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Netanyahu gov’t mulls bill to ban Israeli rights groups from bringing legal cases on behalf of Palestinians

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Israeli cabinet panel to consider bill barring High Court petitions on behalf of Palestinians
Haaretz 12 May by Jonathan Lis — A bill that would bar nongovernmental organizations from petitioning the High Court of Justice on behalf of Palestinians will be debated by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday.  The bill is being proposed following the wave of court petitions filed seeking the evacuation of settlements built on privately owned Palestinian land in the West Bank, notably Migron, and more recently, in February of this year, the outpost of Amona.  The bill would bar Knesset members from petitioning the court to challenge cabinet decisions and laws passed by the Knesset and would provide that no individual, organization or public agency could petition the court to challenge a government action unless that action directly and personally harmed either the individual petitioner, members of the petitioning organization or an interest that a public agency is entrusted to upholding … The bill’s sponsors include members of almost all the parties in the government coalition … The bill is aimed primarily at left-wing organizations such as Yesh Din, Peace Now and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which routinely petition the court on behalf of Palestinians. It was prompted partly by the fact that such petitions have repeatedly led to the evacuation of neighborhoods of West Bank settlements and illegal outposts that were built on privately owned Palestinian land.

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (4-10 May 2017)
PCHRGAZA 11 May — Israeli forces executed a Palestinian girl in occupied Jerusalem. 24 Palestinian civilians were wounded during peaceful protests in the West Bank. Among the wounded were 2 children and 5 photojournalists. Israeli forces continued to target the Gaza Strip border areas, but no casualties were reported. An Israeli agricultural aircraft spray fertilizers {? pesticides] over agricultural lands along the border fence, south of the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces conducted 64 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 2 limited ones in the Gaza Strip. 58 civilians, including 12 children, were arrested. Nine of them, including 4 children, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces stormed Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah and opened fire inside. Israeli forces continued measures to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. 5 houses and 2 commercial facilities located within the Israeli municipality boundaries were demolished. Settlers wrote curses against prophet Mohammed (pbuh) on the walls and punctured tires of 17 cars in Shu’fat neighbourhood. Israeli forces continued settlement activities in the West Bank. A house and a livestock barn in al-Jiftlek village, north of Jericho, were demolished. 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 Dozens of temporary checkpoints were established in the West Bank and others were re-established to obstruct the movement of Palestinian civilians. 7 civilians, including a child, were arrested at military checkpoints in the West Bank.

Palestinian local polls highlight Hamas-Fatah division
AFP 11 May — Palestinians vote in municipal elections on Saturday, but only in the West Bank and not the Gaza Strip, illustrating the persistent inability of rival movements Fatah and Hamas to overcome deep divisions. The Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip — the two territories that would in theory form an independent Palestinian state — have not participated in an election together since 2006. Islamist movement Hamas has run Gaza while president Mahmud Abbas’s more moderate Fatah has controlled the West Bank, since a near civil war erupted between the two sides a decade ago. Their failure to reconcile is seen as a major obstacle to any settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Efforts last year to hold joint local elections failed as the two parties failed to bridge their differences. Saturday’s vote for some 300 municipal councils in the West Bank, occupied by Israel for 50 years, has been seen as yet another sign that reconciliation may be a long way off … Abbas, whose term was meant to end in 2009 but who has remained in office with no election held, has grown unpopular among Palestinians, but he remains their leader in the eyes of the world …
The election on Saturday will involve 1.1 million voters. There will be 536 candidate lists with 4,400 candidates, the head of the electoral commission, Hisham Kheil, said. “Everything indicates that the vote should go well,” he said, while expressing hope that voters will show up at the polls. Turnout is a major question, however. A poll published by the respected Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research suggested only 42 percent of Palestinians wanted to vote. Some 22 percent said they do not believe the election will help reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. Forty-nine percent said Hamas was making a mistake in not participating, while 31 percent said it was not. As is usual, in some areas where family and traditional ties are strong, the village councils are agreed in advance and one list is formed, meaning the results are essentially known in advance. That will be the case for 180 districts, Kheil said. In cities, campaign posters adorn many walls, but the vote has seemed to generate limited interest from residents with other concerns….

Islamic bloc wins for 3rd year running in Birzeit University student elections
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 May — The student group affiliated with the Hamas movement won the most seats in student council elections in Birzeit University in the central occupied West Bank on Wednesday, the school reported, marking the third year in a row that the Islamist faction beat the Fatah-affiliated student group. In a press release Wednesday evening, Birzeit University reported that the al-Wafaa Islamic Bloc won 25 of the 51 student council seats, compared to the Martyr Yasser Arafat faction, which seized 22 seats. The Democratic Progressive Student Pole (al-Qutub), affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), won four seats, while other competing factions did not gather enough votes to claim any seats.
The Islamic Bloc maintained the same number of seats as in the 2016 student council elections, while the Martyr Arafat faction gained one seat, at the expense of al-Qutub. Dean of Student Affairs Muhammad al-Ahmad said that 74 percent of the university’s 10,859 students had participated in the election. The Birzeit student elections are closely watched by political observers across the country, as the university is considered to be the West Bank’s most prestigious center of higher education and a hub of political activism. Although outside political parties do not take part directly in the contest, each list is closely affiliated with a political party, as are the students involved in the campaigns….

Leading Hamas official says no softened stance toward Israel
GAZA (Reuters) 10 May by Nidal al-Mughrabi — One of Hamas’s most senior officials said on Wednesday a document published by the Islamist Palestinian group last week was not a substitute for its founding charter, which advocates Israel’s destruction. Speaking in Gaza City, Mahmoud al-Zahar, a regular critic of Israel, said the political policy document announced in Qatar on May 1 by Hamas’s outgoing chief Khaled Meshaal did not contradict its founding covenant, published in 1988. Trailed for weeks by Hamas officials, the document appeared to be an attempt to soften the group’s language toward Israel. But it still called for “the liberation of all of historical Palestine”, said armed resistance was a means to achieve that goal, and did not recognize Israel’s right to exist. “The pledge Hamas made before God was to liberate all of Palestine,” Zahar said on Wednesday. “The charter is the core of (Hamas’s) position and the mechanism of this position is the document.” … In its new document, Hamas said it agrees to a transitional Palestinian state within frontiers pre-dating the 1967 Middle East war but continues to oppose recognizing Israel’s right to exist and backs an armed struggle … Zahar denied that Hamas was trying to align itself with Fatah’s position. “When people say that Hamas has accepted the 1967 borders, like others, it is an offense to us,” he said. “We have reaffirmed the unchanging constant principles that we do not recognize Israel; we do not recognize the land occupied in 1948 as belonging to Israel and we do not recognize that the people who came here (Jews) own this land. “Therefore, there is no contradiction between what we said in the document and the pledge we have made to God in our (original) charter,” Zahar added.

