Injured Palestinian teen in Gaza denied exit permit for medical treatment
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 June — Israeli authorities have denied a Palestinian teenager an exit permit to travel from the besieged Gaza Strip to Jerusalem for medical treatment after the boy was shot and critically injured by Israeli forces at a protest last month, according to rights group Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP). Khalid Ghamri was shot with live ammunition on May 23 during clashes that erupted east of al-Bureij refugee camp in the “buffer zone” of the central Gaza Strip. He has since turned 17 years old. Dozens of young protesters had taken to the border to protest in solidarity with a mass Palestinian prisoner hunger strike, and clashed with Israeli forces that fired live ammunition at the crowd. The day before Khalid was shot, an unidentified Palestinian youth was also shot by Israeli forces with live ammunition in the leg, during clashes in the same area. Gaza’s Ministry of Health reported at the time that Khalid, who was not yet named, was shot in the stomach. However, according to DCIP’s report, “the bullet caused an arm fracture, damage to multiple organs, as well as severe bleeding that left him in a coma.”
According to DCIP, when the teen was hospitalized, a doctor recommended that the family apply for an urgent exit permit and an escort to travel through the Israeli-controlled Erez border crossing to Jerusalem for specialized care. Khalid underwent surgery to remove his right kidney and repair damage to his aorta. Heavy blood loss carried the possibility of damage to other organs, including his brain, and caused a nine-day coma, medical sources at al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah told DCIP. While Khalid was still in a coma, on May 27, his family applied for an exit permit so he could be treated in an Israeli hospital, but the Israeli Civil Affairs office denied the application. After Khalid recovered from the coma on May 31 and began daily courses of dialysis to remove toxins in his left kidney, the family filed a second permit request, for which they are still awaiting a response, DCIP said…
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 42 percent of Palestinian requests for medical travel out of Gaza were denied or delayed by Israeli authorities in April 2017. Of this number, three children were denied and 178 children were delayed care. WHO also reported that three Palestinians, including a five-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, died in Gaza in April while waiting for permission to leave for external treatment….
Rafah Crossing still closed after 100 days
IMEMC/Agencies 22 June — Rafah Crossing, the main artery for Palestinians in Gaza to travel out of the Strip, has been closed for 103 consecutive days, with no indication that it will reopen soon, Quds Press reported yesterday. The crossing’s gates were last opened on 9 March when a few thousand people travelled through it. More than 30,000 Palestinians have registered to travel through the border; most are students, patients and those separated from their families. Rafah was opened in May only to allow those stranded in Egypt to return to their homes in Gaza, PNN further reports. So far, this year, the crossing has been opened in both directions for only six days, meaning it has been closed for 160 — the longest spell that the border has been sealed since the start of an Israeli blockade on the enclave, which has now entered its eleventh year … The Rafah crossing has been opened for the entry of diesel only, the official said….
Gaza power plant back on, with help of alliance of old foes
[photos] GAZA CITY (AP) 22 June by Fares Akram & Mohammed Daraghmeh — The sole power plant in electricity-starved Gaza Strip sputtered back to life Thursday after receiving fuel from Egypt – a shipment that resulted from a surprising alliance between bitter ex-rivals, including the territory’s ruling Hamas and an exiled former Gaza strongman. Egypt’s shipment of 1 million liters of fuel undercut a high-stakes campaign by Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who is trying to weaken Hamas by gradually reducing the flow of electricity to the territory he lost to the militants in 2007. Gaza’s power plant had shut down in April, after Hamas could no longer afford to buy heavily taxed fuel from Abbas’ West Bank autonomy government. This left the territory with electricity sent from Israel, but paid for by Abbas’ Palestinian Authority. The electricity from Israel covered about one-third of Gaza’s needs, meaning Gazans were getting power for only about four hours a day. In recent days, Israel cut the electricity flow by 40 percent, at Abbas’ request. The output of the power plant, which resumed operations Thursday, makes up for the Abbas-initiated cuts, said Mohammed Thabit, a spokesman of the Gaza electricity company. Hamas officials said more fuel shipments are expected this week, adding that 1 million liters can keep the plant running for three-and-a-half days. Abbas has not commented publicly on the Egyptian shipment, but aides have said he is upset with the Arab nation for undercutting his pressure campaign. On Wednesday, the Abbas government tried to prevent the power plant from accepting the Egyptian fuel shipment, threatening punitive measures if it opened its gates to the Egyptian fuel trucks, said Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official. Hamas obtained a local court order forcing the power plant to accept the shipment, Hamad said … The fuel shipments, which ostensibly shore up Hamas rule, seem to run counter to Egypt’s policy of trying to isolate and weaken Hamas, which it has accused of stirring unrest in the restive Sinai Peninsula next to Gaza. Earlier this month, Egypt had joined several Gulf nations in boycotting Qatar, in part because of Qatar’s support for Hamas. However, other factors appear to play a role, including Egyptian support for Mohammed Dahlan, an exiled Palestinian official with presidential ambitions. The former Gaza strongman had bitterly fought Hamas a decade ago, became Abbas’ top aide after losing that battle and then fell out with the Palestinian leader in 2010. Earlier this month, Gaza’s top Hamas leader, Yehiyeh Sinwar, met at least once with Dahlan in Egypt, as part of a series of talks between Dahlan’s camp and a Hamas delegation. Dahlan helped persuade Egypt to send the badly needed fuel to Gaza, in exchange for Hamas allowing him to broaden his political presence in Gaza, according to officials involved in the negotiations.
Lieberman: Abbas seeks to start new Israeli-Hamas war
GAZA (Al Jazeera) 22 June — Israel’s defence minister Avigdor Lieberman has accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of trying to start a fresh conflict between Tel Aviv and the Palestinian movement Hamas through the Gaza electricity crisis. Lieberman said on Thursday that Abbas, who is also the head of the secular Fatah movement that rules the occupied West Bank, was trying to increase tensions by cutting payments for electricity and other services in Gaza. “His intention is actually to continue cuts and in a few months to stop paying for fuel, medicines, salaries and many other things,” Lieberman told a security conference near Tel Aviv on Thursday. “In my opinion, the strategy is to hurt Hamas and also to drag Hamas into a conflict with Israel.” Israel “has no intention to go to war – not in the north, nor in the south,” he added….
Israeli soldiers invade and uproot Palestinian lands in northern Gaza
IMEMC 22 June — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Thursday morning, Palestinian agricultural lands close to the border fence east of Jabalia in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, uprooted several sections, and fired many rounds of live ammunition. Media sources said four D9 bulldozers and three tanks, advanced at least 150 meters into the Palestinian agricultural lands, and uprooted various sections, especially close to the border fence. The sources added that military drones hovered over the entire area throughout the invasion, while the soldiers also fired live rounds.
