Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Opinion: Over Passover, settlers attacked three grandmothers. I was one of them / Carol Cook
Haaretz 20 Apr — We, three women in our 60s and 70s, wanted to see the settlement reality for ourselves. We got a smaller but bitter taste of the violence and hatred Palestinians in the area experience as routine — During Passover, I traveled to the West Bank with two other women, all of us members of Machsom Watch, an Israeli human rights group. Our goal was to visit two Palestinian villages: in one, Kafr a-Dik, settlers had recently cut down some olive trees; in the other, Urif, residents had tried to work in their olive groves, but, even though they had arranged this with the army, settlers stopped them from doing so. We wanted to see with out own eyes, rather than reading about, the places where all this had happened. Both villages are less than 10 kilometers east of the Green Line, about 30 miles from either Tel Aviv or Jerusalem … So we proceded to Urif, a few kilometers northeast. There we met Adel, a young field worker for B’tselem, a human rights organization that works in partnership with Machsom Watch for these tours, and drove to the outskirts of the village, whose lands border the infamously hardline settlement of Yitzhar. Besides Adel, we were three women in our 60s and 70s. Together we walked up a gentle slope covered with low shrubs and wildflowers to the edge of a ridge overlooking an olive grove below. On the opposite ridge stood the homes of Yitzhar, whose radical yeshiva is a beneficiary of the Kushner family’s charitable donations. We stood there for about 10 minutes, while Adel told us what had happened in the grove about a week before, when Palestinian farmers arrived there by prior arrangement with the IDF. Settlers had come down and threatened them, a clash ensued, the army fired tear gas and the farmers were forced to leave. We were ready to go back to the car when we saw several figures emerge from the bushes and rocks on the hill opposite – first one, then two, then three people, apparently young men or older teens. As we watched, some put on masks and started coming down the hill toward us. Knowing Yitzhar’s reputation as one of the most extreme West Bank settlements, with a long history of violent harassment of their Palestinian neighbors, as well as numerous incidents of assaults on the Israeli army and police, I was definitely not interested in any encounter with them. I had come to learn and observe, not to engage in deliberate heroics. Two of us started walking quickly toward the car, while the third, more defiant, stood her ground and watched as they made their way down the hill. As they came closer, I could see that the leader, who seemed older than the others, had a club or heavy stick in his hand. Then, suddenly, they started throwing stones at us. All three of us women now ran to the car.. But Adel picked up a stone, threw it back at them, and made a phone call. By the time we reached the car, several men he had apparently summoned by phone from the Palestinian village – including an older man with a white beard, two younger men and a couple of kids – were arriving at the hilltop. This ended the incident; the settlers, seeing reinforcements, and with no soldiers around to intervene, apparently decided it would be best to withdraw. They retreated up the hill, and we quickly got in the car and drove home.
Palestinian killed by Israeli forces after hitting 1 with his car at settlement bus stop
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — A Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli forces at a junction near the illegal Israeli settlement of Gush Etzion in the southern occupied West Bank on Wednesday afternoon. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that a Palestinian vehicle hit a bus stop at the junction, injuring an Israeli civilian, adding that Israeli forces in the area shot at the driver, who they described as an “assailant.” However, photographs of the scene published by Israeli media showed that the Palestinian vehicle had seemingly collided with the back of a bus. The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed later in the afternoon that the Palestinian succumbed to wounds sustained when he was shot by soldiers at the scene, identifying him as Suhaib Moussa Mashour Mashahra, 21, from the Jerusalem-district village of al-Sawahira. Official Palestinian news agency Wafa quoted Palestinian Red Crescent emergency services head Muhammad Awwad as saying that Israeli forces prevented Palestinian medics from reaching Mashahra and treating him, while the army spokesperson told Ma‘an that the Palestinian had been treated by army medics on the scene and evacuated to an unspecified hospital. Israeli emergency medical service Magen David Adom said in a statement that it treated a 60-year-old Israeli who suffered from a light-to-moderate head injury at a junction on Route 60 at around 4 p.m. According to Ma’an documentation, Mashahra is the 19th Palestinian to have been killed by Israelis since the beginning of the year, 12 of whom were 25 years old or younger.
Israeli forces raid home of slain Palestinian, summon family members for interrogation
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — Israeli forces raided the home of slain Palestinian Suhaib Mashahra in the Jerusalem-area village of Sheikh Sa‘ad on Wednesday night, after the 21-year-old was shot dead by Israeli forces when he hit an Israeli bus with his car at a junction near Israel’s illegal Gush Etzion settlement bloc. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the village, before entering and searching Mashahra’s home. Israeli forces then summoned Mashahra’s mother and his brothers Nimr and Omar for interrogation with Israeli intelligence, according to the family.
Teenage Palestinian girl injured after being hit by Israeli settler car
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — A 17-year-old Palestinian girl was injured Thursday after being deliberately hit by an Israeli settler car in the town of Tuqu‘, southeast of Bethlehem city in the southern occupied West Bank. Tuqu‘ municipality head Hatem Sabah told Ma‘an that an Israeli settler hit 17-year-old Kawthar Muhammad Shawriya with their car while she was walking on a sidewalk in the town, which is located adjacent to the illegal Israeli settlement of Tekoa. Palestinian drivers who witnessed the attack chased down the Israeli settler, forcing him to stop and pull over his car until Israeli police arrived at the scene, according to Sabah. He added that Israeli police opened an investigation into the incident. Shawriya was reported to be in moderate condition, as she was transferred to the nearby Beit Jala Governmental Hospital for treatment. The teenager’s family, according to Sabah, headed to the Etzion detention center to file a complaint with Israeli authorities against the settler. An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. Incidents involving Israeli settlers hitting Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory are a relatively regular occurrence, and are usually treated by Israeli security forces as accidents, even in cases when witnesses claim the car rammings were deliberate.
Israeli soldiers opened fire at mentally disabled Palestinian girl
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 21 Apr — The Israeli occupation soldiers opened fire at a disabled Palestinian young woman though she posed no threat to them, a human rights report revealed Friday. Legal adviser on Israeli violations, lawyer Naela Atiya, urged the Israeli Internal Security Minister to launch an immediate probe into a shooting attack targeting the disabled Palestinian girl Manar Mujahed, aged 30, that left her paralyzed. According to Atiyeh, Israeli border cops opened fire at mentally disabled Manar, from Occupied Jerusalem, on February 27, 2017, leaving her bleeding and crying for help as she rushed to her father to save her. “Her father, a bus driver, was parking near the [Qalandiya] military checkpoint where Manar was shot. He saw her from afar and did not recognize her at first sight,” the lawyer said. Moments later, the Israeli soldiers handcuffed the bleeding girl with iron chains at the hospital, where they found out that she was mentally disabled. Manar went back home [to Kafr ‘Aqab] in a wheelchair, after her health condition had taken a turn for the worse. She has become physically disabled and cannot stand on her feet as a result of the bullets that penetrated her thigh and hip.
Israeli forces suppress Jerusalem-area protests in support of prisoner hunger strike
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — At least one Palestinian was injured and another was detained by Israeli forces during events in the Jerusalem area in support of hunger-striking prisoners on Wednesday. Local popular committee spokesperson Hani Halabiyeh said that a march set off from the center of the village of Abu Dis in the occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem on Wednesday evening, in solidarity with some 1,500 Palestinians currently forgoing food for the fourth day in a row to denounce incarceration conditions in Israeli custody. Initially called for by Fatah-affiliated prisoners, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners from across the political spectrum have pledged their commitment to undertake the strike which began at midnight on Monday. As the march approached the illegal Israeli separation wall — which cuts off occupied East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank — near al-Quds University, Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at the protesters, Halabiyeh said. The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian youth in the face with a rubber-coated steel bullet, while at least 11 people suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation during the clashes. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that they were looking into the reports. Earlier on Wednesday, Israeli police detained at least one Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem participating in a solidarity sit-in outside of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) headquarters in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
Hundreds of Israeli settlers raid Palestinian village to perform religious rituals
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 21 Apr — Hundreds of Israeli settlers, escorted by armed Israeli forces, raided the Palestinian village of Kifl Haris in the central occupied West Bank Salfit district, where they performed religious rituals throughout the day and into Thursday evening. Kifl Haris resident Yousif Hamouda told Ma‘an that hundreds of Israeli settlers escorted by Israeli forces entered the town in groups, visiting Islamic shrines in the area, claiming that they were Jewish religious sites. According to Hamouda, Israeli settlers also set up a tent and portable toilet in the center of the village. Israeli army forces installed checkpoints at the entrance of the town around noon, preventing Palestinian traffic from passing through the town in order to “maintain a suitable atmosphere for settlers,” Hamouda said.
