reported being arrested or pulled up for investigation after having their online communications spied on. The poll was conducted in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as among Palestinian citizens of Israel (who make up 20 per cent of the total population). As such, the spying and subsequent arrests were carried out by the Israeli occupation authorities and their Palestinian Authority surrogates, as well as (to a lesser extent) the Palestinian authorities in the Gaza Strip (where the arrest figure is 9.5 per cent). The figures were highest for the Palestinians in the West Bank: 35 per cent of Palestinian youth there reported being arrested for something that they had posted on social media, or said in private to a friend using online tools. Unit 8200 — the Israeli equivalent of America’s National Security Agency or Britain’s GCHQ – uses its technological spy capabilities to monitor the entire Palestinian civilian population living under Israel’s yoke in the West Bank, Gaza and the Zionist state. The results of this are telling. Israel’s obsession with controlling every aspect of Palestinian life is maniacal and sadistic. A recent example is the case of Dareen Tatour, a Palestinian poet who has spent the last 16 months in an Israeli prison and now house arrest for writing a poem and posting it on Facebook. Her poem entitled “Resist Them” encouraged Palestinians to defend themselves against Israel occupation soldiers: “Resist, my people, resist them,” is its refrain. For this, and for a couple of accompanying Facebook posts, Tatour has been denied her freedom by Israel….
Report: Citing ‘betrayal’ by Israel, Bedouin soldiers refuse to report for duty
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Feb — After Israeli officials enraged Palestinians by branding Yaqoub Abu al-Qi‘an a terrorist when Israeli police shot him dead last month — a claim that has been widely disputed — a group of Bedouin soldiers announced they would no longer report for reserve duty in the Israeli army, Israeli daily Haaretz reported Sunday. Israeli police shot and killed Abu al-Qi‘an in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran during a home demolition raid on Jan .18, with Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan immediately claiming the local math teacher was carrying out a vehicular attack motivated by Islamist extremism when he was shot. In the wake of the incident, Erdan has made pleas to the “beloved” Bedouin community of Israel “to continue living in coexistence in the Negev,” while simultaneously launching what a group of Bedouin soldiers called a “slander campaign” against the Bedouin population with Israeli Police Chief Roni Alsheich. In a statement published by Haaretz on Sunday, 25 reservist Bedouin soldiers accused Erdan and Alsheich of “preferring to slander an entire population rather than admitting their embarrassing mistake and the unjustified taking of the life of an educator.” … Nevertheless, the Bedouin soldiers’ wrote in their statement that they felt “abandoned” and “betrayed” by Israeli authorities. “We have served in (Israeli army) combat units and have shed blood and tears protecting the borders of Israel and the safety of its residents. It is very unfortunate that at the end of our military service, we understood that we’ve been abandoned by the country that sent us to fight,” the statement said. “How great is the pain, how great was our disappointment and sense of betrayal when it became clear to us that the country we had fought for was now turning its back on us, causing us harm and preventing us from living as civilians.”….
Result of ‘little to no law enforcement’ in Arab villages in Israel:
Crime and lawlessness rampant in Jisr az-Zarqa
Ynet 28 Feb by Hassan Shaalan — Village residents tell tales of widespread arson, random acts of violence and indiscriminate shooting in neighborhoods where children and other bystanders sometimes get hit with stray bullets. Security footage [below] showing a gang of young people walking through the village of Jisr az-Zarqa indiscriminately shooting depicts a scene residents say is all too common. Last Thursday, Jabri Amash, 17, was stabbed to death during the course of an argument with his neighbor. Saturday, an 18-year-old was shot and transported to the hospital, prompting a group of youths to enter into the same neighborhood and shoot in the air, striking a 14-year-old boy with a stray bullet. Ahmed, a resident of the village, said, “Our situation is very serious. Every day we have gunfire and people being wounded. Many of those shooting are young and are doing right as children are playing nearby. If the children wouldn’t run away, one of them could be hit. It could end in a tragedy.” Many residents spoke of rampant crime, random acts of violence and little to no law enforcement. Sami Ali, a member of the regional council, said, “We live here in acute density side by side with police incompetence and a policy of discrimination and deprivation. This causes a feeling of fear, anxiety and a lack of sense of security. People are afraid of being hit with a stray bullet, even if they have nothing to do with any problems or violence. Our environment is rife with shooting and vehicular arson. We demand to be put on the agenda of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel.”
Prisoners / Court actions
New video: A call for justice for Mohammed al-Qeeq: Fayha Shalash urges action
Samidoun 1 Mar — A new video by Fayha Shalash, Palestinian journalist and the wife of imprisoned hunger striker and journalist Mohammed al-Qeeq, urges international action for his release. We urge all supporters of Palestinian freedom, liberation and justice to share this video widely, as al-Qeeq enters his 24th day of hunger strike demanding release from imprisonment without charge or trial under Israeli administrative detention. Mohammed al-Qeeq is one of 23 Palestinian journalists imprisoned by the Israeli state. His life and health are on the line not only for his freedom, but for Palestinian freedom overall and an end to administrative detention without charge or trial. It is critical to raise our voices internationally and demand freedom for Mohammed al-Qeeq, an end to administrative detention and the freedom of all Palestinian prisoners.
High Court to prosecute officer for allegedly urinating on prisoner
Ynet 28 Feb by Telem Yahav — The High Court partially approved a petition Tuesday from a Palestinian detainee requesting that the Department of Internal Police Investigations (DIPI) prosecute an officer the detainee alleges urinated on him in 2007. The petition was filed by a Palestinian detainee who alleges that he was physically and sexually abused while being held at a Ma’ale Adumim police station in November 2007. The DIPI investigated the allegations and eventually closed the case after coming to the conclusion that “the evidence did not present a reasonable chance of conviction.” As a result, the detainee turned to the High Court. The High Court accepted the majority of DIPI’s findings in regard to the Palestinian’s claim, but reversed the decision related to the specific act described by the man. Judges noted that, “during the plaintiff’s interrogation and that of his cousin who was arrested with him, both men complained — without knowing they were being recorded — that ‘the smell of the urine is disgusting, it’s killing us. At least I didn’t have to drink it. They piss in a bag and then put it on your head.'” The officer in question denied the allegations, but later admitted to some of them after having been led to believe that his DNA was found on the detainee’s clothing. According to the officer, the Palestinian was handcuffed and blindfolded after using the bathroom himself. The police officer asked the man to stand aside so that he too may urinate. “I ordered him to kneel so I could detain him if necessary,” said the officer. He went on to say that the Palestinian made a sudden movement and as a result, “turned toward the prisoner while still urinating and most likely splashed some on him, while is perhaps the reason his DNA was found on his clothes.” When asked why he did not report the event, the officer replied that he was embarrassed.