EU washes its hands of Gaza
EI 22 June by Ali Abunimah — After 10 years of Israeli blockade, conditions for two million Palestinians trapped in the Gaza Strip are by all accounts worse than ever. Israel’s blockade, according to the human rights group B’Tselem, has consigned Gaza’s residents “to living in abject poverty under practically inhuman conditions unparalleled in the modern world.” Yet the European Union, which markets itself as a champion of freedom, democracy and human rights, has washed its hands of the people there … Israel remains the occupying power in Gaza. It alone has the power to immediately end the suffering and it has a legal obligation to do so under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel however acts with impunity because it is supported and enabled by world powers, especially the European Union, its biggest trading partner. For days, The Electronic Intifada has been asking the European Union External Action Service – effectively its foreign ministry – to comment on the situation in Gaza and to explain what, if anything, it is doing to pressure Israel to reverse the electricity cuts. On Tuesday, Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, confirmed that she had received The Electronic Intifada’s inquiry and promised “to see what the latest is” and “come back to you ASAP.” But another two days and a Thursday afternoon deadline have passed, and there is total silence from the EU despite repeated follow up inquiries to Kocijancic and her colleagues …The EU grants Israel all kinds of trade concessions and funding under their so-called Association Agreement … Even this week as conditions in Gaza deteriorated, the EU has been touting its military cooperation with Israel over so called “shared challenges.” Meanwhile, the EU External Action Service has not tweeted anything at all about Gaza since 2015. The latest crisis in Gaza has been unfolding since April and has prompted warnings that it could lead to another war. The EU’s silence cannot therefore be an oversight….
Haaretz editorial: Investigate 2014 Gaza war’s ‘Black Friday’
24 June — The fact that no criminal investigations have been opened is execrable, in light of the fact that it is these events that have raised the greatest number of questions about the proportionality of force employed by the army — The events in the Gazan city of Rafah on August 1, 2014, during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, earned the sobriquet “Black Friday.” In the course of the day, the army employed the “Hannibal Directive,” permitting a number of actions meant to foil an abduction, including ones that can endanger the lives of civilians and the abduction target. According to military sources, it was the most aggressive employment of the directive ever carried out by the Israel Defense Forces. According to a review by the Givati Brigade, the army fired some 800 artillery shells and 260 mortar shells in Rafah, and war planes bombed about 20 targets. In addition to Hamas militants, dozens of innocent Palestinian civilians were killed in the exceptionally harsh strikes. In the wake of the combat in Gaza, lawyers and human rights groups submitted numerous complaints of war crimes, some of them motivated by media reports and soldiers’ testimonies to Breaking the Silence, to the office of the Military Advocate General. Data from MAG indicate that some 500 cases were examined, most of them through the “General Staff process” – a team of officers in the standing army and reserves whose role is to examine claims of violations of the law of armed conflict. But according to the army’s own figures, only 32 investigations were initiated as a result of these examinations. In most of the incidents that were examined, “there was no reasonable suspicion that a criminal act was carried out by IDF forces, whether by particular soldiers or in the level of policy,” the army said….
Palestinians in Gaza reflect on 10 years of siege
Al Jazeera 24 June by Hosam Salem — Residents reflect on how life has changed since Israel blockaded the Strip and Hamas took control … Al Jazeera spoke to Palestinians in Gaza about life before and after the 2007 Israeli siege was imposed and Hamas’ rise to power: Mohammad Abu Jayyab, 35, editor-in-chief of Al-Eqtesadia; Hammam Alyazji, 35, marketing specialist; Shaymaa Marzouq, 30, journalist’; Mustafa Ibrahim, 54; Fatma Ashour, 38, lawyer; Mohammad Tayseer Qadada, 29, unemployed….
Thousands march in Gaza to oppose Israel and Zionism on ‘al-Quds day’
GAZA (Ma‘an) 23 June — Thousands of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip participated in a march held for “al-Quds day,” or Jerusalem day, celebrated on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to oppose Zionism and the state of Israel. The annual event was first created by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 to express support for the Palestinian struggle and its opposition to Zionism, and has since been commemorated by the Palestinian people. Participants in Gaza City held Palestinian flags, the flags of their respective political factions, and signs calling for the protection of Jerusalem, amid Israel’s continued escalations in the territory aiming to solidify its Judaization and annexation of occupied East Jerusalem, a move never recognized by the international community. Head of the Jerusalem committee in the legislative council Ahmad Abu Halabiya said that there would be “no security as long as the Israeli occupation continued in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque,” and stressed the Palestinian people’s “right to resist Israel’s colonization until liberation is achieved.” Abu Halabiya also called upon all Palestinian factions to support the “al-Quds (Jerusalem) intifada,” — a phrase used by Palestinians for the wave of unrest that first erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in Oct. 2015 — and urged UNESCO to adopt more resolutions that confirm Palestinians’ rights in Jerusalem….
Photos: Gaza builds ‘Wall of Blessings’ for Eid
MEMO 23 June by Mohammed Asad — Palestinians in Gaza have been setting up clothes lines along the streets to hang items for those in need to take ahead of the Muslim celebration of Eid [which starts Sunday, 25 June, and runs through Wednesday]. Both old and new items of clothing have been placed on display along the “Wall of Blessings” to encourage the most vulnerable in society to help themselves. Gaza resident Ahmed Sbeiti believes this is a wonderful idea as there are many people in Gaza who require both Eid clothes, toys and other items and this “Wall of Blessings” encourages people to give and those in need to take. The wall has been decorated with slogans to encourage people to be giving and others to take whatever they need without hesitation. Phrases including “Don’t be shy”, “Come and get dresses” and “We all give and take”.
Feature: Gazans brace for post-Ramadan festival amid financial plight
GAZA (Xinhua) 23 June by Osma Radi & Omar Othmani — Cakes are the favorite food of the Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip when they prepare for Eid al-Fitr, a three-day festival that Muslims worldwide celebrate the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. Although this year’s Eid al-Fitr, which will start on Sunday, has been clouded by the worsening economic situation in Gaza, the markets in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave are still overcrowded, as trade has reached its peak during Ramadan. In Omar Al Mukhtar Street and the nearby Zawya popular market in Gaza City’s downtown, storekeepers offer a wide range of goods, including clothing, footwear, household items and candies, to attract as many as customers as possible. Young people, who see Eid al-Fitr as an opportunity to earn money, put dozens of tables in the main streets of Gaza to sell sweets, nuts and festival cakes. Abu Salah Abu Sidu, an old man who was shopping around the market, told Xinhua that he had bought plenty of cakes as Eid gifts for his extended family which has 13 members. He said a kilo of cakes stuffed with dates cost between 15 and 28 shekels (8 U.S. dollars). Um Mahmoud Badr, a female customer in the market, said she preferred to buy flour, semolina, butter, sugar and dates to bake cakes at home to save money. For her part, baking cakes at home makes her children more cheerful and brings more joy to the family … Khamis al-Tabtibi, a clothes merchant, said he only sold 30 percent of his total merchandise for Eid al-Fitr this year despite the price-cutting campaigns….