Israeli soldiers abduct twelve Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 19 Apr — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Wednesday at dawn, at least twelve Palestinians, including two teenagers, in various parts of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported. In Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, the soldiers abducted two teenagers, identified as Moayyad Ayesh Abu Maria, 17, and Qussai Raed Abu Hashem, 17. The soldiers also invaded and ransacked the home of Ahmad Khaled Abu Hashem, 50, causing excessive damage, and summoned him for interrogation in Etzion military base, north of Hebron. In Yatta nearby town, the soldiers also searched homes and abducted two Palestinians, identified as Mohammad Kamal Daoud and Mousa Jamal Daoud. Furthermore, the Israeli army claimed the soldiers arrested what it called “two Hamas operatives,” in Hebron city, and one Palestinian in Beit Ola town, northwest of Hebron. One of the abducted Palestinians have been identified as Mustafa Obeido. In occupied Jerusalem, the soldiers abducted one Palestinian, who remained unidentified until the time of this report, in Bir Nibala town, in addition to Tawfiq Khalil Affana, from Abu Dis town, Khalil Dandan and Maher Affana, from different parts of the city. According to a statement by the Israeli military, the soldiers located a weapon and ammunition during an invasion and search campaign in Thannaba area, in the northern West Bank governorate of Tulkarem.
PPS: ‘Israeli soldiers abduct nine Palestinians in the West Bank’
IMEMC 20 Apr — The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers abducted, overnight and during earlier hours Thursday, at least nine Palestinians in various parts of the occupied West Bank, and illegally confiscated a thousand US dollars from one home. In a press statement, the Israeli army said the soldiers arrested nine Palestinians in the West Bank, including what it alleged, “three who participated in hostilities.” The Hebron office of the PPS, in the southern part of the West Bank, said the soldiers abducted Ahmad al-‘Omari, 63, the director of a local orphanage, after storming into his home and ransacking it, in the Tarbeeqa area, in Hebron city. In Nablus, in the northern part of the West Bank, the soldiers invaded Balata town, east of Nablus, and abducted a student of the Najah National University, identified as Obada Jamal Dweikat. Furthermore, the soldiers abducted an engineer, identified as Monther Mustafa Shonnar, 26, from Nablus, after stopping him at a military roadblock west of Salfit, in the northwestern part of the West Bank. His father, Dr. Mustafa Shonnar, said the army phoned his home, informing the family that their son has been arrested, moved to the interrogation center in Petah Tikva, and that he will be under interrogation for eight days. It is worth mentioning that the army recently frequently invaded the Shonnar home, looking for Abada, and threatened to kill him if he doesn’t turn himself in to the army. The military did not explain why it detained him or the reason for seeking his arrest. Also, the soldiers invaded Nour Shams refugee camp, in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, attacked many Palestinians while interrogating them, and abducted a young man, identified as Dia Qseido. The soldiers also conducted extensive searches of homes, buildings and several areas in Thannaba, east of Tulkarem. The Qalqilia office of the PPS, in the northern part of the West Bank, [said?] the soldiers continued their night invasions and violent searches of homes and property, and abducted Saji Abu Athba, 27. Dozens of soldiers, and army vehicles, have also been deployed on the main road, and junction, between Habla town and Qalqilia. In Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank, the soldiers invaded Jaba‘ and Fahma towns, south of the city, violently searched homes and abducted Osama Ahmad Salatna and Mohammad Canaan, after interrogating them and their families….
Jenin won’t forget Israel’s massacre
EI 18 Apr by Ilan Pappe — Fifteen years ago this month the Israeli army bombarded and assaulted the Jenin refugee camp for more than 10 days. This was part of Israel’s so-called Operation Defensive Shield, during which it sent troops into the heart of six major cities in the occupied West Bank and surrounding towns and refugee camps that were ostensibly under Palestinian Authority control. In a report on the assault, the United Nations concluded that the Israeli army killed dozens of Palestinians in a camp that is just 0.4 square kilometers and hosts about 15,000 people. After the assault, a long debate ensued about the number of casualties. In the immediate havoc that reigned in the camp, the numbers were thought to be very high. Israel barred members of a UN commission of inquiry mandated by the Security Council from conducting an investigation, but a subsequent report compiled by the secretary-general concluded that at least 52 Palestinians were killed in Jenin refugee camp, Almost 500 Palestinians were killed and another 1,500 injured in the course of Israel’s assault across the West Bank from March to May of 2002. However, it was not just the numbers involved that shocked the world at the time, but the brutal nature of an Israeli assault that was unprecedented even in the harsh history of the occupation. This brutality can be best appreciated when you visit the camp. This crowded neighborhood was assaulted from the air by helicopter gunships, shelled by tanks from the hills above it and invaded by monstrous vehicles – a hybrid of a tank and bulldozer which the Israelis nicknamed Achzarit, the brutal one, that razed the houses and made the alleys into highways through which tanks could pass. The tanks revisited the camp after the operation, usually coming in the dead of night, traumatizing children for years to come with their roar…..
Prisoners / Court actions
Solitary confinement of Palestinian minors reflects plight of adults in Israeli jails
MEMO 20 Apr by Ramona Wadi — As solitary confinement for Palestinian prisoners makes headlines once again within the context of the “Freedom and Dignity” mass hunger strike, Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) released a report on Wednesday which revealed that Israeli forces in 2016 increased solitary confinement periods for Palestinian children under interrogation. Out of 161 affidavits collected by the organisation from detained Palestinian minors, 25 attested to having been held in solitary confinement for 16 days on average, while the longest period was 29 days. The detained minors were also deprived of access to a lawyer and having a family member present prior to interrogation. DCIP also found that 62.7 per cent were subjected to physical violence while 52.8 per cent were verbally threatened and intimidated. Rather than utilising solitary confinement as a practical measure for the safety of children or to enforce discipline, Israel has institutionalised the practice, justifying it through the perpetual security concerns rhetoric. Israeli forces are therefore allowed to incorporate this torture method in order to extract confessions during interrogation sessions, indicating that Palestinian children are subjected to similar tactics used against adult Palestinian detainees. According to DCIP Accountability Program Director Ayed Abu Eqtaish, “Israeli authorities apparently use isolation to create a psychologically compelling situation for the child detainee, and then vulnerability increases when access to legal counsel is denied.” Subjecting minors to similar violations experienced by adult detainees is evidence of Israel failing to uphold international standards as detailed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child….
Muhammad al-Qiq transferred back to prison after recovering from latest hunger strike
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — Imprisoned Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq — who prominently staged a months-long hunger strike in 2016 — was transferred to Ohalei Kedar prison on Wednesday after having been held in the Ramla prison hospital since his latest hunger strike. Al-Qiq suspended a 33-day hunger strike in early March upon reaching an agreement with Israeli authorities to be released in mid-April. However, al-Qiq’s wife, Fayhaa Shalash, told Ma’an that Israeli authorities would soon hold a trial for al-Qiq, who has been transferred back to prison after his health sufficiently recovered following his strike. Al-Qiq has staged two major hunger strikes — the first one lasting a grueling 94 days — to protest being held in administrative detention, Israel’s widely condemned policy of internment without charge or trial.
PA officer sentenced to 6 years in prison over role in 2011 death of Israeli settler
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — A Palestinian Authority (PA) police officer was sentenced to six years in prison by an Israeli military court on Tuesday for his involvement in an incident in which an Israeli settler was shot and killed in the northern occupied West Bank in 2011. According to Israeli media, while Nawaf Fad was acquitted of murder charges, he was found guilty of “obstruction of justice for having tampered with evidence by rearranging stones and backpacks scattered at the scene of the shooting.” After the incident, Palestinian authorities arrested four of the police officers suspected of being involved in the 2011 incident, which left 24-year-old Israeli Ben-Yosef Livnat, nephew of former Israeli Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, killed and four others injured when Israeli settlers entered the area around Joseph’s Tomb in the Nablus district without coordinating between Israeli and Palestinian authorities. Israeli forces detained three of the Palestinian security officers who had previously been detained by the PA, and subsequently indicted Fad on murder charges. Nablus Governor Jibrin al-Bakri gave an account at the time of the incident following a police investigation, saying that five cars carrying 30 settlers from Jerusalem entered Joseph’s Tomb around dawn without coordinating with Palestinian or Israeli officials, and “threw stones and carried out provocative acts against Palestinians.” When Palestinian police was made aware of the incidents, officers were deployed to the area and set up a checkpoint near the road, firing into the air in an attempt to disperse the group of settlers, he said. Israeli security officials speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP that an initial investigation showed the men had tried to bypass a Palestinian patrol in a parked jeep, prompting the police to fire first in the air and then open fire on their vehicles, after which the settlers fled the scene. “It was only after the cars left that we were informed by Israel that one had been killed and others injured,” the official said….
