(Videos) Israeli police assault, detain Al-Aqsa guards as hundreds of Israelis take to holy site
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 May — Three Palestinian security guards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem were assaulted and detained by Israeli police on Wednesday, as hundreds of right-wing Israelis and settlers took to the holy site in celebration of “Jerusalem Day.”
Jerusalem Day is celebrated by the ultra-right religious Zionist community to commemorate the 1967 Israeli annexation of occupied East Jerusalem, the same day Palestinians remember the “Naksa,” meaning “setback,” referring to the mass displacement that accompanied the Israeli takeover of the Palestinian territory…
Al-Aqsa compound director Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani told Ma‘an that Israeli police forces assaulted a group of four of the mosque’s guards at Lion’s Gate, after the guards “objected to the provocative behaviors of Israeli settlers during their raid of Al-Aqsa.” Al-Kiswani identified the four injured as Arafat Najib, Khalil al-Tarhuni, Nour Abu Hadwan and Nidal al-Waari. He said that Najib was initially treated at the compound’s clinic, but was later transferred to a hospital for proper medical care, while the other three injured guards were detained by Israeli forces “despite their need for medical treatment.” Al-Kiswani claimed that 708 Israeli settlers raided the compound, representing an “unprecedented number of settler raiding the compound.” “What happened today is a planned and systematic procedure by Israeli authorities to impose control by force and to terrorize the guards to stop them from doing their job,” al-Kiswani said, adding that the incident was a “clear and provocative move before Ramadan,” referring to the Muslim holy month that is expected to begin on Friday. The Jordanian government condemned the events at the Al-Aqsa compound as provocative against Muslims, with State Minister for Media Affairs Muhammad Mumani repeating Jordan’s stance on maintaining the status quo agreement only allowing Muslims to pray in the compound, official Jordanian news agency Petra reported…
Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri released a statement following the incident, saying that as “Jewish visitors” were leaving the compound, “some of them stopped and started singing the Israeli national anthem. Israeli police forces who escorted them started taking them out of the compound as al-Aqsa guards also started responding with chanting against visitors and attempted to assault them.” As police forces “stopped” the guards, al-Samri claimed that the guards assaulted the police officers, but made no mention of police officers assaulting and injuring the guards, despite videos showing Israeli forces violently detaining at least one guard, as well as video of one of the guards being taken to the hospital with a head injury….
Jerusalem Day celebrations hide sad reality
Al-Monitor 25 May by Mazal Mualem — The reality of impoverished, neglected and undeveloped East Jerusalem is a far cry from the glossy image of the city presented at the celebration of 50 years of unification — At the official ceremony on Ammunition Hill to mark the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification, President of Israel Reuven Rivlin said, “We can’t sing the praises of a united Jerusalem in which 40% of the population live in what is the most impoverished urban area in Israel. We must not accept that 50 years after the reunification of the Jerusalem, the situation of Jerusalem, capital of the State of Israel, has declined, so that it is now ranked among the lowest socio-economic clusters in the country.” Not for the first time, Rivlin’s remarks interrupted a series of impassioned cliches May 24. As has happened before, the president told Israelis the way things really are … This week, the Jerusalem-born Rivlin, a member of the Likud, presented Israelis with an unflattering view of what is actually happening in the capital city. He did not bring up partition, nor did he doubt for a moment that Jews have historical and emotional ties to the city. What he did tell them about was the city’s 323,000 Arab residents, who live in poverty and neglect in East Jerusalem’s neighborhoods. It is hard to recall another speech at an event like this in which an official figure dared to taint the celebrations with a message so important and so sad. The jubilee celebrating Jerusalem’s reunification was marked by relatively few problems. This year, organizers tried to make the event more grandiose than usual. The budget for the main parade, known as the “Dance of the Flags,” was increased from 300,000 to half a million shekels (from $84,000 to $140,000). A record 60,000 people participated in the march, which passed through the main streets of East Jerusalem for the first time in years. In the past, police had kept it off that route out of concern for a possible eruption of violence between Jewish marchers and local Arab residents. This year, the police increased their presence along the route significantly to secure the marchers, many of whom were young people from the religious Zionist sector. “The biggest Israeli flag ever,” measuring 180 square meters (2,034 square feet) and weighing 40 kilos (88 pounds), was flown on Ammunition Hill, a symbol of Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War….
Jerusalem Day and the country without a capital
Al-Monitor 25 May by Akiva Eldar — …The Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel, adopted by the Knesset in 1980, stipulates, “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.” It resulted in the unanimous passage of UN Security Council Resolution 478, with the United States abstaining, determining that the legislation was “null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.” The resolution called on the foreign embassies located in Jerusalem at the time to pull out of the city, which they did. Thus, a handful of Israeli pyromaniacs led to Israel being the only country in the world where the seat of its parliament, president, government and Supreme Court is not recognized as its capital by any other country. The annexation of Jerusalem’s walled Old City and the villages in East Jerusalem captured in 1967 are considered a violation of UN resolutions and international law.
The annual marking of Jerusalem Day, on May 24 this year, has become a raucous, nationalist demonstration of Israeli ownership of the city, in general, and the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, in particular. Tens of thousands of youths affiliated with religious Zionism march through the Muslim Quarter on their way to the Western Wall, waving Israeli flags and calling out slogans peppered with curses at the Palestinian residents hiding out in their shuttered homes. Instead of defending the Palestinians against these power-drunk youths, the police oblige merchants to close their shops along the parade route and to stay away. This year, to mark the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the “liberation of Jerusalem,” the police permitted the extension of the so-called dance of the flags to include the walls of the Old City from the Jaffa Gate to the Dung Gate…
Jerusalem’s only saving grace is the closing on the evening of the parade of dozens of kiosks, bars, restaurants, stores and cafes in the western part of town in solidarity with their fellow Palestinian merchants in East Jerusalem. Some 50 business owners signed a petition against the damage inflicted on the Old City traders and hung signs of support on their doors. Another encouraging gesture is that while thousands demonstrated in support of claims of Jewish ownership of the city, an unusual event took place in the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Zehava Gal-On, leader of the left-wing Zionist Meretz, joined fellow lawmaker Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List, and Mahmoud al-Habash, religious and Islamic affairs minister for the Palestinian Authority, at Jerusalem’s American Colony Hotel. The three signed a joint declaration calling on the Israeli government to reach an agreement with the Palestinians on ending the occupation based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state and the western part of town accorded international status as the capital of Israel….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem, Israel
Palestinian shot by police in Israel succumbs to wounds
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 May — A Palestinian man who was shot by Israeli forces on Tuesday after he allegedly stabbed an Israeli police officer in the Israeli city of Netanya succumbed to his wounds on Thursday. The Palestinian Ministry of Health said in a statement that it was informed by the Palestinian liaison that 45-year-old Muhannad Abd al-Rahman, who was initially reported to be 44 years old, had succumbed to his wounds. Abd al-Rahman was a resident of the northern occupied West Bank city of Tulkarem, and was shot and detained after he stabbed an Israeli police officer in the neck, lightly wounding the officer. Israeli police initially reported that Abd al-Rahman sustained “moderate” wounds. Abd al-Rahman was the 26th Palestinian to have been killed by Israelis since the beginning of 2017, nine of whom were minors. Seven Israelis have been killed by Palestinians during the same time frame.
Israeli forces shoot, injure 17-year-old Palestinian girl east of Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 May — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian teenage girl at the entrance to the village of Silwad, east of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank on Tuesday afternoon. The circumstances behind the shooting remained unclear, but unconfirmed reports said that the girl was shot because she was throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. Locals, who identified the girl as 17-year-old Tuqua Hammad, told Ma‘an that she was hit in the lower extremities and that Israeli troops prevented a Palestinian ambulance from accessing the victim to treat her. Israeli forces provided first aid treatment to Tuqua and evacuated her to Israel’s Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, locals said. The Israeli army did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the shooting — unusual as Israeli authorities are usually quick to defend use of force on Palestinians by issuing statements accusing alleged assailants of “hurling stones at Israeli security forces,” “instigating violent riots,” or of attempting to attack soldiers who then “responded to the imminent threat” by opening fire.
According to local sources, Tuqua is the sister of 21-year-old Anas Hammad, who was shot dead in December 2015 after he committed an alleged vehicular attack on Israeli soldiers near the illegal Ofra settlement, which is adjacent to Silwad where the Hammad family resides. Footage taken at the scene after the shooting was later circulated on social media.