Meet Gaza’s youngest bird hunter
GAZA STRIP (Al Jazeera) 24 June by Sanaa Kamal — “You only have one chance to catch your prey, even if it flies,” Nasser Taeimah told Al Jazeera. He was describing one of his most dangerous hunting trips along Gaza‘s border in the eastern part of al-Maghazi refugee camp. While Israeli military jeeps patrolled the border, a flock of wild ducks flew across the sky. But as he watched his prey soar, Nasser, an 11-year-old boy with piercing eyes, could not risk taking a shot. “I didn’t have enough time, [even though] I had spent more than six hours waiting for the ducks,” Nasser said. “I just told my brother to follow the Israeli soldiers’ movements while I continued to hunt, but the ducks quickly disappeared.” Later, Nasser had the luck to spot another flock; as his brother watched the Israeli soldiers, a few minutes passed, but it felt like years, he said. The two brothers were determined to catch their prey, but they did not want to risk being caught by Israeli soldiers for being in an area of Gaza deemed “out of bounds” to the territory’s residents. Nasser prepared his silenced hunting gun and simulated a duck call. As the flock moved closer to the ground, he took his shot and hit several ducks, but they fell behind the Israeli fence. Using a branch from an olive tree, he managed to pull the fallen ducks towards him and through a small gap in the fence – but then he and his brother, Saker, heard shots fired from the Israeli side. It was not clear who the Israelis were firing at. Shaken, the two boys hid behind a tree for more than an hour before daring to venture back towards their home.
Although Nasser and Saker – which means “falcon” in Arabic – emerged from the incident unscathed, it could have ended differently … “It’s not only his talent,” his father, Khalil, told Al Jazeera. “He’s challenged his inner fears here.”Nasser has a stutter that worsened during the 2014 Israeli bombardment of Gaza, and the condition has made him fearful of interacting with other children. He decided that succeeding as a hunter could make him more popular among his peers in Gaza … There are more than 500 kinds of birds across Palestine, including several types of migratory birds that arrive in different seasons, according to biodiversity researcher Ayman Dardona. Over-hunting in the besieged Gaza Strip – where many families struggle to meet their basic needs for food and shelter – has had a detrimental impact on the territory’s ecological balance, he told Al Jazeera … “We have not sold any of the birds we hunted,” Nasser said. “We just have really adventurous times, which end by eating tasty food after a hard day. [Despite the risks], we will not stop our adventures.”
Israelis complain about Gaza sewage flooding settlements
MEMO 24 June — Israeli Jewish settlers on the periphery of the Gaza Strip have complained to the defence minister about waste water from Gaza flooding their settlements, Quds Press reported on Friday. The Head of the Regional Settlement Council of Jewish settlements, Yair Ferjon, sent a letter to right-wing extremist Avigdor Lieberman and Environment Minister Ze’ev Elkin, warning of an imminent environmental disaster in the area due to the flooding caused by untreated sewage from Gaza. The settlers’ leader pointed out that the reason for this flood of sewage in the settlements is the cut in electricity supplied to the besieged territory. “Sewage started flooding towards the settlements through Beit Hanoun Valley in the north of the Gaza Strip,” Ferjon wrote, noting that this has happened since the electricity crisis began. He pointed out that West Nile Fever is one of the diseases which threatening residents in the area. Although pumps have been used by the settlers to try divert the sewage, it is not a long-term solution, he added.
Israel pays $20M compensation to Gaza flotilla victims
Reuters 23 June — Israel has paid total compensation of $20 million to the families of the victims of an Israeli raid on a Turkish aid flotilla that killed 10 people in 2010, Turkish media quoted Turkey’s Finance Minister Naci Agbal as saying on Friday. The payment, which will be divided among the 10 families, comes some nine months after Israel, which had already offered apologies for the raid – one of Ankara’s conditions for rapprochement – agreed to pay the families of those killed. “Compensation has been paid to the families of those who lost their lives during the Mavi Marmara attack,” Turkish broadcasters quoted Agbal as saying. Relations between Israel and Turkey broke down in 2010 when Turkish pro-Palestinian activists were killed by Israeli commandos enforcing a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. The soldiers raided a ship, the Mavi Marmara, leading a flotilla towards the Islamist Hamas-run Palestinian territory. In June 2016 however, the two countries said they would normalize relations – a rapprochement driven by the prospect of lucrative Mediterranean gas deals as well as mutual fears over security risks in the Middle East.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
17-year-old Palestinian injured with live fire in Kafr Qaddum clashes
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 23 June — A Palestinian teenager was injured with live fire on Friday as Israeli forces suppressed the weekly march in the village of Kafr Qaddum in the northern occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya. Coordinator of the village’s popular resistance Murad Shteiwi told Ma‘an that 17-year-old Subhi Abu Dayya was injured with a full metal jacket (FMJ) bullet in his right hand during clashes. The teen was transferred to Rafidiya hospital in Nablus city, where his injury was described as serious. According to Shteiwi, Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters and FMJ bullets at protesters, while soldiers raided local homes and turned them into temporary military posts. Shteiwi added that many locals suffered from tear gas inhalation and were treated on the scene by medical crews….
Army injures 29 Palestinians near Jerusalem, abducts one near Jenin
IMEMC 22 June — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday at night, Abu Dis town, east of occupied East Jerusalem, and clashed with local youths, wounding three with rubber-coated steel bullets, and causing twenty-six others to suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation … The Palestinian Red Crescent in occupied Jerusalem said its medics rushed to Abu Dis town, and providing the needed treatment to three Palestinians, who were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, and 26 others who suffered the severe effects of teargas inhalation. Media sources in Abu Dis said clashes erupted after several Israeli army jeeps invaded the town, and searched many homes and cars. In addition, the soldiers installed a military roadblock on the main Jenin-Nablus road, searched many cars and interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards, before abducting a young man, identified as Amjad Jamal Milhem, 22.
Israel set to release body of slain Palestinian, continues to withhold 3 killed last week
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 June — Israeli authorities are set to return the body of a Palestinian who was killed by Israeli forces near Qalandiya checkpoint on Tuesday in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, while the Israeli state has continued to hold the bodies of three other Palestinians who were killed following a deadly attack in occupied East Jerusalem last week.