Abbas says ready to meet Israeli PM as part of Trump peace efforts
RAMALLAH (AFP) 9 May by Sarah Benhaida — Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Tuesday he was ready to meet Israel’s prime minister as part of peace efforts by Donald Trump, who is expected to visit the Palestinian territories “soon”. The US president is expected in Israel later this month as part of his first foreign trip and Abbas said “we are looking forward to his visit soon to Bethlehem” in the occupied West Bank, with speculation it will occur on May 23. Abbas met the US president in Washington last week for their first face-to-face talks. “We told him that we were ready to collaborate with him and meet the Israeli PM (Benjamin Netanyahu) under his auspices to build peace,” Abbas told reporters as he met with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Trump announced last week that his first foreign trip as president will include stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican — the spiritual centres of Islam, Judaism and Catholicism. The stop in Israel is expected on May 22, though it has not been officially confirmed. A senior Trump aide last week did not rule out the possibility of a presidential visit to the West Bank, but said that it was likely to be contingent on security and Abbas taking concrete steps toward peace.

German president: Israeli-Palestinian peace ‘truly urgent’
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 9 May — Germany’s president said Tuesday that it is “truly urgent” to start moving toward a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Much time has already been spent on efforts to set up a state of Palestine alongside Israel, Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. “In the international community, there were many attempts and much time has passed, and those who know the region know that it has become truly urgent to implement proposals for a two-state solution,” Steinmeier said, standing next to Abbas. Steinmeier said he believes there is no alternative to a two-state deal and that “it’s high time to work on the requirements for it.”‘truly-urgent’

Anglican head backs Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace effort
AFP 10 May — The leader of the world’s Anglicans on Wednesday backed US President Donald Trump’s bid for fresh peace talks between Israel and Palestinians, saying “determined leadership” could tip the balance towards a resolution. Speaking near the end of a 12-day trip to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said Trump would be “in my prayers” when he visits the region later this month and attempts to restart the moribund peace process. “We have known from history in this region that determined leadership by the United States, together with patient working by lots of other people in the background, often unknown, can tip things very, very decisively,” he told journalists in Jerusalem. “When he comes here my prayer for him is he will be filled with determination and courage and given gifts of wisdom that will make a difference.”

Dublin City & Sligo County councils to fly Palestinian flag, marking 50 years of occupation
IMEMC/Agencies 10 May — The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) welcomed today’s announcements that Dublin City Hall will fly the Palestinian flag between 15th May and June [to commemorate both the Nakba and the Naksa], this year, following a vote by Dublin City Council, this evening. Sligo County Council also voted to fly the flag from the Council Building between 15th May and the end of the month. IPSC Chairperson Ms. Fatin Al-Tamimi, a Palestinian-Irish citizen whose family is originally from Hebron and Gaza, in the occupied Palestinian territories, said, according to the PNN: “We in the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign sincerely thank Dublin City and Sligo County Councils for voting for these important symbolic measures. They are in the words of the motions themselves, heartening ‘gestures of solidarity with the people of Palestine living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, with the Palestinian citizens of Israel denied basic democratic rights and with the over 7 million displaced Palestinians denied the right of return to their homeland’. I’m sure I am echoing the views of all Palestinians in Ireland in saying that these gestures have been truly soul-stirring and deeply emotional on a personal level. In relation to Dublin, the Irish capital is a city that welcomed me when I first arrived here to start a new life, and I am so proud and honoured that my adoptive city will fly the flag of my homeland, Palestine, in an amazing act of solidarity with my people….”

Development bank EBRD to invest in West Bank and Gaza
Reuters 10 May — The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is to start investing in the West Bank and Gaza, it said on Wednesday. The development bank’s shareholder governments approved the move which will initially last for five year and be financed with donations pooled from individual countries .It is expected to concentrate on energy infrastructure, renewable energy and supporting private businesses. “The EBRD can make an important contribution to the economy alongside other international financial institutions,” the EBRD’s President Suma Chakrabarti at the bank’s annual meeting. Chakrabarti said Israel, which is also an EBRD shareholder, had supported the move. Speaking to Reuters, Azzam Shawwa, governor of the soon-to-be-formalised Palestinian central bank, said the EBRD’s financing model and policy advice would be the main benefit. “The whole concept took long enough but it’s good that we made it and that the EBRD and others are moving into Palestine,” Shawwa said. “It is going to be something that is really supportive to the economy.”

FIFA: Delay of Israeli settlement club decision sets back reform
NEW YORK (HRW) 11 May — FIFA President Gianni Infantino today won yet another delay on deciding whether to allow the Israel Football Association to continue holding games in unlawful Israeli settlements in the West Bank, keeping FIFA in direct violation of its own statutes and commitment to respect human rights. Infantino won a 72 percent majority in FIFA’s Congress (its general assembly) to delay a decision on the issue for a fifth year, until March 2018. “Today’s decision to delay means FIFA will continue sponsoring games on stolen land, contrary to its statutes and human rights responsibilities,” said Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “After four years, it’s not clear why FIFA needs yet another year to decide whether or not to follow its own rules.” At today’s Congress in Bahrain, the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) proposed a resolution to require the Israel Football Association (IFA) to stop holding games in settlements in the West Bank, considered by FIFA to be part of the PFA’s territory. FIFA’s statutes prohibit a member association from holding games on the territory of another member association without its permission. Infantino pre-empted that vote with his own proposal, which the Congress approved, that the decision on the settlement clubs be transferred to FIFA’s Council, a 31-member governing body led by Infantino. The proposal that the Congress approved gave a deadline of March 2018, but Infantino said he would put the settlement club issue on the agenda of an October 27, 2017 FIFA Council meeting. Today’s move came after FIFA’s Council announced on Tuesday that a decision on the settlement clubs would be “premature.” Infantino told the Congress today that the Council’s recommendation was unanimous. FIFA has been confronted by this issue since 2013….

Opinion: Erasing Arabic: Israel tries again to distance itself from the Middle East /
Haaretz 10 May by Noam Shuster Eliassi — Israel’s nation-state bill, which just passed its first round in the Knesset, erases Arabic from our consciousness is yet only one more attempt to distant us from the DNA of the Middle East. As a Jewish-Iranian Israeli and fluent Arabic speaker, I want to stand on the rooftops and scream: Without my Arabic, I am lost here.  And we are indeed, lost in the wider Middle East without its native language. Professor Yehuda Shenhav’s recent research found that less than 1% of Jewish Israelis have a level of Arabic sufficient to read a simple news article.  That is insanity. We literally do not speak the local language. Make no mistake, way before this bill’s passage started, Arabic was transmitted to us as the idiom of the enemy, a language to be mocked, a language of low-status Mizrahi grandmothers, of Israel’s security forces, particularly its intelligence units. It is not ours. For many of us second or third generation Jews whose families arrived from Arabic-speaking countries – we literally do not speak our mother’s tongue … Both being fluent in Arabic and having Middle Eastern roots have played a huge role in shaping my identity. I could not imagine living my life here and dreaming about a better future without embodying myself how I envision it. That future is one where Jews, and Jewish Israelis, should, even must, know Arabic. Visiting our region – Jordan, Egypt, Palestine and Morocco – as I have done and witnessing Israeli Jews who have to communicate in English is not something we should consider “normal”, especially when those visitors are Jews whose origins lie in the Middle East. After years of being patronized and ridiculed for speaking Arabic, years of the Israeli intelligence services trying and failing to recruit me (time and time again I told them I had no interest in using my Arabic for spycraft), when I travel today to these countries along with non-Arabic speakers, they see my mobility in the shared space that a common language creates, and are more likely to respond by saying: “ “I wish we all did that. You are so lucky”. But there’s nothing extraordinary about me or my Arabic. But I am lucky that I took the language seriously, and I made it a priority to resist Israeli policies intended to change our linguistic DNA…. [Haaretz has several other interesting articles on this topic]