Israel to indict 3 Palestinian minors from Bethlehem refugee camp for stone-throwing
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Mar — Three Palestinian minors from the al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem are scheduled to be indicted by an Israeli military court for throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli armed forces, according to Israeli police. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that police had completed their investigation into the case of the three “minors” from the camp who “are suspected of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails” at Israeli border guard forces on a highway. “Investigations revealed that the three went to a gas station in their area after they finished a school day and prepared Molotov cocktails, which they later threw at Israeli soldiers who managed to detain them,” al-Samri said, adding that a Molotov cocktail was found in the school bag of one of the minors. The identity of the three remained unknown. Israeli authorities have dramatically escalated their crackdown on Palestinian youth who are caught throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers, detaining hundreds of Palestinians for alleged stone throwing every year.
Soldiers trade entry into Israel for drugs and money
Ynet 28 Feb by Yoav Zitun — Four soldiers were indicted on Monday of having accepted bribes of drugs and money to allow Palestinians to cross into Israel without a permit or being checked. The soldiers all served at the Te’enim Crossing nearby Tulkarm. Two of them were commanders at the checkpoint. They are all charged with aiding an Arab Israeli and his Palestinian friend with smuggling. For each Palestinian that was smuggled in, the soldiers received between 100 and 150 shekels. An undercover investigation carried out by the Israel Police and Military Police that included wiretaps revealed that the bribery began at the start of 2015. The soldiers made sure to “secure” the smuggling route. They allegedly received specific information from the two smugglers regarding the make, model and color of the car in which the Palestinians would enter Israel, sometimes on a daily basis.The soldiers are also accused of warning the Palestinians of the presence of senior officers or police in the district. The indictments claim that every smuggled Palestinian paid the gang between 300 and 400 shekels for entry into Israel….
Hundreds of children still at home one week after Israel closed Hamas-linked East Jerusalem school
Haaretz 1 Mar by Nir Hasson — Nearly a week after the Education Ministry closed an Arab school in East Jerusalem, on the grounds that it was established by Hamas and taught an anti-Israel curriculum, parents said their children are still without a school placement. The head of the school, Luay Jamal Bkirat, said he still does not know why the ministry claims the private elementary school, located in Sur Baher, is affiliated with Hamas. On Thursday, Feb. 23, the Education Ministry announced a closure order against al-Nukhba, which opened its doors at the start of the 2016-17 school year. According to Jamal Bkirat, the school is recognized by the Israeli authorities and has about 240 students. Considered prestigious — al-Nukhba means “the elite” in Arabic — the school’s curriculum emphasizes the study of science and the English and Hebrew languages. Hebrew instruction begins in the second grade, earlier than in most of the city’s Arab elementary schools. The school’s founders say they have been trying since the beginning of the school year to obtain a permanent license from the Education Ministry, and note that a temporary license was issued in September … Three months ago, however, the school received a letter from the Education Ministry ordering its closure and citing the receipt of “official intelligence” according to which al-Nukhba planned to teach Hamas ideology. The school appealed the order to the Jerusalem District Court and then to the Supreme Court, both of which upheld the closure.
In a separate case, an Arab school in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Kafr ‘Aqab, located beyond the separation barrier but still within city limits, could be closed at any time after the Education Ministry halted its funding. The school is considered to be the largest in Israel with some 3,500 students, including 300 who are studying toward an Israeli matriculation certificate, or bagrut. The Education Ministry halted the transfer of funds to the school after Israel’s registrar of nonprofit organizations withdrew the school’s certificate of proper management. The principal, Samih Abu-Rumileh, said the problem began when the Education Ministry did not transfer funds and the school was forced to raise funds from businessmen in the Palestinian Authority, and this caused problems in accounting for the money….
Israeli forces close entrances of Salfit area village
[photos, video] SALFIT (Ma‘an) 1 Mar — Israeli forces closed entrances of the village of Marda in the northern occupied West Bank district of Salfit on Wednesday evening, preventing Palestinian vehicles and citizens from leaving or entering the area. Israeli forces closed the iron gates installed at the entrances of Marda by Israeli authorities in 2000 when the Second Intifada broke out across the occupied Palestinian territory. Locals said that Israeli forces closed the gates after Israeli forces claimed that residents of the area threw stones at Israeli settler cars passing Abir al-Samra street near the village … Palestinian communities are routinely subjected to arbitrary road closures by Israeli military forces for purported “security reasons,” an act which rights groups have denounced as amounting to collective punishment.Closures in Salfit were implemented at least two times last month in the villages of al-Zawiya and Qarawat Bani Hassan.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
30 Palestinians left homeless after Jerusalem home demolished without warning
[with photos, video] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Mar — Israeli forces demolished a building in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya on Wednesday morning without giving prior warning, leaving 30 Palestinians homeless, under the pretext that the building lacked the nearly impossible to obtain construction permits required by Israeli authorities. It was the third time the building — a two-level apartment comprised of four units — was destroyed over the course of a 15-year administrative battle to legalize the structure. Dozens of Israeli special forces, bulldozers, and crews from Israel’s Jerusalem municipality raided ‘Issawiya at around 4:30 a.m. and surrounded the building, owned by Khalid Nimr Mahmoud. Witnesses said residents of the building were forced outside before they had time to evacuate their belongings. Municipality crews had evacuated some of the building’s contents before bulldozers carried out the demolition on top of piles of furniture and other belongings that were ruined under the pouring rain. Mahmoud told Ma‘an that Israel repeatedly refused to issue licenses for the building, saying that he began the administrative battle to legalize his home in 2002. Mahmoud said that sessions were held in the Jerusalem magistrate’s court in recent days to postpone the demolition, but judges ordered it to be carried out anyway and ruled against any further postponements. He said that the municipality rejected a final appeal against the demolition on Tuesday, but did not give a specific date for the actual demolition. As a result, the Mahmoud family and the others living in the building were completely surprised and unprepared to lose their home the following morning….
Israeli forces demolish Palestinian structures in the Negev
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Mar — Israeli authorities demolished Palestinian structures in the town of Rahat and in the village of Kuseifa in the Negev region of southern Israel in two separate incidents Tuesday morning, under the pretext that they lacked Israeli-issued building permits. Israeli news site Arab48 reported that Israeli police forces stormed Neighborhood 9 in Rahat as bulldozers demolished an exterior wall and were preparing to demolish other homes in the city. East of Rahat, in the village of Kuseifa, Israeli police escorted bulldozers to demolish a home there, witnesses told the news outlet. The report added that Israeli police and bulldozers stationed near the Nebatim airport near the entrance to the village of al-Surra were also preparing to carry out demolitions. Bedouin communities in the Negev have been the target of a heightened demolition campaign in recent weeks, following Israeli leaders publicly expressing their commitment to demolish Palestinian structures lacking difficult to obtain Israeli-issued building permits across Israel and occupied East Jerusalem in response to the Israeli-court sanctioned evacuation of the illegal Amona settler outpost.