Israeli forces assault, detain 2 children on their way home from school
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 May — At least two Palestinian children were beaten and detained by Israeli forces on Wednesday morning inside the ‘Aida refugee camp, located in the northern part of Bethlehem city in the southern occupied West Bank.
Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the camp in military jeeps at around 9:30 a.m. while students from the camp’s United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school were returning home from their final exams. The soldiers then got out of their jeeps near the camp’s cemetery and assaulted two students, whose identities remained unknown. After beating the two, the soldiers threw them into the jeep and took them into a military base located adjacent to the camp.
“After arresting the two kids, the soldiers lined up a group of students against the wall and began pointing their guns in the kids’ faces,” one witness, who recorded the incident on video, told Ma‘an. The soldiers then began yelling at the students, accusing them of covering up for someone who allegedly threw a homemade pipe bomb at the military base around 8:30 a.m. The witness insisted, however, that there was no way the students could have been involved in the incident or know who threw the bomb, since they were in school taking their final exams. Shortly after interrogating the students in the street, soldiers raided ‘Aida’s Lajee Center, a community organization for refugee youth that stands at the entrance to the camp, and confiscated the center’s computers and security camera footage, which the witness highlighted happens nearly every time any rocks or explosive devices area thrown at the military base, given the center’s location on the main road of the camp, just across from the base….
4-year-old Palestinian child injured after being hit by Israeli settler vehicle
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 25 May — A four-year-old Palestinian child was injured Thursday evening after being hit by an Israeli settler’s vehicle near in Hebron city, near the illegal Israeli Kiryat Arba settlement in the southern occupied West Bank. Locals told Ma‘an that 4 year-old Ahmad Mithqal al-Jabari was hit by an Israeli settler’s vehicle while playing in the al-Ras area of the city. Sources said that al-Jabari sustained injuries and bruises on his head and was transferred to the Hebron governmental hospital for treatment … 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 army injures one Palestinian, causes 3 medics to suffer effects of teargas inhalation, in Qalqilia
IMEMC 26 May — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Friday at dawn, Qalqilia city, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, shot one Palestinian with a rubber-coated steel bullet, and fired gas bombs at an Emergency Response Center, causing three medics to suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation. Media sources in Qalqilia said that soldiers invaded the city and clashed with local youths, before firing rubber-coated metal bullets and gas bombs, wounding a young man with a rubber-coated metal bullet. The soldiers also fired dozens of gas bombs, including many that struck a medical emergency response center, hundreds of meters away from the area of clashes, causing three medics to suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation. The Palestinian who was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet was moved to Darwish Nazzal governmental hospital. It is worth mentioning that the soldiers also invaded and violently searched several homes in the city, and interrogated many Palestinians. The army withdrew later without conducting any arrests.
VIDEO: Israeli police violently detain Palestinian street vendors in East Jerusalem
[with photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 May — Israeli police forces detained a family of Palestinian street vendors after assaulting them in occupied East Jerusalem on Monday, a video [below] circulating on social media in recent days revealed. The al-Razim family told Ma‘an that Israeli police forces raided their bread kiosk, attempted to seize the bread, and issued a 475,000-shekel ($132,342) fine against the family for allegedly expanding the area of their kiosk beyond the permitted area. The family said that a verbal dispute broke out before Israeli police forces assaulted and detained four members of the family, identified as Kayid, Uday, Yazan, and Luay al-Razim. According to the family, Israeli police forces violently assaulted and beat the four, and took them to the police station, where three of them were released into house arrest for one night, while the detention of the fourth — whose identity remained unclear — was extended pending a court session….
3 Palestinians detained in wake of Huwwara clashes, settler who killed 1 remains free
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 May — Israeli forces detained three Palestinians suspected of having been involved in clashes in the occupied West Bank district of Nablus a week prior, during which an Israeli settler shot and killed a young Palestinian man. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement on Wednesday that the three residents of the village of Huwwara, where the deadly incident took place, were “suspected” of throwing stones at the settler’s car when he drove in the middle of clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian youth demonstrating in solidarity with an ongoing prisoner hunger strike. Al-Samri did not specify when the three were detained.
In an interview published by Middle East Monitor on Tuesday, the settler, a resident of the nearby illegal settlement of Itamar, claimed that a Palestinian ambulance deliberately blocked his way, adding that a paramedic tried to open his car door, while Palestinians “with murder in their eyes” were throwing stones at his vehicle. The settler added he shot without seeing where he was aiming, and that he fled in his car once the ambulance moved out of the way. Muataz Hussein Hilal Bani Shamsa, 23, was killed in the shooting, while Palestinian journalist Majdi Ishtayeh was injured.
However, an investigation by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) quoted eyewitnesses as saying that the settler had attempted to run over a number of protesters at high speed, and that the ambulance driver had blocked the way in an effort to prevent him from harming any of the demonstrators. The settler then opened fire at the protesters, before an Israeli military vehicle arrived at the scene and heavily fired tear gas in the area, causing Palestinians to disperse, while evacuating the settler from the area.
The ambulance driver for the municipality of the nearby village of ‘Aqraba was also detained for “seemingly” obstructing the settler’s vehicle during the clashes, “posing a real danger to the driver’s life,” al-Samri said in a statement at the time.
Aqraba Mayor Ayman Bani Fadel told Ma‘an on Thursday that the ambulance driver, whom he identified as Yousif Moussa Deiriyyeh, was blocked off by the army during the clashes while he was trying to assist wounded demonstrators, adding that the ambulance driver threatened to prosecute the soldiers for preventing him from doing his work. Deiriyyeh was then detained a day after the deadly clashes, and has been held in Megiddo prison, where he has had his remand extended until May 29, Bani Fadel added. The mayor said that ‘Aqraba’s ambulance was also still held by Israeli authorities a week later, adding that it was the first time that Israeli forces had detained an ambulance driver and confiscated an ambulance from the municipality….
Palestinian cars torched in ‘price tag’ attack in northern Israel
+972 Blog 24 May by Yael Marom — Residents of ‘Ara [or ‘Ar‘ara], a Palestinian village in northern Israel, awoke on Wednesday morning to find that two of their cars had been set on fire and the words “price tag” spray-painted in Hebrew on the wall of one of their homes. Police arrived on the scene of the incident and have opened an investigation, although there are currently — as expected — no suspects. The graffiti on the wall in ‘Ara also said “regards from the removed,” likely referring to an administrative order that the Shin Bet against extreme right activist Meir Ettinger, as reported on Tuesday. The order bars him from the West Bank for six months, and from Jerusalem for three months. The order also places Ettinger, who was released from a 10-month spell in administrative detention around a year ago, under night-time house arrest. Ettinger is not the only right-wing figure whose activities the police are trying to curb through use of administrative orders with no trial, and through declaring various parts of the country off-limits. But it seems that, as usual, Arabs are paying the price for police efforts to tackle the so-called hilltop youth’s extremist right-wing violence … Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen, who visited the scene of the attack in ‘Ara on Wednesday morning, commented that “the Israel Police are displaying criminal incompetence in dealing with ‘price tag’ terror. It’s remarkable that the police fail to catch the perpetrators, who then continue to set fire to cars, houses, and places of worship. “Would the police have been this lax in dealing with acts by Palestinians? Why do we have to wait for the next disaster, for the next Duma?”
Palestinian youth arrested with pipe bombs next to West Bank military court
Haaretz 24 May by Yotam Berger — A Palestinian youth was arrested Wednesday morning after being found in possession of two pipe bombs near an Israeli military court in the northern West Bank. The youth had arrived together with another Palestinian to a checkpoint adjacent to the Samaria Military Court near the village of Salem when at metal detector at the checkpoint went off, alerting security forces to search him and find the pipe bombs. Army sappers who arrived at the site later neutralized the explosives. The two Palestinians, residents of the Jenin refugee camp, were arrested and taken for further investigation, according to the Border Police. A similar incident took place earlier this month, when a Palestinian was caught at the same checkpoint also carrying a pipe bomb. He was arrested and the subsequent investigation revealed that he had intended to detonate the explosive inside the court.