Pizza Hut fires Israeli PR firm over prison hunger strike ad
JERUSALEM (AP) 10 May by Ilan Ben Zion — Pizza Hut has apologized and fired an advertising firm responsible for an Israeli Facebook ad that mocked the leader of a mass Palestinian hunger strike. The ad on Pizza Hut Israel’s Facebook page was deleted, and the parent company said in a statement that the post was “completely inappropriate.” The ad attempted to make light of Marwan Barghouti, the imprisoned leader of the 24-day-old hunger strike … On Sunday, Israel’s Prison Service released a video claiming to show Barghouti secretly snacking that Palestinians allege was fabricated. Pizza Hut then published a Facebook post with a pizza box superimposed on Barghouti’s prison cell asking if he would rather have broken his hunger strike with a pizza. In a statement released by Pizza Hut International’s Middle East Twitter account on Tuesday, the company said it apologized for any offense and said the ad “does not reflect the values of our brand.” A spokesman for Pizza Hut’s parent company in the U.S., Yum! Brands Inc., did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Erez Rubenstein, a partner at the Israeli advertising company behind the ad, confirmed his firm had been dismissed and said the Facebook post was regrettable in hindsight. “We didn’t mean to offend anybody,” he said….

Television review: TV series puts human faces on Israel-Palestinian conflict
AFP 11 May — Hisham Suleiman now hears calls of “Abu Ahmad” when walking down the street — a sign of the popularity of a television drama that dares to present a complex view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The show “Fauda,” or ‘chaos’ in Arabic, sees Arab Israeli actor Suleiman portray Abu Ahmad, a Hamas militant being pursued by an Israeli undercover unit. Its first season captivated viewers by showing the more human aspects of characters often portrayed in black and white, while at the same time keeping them on edge with tense storylines. It is the first Israeli television show in both Hebrew and Arabic. A second season is now in preparation, and Netflix has also picked it up, with the first season available with English subtitles and dubbing. Avi Issacharoff, co-creator of the show and who for years covered the Palestinian territories as a journalist, said: “We tried to show both sides of the story.” “We wanted to show that even the bad guys are very different from what the average Israeli thinks.” The series follows Doron, a retired member of the undercover Israeli unit who breaks with the peaceful family life he had transitioned into and rejoins the fight at the request of his former chief. Suleiman’s character — the member of the Palestinian Islamist movement — is behind a series of suicide attacks that killed more than 100 Israelis. Doron thought he had killed him, but it turns out he is still alive, so the former agent returns to finish the job. The 12 episodes of the first season depict the pursuit that follows, with the story portrayed in meticulously constructed scenes reflective of the daily lives of Israelis and Palestinians. That includes pervasive security constraints, attacks and nighttime raids by the Israeli army in Palestinian territory. Two-thirds of the show is in Arabic, with the characters played by Jewish and Arab Israelis. In 2016, it won six Ophir prizes awarded by the Israeli Academy of Film and Television, including best dramatic series. It has also gained fans globally both due to its availability on Netflix and its appearance at international festivals. American writer Stephen King has been among the fans praising it…

Film review: Palestinians and settlers tried to make peace on their own, and then this happened
[with trailer] Haaretz 11 May by Judy Maltz — The documentary ‘The Field’ follows an Israeli-Palestinian grassroots organization during an unusually trying period in the West Bank — Years of struggling against the Israeli occupation have convinced Ali Abu Awwad, a prominent Palestinian peace activist, that if he can’t win the settlers over to his side, it’s a lost cause. So about three years ago, he built a small shack on a plot of land owned by his family in Gush Etzion, one of the large West Bank settlement blocs, and invited some settlers to join him in a new grassroots initiative. They would look each other in the eye for once, talk about their fears and dreams, pray together, plant crops together, share meals together, hike together, and start thinking out of the box about how to live together.  He gave the space this unpretentious name: “The Field.” “I know that so long as we don’t talk to those on the right, those on the left won’t make peace with us,” Abu Awwad explains in a new Israeli documentary set to premiere next week at the Docaviv film festival in Tel Aviv. “There are 600,000 settlers who aren’t going to disappear just because of some demonstrations in the Tel Aviv city square. If the Israeli left is weak and doesn’t have the courage to talk to the settlers, then that is Israel’s problem.” “The Field,” a feature-length documentary produced and directed by Mordechai Vardi, follows Shoreshim (the Hebrew word for “Roots”), a grassroots organization Abu Awwad helped create, during an unusually trying period for residents of this particular region. In the fall of 2015, barely a year after the initiative was launched, Gush Etzion was targeted in a series of bloody terror attacks. The fresh wave of violence challenges the bonds that have been painstakingly forged between the Palestinian and settler peace activists. In a particularly charged scene, following the stabbing to death of a 25-year-old Israeli woman at the Gush Etzion junction, Abu Awwad tries to explain to a group of agitated settlers gathered in his shack why it is difficult for most Palestinians to sympathize with them. The two sides in this conflict, he cries out, are not equals.“After we leave this place, you go back to your nice settlements, and we go back to our refugee camps,” he says. “You call us murderers and criminals, but you are sitting on our places of livelihood, you are sitting on our homes, and you are sitting on our hearts – not as partners, though.”….

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Palestinian woman blinded by Israeli rubber bullet returns home to Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 May — Fatima Obeid from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya left an Israeli hospital on Thursday blinded in one eye, after Israeli forces shot her with a rubber-coated steel bullet during a raid in April. The 52-year-old has permanently lost sight in her left eye. In April, Obeid was sitting on the balcony of her house with her daughter and son in-law when Israeli forces began shooting rubber-coated steel bullets into the neighborhood during a violent night raid aimed at dispersing a local dispute. Obeid suffered from fractures in her face and skull after the bullet struck her directly in the eye. Her family told Ma’an that the Israeli sniper “deliberately shot her in the eye.” The family added that they do not trust Israeli police investigations into incidents involving Palestinians injured by their forces owing to Israel’s continuous violation of international law.
Clutching a picture of her grandchildren, Obeid told Ma‘an that “even my grandchildren are now afraid of how I look. They hide every time they see me.” The family noted that the Israeli police initially denied that Obeid was shot with a rubber bullet, until the family showed them the bullet and her injuries as proof. Rights groups have routinely condemned Israeli authorities for their use of excessive force against Palestinians with “non-lethal” weapons such as rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas that often result in serious, sometimes fatal, injuries….