Israeli authorities turn away thousands waiting to register for Negev land
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 28 Feb — Thousands crowded into Israel’s Bedouin Development Authority office in Beersheba to register to buy land in a new neighborhood in the nearby town of Rahat on Tuesday morning, only to be turned away and find that the registration was cancelled. The incident came as the latest development in a severe housing crisis that has seen scores of homes razed to the ground in unrecognized Bedouin communities in Israel’s Negev region, as the Israeli state seeks to transfer them to government-zoned townships in order to make room for the expansion of Jewish Israeli housing on the evacuated Bedouin land.
The Israeli government has plans to evacuate tens of thousands of Bedouin residents to officially recognized Bedouin townships, one of which is Rahat. Thousands had been waiting outside the office since the early predawn hours to register to buy land in the new area of Rahat, known as Compound 6. “This is fiasco for the Rahat municipality, who completely failed to take the slightest interest in the registration process,” a local resident who was waiting for registration told Ma‘an. “They should have shown some respect to the residents and brought the registration officers to the building. Instead, all municipality officials are sitting in their offices watching how we fight for a residence.” However, Israeli news site Arab48 reported that registration was called off for a week due to the high numbers of residents that arrived to register. The number of applicants was estimated to be around 4,000 young couples. Arab48 quoted head of the Rahat municipality Talal al-Qreinawi as saying that the first phase of registration for Compound 6 would be for 900 applications and some 455 applications for the second phase.
The ongoing attempts at transferring the Bedouins originated from the Prawer Report, a document outlining expulsion plans for the unrecognized Bedouin community. It was officially adopted by the Israeli government in 2013. According to Israeli human rights group Adalah, the plan would “result in the destruction of 35 ‘unrecognized’ Arab Bedouin villages, the forced displacement of up to 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel, and the dispossession of their historical lands in the Negev.”….
Concerned about settlers’ takeover, government meets at Bethlehem’s Solomon’s Pools
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 28 Feb – The Palestinian government held its weekly meeting on Tuesday at Solomon’s Pools in Bethlehem, instead of Ramallah, following attempts by Jewish settlers to take it over, according to the cabinet statement issued at the conclusion of its meeting. It said Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah told the meeting that it was decided to hold this session at the Pools “in response to rise in attempts by settlers to break into it under the protection of Israeli occupation soldiers.” Hamdallah stressed that the Pools, ancient water reservoirs located south of Bethlehem, is an Islamic waqf (trust) and considered an archaeological reserve since 1929. He said this area was neglected during the Israeli occupation until it came under the rule of the Palestinian Authority in 1994 when the Palestinian private sector restored the pools and developed the area near it where a convention center and a shopping area was built. “Efforts should be exerted to protect this area from the rabid settlement drive it is facing and attempts by the Israelis to turn it into a Jewish site after obliterating its Arab Islamic and Christian history,” said the prime minister.
The cabinet reviewed the settlement drive around Bethlehem where 21 illegal settlements were built since its occupation in 1967 housing more than 100,000 settlers, in addition to 21 settlement outposts deemed illegal by Israeli standards built between 1996 and 2005. Following Israeli expropriation of thousands of square meters of the area around Bethlehem for settlements and the separation wall, only 13 per cent of the overall area was left for the Palestinians. As part of efforts to take over Solomon’s Pools, the Israeli military government cut off water from the pools leaving them dry and ruined, the cabinet was told. The government decided to form a committee with the private sector to look into ways to preserve and develop this historical site and to protect it.
EU Missions visit Bedouin village at risk of demolition
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Mar — The European Union (EU) Heads of Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah visited the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the central occupied West Bank on Tuesday, where they met with community leaders and humanitarian organizations that deliver aid to the community, which for years has been at risk of forcible transfer by Israel. The EU missions released a statement on Tuesday highlighting the current situation in Khan al-Ahmar. Last month, Israeli authorities delivered military demolition orders to the village’s 40 homes and elementary school — which serves 170 Bedouin school children from the surrounding area. The statement noted that Khan al-Ahmar is home to 140 Palestinian Bedouin refugees who have been living in the community since the 1950s after they were expelled from their original lands in the Negev in what is now southern Israel. “A demolition of the school would severely impact negatively on Palestinian children’s right to education,” the statement said of the impending demolition of the Khan al-Ahmar school, which has long been under threat of demolition by Israel for being built “illegally” in Area C — the area of the West Bank under full Israeli civilian and security control. “The EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah call upon Israel not to carry out demolitions in the said community. Displacing the community would be in contravention with Israel’s obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law,” the statement concluded.
Settlers building race track inside IDF live fire training zone
+972 mag 27 Feb by Edo Konrad — The Israeli army says it ordered work stopped on the RallyCross track, but settler officials are singing a different — and defiant — tune. Several Palestinian communities in the same firing zone have been displaced by the military in recent years — Israeli authorities have been laying the groundwork for a state-of-the-art RallyCross race track, in what they say is a response to the growing demand for motor sport recreational facilities and areas. The only problem? The track being built is partially inside an IDF live firing zone in the occupied West Bank — a designation Israeli military authorities often use to displace local Palestinian populations. The RallyCross (timed, largely off-road automobile racing) track is being constructed just north of the settlement Petza’el in the Jordan Valley area of the West Bank, on a large tract of land near Wadi al-Ahmar and Route 505 … Although Israel rules the West Bank under military law due to its status as occupied territory, Israeli settlers have nevertheless established limited civilian local government institutions, nearly identical to those inside Israel proper, although they are ultimately subordinate to the military government….
11 Israeli police officers injured, 2 settlers arrested during evacuation of Ofra outpost
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Feb — Two Israeli settlers were arrested while at least eleven Israeli police officers sustained light injuries on Tuesday as Israeli forces began evacuating nine homes in the illegal Israeli Ofra outpost, located in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, according to Israeli police and media. The nine homes were built illegally in 2008 on private Palestinian land, and were ordered to be demolished by the Israeli high court in 2015, with the final demolition date set for March 5, 2017. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement Tuesday that eleven Israeli police officer sustained “minor bruises and even bites” as two settlers were arrested “on suspicion of assaulting police officers and disturbing the peace,” during the evacuation of the homes. Israeli news daily Haaretz reported that while eight homes had been cleared out — with the residents of the homes leaving voluntarily — hundreds of extreme right-wing Israelis and pro-settler activists had barricaded themselves inside the final ninth home, upon request of the family. On Monday, Israel’s high court rejected an appeal by Ofra settlers to halt the upcoming evacuation, requesting that the nine buildings be sealed off rather than destroyed, in hopes that the homes would be eligible for retroactive legalization in accordance with the “Regularization law” passed earlier this month. …
Tuesday’s scenes at Ofra of hundreds of pro-settler activists barricading themselves inside homes, protesting, and clashing with mostly unarmed Israeli police officers mirrored the evacuation of the illegal Amona outpost earlier this month, in which 13 Israeli settlers were arrested and 24 Israeli police officers were injured. … At the time of Amona evacuation, head of the Joint List Ayman Odeh, a member of the Knesset and a Palestinian citizen of Israel, criticized the police’s double standard between use of force in Amona and in Bedouin villages in the Negev. “Amona is being evacuated after being built on Palestinian lands that were stolen 20 years ago, while Umm al-Hiran residents were being evacuated from their own lands, without stealing anyone else’s lands,” Odeh said in a post on Facebook, referring to the deadly evacuation of a Bedouin village in January, during which the MK himself was injured.