The Palestinian Committee of Civil Affairs said Friday that Israeli authorities would return the body of 23-year-old Bahaa Imad al-Hirbawi at 3:30 pm on Friday to al-Hirbawi’s hometown of al-Eizariya in the central West Bank district of Jerusalem. His body will be delivered at a road junction near the illegal Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, the committee said.
Al-Hirbawi was killed at the Jabaa military checkpoint near the illegal Israeli settlement of Adam, close to the infamous Qalandiya checkpoint in Ramallah, after Israeli forces opened live fire on him for allegedly attempting to carry out a stabbing attempt. However, al-Hirbawi’s family rejected the Israeli army’s version of events as “false claims.”
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Committee of Civil Affairs also released a statement on Friday saying that “continuous efforts” were being made to pressure the Israeli authorities to return the bodies of the three slain Palestinians who allegedly carried out a deadly attack at Damascus Gate near the Old City, which left an Israeli police officer dead. After it was revealed that the three alleged assailants — Baraa Ibrahim Saleh, 18, Adel Hassan Ahmad Ankoush, 18, and Usama Ahmad Ata, 19 — were from the occupied West Bank village of Deir Abu Mashaal, the town was subsequently placed under lockdown, and has been subjected to multiple military raids since. Israeli authorities had taken measurements of the homes of the alleged assailants in preparations for punitive demolitions, which the families had been informed would be carried out “soon.” According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, a total of 22 people, the three men’s family members, will be left homeless by the punitive demolitions in spite of not having been charged with any wrongdoing….
Settlers are caught on camera attacking Palestinians, but still avoid criminal charges
Haaretz 25 June by Yotam Berger — The video footage is clear: At least 10 settlers who set out from the direction of the Givat Ronen outpost to the adjacent West Bank village of Burin are seen throwing stones at Palestinians. The footage leaves no room for doubt. Five or more of the settlers’ faces are visible, and there were soldiers in the area who witnessed the stone-throwing. But indictments have yet to be filed in regard to the incidents, and there is no evidence that any suspects have even been detained for questioning. This incident, which took place on May 22, is not especially unique or unusual. Since the middle of April, settlers have attacked Palestinians, left-wing activists or security forces on at least nine occasions. But the police are not currently holding anyone in any of these cases, even though the attackers have either been caught on video or committed their attacks in the presence of Israeli soldiers (or both). In addition, in the incidents that were filmed, one can clearly see soldiers either failing to act or simply trying to separate the two sides. The soldiers had the authority to detain the assailants but didn’t do so, and also failed to find out who they were afterward. The Israeli army told Haaretz that in all of the incidents, soldiers were dispatched to the scene and worked to diffuse clashes between settlers and Palestinians. The Israel Defense Forces, its spokesman’s office said, is committed to maintaining law and order….
Assailants destroy 45 olive trees and spray paint ‘revenge’ on Palestinian land
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 June — Some 45 olive trees were found destroyed near the village of Burin, adjacent to the notorious illegal Yitzhar settlement in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, while the Hebrew word for “revenge” was spray painted on a stone left in the area, an Israeli human rights organization said Sunday. Israeli NGO Rabbis for Human Rights reported on Facebook that the damage was done adjacent to Route 60, the main highway running through the occupied West Bank. Photos shared by the organization taken at the scene also showed an Israeli Civil Administration soldier documenting the damage. In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson from the Civil Administration told Ma‘an to contact Israeli police. An Israeli police spokesperson told Ma‘an they were looking into the case … A number of Palestinians, including a 72-year-old woman and a shepherd, have been hospitalized since April following attacks near Yitzhar, with a number of Palestinians having being shot by Israeli forces who arrived to the scene to “disperse” the clashes….
Breaking the Silence activist questioned over testimony
Ynet 23 June by Elisha Ben Kimon & Tova Tzimuki — Justice Minister Shaked asks attorney general to open investigation into testimony provided by Dean Issacharoff in which he describes how he assaulted a Palestinian during IDF service; Shaked: ‘He’s a liar or someone involved in violence’: Breaking the Silence: ‘Shaked doesn’t really care about the Palestinians.’ — A spokesman for the Israeli left-wing NGO Breaking the Silence was questioned under caution on Thursday on suspicion that he assaulted a Palestinian while serving in the IDF. The investigation got underway at the behest of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) who asked Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to look into the testimony Dean Issacharoff provided for the group in which he admitted to assaulting a Palestinian during his military service in Hebron. Breaking the Silence, which is made up of former IDF soldiers and officers, seeks to “expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in” the West Bank and provides lectures and information around the world on alleged IDF misconduct …
“We are either talking about a liar slamming the IDF or a person involved in violence who needs to be investigated,” [Shaked] contended. “The state requested in the past, and will continue to insist on, receiving the testimonies that go to the organization in order to investigate the truth. The IDF is the most moral army in the world, and violent incidents are investigated and dealt with,” she concluded. The group Reservists on the Front, which is responsible for the petition to investigated Issacharoff, also made its position clear. “He is either a liar or a criminal. In either case he should pay the price. Reservists on the Front will continue to continue to provide a platform for IDF soldiers and defend them against lies and plots,” the group’s statement said. “We expect the state to protect us soldiers against those who besmirch our name in Israel and the world.”
Former Palestinian hunger striker among 4 detained in raids across West Bank
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 22 June – Israeli forces detained four Palestinians across the occupied West Bank between Wednesday night and Thursday, including a former Palestinian hunger striker who was recently released from Israeli prison, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement that Israeli forces had detained former Palestinian prisoner of Israel and hunger striker Anas Shadid from the village of Dura in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. Shadid was released from prison a little more than a month ago after going on a 90-day hunger strike in protest of being held under administrative detention — Israel’s policy of imprisonment without charge or trial.
Meanwhile, in the northern West Bank, PPS said that Israeli forces detained Amjad Jamal Milhem, 22, at an unspecified Israeli military checkpoint. Israeli forces also detained Alaa Shahrour and Amir Shahrour from the Tulkrarem district while the two were visiting Jerusalem city.
Israeli forces detain 7 Palestinians during raids in northern West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 June — Israeli forces detained seven Palestinian during army raids carried out between Thursday and Friday across the northern occupied West Bank, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources. Israeli forces detained two Palestinian brothers, identified as Omran Abed al-Karim Abu Farha, 20, and Jad, 18, and also detained Khaled Sufian Abu Farha, 21 from Jenin city, according to local sources. In Qalqilya city, Israeli forces raided several homes and detained Qaher Qaraan and Osama Hassan Halawa, locals added. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that three Palestinians were detained in Qalqiliya city. In the Nablus district, a Palestinian was detained in the village of Madama, according to an Israeli army spokesperson. However, Palestinian sources did not provide additional details on the detention…
Israeli forces have carried out at least 74 search and detention raids on Palestinian communities between June 13 and 19, while 2016 saw a weekly average of 95 Israeli army raids, according to UN documentation.
