Closures / Restriction of movement
Israeli police block Palestinian ‘March of Return’
NAZARETH (Al Jazeera) 9 Apr by Jonathan Cook — The annual “March of Return” by Palestinians in Israel, commemorating the Nakba – the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in 1948, has been blocked by the Israeli police for the first time in its history. The police have denied the organisers a permit, saying there is a shortage of officers to oversee the march. But Palestinian leaders in Israel accuse the far-right government of Benjamin Netanyahu of being behind the decision, in what they believe is the latest move to silence their commemoration of the events of 69 years ago. The Nakba – Arabic for “catastrophe” – refers to Israel’s creation on the ruins of the Palestinians’ homeland in 1948. Some 750,000 Palestinians were expelled outside the new state of Israel’s borders, and more than 500 villages razed to prevent the refugees from returning. The march has rapidly grown in size over the past few years, in defiance of increasingly repressive measures from the Israeli authorities. It is now the largest commemorative event staged by Israel’s 1.7 million Palestinian citizens, one in five of the Israeli population. They are the descendants of the small number of Palestinians who managed to avoid expulsion, although many were internally displaced by the Nakba. Organisers had expected some 25,000 people to attend this year’s rally at a destroyed village in the Galilee. Adalah, a legal centre for Palestinians in Israel, has written to Israel’s chief law officer, threatening to appeal against the decision to the Supreme Court unless it is reversed….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
On 69th anniversary, PLO remembers ‘heartbreaking’ Deir Yassin massacre
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Apr — The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) marked on Sunday the 69th anniversary of the Deir Yassin massacre, when at least 100 Palestinians were killed by Zionist militias in the Jerusalem-area village of Deir Yassin in 1948. PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi mourned the “heartbreaking tragedy” in which “more than one hundred innocent men, women and children … were brutally murdered by armed members of Zionist terrorist organizations.” Deir Yassin has long been a symbol of Israeli violence for Palestinians because of the particularly gruesome nature of the slaughter, which targeted men, women, children, and the elderly in the small village west of Jerusalem. The number of victims is generally believed to be around 107, though figures given at the time reached up to 254, out of a village that numbered around 600 at the time. The massacre left more than 50 young children orphaned, Ashrawi noted, adding that the deadly attack was part of a broader plan in 1948 to expel Palestinians from their homes “with the deliberate intent of establishing the State of Israel on Palestinian soil.”
“After sixty-nine years, the Deir Yassin massacre still remains an important reminder of Israel’s systematic measures of displacement, destruction, dispossession, and dehumanization,” Ashrawi said. “The calculated efforts by Israel to completely erase the history, narrative and physical presence of the Palestinian people will not be ignored or forgotten. It is time for Israel’s lethal impunity to come to an end.” “We urge all members of the international community to hold Israel to account immediately, to curb its ongoing violations against the Palestinians, and to support our nonviolent and diplomatic efforts to seek justice and protection in all international legal venues,” she added.
The Deir Yassin massacre was led by the Irgun militia, whose head was future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, with support from other paramilitary groups Haganah and Lehi whose primary aim was to push Palestinians out through force. Records of the massacre describe Palestinian homes blown up with residents inside, and families shot down as they attempted to flee.
The massacre came in spite of Deir Yassin resident’s efforts to maintain positive relations with new Jewish neighbors, including the signing of pact that was approved by Haganah, a main Zionist paramilitary organization during the British Mandate of Palestine. The massacre was one of the first in what would become a long line of attacks on countless Palestinian villages, part of a broader strategy called Plan Dalet by Zionist groups aiming to strike fear into local Palestinians in hopes that the ensuing terror would lead to an Arab exodus, to ensure only Jews were left in what would become modern-day Israel. The attack on Deir Yassin took place a month before the UN Partition Plan was expected to be carried out, and was part of reasons later given by neighboring Arab states for their intervention in Palestine….
Palestinian assaulted and work tools confiscated during early morning raid by Israeli forces
KAFR AD DIK, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Ramallah Team) 9 Apr — At 2am on Wednesday morning, three intelligence vehicles and six military vehicles arrived at the building where Shahar Dharma lives with his family in Kafr ad Dik, Salfit municipality. For over two hours, Israeli forces raided, harassed, and searched the apartments of the three families living in the building. Soldiers kicked and banged on the door with their rifles until Shahar Dharma went down the stairs to open it. He told the soldiers that his children were asleep, and that they should wait until they had been woken up as they would be scared if they saw the soldiers. However, Israeli forces pushed him aside and almost 60 soldiers poured into the building to search the three apartments. Shahar’s daughter, Sahar, awoke to the sight of Israeli soldiers in her bedroom and froze in fear. Her father managed to enter the room and reassure her as she started to cry, whilst waking the other children – Bilal, 5, and Sahjar, 13 – to take them into the living room. Sahar held onto her father with a tight grip, and asked for her mother. Shahar had to remind his daughter that her mother passed away last year, but Sahar insisted: ‘I don’t care,’ she cried, ‘I want to be with my mother.’ Israeli forces spent two hours turning the apartment upside-down, searching every nook and cranny of the home. During the raid, the family’s mobile phones were confiscated whilst they were forced to stand in the living room and were not allowed to sit down. Shahar’s wife, who is eight-months pregnant, became sick and dizzy, whilst his mother who suffers from cancer was not allowed to go to the bathroom. A paper, written in Arabic, was posted on the workshop door claiming intelligence had informed them that people in the area were aiding terrorists by constructing military equipment, and were a threat to Israel and the security in the area. The paper continued to say that people would not be harassed by Israeli forces, but would be left to live and work freely if they did not support ‘terrorists’. On the other hand, Israeli forces could not guarantee the safety of anyone who helped ‘terrorists’, nor the safety of their families and livelihoods. The locals claimed this was part of a ‘media operation’ by Israeli forces to claim a victory over ‘terrorism.’ But, as Shahar says, ‘If they had found anything illegal in my workshop I would already be in prison’….
Israeli forces detain 8 Palestinians, close alleged weapons manufacturing workshop
[includes photos] HEBRON (Ma‘an) 9 Apr — Israeli forces detained at least eight Palestinians during predawn raids across the occupied West Bank on Sunday, when a workshop allegedly used for manufacturing weapons was also shut down. Local sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces detained four Palestinians in the southern occupied West bank district of Hebron, three of whom were identified as former prisoner Rafaat al-Sharabati, Wael Qafisha, and Shadi Idriss. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed four detentions were made in Hebron, and alleged they were all “Hamas operatives.” Israeli forces raided several other houses belonging to former prisoners in the Hebron area, including the homes of Iyad al-Jabaa, Nihad al-Jabaa, Othman al-Qawasmi, Adib al-Qawasmi, Amin al-Qawasmi, and Ihab al-Qawasmi, local sources added. According to local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awwad, Israeli forces raided several districts of the town of Beit Ummar north of Hebron, and detained 38-year-old Ziyad Muhammad Bahr, 27-year-old Ramzi Ahmad Ikhlayyil, the brother of slain Palestinian Khalid Ikhlayyil, and 23-year-old Sabri Ibrahim Awwad. Awwad said that Israeli forces also briefly detained 55-year-old Ruweida Bajis al-Salibi in Beit Ummar during a raid at her house, when Israeli soldiers assaulted her 26-year-old son Alaa, who is a former prisoner, in attempt to put pressure on her other son, 23-year-old Ahmad, to turn himself in to Israeli forces at Etzion detention center for interrogation. Israeli forces also briefly detained and assaulted former prisoner Khalid Abd al-Fatah Sabarna, 25, during the raid in Beit Ummar, Awwad noted …
Meanwhile, Israeli forces closed a workshop in the town of Sa‘ir northeast of Hebron city, and confiscated equipment that the Israeli army alleged was used to manufacture weapons, according to an official statement from the Israeli army spokesperson. However local sources specified the workshop was located in the neighboring town of al-Shuyukh, west of Sa‘ir. Israeli soldiers posted a sign on the sealed [welded shut] exterior door of the workshop that said the shop was “closed and will not be allowed to be opened again.” “After discovering that this workshop manufactures weapons and provided help to terrorist operations that affects the area’s security, Israeli army shut down the workshop,” the notice continued. The notice also warned that “other procedures” were going to be taken “regarding people and properties involved in illegal operations.”…
Separately, Israeli police detained a 29-year-old Palestinian in the Negev region in southern Israel on Saturday evening for entering Israel without an Israeli-issued permit and for driving an Israeli vehicle, according to Israeli police. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in statement that police ordered a vehicle to pull over, but that the driver escaped from the car and Israeli police officers chased him on foot and detained him. She said that man was transporting a camel and eight sheep in his vehicle. According to al-Samri, the man said he was from the southern occupied West Bank town of Yatta during interrogation.