Israeli forces injure 11 Palestinians during hunger strike solidarity march
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 May — Israeli forces injured at least 11 Palestinians during a solidarity march in Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank on Thursday, as clashes erupted with Israeli forces near the illegal settlement of Beit El. The march set off from a solidarity tent erected at Yasser Arafat Square in central Ramallah city for the estimated 1,600 Palestinians currently on hunger strike in Israeli prisons. When protesters began to march toward the Beit El settlement — built on Palestinian lands in violation of international law — Israeli forces began shooting live bullets, rubber-coated steel bullets, and tear gas at demonstrators to prevent them from approaching the military checkpoint located near the settlement.
According to witnesses, five Palestinians were injured by live bullets, five by rubber-coated steel bullets, and one was wounded with “tutu” ammunition — .22 caliber bullets deemed less “severe” than normal bullets, but whose dangerosity led them to be temporarily outlawed by an Israeli court in 2001. Other witnesses at the scene also reported that Israeli forces had released skunk spray on the protesters — a putrid-smelling liquid Israel periodically uses against Palestinian protesters whose smell can linger for weeks at a time.
Hunger strike leaders initially called for a general strike on Thursday, but it was later cancelled for Palestinians to focus on solidarity actions instead in a “Day of Rage.”  According to witnesses, Israeli forces implemented tightened security measures across the West Bank in preparation for protests, including employing a helicopter to patrol at least one Israeli settlement in Bethlehem, while Israeli soldiers stopped Palestinian vehicles at checkpoints and took photos of their IDs. Others told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers had asked Palestinians for their phone numbers at checkpoints, and called them on the spot to ensure they were not lying.

Israeli forces open live fire on Palestinian vehicle in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 May — Israeli forces opened live fire at a Palestinian vehicle in the Wadi al-Hummus area in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem on Wednesday. Witnesses told Ma‘an that a vehicle attempted to enter Wadi al-Hummus when an Israeli police officer called on the driver to stop by putting on his police sirens. However, the driver did not appear to hear the sirens, and kept driving until he reached the Mazmoria checkpoint near the illegal Israeli settlement of Har Homa north of Bethlehem, where Israeli forces fired two bullets into the vehicle. Although the vehicle stopped after being shot at by Israeli army forces, Israeli police officers quickly arrived at the scene and also opened live fire on the vehicle. Witnesses added on Wednesday afternoon the Israeli police were surrounding the vehicle and preventing anyone from approaching the area. No injuries have been reported so far.

Palestinian teen detained after trying to enter military courthouse with pipe bombs
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 May — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian minor near an Israeli military court in the northern occupied West Bank on Wednesday after allegedly finding pipe bombs in his possession. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that the young Palestinian tried to enter the Salem military court in the Nablus district, but told Israeli police and army forces stationed at the entrance that he did not have identity documents on him. The Israeli officers then searched him and found two pipe bombs in his possession, al-Samri said, adding that the Palestinian teen had been taken to security forces headquarters for interrogation, and that investigations were ongoing. Israeli media reported that border police bomb disposal experts neutralized the pipe bombs on the scene. Al-Samri said that initial investigations seemed to indicate that the Palestinian youth was planning on detonating the improvised explosives inside the courthouse.

One night’s abductions:
Israeli soldiers abduct a Palestinian man in Hebron, confiscate his car
IMEMC 11 May — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Thursday at dawn, one Palestinian from the al-Roosh al-Foqa village, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and confiscated his car. The soldiers invaded the village, one of many communities surrounding Doura town, south of Hebron, before storming and searching many homes, and abducted Mohammad Othman al-Harbiyyat. The soldiers also confiscated Mohammad’s car, and took them to an unknown destination, media sources in Hebron said. Also in Hebron, the soldiers broke into a blacksmith’s workshop, confiscated its machines and tools, allegedly for being used to manufacture weapons. Furthermore, several Israeli army jeeps invaded the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, and Tulkarem refugee camp, searched homes and abducted two young men. Also at dawn, the soldiers invaded the West Bank city of Bethlehem, al-Khader town, south of the city and Wad Rahhal village, east of Bethlehem, and abducted four young Palestinian men. In related news, the soldiers invaded Rantis village, west of Ramallah in central West Bank, and sealed shut a shop, after alleging it “served as a gathering point for planning attacks against Israeli targets.” The Maan News Agency has reported that the soldiers have abducted 15 Palestinians in various parts of the West Bank, three of them in Kafr Qaddoum near Qalqilia, in northern West Bank, two in Kifl Hares village, west of Salfit, one in ‘Abwein village north of Ramallah, one in Husan town, west of Bethlehem, and one who was taken prisoner at the Allenby border terminal between Jordan and the West Bank.

Court actions

Palestinian charged over murder of British student
AFP 11 May — Israeli authorities on Thursday charged a Palestinian with murder over the fatal stabbing of a young British woman on a Jerusalem tramway last month, the justice ministry said. Jamil Tamimi, 57, from Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, was charged with premeditated murder, the ministry said in a statement. The ministry said Tamimi had entered the tramway with the intention of committing  and stabbed 20-year-old Hannah Bladon seven times. It said he chose her as a victim because she seemed incapable of defending herself. The April 14 attack took place on a tram close to the Old City, where thousands of Christians from around the world were marking Good Friday and as Jews marked the week-long Passover holiday. An off-duty policeman travelling in the tram overpowered the attacker with the help of another passenger. Israeli authorities have described the attacker as mentally disturbed, while Haaretz newspaper reported he had been released from a psychiatric hospital the day before the murder. Bladon was an exchange student at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University from Britain’s University of Birmingham.

Prisoners’ Freedom and Dignity mass hunger strike

Scores of Palestinian prisoners reported to join mass hunger strike on 25th day
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 May — As hundreds of Palestinians detained by Israel marked the 25th day of their mass hunger strike on Thursday, more prisoners reportedly joined the strike, while prisoners rights groups noted with concern the worsening health conditions of a number of hunger strikers. Sawt al-Asra (Voice of Prisoners) radio quoted anonymous sources on Thursday as saying that nearly 100 Palestinian prisoners from across the political spectrum had decided to join the hunger strike. Meanwhile, the Fatah Central committee called on its party members currently imprisoned by Israel to join the strike, unless they were sick, underage, or women. Sawt al-Asra estimated that nearly 1,800 prisoners were now participating in the strike. As Israeli authorities have severely restricted hunger-striking prisoners’ access to their relatives, lawyers, and each other, estimates of the number of hunger strike participants have been hard to corroborate. While the media committee of the hunger strike has reported that between 1,500 and 1,600 prisoners were forgoing food, Israeli authorities have claimed that fewer than 1,000 prisoners were participating…
Conditions worsen for hunger strikers in prison The media committee of the hunger strike reported on Thursday that the health of the hunger strikers was severely deteriorating, as prisoners experienced difficulty moving, severe dehydration, stomach aches, headaches, irregular heartbeats, and low blood pressure. The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said on Thursday that the hunger strikers’ health had reached a “tragic” level of “extreme danger,” as most hunger strikers had lost between 15 and 25 kilograms. Citing prisoner testimonies, the committee went on to say that some hunger strikers had begun to vomit blood….