Israeli army hits Gaza with multiple airstrikes, injuring 4 Palestinians
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Feb — The Israeli army targeted multiple sites across the besieged Gaza Strip with airstrikes and artillery fire midday Monday leaving at least four Palestinians injured, hours after an Israeli army spokesperson said that a rocket fired from Gaza landed in an open area in southern Israel that caused no injuries or damages. Witnesses said Israeli fighter jets launched two missiles at a Hamas military site known as the Shuhada (“martyrs” in Arabic) post just after 1 p.m. in the central Gaza Strip, near the coast and west of Nuseirat refugee camp. Other local Palestinian news sites said five missiles were fired in the area. Shortly after, an Israeli reconnaissance plane fired a missile at a monitoring post east of Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip, as Israeli fighter jets fired three missiles at the Hittin post in Beit Lahiya in the northern region of the small Palestinian territory. A separate strike in the Nahda neighborhood of Rafah left three Palestinians moderately injured, according to local sources. Gaza’s Ministry of Health later reported that a total of four people were injured in the strikes. Before 2 p.m., two artillery shells fired by the Israeli army hit an agricultural area east of Gaza City, locals said … Nearly two hours after the first airstrike was launched, the Israeli army confirmed in a statement that the air force hit five Hamas positions throughout the Gaza Strip, “In response to a rocket fired from Gaza that hit Israeli territory last night,” adding that the army holds Hamas “accountable for all attacks from the Gaza Strip that threaten Israel and her citizens.” However, Hamas has not claimed responsibility for any rocket attacks since a ceasefire was declared after Israel’s devastating war in Gaza in 2014, and the movement has attempted to clamp down on armed activity by smaller political groups that do launch rockets from the territory….
Rocket reportedly fired from Gaza lands in open area in southern Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Mar — A rocket was reportedly fired from the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday evening and landed in an open area in southern Israel. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an on Thursday morning that a “projectile was fired from the Gaza Strip” and landed in the Hof Ashkelon area, causing no injuries, and added that Israeli forces had searched the area. The spokesperson said they were not aware of any actions taken by the army in response to the rocket. However, Israeli news outlet Ynet reported on Wednesday evening that Hamas, the de facto ruling party in the blockaded Palestinian enclave, had evacuated some military positions in anticipation of possible Israeli reprisal.
Egyptian fish return to Gaza’s markets
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 26 Feb by Moath al-Amoudi — Since early February, Egyptian fish have become available again in the Gaza Strip after they had disappeared for nearly four years. They were unavailable due to an intensified Egyptian security crackdown on the tunnels built along the border with Rafah that started in July 2013. Yazid Ismail stands in front of the fish market carrying a bag of Egyptian fish. He happily told Al-Monitor, “I was previously unable to purchase bass caught in the Gaza sea, due to high prices that went up to 45 shekels [$12] per kilogram [2.2 pounds, $5.45 per pound]. Today, I managed to buy 3 kilograms at once, as 1 kilogram is sold at 28 shekels.” He added, “Fish coming from Egypt are sold at low prices, which enables large families and medium-income households to purchase fish that were usually limited to high-income earners.” Ismail hopes that political circumstances get better in Egypt so that raw materials and goods can enter Gaza through Egypt. Fish started coming into Gaza after Darar Alwan and his brothers repeatedly tried to contact Egyptian companies via his Mazin al-Quds company. Alwan is the official and sole supplier of fish through the crossing. Three other suppliers who import fish through the tunnels compete with him. The company introduced 22 tons of fish in two batches through the Rafah border crossing, while undetermined quantities entered intermittently via the tunnels … On the fish species and how they enter Gaza, he said, “The meagre, mullet and tilapia are the types of fish we bring into Gaza through the tunnels, and they are raised in farms in el-Arish town. The sea fish are brought from Alexandria in containers filled with ice. One day and a half are required before they reach the crossing.” Tons of fish have entered Gaza via the tunnels or officially through the Rafah border crossing….
Drop of 44% in exits from Gaza in January
Gisha 23 Feb — The number of exits of Palestinians through Erez Crossing in January 2017 has decreased by 44% compared to January 2016. A total of 8,669 exits were recorded at Erez in January, more than half of them by merchants (4,419 exits). Only a tiny percentage of Gaza’s residents are permitted to travel through Erez Crossing, Gaza’s main gateway to the rest of the world, to begin with. This small gateway is now getting narrower still. Figures on travel via Erez Crossing show a drop of 29% in exits in January compared to the monthly average in 2016. The number of exits by merchants dropped by 33% compared to the monthly average during 2016. A decrease in exits has been observed in other travel categories as well, for instance: patients traveling for medical treatment and the persons accompanying them….
Spanish specialists perform surgeries for children at Gaza hospitals
GAZA (Xinhua) 26 Feb — A team of medical specialists from Spain, including surgeons, conducted 13 different surgeries in Gaza’s main hospitals for children with congenital malformations, official source said Sunday. Mahmoud Mattar, head of department of orthopedic surgery at Shifa Hospital in Gaza city, said that the Spanish medical delegation wrapped up a five-day visit in the Gaza Strip. “Surgeries were performed on 13 children who suffer from congenital malformations, or birth defects, and also to patients with foot and ankle problems,” he said….
Life under siege: A farmer’s struggle with the Occupation
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Feb — Abdel Salam Manasra is a Gazan citizen, in his 50s, who has dedicated his life to agriculture and farming. Farming has always been his family’s main profession, as inherited from their ancestors. Abdel Salam’s farmland is located east of the Shuja‘eyya neighborhood in Gaza city, near the Israeli border – an area which used to represent the food basket of Gaza, with its variety of stone and citrus fruits, fig and olive trees, as well as different kinds of vegetables. Up until the early 2000s, before the tightening of Israeli restrictions on Gazans, “3 to 4 farmers worked on every 1000 square meters in this area, which was a major source of income”, Abdel Salam describes. The tightening of the siege went hand in hand with an increase of Israeli terror that harshly affected the farmers: Ground incursions and invasions caused death and led to leveling of farmland, uprooting of trees and an increasing level of unemployment. With the Israeli ban on the exportation of goods, the prices for agricultural products in Gaza collapsed … A second major consequence of the ongoing closure is a buffer zone stretching from the Israeli border up to 300 meters into the Gaza Strip, which is exposed to shootings and shelling by Israeli forces. A large number of families used to have farmland in this area, which has increased the production of agricultural products but the farmers cannot reach it without risking their lives. Several attempts of farmers, supported by the ICRC and other international organizations, to plant wheat and other basic crops were met with violence by the Israeli forces, leaving Palestinian farmers injured or dead….