Israel detained 509 Palestinians in March, report says
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 9 Apr — Israeli forces detained 509 Palestinians across the occupied Palestinian territory during the month of March, prisoners’ rights organizations said in a joint report on Sunday. The report — written by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, and Addameer — said that the detainees included 75 male teenagers, 11 women, two teenage girls, five journalists, and one Palestinian lawmaker. However, according to Ma‘an documentation, at least six Palestinian MPs were detained in March. Some 160 Palestinians were detained in occupied East Jerusalem, while 338 were detained in the occupied West Bank, and 11 were detained from the besieged Gaza Strip, Sunday’s report stated. The report added that 111 of these prisoners were being held under administrative detention — Israel’s infamous policy of internment without trial or charges. The four groups who released the report strongly denounced “systematic Israeli violations of international law, which affect Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody,” and urged the international community to “take effective measures to get the occupation state (Israel) to respect the international law regarding human rights.” The report came two days after the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies estimated that Israeli authorities had detained some 1,360 Palestinians in the first three months of 2017.According to Addameer, 6,500 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of January, including 53 women, 300 minors, and 536 held in administrative detention. The group has estimated that 40 percent of Palestinian men have been detained by Israel at some point in their lives.
Israel army ‘among world’s child rights violators’
OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 6 Apr by Nigel Wilson — Documented cases of killing and maiming of children prove that Israel is a child rights violator, rights groups say — Flanked by his mother and aunt, Ahmed Mahmoud strolled up the narrow street that leads to the main road in ‘Issawiya in occupied East Jerusalem. It was mid-afternoon in early December 2016, and the 15-year-old had recently earned good grades at school. As a reward, the trio were on an outing to buy him a new pair of shoes, when they encountered a group of teenagers running towards them. Ahmed realised that clashes were taking place in the area between young men from the neighbourhood and Israeli border guards. “I wanted to return home but then the bullet hit me,” he said. “I fell to the ground. My aunt started screaming. She was screaming at my cousin, who lived nearby, for help.” Ahmed had been shot in the face with a rubber-coated bullet. Blood was pouring from his right eye and he could not see anything. Ahmed needed 17 stitches around his eye and the socket had been fractured by the bullet. The retina had been damaged and the doctors told Ahmed’s family that he would not recover his vision. Ahmed Mahmoud was one of 82 Palestinian children wounded by Israeli forces in 2016, the majority of which were caused by live ammunition, according to Defense for Children International – Palestine, a children’s rights group. The rights group says 2016 was the deadliest year in a decade for Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The rights group recorded the killing of 32 children throughout the year, either by Israeli forces or private security guards. Nine children were injured by crowd control weapons fired by Israeli forces, which include sponge-tipped bullets and the type of rubber bullet that struck Ahmed. Two children were killed by these types of weapons during 2016 after being shot in the upper body….
When can I put flowers on my son’s grave?
JERUSALEM (EI) 8 Apr by Budour Youssef Hassan — Mother’s Day has taken on a new dimension for Ibtisam al-Aghwani. On it, she feels a “great sense of responsibility” towards her son Louay. “He always gave me flowers and a big hug on that day,” she said. “Now I want to have the chance to put flowers on his grave.” Ibtisam does not know precisely what happened to her son. In February 2008, it was reported that Louay and another Palestinian fighter had carried out a suicide bombing in Dimona, a city in present-day Israel. Israeli forces shot dead one of the fighters, reportedly after his explosives belt had failed to detonate. One Israeli citizen was killed in the bombing. Doubts were quickly cast on whether Louay was involved in that incident. On the following day, Hamas claimed responsibility for the bombing. The men who carried out the bombing were, according to Hamas, from Hebron in the occupied West Bank. Louay, on the other hand, had grown up in Gaza City. He was not affiliated to Hamas but to its rival Fatah and that party’s armed wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. “I didn’t know whether to believe the news or not,” his mother, Ibtisam, said by telephone. “But I told his father that as long as we don’t see his body or his place of burial, I won’t believe that he has died.” Some press reports indicated that Louay had crossed from Gaza into Egypt and been arrested there. Ibtisam traveled to Egypt, contacting everyone that might be able to help her. For four years, she searched for any information that could lead to her son’s whereabouts. Eventually, an official at the International Committee of the Red Cross told her in 2012 that Louay was buried in one of Israel’s “cemeteries of numbers.” These are anonymous graveyards – designated as closed military zones – where Israel buries people it describes as “enemy combatants.” The people are identified only by numbers etched on metal plates. It is impossible to know the precise number of bodies buried in these cemeteries. According to the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center, there are at least 268 Palestinians in those cemeteries. That figure does not include 19 Palestinians who were killed during the 2014 attack on Gaza and whose bodies have not yet been returned to their families. The Israeli military has stated that there are 123 Palestinians buried in those cemeteries. The statement was made at a hearing of the Israeli high court in March this year. “Died in my arms” Mufid Naalwa from Tulkarm in the West Bank has been searching for his brother, Kamal, for almost 34 years….
Prisoners / Court actions
The military court authorized vacation time for Elor Azaria on Passover
Ynet 9 Apr by Itay Blumenthal — The military court in Jaffa authorized Elor Azaria, who was convicted of killing a neutralized terrorist [Abed al-Fattah al-Sharif], to go on holiday at home during Passover. Azaria was sentenced to 18 months in prison, but his sentence was postponed following the appeal filed against the decision.
Palestinian child prisoner Natalie Shokha released Sunday after year in prison
Samidoun 9 Apr — Palestinian child prisoner Natalie Shokha was released on Sunday, 9 April after a year in Israeli prison. Natalie, 15, from the village of Rammon near Ramallah, has been imprisoned since April 2016. Her release came after a higher court rejected an appeal by the Israeli occupation against a decision to release her after completing two-thirds of her 18-month sentence [for allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli soldier]. She was welcomed warmly by her family and friends upon her release. Natalie was imprisoned alongside her friend, fellow child prisoner Tasneem Halabi. She was repeatedly denied family visits, even while she was severely wounded by Israeli occupation forces. A letter from Natalie to her mother was widely distributed internationally: My greetings to all of the generous people of my beloved village, Rammun. My greetings to the council of the village and to everyone who supports its development. Mother, I am in now in prison a member of the cultural committee. I have also become a member of the magazine. I discuss novels and I am the fourth in reading. :) Thank God at any rate. Mom, Dad, everyone here is proud of your raising of me. Have your head held high. And I am living in the room with six other girls. We are the twelve flowers (security prisoners who are minor girls). We live together through bad and good times. Mom, please say hello to all and tell them I miss them so much and that I am sorry if I forgot anyone. May God bring us together, united, soon. God, bring us freedom now! They will not imprison the scent of jasmine in a flower! The prisoner Natalie Shokha, HaSharon Prison, Division 14
Israeli ex-MK gets jail for smuggling phones to inmates
AFP 9 Apr — An Israeli court Sunday sentenced an Arab Israeli former MP to two years in jail after he pleaded guilty to smuggling mobile phones to Palestinian prisoners, a court transcript showed. Basel Ghattas, of the Arab-dominated Joint List, resigned his seat in the Israeli parliament as part of a plea bargain reached last month in which he admitted handing the phones and SIM cards to Palestinian inmates. The prosecution dropped charges of terrorism and endangering state security for which he could have faced up to 10 years in prison. In addition to the reduced sentence of 24 months he was fined 120,000 shekels, ($33,300, €30,800) according to the transcript released by the justice ministry. It said the court, in the southern city of Beersheba, also ruled that Ghattas’s offence constituted what is known in Israeli law as “moral turpitude”, meaning he is barred from standing for parliament for seven years after his prison term ends. His lawyers have 45 days to appeal. The court ordered the 60-year-old Christian to begin serving his sentence at Dekel prison in Beersheba on July 2, granting his request not to be jailed until the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan as he will be confined with Muslim prisoners. Israeli media have reported that 12 mobile phones were found on two separate prisoners in searches after Ghattas visited the high security Ketziot prison in Decem ber, using his parliamentary immunity to avoid being searched….