Freedom and Dignity Hunger Strike
Israel vows not to negotiate with Palestinian hunger strikers
JERUSALEM (AFP) 19 Apr – Israel vowed on Tuesday not to negotiate with hundreds of Palestinian detainees on the second day of a hunger strike led by prominent prisoner and popular leader Marwan Barghouti. More than 1,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons launched the hunger strike on Monday, issuing a list of demands ranging from better medical services to access to telephones. Issa Qaraqe, head of prisoner affairs for the Palestinian Authority, said on Monday that around 1,300 prisoners were on hunger strike and the number could rise. The Palestinian Prisoners Club put the number at 1,500. A spokesman for the Israel Prisons Service said around 1,100 prisoners started the hunger strike and roughly the same number were believed to be continuing on Tuesday. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan vowed that Israeli authorities would not negotiate with the prisoners and said Barghouti had been moved to another prison and placed in solitary confinement. “They are terrorists and incarcerated murderers who are getting what they deserve and we have no reason to negotiate with them,” Erdan told army radio. He said Barghouti had been placed in solitary confinement because calling for the hunger strike was against prison rules … The hunger strike has met with harsh criticism from members of Israel s right-wing government. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not comment directly on the protest, but on Tuesday called Barghouti an “arch-terrorist”. Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he wanted to take the approach of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who publicly refused to accede to the demands of IRA hunger strikers in 1981, 10 of whom died. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told television that authorities “would not hesitate to implement the law which authorises the force-feeding of detainees”. The law voted in 2015 concerns hunger strikers whose life is deemed in danger….
Palestinians slam Israel for refusing talks with hunger strikers
AFP 19 Apr — Palestinian leaders on Wednesday denounced Israel’s refusal to negotiate with Palestinians on hunger strike in Israeli jails, warning of a “new intifada” if any of them die. Some 1,500 Palestinian prisoners have joined the hunger strike that began Monday, according to Issa Qaraqe, head of detainees’ affairs for the Palestinian Authority. Contacted by AFP, Israel’s prison service declined to comment on the number. Qaraqe said the strike followed months of attempts at negotiations with Israeli authorities. “If their demands are not met, more prisoners will join the strike,” he said. “We have asked the international community and the UN to intervene immediately.” He added that if prisoners die, “that could lead to a new intifada.”… Some 850,000 Palestinians have been incarcerated since the start of Israel’s occupation 50 years ago, Palestinian leaders say.
Activist group cries foul over Israeli outrage at Marwan Barghouti op-ed
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — Activists and commentators have denounced the dishonesty of Israeli criticism of The New York Times for publishing an op-ed in defense of a mass hunger strike underway in Israeli prisons, in light of rampant impunity for Israeli officials who commit crimes or incite violence against Palestinians. In an article for the prominent US newspaper, imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouthi wrote of “an unbelievable state of affairs” in Israeli prisons, noting that “over the past five decades, according to the human rights group Addameer, more than 800,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned or detained by Israel — equivalent to about 40 percent of the Palestinian territory’s male population. Today, about 6,500 are still imprisoned, among them some who have the dismal distinction of holding world records for the longest periods in detention of political prisoners. There is hardly a single family in Palestine that has not endured the suffering caused by the imprisonment of one or several of its members,” he wrote. Barghouthi could face prosecution for writing the piece, and has since been placed in solitary confinement and barred from receiving visits from his lawyers.
A number of Israeli officials slammed The New York Times for not referring to Barghouthi — who is one of the most popular political figures among Palestinians — as a “terrorist” and “murderer of Israeli civilians,” although the American newspaper later amended the article to include the charges of which Barghouthi was found guilty by Israel. “The paper recanted after we pointed it out to them,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasted, saying that referring to “archterrorist” Barghouthi as a “parliamentarian and leader” was “like calling Assad a ‘pediatrician’ [ophthalmologist?]” — referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a former doctor who has been accused of overseeing war crimes and crimes against humanity against Syrian civilians. Deputy Minister for Diplomacy in the prime minister’s office Michael Oren went a step further, and suggested that The New York Times’ bureau in Jerusalem be closed.
Mother of 4 Palestinian prisoners, Syrian prisoner declare solidarity hunger strikes
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — A Palestinian mother of four prisoners began a hunger strike on Wednesday in solidarity with her sons, who entered the third day of the “Freedom and Dignity” hunger strike that is taking place across Israeli prisons with an estimated 1,500 Palestinian prisoners participating. Head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe told Ma‘an that Latifa Muhammad Naji Abu Hmeid, the mother of Nasr, Nasser, Mahmoud and Sharif Abu Hmeid from the al-‘Amari refugee camp started an open hunger strike to support her four sons who are participating in the mass hunger strike in protest of the lack of basic rights in Israeli prisons. Meanwhile, a Syrian prisoner being held in Israeli prison declared on Wednesday that he would also be joining the strike in solidarity. According to Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen news channel, Sidqi al-Maqt joined the strike on its third day, saying “I salute, from the heart of Israeli jails, the souls of all martyrs of Syria and Arab nations. The hunger pains in our empty stomachs are a battle towards the victory of our humanity and national dignity.” Al-Maqt was released by Israeli authorities in August of 2012 after serving 27 years in Israeli prison, and was re-detained in February 2015….
Ailing detainees join hunger strike
IMEMC 20 Apr — Karim Ajwa, a lawyer with the Palestinian Detainees’ Committee, has reported, Wednesday, that several ailing Palestinian detainees suffering with serious illnesses and health conditions have joined the hunger strike, and are threatening to stop taking their medications. Ajwa stated that among the ailing detainees who joined the strike, are Sa’id Mosallam, Othman Abu Kharj, Ibrahim Mustafa, Yasser Abu Turk and Nazeeh Othman, and added that all of them are already seriously ill. He further stated that the detainees’ suffering, the lack of adequate medical treatment, and ongoing violations have pushed them to join the strike, despite the high risks threatening their very own lives. Ajwa visited many detainees in Asqalan Israeli prison, and was informed that the Prison Administration has confiscated most of their clothes and belongings, and that each of them has only been left with one blanket, one change of clothes and a toothbrush. The Prison Authority has also escalated the invasions and violent searches of the detainees’ rooms, in addition to repeatedly strip-searching them in addition to forcing many into solitary confinement and depriving them from sleeping….
More hunger strike leaders thrown into isolation; legal visits continue to be denied
Samidoun 20 Apr — Israeli prison authorities continued their repressive campaign against Palestinian prisoners engaged in a collective open hunger strike. On Thursday, 20 April, the prisoners’ fourth day of the strike which began on 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, several hunger strike leaders were transferred from prison to prison and thrown into isolation, while one ill hunger striking prisoner was moved to Barzilai Hospital. Kamil Abu Hanish and Nader Sadaqa, both leaders of the hunger-striking prisoners among the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, were abruptly transferred from Gilboa prison to isolation in Jalameh prison and Ella prison, respectively. Muhannad Ibrahim, a prisoner leader in the Islamic Jihad movement, was transferred from Hadarim prison to Ella’s isolation cells. They join several strike leaders, including Fateh leader Marwan Barghouthi, longest continually-held Palestinian prisoner Karim Younis, and a number of other strike leaders including Anas Jaradat and Mahmoud Abu Srour, all of whom have been thrown in solitary confinement and denied legal visits. 35 prisoners were reportedly moved from Ramon prison to other prisons, while 73 were transferred from Gilboa prison. These transfers can take days under the “bosta” system, one subject of the hunger strikers’ demands. Palestinian lawyer Karim Ajwa said that multiple prisoners from Ashkelon were transferred to Ayalon prison, while nine prisoners from Hadarim, Nafha and Gilboa prisons were transferred to Ashkelon … In the Negev desert prison and the Ofer prison, repressive units stormed the rooms of hunger striking prisoners under the pretexts of “inspection” on 20 April. In the Negev prison, prisoners were pulled from their rooms and blindfolded as their belongings were ransacked….