First Red Cross visit for Palestinian hunger strike leader
JERUSALEM (AFP) 10 May — The Red Cross visited the leader of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails on Thursday for the first time since the strike began, a spokesman said. A delegate from the International Committee of the Red Cross visited strike leader Marwan Barghouti on Thursday morning, the spokesman told AFP, the first such visit since the strike began 25 days ago. The spokesman was unable to provide an update on his health “in accordance with the principles of medical confidentiality.” The ICRC had been allowed access to other prisoners on hunger strike, but Israel had been restricting access to Barghouti. Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners began refusing food on April 17, issuing a list of demands including better medical services, family visits and more dignified detention conditions….

Jerusalemites organize sit-in in solidarity with hunger strikers
[with photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 May — The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) and Palestinian Prisoners’ Families Committee in Jerusalem organized on Wednesday a sit-in protest in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, in front of the building of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem. Families of prisoners spoke at the sit-in, demanding international and legal organizations intervene “without any delay to achieve the demands of Palestinian prisoners,” who have been on mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons for 25 days as of Thursday. Head of PPS in Jerusalem Nasser Qaws said at the sit-in that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) was “trying to spread rumors to break the will of prisoners and their families,” referring to a video released by IPS on Sunday purportedly showing Marwan Barghouthi, the Fatah leader who organized the strike, eating in his cell during the strike. However, a committee formed to support the Palestinian hunger strikers quickly denounced the footage, calling the video’s release part of an Israeli “war of lies” to discredit the prisoner movement. Qaws added that as the strike entered its fourth week, some prisoners have stopped consuming water, “leading them to go through very difficult and critical stage.” Fatah official Hatem Abd al-Qadir spoke at the sit-in, saying that “our prisoners will not give up as they have sacrificed their freedom for our country,” while demanding the Palestinian Authority (PA) place the prisoners as a “top priority on their agenda.” Several mothers of hunger-striking prisoners spoke at the sit-in, expressing their concerns for the health conditions of their children, and condemning IPS’ denial of visitation permits throughout the strike….

Supporters of prisoner hunger strike call on Palestinians to boycott municipal elections
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 10 May — The committee of Palestinian prisoners’ families in the Nablus district called on Wednesday for Palestinians to boycott upcoming municipal elections in solidarity with the estimated 1,600 hunger-striking prisoners in Israeli custody. Elsewhere across the occupied Palestinian territory, supporters of the hunger strikers, who entered the 24th day of their strike on Wednesday, organized a number of actions to show their backing of the prisoner movement. Nagham al-Khayat, the wife of hunger-striking prisoner Yasser Abu Bakr, called on Palestinian society to escalate its support of prisoners on the ground, and demanded that the Palestinian Authority (PA) assume its responsibilities vis-à-vis the prisoners currently forgoing food to obtain basic rights. “We are not against elections, but we have demanded that they be postponed until after the end of the prisoners’ hunger strike, to no avail,” al-Khayat said. “Today we demand that all those who still have a conscience boycott local elections on Saturday for the dignity of Palestinian prisoners.” Al-Khayat also called on Fatah, the ruling party of the PA, to show its support of Marwan Barghouthi, the leader of the hunger strike movement, noting that the Fatah Central Committee had not commented until then on Israeli attempts to smear Barghouthi, notably by claiming that he had secretly been breaking his hunger strike.Meanwhile, the media committee of the hunger strike announced that church bells would ring and mosques would broadcast takbir — “God is great” — at noon on Thursday in the occupied Palestinian territory in a show of solidarity with the hunger strikers….

Wife of Palestinian hunger striker wants pope to intervene
AFP 10 May — The wife of the leader of a hunger strike by hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails has written to Pope Francis calling on him to intervene “before it is too late”. Fadwa Barghouti, wife of Palestinian leader and prominent prisoner Marwan Barghouti, has called on the pope to “speak up, because freedom and dignity are God given rights, and no human group should deprive another of these rights.” “Your call for respect of the rights of the Palestinian people, including the rights of our political prisoners, would allow the voice of those placed in isolation to reach the world,” the letter says. The Vatican has recognised Palestine as a state….

Israel blackmails ailing detainees: End your strike to get medical treatment
IMEMC 9 May — The Prison Authority of Ohali Kidar, one of Israel’s infamous prisons, has been blackmailing the hunger-striking Palestinian detainees who are ill or have fallen sick, informing them that they must end their strike before receiving any sort of treatment. Similar to other detention facilities and prisons where Palestinian detainees are held, the prison clinic at its best is not more than a room with a few beds and some painkilling pills, yet, even that is now being used to blackmail the detainees into ending their strike. Detainee Haroun Ayyad, who has been striking for the past 23 consecutive days, said that since the hunger strike started on April 17th, even prison “doctors” in Ohali Kidar detention facility have been bringing various types of food and placing them in front of the detainees, and then “negotiate” with them, telling the hunger strikers that they must eat first to get medical treatment. The Media Committee of the “Freedom and Dignity Hunger Strike”, formed by the Detainees’ Committee and the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS), has reported that Israeli prison doctors have turned the clinic in Ohali Kidar prison into a “showcase” where food is displayed in front of the hunger striking detainees in an attempt to have them end their strike. Lawyer Khaled Mahajna, who managed to visit Ayyad after several appeals with the Central Court in Beersheba (Be’er as-Sabe‘), said that the detainees are held in very small, dirty cells that lack proper ventilation, and that they have to sleep on the ground….

Nativity Church deportees in Gaza to undertake solidarity hunger strike
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 May — Palestinians who were deported to the besieged Gaza Strip following the deadly Israeli siege of the Nativity Church in Bethlehem in 2002 said they would undertake a one-day hunger strike in solidarity with hundreds of Palestinian who are on the 23rd day of a mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons. A representative of the deportees, Fahmi Kanaan, said in a statement that they, along with their family members still residing in Bethlehem, would launch the strike on Wednesday, May 10, which coincides with the 15th anniversary of their exile. Kanaan said that Nativity Church deportees in both the Gaza Strip and in European countries, as well as their families, have been supporting the hunger strikers and their demands since the beginning of the mass hunger strike on April 17. “We were also prisoners in Israeli jails and know well the suffering our heroic prisoners are facing,” he added, affirming that the deportees would not give up on their “national duty” to support political prisoners … Meanwhile, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs has called upon the Palestinian people and all their supporters worldwide to undertake an international day of fasting on Thursday in solidarity with the mass hunger strike.