Cruelty spurred me to aid Palestinian prisoners – ousted lawmaker
EI 6 Apr by Omar Karmi — Basel Ghattas, a former member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, was convicted in March on a slew of charges after being caught smuggling mobile phones and documents to so-called security prisoners in Israeli detention … In a wide-ranging interview, Ghattas told The Electronic Intifada that he had no regrets over actions he undertook for humanitarian and conscientious reasons. He also said the current situation for Palestinian citizens of Israel was rapidly deteriorating as Israeli society moves ever rightward … In December, Ghattas was caught trying to smuggle envelopes containing 12 phones, 16 SIM cards, two cell phone chargers and a pair of earphones into Ketziot, a notorious desert prison that was first opened in 1988 during the first intifada, was closed again in 1995 as part of the Oslo accords and then reopened again in 2002, during the second intifada. Ghattas insisted that passing along the envelopes had been a humanitarian gesture and a response to what he called the inhumane conditions in which prisoners are held. “I am fully engaged with the issue of security prisoners,” he told The Electronic Intifada. “Over the past four years [since becoming a member of the Knesset], I have seen the inhumane conditions they live in.” Israel classifies prisoners into two: criminal and “security” prisoners. The latter are almost exclusively Palestinian, including Palestinian citizens of Israel, and are defined as those who have committed crimes where the motive was “nationalistic” and which harmed or intended to harm state security. Once classified as security prisoners, their treatment is different to the rest of the prison population and also to that of Jewish security prisoners. Notably, their ability to communicate with the outside world is severely restricted….
Longest-serving Palestinian prisoners to join upcoming mass hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 8 Apr — Karim Younis, the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner in Israeli custody, announced that he would join a mass hunger strike on April 17, organized by Fatah-affiliated prisoners and led by imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi. According to a letter sent from Younis to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs on Saturday, he decided to join the hunger strike in order to challenge the “ongoing violations on the dignity and rights of Palestinian prisoners by the Israel Prison Service (IPS).” A mass hunger strike will “awaken team spirit and unity among prisoners that will help them defend their rights,” he said. The prisoners have “purely human demands,” Younis insisted, and seek to “restore privileges that they used to have, but have been reduced by IPS.” These privileges include the right to family visits, the right to allow Palestinian prisoners’ children to visit them in Israeli custody, the right to education while imprisoned, among others. “I have been in jail for 35 years, and I don’t know my relatives at all because they are denied visits for so-called security reasons.” Younis explained. This deprivation of family visits, he said, has become “an abusive punishment depriving prisoners of the basic human right of communicating with their family members.” Younis, a Palestinian citizen of Israel from the Palestinian town of Arara in Israel, was sentenced in 1983 to life in Israeli prison for allegedly carrying out an attack on an Israeli soldier in the occupied Golan Heights as part of the Fatah resistance movement in 1980. However, his sentence was later reduced to 40 years in Israeli prison. While Younis was among some 20 imprisoned Palestinian citizens of Israel who were expected to be released as part of the Oslo peace accords in the 1990s, Israeli authorities have yet to release them….
Israeli forces threaten Palestinian families with house demolitions
AL-BIREH, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Ramallah Team) 7 Apr — On 5th April, 2017, Israeli forces told Abbas Qar’an and his family that their home in al-Bireh was going to be demolished. The homes of two other anti-occupation activists in the area received similar threats. ISM activists met with Abbas, the son of the homeowner, to hear his story. Israeli forces arrived at the family home, located west of the illegal Israeli settlement of Psagot, whilst Abbas was at work and presented the demolition notice to his wife. After his wife refused to take the order, the soldiers left it outside the house, weighed down with a rock. The notice comes from the district coordination office in the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El, charging the Qar’an family of building a house without the right permit. On the local municipality map, Abbas’ home lies well within the boundaries of Area A – under full Palestinian control. However, Israeli authorities claim the boundary line runs straight through the family’s home, with a majority of the rooms lying within Area C – under full Israeli control. Whilst no specific date has been given for the demolition, the order states that he must go to the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El within three days of the notice to challenge the demolition. The family home was built in 1960 – decades before the Oslo Accords that created the so-called “Areas” (A,B,C) – and the family insists that all of their paperwork is in order. It is also unclear if the demolition order is against a single house or the whole building, meaning that a form collective punishment is looming over all of the residents in the building. Abbas lives in Jabal al-Taweel with his wife and four children: fifteen year old Hamza; twelve year old Murad; five year old Jenna; and his eighteen month old daughter, Judy. Abbas tells us that he and his family have been targeted by Israeli authorities due to his past involvement in activism against the occupation for which he spent seven years in Israeli military prison. Despite both he and his father being American citizens, Abbas was denied all travel beyond the occupied West Bank for twenty years. Abbas and his family are not alone, as the homes of other activists have been targeted for demolition in the al-Bireh area:….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Apartheid
Lifta: the struggle over Palestinian memory
Palestine Monitor 5 Apr — Last week, an organization called “Save Lifta” organized tours of the Palestinian village of the same name, located on the outskirts of Jerusalem, to raise awareness about this very unique place, that is endangered today. Lifta lies on hillsides on the western part of Jerusalem. 2,250 Palestinians lived there in 1945. The population was then expelled in 1948, during the Nakba –a word that literally means “disaster” and refers to the exodus of more than 700,000 Palestinians who had to flee their homes because of the war that led to Israel’s creation. Hundreds of Palestinian villages had a similar story but Lifta is different because it is the only one that was neither destroyed nor inhabited again. The village of Ein Karem remained standing but was inhabited by Israelis, for example. Today, 55 original stone houses are still standing but the village has never been repopulated. Over the years, it became a symbol of Palestinian history. And in the past two decades, it has also been at the heart of many controversies. In the late 90s, a real estate project was designed to transform the abandoned village and its slopes –popular for hiking- into a new neighborhood … A first public debate raged. Israelis and Palestinians raised concerns about changing this memento of life before 1948. Save Lifta – also known as Lifta Society, a group of supporters of this place from all over the world created in 1984 – started to be vocal in the media about preserving this place as a memorial … Today, there are still threats on this village that some people nicknamed the “ghost-town”. Lying at the doors of Jerusalem, an ever-growing city, Lifta is a very interesting place for investors as well as for politicians. Besides, Lifta is also revered as a religious site and religious Jews come to bathe in the water spring, considered a place for mikvehs (Jewish ritual baths). To answer those threats, Save Lifta pushed for the place to be on the UNESCO Tentative List – the first step before it can be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and to be protected as such. In December 2015, Lifta indeed joined the tentative list. For some people it was a victory and a first step towards more security for the endangered village. For some others, it was seen as an Israeli appropriation of the place, since ultimately, Lifta would be part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites as an Israeli site….