Right-wing Israelis stage BBQ outside prison to taunt Palestinian hunger strikers
[includes very short video] RT 20 Apr — Activists from an Israeli right-wing movement, Ichud Leumi, have organized a free barbecue outside a military prison in the West Bank where Palestinian inmates are currently on hunger strike. Members of the youth branch of the Ichud Leumi (National Union) party brought outdoor grills to the walls of Israeli-run Ofer military prison on Thursday. The activists set up tables, brought soft drinks and cooked a variety of meats, serving it for free to everybody. The organizers of the action said on the internet that the BBQ was aimed solely at taunting the Palestinians during their hunger strike with the smell of delicious food, the local media reported. The picnic outside the prison walls lasted for a while before the police arrived and ordered the activists to disperse, the Arutz Sheva website reported
Palestinians ask Red Cross to intervene in hunger strike
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 20 Apr by Edith M. Lederer — The Palestinians asked the International Committee of the Red Cross on Thursday to intervene in a hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners pressing for “legitimate rights” which they say are being denied by Israel. Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, told the Security Council that a peaceful effort is needed to compel Israel to comply with international law and respect human rights “to avert the dangerous consequences of deterioration of this situation.” “We believe that the ICRC can play a positive, facilitating role, and urge all necessary efforts in this regard,” he said … Jesus Serrano, a spokesman for the ICRC in Jerusalem, said the organization is closely monitoring the situation, but as a neutral party, it cannot intervene. “We cannot support or condemn the hunger strike or mediate between the parties,” he said. “We urge for both sides to find a solution as soon as possible.” He said the ICRC would continue its mission of monitoring prisoner conditions and the health of striking prisoners and relay messages from prisoners to their families.
Egyptian line damaged, reducing power in southern Gaza to 4 hours a day
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — Gaza’s power company on Thursday said that an Egyptian power line feeding southern Gaza had been damaged after another Egyptian line was disconnected on Sunday, amid a broader electricity crisis in the small Palestinian territory. The company said that the damage of the al-Arish line had added to the escalating electricity crisis in the besieged enclave, leaving the southern Gaza Strip with just four hours of electricity a day. The power line typically supplies some 20 megawatts of power to southern Gaza. The power company added that two Israeli power lines will also be disconnected for “urgent amendments.” Meanwhile, Gaza’s health ministry released a statement, expressing serious concerns over “dangerous consequences” of the electricity crisis, saying that while health services have already been reduced, many surgeries have also been postponed due to the lack of fuel to operate electricity generators, threatening the lives of patients. On Sunday, Gaza’s power company shut down the enclave’s sole power plant after internationally supplied fuel from Qatar and Turkey ran out.
VIDEO: Gaza power cuts: Man shares his tricks
BBC 18 Apr — When the lights go out, people turn to this Palestinian engineer for creative ways to get by.
Israeli forces raze lands in Gaza, open fire on Palestinian fishing boats
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — Several Israeli army bulldozers raided lands near the al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, while Israeli naval forces opened fire on Palestinian fishermen in northern Gaza. Witnesses told Ma‘an that five Israeli bulldozers entered eastern al-Bureij and proceeded to raze and level lands. No shootings were reported. Meanwhile, Israeli naval ships opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats in the northern Gaza Strip. No injuries were reported.
Japan donates US $905,650 to support the United Nations mine action service intervention in Gaza
JERUSALEM (Unispal) 18 Apr — Japan has contributed US $ 905,650 to UNMAS (United Nations Mine Action Service) through the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action to continue protecting civilians and supporting reconstruction in Gaza. With Japan’s contribution of US $ 3 million in 2015 and US $ 500,000 in 2016, UNMAS has cleared and destroyed 29 tons of explosive material in Gaza. This protects Gazan communities by removing thousands of unexploded remnants of war, including 149 unexploded aerial bombs, while Israeli communities are protected through the removal and destruction of explosives materials which may be harvested and reused to produce homemade rockets. Moreover, the presence of explosive hazards in debris of destroyed or damaged infrastructure makes clean-up efforts extremely dangerous and obstructs socio-economic development. Japanese-supported UNMAS clearance efforts have returned a sense of security to families living, farming and building in areas they knew to be contaminated. Families like the Al Athamnas, from Beit Hanoun, whose back garden was off limits to Haneen Al Athamna, 13, and her little brother, until UNMAS removed and destroyed the ERW buried underneath. This family is one of the approximately 1,500 direct beneficiaries living in approximately 220 housing units in proximity to hazardous sites suspected of hiding sub-surface ERW. With reconstruction and rehabilitation projects ongoing, it is imperative that such deep buried ERW are cleared before a building is manually and mechanically processed, to avoid accidental detonation of buried unexploded ordnance….
WHO: 4-year-old Gaza child waiting since 2015 for exit permit to get treatment
GAZA (WAFA) 19 Apr — In its monthly report on health access of Gaza patients seeking medical treatment outside of the blockaded Gaza Strip published Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) brought up the case of a 4-year-old patient with a congenital heart defect who has been waiting since 2015 to get an Israeli army permit to leave Gaza through Erez (Beit Hanoun) military checkpoint to get treatment at a hospital in Israel. Here is Rodina Abu Khrais’s story as reported by WHO: “Rodina Abu Khrais, a 4 year-old-girl with a congenital heart defect, has been unable to access urgent health care for the past two years. In 2013 Rodina had heart surgery in Tel Hashomer hospital shortly after birth and had three follow up visits, one of which required an admission for one month. Since July 2015, the family has applied 10 times for an exit permit for catheterization and evaluation for additional heart surgery for the child without success. “Seven times the request was still under study on the date of the hospital appointment, and on two occasions the family was asked to change the companion. Once there was no response at all to the request. All four grandparents and a family relative have been listed as possible companions but no approval was given. “The child has a number of disabilities, said the father. ‘Rodina depends on oxygen therapy most of the time, and cannot talk or walk. She also has a hearing impairment and clings to her mother most of the time.’ The family has appealed through the ICRC and two local human rights organizations without success and has another permit request pending.” In addition to the Abu Khrais case, the report said that 40% of Gaza patients seeking treatment outside the Gaza Strip and who applied for Israeli exit permits were denied or delayed permits….
Writers aim to challenge stereotypes about Gaza
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 20 Apr by Isra Namey — Aiming to rectify the mainstream perception of Gaza as merely a place of death and war, the storytelling project We Are Not Numbers was launched two years ago under the umbrella of the nonprofit Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor. Today, around 60 volunteer contributors have found a voice through the website, which features a diverse array of personal stories about life for Palestinians in Gaza. “Our writers write poetry, short stories, fiction and personal stories to provide the authentic voices and stories of Gaza’s people to the world,” team leader Ahmed al-Naouq told Al Jazeera. Doaa Mohaisen said she decided to join the project in an effort to challenge established stereotypes about Gaza. In Contracts with God, she describes how she found her faith at a time when God appeared to have abandoned Gaza during Israel’s 2008 bombardment. “Most of the Palestine-related news stories are about how many were slain, badly injured or turned homeless, but these numbers are impersonal and do not hail Palestinians’ steadfastness,” Mohaisen told Al Jazeera, noting that the project also offers young writers in Gaza a chance to connect with more experienced, published authors who act as mentors.
Enterprise in a time of poverty
EI 18 Apr by Mousa Tawfiq — Samira Toman has gone from self-taught student to teacher. “I’ve been doing embroidery for almost 40 years,” the 55-year-old mother of nine told The Electronic Intifada. “I learned how to use needle and thread at school. I used to buy floss and fabric with my pocket money to practice with my sisters at home.” She has put her skills to good use. Gaza remains mired in dire economic straits, isolated from the world by an Israeli blockade, with “stubbornly high” levels of unemployment and still suffering the consequences of three brutal military assaults over the past 10 years. But life goes on and, for some, necessity has proven the mother of invention. Toman has drawn on Palestinian heritage to create a small embroidery business that has seen her not only exhibit around Gaza, but begin workshops to teach others in the impoverished coastal strip … Designer doughnuts When Tasneem Shalayel, 23, traveled last summer to the United States to participate in a management training course, she was amazed by the variety of doughnuts offered everywhere. “I would eat doughnuts during breaks, and I was surprised by how many diverse flavors and shapes there were.” Shalayel asked her American friends about doughnuts. She also went to restaurants and asked chefs for recipes and other tricks of the trade. Last October, after getting back to Gaza, she decided to make doughnuts in her family’s kitchen in the Tel al-Hawa area of Gaza City….