Let there be an airport in Gaza
Times of Israel blog by Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib 27 Feb — In June of 2000, my family and I landed at Gaza’s then-operational International Airport after permanently moving back from Saudi Arabia where my father had worked as a physician. We were onboard a Palestinian Airlines Boeing 727, donated by billionaire Saudi businessman and philanthropist, Al-Waleed bin Talal. Like many Palestinians, my family and I were jubilant that a trip that used to take more than a day to access Gaza via Egypt or Jordan now took a mere two and a half hours of direct flying into the coastal enclave. I vividly remember the flight attendants, the airplane food, the seating layout inside the aircraft, and the reactions of some people, who were clearly not used to flying, when mild turbulence rocked the aircraft mid-way through the flight. I felt that I was surely experiencing the beginning of a new era in Gaza’s history, and that my life-long love and passion for aviation might actually have a place in Palestine; perhaps, I could even eventually work at the airport. Not so fast. Three months later, the ‘Second Intifada’ began, Gaza’s airport was shut down, and its gradual demise commenced, ending with the climactic destruction of its $60 million runway in January of 2002…
Though the Palestinian Authority (PA) has repeatedly talked about the need to revive Gaza’s destroyed airport since it was first decommissioned, I believed that it would be nearly impossible to do so, absent a comprehensive peace agreement with Israel to clarify airspace control issues. Since such an agreement may be decades away, it is futile to insist on reviving the Gaza airport based on the Oslo framework, though it had given Palestinians the right to operate civilian airports in their territories. Flexibility and creativity are needed to address the realities of Gaza’s current situation, so that Palestinians in the Strip are not prevented from accessing their basic right to travel at will by air. If we look at seriously troubled conflict areas and war zones around the world, including different parts of Africa, people in those places often have access to aviation services, whether provided by the United Nations (UN) or commercial operators, despite seemingly-insurmountable security challenges. And thus, the concept of a humanitarian UN-operated and regulated airport in Gaza was born….
Gaza war: 11 key headlines from scathing report rattling Israel’s politicians and military
Haaretz 28 Feb by Barak Ravid & Gili Cohen — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and the members of the inner security cabinet did not consider taking diplomatic action regarding Gaza in an effort to halt the escalation in the year before the 2014 war with Hamas and its allies in the Gaza Strip broke out, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira wrote in the report released Tuesday on the war. On three separate occasions in the report, Shapira quotes statements made by Ya’alon two days after the outbreak of the war, saying that it’s possible that it could have been avoided if Israel had addressed the distress in the strip at the time. The 200-page report is being released about a year and a half after the end of the war in August 2014. The report deals both with the decision making process in the security cabinet relating to Gaza before Operation Protective Edge, as the war is officially known in Israel, and at its outset but also with the issue involving dealing with the attack tunnels in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge, as well as preparation for the intelligence, technological and operational response to the this threat in the years prior to the operation. Shapira’s report does not deal directly with the conduct of the war itself or its results. These are the report’s salient points: [This article is not behind Haaretz’s paywall]
Tunnels caught Israel off-guard in2014 Gaza war, government watchdog says
AP 28 Feb — Long-awaited report faults both military and government, unleashing immediate finger-pointing — Israel’s official government watchdog issued a long-awaited report Tuesday in which it found the military was ill-prepared to counter the threat of underground tunnels used by Hamas militants from Gaza during the 2014 war, and that the Cabinet was not provided enough information to make proper decisions about it. The state comptroller’s report found faults in both the military and government, unleashing immediate infighting over who was to blame. While the report added to a growing list of political headaches for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it did not appear to pose any immediate threat to him. The report found that the military was aware of the vast underground tunnel network Hamas had built well ahead of the war, but did not properly assess its threat. As a result, forces were not prepared to deal with them and had to improvise without the necessary intelligence and preparation. On the political level, the comptroller found that Netanyahu and then-Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon considered the tunnels to be a “strategic threat” but did not convey this to the rest of the decision-making Security Cabinet….
Opinion: Illegitimate targets on both sides of Israel’s border / Amira Hass
Haaretz 2 Mar — Is it proportionate to bomb the town of Kochav Ya’ir, where top commanders and political officials live, when its residents are asleep or eating dinner with their families? That’s a horrid question that has no right to be asked. But Israel long ago gave an affirmative answer to the general question: Is it proportionate to crush neighborhoods and bomb homes with entire families in them – children, elderly people, women and babies? Yes, Israel has said, with its bombing of Gaza and Lebanon. It’s proportionate because we also killed – or meant to kill – military commanders and activists, and senior political officials in Palestinian and Lebanese organizations … The onslaughts on Gaza have introduced to our world three terms that have no right to exist: proportionate killing, collateral damage and target bank. These terms have become axiomatic beyond question or reflection. How would these axioms work if we sketched out the target bank in the opposite direction? Every home where there’s an Israeli soldier or reservist would be a legitimate target for bombing; the civilians harmed would be collateral damage. Every bank in Israel would be a target because Israeli ministers and generals have accounts there. The neighbors of the police station on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street ought to move because Shin Bet security service officers operate there regularly and the missile might miss and hit a nearby school. Military bases and Shin Bet centers in the heart of civilian neighborhoods – at the Kirya in Tel Aviv, in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Gilo and Neveh Yaakov, or at the Binyamin Division headquarters near the settlement of Beit El – condemn the neighbors to a proportionate death.…
Solidarity / BDS
BDS: Israeli Apartheid Week begins in New York (VIDEO)
IMEMC/Agencies 1 Mar — via apartheidweek.org and the BDS National Committee. The 13th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week will take place all around the world between March – April 2017. Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an international series of events that seeks to raise awareness of Israel’s settler-colonial project and apartheid system over the Palestinian people and to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Inspired by the popular resistance across historic Palestine and struggles worldwide, IAW 2016 included a wide range of events, from lectures, film screenings, cultural performances, BDS actions, to postering in metro stations, setting up apartheid walls on campuses, and many more. These actions took place in more than 225 cities across the world. The coming year (2017) will mark 100 years of Palestinian resistance against settler colonialism, since the inception of the Balfour Declaration. IAW will be an opportunity to reflect on this resistance and further advance BDS campaigns for the continued growth and impact of the movement. Despite all the legislative attacks on BDS internationally, IAW and the BDS movement continue to build linkages and solidarity with other struggles to achieve freedom, justice, and equality. And, as promised last week, today the BDS National Commitee is, today, releasing a beautiful, short new video made in Palestine. It’s called “In Their Own Words: Palestinians Champion BDS,” and features Palestinians of different ages, genders and backgrounds expressing why they champion the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and call for the solidarity of people around the world to win freedom, justice and equality. “When there is a will, justice and dignity are always possible.”