Border police thwart infiltration into West Bank settlement
Times of Israel 22 June by Jacob Magid — Border Police officers arrested two Palestinians caught infiltrating the central West Bank settlement of Na’ale early Thursday morning. Security cameras on the settlement’s perimeter fence picked up the pair as they entered, and they were only able to make it 40 meters (130 feet) into the community before being detained, according to Moked 443, a settler news service. Authorities made the arrests without incident and transferred the pair to the Shin Bet security service for questioning. A third suspect, who was waiting for the two in a car outside the settlement, made an escape while the arrests were taking place. It wasn’t immediately clear if they were armed. Moked 443 also reported a separate incident Thursday morning in which a Palestinian was spotted on a road outside the settlement of Nahliel. A chase ensued and the suspect was caught and taken away for further questioning.
20 arrested for trying to visit Joseph’s Tomb in West Bank
Times of Israel 25 June by Stuart Winer — Jewish pilgrims intercepted on road to Palestinian city out of bounds to Israelis; rights group claims 4 were beaten by PA security personnel — Around 20 Jewish pilgrims, including some minors, were arrested early Sunday morning at they tried to reach Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank town of Nablus, the IDF said in a statement. Nablus, a Palestinian city, is in Area A of the West Bank, putting it under full Palestinian Authority control and entry into the area is forbidden for Israelis without prior authorization with Israeli officials. According to right-wing legal action group Honenu, which is representing the suspects, four them managed to reach the tomb where they were arrested by Palestinian security forces before being handed over to the IDF. The rest of the group was intercepted on an approach road to Nablus by Israeli security forces. All of the suspects were taken to an Israeli police station in the settlement of Ariel. “Early in the morning, IDF received reports of 20 young Jews who entered Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus without first coordinating with the security forces,” the army said in a statement. The suspects, young adults and minors, were arrested and taken for questioning on suspicion of violating a legal order, and entering a closed area without a permit while endangering their lives and that of security forces … Honenu, a legal aid group known for representing right-wing elements, including some extremists, claimed the four who had been held by Palestinian forces had been beaten.
Israeli authorities indict 3 Palestinian Jerusalemite youths for assaul
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 June — Three Palestinian youths have been indicted in an Israeli court a week after they allegedly attacked a Jewish man near the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem, an Israeli police spokesperson said in a statement Sunday.
Micky Rosenfeld wrote that last Saturday, three suspects threw rocks at a Jewish man who was wearing a religious praying shawl known as a tallit and had just finished prayers inside a synagogue when three suspects threw rocks at him. “A short while” after the incident was reported to Israeli police, one suspect allegedly involved in the rock throwing was detained from a house in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah north of the Old City, Rosenfeld said. Two other suspects were later detained “nearby,” and charges were filed against all three of them for assault, the statement said. A statement in Arabic from Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri, which described the three suspects as “youths,” said that two of the detainees were brothers from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, while the third was from Sheikh Jarrah. While their precise ages remained unclear, Israeli news site Ynet said the three boys were teenagers.
Closures / Restriction of movement
Israel ends siege of Palestinian village in occupied West Bank
MEMO 24 June — Israel’s occupation forces have ended the siege imposed on the Palestinian village of Deir Abu Mesh‘al to the west of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, Quds Press reported on Friday. The siege was imposed after the Israeli border police killed three Palestinians from the village after it was alleged that they had killed an Israeli soldier in Jerusalem. The move by the Israeli forces lasted a week. According to the village mayor, Imad Zahran, the Israelis blocked the entrances to the village with mounds of sand and cement blocks. Vehicles were unable to enter or leave. Anyone trying to come or go on foot was “harassed” by the troops carrying out “random” checks. Collective punishment is a common measure used by the Israeli occupation authorities against Palestinian villages and cities whose residents are killed following allegations of attacks on Israeli soldiers.
Israeli forces close entrance of industrial area in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 22 June — Israeli authorities closed the entrance of a Palestinian industrial area in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Thursday morning. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces closed the iron gate at the entrance of al-Fahs in southern Hebron and prevented vehicles from crossing either way; only pedestrians were allowed to cross. Israeli media reported that the closure was implemented following an increase in rock-throwing among Palestinians at Israeli settlers and army vehicles in the area. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an she would look into reports on the closure. 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’s new ‘security strategy’ at Damascus Gate to further control Palestinian movement
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 June — Israel’s Channel 2 website reported on Thursday that top Israeli officials, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, approved a new “security strategy” to be implemented at the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem. According to Channel 2, Netanyahu met with Israeli Public Security minister Gilad Erdan, Chief of Israeli Police Roni Alsheikh, and Chief of Israeli Police in Jerusalem Yoram Halevy, on Wednesday, where Halevy suggested a new surveillance and armed security strategy at the Gate, which serves as the entrance to the Muslim quarter of the Old City. While Netanyahu allegedly suggested that the area be turned into a “sterile area,” according to Channel 2, that plan was turned town “as it will cause more difficulties” to the situation.
Channel 2 reported that the approved security strategy will include building high, above-ground “surveillance points” in areas where Israeli forces will be stationed, “making it difficult for Palestinians to approach Israeli soldiers.” “Certain routes will be specified for entering the Old City at the Damascus Gate, and more technological devices will be installed and used at the area to maintain Israeli police’s control and surveillance over the area.”Additionally, Channel 2 said that Palestinians will only be allowed to enter the Old City through Damascus Gate via specific routes, where Palestinians will undergo “thorough searches.” The announcement of the plans came less than a week after a deadly attack left three Palestinian assailants and one Israeli policewoman dead outside of Damascus Gate, which has been the site of several violent attacks since a wave of unrest that began in October 2015….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Judaization
Israeli settlers change name of Damascus Gate-area street to ‘honor Israeli soldiers’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 June — A group of Israeli settlers escorted by Israeli police and border police forces changed the name of the Damascus Gate-area Sultan Suleiman Street in occupied East Jerusalem to Heroines Street, “in commemoration of killed Israeli soldiers.”Hebrew-language media sites reported on Friday that a group of Israeli settlers under the protection of Israeli forces changed the name of the Damascus Gate-area street, in commemoration of two Israeli soldiers who were killed in shooting and stabbing attacks near Damascus Gate — including 23-year old Hadas Malka, an Israeli police officer who, along with three Palestinian assailants, was killed last week at the gate’s entrance. Israeli settlers, police and border guards lit candles at the site before putting a sign reading “Heroines Street” in Hebrew, Arabic and English over the original street sign, which read Sultan Suleiman Street.