Olive tree planting in the village of Bruqin
BRUQIN, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Ramallah Team) 9 Apr — On 8th April 2017 an ISM team joint Abu Skander, a farmer from the village of Bruqin, Salfit district, to plant 30 new olive trees on his field within the village. The village is located close to the illegal Israeli settlement of Bruchin and several others. Since the beginning of 2017, the Israeli water company Mekorot has started to build new water and sewage pipelines for nearby illegal Israeli settlements on private Palestinian farmland near Bruqin. Abu Skander found six trees cut down and 14 trees damaged, after the company first started its work on 30th January. This happened during the building of a temporary street on the field, as first step of the construction activities. Three of his neighbors lost another 20 olive trees and many more were damaged at this time. In total 2.5 dunums of agricultural land has been destroyed so far. Approximately two weeks ago, the company started to lay the pipes while the farmers were trying to talk to the construction workers and preventing them from destroying their fields, sometimes by standing in front of the bulldozers. The Israeli army was eventually called in. After some arguing, the Israeli forces eventually requested the construction workers to leave the site due to an existing agreement. The agreement states that no trees should be cut down and the land has to be given back after finishing the construction work. Nevertheless, this agreement was reached between the Israeli civilian administration and the water company, without any approval or voice from the farmers. The construction workers then continued to work on a different part of the field without olive trees. However, after a few days the company returned to work on the other field and as a result, even more trees were cut down and damaged. This time the Israeli army told the farmers that they would come with army vehicles and destroy everything themselves, if they keep resisting. The laying of the pipes is currently ongoing, which makes it impossible for the farmers to return and work on their fields….
Israeli forces obstruct transport and installation of protective fence
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM, al-Khalil Team) 6 Apr — Israeli forces on Tuesday evening, 4th April 2017, obstructed the transport of large materials by Palestinians on Shuhada Street in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron). Palestinians were carrying the large metal pieces first to Shuhada checkpoint, where just a few days before, Israeli forces extended their perimeter of control further into the H1 neighborhood supposedly under full Palestinian control. With no Palestinian vehicles whatsoever allowed, Palestinians then had to carry the large pieces through the checkpoint, navigating the narrow doors and metal-cage like structure of the checkpoint. Afterwards, the fence-parts had to be carried down the street, and were first set aside on the sidewalk outside a building at the end of the tiny strip of Shuhada Street. Palestinians are still allowed to be on the end of this strip, whereas the rest of the street has been ethnically cleansed of any Palestinian presence. As Palestinians attempted to pull up the large metal pieces onto the roof on the outside of the building, as they would not fit through the doorways, Israeli forces from the nearby checkpoint arrived to prevent them from doing so. The reasoning of the occupying soldiers was that the large pieces could fall on and thus injure or damage settlers walking on the streets or settler cars – not Palestinians on the same part of the street though. Israeli forces then refused to stop traffic, even for a short while, to allow the materials to be transported, instead forcing the Palestinians to put them back down. In the meantime, settlers gathered on the streets, watching the soldiers prevent Palestinians from lifting the materials up, and later on bringing pizza for the dozen soldiers that had arrived on the scene. After some negotiating, Israeli forces finally conceded to allow Palestinians to carry the materials up the stairs adjacent to the house – which are usually forbidden for Palestinians, not for settlers though … The large fencing was meant to reinforce a fence at Shuhada Street kindergarten which settlers had previously cut, damaging property inside the kindergarten and on a Palestinian family’s roof. When the last piece was carried up, soldiers entered the kindergarten to prohibit the installation of the fence, claiming that the Palestinians would need a permit to do so, further delaying this protective measure….
Jayyous lands again under threat
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM, al-Khalil Team) 5 Apr — Residents from the West Bank village of Jayyous, east of Qalqilya, endured nightly raids by Israeli forces for a week straight in early April. Israeli occupation forces fired tear gas at residents’ homes, causing some villagers to be taken for treatment to Darwish Nazzal hospital for tear gas inhalation. Frustration has been rising among Palestinian farmers in the area as the Israeli military has arbitrarily denied farmers work permits during the loquat season. For over a decade, Palestinian farmers have been given agricultural permits to cross the apartheid wall to access their farm land. Years ago, Jayyous villagers won this concession as well as a re-routing of the wall through popular resistance. These victories are threatened, however, as just last month a military order came to further attempt annexation of Palestinian lands both in Jayyous as well as the village Falamya. One week ahead of a meeting of the villagers, the Mayor, and the Minister of Agriculture with the Israeli occupation’s District Coordination Office, Jayyous villagers, joined by Palestinian police, held a large planting of lemon and other fruit trees. The fruit trees are being planted on reclaimed lands. Israeli forces, years ago, bulldozed the area to prepare for new construction on the apartheid wall. Palestinians successfully reclaimed the land on Wednesday, April 5th without incident. Jayyous villagers are cautiously optimistic about next week’s meeting. Prominent Palestinian activist Abu Azem, in a statement to the ISM, noted that the meeting was to seek solutions to the permit denials so Palestinian farmers can be granted permits to cross the apartheid wall in order to access their ancestral lands….
Israel’s system of segregated roads
Visualizing Palestine — Cars with Palestinian license plates are not allowed on Israeli roads, regardless of the identification held by the driver. Even on Palestinian roads, cars with Palestinian plates have restricted access, face endless delays at checkpoints and are subject to regular road blocks. Cars with Israeli plates experience none of these difficulties. The infographic ‘Segregated Roads’ invites the viewer to imagine a road system in which the color of your license plate determines your mobility.
Thousands protest Palestinian Authority pay cut in Gaza
Al Jazeera 8 Apr — Thousands of Palestinian Authority (PA) employees have demonstrated in Gaza City as protests continue against a PA decision to impose drastic salary cuts for its employees in Gaza. Demonstrators gathered in al-Saraya square in central Gaza City on Saturday in the largest protest since the 30 percent cut was announced, calling on PA leaders like Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Finance Minister Shukri Bishara to resign. “I have many financial commitments and without my salary, I’ll go to jail,” Rami Abu Abdu, a father of eight, told Al Jazeera. “My children are dependent on my income. If the president doesn’t retract the decision, we will end up in jail because we can’t pay our debts,” he said, referring to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Other protesters chanted: “Leave! Leave! Oh, Hamdallah!, Leave! Leave! Oh, Bishara!” The Ramallah-based PA government says it was forced to impose pay cuts on its civil servants in the besieged Gaza Strip because of Israel’s blockade and a drop in foreign aid. Its employees in the occupied West Bank faced no cuts. PA employees at Saturday’s rally called on Abbas to form a unity government and treat residents in Gaza as a priority. Tashon al-Astal told Bethlehem-based Ma‘an News Agency that the slashing salaries would worsen Gaza’s already strangled economy. “This is another siege added to the one already imposed by the Israeli occupation,” he said….
Hamas authorities raid PLO department amid ongoing turmoil in Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 9 Apr — Gaza security forces of the Hamas-run Ministry of Interior raided the office for the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Department for Refugee Affairs on Sunday, amid escalating turmoil between the ruling party of the besieged coastal enclave and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) government. A spokesperson for the department said in a statement that forces raided the office without prior notice, and demanded that staff temporarily leave the premises while a search was conducted for unknown reasons. Gaza Interior Ministry spokesman Iyad al-Buzm reacted by denying that the department had been shut down, and also denied that the department’s director Zakariya al-Agha was detained, despite the fact that the original report had not made these claims. Al-Buzm did not directly deny that the raid itself had been carried out. The raid came after the United Nations envoy for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov expressed his “deep concerns” over “growing tensions” in the besieged Gaza Strip, amid ongoing protests against a decision by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to drastically cut salaries for its employees in the poverty-stricken enclave….
Islamic Jihad holds protest in Gaza against Israel, PA
GAZA (Ma‘an) 8 Apr — The Islamic Jihad movement launched a march in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday to protest the continued Israeli siege on the coastal enclave, and the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s role in exacerbating the suffering of its Palestinian residents. Protesters condemned the PA’s decision to cut government employee salaries in the besieged territory and said the move was aimed to “drown” Gaza in a crisis. Head of the group’s media office Jihad Dawood Shihab said that Gaza, like many other parts of the Palestinian territory,” has faced extreme difficulties owing to the Israeli siege, yet have remained determined despite Israel’s “aggressions.” Shihab said that “the truth is being revealed” and that the plans established in the Oslo peace agreements in the 1990s were created to “force the Palestinian people to kneel and abandon their rights,” and called upon the Palestinian people to maintain their determination and remain unified. He went on to demand the cancellation of the Oslo agreements, and underscored that this “phase” of Palestinian politics would end, despite challenges caused by the PA’s insistence on attaching the Palestinian cause to the Oslo accords.