NGO mourns 2 Palestinians after Israel denied them exit from Gaza for treatment
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 May — Health non-profit Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) mourned on Wednesday the recent deaths of two Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, including a five-year-old girl, after Israeli authorities denied them permission to leave the besieged territory for treatment. MAP cited the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, which reported in April the death of five-year-old Aya Khalil Abu Mitalq, who passed away waiting for Israeli authorities to grant her a travel permit to a hospital in occupied East Jerusalem to treat a metabolic disorder, after Israel had already failed twice to respond to permit requests submitted by her family.
Earlier this month, al-Mezan also reported the death of 59-year-old Walid Muhammad Muhammad Qaaoud, who passed away on May 2 after cancer metastasized all over his body, following more than a year of Israeli authorities rejecting his requests for a travel permit to receive life-saving treatment in a hospital in East Jerusalem. Al-Mezan added that when Qaaoud returned from his last visit to the Augusta Victoria hospital in East Jerusalem in November 2015, Israeli forces at the Erez border crossing between Israel and Gaza detained him for six hours, strip searched him, and forced him to stand on one leg facing the wall for a certain period of time. MAP quoted the World Health Organization (WHO) as saying that Israeli authorities had denied or delayed 40 percent of requests to leave Gaza for medical reasons in February, in a stark increase from 2012, when the rejection rate was 8 percent. “Israel, as the occupying power of the occupied Palestinian territory, is obliged to ensure that adequate medical care is provided to the people under its effective control,” MAP said in a statement on Wednesday….

Disability no barrier for Palestinian harvest volunteer
[with 9 photos] GAZA (Reuters) 11 May by Nidal al-Mughrabi — Nine years ago, Louy al-Najar’s life was changed forever by an Israeli missile that exploded as he rushed to rescue wounded neighbors during a Gaza war between Palestinian militants and Israel. He lost both legs below the knee, a crushing blow that has not dented his spirit. Now, aged 28, Najar has come to the aid of his neighbors again, joining them in a wheat harvest in fields near the border with Israel. Holding a scythe, Najar crawls along the ground, out to prove, he said, that “disability is in the mind, not the body”. “I try always to make myself useful and defy my situation,” said Najar, who completed a university degree a few months after his return from medical treatment in Saudi Arabia. Najar said he is unemployed and relies on support from charities. He joined the harvest as an unpaid volunteer and hopes his efforts will draw the attention of potential employers. “I want to give an example to people like me – they can’t give up,” he said. “At home I help my wife, I wash dishes, I sweep the ground and help my children with their lessons. I feel I am the happiest man in the world.”

Egypt closes Rafah crossing after allowing Palestinians to enter Gaza for 4 days
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 May — Egyptian authorities sealed the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the besieged Gaza Strip on Tuesday evening after four consecutive days of allowing Palestinians to return to Gaza from Egypt. The Borders and Crossings Committee said in a statement that a total of 3,068 Palestinians were able to enter the Gaza Strip from Egypt during the previous four days, adding that 832 Palestinians entered on Saturday, 1,458 on Sunday, 695 on Monday, and 83 on Tuesday. Egyptian authorities also allowed dozens of truckloads of goods and several new vehicles into the Gaza Strip, the statement said.

Hamas: Suspected killer of movement leader Mazen Fuqahaa arrested in Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 11 May — The new head of Hamas’ politburo Ismail Haniyeh officially announced on Thursday that the Hamas movement had detained the suspected killer of Hamas leader Mazen Fuqahaa, who was shot dead by an unknown assailant in March. Haniyeh said during a press conference held outside Fuqahaa’s home in the besieged Gaza Strip that the “killer” had confessed and provided “all information and details of his crime” and that he had received direct orders by Israeli officials to carry out the assassination. He also noted that Gaza’s Ministry of Interior Affairs would hold a press conference in coming days that would provide more details. Haniyeh called the development a “historical moment” and a point of justice for a “heroic leader” of Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades — the armed wing of the Hamas movement — during the press conference. Fuqahaa was a “symbol of resistance” in Palestine, he said. Fuqahaa was shot with four bullets to the head in front of a residence in southwestern Gaza City. Hamas officials said at the time that the assassination was carried out with a silenced gun by assailants who were “collaborating” with Israel. The well known Hamas leader was from the northern occupied West Bank district of Tubas, and served nine years out of a life sentence in Israeli custody before he was released in 2012 as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoners exchange deal. He was then exiled to the besieged Gaza Strip. The attorney general in the small Palestinian territory issued a gag order following the incident, banning publication of any information about the investigation unless it came from official Palestinian judicial sources….

Hamas burns drug stash in Gaza, sentences dealers to death
GAZA CITY (AP) 11 May — Gaza’s militant Islamic Hamas rulers have burned a large stash of seized narcotics and sentenced two dealers to death as part of their campaign against drugs. Thursday marked the second time Hamas has delivered death sentences for drug dealing since the group seized power in Gaza in 2007. Hamas’ Interior Ministry says some 1,130 bars of hashish and 467,000 pills that had been seized since the beginning of the year were destroyed. Black plumes of smoke rose after the drugs were set on fire. Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol and illicit drugs.

IDF using virtual reality headsets to prepare for next Gaza war
The Forward 8 May by Aidan Pink — The Israeli Defense Forces are using virtual reality headsets in order to train soldiers how to navigate and fight in Hamas’ network of underground tunnels. The IDF began utilizing technology made by the Facebook-owned Oculus and the Taiwanese program HTC Vive in April, Bloomberg News reported Monday. Despite costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, the initiative has been beneficial and cost-effective, cutting training time in half and allowing soldiers to undergo exercises that they could not do in real life, an IDF officer said. The soldiers use both specially-designed workstations and a physical, modifiable tunnel in order to simulate operating in such conditions. The IDF destroyed dozens of Hamas tunnels during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, but the IDF reportedly believes that the terror group’s tunnel network has been totally rebuilt since then, with some pathways extending inside Israel itself. The IDF says that the quickest way to demolish such tunnels is for soldiers to enter them and plant explosives, hence the training sessions. The army’s combat engineering unit hopes to expand the program so that a full squad of 20 can train together.

PA denies reports that shipments of medicine and baby formula to Gaza were halted
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 May — Following reports from Gaza’s Ministry of Health that the Palestinian Authority (PA) was halting shipments of baby formula and medicines to hospitals in the besieged enclave, the PA completely denied the claims on Wednesday.  Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said in a statement on Tuesday that the PA had informed the ministry that it would stop sending medicine and milk to the Gaza Strip.  Al-Qidra called the move a “political decision,” referring to heightened conflicts between Hamas, the de facto leading party in the Gaza Strip, and the Fatah-led PA in the occupied West Bank, adding that the ministry had begun communications with the PA Ministry of Health in Ramallah in an attempt to halt the decision.  However, the PA Ministry of Health said on Wednesday that not only were the Gaza ministry’s claims false, but that a shipment of children’s formula was expected to be delivered to the Gaza Strip in the coming few days. The sources added that the milk was for children suffering from genetic diseases, adding that the worth of the shipment was estimated to be a quarter of a million shekels ($69,279). General-Director of Gaza’s Health Ministry Munir al-Bursh said on Tuesday that the medicine crisis in the besieged enclave continued to escalate each day, and that medicine had not been sent to the Gaza Strip for three months, while 17 types of cancer medicines have run out in Gaza’s hospitals. He noted that medicine was typically shipped to the Gaza Strip from the West Bank once every two months….