Security forces prevent protests from taking place in Gaza City
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — Security forces in the Gaza Strip prevented Palestinians of the popular campaign against the Israeli occupation and siege from organizing an event entitled “Enough Silence” in the Unknown Soldier Square in Gaza City on Thursday. The campaign condemned the move in a statement, saying the event aimed “to deliver the voices of the Israeli occupation’s victims to the world and defend Palestinians’ rights,” highlighting that the campaign had received permission from authorities in Gaza one week ago to hold the event. After security forces prevented the event from taking place, members of the committee headed to another event in al-Saraya square that was being held in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, only to find that the prisoners’ solidarity event had been shut down as well by security forces. The reasons for preventing both events remained unknown.
Leftist Palestinian political figure briefly kidnapped and threatened in Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — Unidentified gunmen briefly kidnapped National Work Committee in Gaza secretary and Strip and Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (PPSF) politburo member Mahmoud al-Zaq in the besieged Palestinian enclave on Wednesday, a relative told Ma‘an. Al-Zaq’s brother Ziyad al-Zaq told Ma‘an that unidentified men kidnapped al-Zaq at gunpoint in the Shujaa‘iya neighborhood of Gaza City. Al-Zaq was released several hours later, and the political figure told Ma‘an that he was assaulted and threatened should he speak of politics again. In June, the Al-Mezan Center For Human Rights reported that al-Zaq had received a threatening phone call telling him that he would incur harm should he speak up about political issues in Gaza. PPSF Secretary-General Ahmad Majdalani held the Hamas movement and its security forces responsible for the kidnapping, adding that such an act could only be carried out by “gangs” intent on terrorizing the population.
Israel: Gaza sisters smuggled explosives on way to hospital
JERUSALEM (AP) 20 Apr — Two Palestinian sisters from Gaza were caught trying to smuggle explosives hidden in medicine containers into Israel as they were headed for cancer treatment at a Jerusalem hospital, authorities said, accusing Hamas militants of trying to use the women to carry out an attack. In a statement, the Shin Bet security agency said the women had entry permits to Israel for medical treatment. It said they were caught Wednesday. Ragheb Atallah, the patient’s husband, said his wife, Basema, 55, has gone for treatment of colorectal cancer in Jerusalem more than 10 times since July and has never had a problem before. He said his wife was unaware that she may have been smuggling anything illegal into Israel. “Someone asked them to take a bottle of medicine on their way for a patient there,” he said. “The bottle was closed and they did not know what is inside. It seems there was something and this caused disruption,” the husband said Thursday. Ragheb Atallah said his wife was released and has been given permission again to go to the hospital, but her sister, 57-year-old Ibtessam Eid, remained in Israeli custody.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Film review: Take a tour of West Jerusalem’s Palestinian history
JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 19 Apr by Mary Pelletier — Based on a series of tours through Katamon and Baka, former Palestinian neighbourhoods where Arab identity was swiftly erased after the 1948 Nakba, the project “Jerusalem, We Are Here” is a web-based interactive documentary that takes viewers on a journey in Jerusalem. The documentary revives the culturally rich landscape of Palestinian West Jerusalem, based around an interactive map embedded with original film footage, photographs, interviews and audio, directed and produced by Dorit Naaman. “I realised that if we wanted to make it accessible to Palestinians, we needed to do something that is virtual,” Naaman told Al Jazeera. She began sourcing information about Katamon from Palestine and the diaspora by word of mouth more than five years ago. “1948 is almost 70 years ago, and we need to collect the memories and documents from the people who are still around, who remember. There’s a sense of urgency to this.” Naaman, who is based in Canada, teamed up with Mona Halaby, a Palestinian whose family was expelled from Baka in 1948. Halaby’s extensive knowledge of the neighbourhoods provided the basis for the interactive map. “It was a very vibrant area with a lot of educated Palestinians, urban Palestinians, professionals, lawyers, educators, doctors, people in the media – people who were interested in the history, the politics, the culture, the literary world,” Halaby told Al Jazeera. “I’ve always been interested in social history, and culture, lineage and genealogy, and I grew up fortunate to have a mother who enjoyed sharing that sort of story and history with me.” Throughout the tours of Katamon and Baka, viewers meet individuals returning to their family homes for the first time since 1948, hear stories of notable residents such as educator Khalil Sakakini, and see the neighbourhood’s originally Arab homes, now occupied by Jewish Israelis. The documentary will keep expanding as more homes are mapped, and Naaman hopes they can “extend it to the rest of Jerusalem … It’s a place that we can start collecting all that information for generations to come,” Halaby said. “It’s going to be a living, breathing document.” Below, four contributors to Jerusalem, We Are Here share their experiences….
Palestinian agricultural lands flooded due to leak in Israeli settlement’s sewage pipeline
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 19 Apr — Wastewater from the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel has been leaking onto surrounding Palestinian lands in the central occupied West Bank Salfit district, local officials told Ma‘an on Wednesday. Ibrahim al-Hamed, an official from the department of agriculture in Salfit, told Ma‘an that the settlement’s sewage pipeline had been leaking since Tuesday night, “drowning” nearby Palestinian agricultural lands. According to al-Hamed, olive trees and other plants on the lands have already been damaged, leading residents to fear of larger scale agricultural and environmental damages should the leaks continue.
A spokesperson from COGAT, the agency responsible for enforcing the Israeli government’s policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma’an that “the Civil Administration coordinated the arrival of professional teams that fixed the malfunction,” adding that further repairs would take place on Thursday … In the Salfit-area village of Wadi Qana, wastewater dumped from a group of settlements into an Wadi Qana’s agricultural valley gradually polluted the river, forcing out Palestinians who had lived in and visited the valley for generations.
Israeli soldiers demolish farm in al-‘Eesawiyya
IMEMC 19 Apr — Israeli soldiers, accompanied by military bulldozers, invaded on Wednesday the al-‘Eesawiyya town, in occupied East Jerusalem, and demolished a Palestinian farm … The soldiers surrounded the town before invading it, and imposed a tight siege, preventing the Palestinians from entering or leaving it. Army bulldozers then demolished a farm, owned by Morad Ziad Mustafa, allegedly for being built without a permit. Furthermore, the army destroyed doors of a local carwash facility and four farms, and posted five demolition orders targeting two farms, a car repair shop and a car dealership. In addition, the soldiers also bulldozed and removed fences surrounding a Palestinian land in the town. The targeted structures are owned by members of the families of Dari, Mustafa, Abu Ryala and Abu Sneina.
Israel demolishes house in Negev-area village
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — Israeli bulldozers demolished an house under construction in the Bedouin village of al-Sayyid in the Negev of southern Israel on Thursday morning. Israeli forces, including police and bulldozers, arrived in the area and demolished the two-story house. Locals condemned the demolition, and said the house belonged to Akram Majid al-Sayyid, 21, and was built for him and his brother. Demolitions targeting Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, specifically Negev Bedouins, have sharply increased since the beginning of 2017, including an Israeli police raid to evacuate the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran which turned deadly in January. Rights groups have claimed that the demolition Bedouin villages is a central Israeli policy aimed at removing the indigenous Palestinian population from the Negev and transferring them to government-zoned townships to make room for the expansion of Jewish Israeli communities.
Israel says built homes on Palestinian land in West Bank settlement in 1980s
Haaretz 19 Apr by Yotam Berger — Israel built two apartment buildings in the West Bank settlement of Beit El on privately owned land in the 1980s. The Housing and Construction Ministry said they were built in that location by mistake. The buildings, which are home to dozens of families, were managed by the Amidar Public Housing Authority for decades. As far as is known, the land is owned by Palestinians, who have never tried to reclaim it. Amidar said that in 2012 it sold the buildings to an organization called Sukkat Ovadia, with the Housing Ministry’s consent. Members of the Beit El Local Council said the group also runs the Beit El yeshiva. Sukkat Ovadia rented some of the apartments to Arutz Sheva, also known in English as Israel National News … “The fact that Amidar is also involved in stealing privately owned Palestinian land in the West Bank shouldn’t surprise anyone,” said Dror Etkes of Kerem Navot, an organization that researches Israeli land policy in the West Bank. “It would be much more surprising if we were to discover one day that there is some government or public agency that isn’t involved in the looting business,” Etkes said.