Spy or die
GAZA STRIP (EI) 5 Apr by Hamza Abu Eltarabesh — When you walk through the front door, the first thing you see is a large photograph of a smiling teenager. It’s homely and warm, the kind of thing you would see in a happy house. But this is not a happy house. The house belongs to the lawyer Hasan Shubeir, 54, and the photograph is of his son Ahmad, who died of heart failure in January at the age of 17. But that, his father says, only tells a fraction of the story. Ahmad may have had a heart condition, but he was really the victim of Israeli blackmail. Stories like that of Ahmad Shubeir are not unusual in Gaza. Shut off from the rest of the world and with a health infrastructure in tatters, Palestinians in Gaza with specialized or acute medical needs have to rely on outside health care. That mostly means traveling to Israel or the West Bank and requires permission from the Israeli military, which has operated a highly restrictive permit regime since 2003. Consequently, say human rights activists and families, patients and their relatives are vulnerable to blackmail and pressure to spy for Israel. This is not a new phenomenon, and the group Physicians for Human Rights-Israel has been keeping tabs on such coercion, especially as it relates to Gaza. According to their latest report, Palestinian medical patients face a trend of “continued interrogation,” exacerbated by a “disconcerting rise” in the number of medical permit applications rejected in 2016.
Old enough to collaborate It is what happened to Ahmad, his father told The Electronic Intifada. Ahmad was born with a congenital heart defect that needed regular treatment in Israel. He went there some 40 times during his short life, according to his family. December 2015, says the family, marked the first attempt by officers of the Israeli Security Agency – Israel’s domestic intelligence agency also known as Shabak or Shin Bet – to pressure the child and his mother, Amal, 40, who was accompanying him to the Erez checkpoint, to spy for Israel. Evidently, the family speculates, he had come of age and was seen as a potential collaborator. Throughout 2016, even as his condition worsened, the pressure grew. Permits to enter Israel, which the child had always been able to obtain, suddenly stopped being issued….
How Palestinian female inmates are getting a second chance
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 9 Apr by Rasha Abou Jalal — The General Directorate for Correction and Rehabilitation Centers, affiliated with the Ministry of Interior and National Security, which is responsible for managing civil prisons, inaugurated the “Glimmer of Hope” exhibition on March 26. For two consecutive days, handmade products made by about 40 female inmates serving sentences for various crimes in prisons in Gaza were displayed and sold. The exhibition caught the attention of many citizens and the media, and included three different categories: handicrafts and embroidered outfits; furniture inlaid with Palestinian rural embroidery and artistic items; and food such as pastries and desserts. Amal Noufal, the head of the Center for Correction and Rehabilitation of Women in Gaza, told Al-Monitor, “The exhibition aims to achieve several goals, the most prominent of which is empowering and financially supporting inmates to enable them to launch their own projects after they have served their sentences, as well as improve the social image of inmates.” … According to the directorate, it deals with the inmates as victims of the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007, and who have suffered from the economic deterioration, unemployment and poverty, which in turn pushed those inmates to commit their crimes … According to Noufal, only 5% of female prisoners released after serving their sentences go back to crimes punishable under the law, such as theft or dealing drugs, while 95% of released inmates never commit a crime again …
Brig. Gen. Fouad Abou Boutihan, the head of the General Directorate for Correction and Rehabilitation Centers, told Al-Monitor, “The logic behind organizing such exhibitions is to lower the crime rate in the Gaza Strip and to give female prisoners the opportunity to avoid further wrongdoings in their lives.” He said, “Organizing the exhibition is considered one part in a series of programs that the directorate organizes to rehabilitate inmates — males or females alike. We run ethical, religious, cultural, entertainment and educational programs.” The most prominent activities of these programs are the participation of male inmates in agricultural work, the organization of entertaining evenings, allowing inmates to communicate with their families through the internet and giving nonrefundable grants to very poor inmates….
Public prosecutor: 26 death sentences to be carried out in Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 9 Apr — Some 26 death penalties will be carried out next year in the Gaza Strip, a public prosecutor in the besieged Palestinian enclave said in a statement on Sunday. Public prosecutor Ismail Jabir said that 26 execution orders issued against Palestinians convicted of collaborating with Israel or other criminal charges would be carried out next year, although the exact time frame remained unclear. Jabir added that the executions of three alleged collaborators on Thursday were carried out after taking all legal recourse, and based on “popular consensus” and agreement among “all forces” under his direct supervision. Under Palestinian law, willful, premeditated murder and treason as well as collaboration with the enemy — usually Israel — are punishable by death. However, all death sentences must be ratified by the Palestinian Authority (PA) president before they can be carried out. Despite this, the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza has carried out executions periodically without receiving approval from PA President Mahmoud Abbas since 2010 [after Abbas’ term ran out], with an uptick in executions in the past year. Jabir claimed that the public prosecution in Gaza had contacted Abbas and PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah before carrying out Thursday’s executions, but that it had received no response, leading to what he called a “constitutional gap,” which led the public prosecution to “exceptionally” carry out the death penalties.
Gaza astronomy club looks beyond siege to the stars
albawaba.com 9 Apr — Despite a ban on the import of telescopes imposed by the Israeli occupation, a group of Gazans has come together to form an astronomy club, Quds Net news reports [Arabic]. Founded by Dr. Suleiman Barakah in 2012, the club aims to spread the culture of astronomy in the besieged enclave. One of its members, Maysoon Abu Hameed, told Quds Net that she was just a housewife, without a university education, but that the club had opened her horizons. “Astronomy is my hobby and passion. Everyone has a hobby that they love to practise and to think outside of the box. It’s a human instinct.” Another member said that like everything in Gaza, the club faced problems because of the Israeli occupation, with telescopes impossible to import, and permits for budding astronomers to leave the Strip hard to come by. “The most difficult obstacles facing us in Palestine generally and Gaza in particular are the lack of resources that can really help us to build bridges for Palestinian astronomy at national and international levels,” Dr Subuh al-Qaid told Quds Net … The astronomy group in Gaza stays in touch with the outside world through an Arabic-language Facebook page that has nearly 100,000 followers. Follow them for a look at the stars through the lens of one of the most difficult places on earth.
Student sheds light on Gaza
SEDONA (Arizona, U.S.) Red Rock News 7 Apr by Steph Berens — Dina Aita is only 16 years old, but has probably seen more than any of her peers. She lives in Gaza, but has spent the past school year on exchange at Sedona Red Rock High School. In an interview with the Sedona Red Rock News, she discussed her time in the United States and her life back home … Q: What would you like people here to know about the political situation in Gaza? A: I would really like to send the message that people in Gaza are living life in very bad conditions. We want to live like all the other people in the world. We have an occupation and we don’t have chances to travel. We have unemployment and graduates who study and make the most effort at school and university, but they don’t find chances to have a job because of the Israeli occupation. Gaza is becoming crowded and more and more people are there, but we live in a very little place. We have wars every two or three years, and a lot of people die every day. I lost three brothers two years ago. I would like people to know how bad we are living and how the Israeli occupation is oppressing us. They’re not giving us our rights, they’re taking most of the sea from us, they’re not letting us fish. They don’t allow us to import stuff that we want, they have limits on that. And the [biggest issue] is that they don’t allow us to travel. If you ask somebody in Gaza, “What is your dream?” he will be like “I want to travel, I want to get out of Gaza.” This was the basic reason for me to come here. So we live in prison in Gaza … Some people were helping us, other countries were giving us money to build houses. But they can’t anymore because the Israelis are destroying more and more and we can’t fix it. It’s like you fix a house, and after three years the war comes and they destroy it again. We lost our house in the war and now we’re renting an apartment. My dad was saving money for college for me and my brothers, and now he needs all the money for the house….