Israeli soldiers invade Bil‘in, ransack homes and confiscate laptop
IMEMC 24 May — In one of the numerous nightly incursions, Israeli troops invaded the village of Bil‘in, west of Ramallah in central West Bank, at 3 am Wednesday, terrified sleeping residents while violently searching their homes, and illegally confiscated a laptop. The army invaded with several jeeps and armored vehicles, and stationed themselves in the center of town, before breaking into many homes of sleeping residents. Local photojournalist Haithem Khatib said the soldiers also broke into the homes of Abdullah Abu Rahma, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Colonies in Bil‘in, and Basman Yassin, and violently searched them, before confiscating a laptop. He added that the soldiers also assaulted him for live streaming their invasion, wounding him in the chest and neck. The live stream [above] includes the invasion and ransacking of the home of Abdullah Abu Rahma. Several times during the invasion, which lasted for about an hour, the soldiers fired live rounds. Bil‘in is long known as the center of non-violent resistance during the second Palestinian Intifada, launching the first of what would become years of weekly Friday protests against the Wall and Settlements in 2003…
Israeli soldiers abduct five Palestinians near Jerusalem
IMEMC 26 May — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Thursday evening, five Palestinians from a local mosque in Hizma town, east of occupied West Bank, after surrounding the mosque and invading it. Local sources said the soldiers surrounded the mosque, after the Palestinians held evening prayers, and stormed into it before abducting Amjad Omar Kanaan, Ghassan Omar Kanaan, Ghazi Badr Khatib, Ishaq Mohammad and Mustafa Jabr. The invasion and abductions led to clashes between local youngsters and the soldiers who’d fired many gas bombs, causing several residents to suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation. Although the soldiers withdrew from the town, they are still surrounding it, installed roadblocks and are preventing the Palestinians from entering or leaving it.
PA arrests 12 Palestinians in 48 hours, Hamas says
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 May — Palestinian security forces arrested 12 Palestinians between Sunday night and Tuesday morning, the Hamas movement said in two separate statements, accusing the Palestinian Authority (PA) of targeting people with politically-motivated detention campaigns. In a statement published Tuesday morning, Hamas said that the PA arrested eight Palestinians the previous night in raids, including university students and former prisoners — including one woman. In Bethlehem, the preventive security service arrested Muhammad Ahmad Qaraqe and Mumen Zboun, “for holding Hamas flags during a celebration welcoming a freed prisoner,” according to Hamas. Preventive services in Bethlehem also arrested former prisoner 19-year-old Yasmin Abu Srour from the ‘Aida refugee camp, “for the second time in a row.” In the central Salfit district, PA intelligence arrested Amir Ammad Marie, Abd al-Rahman Ahmad Marie, former prisoner Bilal Assi, as well as former prisoner and student at the al-Najah University Musallam Ishtayyeh, after they were summoned by the PA, according to the statement. Hamas said that Nidal Fattash from Salfit was also summoned by the PA intelligence to undergo interrogation. Preventive services also summoned Bilal Marie, Suhaib Marie, and Adnan Azzam Marie from the the town of Qarawat Bani Hassan in the Salfit district. Intelligence services in the northern Tubas district also arrested student of the al-Quds Open Univerisy Numan Sawafta on Monday evening. Hamas’ statement also said that PA services continued to hold former prisoner Muhammad al-Aqra, from Tulkarem in the northern West Bank, for the 64th day in a Jericho jail, “despite his deteriorating health condition.”
Hamas had also issued a statement Monday morning saying that Palestinian security services arrested four Palestinians Sunday night in raids, including three former prisoners. In the northern city of Nablus, the PA preventive services arrested former prisoner Mahran Abu Khamis, who was released from Israeli prison three months earlier after spending 12 years in Israeli custody, according to Hamas. In Tulkarem, preventive services arrested former prisoner Ahmad Fadel al-Sabbah after summoning him for questioning on Sunday morning. Hamas said that al-Sabbah was released from Israeli prison one month ago….
Israeli forces detain 36 Palestinians during raids in West Bank, Israel
[with videos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 May — Israeli forces detained at least 36 Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and Israel during overnight raids between Wednesday and Thursday, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources.
In the northern West Bank, Israeli forces detained at least 21 Palestinians, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that a Palestinian was detained in the village of Jabaa in the district of Jenin, while a Palestinian was also detained in the village of Shweika in Tulkarem. Local sources told Ma‘an that six Palestinians were detained in the village of Dhinnaba in Tulkarem, identified as Moussa al-Araj, Usama Matar, Ahmad Qandil, Assid Balaawi, Ibrahim Khalid, and Khalid Muhammad Qassem Jawabreh. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the detentions. Another Palestinian was detained from the al-Faraa refugee camp in the Tubas district, according to the spokesperson. Meanwhile, in the Qalqiliya district, a Palestinian was detained in the village of Immatim, while two more were detained in the ‘Azzun village, according to the Israeli army spokesperson. According to local sources, Israeli forces also detained Saif al-Din Omar, the newly elected mayor of the village of Sanniriya in Qalqiliya. The army spokesperson added that two Palestinians were detained in Nablus’ ‘Askar refugee camp, and two more were detained in what is known as New ‘Askar refugee camp. Local sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces also detained two Palestinians from the village of Burin in Nablus, identified as Bilal Jamal Ismail Qadus, 24, and Khalid Hisham Najjar, 22…
Central West Bank: In the West Bank district of Ramallah, the Israeli army shut down a print shop in Ramallah city during a raid, and claimed that the shop had printed “incitement material,” according to a statement released by the Israeli army. Meanwhile, in the Ramallah-area village of Ni‘lin, the Israeli army closed a blacksmith workshop, claiming that it was used to manufacture weapons…
Southern West Bank : In the West Bank district of Bethlehem, Israeli forces detained a Palestinian woman and her brother from the al-Balu area of the village of al-Khader, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa. Meanwhile, in the southern Hebron district, Israeli forces confiscated seven vehicles in the village of Yatta, claiming that they were being used to transfer undocumented Palestinians into Israel. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed to Ma‘an that the seven vehicles were confiscated as part of the army’s efforts against “terrorist-assisting infrastructure,” but could not answer further questions on whether the army had information that would lead it it to believe that the vehicles were being used to plan attacks against Israelis.
Israel Meanwhile, according to Hebrew-language media, 10 Palestinian workers from the village of Yatta were detained inside Israel during a dawn raid for reportedly lacking Israeli-issued permits. According to Israeli media, the Israeli police detained the workers during a raid into the town of Yahel, all of whom were reported to be from Yatta … An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an she was not aware of the detentions or if they had any connections with the vehicle confiscations in Yatta.
Beaten, blindfolded, humiliated // A young Palestinian’s tortuous ordeal in Israeli detention
Haaretz 26 May by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Being hurt in a clash with Israeli troops was just the start of Bara Kana‘an’s nightmare — Bara Kana‘an is hairless now. His head had been shaved earlier on the day we visited him last week, immediately after his discharge from the hospital. A black baseball cap now covers his bare pate, one arm dangles in a sling and he’s pale. He’s sitting in the living room of his parents’ home, surrounded by family members who have come to welcome him home. Israeli soldiers had cut off patches of his hair, apparently in order to humiliate him. The barber in Kana‘an’s village Beit Rima, northwest of Ramallah, tried to repair the situation by shaving his head completely. Kana‘an, who usually works at a carpentry shop in nearby Bir Zeit, looks a lot younger than his 20 years – maybe because he’s bald. For the past few years he’s been taking part in the weekly Friday demonstrations in the village of Nabi Saleh against the separation barrier and the occupation. The village, which is known for the persistence and nonviolence of its resistance, is situated about five kilometers from his home. Kana’an was there two weeks ago, too, when the demonstration was dedicated to a show of solidarity with the hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners who are incarcerated in Israel. Until then, Kana‘an had never been wounded or arrested at a protest. The demonstrators set out as usual at 1 P.M. from outside the mosque in the center of the village, and walked to the road that exits Nabi Saleh, which is dominated by a fortified-concrete Israel Defense Forces watchtower, opposite the settlement of Halamish … Everything was routine. Until the routine was brutally shattered, and a demonstrator was killed: Saba Nadal Abid, 20, from Nabi Saleh, died in a hospital after being hit in the chest by a bullet from a soldier’s Ruger rifle. After about half an hour of stones and tear gas, as Kana’an took refuge behind a garbage bin on the street, he saw that his 19-year-old cousin, Nadim Kana‘an, had been wounded; he had been hit in the back of the neck by a rubber-coated bullet. Bara rushed to Nadim to help him get to the Palestinian ambulance at the scene, as it always is during the Friday demonstrations, for every contingency – which always materializes: People are wounded or suffer from tear gas almost every week. The two cousins got into the ambulance, which set out northward in the direction of the hospital in Salfit, so Nadim could be treated. (Nadim was hospitalized for two days, and released.) But when they reached the intersection beneath the IDF watchtower, a group of soldiers darted out and blocked the road. Bara estimates that there were about 10 of them.