Organization of Islamic Cooperation office in Gaza closes after ‘political pressure’ by PA
GAZA (Ma‘an) 11 May – The Gaza office of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has been forced to close after operating for nine years in the besieged enclave after the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority (PA) exerted “political pressure” on the office and transferred its jurisdiction to Ramallah in the PA-control occupied West Bank, according to a statement released by the head of the office on Thursday. Muhammad Hasna said that the office was closed following “political pressure” by the PA, adding that the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been attempting to close the office in Gaza for several years. “The closure of the office is part of a series of campaigns conducted by the PA against the Gaza Strip,” Hasna said, and noted that the PA-affiliated Palestinian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia allegedly demanded that the Islamic Solidarity Fund cease sending funds for projects in the besieged enclave. The Gaza office was opened following the 2008-2009 Israeli offensive on the small territory, which Israelis have termed “Operation Cast Lead,” which led to the deaths of more than 1,400 Palestinians, 80 percent of whom were civilians. Hasna said that the office was the only source of accessible humanitarian services in Gaza, which thousands of families in the territory were dependent on…
The cutting of PA salaries to their Gaza-based civil employees coupled with a devastating electricity crisis that Hamas has blamed on the PA for refusing to alleviate taxes levied on electricity from the West Bank, has severely exacerbated the long-running conflict. Hamas officials and some Gaza residents have accused the PA of exerting political pressures on Gaza in order to force Hamas to release the territory to PA control….

800 kg of fish exported out of Gaza Strip
i24NEWS 9 May — After the Israeli military implemented the expansion of the designated fishing zone, 800 kilograms were exported out of Gaza, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories announced on Tuesday. Major General Yoav Mordechai stated that a total of 1,300 kilograms were caught by fisherman and that, on Monday, a total of 800 kilograms of fish were exported out of the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing to fish markets in the West Bank. The export has cause a drop in the prices of fish and certain types of fish which were not available in Gaza beforehand, including the local Mediterranean Grouper fish, will now be for sale. The export was coordinated by the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration. Israel eased restrictions on Gaza fishermen, allowing them to travel up to nine nautical miles off the coast of the blockaded territory instead of the previous six, Palestinian officials said last month. The size of the fishing zone has varied over the years, having been set at 20 nautical miles by the Oslo accords of the 1990s before being reduced by Israeli authorities. Israel previously extended the fishing zone to up to nine miles for several months in 2016. It was unclear how long the new enlargement would be in place.

UN envoy leads marathon meetings to solve Gaza electricity crisis
MEMO 11 May — UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov has been leading marathon meetings in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip with Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to solve Gaza’s electricity crisis, Safa news agency reported on Wednesday. The UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process was told by Yoav Mordechai that Israel is neither planning nor prepared to bear the financial burden of Gaza’s electricity supply. Mordechai also told the UN official that Israel had deducted the costs of last month’s electricity from the taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. The Israeli government rejected the PA’s request not to do so; it is not sure if it will do the same again next month. The international community should take responsibility to pay for electricity supplied to the besieged enclave, insisted the Israeli coordinator. According to Mladenov, the PA and Hamas “must maintain the welfare of Gaza residents.” He apparently overlooked the immoral and illegal siege when making such a comment.  The PA insists on levying high taxes on the fuel bought for the electricity plant in Gaza. The de facto government run by Hamas refuses to pay such high taxes, so the Fatah-controlled PA simply stops supplying the fuel. The people of Gaza are caught in the middle of this political wrangling.

Power cuts, cheap imports fray Gaza’s handmade carpet industry
Al-Monitor 11 May by Rasha Abou Jalal — A dedicated group of craftsmen in the Gaza Strip continue to spin wool into handmade carpets. They’re fighting to preserve the profession of their ancestors and wider Palestinian heritage from extinction as cheaper imported carpets from Turkey, Iran and China spread. Weaving rugs and carpets is one of the oldest professions in Palestine. Excavation missions there have shown that weaving is one of the oldest crafts in the country. Spinning wheels and looms have been discovered to be 5,000 years old. Haj Mahmoud al-Sawaf, 70, still weaves carpets in his shop in east Gaza City’s Al-Tuffah neighborhood, where he sells traditional carpets and rugs. He told Al-Monitor, “My family has been practicing this profession for more than 400 years. I inherited it from my father, who inherited it from his forefathers. I have been working in carpet weaving for 60 years.” ….

Qatar Charity teaches Gaza orphans horse-riding
The Peninsula 9 May — Qatar Charity has concluded a training project on horse-riding for 100 [male] Gaza orphans aged between 12 and 15 years. The orphans received two-month training in cooperation with Tomooh Association. The children attended twenty 90-minute classes under the direct daily supervision of the implementing association. QC’s project aims at conducting recreational activities for orphans, instilling in them the spirit and values of equestrianism as well as encouraging and preparing them to participate in horse-riding sport. Director of Qatar Charity Office in Gaza, Mohammed Abu Haloub, expressed his contentment over the conclusion of the project that promotes the orphans’ leadership skills as well as their physical, psychological and social health. He assured that horse-riding sport helps build boys’ personality to serve their country and society. Quoting ‘Umar ibn Al Khattab [the second Caliph], “Teach your children swimming, archery and horse riding”, Mohammed Kayali, head of Tomooh association, assured that the project enhances the orphans’ confidence, and helps them in a manner consistent with their aspirations and horse-riding hobby.


Israeli forces close road leading to Nablus-area village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 10 May — Israeli forces closed a road with dirt mounds and cement blocks near the Palestinian village of Osarin in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Wednesday, residents said. Locals told Ma‘an that an Israeli military bulldozer escorted by several Israeli military vehicles closed the junction leading to Osarin completely and banned residents from passing through until further notice … Palestinian communities are routinely subjected to arbitrary road closures by Israeli military forces for purported “security reasons,” an act which rights groups have denounced as amounting to collective punishment.

Israel closes Bethlehem-area roads for Israeli settler marathon
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 May — Israeli forces closed the entrance to the Bethlehem-area town of al-Khader, in the southern occupied West Bank, due to a marathon for Israeli settlers that set off from occupied East Jerusalem towards the entrance of al-Khader on Friday morning. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Israel closed the area as well as a main road in the town of Beit Jala that leads to the village of al-Walaja and several illegal Israeli settlements, from 6 a.m to 9:30 a.m. Israeli forces deployed heavily in the area around al-Khader and the nearby Route 60 road, which connects Jerusalem to the southern West Bank district of Hebron.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

‘We shall remain’: Bedouin of Jabal al-Baba face an uphill battle to keep their land
Mondoweiss 10 May by Mersiha Gadzo — Forty-two-year-old Atallah Mazara‘a from the Jahalin Bedouin tribe recalls a time when residents were free to move, unhindered by concrete walls and unobtainable permits. “Life was so simple before the [separation barrier] because you could leave for vacation, for weddings; you could take your car and go to Jerusalem,” Mazara‘a said. “You could pray Maghrib [prayer just after sunset] here and then pray Isha [evening prayer] at al-Aqsa.” Such a scenario today remains a distant dream for the Bedouins living at Jabal al-Baba, also known as Pope Mountain, even though Jerusalem is only 2.5 miles away. Now, Bedouin communities stand in the way of the E1 zone, which would expand settlements from Ma’ale Adumim to occupied East Jerusalem. They have been living under a blockade, with their confines increasingly shrinking, Mazara‘a explained, as he showed a map of the encircling separation barrier from his office. When completed, the separation barrier will surround the community on all three sides, cutting them off even from the neighboring town of Eizariya … The Jahalin Bedouins had a stable life, herding over 2,000 sheep, but the number has now dwindled to just about 400 following Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in 1967, which cut access to their grazing grounds. Jerusalem is no longer accessible to sell their meat and dairy products like they had done in the past. No longer able to produce and trade for a livelihood, most of the Bedouin now work in the settlements or take up jobs in construction. Now they’re about to lose the little land that they have left since their homes stand in the way of the E1 corridor, an area of 4.6 square miles that would create an urban block from the illegal West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim to occupied East Jerusalem….