Knesset passes draft bill to annex illegal West Bank settlements
MEMO 23 June — The Israeli Knesset approved in its preliminary reading a draft law allowing the application of Israeli law in the illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, Israeli media reported. Haaretz said 48 Members of the Knesset supported the bill while 39 voted against it on Wednesday. MK Bezalel Smotrich, of the right-wing Jewish Home party, who initiated the bill said the decision includes transferring petitions against illegal construction in the settlements to the administrative court instead of the Supreme Court. “What is right for the residents of Tel Aviv is true to the residents of the settlements of Beit El and Kedumim,” he said, adding that “there is no justification for discussing petitions for construction in the Supreme Court.” MK Tzipi Livni of the opposition Zionist camp described the bill as another step to deepen discrimination between Israelis and Palestinians in the territories. “It is another law in the series of laws designed to create an apartheid state with two types of citizens without equality. It is against Judaism and against the Jewish state. We are obliged to fight against this law. I plan to do so,” she said. Arab MK Jamal Zahalka, of the Joint List told Haaretz that “the law is another step by the coalition aimed at annexing the settlements and applying Israeli law to them.” The Palestinian official in charge of the settlement file in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, said the Israeli government implements civil laws in the West Bank to install the settlement project, as if there is no occupation…
Report: Netanyahu to partially freeze plans for settler homes until end of 2017
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 June — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly promised the United States government that he would freeze the publication of new tenders for illegal Israeli settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territory for the rest of 2017, Israeli media reported on Friday. According to The Jerusalem Post, the alleged freeze was discovered when settlers from the Beit El settlement in the central occupied West Bank discovered that plans for 300 new settler homes — promised to the settlers by Netanyahu in exchange for a peaceful evacuation of the illegal Ulpana outpost — were halted. Beit El residents then erected a “protest tent” outside the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, and demanded that Netanyahu fulfill his promise and advance the plans for the settler homes. On Thursday, Netanyahu reportedly met with the settlement’s regional council head Shai Alon and ensured him that the homes promised to the settlers would be excluded from the temporary settlement freeze, adding that the 300 settler homes would be advanced in September. Right-wing members of the Knesset also denounced the decision, with MK Yoav Kisch of the (Likud) and MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) saying that illegal Israeli settlement building on Palestinian territory was an “insurance policy against the danger of a Palestinian state.” The marketing freeze is not expected to affect the tenders already issued for Israeli settlements this year, which Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said comprised of 2,858 tenders for additional settler housing in the West Bank.
Americans disproportionately leading the charge in settling the West Bank
Haaretz 23 June by Judy Maltz — Are they being nudged there by the stealth efforts of the Israeli government and its NGO allies? — Immigration statistics are a matter of great pride for Israeli leaders. What better proof of the success of the Zionist project, they ask, than the fact that tens of thousands of Jews from around the world choose to make Israel their home each year? But among the charts and tables that accompany the publication of these statistics each year, one bit of information tends to get lost: the number of immigrants moving to West Bank settlements. Not because the figure doesn’t exist, but because Israeli officials would rather not draw attention to it. After all, most of the world considers the settlements a major impediment to peace in the Middle East.
So when the Central Bureau of Statistics published immigration figures for 2016 earlier this month, the accompanying press release made no reference to the number or percentage of newcomers who chose to live over the Green Line – Israel’s internationally recognized border. Rather, it sufficed with less controversial findings like the breakdown of immigrants by country and the most popular cities for newcomers. Still, the accompanying material reveals that 766 immigrants moved to West Bank settlements last year – about 3 percent of the total. In 2015, the number was 880, also about 3 percent. Additional figures obtained by Haaretz show that the top destinations in the West Bank for immigrants last year were Ma’aleh Adumim and Ariel. Ma’aleh Adumim, located outside Jerusalem, attracted 110 immigrants, and Ariel, located deep in the West Bank, drew 99. The statistics bureau’s figures show that Americans are disproportionately represented among immigrants moving to the West Bank….
Lieberman: Not a single Palestinian refugee will return to their lands in Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 June — During a speech at Israel’s Herzliya conference, aimed at discussing the country’s national policies, ultraright Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman rejected the possibility of Palestinian refugees from historic Palestine, which Israel was built on, being able to return to their lands within the 1967 borders, a right that is upheld by United Nations Resolution 194. “We will not agree to the return of a single refugee to within the ‘67 borders,” Lieberman reportedly said. “There will never be another Prime Minister who makes propositions to Palestinians like Ehud Olmert did,” he added, referring to a 2008 peace proposal introduced by the former prime minister. The right of return for Palestinian refugees is a central demand among Palestinians and their leadership. The demand also represents a powerful symbolic connection to their lands and homes they were displaced from, as many Palestinians still possess original keys to their homes that were consumed by the state of Israel 69 years ago.
According to Israeli media, Lieberman also said that an end to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict would “not solve the problems – it will make them worse,” and noted that Israel should first “reach a regional agreement with moderate Sunni states, and only then an agreement with the Palestinians.” He also went on to question the legitimacy of Palestinian citizens of Israel being part of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, noting that the Joint List political bloc — representing parties led by Palestinian citizens of Israel in the Knesset — refused to acquiesce to Zionist ideologies…
According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), 66 percent of Palestinians who were living in British-Mandate Palestine in 1948 were expelled from historic Palestine and displaced from their homes and lands during the creation of Israel, referred to as the Nakba, or catastrophe, among Palestinians ….
Building permits in high demand for densely populated West Bank city
JPost 22 June by Adam Rasgon — “We are living on top of each other – there is nowhere left to build.” — Samih Anaya, a 39-year-old resident of Kalkilya [Qalqiliya], which abuts the border of the West Bank, built his limestone home without obtaining a permit from Israel. He spent more than NIS 500,000 to erect the home, investing his savings and a sizable loan. Anaya said he had no choice but to build his home, which is located in Area C under Israeli security and civil control, without a permit. “It is almost impossible to be granted a permit,” Anaya, who works as a schoolteacher, stated while standing in front of the cast-iron entrance to his home. According to Bimkom, a left-wing NGO, only 53 of 1,253 requests to build in Area C were granted in 2014-2016. While Anaya has few regrets in building his home, he fears that it could be demolished at any moment. Two years ago, he received a demolition order that he has been fighting in court. “My home is everything I own,” Anaya remarked. “I don’t know what I would do without it.”