Universities spark free speech row after halting pro-Palestinian events
The Guardian 27 Feb by Sally Weale & Steven Morris — Universities have been accused of undermining freedom of speech on campus after cancelling events organised by students as part of an annual pro-Palestinian event called Israel Apartheid Week (IAW). The University of Exeter and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) intervened to cancel student-run events this week, aimed at raising awareness about Palestinian human rights. An event called Quad Under Occupation at University College London was also cancelled because organisers failed to get the necessary approval in time. At Exeter, the Friends of Palestine Society were furious after the university banned students from staging a street theatre performance called Mock Checkpoint, in which some participants were to dress up as Israeli soldiers while others performed the roles of Palestinians. The event, which had been approved by the students’ guild – the university’s student union – as part of an international week of talks and activities on campuses around the world, was banned for “safety and security reasons” less than 48 hours before it was due to take place on Monday. An appeal against the decision was refused. Almost 250 academics, including 100 professors, have signed a letter condemning attempts to silence campus discussion about Israel and its treatment of Palestinians … The signatories also express concern about the government’s adoption and dissemination of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, which it says seeks to conflate criticism of Israel with antisemitism….
German university suspends course after instructor criticized Israel (Video)
IMEMC/Agencies 27 Feb — Real News Transcript: SHIR HEVER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Shir Hever in Heidelberg, Germany. The Department of Political Science at the University of Berlin, the Freie University of Berlin, reneged on its promise to a young lecturer at the university to teach a course next semester. The reason? The lecturer is suspected of anti-Semitism because she wrote in her blog about her political opinions on the State of Israel. The Freie University of Berlin was founded while Berlin was divided by a wall between East and West. It was established to serve West Berlin as a symbol of liberal and democratic values. Indeed, the Department of Political Science, known as the Otto Suhr Institute has accumulated the reputation in Germany as an important center for the studies of political theory; a reputation which is now in jeopardy. The disciplinary action against Eleonora Roldán Mendívil is very similar to a case in the University of Illinois, in which Professor Steven Salaita was denied a position because of his political stance on Palestine … SHIR HEVER: The story in Berlin started with a German right-wing newspaper called the “Jüdische Rundschau” and an Israeli right-wing newspaper “The Jerusalem Post” that attacked the lecturer, Eleonora Roldán Mendívil.
Palestinian refugees – Lebanon
Ceasefire declared in Ain al-Hilweh, after 2 young Palestinians confirmed dead
[with videos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Feb — An 18-year-old Palestinian was pronounced dead Tuesday afternoon after a 12-year-old boy succumbed to injuries earlier that morning, while at least eight others were injured — including a pregnant woman — amid armed clashes between Fatah members and Islamic factions in the Palestinian refugee camp Ain al-Hilweh in Lebanon, which began overnight Monday night and continued into Tuesday afternoon. Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA) reported after 4 p.m. Tuesday that a ceasefire agreement was brokered during a meeting between PLO factions and nationalist and Islamist forces at the Palestine Embassy. However, shortly after the ceasefire was declared, NNA reported that a pregnant woman, identified as Mariam Aweid, was wounded as a result of the clashes, raising the casualty toll to one dead and three wounded over the course of the day, in addition to one dead and one wounded in the early morning. Clashes began Monday evening, when a bomb detonated in front of a call center inside camp, breaking a “cautious calm” that had prevailed after Palestinian factions reached a ceasefire agreement Sunday night to halt violent clashes that erupted over the weekend. Tensions continued to rise, with NNA reporting intermittent hand grenades, shooting, and sniper fire overnight. The agency said at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday that one was wounded by a sniper bullet inside the camp, and shortly after that, a child was critically wounded and transferred to al-Rai hospital following reports of a missile explosion and an intensification of sniper fire. At around 10:44 a.m., NNA confirmed that the child had succumbed to his injuries. The local Arabic-language Facebook page “Friends of Ain al-Hilweh Refugee Camp” identified the boy as 12-year-old Arafat Mustafa….
Timeline for local Palestinian elections announced as Hamas rejects decision
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Mar– The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Central Elections Commission announced on Wednesday the revised schedule for upcoming local elections in the occupied West Bank, saying that registration centers would be opened on March 4 in all districts across the territory. Online voting will be also available through the commission website, and like in-person voter registration, online registration will begin on March 4 and last for five days. Candidates will be able to register their campaigns on March 28, and the final list of candidates will be announced on April 29. According to the commission, the elections will be held on April 13, and the results will be announced on the 14th. “The commission hopes that there will be collaboration by all involved sides in local elections to provide the atmosphere for running democratic elections,” the statement concluded. The commission’s announcement came a day after the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) decided to hold local elections in the West Bank on May 13 as scheduled, while excluding Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip from taking part. During the PA’s weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday in Bethlehem, it was decided that elections in Gaza would be postponed “indefinitely.” It remained unclear whether occupied East Jerusalem would be included in the municipal electoral process.
A challenge from the Palestinian diaspora
MEMO 26 Feb by Dr Daud Abdullah — The Palestinians Abroad Conference in Istanbul has presented nothing less than a challenge to the national authority installed and supported by Israel’s allies in Ramallah. Despite the best efforts of the Palestinian Authority to prevent Palestinians from the diaspora getting together in this way, well over 4,000 men and women from 50 countries have gathered in the historic city to demand change. For almost a quarter of a century, the Palestinian diaspora – now estimated at seven million strong – has been ignored and denied a voice in national decision-making processes. This was a direct consequence of the 1993 Oslo Accords, through which the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) granted full recognition to Israel in exchange for a tightly-controlled presence in the occupied territories. One veteran speaker who participated in the drafting of the Palestinian National Covenant and the PLO Basic Law recalled for the conference the tragedy of the past two decades. “Our people have been struck by many calamities, from the Balfour Declaration through the British mandate and then the Nakba of 1948,” explained Dr Anis Fawzi Qassim bitterly, “but the greatest of them all was Oslo. That turned the Palestinian revolution into a protector of the [Israeli] occupation.”….