Some of them entered the ambulance and photographed the wounded Nadim. They then ordered Bara to get out of the vehicle. When searching him they found a slingshot, whereupon Bara was ordered to stand outside behind the jeep. He was blindfolded and his hands were bound behind his back with plastic handcuffs. That was the start of 10 hours of abuse, Ka’anan recalls now – the hardest hours of his life. At times, he says, he was certain he would not survive….
Palestinian teen in critical condition after being shot by Israeli forces in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 May — A Palestinian teen was shot and injured by Israeli forces on Tuesday afternoon [23 May] during clashes that erupted in east of al-Bureij refugee camp in the “buffer zone” of the central Gaza Strip. The Ministry of Health in Gaza said in statement that a 17-year-old Palestinian boy was critically injured in the stomach with live ammunition. Dozens of youths clashed with Israeli forces along the border line for the second day in a row, and set fire to tires as Israeli forces fired live ammunition at the crowd…
An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports.
On Monday, an unidentified Palestinian youth was shot by Israeli forces with live ammunition in the leg, during clashes in the same area near al-Bureij camp.
Israel to cut over a quarter of electricity provided to Gaza
Ynet 25 May by Elior Levy — As part of a power struggle between the PA and Hamas, Abbas decides to cut down the amount of money the PA pays for Gaza’s electricity, leading Israel to reduce the electricity to the strip accordingly — In two weeks’ time, Israel will cut over a quarter of the electricity it provides the Gaza Strip, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced Thursday. Every month, Israel provides the Gaza Strip with 125 megawatts of electricity, which costs NIS 40 million on average. Israel takes that sum out of the tax money it collects for the Palestinian Authority. Two months ago, the PA decided to stop paying that sum due to a power struggle with the Hamas government. The PA had demanded control over the Gaza Strip, including control over border crossings, as well as to receive the taxes Hamas collects from Palestinians in Gaza for services the PA provides. Hamas rejected these demands outright, leading Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to gradually cut down on the services the PA provides the strip for as long as it has no control over the enclave. Hamas, meanwhile, formed a committee to govern the Gaza Strip instead of the Palestinian unity government that sits in Ramallah, which Hamas claims does not take care of the strip’s needs. At first, the PA informed COGAT it was no longer willing to pay for Gaza’s electricity. However it has recently softened its position, telling COGAT that starting next month it will pay NIS 25-30 million every month instead of NIS 40 million. As a result, Israel has decided to reduce the electricity it provides the strip accordingly … Because of the electricity crisis in the strip, an average Palestinian home gets about six hours of electricity per day.
A ‘wage massacre’ in Gaza
EI 22 May by Hamza Abu Eltarabesh — Majid Abed Rabbu nearly fainted when he saw his bank balance. He only had $2 in his account. He did not know how he would buy medicine for his wife – who has been diagnosed with cancer – or support his three sons in university. “If things continue like this, my family and I will die slowly,” Abed Rabbu, a resident of al-Shati refugee camp in occupied Gaza, said. Abed Rabbu is an employee of the Palestinian Authority. In the past few months, the PA has drastically cut the salaries of its Gaza employees. Families numbering in the tens of thousands have faced increased hardship as a result. Most of the PA’s employees in Gaza have seen their wages fall by 30 percent, but some have complained of reductions as high as 70 percent. The timing of the cut is proving difficult for Ismail Ahmad, a father of five who also lives in al-Shati camp. He had recently finished paying back a loan taken to cover previous debts he had incurred and to buy some furniture for his home. Ahmad was shocked to find out in early April that his pay had been considerably reduced. “I thought we would finally have some relief, that I could buy school uniforms for my children and take them on a trip,” he said. “Because of the cut, all our dreams of having a more comfortable life have been blown away.” … It is widely believed in Gaza that the pay cuts – which some people are calling a “wage massacre” – were introduced as punishment for Hamas’ decision to form a new administrative body. That is despite the fact that some PA officials presented the cuts as a response to decreases in foreign aid for the West Bank and Gaza. “We are victims of a political game between two factions,” said Mahmoud al-Tattary from Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza. “One wants to reject Gaza, the other wants to separate it [from the rest of Palestine].” … Wages paid by the PA have been a vital source of revenue in Gaza. The rate of unemployment in Gaza – subjected to an Israeli economic blockade and three successive military offensives in the last decade – is the highest on earth, according to World Bank data published almost two years ago….
To pressure Hamas, PA now sticking it to the sick
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 25 May by Ali Dolah — A massive health crisis is looming in the Gaza Strip, as the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank has halted shipments of essential medicine, baby formula for sick children and medical supplies. The Ministry of Health in the national consensus government in Ramallah notified its counterpart in Gaza that it was stopping the shipments May 8. The medication and medical equipment/supply shortage has reached a critical stage, as more than 170 drugs out of the 500 essential ones have run out. The decision to ban medical supplies to Gaza is part of the PA’s most recent measures to tighten the noose on Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007 and is at odds with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party. The PA administers the West Bank. Other already-imposed measures have affected employees’ salaries and cut off Gaza’s power and water supplies. Munir al-Barsh, general director of the Health Ministry’s pharmaceutical department in the Gaza Strip, told Al-Monitor, “The consensus government … is responsible for supplying medication and medical and health supplies worth $40 million yearly to the Gaza Strip. The supplies are distributed to sick people for free, and those [people] benefit from the Palestinian medical insurance and receive treatment in hospitals and clinics affiliated with the ministry.” He said the West Bank ministry is using “the pretext that [the supplies] aren’t available in their warehouses in Ramallah.” “But we contacted companies that supply medication to the Health Ministry, and they told us that it is possible to supply Gaza. This reveals the intention to stir a health crisis in the Gaza Strip,” he noted. Already, about 31% of the essential medicines are completely depleted from the Gaza ministry warehouses, Barsh said, and another 30% might run out within weeks, “thus foreshadowing a possible humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.” He noted that the Ministry of Health in Ramallah is required to supply the essential medications, as determined by specialized committees and recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO). Much of the medication and supplies being held up by Ramallah are designated for Gaza by donor countries and WHO….
More than three years in prison for a fisherman from the Gaza Strip who transferred diving equipment to Hamas
Ynet 24 May — The Be’er Sheva District Court sentenced a fisherman from the Gaza Strip to 39 months in prison and an additional year for transferring diving equipment to Hamas four years ago. he court noted that in the context of the considerations for punishment, it was taken into account that the fisherman acted for the sake of his livelihood and did not belong to a terrorist organization.
From Gaza, when there is nothing left, sing
GAZA (The Citizen) 23 May — Heeding Samuel Becket’s advice that “when you’re in the shit up to your neck, there’s nothing left to do but sing,” a group of Gaza-based human rights and BDS activists compiled the following, amateur video-clip titled: Gaza: The Horror! The Horror! It includes some of the most shocking facts and footage about the deadly, medieval siege of Gaza, described by some activists as an “incremental genocide.” The performance is by Gaza-based activist Haidar Eid, adopted from one of Kawthar Mustapha’s vernacular poems summarizing the questions raised by almost all Gazans as to why this horror is allowed to happen.
Reports: Exit permits to be issued for West Bank Palestinians stranded in Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 May — The Palestinian Committee of Civil Affairs said in a statement on Tuesday that permits would be issued for residents of the occupied West Bank stuck in the besieged Gaza Strip allowing them to return to the West Bank, after a one-year ban by Israeli authorities. Head of the committee’s media relations office Muhammad al-Maqadma said that Palestinians who hold West Bank identity cards and are stuck in the Gaza Strip could register their names at the committee’s headquarter in Gaza “to enable them to return to their homes in the West Bank.”Al-Maqadma said that issuing such permits had been halted by Israel for almost a year, “but after conducting serious efforts by Minister Hussein al-Sheikh with Israeli authorities, the issuing of permits was resumed.” However, when asked about the reports from the Palestinian civil affairs office, a spokesperson for the Israeli Civil Administration denied the claims, telling Ma‘an that “no policy change has been made.” The spokesperson said that a resident of the West Bank in Gaza and wants to return to the West Bank “can apply through the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee and the request will be handled by the Coordination and Liaison Administration for the Gaza Strip according to the procedures.” Earlier this month, NGO Gisha reported that the number of exits through the Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip in April was only 4,677, a drop of 23 percent compared to the already low number for March, and a drop of 62 percent compared to the average monthly number of exits in 2016….