However, a joint Israeli-Palestinian plan for Kalkilya’s Area C, which aims to retroactively legalize some 1,000 unlicensed structures and grant 6,000 additional building permits over 18 years, has given Anaya renewed hope. “If implemented, the plan would be a major step forward for us,” he said. In the center of Kalkilya, leaders at the municipality also hope “the Kalkilya expansion plan,” as some have dubbed it, will come to fruition. “The plan is absolutely necessary,” said newly elected Kalkilya Mayor Hashim al-Masri, looking at a map of the city. “Our citizens need to be able to build.” According to Masri, the problem is not only that residents’ homes could be demolished, but also that Kalkilya has an extreme population density. “We are living on top of each other – there is nowhere left to build.”
The Oslo Accords afforded Kalkilya relatively small space to grow. The agreement assigned four square kilometers of the city to Area A under Palestinian security and administrative control, while leaving the remaining parts in Area C. Four square kilometers were sufficient to house residents in the 1990s, but the city has grown steadily from 22,000 residents in 1997 to 53,000 today, making Kalkilya the second-most densely populated Palestinian region after Gaza. With the support of the Israeli defense establishment and the Kalkilya Municipality, the expansion plan appeared to be on its way to becoming a reality. But a handful of government ministers expressed strong opposition to the plan this week, after Channel 2 reported the security cabinet approved it last year, casting doubt over whether the plan will be implemented….
Other news, opinion
PCHR weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinin territory (15-21 June)
22 June — Israeli forces continue systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) — Israeli forces killed 4 Palestinian civilians in occupied Jerusalem. 12 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli forces conducted 42 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one in the southern Gaza Strip. 65 civilians, including 6 children and 2 women, were arrested in the West Bank. 23 of them, including 6 children, were arrested in Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued practicing the collective punishment policy. Collective punishment measures were imposed against the Palestinian civilians in Jerusalem and Deir Abu Mesh‘al village. 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. 15 civilians, including 2 children and a fieldworker at B’Tselem, were arrested at military checkpoints in the West Bank. [Details follow]
This Week in Palestine – Week 25 2017
IMEMC Audio Report 24 June by Ghassam Bannoura — This week while the US advisors on the Middle East meets Palestinian and Israeli leaders, Israeli attacks leave one Palestinian killed as the Israeli government announces more settlements. These stories, and more, coming up, stay tuned. The Nonviolence Report Let’s begin our weekly report as usual with the nonviolent activities organized in the West Bank. One youth was injured on Friday, scores others were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation fired by Israeli troops who attacked anti wall and settlements protests organized in West Bank villages. This week anti wall and settlements protests were organized in the central west Bank villages of Bil‘in, Ni‘lin, and al Nabi Saleh. In addition, protests took place in the village of Kufer Qadum in northern West Bank. Israeli soldiers used live rounds, tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets against the unarmed protesters. A 17-year-old youth was injured rubber-coated steel bullets, meanwhile scores others were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation as Israeli soldiers attacked the weekly protest organized in Kufer Kadum [Kafr Qaddum] village….
2 Palestinians detained after criticizing Fatah official released on bail
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 June — Two Palestinians held by the Palestinian Authority (PA), believed to have been detained over publicly criticizing a Fatah official, were released from jail on June 22 after 15 days in custody, according to local reports. University student and active youth organizer Nasser Jaradat had reportedly been detained for writing a Facebook post critical of Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rujoub, after Rujoub said in an interview with Israeli media that the Western Wall in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City should “remain under Jewish sovereignty.” Palestinian journalist Zaher al-Shammali also reportedly wrote a critical article about Rujoub and had also wrote critical articles about Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other PA figures, according to Palestinian prisoners’ solidarity network Samidoun. The two were reportedly released by the PA on a bail of 1,000 Jordanian dinars ($1,406) each, and are set to face trial in September after being accused of “insults” to holy sites and “incitement of sectarianism.” However, Samidoun argued that “there was no ‘sectarian’ content to their writings on Rujoub’s political concessions to the Israeli occupation. Both al-Shammali and Jaradat are Palestinian progressives.”….
PA cuts salaries to Hamas prisoners
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 23 June by Ahmad Melhem — The Palestinian Authority is exerting more pressure on Hamas with its latest move cutting off the allowances of former prisoners affiliated with the Gaza group — Iman Bani Jameh, the wife of former prisoner Jihad Bani Jameh, from the village of Aqraba near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, was shocked to find out that the Palestinian government had cut off her husband’s salary starting June 1. At the beginning of every month, the government pays the salaries of its employees and those of prisoners. Bani Jameh told Al-Monitor that this month she was unable to withdraw money because the government did not transfer her husband’s salary to his bank account. Jihad spent 21 years in Israeli jails and was released in a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas in 2011 before the Israeli army arrested him again in a massive arrest campaign after the kidnapping of three settlers in Hebron in 2014. Jihad was then released six months later because of his deteriorating health condition due to Parkinson’s disease. Cutting off Jihad’s salary, which amounts to 7,000 Israeli shekels ($1,970) per month, has made things harder for his wife who uses the money to pay for his treatment and support their two children as well as her husband’s family. “My husband cannot move, let alone work. His monthly treatment costs 2,000 shekels [$565]. Our two children need a daily allowance and we only had my husband’s salary to support us before it was cut off without prior notice,” Bani Jameh said, noting that Jihad’s condition would deteriorate if he is unable to continue his treatment….
Palestinian officials outraged at US demands to cut prisoner compensation program
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 June — Following a meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and senior advisor to US President Donald Trump on Thursday in Ramallah, Palestinian officials have expressed their indignation over repeated demands from American officials that the Palestinian Authority (PA) cut its prisoners compensation program as a prerequisite to resuming peace talks with Israel. The Times of Israel reported Friday that Abbas was left “enraged” following his meeting with Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, real estate developer Jared Kushner, who he has tasked with bringing peace to the decades long Palestinian-Israeli conflict. According to the Times of Israel, US officials “watered down” their demands about payments to prisoners, which originally called for all payments to be halted altogether. The new demands reportedly requested that the PA stop paying compensation to the families of some 600 Palestinian prisoners serving life sentences and who are responsible for the deaths of Israelis. Abbas reportedly defended the payments as a “social responsibility,” and said Israel was using the issue as a pretext to avoid peace talks, while Israeli news website Ynet reported that American officials described the payments “as a means of inciting terror.” The payment program, managed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), provides financial allowances to Palestinians imprisoned in Israel and their families, those injured by Israeli forces, and families of Palestinian “martyrs” — those killed by Israeli forces, whether during attacks against Israelis or in situations in which they were void of wrongdoing….