Under the cover of darkness with the IDF’s combat intelligence unit
[with video ‘A Look inside the IDF’s Beduin Tracking Unit] JPost 9 Apr by Anna Ahronheim — Under cover of darkness, soldiers from the IDF’s Combat Intelligence Corps Unit 414 watch two armed men in an observation post in the Gaza Strip. “Just as we can see them, they can see us. And so we try our best to camouflage. The Combat Intelligence Corps is the youngest land force of the IDF, responsible for intelligence collection in the field and the transfer of that information to the other field units, Benafshi told the Post. His Nesher Battalion watches the Strip and documents all enemy positions … As the call to prayer sounds from the nearby town less than a kilometer away, Lt. Chervin tells the Post that he and the other soldiers have been watching the Strip for the past two days. “We have been here for a specific amount of time so that we can see any significant changes, any suspicious movement,” he explains …
But it’s not only the soldiers of the Combat Intelligence Corps who are watching the enemy on the border. The Beduin troops who patrol Israel’s borders and act as the first line of defense are highly respected for their tracking and navigational skills. “Every tracker knows everything in his territory,” Maj. Tamir Sawad told the Post over tea at his base in southern Israel, a few kilometers from the Gaza border. He adds that because he knows every inch of the land, he was able to spot the two IEDs that had been placed on the border fence last month. Despite the continuing technological advancements being introduced to the army, “there is no replacement for the tracker,” Sawad said. “The Beduin tracker can tell you if someone who crosses the fence from Gaza into Israel is a terrorist armed with weapons, a criminal, or simply an unarmed civilian. The Beduin tracker can tell you if the person is a man or a woman. Where they crossed and when they crossed. That is something technology can’t do …. Sawad said there are regular infiltrations from Gaza due to the dire economic situation in the Strip, adding that many Gazans are trying to escape the Hamas-run enclave “and none wants to go back.”
Palestinian refugees – Lebanon
Clashes continue for 3rd consecutive day in Lebanon’s Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp
LEBANON (Ma‘an) 9 Apr — Armed clashes in Lebanon’s Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp continued to rage on as of Sunday morning, having left at least five dead and dozens more injured since Friday. Lebanese news sites reported that after a new joint Palestinian force deployed in the camp, Islamist militants led by Bilal Badr — who has alleged links to al-Qaeda and lives in the camp’s al-Tira neighborhood — attacked members of the new security force with live fire and shelling, sparking clashes. Badr and his followers are among non-Palestinian militants who reside in the Palestinian refugee camp, which also include Lebanese fugitives wanted by Lebanese security forces, that PLO factions have long sought to expel from the camp. As of Saturday morning, one member of the joint Palestinian forces and a member of the Fatah were declared dead, according to Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA). Clashes caused a major fire Saturday night, resulting in the injury of at least one person.
The joint Palestinian force advanced further into al-Tira on Sunday morning, with NNA reporting as of Sunday afternoon that five had been killed and 37 other injured. It remained unclear whether the five were in addition to the two individuals declared dead Saturday, or if five men had been killed in total during the three-day period. Three missiles were fired from inside Ain al-Hilweh, with one landing at Saida governmental hospital, another in the Taamir area, and one in Siroub area, without causing injuries. A number of houses also caught fire, NNA reported Sunday morning. Popular committees in camp called for a truce and demanded that civilians be evacuated, as Palestinians remained besieged inside their houses amid the violence.
The Fatah movement in Lebanon said in a statement that all Palestinian factions in the camp have faced “suspicious plans” by those seeking to weaken security in the camp, spread conflict and disorder, and threaten national unity. The statement called for all factions to unite in order to put an end to the violence and ongoing daily struggles in the camp, “which only benefit the Israeli occupation.” Fatah further noted that “killing innocent people and terrorizing civilians will negatively affect the relationship between the camp and Lebanon.” The statement also warned that there was “no way out” for Bilal Badr, and called on him to turn himself into Lebanese security and allow the Palestinian joint forces to take control and restore security in the camp, as part of a security plan agreed upon by the Lebanese army and Palestinian factions. During a meeting between Palestinian factions to broker a ceasefire after deadly clashes erupted in February, a plan to re-form a joint Palestinian security force among the factions was also established….
US judge throws out key claim against academic boycott of Israel
EI 5 Apr by Charlotte Silver — Israel and its surrogates suffered a significant defeat last week, when a federal court in Washington, DC, threw out a key claim in a lawsuit against the American Studies Association for its resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions. The lawsuit, filed by current and former members of the ASA last year, argued that the 2013 resolution was a breach of contract because it did not fall within the scope of the group’s mission. The complaint appeared to be a test of a new lawfare tactic that accuses an entity of acting beyond its chartered purpose – a claim that it is acting ultra vires, in legal language. Anti-Palestinian activists hoped the strategy could be used to thwart other academic groups adopting boycott resolutions. But US District Judge Rudolph Contreras dismissed the claim on 31 March, writing that the boycott resolution was enacted “in furtherance of the ASA’s purpose of advancing education and the promotion of the study of American culture.” “The boycott resolution was aimed both at encouraging academic freedom for Palestinians and strengthening relations between American institutions and Palestinians,” the judge wrote. “Thus, it was not contrary to the ASA’s express purposes.”….
University of Exeter must not normalize Israeli apartheid
Palestine Chronicle 5 Apr by Alex Clark — Exeter is a strange battlefield for a heated contest over the right to speak openly about the Israeli occupation of Palestine. A sleepy city tucked away in the southwest corner of the United Kingdom, most of the 22,000 students at the well-respected University seem more interested in studying and socializing, than becoming involved in political activism. Surface appearances can be very misleading, however. For the past two months, Palestinian students and their allies, including the University’s Friends of Palestine society, have found themselves the targets of a series of attacks on their right to speak out in support of Palestine. These attacks are not unique to the University of Exeter, but instead tell a story of a widespread clampdown, driven by the British Government and pro-Israel lobbying groups, in an effort to ban student-led campaigns in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and Palestinian rights. Early in the year, Jo Johnson, the Minister for Universities and Science, wrote to British universities, asking them to adopt a definition of antisemitism which conflates criticism of Israel with antisemitism. This year’s Israeli Apartheid Week, which took place on British university campuses at the end of February and the beginning of March, was the first major test of these directives … Students at several universities in the UK, including the University of Central Lancashire, and University College London, found the events they had scheduled for Israeli Apartheid Week cancelled by university management without warning … At the same time, a virulent campaign was made by a pro-Israel lobby group and the right-wing press in Britain against a Palestinian student at Exeter, Malaka Shwaikh….
Jerusalem mayor cancels on eve of California university talk
EI 7 Apr by Charlotte Silver — Nir Barkat, the Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, has canceled a talk he was scheduled to give at San Francisco State University on Thursday, accusing the school administration of not sufficiently publicizing the event. SFSU president Leslie Wong had personally invited Barkat to return to the campus after the mayor’s speech was disrupted by student protesters a year ago. Barkat initially accepted the invitation just before he traveled to the United States for the annual AIPAC lobby group conference held in Washington, DC, last week. But Barkat made an abrupt about-face on the eve of the event. “By failing to provide the necessary public forum and properly publicize my lecture, the university has contributed to the continuing marginalization and demonization of the Jewish state,” Barkat said on Wednesday. “If I were a representative of any other country, no institution of higher learning would have allowed my speech to be drowned out by protesters inciting violence and then bring me back to campus in a limited, secluded way.” … Last April, a coalition of SFSU student groups demonstrated against Barkat’s talk in protest of Israel’s policies violating Palestinian rights in occupied East Jerusalem. The protesters interrupted the talk, delaying it by about 15 minutes. But the mayor resumed speaking to the small audience while the protesters continued to chant for about an hour … The findings of the school investigation into the incident, published in August last year, were largely in favor of the students who protested the event. The General Union of Palestine Students, which took part in the protest, said the report “vindicates” the protesters as it concludes they had not targeted the event because of any bias, as some students alleged, but because of Barkat’s policies….