Palestinians urge boycott of Israeli military courts
AFP 26 Feb –– Lawyers of prisoners complain they are denied access to their clients, while families say convicts’ fines are too high — Palestinian officials on Sunday called for a boycott of Israeli military courts after a Palestinian murder convict freed in a 2011 prisoner exchange was rearrested and sent back to prison for life. Speaking in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian Prisoners Club head Qadura Fares called on detainees’ families and Palestinian organizations to stop taking part in military trials and to refuse to pay convicts’ fines, which he said amounted to $6 million in 2016. Palestinians captured by Israeli security forces are generally brought before the army courts, where defense lawyers say they are often not notified of the charges against their clients or allowed to meet them before the trial. “Palestinian movements and prisoners’ families must choose boycott,” Fares told a press conference. “One must take the difficult decision of rebellion and boycott” of the courts, Issa Qaraqe, head of the Palestinian Authority’s commission for detainees, added.…
In Palestine, no job means no health insurance
GAZA 27 Feb by Khaled Abu Amer — According to official figures published by the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics on Feb. 16, the unemployment rate in Palestine climbed to 26.9%, with 360,500 unemployed out of a total workforce of 1.3 million in Palestine, while the poverty rate in the Gaza Strip exceeded 80%, according to the Zakat Department affiliated with the Palestinian Ministry of Religious Endowments. Despite these staggering figures, the Palestinian Cabinet announced Feb. 15 the cancellation of all health insurance benefits granted to unemployed citizens starting March 1. The Cabinet decision irked and outraged civil society organizations. On Feb. 15, the coalition of economic and social rights (a coalition of more than 55 Palestinian civil society organizations and trade unions) called on the Council of Ministers to renounce its halt of health insurance benefits for the unemployed, saying the government’s decision is a violation of the Palestinian Basic Law … The Palestinian Authority (PA) had granted unemployed citizens free health insurance by virtue of a decision by Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in 2000 in light of the deterioration of the economic and social situation in the Palestinian territories with the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in the same year. In 2000, 39,000 unemployed citizens benefited from free health insurance. According to estimates of the Palestinian Health Ministry, the number of beneficiaries of this free insurance reached around 250,000 in 2016….
Why some in Fatah aren’t pleased about new deputy leader
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 1 Mar by Ahmad Melhem — Fatah’s Central Committee neither selected Marwan Barghouti, who is serving a prison sentence in an Israeli jail, to take up the movement’s position of deputy leader nor tasked him with any leadership role during its Feb. 15 session, raising wide controversy among the movement’s leaders and cadres. Barghouti is an influential Fatah leader and is widely popular among the movement’s youths, given his role in the establishment of Fatah’s student wing, the Shabiba movement. He was a leader of the first intifada (1987-1993) and architect of the second intifada (2000-2005). Barghouti is also one of the most prominent candidates to succeed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The Central Committee selected Mahmoud al-Aloul as its deputy leader. Aloul, 67, hails from the city of Nablus and is a former commissioner in charge of the committee’s organization and mobilization; he is close to Abbas … Following Fatah’s congress, Barghouti was expected to serve as the movement’s deputy leader, given the 930 out of the 1,400 votes he won at the congress and his history of struggle. He has been in Israeli jails since April 15, 2002, where he is serving five life sentences and a 40-year prison term, after Israel accused him of being responsible for armed operations conducted by Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah’s military wing in the Gaza Strip, and the killing and wounding of dozens of Israelis at the beginning of the second intifada on Sept. 28, 2000.
A member of Fatah’s Central Committee told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that refraining from selecting Barghouti for any of the movement’s leadership posts, especially the post of deputy leader, “is not an attempt to underestimate him.” In reference to the efforts and physical presence required to perform the tasks of the job, he said, “The assigned tasks require efforts that are time sensitive, and will be revised and assessed. This is why the positions were given to members who are present so that each prepares his own work plan.”….
Palestinian leadership and citizens mourn death of British MP Kaufman (video)
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Feb — Palestinians are mourning the passing of British Member of Parliament and long time friend of the Palestinian people, Gerald Kaufman. “On behalf of the Palestinian leadership and the people of Palestine, we mark with deep sorrow the passing of Sir Gerald Bernard Kaufman, the longest-serving British MP from the Labor Party, who passed away on Sunday evening at the age of eighty-six,” Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi said on Tuesday. “In addition to being a leading intellectual figure, opinion-maker, writer, and politician dedicated to social justice, Sir Kaufman was also a dear friend of Palestine who courageously advocated for sanctions against Israel for its war crimes and passionately defended our right to self-determination, freedom and statehood,” she said, according to WAFA. “His passing is a great loss, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, loved ones and the people of Britain,” said the PLO official.
Facebook apologizes for shutting down page of Palestinian Fatah movement
Al Arabiya 28 Feb — Facebook shut down the page of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’s party Fatah, apparently over a picture of late leader Yasser Arafat with a weapon, the movement said on Monday. “We received a message that our page violated Facebook’s regulations,” Munir al-Jaghub, a media officer with Fatah and one of the page’s administrators, told AFP. The accounts of the 12 administrators of the page, which according to Jaghub had 70,000 followers, were also suspended for 30 days. A photo of Arafat holding a rifle that belonged to an Israeli soldier abducted in the 1980s by Palestinians in Beirut that had featured on the page was attached to the message from Facebook. Standing next to Arafat is Mahmoud al-Alul, recently elected Fatah deputy chairman. But the page was reinstated by Tuesday morning, with a Facebook spokesperson confirming that the page was removed in error. “The page was removed in error and restored as soon as we were able to investigate. We apologize for this mistake. All pages have to abide by our community standards,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement made available to Al Arabiya English. The page’s administrators responded through a post on Tuesday night saying: “Please note that we, the page administrators of the Palestinian National Liberation Movement Fatah have returned to you after Facebook withheld us from our work”
Asia presses FIFA for urgent solution to Israel-Palestinian dispute
Reuters 28 Feb — Asian football’s governing body (AFC) has called on FIFA to urgently solve a long-running dispute between Israelis and Palestinians. AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said that a deadline for ending the matter had been repeatedly put off and that Palestinians merely wanted to see “football played on their land”. The dispute centres on six teams from lower divisions of the Israeli league who are based in settlements on the occupied West Bank and play their matches there. The Palestine Football Association (PFA) says this is contrary to FIFA statutes which state that a member country’s teams cannot play matches on the territory of another association without permission … The PFA has also complained that Israel hampers its activities, including limiting the movement of players between the West Bank and Gaza, and that it has barred some international travel. Israel has cited security concerns for its actions and the Israeli FA, which is a member of European soccer body UEFA, says it is not responsible for the actions of its government….