Solidarity / BDS
Statement by Spanish state Palestine Solidarity Groups on Barcelona City Council’s historic decision supporting Palestinin rights
SPAIN, CATALUNYA (BDSmovement) 19 Apr — Barcelona has taken a step forward in becoming a city free of apartheid — With the support of the groups Barcelona en Comú, Partit Socialista de Catalunya, Candidatura d’Unitat Popular and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, the Barcelona City Council has today in plenary session passed an official declaration which promotes the inclusion of clauses in contracts to ensure respect for human rights, specifically with companies which are linked to the Israeli occupation in Palestine. The declaration also urges the Government of Catalonia to create a center for study and assessment of the impact of Catalan enterprises investing abroad. The declaration recognizes the legitimacy of nonviolent campaigns and initiatives promoted by the Palestinian and international civil society to defend Human Rights and International humanitarian law in Palestine. Through this vote, Barcelona City Council puts an end to the complicity of the city of Barcelona with the flagrant, systematic human rights violations of the colonising occupation and expansion of the State of Israel in Occupied Palestinian Territories and recognizes the right to BDS….
Israeli female conscientious objector sent to military jail for third time
Haaretz 20 Apr by Gili Cohen — Atalia Ben Abba was sentenced Wednesday to military prison for the third time for refusing to serve in the Israeli army − she received 30 days on top of the 50 she has already served over two stints. Ben Abba, a 19-year-old from Jerusalem, prefers to do civilian national service, according to the website Mesarvot that has been following her case. On Facebook, Ben Abba wrote that she was afraid to return to prison. “It’s hard because every little thing that could give you strength is a thing that can be taken from you,” she wrote. “I’m afraid to go back because this time I’ll be alone, even if only physically.” But she will return, she wrote, “because this battle is much bigger than me …. This battle is for millions of people who live here − for the sake of ending the organizational culture, the oppression and violence.” Two other women who refused to serve in the army were recently released from prison. Tamar Ze’evi, from Jerusalem, was released after 115 days after her claim of conscientious objection was accepted. Tamar Alon, from Tel Aviv, was released after 130 days at the recommendation of her boot-camp commander, Lt. Col. Yossi Matzliach. The conscientious-objection committee had rejected her claim but Matzliach made his decision based on the hard time Alon was having in prison.
Chilean BDS activist calls for ban on Israeli tourists after being barred from Israel
JTA 18 Apr — A Chilean citizen of Palestinian descent urged his country to refuse entry to Israeli tourists after he was barred from entering Israel on April 10. Anuar Majluf, executive director of the Palestinian Federation of Chile and a prominent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement activist, was refused entry when he arrived in Israel leading an annual Easter pilgrimage. “The Chilean government should act reciprocally and refuse entry to Israeli citizens who come as tourists to Chile. If Israel knew that its repressive actions and laws have consequences, it would be much less likely to enact them,” he said. Chilean Senator Eugenio Tuma, who is of Arab descent, slammed Israel for barring Majluf. “As Chile allows the free entry and passage of Israeli citizens, it is unacceptable that Israel openly violates the rights of Chilean citizens,” said Tuma, whose statement was echoed by two other Chilean congressmen.
Palestinian refugees – Syria
Syria: 1,183 Palestinians ‘disappeared’
IMEMC/Agencies 20 Apr — Around 1,183 Palestinians have gone missing in Syria since the start of the campaign to oust Bashar al-Assad, a report said. In a report released on Monday, the Task Group for Palestinians in Syria said that the real number is far beyond 1,183 cases of disappearances among Palestinian refugees in Syria due to the lack of official statistics. Days of Palestine reports that the government in Damascus should be monitoring and reporting on the phenomenon. Furthermore, said the organisation, many families do not provide information about enforced disappearances, fearing a violent backlash by the Syrian regime. Meanwhile, the Task Group renewed its call for the regime to free all of the victims of enforced disappearance and release information about the hundreds of Palestinian prisoners inside its jails. It said that the fate of these prisoners inside Syrian prisons is unknown and nobody knows much, if anything, about them or their conditions. “This is a full war crime,” the organisation alleged. The Task Group said that it had monitored hundreds of kidnappings at regime checkpoints, during inspection campaigns and raids in towns and villages around the country, as well as arbitrary arrest campaigns. “In many cases, the families do not know anything about their kidnapped sons,” the Task Group said, “but they sometimes receive phone calls telling them to collect their bodies from military or government hospitals.”
PCHR Weekly Report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (13-19 April)
20 Apr — Israeli forces continue systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) — Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian in southern Bethlehem in employment of deadly force. 7 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, were wounded in the West Bank. Israeli forces continued to target the Gaza Strip border areas, but no casualties were reported. Israeli forces conducted 39 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 2 limited ones in Jerusalem. 40 civilians, including 19 children, were arrested in the West Bank. 18 of them, including 12 children, were arrested in Jerusalem. Contents of 3 bookshops for university services in Hebron were confiscated and the bookshops were closed. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. 2 houses in al-Mukaber Mount were demolished. Hundreds of settlers stormed al-Aqsa Mosque in the Jewish holiday. Israeli forces continued to target the Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. Israeli forces turned the West Bank into cantons and continued to impose the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip for the 10th year. Due to the Jewish Passover holiday, the Israeli authorities continued imposing a security closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Dozens of temporary checkpoints were established in the West Bank and others were re-established to obstruct the movement of Palestinian civilians.
How Israel is increasingly privatizing the occupation of the West Bank
Newsweek 19 Apr by Miriam Berger — The sun had barely risen and Khairy Masoud, 57, was already in trouble. The father of eight had just passed through the Israeli military checkpoint separating his home in the disputed West Bank and Israel, where he’s worked in manual labor for more than 20 years. It was a chilly February morning and he was dressed in baggy pants and a sweater. Masoud slouched as he eyed the armed Israeli guard who had just confiscated his work permit and identification card — his most important documents. His infraction: Masoud had been walking toward the large outdoor lot, where Palestinian workers wait for employers to pick them up, when a piece of tissue fell from his pocket, he said. Another Palestinian walking with him flicked a cigarette to the ground. The guard apprehended them for littering. A decade ago this checkpoint, known as Sha’ar Efraim in Hebrew and al-Tayba in Arabic, was among the first to hire private security guards rather than deploy conscripted Israeli soldiers. The creeping privatization of security linked to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem often goes unnoticed, but critics say it is another way that Israel is cementing the status quo and reducing the chances of a Palestinian state and an end to decades of conflict. Around Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Israeli private security guards are increasingly common, from tightly patrolled airport and government buildings to industrial zones and illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank. They’re part of a lucrative industry that benefits from $200 million a year in government contracts. Today, there are more than 30 crossing points separating Israel and the Palestinian Territories; since the mid-2000s, about half of them have fully or partially outsourced security to Israeli companies. Authorities are currently planning to upgrade nine to 11 more checkpoints by 2019 at a cost of around $82 million, according to Baruch Spiegal, a retired Israeli brigadier general and senior Ministry of Defense adviser. Israeli officials say the use of civilian guards rather than conscripted soldiers has improved professionalism and standardized conditions for the thousands of Palestinians who pass through each day. The Ministry of Defense does not directly employ guards, but does oversee training, salaries and working conditions. The arrangement between private contractors, Jerusalem or border police, the military, Crossing Points Authority and other security bodies differs by checkpoint
Israel steps up lobbying to stop Fifa suspending settlement football teams
The Independent 20 Apr by Bethan McKernan — Israel’s Foreign Ministry is worried that next month’s meeting of the International Federation of Association Football (Fifa) will result in a decision to expel six Israeli clubs based in West Bank settlements, an official has said. A cable leaked by an anonymous official to Haaretz and AFP shows that Israeli diplomats in dozens of embassies around the world have been ordered to persuade host countries to take the issue off the agenda. “Our growing assessment is that the Fifa Congress is liable to make a decision on suspending six Israeli teams that play over the Green Line, or even on suspending Israel from Fifa,” the document read. “We urge you to contact your countries’ representatives on the Fifa Council as soon as possible to obtain their support for Israel’s position, which rejects mixing politics with sport and calls for reaching an agreed solution between the parties… and to thwart an anti-Israel decision if it is brought before the council.” Football is Israel’s most popular sport. Many of its teams have qualified for the UEFA Champions League. The six clubs which could be affected are all low-level league teams in Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel, Kiryat Arba, Givat Ze’ev, Oranit and the Jordan Valley.