Israel, naked under the microscope in Cork
Mondoweiss 7 Apr by Tom Suarez — “Phew! If you receive this…” it means the Conference is actually happening — so began the letter that welcomed us at the three-day International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Exceptionalism and Responsibility conference in Cork, Ireland, so tenuous and troubled was its genesis. In what Professor Oren Ben-Dor described as a “spectacular failure of the protection of basic rights,” pro-Israeli censors had successfully blocked the conference twice in the UK, and nearly sabotaged it in Cork. The saboteurs did nonetheless succeed in forcing the conference out of its original venue, the University, on Friday and Saturday, and in costing it more money. City Hall ultimately allowed the organizers to rent a conference hall for those two days. The Conference’s legacy is but part of a broad campaign of pro-Israeli harassment and intimidation in which the British government itself is shamefully complicit. Speakers all the way from internationally esteemed scholars like Richard Falk, to non-academics such as me, continue to have book talks and other events pulled in deference to that foreign pariah state, and slandered with scant means of redress. But, finally, the saboteurs failed: last weekend, the beautiful city of Cork hosted this academic conference that examined the very nature of Israel — its “legitimacy, exceptionalism, and responsibility” — and the sky did not fall. To my mind, the conference achieved two towering precedents. One, Israel’s exceptionalism — and, yes, its very legitimacy — are no longer above discussion. And two, “the occupation” as the operative mantra of the “conflict” is finally retired from the job it was never fit to hold….
Support for Palestine surges in Australia — poll
EI 7 Apr by Ali Abunimah — A new poll finds that 55 percent of Australians see boycotting Israeli goods and services as a reasonable way to apply pressure in support of Palestinians rights. That is up from just 31 percent who expressed support for the boycott of Israel in 2014. In the same period, the number who said they would not support a boycott of Israel fell from 47 percent to just 25 percent. One in five remains undecided. Overall, 34 percent of Australians said they sympathize more with the Palestinians than with Israel, an increase from the 27 percent who held that view in 2014. Fewer Australians (26 percent) said they sympathize more with Israelis than with Palestinians. The poll was conducted by Roy Morgan Research, Australia’s oldest polling firm, on behalf of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network and a coalition of groups supporting Palestinian rights. Morgan has conducted regular polls on Australian attitudes on Palestine since 2009. By a large margin, Australians oppose Israel’s construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian land: 61 percent are against the settlements, while 17 percent support them … A general measure of sympathy for the Palestinian cause is the number of Australians who say their country should recognize Palestine as a state. That is now up to 73 percent, from 62 percent in 2011, according to the survey. Just eight percent oppose such recognition….
California community college first to pass Israel divestment resolution
EI 7 Apr by Nora Barrows-Friedman — A community college in Cupertino, California, has become the first educational institution of its kind in the US to support a resolution in favor of divestment from companies that profit from Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. The resolution, which the student senate passed on 15 March, urges the De Anza College’s board of trustees to pull the college’s investments from three US-based corporations that enable Israel’s rights violations – Hewlett-Packard, Motorola Solutions and Caterpillar – as well as from G4S, the largest private security firm in the world. G4S has provided equipment and services to Israeli military checkpoints and inside prisons where Palestinians have been tortured. Due to mounting international boycott pressure, G4S announced last December that it was exiting most of its businesses with Israel, but remains co-owner of a police training center. The resolution also calls on the community college to implement a socially responsible investment policy….
Princess Nokia cancels show at Israeli music festival amid BDS pressure
IMEMC/Agencies 6 Apr — On March 26, the Israeli Kalamazoo Festival announced that Destiny Frasqueri, also known as Princess Nokia, canceled her upcoming performance at the Haoman 17, a nightclub in Tel Aviv. “Under extreme pressure from [the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement], Destiny decided to cancel her arrival in Israel. In recent weeks we have concentrated our efforts on trying to change her mind… but without much success,” a statement by the festival reads. Festival officials also revealed that the entire event was canceled consequently and all tickets would be refunded. At least eight other musicians were scheduled to perform alongside Frasqueri at Kalamazoo. Boycott from Within, a group of Israeli citizens who advocate for the Palestinian-led BDS movement, wrote to Frasqueri on Facebook in March: “You are an artist dedicated to uplifting and empowering women, people of color, LGBTQ persons, and your work speaks volumes to the effort to dismantle white supremacy and misogyny. Please remember that among those are also Palestinians dying under Israeli apartheid, calling [on] you to stand in solidarity with them and boycott Israel. Please cancel your show.”
Palestinian poet Ahmad Dahbour dies at 71
IMEMC/Agencies 8 Apr — Well known Palestinian poet Ahmad Dahbour passed away on Saturday, at a Ramallah hospital, following deterioration in his health, said the Ministry of Culture in a eulogy statement, according to WAFA. He was 71. Dahbour was born in Haifa, in 1946, and had lived in Beirut and Syria after the 1948 dispersion of the Palestinian people, following the creation of Israel on Palestinian land. He published a number of poetry books during his life, most published in Beirut, and his poetry was used as nationalist songs by many groups. President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian government have expressed their sorrow for the death of Dahbour and sent condolences to his family. Coffee, by Ahmad Dahbour (Translated by Hassan Hilmy)….
Palestinian storyteller brings fresh vision to ancient tradition
NABLUS, West Bank (Al-Monitor) 9 Apr by Ahmed el-Komi — Stories and folktales are some of the oldest narrative forms in Arabic literature. There is no accurate history of their origin, but according to history studies this type of narration emerged in prehistoric times, when men communicated through signs and gestures, before acquiring a language. Although storytelling is normally reserved for the elderly, Hamza Aqrabawi from the West Bank city of Nablus has turned his hobby into a full-time occupation. Storytelling is a traditional practice that involves a person telling folktales in homes, shops, restaurants and in the streets. The storyteller impersonates his characters in the stories and keeps his audience hooked on knowing how the story unfolds. Aqrabawi memorizes popular heritage stories, proverbs, jokes and folktales related to daily life in the Palestinian territories. He also works as a tour guide in Palestinian cities and villages, taking people on field trips that aim at “connecting the story to its place of occurrence.” In 2006, Aqrabawi started documenting unwritten history through interviews with the elderly in his hometown of Aqraba in the south of Nablus and in the surrounding areas. Aqrabawi told Al-Monitor, “I embarked on this path despite society’s ignorance of what I was doing. My friends were surprised and thought it was a waste of time. But, thank God, I overcame this phase. I am working on serving Palestinian heritage.”….
Watch: Palm Sunday celebrated in Jerusalem
Reuters 9 Apr — Several hundred Christian worshippers attended a Palm Sunday procession in Jerusalem, on the day that marked the start of Holy Week, which ends on Easter Sunday. The faithful in Jerusalem waved palm fronds and branches commemorating the day the Bible says Jesus rode into Jerusalem to the cheers of the crowds the week before Christians believe he rose from the dead. Arab Israeli Christians, worshipers, pilgrims and tourists, accompanied by clergymen, marched down the Mount of Olives toward the old city of Jerusalem while holding palm branches and chanting hymns. [But were any West Bank Christians permitted to participate, given the lockdown of the West Bank for Passover?]
Majority of locales will not participate in PA municipal elections
JPost 9 Apr by Adam Rasgon — Municipal elections will not take place in the majority of the West Bank’s 391 locales on election day, a senior Palestinian official said on Sunday. The upcoming municipal elections, which were delayed several months amid disputes between Hamas and Fatah, are slated to take place in the West Bank only on May 13. “Most municipalities either nominated a single list or no list at all,” Palestinian Authority Deputy Local Governance Minister Muhammad Hassan Jabarin told The Jerusalem Post. “So elections will not take place in the majority of our municipalities on election day.” The PA Central Elections Commission announced on Saturday evening that 179 locales submitted one list, 56 locales turned in no list at all, and four locales handed over lists which were disqualified. “The uncontested lists automatically won,” Jabarin said. As for the 60 other locales, which have not nominated qualifying lists, Jabarin said that “completion elections” would be held a month after election day, without clarifying what would happen if the said locales fail to put forward qualifying lists again. In total, 152 locales are slated to hold elections on election day, according to the CEC. Fatah, the dominant political party in the West Bank, is expected to perform well in the elections as it is the only major political party participating. Hamas announced that it would boycott the elections in February, saying they should not be held until the Fatah-Hamas divide is mended….