Prisoners’ ‘Freedom and Dignity’ mass hunger strike
On 38th day, hunger strikers threaten individual action to pressure Israel
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 24 May — As hundreds of Palestinian prisoners entered the 38th day of a mass hunger strike in Israeli custody on Wednesday, the hunger strikers have reportedly discussed escalating tactics to pressure Israeli authorities into acceding to their demands. The news came as dozens of prisoners, including hunger strike leader Marwan Barghouthi, were taken to hospitals on Wednesday for medical examinations. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies (PPCS) quoted anonymous sources located inside Israeli prisons as saying that the hunger-striking prisoners were considering breaking the unity of the hunger strike should one of the hunger strikers die amid continued Israeli refusal to negotiate with the prisoners. While the estimated 1,300 prisoners currently participating in the strike have so far stood united behind Barghouthi, a prominent Fatah leader, a “breakup” of the strike would mean that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) would have to negotiate with each prisoner individually, which PPCS head Rafaat Hamdouna said could lead to “a chaos that IPS can’t control or afford.” While PPCS did not indicate that this was an option officially being considered by the hunger strikers, Hamdouna hypothesized that some prisoners might decide to use violence and carry out stabbing attacks against IPS guards and officials should the strike go on without official leadership …
A Palestinian Prisoner’ Society (PPS) lawyer who visited hunger striker Muhammad al-Ghoul in Ohalei Kedar reported that the conditions in which the hunger strikers were being held were increasingly unhygienic in an effort to break their will to go on with the movement. Al-Ghoul told PPS that the prisoners had been given worn out and dirty covers, that their cells were infected with bugs, and that hunger strikers who had been transferred to Ohalei Kedar after May 16 had not been allowed to change clothes or underwear …
Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs lawyer Hanan al-Khatib, who recently visited hunger-striking prisoner Yousif Kamel al-Zaaqiq, said that IPS had imposed an information blackout on the health conditions of the hunger strikers and the daily transfers of prisoners from one detention facility to another — a tactic used to exhaust, demoralize, and isolate the hunger strikers. Al-Khatib said that Hadarim prisoners were regularly fainting, and suffered from kidney and joint pains, serious weight loss, and difficulties moving, adding that ambulances were constantly stationed at the entrance of the prison to transfer hunger strikers to hospitals. Nonetheless, the media committee said that IPS officials in Hadarim were still conducting searches of prisoners and their belongings and confiscating salt — the only nutrient that the hunger strikers have been consuming besides water….
Fears of death loom as Palestinian prisoners enter 39th day of hunger strike
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 May — Several human rights organizations along with the United Nations (UN) have expressed serious concerns over the health conditions of some 1,300 Palestinians who entered their 39th day of a mass hunger strike across Israeli prisons on Thursday, as Palestinian leaders fear possible deaths as hunger strikers continue being transferred by the dozens to Israeli civilian hospitals. The hunger-striking prisoners are calling for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial — among other demands for basic rights. Fears of death as more hunger strikers transferred to hospitals : Head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe said in a statement on Thursday that the health conditions of the hunger strikers have become “very critical,” and expressed his concern over possible deaths of the prisoners if Israel Prison Service (IPS) continued to refuse their demands.
Qaraqe said that calls were still being made to legal and international institutions, along with initiating calls with Israeli authorities “around the clock” concerning the hunger strike … “Israel has become concerned and surprised when they found that field hospitals were not enough to take in all the prisoners,” he added, referring to controversial medical clinics that were set up in several Israeli prisons when the hunger strike began — sites many fear could be used to force feed the hunger strikers en masse.
Abbas made a statement on Thursday during a Fatah Central Committee meeting in Ramallah saying that the prisoners’ cause was “deeply discussed” with Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special representative for international negotiations. He added that Palestinian leaders had informed Greenblatt of the details around the hunger strike and that they were “hoping to be in touch with Greenblatt again soon to hear his responses concerning the prisoners’ demands.”
As prisoners strike, relatives wait and hope
EI 24 May by Budour Youssef Hassan — On Friday, 12 May, Sumoud Karajah’s phone rang. “Jamil Ankoush is fine,” a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, said on the other end of the line. “He is on hunger strike and sends you his greetings from Shatta prison.” No additional information was given, no explanation offered, and Sumoud’s desperate need to know more about her fiancé was hardly satisfied. But still, that one sentence was enough to bring the color back to her face. That Jamil, in this stage of his hunger strike, still remembered her number and gave it to the ICRC, “meant the world to her.” “At least now I know that he is still alive and I know where he is being held, but also that he is thinking of me,” Sumoud, 29, told The Electronic Intifada. “When the Red Cross representative mentioned that they met Jamil, I shrieked in relief and delight. I think the entire village heard me scream.” … Until that phone call on 12 May, all of Sumoud’s efforts to find even a sliver of information about Jamil had proven fruitless. “Waiting for news on the hunger striker is like torture,” she said. “You live with your family, you try to remain calm, to go to work, to pretend you are strong, but your heart and mind are elsewhere, in a cell that you don’t know, with the person you love.” … Those left outside Sumoud regularly attends the prisoner solidarity tent in Ramallah, to stand with prisoners’ families and draw strength from them. Mothers, sisters, daughters and partners of hunger strikers have always been at the forefront of the struggle to demand freedom and justice for their loved ones, and this hunger strike is no exception. But besides leading solidarity actions, women have to fill the void left behind by the long-term imprisonment of their partners and to bear the responsibilities traditionally taken up by men. When Majd Barbar, Fatimah Barbar’s husband, was imprisoned in 2001, their son, Muntasser, was not yet two years old, and Fatimah had only just given birth to their baby girl, Zeina, two weeks earlier … Majd worked as an electrician at a hotel in Jerusalem and was arrested at the height of the second intifada. Though he did not confess to any of the charges leveled against him, he was eventually convicted of forming an armed resistance group in Jerusalem and belonging to the PFLP, the left-wing Palestinian movement criminalized by Israel. Majd, then 25, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Fatimah, then just 23, was forced to raise the kids and make ends meet on her own….
Israel treats prisoners worse than apartheid, says Robben Island veteran
EI 25 May by Adri Nieuwhof — On 15 May, many South Africans fasted in solidarity with more than 1,300 Palestinian prisoners who have been on hunger strike in Israeli prisons to demand their basic rights. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, more than a dozen members of the government, trade union leaders, icons of the liberation struggle, celebrities and others joined the one-day fast, sending a powerful message of support to imprisoned Palestinians. During apartheid, South African political prisoners also used hunger strikes to protest their inhumane conditions … Mandela and his fellow prisoners launched a protest hunger strike in 1966. Their prison commander felt compelled to address the grievances after only a week, former Robben Island prisoner Sunny Singh recalls. But now, even as the Palestinian mass hunger strike approaches 40 days, many prisoners have been hospitalized, and yet Israeli prison authorities are refusing to negotiate. Instead, Israel has reacted with punitive brutality, including placing leaders in solitary confinement.
The situation of the Palestinian prisoners reminds the older generation in South Africa of their past. Singh, who participated in the 1966 hunger strike, spent 10 years on Robben Island for his involvement in Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the African National Congress. I worked with Singh when he acted as the ANC’s representative to the Netherlands. The demands of the Palestinian prisoners are the same as the political prisoners on Robben Island, Singh wrote in an article for the South African newspaper [Sunday Tribune]. “For us on Robben Island in the early 1960s, there was a struggle for every imaginable thing – against abuse, and for clothing, blankets, medicine, visits – but most importantly, it was a constant struggle for food,” Singh recalls. “We were beaten by our captors, but never experienced the type of abuse and torture that some of the Palestinian prisoners complain of. It was rare that we were put in solitary confinement, but this seems commonplace in Israeli jails,” Singh adds. Singh recalls that the hunger strikes were “always successful” and never lasted more than a week before prison authorities addressed the grievances….