Abbas incensed with Kushner, after he fully adopts Israeli talking points
Tikun Olam 24 June by Richard Silverstein — …Whenever it looks like there could be movement or success in negotiations, Netanyahu moves the goal posts by devising new conditions that hadn’t been raised previously … Now, Netanyahu has created a new stratagem to gum up the works: Palestinians are supposedly supporting and inciting terror against Israel by paying benefits to the families of their prisoners in Israeli jails. To the right-wing Israeli government, this is like paying blood money on behalf of terrorist murderers.
To Palestinians, the matter looks totally different: first of all, these prisoners are breadwinners for their families. If they are in an Israeli prison, their children and wives are going hungry back home. Financial support is critical for their families to survive. Second, Israeli military justice is not known for its fairness or probity. There is no guarantee that many of these prisoners are guilty of whatever they were charged with. Which means that many of the detainees may not be guilty at all, or may be guilty of much lesser offenses than the ones they were charged with. Third, even if they are guilty, Palestinians view these men as heroes on behalf of the Palestinian nation. They fought on behalf of freedom and against the unending Israeli Occupation. After five decades of such oppression, violent resistance begins to look like the only option for some; and the Palestinian street embraces their sacrifice.
Haaretz contributor Odeh Bisharat also noted a profound hypocrisy in this Israeli demand: there are many Israeli terrorists in Israeli prisons for killing Palestinians (such imprisonment happened back in the days when Israel prosecuted and imprisoned such people; now this no longer happens). The Israeli state continues paying benefits to these individuals and their families despite the heinous crimes for which they’ve been convicted. It also refuses to pay compensation to Palestinian families who are terror victims (at the hands of Israeli Jews), despite the fact that they should be entitled to it….
Former Israeli generals warn against US bill slashing funds to PA
Times of Israel 23 June — Hundreds of former generals and senior security officials warned that proposed US legislation to cut funding to the Palestinian Authority unless it stops payments to terrorists may harm Israel’s security. Commanders for Israel’s Security issued a statement saying that the Taylor Force Act, named after the American killed last year in a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv, could bring about the end of security cooperation between Israel and the PA. The bill would cut all US funding to the Palestinian Authority except that earmarked for the Palestinian police, some $60 million in 2013, a fraction of the approximately $500 million Palestinians have received annually from the United States. Although Commanders for Israel’s Security support the basic premise of the proposed legislation, the group said that withdrawing funding from the PA could weaken its authority and allow extremists factions to take over. The group said a strong PA is necessary for Israeli security and that the proposed US legislation should be modified to ensure the PA’s control is not harmed. The statement, issued Wednesday, ends by calling on the Israeli government to ask Washington to amend the legislation.
On Thursday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday defended payments to Palestinian prisoners, including convicted terrorists, as a “social responsibility.” He also reportedly rejected demands conveyed by US envoy Jared Kushner to cut payments to at least the 600 most serious jailed terrorists. Palestinian Authority leaders are open about their policy of providing salaries and other benefits to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, including those convicted by Israeli civil courts of murder and terrorism, as well as to their families if they are killed while carrying out their attacks. Palestinian Authority leaders are open about their policy of providing salaries and other benefits to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, including those convicted by Israeli civil courts of murder and terrorism, as well as to their families if they are killed while carrying out their attacks. But the PA says that since 2014, these funds have been paid through the Palestine Liberation Organization, not the PA’s own budget, and so are not drawn from foreign donor governments’ development grants. Critics note that the heads of the PA and PLO are the same individuals, and insist the PLO uses PA funds for the payments…
Why is Netanyahu trying to disband the UNRWA?
UN (Al Jazeera) 22 June by Hanin Abou Salem — Israel wants to dismantle the UNRWA because the agency keeps Palestinian’s right to return to their homeland alive — On June 11, 2017, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the dismantling of the UN agency that aids millions of Palestinian refugees, accusing it of stoking anti-Israeli sentiments and perpetuating the Palestinian refugee problem. Netanyahu, after a meeting with the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, in Jerusalem, said, “It is time the UNRWA be dismantled and merged with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.”
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was established by the UN General Assembly in 1949 after hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes in the war that followed Israel’s creation. Since its establishment, the UNRWA has provided education, healthcare, and social services to those meeting its definition of “Palestine refugees.” The organisation defines a Palestine refugee as someone whose place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948 and who lost his/her home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict. UNRWA also provides basic services to Palestinians who became displaced as a result of the 1967 Arab-Israeli Conflict. Today, the UNRWA aids more than five million registered Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
–Returning to the homeland– Netanyahu wants to dismantle the UNRWA because the agency allows Palestinian refugee men to transmit their refugee status from one generation to another. This transmission of refugee status keeps the right of return for Palestinian refugees alive – it ensures that their hopes for returning to their ancestral homeland do not perish with the death of the original 1948 refugees. Israel has accused the UNRWA of “perpetuating the Palestinian refugee problem” by allowing Palestinian refugees to transmit their refugee status to future generations. This accusation aims to shift our attention away from the fact that Israel is solely responsible for perpetuating the Palestinian refugee problem by denying the refugees the right to return to their homes …
–UNHCR does not insist on repatriation-– Unlike the UNRWA, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has a specific mandate to aid refugees by eliminating their refugee status through the medium of local integration in the host country, resettlement in a third country or repatriation when possible. Netanyahu wants 1948 Palestine refugees to fall under the scope of the UNHCR because it does not insist on repatriation….
Hebrew U. professor: Israel today similar to Nazi Germany
JPost 23 June by Yocheved Laufer — Dr. Ofer Cassif of Hebrew University faces heavy criticism after his students leaked a video recording from his political science class — Hebrew University Professor, Dr. Ofer Cassif, compared recent Israeli legislation, both proposed and passed, to those of the Third Reich in Nazi Germany, reported Channel 2 on Thursday as a recording of his class became public. The statement occurred in a Politics and Government course as part of a preparatory college program at Hebrew University in Jerusalem … Cassif drew specific parallels from recent Israeli legislature regarding Arabs and Jews, to policies of Nazi Germany. The Hebrew University professor stated that the proposed Israeli nation-state law is similar to 1930s Germany’s methods of creating a hierarchy of citizens according to classes … Cassif also criticized recent legislation passed legalizing 4,000 homes in the West Bank, stating that this this law, “allows Jews to take over Palestinian-owned land for themselves, just like Aryans in 1930 Germany were allowed to kick Jews out of their homes.” Cassif’s next comparison was regarding the recent legislative proposal pushed by Netanyahu to ban funding from foreign NGOs. Cassif explained to his students that this bill is similar to laws passed in Nazi Germany limiting organizations that criticized the regime.