Palestinian leadership denounces deadly attacks on Coptic churches in Egypt
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 9 Apr — Palestinian leadership denounced bomb attacks that targeted two Coptic churches in Egypt on Sunday, which left at least 46 killed and more than 100 injured amid Palm Sunday celebrations. Seventeen people were killed in an explosion outside Saint Mark’s Cathedral in the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria, which was reportedly carried out by a suicide bomber. Head of Egypt’s Coptic Church Pope Tawadros II had been attending mass inside, though he was left unharmed, according to the Egyptian state media. An earlier blast at the Saint George Church in the city of Tanta, located between Alexandria and Cairo, left 29 dead. The so-called Islamic State reportedly claimed responsibility for both attacks, via its Amaq press agency.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s adviser for religious affairs Mahmoud al-Habbash denounced the attacks, which he described as a “criminal act incompatible with the bases of our true religion (Islam).” Al-Habbash said the attacks sought to stoke unrest and sectarianism between Muslims and Christians in Arab communities, which he said have coexisted in brotherhood throughout the ages …
The Hamas movement also condemned the bombings, described the attacks as “a crime.” Spokesman Fawzi Barhum said that “Hamas wishes safety, security, stability, and prosperity for Egypt and its people.”….
Sit-in held at Beit Jala hospital against alleged medical negligence, corruption
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Apr — Palestinians gathered in front of the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital in the southern occupied West Bank on Saturday, calling for Palestinian Health Minister Jawad Awwad to step down over allegations of rampant medical negligence at the hospital and lack of accountability in the medical community at large. Lawyer Farid al-Atrash told Ma‘an that the sit-in was held not only in protest of medical negligence and errors at the hospital — that have had fatal consequences in a number of instances — but also against corruption in the medical community. “We are here to raise our voices to put an end to it,” he said. One protester, Jabra Shomali, took a more measured position, saying that the sit-in was organized “to protect the hospital” from itself, and not to attack it. George Shatara said that his 11-year-old son Fadi died earlier this week in the hospital, which he said believed came as a result of medical negligence that could have been avoided. The grieving father demanded that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas intervene and follow-up with the health minister and the healthcare conditions in Bethlehem. “Healthcare is a red line that should not be crossed,” he said. The Palestinian Ministry of Health announced on Thursday that they were undertaking measures to improve the quality of work and services provided at the Beit Jala hospital, including hiring new staff and a rehabilitation plan of several sections of the hospital. However, back in October 2016, the ministry had already ordered a series of personnel changes at the hospital, following the death of two hospital patients and accusations of malpractice at the time….
Photo: Historic West Bank mosque’s female guardian
HEBRON, West Bank — Woman guard of Ibrahimi Mosque, Emine al-Qadi, 51 years old, is seen at Ibrahimi Mosque, in which tombs of Abraham, Jacob and Isaac are located, in Hebron, West Bank on April 2, 2017. Emine al-Qadi has been working as a guard at Ibrahimi Mosque for 22 years and she said that she is very happy and honoured to work at Ibrahimi Mosque. ( Issam Rimawi – Anadolu Agency )
‘Speed Sisters’ documentary helps drive home life in the West Bank
espnW 7 Apr by Tony Fabrizio — Amber Fares grew up in Alberta, Canada, proud of her Lebanese heritage, but never feeling a need to deeply explore it until after 9/11. Then, everything changed. “In a blink of an eye, you went from being a citizen to a suspect [because of] an issue that I really didn’t know much about,” Fares says. “There was a particular narrative coming out of the Middle East, and there was nothing in it that reflected the experience I had growing up in an Arab household and community.” Fares gave up the marketing career she started after earning an MBA from the University of Calgary to become a filmmaker. She taught herself (basically) how to make social documentaries and moved to Lebanon, and then to Palestine, with the idea that she could capture and deliver a different narrative. Her first feature-length piece is the compelling and surprising “Speed Sisters,” the story of five intrepid Arab women who bond in Israeli military-occupied Palestine to form the Middle East’s first all-female race car team. The film debuted in 2015 and has played in some 100 film festivals in more than 30 countries, but it was released in the U.S. only this year. “Speed Sisters,” along with its stirring soundtrack featuring Middle Eastern artists from around the world, recently was made available through iTunes, Amazon and on DVD. “Speed Sisters” has won awards, including the Irish Film Institute Doc Fest Audience Award for Best Feature and the Sportel Awards (Monaco) Peace and Sport documentary prize … The volatility of the region was a constant challenge for the women, as well as the filmmakers. “Things can get violent pretty quickly,” producer Avi Goldstein says. “There’s a scene where there are rubber bullets being shot, and another scene where a tear gas can canister does some damage, and that’s just a fact of life when there is military all around controlling the civilian population….
Opinion: Israeli citizenship doesn’t mean you’re Israeli / Carolina Landsmann
Haaretz 9 Apr — Here, if you’re not Jewish you don’t belong and aren’t really entitled to anything, even if you are a citizen — An Israeli girl, born in Israel to an Israeli father, will be deported with her mother, an Ethiopian citizen, following the mother’s divorce from the father before she received residency status in Israel. Is the state allowed to deport a minor Israeli citizen who has committed no crime? Absolutely. So ruled Judge David Mintz, when he denied the appeal to revoke a decision to deport the mother and child (Ilan Lior, Haaretz, April 4). And the public? It doesn’t care. It’s hard to think of a society whose civil awareness is more degenerate than Israel’s. The story is complicated, they’ll say – as if not all stories are. An examination of its elements may explain the apathy. It’s not enough to have Israeli citizenship to really belong to the State of Israel or, heaven forbid, to expect civil rights from Israel. Here, if you’re not Jewish, you don’t belong and aren’t really entitled to anything, even if you’re a citizen. If you’re Jewish, you already belong and are entitled to everything, even if you’re not a citizen. Even among Jews there’s a (denied) hierarchy of belonging and entitlement. The fact that the child’s mother isn’t Jewish and her father is a Jew of Ethiopian origin doomed her to a fragile civil status. From the moment her father gave her up, the state no longer felt obligated to her.…
Palestinian archbishop to boycott DC conference in protest of American policies
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 Apr — Sabastiya Archbishop Atallah Hanna, of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, said he would boycott an upcoming conference in the United States aiming to discuss the situation of Christians in the Middle East, over what he called “misguided” American policies in the region. Hanna, the only Orthodox Palestinian archbishop, who is renowned for his high profile political activism against the Israeli occupation, said in a statement Saturday that he and a number of Christian leaders from the region were invited to the conference, scheduled to be held in mid-May. “We won’t partake in this conference and we urge all Christian leaders in the Arab world who have been invited to boycott this suspicious conference,” Hanna said, without specifying what the conference was called. The archbishop could not confirm to Ma‘an whether or not it was the same event held annually in Washington DC by the non profit “In Defense of Christians.” The Palestinian archbishop explained that he called for the boycott in protest of the US’s “misguided” policies in the Middle East, particularly those related to the question of Palestine….
I will continue my struggle / Rasmea Odeh
EI 5 Apr — I was an infant during the Nakba, the 1948 catastrophe in Palestine. Growing up I heard many stories of pain and bitterness from my family, who were forced, along with 750,000 other Palestinians, to leave the homes, lands, lives and memories they had built for generations. Now I face a similar Nakba, forced to leave the country and the life that I built for myself over 23 years in the US – the relationships, the memories and all the people I know and love, especially the women of Chicago’s Arab community. But I will continue my struggle for justice for my people wherever I land. I will continue the struggle for the right of return, for self-determination and for the establishment of a democratic state on the entirety of the historic land of Palestine. When I immigrated to this country and found myself in Chicago, after many years of working on women’s rights and other legal advocacy issues in the Arab world, I found psychological tranquility and stability amongst family and new friends, far away from any kind of fear or threats. I determined that this would be my second home, where I would build a life amongst a Palestinian community that I love and respect so dearly. I have been a community organizer for the past 13 years with the Arab Women’s Committee, a project of the Arab American Action Network. I have spent the best years of my life with these Arab immigrant and refugee women. We protect each other, and struggle for justice together through our organizing work. They are all helping me to live a generous and simple life, and forget a lot of my personal pain … I am going to have to leave the life I have built for more than a decade at some point in the next few months. I am going to have to leave Chicago and all the beautiful people who have welcomed me so warmly to this country and this city. But I will still be organizing wherever I end up. And I’ll be watching developments in the US very closely, because besides Palestine, this is the main front of the battle for the liberation of my homeland. And liberation we will win….