Rights group demands Israel allow Bedouin village to register to vote in Negev
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 May — The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah) sent a letter to Israeli ministers demanding that a Bedouin village in the Negev of southern Israel be allowed to register to vote in their regional council, the group said in a statement on Tuesday. Adalah said that they had sent the letter to Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Al-Qassoum Regional Council Elections Director Mickey Berkovitch in March on behalf of the residents of al-Furaa, who are hoping to be allowed to vote in future elections in the Al-Qassoum council. According to Adalah, unlike the some 160,000 unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev which face routine Israeli demolition campaigns, al-Furaa was recognized by the Israeli state in 2006. However, the residents have still been unable to register to vote in the regional elections, despite the fact that the residents pay taxes to the regional council. The letter’s author Adalah Attorney Muna Haddad said that “this situation creates a serious infringement of the right to equality and discriminates against the residents of Al Furaa,” according to Adalah’s statement …
While Bedouin villages recognized by the Israeli government are guaranteed basic rights from the state, al-Furaa has continued to struggle without state assistance since the village’s official recognition. As of December last year, basic services were still not available in the village, forcing the estimated 6,500 residents of the village to live without running water or a sewage system….

Israel demolishes five structures in Naqab village
NAQAB (WAFA) 10 May – Israeli forces Wednesday demolished five structures in the unrecognized Arab village of Sa‘wa in the Naqab [Negev] region, in southern Israel, according to local sources. Witnesses said Israeli bulldozers backed by a police escort broke into the village in the early morning hours and demolished the five structures. Sa’wa is one of about 46 Bedouin villages in the Naqab that are considered “unrecognized” by the Israeli government. According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), more than half of the approximately 160,000 Naqab Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages, which the state refuses to provide with a planning structure and place under municipal jurisdiction. “Whole communities have been issued demolition orders; others are forced to continue living in unrecognized villages that are denied basic services and infrastructure, such as electricity and running water,” said the center.

Army demolishes structures in Jordan Valley
IMEMC/Agencies 10 May — Israeli authorities demolished four structures in the village of al-Jiftlik, in the occupied West Bank district of Jericho, on Tuesday morning. Residents of the village, which is located in the Jordan Valley region, said that Israeli bulldozers under military protection demolished two makeshift homes and two barns belonging to Najih Kaabnah and his son Odeh, due to them being built without hard-to-obtain Israeli permits. A spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in Palestinian territory, only confirmed two demolitions to Ma‘an News Agency, saying that the structures were “built without receiving permits from the qualified authorities.” Israeli forces demolished at least nine structures in the al-Jiftlik area in January, because they were allegedly located in a “firing zone,” a COGAT spokesperson said at the time.

Israeli settlers torch olive fields in West Bank village
NABLUS (WAFA) 10 May – Israeli settlers Wednesday set fire to olive fields in the village of Burin, south of the city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, local sources said.  Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlers’ activities in the northern West Bank, told WAFA that a group of settlers from Bracha settlement set fire to olive fields east of the village of Burin. He added that Palestinian residents are trying to contain the fire, which could spread fast due to the hot dry weather conditions in the area.

Israeli forces temporarily detain 4 Palestinian farmers
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 11 May  — Israeli forces temporarily detained four Palestinian farmers, three of them women, on Wednesday in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, a local activist told Ma‘an. Muhammad Ayyad Awwad said that Najah Jabra Rushdi Awwad, 60, Ruweida Bajis Jaber al-Salibi, 55, Khawla Jabra Rushdi Awwad, 43, and Amr Muhammad Abu Maria, 64, were detained by Israeli forces while they were harvesting grape leaves on their lands located near the illegal settlement bloc of Gush Etzion on Wednesday afternoon. The four Palestinians, all residents of the village of Beit Ummar, were released hours later … The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory has severely affected Palestinians’ access to their lands, as many agricultural areas of the occupied West Bank fall in Area C — the 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control — or are located near Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.

Peace Now ‘deeply concerned’ over possible settlement expansions
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 May — After reports emerged last week that the Israeli government was preparing to advance 15,000 new settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem in contravention of international law, settlement watchdog Peace Now said it was “deeply concerned” over the implications of the possible settlement expansion. According to reports, Israeli authorities aim to expand the illegal Ramat Shlomo by 3,000 housing units, build 2,000 units for the planned Givat Hamatos settlement, and also advance plans to build 10,000 settlement housing units in the occupied Palestinian territory in the Atarot settlement area north of Jerusalem, years after the plan was shelved due to opposition by then-US President Barack Obama. Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi had strongly condemned the settlement construction plan, calling it a “deliberate affront to the international community, a flagrant violation of international law, and a direct blow to peace.”
In an analysis of the plans published by Peace Now on Monday, the NGO said it was “deeply concerned regarding the possible development in Givat Hamatos in particular, which is the most immediate,” stressing that Givat Hamatos “will create a territorial barrier of Israeli settlements between East Jerusalem and Bethlehem.” The planned area for Givat Hamatos is located between the two established illegal Israeli settlement of Gilo and Har Homa north of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank, and would thus establish a territorial continuity of the three Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land. As a result, the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Safafa — already surrounded from the west and south by Gilo — would become completely isolated from other Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem as well as Bethlehem. (listserv)

About Kate

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

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3 Responses

  1. Froggy
    May 13, 2017, 1:56 pm

    A bill that would bar nongovernmental organizations from petitioning the High Court of Justice on behalf of Palestinians will be debated by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday. The bill is being proposed following the wave of court petitions filed seeking the evacuation of settlements built on privately owned Palestinian land in the West Bank, notably Migron, and more recently, in February of this year, the outpost of Amona.

    The only democracy in the Middle East… huh !

    BTW, thank you Kate for all the work you do.

  2. Kate
    May 15, 2017, 1:59 am

    Thank you, Froggy.

  3. Ossinev
    May 15, 2017, 6:41 am

    Barak`s “seeds of Fascism” are definitely sprouting. Can`t be long now before the “only democracy in the Middle East” passes a bill banning Palestinians from meeting in groups of more than one person in built up areas between the hours of midnight and midnight.

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