How my father survived a hunger strike in Israel
Al Jazeera 25 May by Shahd Abusalama — …Palestinian prisoners have engaged in hunger strikes as a nonviolent method of protest since 1968, after Israel occupied the remaining Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Some strikes have been regarded as successful, while others were seen to have failed to reach their goals. Here, Palestinian activist and writer Shahd Abusalama reflects on her father’s experience participating in a mass hunger strike in an Israeli jail almost four decades ago — “If we had not resisted through mass hunger strikes, we would have remained like the slaves from the Middle Ages,” my father, Ismail, told me during a Skype call after I forced him to revisit his memories from the 33-day legendary Nafha prison hunger strike that he joined 37 years ago … In 1980, my then 27-year-old father had been in Israeli jails for 10 years, which seemed trivial compared with the seven lifetime sentences he had been given for his affiliation with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) group. He would have ultimately ended his days in Israeli prisons, had he not been part of the 1985 prisoner exchange.
He was one of 80 Palestinian political prisoners who had been transferred to the then recently opened Nafha prison in the Naqab (Negev). Conditions were extremely harsh. It was located in the desert – one kilometre above sea level – “which meant that it was boiling hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter,” my father recalled. “It consisted of narrow cells that hardly saw the sun; each had a partially covered narrow rectangular window just below the ceiling and a metal door with a small aperture externally controlled by the prison guards. “Each cell, that would normally be suitable for two, was packed with eight prisoners; we were allowed only a half-hour walk per day outside these cells in a yard that was less than 400 square metres and had a barbed wire ceiling. We were not allowed to walk in groups; only as individuals or at most in pairs, and we just walked in circles under the hard gaze of Israeli soldiers.” The Israeli authorities had chosen the 80 detainees transferred to Nafha from among thousands of Palestinian prisoners. The 80 were deemed to be the most stubborn detainees. The prisoners themselves feared that the success of this “disciplinary” action would mean that “all detainees’ achievements prior to 1980 were void” and would create a precedent to be applied to other Palestinians under detention. “So, from day one in Nafha prison, we realised that we had to prepare ourselves to counteract this oppression,” my father said. “The alternative was a death sentence.” In the run-up to the strike, the detainees drafted a list of demands and submitted it to the prison administration. Most of those demands were rejected. “At that point, we realised that a hunger strike was our only resort,” he said … The demands were an end to collective and individual punishment, particularly the use of solitary confinement, the replacement of the pieces of sponge for sleeping with proper beds, blankets, winter and summer clothes, bimonthly family visits, access to food items in the prison canteen on an equal footing with Jewish prisoners, access to newspapers and books, expansion of cell windows and extending the daily outdoor walk to an hour … Whenever Palestinian prisoners have gone on hunger strike, the Israeli authorities have responded by punishing them collectively. The Nafha hunger strike was no exception. “Nine days into our strike, 26 of our comrades were forced into a steel cell on a truck, sprayed with gas, and taken on what seemed like a death journey to an unknown location,” my father said. That location was later identified as a prison in Ramla, a city in present-day Israel. The gas made the prisoners – who were handcuffed and had their legs shackled – cough throughout the journey. In Ramla, the Palestinians “were ‘welcomed’ by Israeli prison guards queuing on both sides, who beat them with batons as they walked through [the prison],” my dad said. The beatings continued even as the prisoners changed into the uniforms they were forced to wear. Among those 26 prisoners were Rasem Halawa, Ali al-Jafari and Isaac Maragha, who died as a result of force-feeding in the prison’s clinic a few days later….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Neighborhood or community: how the settlement enterprise keeps growing
Ynet 24 May by Oded Shalom & Elisha Ben Kimon — It looks like a community, it is registered as an independent community in regional council documents, and it sits on an isolated hill. Officially, however, Kerem Re’im is defined as a neighborhood belonging to the Talmon settlement in the Binyamin region. Dozens of other communities are being built in the territories using the exact same successful method — A narrow and paved path leads to Kerem Re’im. Oak and carob trees grow on both its sides, and down the road we pass by a vineyard planted on a non-steep slope. It’s a relatively new settlement point in the west Binyamin region in the territories, which presents its to the Civil Administration and the state’s institutions as a new neighborhood belonging to the Talmon settlement, which is located several kilometers away. On the ground, however, it serves as an independent community, a settlement for all intents and purposes. It’s a sort of wink which is very common here, in a bid to help the place slip under the radar of the international community, which opposes the establishment of new settlements … The residents of Kerem Re’im, however, have no intention of living in such a crowded place forever. Half-built homes, in advanced stages of construction, stand at the entrance to the community. The construction work began a little less than a year ago and was stopped by a High Court order following a petition filed by the Peace Now movement, which argued that the construction was illegal and did not have the required permits. The petition further demanded that the Supreme Court instruct the Civil Administration to act on the demolition orders it had issued for the buildings. In the meantime, the large construction site stands deserted, the residents are waiting for the court to hand down its ruling, and until that happens — they are living their lives in caravans on the small hill.
While Donald Trump’s visit to Israel was not expected to lead to a renewal of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, the American president made it clear to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu three months ago that he expected him to restrain the construction in the settlements, and administration officials made it clear that Israel should avoid building in the territories as much as it could to allow the president to restart the peace process. Officially, therefore, the government is restraining itself when it comes to construction in Judea and Samaria and the establishment of new settlements. In practice, however, the construction in settlements is going on. New settlements are being established on the ground without being officially declared as communities, as part of a method which has become the informal way of growing and spreading the settlement enterprise in the territories….
Israel Land Authority offers land tenders in occupied West Bank
HAIFA (WAFA) 25 May — Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent a letter to senior Israeli officials on Tuesday demanding that they cancel open tenders offering “state lands” in the West Bank because the Israeli agency responsible for issuing these tenders has no legal authority in the 1967 Occupied Territories, according to a statement by Adalah. Attorney Suhad Bishara, director of Adalah’s Land and Planning Rights Unit, wrote in the letter to Israel Land Authority (ILA) Director Shimron Adiel, Construction Minister Yoav Galant, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, and to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, that the ILA does not have the legal authority to offer land tenders in the West Bank. During 2016 and 2017, the ILA published open tenders for available plots in West Bank settlements including Givat Ze’ev, Ma’ale Adumim, Alfei Menashe, Ariel, Beitar Illit, Karnei Shomron, and Oranit. “The territories included in these tenders are being managed as if they are part of the State of Israel to which Israeli state law applies. This practice – for all intents and purposes – therefore annexes these territories to the State of Israel,” Attorney Bishara wrote. “The Basic Law: Israel Lands determines that Israeli land is ‘land in Israel belonging to the state, a development authority, or to the Jewish National Fund.’ In other words: land within the territory of the State of Israel.” Adalah emphasizes that this practice is a violation of international law, which determines that any long-term changes imposed upon occupied territories must be in the interests of the local protected civilian population. International law also forbids the occupying power from exploiting occupied territories for its general use.
Israeli bulldozers level Palestinian lands in Salfit
SALFIT (PIC) 25 May — A group of Israeli settlers stormed Thursday morning the Palestinian town of Qarawat Bani Hassan west of Salfit accompanied with a number of bulldozers and carried out razing operations. The PIC reporter quoted the town’s mayor Tamer Rayan as affirming that the Israeli bulldozers leveled Palestinian-owned agricultural lands with the aim of building new housing units in the nearby settlements. The local activist Khaled Maali pointed out that Israeli razing operations have recently escalated in the province, aiming to expand the eight settlements built illegally near Wadi Qana area in blatant violation of international laws.