Hamas ‘not seeking war with Israel’
JPost 19 Apr by Adam Rasgon — Hamas is not interested in starting a war with Israel, deputy Hamas chief in Gaza Khalil al-Hayya said on Tuesday. “We are not trying to start a war. We don’t want one and we don’t hope for one,” Hayya told a press conference in Gaza. “We are committed to the cease-fire that Egypt brokered as long as the occupation is committed to it.” Egypt brokered the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas that ended Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Tensions between Hamas and Israel have been on the rise since the mysterious assassination last month of Mazen Fuqaha, who was a senior member of the Hamas’s military wing—the Izzeldin Qassam Brigades. Hamas blamed Israel for the assassination and vowed to exact revenge. “The occupation knows that the blood of those struggling in the way of God will not be wasted,” Hamas said immediately after Fuqaha’s assassination. Israeli officials have not commented on the assassination, except for Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who suggested Israel did not take part in it. Instead of starting a war, Hayya said that Hamas prefers “to rebuild Gaza, lessen the pains of our people, and restore its forces to liberate Palestine.” Maintaining a long-term cease-fire, Hayya added, is “beneficial for our people.”….
Hamas apologizes to Abbas for insults
RAMALLAH, GAZA 20 Apr by Kifah Ziboun and Asharq Al-Awsat — A few days following a fierce attack on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the Hamas Movement apologized for the unacceptable insults launched by some of its members during marches staged in the Gaza Strip. “I extremely apologize for such an individual behavior, Mr. President,” Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said, describing the conduct of some of the movement’s supporters as “crossing the line of eloquence, principles and ethics.” Barhoum’s regret came only a few hours after another Hamas member apologized for the insults made against Abbas. Ahmad Youssef, adviser to the deputy chairman of Hamas’ political bureau, said that what happened requires an apology. “I apologize on behalf of myself, and on behalf of what I represent in this movement, for the unethical mistake, which is unjustified,” he said. Supporters of the Hamas Movement in Gaza had shot at pictures of Abbas and had used them in an inappropriate manner that insulted the president.
The offenses took place as Hamas leaders were meeting with Fatah officials to reach an agreement on ending the inter-Palestinian division in Gaza, after Abbas threatened to take unprecedented measures if the movement does not hand over the territory’s management to the consensus government. Informed Palestinian sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Wednesday that a rapprochement meeting was held between officials from the two sides in the Gaza Strip late on Tuesday. But the talks did not lead to any results. Instead, the two parties exchanged a list of demands for the purpose of having a successful dialogue in the future to end the crisis in the Gaza Strip … But, participants agreed to meet again with a hope to reach new agreements before a delegation from the Fatah central committee – carrying an initiative to end the division – arrives in Gaza.
Fatah defeats Hamas in student elections at largest West Bank university
JPost 18 Apr by Adam Rasgon — The Fatah-affiliated Shabibah won a total of 41 of 81 seats on the student council at an-Najah National University in Nablus, while the Hamas-backed Islamic Bloc won 34 seats, Student Affairs Dean Musa Abu Dia told Wafa, the official Palestinian Authority news site, on Tuesday. Out of 20,237 students eligible to vote, 11,765 participated in the elections at an-Najah, the largest university in the West Bank. Student elections in the Palestinian territories are viewed as important barometers of public opinion, since Hamas and Fatah have not competed against each other in municipal, legislative or presidential elections since the 2006 legislative elections. “These elections are an important indication of where the Palestinian street stands,” said Khaled Musleh, an-Najah Central Elections Committee spokesman. Student elections at an-Najah have not taken place since 2013 because the various student blocs had previously failed to reach agreements to hold elections … A recent poll found that if legislative elections were held, 30% of the Palestinian public would vote for Hamas, whereas 36% would vote for Fatah. Hamas leader Faza Sawafta said the results are a “victory” for Hamas. Sawafta said that the 34 seats Hamas won are remarkable in light of restrictions Israel and PA security forces placed on its candidates and supporters….
VIDEO: Palestinian political rivalries play out in West Bank camp
MEE 19 Apr by Abla Klaa, Elia Ghorbiah — Ongoing political violence continues to tear Balata refugee camp apart, amid increased tensions between supporters of Palestinian politicians Mohammed Dahlan and Mahmoud Abbas. The camp, which is located in Nablus City, is the largest in the West Bank and home to over 30,000 inhabitants. Balata was established in 1950 by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) as a temporary solution in response to Palestine’s refugee crisis during the time of Israel’s establishment. It was intended to house 5,000 people. The area has paradoxically become an access point for Israel’s tourists to the biblical site Jacob’s Well, as well as a hotspot for military resistance against Palestinian and Israeli forces. The camp is also widely known for playing a role in the uprising of the first and second intifadas. Raids carried out by Palestinian security forces have become increasingly common in the camp following a “mass crackdown” on military activity and drugs. “Each year they [the Palestinian Authority] arrest us in at least two campaigns,” Hatem Reziq told Middle East Eye. He is a wanted resident by the Palestinian security services and makes his disaffiliation from both Dahlan and Abbas clear. His views echo a consensus among camp residents that neither politicians have helped secure peace in Balata. “We no longer feel safe, from both sides,” camp resident Abu Mohammed argues.
PA security forces arrest three men in the West Bank
WEST BANK (PIC) 19 Apr — Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces in the West Bank arrested three men including an ex-detainee. A fourth political prisoner in the PA jails has been on hunger strike for 30 days. The PA preventive forces rounded up an ex-detainee and a doctor from Sourif and Doura towns, respectively, in al-Khalil. Member of the media office of Hizb ut-Tahrir, Alaa Abu Saleh, was also among the arrested. The PA intelligence apparatus in Ramallah continued the detention of a student of Birzeit University for the seventh day. The same apparatus in Tulkarem city continued the arrest of another man for over two weeks.
PA preventive security forces maintained the remand of ex-detainee Mohammad al-Aqra for the 30th consecutive day in the isolation cells of Jericho jail. Aqra, who suffers from several diseases, has gone on hunger strike since the first day of his arrest.
Hebron governor says car from which shots were fired at Red Cross office is known
HEBRON (WAFA) 20 Apr – The car from which shots were fired on Wednesday night at the Red Cross office in Hebron is known to the security forces, Governor Kamel Hmeid said on Thursday. Hmeid accompanied by heads of security forces in Hebron visited the Red Cross office to inspect it after shots were fired at it the night before causing damage to the entrance and a car. “The Red Cross is under the protection of the Palestinian people first and the security forces second,” he said at the location. “We will follow the leads we have and we will arrest the perpetrators. The car from where shots were fired is known.” He said the president and prime minister are closely following up this incident, warning that such acts serve only the interest of the Israeli occupiers and the prison authority as hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have started an open-ended hunger strike demanding better conditions. Families of prisoners have been holding sit-in protests at the premises to the Red Cross throughout the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip demanding more active intervention from the humanitarian organization in the cases of their imprisoned sons.
Hunger strike puts jailed Palestinian leader in spotlight
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 21 Apr by Mohammed Daraghmeh– From deep within an Israeli prison, Palestinian uprising leader Marwan Barghouti has once again thrust himself to the forefront of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By organizing a mass hunger strike by hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, Barghouti has solidified his standing as a likely successor to President Mahmoud Abbas. He also has proven to Israel that, despite serving multiple life sentences, he cannot be ignored as the country marks 50 years of control over the Palestinian territories. Barghouti is the most prominent of the thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, and even after 15 years behind bars, he continues to cast a long shadow over the region. While viewed by Israel as an arch terrorist, he is seen by Palestinians as a national hero, often drawing comparisons to the late South African President Nelson Mandela. He has called the new hunger strike the “long walk to freedom,” the title of Mandela’s autobiography about life in prison during the apartheid era. “Marwan is the best candidate to inspire and lead the new generation from behind bars, just as Mandela did,” said Qadura Fares, a Barghouti supporter and leader of the Palestinian prisoners’ association. Palestinian officials say Israel is holding some 6,500 “security prisoners” — people jailed for charges ranging from stone-throwing and membership in groups outlawed by Israel, to attacks that wounded or killed Israelis. Several hundred are being detained without charges. Barghouti was arrested in 2002 during the violent Palestinian uprising and convicted on multiple counts of murder. Israel charged him with directing suicide bombings against its citizens, and he was sentenced to five life terms. Barghouti did not offer a defense, refusing to recognize the court’s authority. As many as 1,500 prisoners are believed to have joined the strike. Their immediate demands included better conditions, more contact with relatives, and an end to Israel’s practice of detentions without trial. But the strike’s significance runs far deeper, with long-ranging implications in the brewing struggle to succeed the 82-year-old Abbas and efforts to end a bitter 10-year rift between Abbas’ Fatah movement and the rival Hamas militant group. In an op-ed published in The New York Times, Barghouti wrote that Israeli prisons have become the “cradle of a lasting movement for Palestinian self-determination.” Over the years, polls have indicated that Barghouti is the most popular choice among Palestinians to succeed Abbas, who has refused to groom a political heir. He also is seen as the only figure in Abbas’ Fatah movement who also enjoys support from Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip from Abbas’ forces a decade ago. The ongoing rift is a major impediment to Abbas’ goal of establishing a Palestinian state in both territories. Barghouti appears intent on becoming the next Palestinian president, and some believe that Israel will be forced to release him because he is such a unifying figure to the Palestinians. Over the years, Israel has released a number of top security inmates in prisoner swaps and other agreements with the Palestinians….
Opinion: Barghouti’s NY Times article met by Israeli ritual of diversion and denial / Chemi Shalev
Haaretz 19 Apr — At the end of his opinion piece in the New York Times about the Palestinian prisoners’ strike, Marwan Barghouti was originally described as “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.” After 24 hours of outrage and condemnation, an editor’s note conceded that further context was needed, pointing out that Barghouti had been convicted on “five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization.” News of the clarification spread like wildfire on social media. It was described in glowing terms as yet another historic victory of good over evil and of the Jewish people over its eternal enemies. It was another example of the time-tested Israeli ritual of accentuating the insignificant at the expense of the essence, the results of which are well known in advance. First you manufacture righteous indignation over a minor fault in an article or the problematic identity of its writer, then you assault the newspaper or media that publicized it and cast doubt on its motives, then you demand to know how this was even possible and who will pay the price. In this way, the Israeli public is absolved of the need to actually contend with the gist of the article or public utterance, in this case Barghouti’s claims that he was physically tortured, that almost a million Palestinians have been detained over the years, that their conviction rate in the Israeli military court system is absurdly high, whether it’s really wise to hold as many as 6,500 security prisoners in custody at one time and so on … What’s hilarious, however, is that so many Israelis and Jews are convinced that articles such as the one written by Barghouti, which most readers probably view as yet another tedious polemic about an intractable Middle East conflict, somehow causes more harm to Israel’s image than a senior government official who compares a news article to a terror attack and who recommends closing down the offices of the most widely respected news organization in the world, à la Putin or Erdogan.
Pro-Israel lobbies in London launch campaign to prevent screening of Marwan Barghouthi biopic
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Apr — As the Federation of Palestinian Communities in Europe and the Fatah movement in London prepare to screen the film “Marwan,” a biopic telling the life story of the imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, members of the federation have reported that “the Zionist lobby” in London has attempted to carry out several actions to prevent the film from being screened. The film, produced by the Ma‘an News Network, tells the story of the imprisoned Palestinian leader, who is currently leading a mass hunger strike across Israeli prisons, which entered its fourth day on Thursday. The federation and members of the Fatah movement in London told Ma‘an that several pro-Israel and Zionist lobbies have organized social media campaigns working to prevent the showing of the movie, in addition to arranging protests and marches across the streets of London protesting the film.
Additionally, the lobbies reserved all tickets for the film on the theater’s website in order to prevent anyone from purchasing tickets to the screening, that was initially scheduled to take place on Friday April 21, but has since been rescheduled for April 23. Sanaa al-Alul, a member of the federation, told Ma‘an that the event was intended to be structured as a workshop in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners during which they will host Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) lawyer Jawad Boulus and present the film. However, following actions from pro-Israel lobbies, the groups were told they were not allowed to use the original venue they booked due to the fact that “the administration of the theater responded to pressure and threats by the Zionist lobby and refused to allow the federation to use the theater claiming that the movie promotes terrorism.” In response, al-Alul told Ma‘an that while the groups are currently searching for another theater to present the film, “the federation would not hesitate to present the film in public squares to show the world the suffering of Palestinian prisoners.”….
Banksy’s Bethlehem hotel draws about 700 people a day
BETHLEHEM,,West Bank (Straits Times) 18 Apr — The two tourists were from Berlin, so they knew something about walls. There they sat – one with tea, another with cappuccino – on tasteful patio chairs, across an alley from the ugly 8m-high symbol of all that separates Israelis from Palestinians. This section of the West Bank separation barrier was built 15 years ago, as violence raged. It is now a quiet tourist destination in the city where Jesus Christ was born: a hotel, gallery, museum, bookstore and spray paint shop by elusive British artist Banksy. It is part whimsy and spectacle (note the plastic greeter chimp), part serious (note the very real Israeli security cameras). “Weird,” said Ms Nadja Miller, 38, one of the Berlin tourists. “It’s voyeuristic. At the same time, it raises awareness that it exists and discussion about it.” It has been just over a month since Banksy opened the Walled Off Hotel here – and, unsurprisingly, it is proving popular: Its nine rooms are booked through June, for rates from US$30 (S$42) a night to US$965 for the “presidential suite.” About 700 people visit a day, the owner says, 200 of them Palestinian. Many arrive on tour buses passing through checkpoints. Some art is meant to inflict discomfort. Banksy’s hotel – which brags of the “worst view in the world” – falls clearly into that category, though visitors say the discomfort comes in awkward waves….
Trump to host Abbas on May 3: White House
WASHINGTON (AFP) 19 Apr — US President Donald Trump will host Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on May 3 for talks on efforts to revive the Middle East peace process, the White House said yesterday. “They will use the visit to reaffirm the commitment of both the United States and Palestinian leadership to pursuing and ultimately concluding a conflict-ending settlement between the Palestinians and Israel,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said. The meeting would be Trump’s first with Abbas, and follows a series of US contacts with the Palestinian leader. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have repeatedly run aground despite periodic US efforts to revive them, most recently by former secretary of state John Kerry. But Abbas, who met in Ramallah recently with CIA chief Mike Pompeo and Trump’s special representative Jason Greenblatt, has said Trump is “seriously considering a solution to the Palestinian issue.” The US president held talks last week in Washington with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah.
Film review: Young French Arabs: Identity, Equality, Fraternity
Al Jazeera 19 Apr Filmmaker: Mohamed Zaoui — Parisians, many of Arab descent, have been marching in the streets of the French capital in protest at Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, in blockaded Gaza and the occupied West Bank. Paris is a cosmopolitan city and certain areas of France are extremely ethnically diverse. Some cities like Marseille have large Muslim, immigrant populations and while the figures are much lower for the capital, the question of identity is now a burning issue for many young people whose parents emigrated from the MENA region in the 1960s and 70s. France today is arguably still quite monocultural. Nationalism is on the rise across Europe and Marine Le Pen of the far right National Front is a leading contender in the upcoming presidential elections. The hijab is banned in high schools and government offices, as is the burkini on some beaches. This film is about the combined effect of growing Islamophobia, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the plight of the Palestinians and the 2011 Arab revolutions on the young middle and working class from immigrant backgrounds. Political activist Houria Bouteldja says supporting the Palestinians is a way for them to make their own voices heard … “When the Jewish Defense League heard about a big pro-Palestinian demonstration, they announced they’d come and beat us,” recalls Aya Khalil, a French activist of Egyptian-Algerian descent. “The police themselves knew the JDL were coming and told us to be careful.” JDL’s taunts and provocations soon turned into physical violence. “They abused me physically in the street,” says Bouteldja. She and other pro-Palestinian demonstrators were also attacked by the JDL. She hopes they’ll be tried in court soon, adding, “It’s worth mentioning the JDL is protected. If people from working-class areas acted like the JDL, they’d have been stopped long ago.” Citing “security concerns”, the French government banned pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Paris, contrary, in Bouteldja’s view, to the country’s “democratic principles.”….