Google to enable Internet users to virtually explore Palestinian cities
JPost 27 Feb by Adam Rasgon — The world will soon be able to explore the streets of Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho up close on Google Maps. The Google street car, with its multiple high-resolution cameras, took to the streets of the de facto Palestinian political capital on Sunday to take 360 photos of most of the city’s streets and thoroughfares, PA Deputy Telecommunications Minister Suleiman Zuhairi said on Monday. “Anyone will be able to take a tour of the three cities that are participating in the pilot program,” Zuhairi told The Jerusalem Post. Shortly after the Google street car completes its rounds taking photos in the three West Bank cities, the company will enable the street-view service on Google Maps. Google and the PA Telecommunications Ministry have been in contact for several years, and they reached an agreement in 2015 to bring the Google street car to the Palestinian territories. Zuhairi said that he believes enabling Internet users to explore Palestinian cities online will entice tourists to come visit the West Bank’s cities. “Anyone will be able to visit the popular sites and places in these cities [virtually],” Zuhairi said. This week, the Google street car will be taking photos in Ramallah, before moving on to Jericho and Bethlehem next week … Majdi Habash, 24, of Ramallah, said the street-view service may serve to undercut stereotypes of Palestinians. “It should be helpful for people abroad to see what Palestine actually looks like, especially those who think this place is backwards and all about conflict and violence,” said Habash, who works at a local advertising agency. “People will realize that we don’t ride camels to work.”
With a roll of the dice and shouts of ‘yalla’, Jews and Arabs face off
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 1 Mar by Luke Baker — In the early evening on a backstreet in downtown Jerusalem, Arabs and Jews are milling around, preparing for battle. But this isn’t a new round of Middle East violence, it’s a showdown over shesh besh, the local name for backgammon. The gathering is the latest in a series of events organized by Double Yerushalmi, a group trying to build closer ties between Arabs and Jews through cultural activities like singing, dancing and the increasingly popular shesh besh championship. To the strains of Arabic Dabke music – not usually heard in the western, mainly Jewish side of Jerusalem – around 50 players turned up on Monday, sitting hunched over the backgammon tables, shaking dice and clicking the counters like pros. Cigarette smoke hung heavy in the air, beers and energy drinks were consumed and shouts of “yalla” and “kadima” – Arabic and Hebrew for “come on” – rang out. Tables were bashed. “You want to win, but it’s friendly too,” said Karem Joubran, a 27-year-old from Shu‘afat camp, a Palestinian refugee neighborhood in north Jerusalem, who had to cross checkpoints to get to the event. “It’s good, it brings people together.”… On Monday evening a group of Palestinian women in hijab came to cheer on husbands and friends, while their children played backgammon at a nearby table. Across the cobbled alleyway, Orthodox Jewish locals listened, fascinated, to the Dabke music. On the next street, a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews and Palestinians from Shu‘afat jointly practiced the Brazilian martial art of capoeira….
Top Palestinian official denied entrance to Egypt
AFP 28 Feb — A senior Palestinian official has been denied entry to Egypt, prompting a Palestinian delegation to withdraw in protest from a counter-terrorism conference he was to attend, officials said Tuesday. Jibril Rajoub, a senior member of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah party, told AFP he was “surprised by the Egyptian security decision to ban me from entering Egypt”. Rajoub, who also heads the Palestinian Football Association, said the Egyptian minister of youth and sports had been waiting at the airport to meet him. An Egyptian airport official said Rajoub was rejected “on the instruction of one of the Egyptian security services,” without giving further details. Palestinian Justice Minister Ali Abu Diak, who was scheduled to participate with Rajoub in the conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, announced that he was withdrawing in protest, a Palestinian official said.
Opinion: Israel loves wars and does nothing to prevent them / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 2 Mar — Israel loves wars. Needs them. Does nothing to prevent them, and sometimes instigates them. There is no other way to read the state comptroller’s report on the 2014 Gaza war, and there is no more important conclusion that arises from it. All the rest – the tunnels, the National Security Council, the cabinet and the intelligence – are trifles, nothing more than efforts to distract us from the main thing. The main thing is that Israel wants war. It rejected all the alternatives, without discussing them, without interest in them, to fulfill its desire. Israel wanted wars in the past as well. Since the 1948 war, all its wars could have been avoided. They were clearly wars of choice, although most of them were of no use and a few of them caused irreparable damage. Israel usually initiated them, sometimes wars were forced on it, but even then, they could have been avoided, like in 1973. Some of the wars ended the careers of those who started them, and yet, time after time Israel chooses war as the first and preferred option. It is doubtful that a rational explanation can be found for the phenomenon, but the fact is, every time Israel goes to war it receives sweeping, automatic and blind support in public opinion and the media. Thus not only the government and the army love war, all of Israel loves war. This is proven by the fact that committees of investigation publish almost identical reports after every war….
Bill to cut funding to PA over ‘martyrs’ compensation reintroduced in US Congress
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Mar — A bill was reintroduced by US Republican lawmakers on Tuesday seeking to cut funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) over the so-called “martyrs” compensation program which provides payment to families of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces or held in Israeli prisons … The bill was named the Taylor Force Act after a US army veteran who was killed during an attack in Jaffa last year. According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the bill would necessitate that the PA follow certain conditions in order to receive funds from the US government, including taking “credible steps” to end violence by its citizens under its “jurisdictional control,” publicly condemning and punishing Palestinians who have committed acts of violence against Israelis, and “terminating payments” to individuals and their families who have been killed after carrying out an attack.
In Palestinian society, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is responsible for providing financial assistance to families of those slain, injured, or imprisoned by Israeli forces. In 2016, this included 112 Palestinians who were killed by Israeli forces and nearly 4,000 Palestinians wounded by Israeli forces mostly during clashes, according to UN documentation. In addition, Israeli authorities currently hold 6,500 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, including 536 without charge or trial. The group has reported that 40 percent of the Palestinian male population has at some point been detained by Israeli forces. The payments are estimated to be a monthly base payment of $350 and is increased depending on certain factors, such as if the individual was married, has children, or the duration Palestinian prisoners have spent in Israeli custody. Rights groups have claimed that Israeli authorities use prison and detention raids — which often erupt into violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces — as a tool to disrupt Palestinian life in the occupied territory, as many families suffer financially when Israeli forces kill, wound, or imprison Palestinians …
Palestinians have often argued that the compensation program does not have anything to do with ‘funding terrorism,’ as this most recent bill claims, but is part of a larger social program to assist Palestinian families who have been affected by Israel’s nearly half-century military occupation of the Palestinian territory. Moreover, the payments are not only distributed to families of Palestinians who have been accused of attacking Israelis, but also to numerous families whose members have been killed, imprisoned, or injured by Israeli forces without any wrongdoing.
US seeks end to UN rights council’s ‘obsession’ with Israel
GENEVA (Reuters) 1 Mar by Stephanie Nebehay — U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is reviewing its participation in the U.N. Human Rights Council, seeking reform of its agenda and an end to its “obsession with Israel”, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday. Washington has long argued that the Geneva forum unfairly focuses on Israel’s alleged violations of human rights, including war crimes against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. The United States “remains deeply troubled by the Council’s consistent unfair and unbalanced focus on one democratic country, Israel”, Erin Barclay, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state, told the U.N. Human Rights Council. Barclay said that no other nation had a whole agenda item devoted to it and that “this obsession with Israel” threatened the council’s credibility….