Restriction of movement
Jerusalem: a destination too far for Gaza-born American
Jewish News of No. Calif. 24 May by Ahmed Alkhatib — In April I began planning what I believed would be a straightforward trip to Israel. But nothing is simple in the Middle East. I was born in the Gaza Strip, but left 12 years ago for the United States, where I applied for political asylum and, in 2014, became a naturalized citizen. I hold a U.S. passport and have no Palestinian ID card, as I left the Strip before the age of 16. I decided to visit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem this month to see my sister, who had received a scholarship to attend Hebrew University, and my parents, who were going to be in Israel for my father’s medical treatment. I also planned to visit some Israeli friends who share my commitment to peace and coexistence. After checking with the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco, I began making plans. The craziness began on Facebook. A week before my trip, I posted about how excited I was to visit Israel. Within minutes, dozens of angry, hateful and at times threatening comments appeared. Why? Because I dared to use the word “Israel” to describe my destination. The comments came from Palestinians, Palestinian Americans, “solidarity” activists and many others with seemingly no direct ties to the conflict…
Still, I was determined to enjoy my upcoming trip and was consoled by the generous support and encouragement of many of my Palestinian, Jewish and Israeli friends who were eager to host me and show me around. Unfortunately, what followed was more agony and disappointment. Upon landing in Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, my U.S. passport was taken away at the border control booth and I was instructed to sit in a holding area. After a lengthy wait, I was directed into a room where I was asked numerous questions about my family, places of residence and other details. Though I had expected some degree of questioning, I was alarmed by the focus on my Gazan background, despite the fact that I left as a young teenager. After answering all the questions, I was sent to another room with three officers, who gave me a terrible piece of news: “You will not be admitted into Israel because you have a Palestinian ID number.” I argued that as a U.S. citizen, I had essentially given up my Palestinian citizenship; I have no official status in the Territories. The officers ignored my repeated offers to show documentation, including my communications with the San Francisco consulate, and pulled up a program on their computer that included a picture of myself as a child. As far as Israeli records were concerned, I was still an “active Palestinian citizen,” and would be treated accordingly. I offered to put down a $3,000 security deposit, and showed thousands of dollars of hotel and tour reservations in Israel, but was still told no. I asked if it would be possible to be routed through Jordan; the answer was no. I was next taken to a security room for an invasive strip search in which every part of me was probed and scrutinized by an officer. My body and my personal effects were swiped repeatedly by bomb-detecting probes. I felt humiliated. I felt violated. I was told that I would be deported, and that I would not have access to my passport until I was back in the U.S. I asked if I could get it back in Turkey so that I could stay in Istanbul for a few days with my brother and friends. An officer yelled at me: “Stop talking! Be quiet! We are the border police: We control what happens to you, and only we decide what to do with you.” I lost thousands of dollars on this trip….
Activism / Solidarity / BDS
The young Jewish Americans coming to Israel to fight the occupation
[with photos] SUMUD FREEDOM CAMP, West Bank (Haaretz) 26 May by Judy Maltz — Fadel Amer is preparing dinner in his cave for an unusual mix of guests: Young Jewish social activists from North America, leaders of the Palestinian nonviolent resistance movement and a former Israeli combat soldier. It will be a rather simple meal of stewed tomatoes, fava beans, hummus and pita bread. But Amer feels it is the least he can do to thank those who have devoted their time and sacrificed their comfort to join in his struggle. Amer was born in this very cave in the village of Sarura 55 years ago. It’s all that remains of the village today. About 20 years ago, frightened by settler violence and an Israeli military crackdown, all of the residents of this tiny hamlet in the South Hebron Hills gathered their belongings and moved away. Sarura is one of a dozen villages near the Palestinian town of Yatta whose residents, many of them cave dwellers, were – and in some cases, still are – threatened with evacuation and dispossession. Now, with the help of a newly formed coalition of Jewish and Palestinian anti-occupation groups, they are looking to return.
Last week, a group of some 300 Palestinians, Israeli Jews and Diaspora Jews joined forces with the original Sarura families to build the Sumud Freedom Camp (“sumud” is Arabic for “perseverance”) on the grounds of the former village. Their mission is to make Sarura habitable once again so that all the former residents can return. Two Jewish anti-occupation groups are participating in the initiative – the Center for Jewish Nonviolence and All That’s Left – alongside two Palestinian organizations that promote nonviolent resistance – Youth Against Settlements and Holy Land Trust – plus Combatants for Peace, a group of Israeli and Palestinian peace activists. About 130 political and social activists from Jewish communities abroad – mainly the United States – are participating in the initiative, which is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation. A father of 10 who wears a black-and-white keffiyeh around his head, Amer has become the activists’ test case. He is the first resident of Sarura to return to his previous abode. Over the past few days, with the help of activists camped outside, the cave where he was born and grew up is once again a livable space. Several of his cousins and nephews plan to follow his lead and move back over the next few weeks, he says. “I was born here and I will die here,” he declares … Last Sunday, after two quiet days with no disturbances, Israeli army troops stormed the site, tearing down three of the four tents and confiscating the generator activists had brought with them. One of the tents was re-erected, but on Thursday morning Israeli troops returned and tore it down again. The Sumud camp residents were told their encampment was illegal, but were not served with any written orders from the army….
Israeli army jails conscientious objector for fourth time
+972 Mag 25 May by Orly Noy — Israeli conscientious objector Atalya Ben-Abba, 19, was on Wednesday sentenced to a fourth stint in jail for refusing to enlist in the IDF. She has already spent 80 days in prison. Ben-Abba, a Jerusalem resident, was jailed after reporting at the military induction center, where she declared her refusal to serve in the army on the grounds that she was not prepared to take part in the occupation and repression of the Palestinian people. Ben-Abba was sentenced to 30 days’ jail time, after which she is expected to receive a further summons to report for duty, when she will once again refuse to enlist and reiterate that she is seeking to replace her army service with civilian national service. Last week, on the International Day of Conscientious Objection, Amnesty International Israel published the findings of a survey in which it compared draft refusal in Israel to that in several other countries with conscription. According to the survey, when compared alongside Western democracies, Israel is one of the most serious violators of conscientious objectors’ rights under international law. Amnesty International Israel recommends that conscientious objectors’ refusal be recognized as stemming from a legitimate conflict between their beliefs — for example, pacifism or religious faith — and military service. Ben-Abba is being supported by Mesarvot — Refusing to Serve the Occupation, a grassroots network that brings together individuals and groups who refuse to enlist in the IDF in protest at the occupation….
Students urge end to US-Israel police exchanges
EI 24 May by Nora Barrows-Friedman — The student government of California State University, Long Beach passed a resolution earlier this month calling on the administration to pull its investments in companies profiting from Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. The vote comes in spite of strong pressure on student senators by the university’s president to reject the resolution. Meanwhile, students in Wisconsin also passed a resolution standing up to the US-based weapons and policing industries that profit from Israel’s human rights violations … Meanwhile, the undergraduate student government at the University of Wisconsin-Madison voted unanimously last month to back a broad-based resolution that calls for the university to drop its ties to companies that profit from mass incarceration, theft of indigenous land, police violence, the US-Mexico border wall, economic injustices against people of color and Israel’s human rights abuses in Palestine … Sheriffs in Madison’s Dane County, Arain said, have participated in trainings by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a neoconservative think tank that claims to have organized Israeli training sessions for thousands of law enforcement officials since 2004. The resolution states that US-Israeli police exchanges “have actively contributed to the militarization of police forces” and the “extrajudicial killings of Black and Brown” people….
SodaStream bringing 74 West Bank Palestinian back to work at Negev plant
JERUSALEM (JTA) 23 May — Some 74 Palestinian employees of SodaStream, who lost their jobs when the company shut its West Bank plant in the face of international pressure, will return to work at its factory in southern Israel. The employees’ work permits, which allowed them to enter Israel from the West Bank, expired in February 2016. The Israeli government agreed to reinstate the permits after persistent requests from SodaStream and its CEO Daniel Birnbaum, The Jerusalem Post reported Sunday. “We are delighted to welcome back our 74 devoted Palestinian employees, who are able to join their 1,500 friends at our Rahat facility in the Negev,” Birnbaum told the newspaper. “The Israeli government did the moral and honorable thing to grant work permits to our employees, who can now provide for their families and also prove that coexistence is possible.” In October 2014, SodaStream announced it would close its factory in Maale Adumim and move to southern Israel in the face of pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, which seeks to hurt Israel’s economy over its policies toward the Palestinians. The movement claimed that SodaStream discriminated against Palestinian workers and paid some less than Israeli workers. Some 500 Palestinian employees lost their jobs at that time. Israel gave the remaining 74 employees permission to enter the country and continue to work for SodaStream until February 2016….
Economic indices paint gloomy future for Palestine
Al-Monitor 23 May by Khaled Abu Amer — The latest economic reports from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics indicate a rise of prices, which may lead to inflation — The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) indicated in a May 14 press release that during April 2017, the Palestinian consumer price index (CPI) “increased by 0.86% compared with April 2016.” The PCBS noted that the overall wholesale price index (WPI) in Palestine registered a 0.39% rise during the first quarter of 2017 compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. WPI for local products increased by 1.35% compared with the fourth quarter 2016, while agricultural commodities increased by 2.58%, vegetables and dried fruits increased by 5.91% and animal products increased by 4.39%. It should be noted that 2016 witnessed a 2.67% rise in WPI for local products compared to 2015. Also in 2014, the price index rose by 0.84% compared to the previous year. Concerns have grown that the Palestinian economy will see a record rise in commodity prices even as Palestinian wages remain low. Maher Tabbaa, the director of public relations and media at the Gaza Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Al-Monitor, “The rise in WPI and CPI in Palestine is dangerous to the Palestinian economy, as these indices have significantly inflated in recent years, which would worsen the financial burden borne by citizens. The inflation index is registering a record rise for the basket of consumer goods, on which citizens spend more than 86.9% of their monthly wages.”….
Mother of physicist believed killed by Mossad named mayor of West Bank village
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 24 May – Fatimah Breijieh, 64, a mother whose one of her sons was believed assassinated by the Israeli Mossad in 1999 in Bonn, Germany, was named as mayor of her village council following the recent local elections. Breijieh, a known activist in her village, al-Ma‘sara, southwest of Bethlehem with a population of 1200 people, ran for elections in an uncontested list, which automatically won all nine council seats in her village. The council members later met and unanimously voted to name Breijieh as council head, making her the first Palestinian rural woman to head a local council, even though Palestinian women had previously served as mayors in cities such as Ramallah five years ago and most recently Bethlehem. Breijieh attributes her popularity in al-Ma‘sara to working with young people and winning the respect of the different generations … Her program includes rehabilitating the village infrastructure, empowering women and building a recycling plant to create jobs for young people, whom she hopes will play a bigger role in society. She suffered a great loss in 1999 when her son, Imad, who was a physicist, was allegedly poisoned by the Israeli Mossad in Bonn and died shortly after. Another one of her sons is serving a 15-year prison sentence in Israel for resisting the occupation.
Modern architecture meets tradition in Palestine’s first planned city
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 23 May by Ibrahim Abdelhadi — A large Palestinian flag flies over Rawabi, the city in the West Bank that symbolizes Palestinian dreams of a haven that combines high living standards with the latest architectural design. Between Jerusalem and Nablus, to the north of Ramallah in the West Bank, the model city stretches over approximately 6.3 square kilometers (2.4 square miles). “The city is following the standards of urban planning as well as the latest architecture and modern construction standards,” Majid Abdul Fattah, the head of the Rawabi municipality, told Al-Monitor, “With the joint efforts of the Bayti Real Estate Investment Company and the Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company, the drilling and construction operations have been ongoing since 2010 with the aim of achieving a series of residential neighborhoods.”
But it has not always been easy for the city, whose construction workers were attacked with stones by the residents of the nearby Israeli settlement of Ateret, which lies on a hill close to Rawabi. They wanted to hinder the establishment of the Palestinian city thinking that its economic prosperity would prompt the Palestinians to hold onto this land. They also thought that the city would be a source of pollution and lead to traffic in the future.
[Fattah] maintained that Rawabi established a link between the present and the ancient heritage of the old Palestinian cities: The districts have been given old Canaanite names such as Sawan, meaning stone, and Makmatah, Dulaim, Waruar, Ikshaf and Tarsa. “The sidewalks and corridors of the city are paved with stones and bright-colored tiles with distinctive ironworks that are inspired by the past. The windows and building entrances are similar to the ancient Palestinian arches, which strengthen the ancient look of the place,” Fattah added. The city of Rawabi includes commercial buildings, gardens, sports courts, worship halls, hotels, banks, schools, the Taj Rawabi Cinema, restaurants, green spaces, a gas station, high-speed fiber-optic network and the Rawabi English Academy. Also, the city is set to establish the largest Roman-inspired amphitheater to accommodate more than 15,000 spectators. “We hope that Rawabi will serve as the birthplace of a new generation whose dreams will come true. There should be a geographical connection between the city of Rawabi and all of the Palestinian cities and villages to limit any settlement expansion in this region,” Fattah said, adding that the city had already hosted many key figures, including former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon….
The resurgence of Palestinian tribalism
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 25 May by Ahmad Abu Amer — The Palestinian local elections held May 13 showed that Palestinians voted for tribal and independent lists instead of political lists, giving serious cause for concern — Independent and tribal lists made remarkable progress in the Palestinian local elections held May 13, as they defeated factional lists such as Fatah and the Palestinian left … Yousef Tamiza, a campaign manager for the tribal National Alliance list in the town of Idna in Hebron, in the south of the West Bank, told Al-Monitor that the National Alliance list won 10 out of 13 seats, and included an alliance of seven families in the city of Hebron, namely the Tamiza, Islimiya, Abu Jahisha, Khalawah, Abu Zeltah, Awad and Abu Asaad families. Independent lists won the other three seats. Tamiza told Al-Monitor that the candidates of the tribal list are selected based on an organized system — each of the seven families presents its member who best fits the candidate profile for the list — and that people were impressed by the candidates, who are effective individuals with institutional experience. He said the electoral process within the tribes is very similar to the electoral process carried out by the Palestinian parties and independent lists, as they establish an electoral committee within the families and tribes; fill out and sort the electoral register; run for internal elections; and organize internal electoral campaigns, so that the winners in these elections serve as candidates in the local elections. Also, tribal lists won in several other towns — Beit Ula, Taffuh, Beit Kahil and Sair — in the south of the West Bank….
MADA: 33 Israeli violations against media freedoms in April
IMEMC/Agencies 25 May — A report released by The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) concludes that Israel violated press and media freedom 33 times during the month of April. According to a PNN report, April of 2017 witnessed a slight decrease in the total number of violations against media freedoms in Palestine compared to a staggering number of violations recorded in March, which came in at 51 violations. Still, violations in the month of April were above the general average. The decrease came as a result of a lower number of Palestinian violations, whereas Israeli violations remained at the same high rate reached during March.
Israeli forces committed a total of 33 attacks against media freedom (more than 80% of all violations recorded this month). The most prominent of these violations was the closure of four libraries in Hebron and Nablus following the raid and confiscation of some of their contents, under the pretext of “incitement”. Palestine TV reporter Anaal Bassem al Jadaa was injured with a gas canister, fired by an Israeli soldier, while covering a demonstration against settlement in Kafr Qaddum village. Palestine TV cameraman Bashar Mahmud Nazzal was shot in the leg with a rubber-coated metal bullet, while covering the same demonstration. An attack on WAFA News Agency photographer Mashhour Hasan, in Hebron, and the destruction of his camera while covering events in the city, was yet another incident.
US said pushing Israel to transfer parts of West Bank to PA administration
Times of Israel 24 May by Alexander Fulbright — The administration of US President Donald Trump is said to be pressing Israel to transfer parts of the West Bank to Palestinian administrative control as a goodwill gesture to help revive peace talks between the two sides. Despite a series of economic incentives approved on Sunday by the Israeli cabinet, the US wants to see greater concessions to the Palestinian Authority and views the recent measures as insufficient, Channel 10 reported Wednesday. Specifically they have asked for areas in the northern West Bank to be transferred from Area C to Area B, according to the report. Under the Oslo Accords, Area C of the West Bank (60%, where most of the settlements are located, and some 150,000 Palestinians live) is under full Israeli administrative and military control, while in Area B (22%), administrative control is the responsibility of the PA while the IDF is in charge of security. Area A (18%, encompassing the major Palestinian cities) is under the full administrative and military control of the Palestinian Authority. The Prime Minister’s Office later denied the Channel 10 report….
US media make Israeli occupation disappear
EI 23 May by Michael F. Brown — A New York Times graphic of 19 May, explaining the itinerary for President Donald Trump’s visit to the Middle East and Europe, appeared to place East Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall, as well as the entire city of Bethlehem, in “Israel.” But the graphic was altered over the weekend to include the West Bank without acknowledgment of the original error. Then, Monday, after an inquiry from The Electronic Intifada, this correction was added by the Times: “An earlier version of this article omitted labels for two places on Mr. Trump’s itinerary. Bethlehem is in the West Bank, and Vatican City is separate from Italy.” The New York Times was only one of several major outlets to make Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory virtually disappear. -Being coy about facts- The correction makes clear that The New York Times recognizes the fact that Bethlehem is indeed in the occupied West Bank. Less clear is the newspaper’s stance on East Jerusalem. The correction does not make explicit that the newspaper is willing to admit that East Jerusalem is also part of the West Bank. This is strange, given that the role of a newspaper is to report. As a matter of incontestable fact, East Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and al-Aqsa mosque, are part of the West Bank that was militarily occupied by Israel in 1967. The UN Security Council has repeatedly affirmed that East Jerusalem is part of the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel nearly a half century ago. The Western Wall plaza that Trump visited was created by Israel’s destruction of Jerusalem’s Moroccan Quarter, including the demolition of a 12th century mosque. The newspaper is at best being coy: it uses a sub-heading of “Israel and the West Bank” to refer to Trump’s itinerary taking him from Tel Aviv to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall….