Israel advances bill to conceal its overseas partners in suppressing BDS

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Israeli parliament advances law to keep fight against BDS secret from public
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 July — An Israeli bill aimed at exempting Israel’s attempts at combating the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and efforts to “delegitimize Israel” from Israel’s Freedom of Information Law, which allows Israeli citizens to obtain information from the government, passed its first reading in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, on Monday.
According to a statement released by the Knesset, 25 Members of the Knesset (MKs) supported the bill, while 12 MKs voted against it and one abstained from the vote.  Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan from the right-wing Likud party, who is in charge of combating the boycott movement, said that the “boycott organizations are spread out geographically and act in different areas. The organizations built a network of activity and act in coordination with the Palestinian Authority,” he said.  “There is a campaign of falsehoods fueling hate,” he added. He also said that the fight against the boycott movement was a “battlefront like any other” and insisted that the Israeli government formulate a strategy for “running the campaign against this phenomenon.”
Part of that strategy, according to the Knesset statement, is to make Erdan’s efforts against the so-called “delegitimization” of Israel completely secret, by exempting it from Israel’s Freedom of Information Law, which ensures that Israeli citizens and residents have the “the right to obtain information from a public authority.”  The bill aims to add the Strategic Affairs Ministry to a list of bodies that are exempt from the law. “One of the principles for success is keeping our methods of action secret…Since most of the ministry’s actions are not of the ministry, but through bodies around the world who do not want to expose their connection with the state,” Erdan stated….

Radiohead singer Thom Yorke defends the band’s decision to perform in Israel, saying ‘We don’t endorse Netanyahu any more than Trump but we still play in America’
Kelly McLaughlin for MAILONLINE / AFP 18 July — Radiohead is set to defy calls from prominent artists to cancel its concert on Wednesday in Israel over the occupation of Palestinian territory. Radiohead singer Thom Yorke has responded to artists such as Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and director Ken Loach calling on the pioneering rock band to cancel, saying such demands have been patronising. In a Twitter post last week, Yorke said ‘playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government’. ‘We’ve played in Israel for over 20 years through a succession of governments, some more liberal than others. As we have in America….

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Palestinian killed after alleged vehicular attack in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 July — A Palestinian was killed after allegedly carrying out a car-ramming attack in the Hebron district of the southern occupied West Bank on Tuesday afternoon. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that a vehicular attack took place at the entrance of Beit Einun north of Hebron, adding that “in response to the immediate threat,” Israeli forces fired at the vehicle. They added that “a hit was confirmed,” clarifying that the Palestinian was “not alive.”
Palestinian security sources identified the slain Palestinian as 29-year-old Rafaat Nathmi Shukri Hirbawi from Hebron city.
Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers opened fire at a Mazda car with Palestinian license plates, in which two people were riding. The Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an, however, that they were only aware of one person in the vehicle. Immediately after shooting at the vehicle, large numbers of Israeli troops arrived at the scene and closed off the road to traffic, the eyewitnesses said, adding that the soldiers denied a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance access to the wounded Palestinian.
Two soldiers were lightly wounded in the incident, the army spokesperson said, adding that they were being hospitalized. Israeli news outlet The Jerusalem Post reported that two pedestrians in their sixties were also injured in the incident.
According to Ma‘an documentation, 45 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of the year — eight of whom were killed in the past seven days alone.

Israeli forces raid home of Palestinian shot dead after alleged vehicular attack
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 18 July — Israeli forces raided the family home of 29-year-old Rafat Hirbawi — who was shot dead by Israeli forces earlier on Tuesday after allegedly carrying out a vehicular attack — in Hebron city in the southern occupied West Bank … Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces surrounded and raided the home, and interrogated Hirbawi’s brother. Following actual or alleged attacks on Israelis, Israeli authorities routinely target family members of the Palestinian assailants, often times revoking their Israeli permits, detaining them, and punitively demolishing their homes.
Israeli soldiers and officers prevented journalists and locals from taking pictures or videos of the raid. Israeli forces also confiscated the mobile phone of Ma‘an reporter Duaa al-Atrash as she was attempting to cover the incident, and removed all videos she had recorded before handing it back. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the raid, telling Ma‘an that the “assailant’s home was raided following the attack,” but did not provide further details.
Hirwbawi, a resident of Ramallah city, was married and a father of two children. He was working as a food supplies distributor before being killed in the alleged attack.

Israeli forces shoot young Palestinian in East Jerusalem, raid hospital where he is treated
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 July — Israeli forces shot and injured a young Palestinian man on Monday evening in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, a local watchdog organization reported, before raiding the hospital where the wounded Palestinian was being treated.
The Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that Israeli troops stormed the area of Ein al-Luza and fired stun grenades and live fire haphazardly, while young residents threw Molotov cocktails and fireworks in response. One Palestinian was seriously injured during the raid, according to the information center, and taken to a hospital, where he underwent surgery. The center added that Israeli police raided the al-Makassed Hospital east of the Old City of Jerusalem, seeking to detain the injured Palestinian. Official Palestinian news agency Wafa said the young man was taken from his hospital bed by Israeli forces.
However,the family of 19-year-old Alaa Abu Tayih told Ma‘an on Tuesday morning that Israeli soldiers and police officers had been stationed outside of the intensive care unit (ICU), where the young man was being treated after having been shot in the lower abdomen. The relatives added that the troops had prevented them from reaching Alaa in the ICU. The al-Makassed Hospital said in a statement that Israeli forces had also surrounded the hospital, and examined the identity documents of all hospital employees and visitors.The hospital called the raid a violation of international law, and called on the World Health Organization and the International Committee of the Red Cross to intervene to end the “state of chaos caused by the Israeli occupation forces” in al-Makassed. Meanwhile, Palestinian Minister of Health Jawad Awwad said Israeli forces should “immediately” vacate the premises, calling the hospital raid a “crime. ”
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement late on Monday that police forces “dispersed rioters” in Silwan using “non-lethal weapons,” making no mention of any injuries. However, Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri reported that a Palestinian was injured during the raid, adding that a police officer was “lightly injured” in the foot after being hit with a stone.
Al-Samri added that one Palestinian was detained in Silwan. Rosenfeld meanwhile said that Israeli police also raided the neighborhood of ‘Issawiya, where he said masked youths threw “petrol bombs and fired fireworks” at the police officers, who “dispersed” them using “non-lethal weapons.”….

Palestinian released after being shot and detained by Israeli forces
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 July — Israeli forces released a young Palestinian man overnight Sunday after he was shot, injured, and detained the night before during a raid in which another Palestinian man was shot dead by the Israeli army. According to the Palestinian  Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, Lufti Muhammad Khalil was shot and detained near the scene of 33-year-old Ammar Ahmad Khalil Tirawi’s killing, as Israeli forces sought to apprehend Tirawi for allegedly committing two shooting incidents Saturday morning in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah … According to the prisoners’ committee, Khalil was released from custody after midnight on Monday, and had been treated at Israel’s Hadassah Hospital for unspecified gunshot injuries. A spokesperson for the hospital could not be reached to comment on his condition. An Israeli police spokesperson told Ma’an they had no further information regarding Khalil’s interrogation, the circumstances of his arrest, or why he was released. Unconfirmed reports said that Khalil and Tirawi were in a vehicle together when Israeli border police opened fire on them.

Army injures 70 Palestinians in Jerusalem
IMEMC 18 July — Israeli soldiers injured, on Monday evening, at least seventy Palestinians, including the Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, after the army assaulted dozens of Palestinians, among them religious leaders, in the Tribes Gate area in Jerusalem, and the al-Ezariyya town, east of the occupied city. The soldiers also abducted two Palestinians. The soldiers used excessive force against nonviolent protesters, who marched near the Tribes Gate, leading to clashes between many Palestinian young men and the soldiers. The Red Crescent Society said its medics rushed to the area and provided the needed treatment to fifty Palestinians, and moved 15 of them to al-Makassed hospital. It added that the 16 Palestinians were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, nine were injured by fragments of concussion grenades, while 25 others were assaulted by the soldiers, in addition to four of its medics who were injured while providing treatment to the wounded Palestinians. Among the wounded Palestinians was the Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative, legislator Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, who was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the head, before he was moved to the al-Makassed hospital. The attack took place when hundreds of Palestinians, headed by the General Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, and several religious and political leaders, held evening prayers on the main road facing the Tribes Gate, after the soldiers prevented them from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque. The soldiers fired a barrage of gas bombs, before the assaulting the Palestinians, and abducted at least two of them….

Army injures 34 Palestinians, attacks ambulances and medic, in Jerusalem
IMEMC 19 July — Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC) medics have provided medical treatment to 34 Palestinians, including the Khatib of al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, and moved at least fourteen others to hospitals, including one who suffered a serious injury, after Israeli soldiers attacked dozens of Palestinians in the Tribes Gate area, and Jerusalem’s Old City. The soldiers fired dozens of gas bombs, concussion grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets at the Palestinians who gathered in the streets to perform evening prayer, after preventing them from entering al-Aqsa Mosque. The PRC said one of the wounded Palestinians was shot with a live round in the chest, and is currently in a serious condition. It added that the Khatib of the Al-Aqsa Mosque was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the back, in addition to suffering various cuts and bruises. The soldiers also fired a concussion grenade at a PRC ambulance, in addition to attacking medics in another ambulance.

Ynet reporter attacked by police while covering Temple Mount riots
[with VIDEO] Ynet 18 July by Yael Friedson — Ynet reporter Hassan Shaalan was attacked Monday evening by police while covering clashes near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City. The clashes between police and Muslim worshipers broke out around 7:30pm near the Lions’ Gate in the wake of the increased security at the holy site following a terror attack Friday that claimed the lives of two Israeli police officers. Shaalan was filming the clashes with his cellphone when police officers approached him and demanded: “Get out of here, we don’t want to see you.” When another police officer asked him again to leave, Shaalan responded that he was a journalist. “I don’t care, get out of here,” the police officer said, pushing the reporter. Another policeman hit Shaalan, forcefully shoved him to the ground, and then kicked him.  Shaalan suffered injuries to his hand, chest, stomach and legs, and his cellphone screen was broken. Local medical teams treated him on the scene. While they were treating him, a stun grenade was thrown in their direction. Shaalan received further care Tuesday at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus….,7340,L-4991122,00.html

Palestinian man comes under fire while driving north of Ramallah
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 July — A Palestinian man was lightly injured when unidentified assailants, believed to be Palestinian, opened fire at his Israeli-plated vehicle north of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank on Saturday morning, according to the Israeli army. An Israeli army spokesperson wrote in a statement that Nasser Nael came under fire while driving between the illegal Israeli Ateret settlement and the village of Umm Safa, and sustained minor wounds from broken glass of his car window. The statement attached a video of Nael describing how he “survived by a miracle after a Palestinian fired three gunshots at his car from a speeding car,” the army spokesperson wrote, adding that “terrorism does not differentiate between Arabs and Jews or between Israelis and Palestinians. Terrorism is blind and has one goal that is against humanity.”
In the video, Nael said he was originally from the Ramallah-area village of Beitin but currently resides in Brazil, and was driving to Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv when the gunman opened fire from a vehicle driving toward him in the opposite direction.  “Thank God I wasn’t harmed,” he said in the testimony, adding that while he could not make out the assailant’s face, who Nael said was also the driver, he saw a “woman wearing a hijab (veil) sitting next to the driver.””I feel they (the assailant) did not distinguish between Arabs and Jews,” he said, speculating in video that he came under fire because of the Israeli-registered license plates on his car….

Unidentified assailants target mosques in hometown of slain Israeli officer
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 July — Unidentified assailants targeted two mosques on Monday in the hometown of an Israeli police officer who was killed last week in occupied East Jerusalem, marking the second incident of its kind targeting mosques in the village since the deadly shooting attack. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that a stun grenade was hurled inside a mosque in the village of Maghar in northern Israel in the middle of the night, causing no injuries. Later in the the night, at around 3:30 a.m., gunshots were fired at another mosque in the eastern part of Maghar, breaking a window but causing no injuries. Al-Samri added that Israeli police were investigating the attacks, and that security forces were deployed in the area to “protect public property and prevent negative developments.” … The officers — Hail Stawi, 30, and Kamil Shakib Shinan, 22 — were both Druze citizens of Israel from the villages of Maghar and Horfish respectively. While residents of Maghar told Israeli news outlet Ynet on Saturday that Muslim and Druze coexisted peacefully in the Palestinian-majority village, some appeared concerned that the deadly Al-Aqsa shooting could spark tensions….


Palestinians: 14 wounded, one critically, in Temple Mount clashes with Israeli police
Haaretz 19 July by Jack Khoury — Violent clashes broke out Tuesday night between Muslim worshippers and police outside the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Palestinian Red Crescent claimed that some 14 Muslim worshipers were wounded, with one reportedly in critical condition. According to the Israeli police, the Muslim worshipers threw stones and bottles at the officers, who used various means to scatter them. Two officers were said hurt in the clashes. The Fatah movement called for protests Wednesday and processions throughout the West Bank toward checkpoints.
Meanwhile, the head of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, Mohammed Barakeh, and the chairman of the committee of Arab mayors, Mazen Ghanaim paid a condolence call Tuesday evening on the families of the two Druze policemen killed Friday near the Temple Mount by Muslim Israeli Arabs from Umm al-Fahm. The visits took place following contacts over the past few days and criticism by the Druze community that Arab leaders had not condemned the killings.

Jerusalem Festival postponed in response to ‘discriminatory’ policies at Al-Aqsa
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 July by Lily Leach — A highly anticipated Palestinian cultural festival that was set to launch in Jerusalem on Tuesday has been indefinitely postponed as a result of what organizers called an escalation of “oppression and violence” targeting Jerusalemites in the occupied city. In the wake of an armed confrontation between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli border police inside the Old City’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Friday, the Israeli government has been accused of enforcing a policy of collective punishment, after unprecedented security measures were imposed at the site. Israeli authorities closed Al-Aqsa completely for nearly three consecutive days, the first time the site was closed since 2014, which also marked the first time since 1967 the mosque was closed for Friday prayers. When the mosque reopened on Sunday, new metal detectors were installed at its entrances, and Palestinian worshipers have since refused to pass through them, praying outside the compound and in surrounding streets instead, in protest of the Israeli attempts to further control the holy site and Jerusalem at large.
As a result of the increasingly tense situation in Jerusalem, the Yabous Cultural Center, the organizers of Jerusalem Festival 2017, announced Tuesday the event would be cancelled until further notice.“After almost one year of preparations for a distinctive festival to revive the cultural life in Jerusalem, and as we were preparing to host internationally renowned performers, the Israeli discriminatory measures towards Palestinians in Jerusalem have increased to even prohibit freedom of worship,” a statement released by Yabous said. “Now the holiest sites are surrounded with discriminatory metal detectors with the aim of humiliating our people, and anyone wishing to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque, following a systematic strategy to empty Jerusalem.”….

Christian organizations warn change in status quo at mosque ground for explosion
JERUSALEM (WAFA)  18 July — The National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine (NCCOP) Tuesday warned that any Israeli measures aiming at changing the status quo within and around Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem will result in a political explosion based on religious grounds. NCCOP said in a statement that since Jerusalem is a city under Israeli military occupation, all Israeli measures are in violation of international laws and also are belittling the religious feelings of the Palestinians. “Because what is happening at Al-Aqsa Mosque can occur in all Christian and Muslim holy sites, we, NCCOP, appeal to the international community and the State of Vatican to oppose and resist these unjust measures no matter what justifications Israel poses,” said the statement. “All Boards and members of NCCOP fully stand with the our Palestinian people in Jerusalem, Al Haram al Sharif (Al-Aqsa Mosque) and religious leadership in the face of these measures and we join them in prayers aspiring to the end of oppression in this holy city.” The statement came in reaction to the installation by Israeli police of metal detectors outside the gates that lead to Al-Aqsa Mosque

Christian prelate: ‘Today al-Aqsa mosque, tomorrow the Church of Holy Sepulcher’t
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 18 July – Archbishop Atallah (Theodosios) Hanna from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem Tuesday warned that recent Israeli heightened measures in occupied East Jerusalem can also affect Christian holy places.  “Muslim and Christian holy sites and endowments are targeted by the Israeli occupation authorities. The Israeli occupation does not distinguish between Muslims and Christians nor does it exclude anyone from its measures,” said Hanna in a statement. “Today al-Aqsa Mosque; tomorrow the Church of Holy Sepulcher,” he said in reference to recent Israeli measures at the Muslim holy place. Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is currently targeted by Israeli occupation measures, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher would be targeted in the future, the only Orthodox Palestinian archbishop, who is renowned for his activism against the Israeli occupation, he added.

Opinion: Temple Mount metal detectors won’t help / Nahum Barnea
Ynet 17 July — …The Temple Mount has eight gates. On Sunday, the police placed metal detectors at the entrances. As the Old City was closed to visitors from outside, the number of worshipers who gathered around the gates was small. Some of them accepted the verdict, went through the detection and entered. Others, several hundred, preferred to protest in front of the police and the cameras. The incident ended peacefully, but that doesn’t mean the next incidents will end the same way. The metal detectors are for the Jews, not for the Arabs. Anyone familiar with the reality at the Temple Mount understands that. Whoever wants to smuggle weapons or warfare agents into the Temple Mount won’t do it on a day like Sunday, but rather on a day in which hundreds of thousands of worshipers are gathered outside the gates. On days like that, there is no way to check each person individually, especially when dealing with a hostile population, with women who require particular sensitivity, with hot-tempered young men and with television cameras from around the world. The metal detector will create a jam, the jam will lead to a commotion, and the commotion will force the police to let the masses pour in. Those interested in bringing in weapons and warfare agents will get their chance—with no effort whatsoever. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Sunday, from his trip abroad, that “contrary to what police sources have said, the metal detectors won’t be removed.” I wonder what he’ll say when it turns out that weapons have entered the Temple Mount in spite of the metal detectors. Who will he blame?,7340,L-4990275,00.html

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Israeli Supreme Court mulls over demolition of Bedouin village in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 18 July — The Israeli Supreme Court is currently deciding the fate of an unrecognized Bedouin village in the South Hebron Hills in the occupied West Bank, scheduled to be demolished and its population transferred to an adjacent village in March 2018, according to a statement released Tuesday by Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR). RHR said that the Israeli Supreme Court responded to a petition submitted by residents of the threatened Palestinian village of Dkeika in the West Bank with the assistance of RHR on Tuesday, issuing an order to the Israeli state to explain within 90 days its decision to reject a master plan that had been submitted by residents of Dkeika aimed at “legalizing” the village’s existence and development.
RHR explained that the petition has demanded that the residents be able to continue residing on their land by approving a master plan for the village or “another administrative solution,” that would be provided by the Israeli Civil Administration in order to prevent the expulsion of more than 300 residents.  “Israel does not recognize the village and refuses to approve the professional, village-initiated master plan that would allow residents to apply for building permits,” RHR said in the statement. “Left with no other recourse, villagers are forced to build ‘illegally.’” However, the state has demanded that the village be demolished and its population transferred to the nearby village of Hmeida, which also does not have an approved master plan, and therefore must exist under the constant threat of Israeli demolitions.  “This means Dkeika’s residents will once again be vulnerable to the risk of forced transfer and further demolitions following implementation of the state’s ‘solution,’” the group said.

Israel delivers stop-work orders to Palestinians in al-‘Arrub refugee camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) — Israeli forces ordered two Palestinian families in al-‘Arrub refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron to halt construction work on their homes Tuesday. According to official Palestinian sources cited by Palestinian Authority-owned Wafa news agency, Israeli Civil Administration crews under armed Israeli military escort stormed the camp and delivered the stop-work orders to Ahmad Ghanem and Abd al-Fattah Jawabrah. A spokesperson for COGAT, the agency responsible for enforcing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, confirmed to Ma’an that the warrants were served against the “illegal construction foundations adjacent to al-‘Arrub village,” for being built without the nearly impossible to obtain permits required by Israel to build in Area C — the more than 60 percent of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli control.
Separately, according to Wafa’s report, the Israeli military also took pictures of two other homes in the camp, presumably in preparation to demolish them. The COGAT spokesperson did not comment on the matter. A number of homes in the Hebron area have been delivered stop-work orders in recent weeks.

Israel seizes large area of land near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 17 July – Israel seized at least 70 dunums (70,000 square meters) of Palestinian land in the village of Jab‘a, northwest of the city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, a local source said on Monday.  Hasan Brijiyeh, a local anti-settlement, anti-wall activist, told WAFA that the Israeli authorities announced that it has seized 70 dunums of land in the area of Wadi al-Goul in the village. He said that based on notices the Israeli military left on the land, which belong to the Mashaale family, the property was seized for “military purposes.”

Israeli authorities demolish Palestinian-owned building in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 17 July — Israeli authorities demolished a Palestinian-owned building on Monday morning in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Zaayyem, according to witnesses. Bulldozers escorted by Israeli police forces and employees of Israel’s Jerusalem municipality razed the home to the ground for lack of a building permit. A spokesperson for the municipality told Ma‘an that the demolition was not within its jurisdiction. However, a spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for enforcing demolitions in the occupied West Bank, later told Ma‘an to contact the municipality. Last week, Israeli forces targeted Palestinian-owned buildings in occupied East Jerusalem for two consecutive days.

Settlers set up caravans on Palestinian land
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 16 July – Israeli settlers Sunday set up five caravans on lands near the village of al-Khader, to the south of Bethlehem in the West Bank, according to local sources. Ahmad Salah, coordinator of the Anti-Settlement Committee in the village, told WAFA that a group of settlers set up five caravans on lands outside the village. Salah said this move aims at expanding a nearby illegal settlement outpost. It came only a few months after Israel opened a road in the area to serve illegal settlers.


Israeli navy shoots, injures 2 Palestinian fishermen off Gaza coast
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 July — Israeli naval forces shot and injured two unarmed Palestinian fishermen who were working off the coast of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip overnight Sunday. Spokesman for the health ministry in Gaza Ashraf al-Qidra said the two fishermen were evacuated to Nasser Medical Center in Khan Yunis for treatment. They were both shot in the feet, according to al-Qidra. A Palestinian security source identified the fishermen as Ibrahim al-Jahjouh and Khader Abu Shammala….

Israeli soldiers fire live rounds at homes and lands, in Khan Younis
IMEMC 18 July — On Tuesday morning, Israeli soldiers stationed across the border fence fired dozens of live rounds at homes and farmlands east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the besieged Gaza Strip. The soldiers, stationed on military towers surrounding Kissufim military base east of Khan Younis, fired dozens of rounds into agricultural lands and homes, causing damage, and forcing the Palestinians out of their lands in fear of further escalation. The violations and attacks against the Palestinian lands and homes were carried out amidst extensive deployment of tanks and armored vehicles near the border fence, while military drones flew overhead. The soldiers also detonated explosives in several areas near the border fence; medial sources in Khan Younis said the explosions could be heard in all parts of the governorate.

Hamas asks Algeria to take in top officials expelled from Qatar: report
i24NEWS 17 July — After its senior officials were forced to leave its longtime base in Qatar, the Hamas terror organization has approached Algeria and asked it to take in some of its leaders. According to the London-based Sharq al-Awsat international Arab newspaper, Hamas has sought to dissolve its leadership among several countries including Lebanon, Malaysia, Turkey, and most recently Algeria. Hamas hopes that Algeria will absorb its spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, who is already currently residing in the country, and to transfer some of its senior members there after Abu Zuhri establishes an office in the capital. The paper said that Hamas officially approached Algiers with the request, but has yet to receive a response. Several senior members of the Palestinian Islamist group were deported from Qatar amid a bitter diplomatic fallout with its Gulf neighbors Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates all of which severed diplomatic ties with Qatar over accusations it sponsors terrorism. The crisis has prompted Hamas to seek to spread its leadership throughout a number of countries, rather than to concentrate its political weight in one location, Sharq al-Awsat said. Qatar expressed regret over expelling Hamas officials and said its hand was forced by “external pressure.” Doha had been criticized for providing a sanctuary to former Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal….

Major changes in Fatah leadership in Gaza
MEMO 17 July — A senior member of Fatah’s Executive Committee announced a new leadership commission in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, Quds Net has reported. Ahmed Hellis said that the new body includes officials who have experience in senior roles. The faction’s mobilisation and organisation commissioner in the besieged territory noted that a meeting of the new leadership was held on Saturday night. Members were briefed about the current political and internal situation of the secular Palestinian movement. Hellis also revealed said that there would be another meeting soon when responsibility for various portfolios would be determined. One of the most important priorities of the new leadership, he added, will be to regain commitment and respect among Fatah’s members.

Opinion: My family in Gaza tells me: We can’t breathe / Muhammad Shehada
Haaretz 16 July — They’ve given up trying to sleep in the suffocating heat, but that’s not all Gazans are giving up hope for: “The war is coming. I’m beginning to believe I’m going to die before I even experience living.” — I talked to my family in Gaza earlier this week and asked them: “How do you sleep at night when you don’t have electricity?” The temperature at night there doesn’t go below 74 degrees Fahrenheit, and humidity is high. My 12-year-old sister answered: “We don’t.” She explained that even if they try to sleep, open all the windows, drink a lot of water – still, they can’t breathe. If they lie down, they spend hours sweating profusely while listening to the Israeli drones’ intimidating noise outside, with nowhere to go. They prefer to stay awake at night until they can’t resist their eyes closing. Even then, they’re troubled by insomnia, and nightmares. They wake up to find themselves drowned in sweat. By the morning, the flaming sun limits their options. One option is to spend the day in the Capital Mall, the only mall in Gaza equipped with internet, air conditioners, private electrical generators and a place to sit down. Or they could go and visit a relative who has a big enough battery to operate a small fan while they speak. They can no longer go and sit by the sea, when the risk of catching diseases from the contaminated water is so high, though others have stopped really caring about getting sick or not. As a friend of mine told me: “The sea is 99% polluted, we swim in the 1% that’s left.”  Their electricity, however, suddenly comes back on for two to three random hours at most each day, and that’s the only time you can turn on the pumps to store a little bit of undrinkable water in the tanks that will run out as soon as you take a shower. It becomes a kind of rush hour, when everyone is desperately running around, trying to cool some purchased mineral water in the freezer, recharge cellphone batteries and radios and flashlights, and sit behind a computer screen to read the news, whose headlines are repetitive and hollow. As soon as the electricity goes out, the people are back to the streets, sitting in the shade on the pavements.

Gazans rally for release of Palestinians held in Israel
GAZA CITY, Palestine (Anadolu) 17 July by Mohammed Majid — The families of Palestinian prisoners gathered in Gaza City on Monday in a show of solidarity with their loved ones. The protesters carried photos of their incarcerated relatives and banners calling for their release from Israeli detention in a protest outside the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross. “We are here to show solidarity with our prisoners who suffer in Israeli prisons,” Shukriya Wadi, the mother of prisoner Omar Wadi, told Anadolu Agency. “We want solutions to end the suffering of our prisoners.” She called for Arab and international intervention to free the prisoners. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs, more than 6,500 Palestinians, 350 from the Gaza Strip, are currently held at detention facilities throughout Israel.

Breaking: Israel arrests United Nations official in Gaza … again
Tikun Olam 16 July by Richard Silverstein — This is getting old.  Israel has once again arrested a United Nations official based in Gaza as he attempted to cross into Israel to attend a work meeting there.  An Israeli security source has confirmed to me the linked story above and the Shin Bet arrest.  The news is under gag order in Israel and no media there may report the story.  This conveniently insulates the Israeli public from the news that their supposedly democratic nation has arrested human rights personnel from the most reputable NGO in the world.  It also allows the Shin Bet time to build yet another fraudulent case against yet another Palestinian official doing international humanitarian relief work in Gaza. Since Israelis can’t know this information, I’m going to tell them here.  The arrested man is Hamdan Temraz, 61, who is the deputy director of the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) in Gaza.  He was arrested at the Erez crossing on July 12th despite having a valid entry permit. The Palestinian human rights group, al Mezan released this statement to the Palestine Information Center, protesting the latest Israeli outrage: … I find it odd that a UN employee has been in an Israeli prison for four days and there has been no statement from the international body.  Is this how they come to the defense of their staff when it’s under threat in a police state?  I left a phone message with the UN press office seeking a statement, but have not heard from them so far….

Gazan children play at getting into Al-Aqsa Mosque
GAZA (ANSAmed) 18 July by Sami al-Ajrami — Amid the impossibility of getting out of the Gaza Strip, children within it now can pretend to reach Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque in a new board game using only a dice and two pawns of any sort, even stones. For the low price of 2.5 shekels (60 euro cents), their parents can keep them busy during electricity-less days that are long and oppressive, hot and humid. Power is provided in the Gaza Strip for only a few hours a day. The game, called ‘The Road to Jerusalem’, is the brainchild of Muhammad Amriti, 33, former employee of the Hamas Al-Aqsa television station, where he was tasked with children’s programs and cartoons. ”I had a rough childhood,” Amriti told ANSA. His family, which backs Hamas, has been marked by repeated conflicts with Israel. Two of his brothers were killed (one by a rocket targeting him) and their home was bombed in 2014
The two players sit around a board with 100 squares along an itinerary that begins in Gaza, goes through several Israeli cities and then ends in Jerusalem and its holy sites. Some of the squares help the player to advance well beyond the number of the dice thrown. Those lucky enough to land on the 3rd cell jump onto a Hamas missile and fly directly to the Israeli power station in Ashqelon, on square number 24. Another rocket leads from square number 58 in Galilee, all the way to Nazareth (82). On square number 36 there is instead the beginning of a Hamas military tunnel, used to go underground and come out on square number 67. However, if the player lands on squares where there are Israeli helicopters or tanks, they are forced back and the distance between them and Jerusalem grows….


Other news

Israeli bill seeks to safeguard control of Jerusalem
AFP 16 July — Israeli ministers gave initial approval Sunday to a bill aimed at making it more difficult for the government to hand the Palestinians parts of Jerusalem as part of a future peace deal. The bill, proposed by Shuli Moalem-Refaeli of the far-right Jewish Home, determines that any ceding of lands considered by Israel to be part of Jerusalem would necessitate a two-thirds majority vote in parliament. Members of the ministerial committee for legislation approved the bill ahead of a series of discussions and votes in parliament. “The united Jerusalem bill we initiated just passed unanimously,” Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett wrote on his Facebook page. Moalem-Refaeli said in the bill’s explanatory notes that it sought to “fortify Jerusalem’s unified status, safeguard its future and protect the security of its residents”. Israel occupied east Jerusalem and the We st Bank in 1967. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community. It claims all of Jerusalem as its united capital, while the Palestinians see the eastern sector as the capital of their future state. The issue is among the most contentious in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Uber-style app ‘Careem’ goes off beaten track in Palestinian West Bank
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) 18 July by Miriam Berger — Careem, a Middle Eastern rival to Uber, has become the first ride-hailing firm to operate in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Dubai-based Careem, whose name is a play on the Arabic word for generous or noble, launched in Ramallah in June, aiming to bring digital simplicity to the Palestinian territory. There is certainly a market for easier ride-hailing among the nearly 3 million Palestinians living in the West Bank, but the fact the mobile network is still 2G, that electronic payments are not the norm and that Israeli checkpoints are common, make using the service somewhat cumbersome. Yet Careem is optimistic about the potential. “We are planning to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars within the coming year in the (Palestinian) sector,” Kareem Zinaty, operations manager for the Levant region said. “After the investment, it is also an opportunity to create jobs.” Careem, which launched in 2012 and now operates in 12 countries and more than 80 cities across the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, has said it aims to provide work for one million people across the region by 2018.

“Mama, I fell in love with a Jew’: Behind Palestinian rap group’s newest song
[with video] Haaretz 18 July — Talking about their latest music video “Mama, I fell in love with a Jew,” Tamer Nafar and Mahmood Jrere of Palestinian rap group DAM say they want to inject some humor into notions of coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Israel. The song is about a Palestinian and an Israeli soldier who meet in an elevator. “She was going up and I was going down,” the lyrics relate….

Israel is not as Christian-friendly as you think
IMEMC 17 July by Kathryn Shihadah, If Americans Knew — The New Testament records that Jesus Christ took two loaves of bread and five fish, and fed five thousand people. Ancient believers identified the place where they believe this miracle happened and built a church on the site. Today the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes stands in Israel, its 5th century mosaic floors still intact. Outside is a large rock where, legend has it, Jesus placed the bread before he distributed it to the crowd. Since the newest shrine was built in 1984, the site has attracted thousands of pilgrims every day—except for an eight-month period in 2015-16, when it was closed for renovation after two Israeli settlers, Yinon Reuveni and Yehuda Asraf, vandalized and set it on fire. On July 3rd, Reuveni was found guilty of arson. Many American Christians were surprised when the vandalism story broke, and figured it was a fluke. After all, Christians and Jews share a common history. Christians, like Jews, revere the Old Testament, so there is a certain implied kinship. And most Christians assume that Israel is a friend of Christianity. The attack must have been some random act by a rogue, probably deranged, Israeli. How else to explain an act of arson perpetrated against a sacred site like the Church of the Multiplication? … As “shocked” and “saddened” as Israel’s heads of state claim to be, church vandalism by Jewish settlers in the Holy Land is actually all too common, and has been an issue for years. The 1980s saw a spate of church desecrations, including the burning down of the Baptist church in Jerusalem … Since 1993 Israel has required Palestinians, in what the American Friends Service Committee describes as a “draconian system of movement controls [that] has become increasingly institutionalized and restrictive,” to obtain a military permit to visit their holy sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Noble Sanctuary mosque complex, in Jerusalem’s Old City. This permit is almost impossible to procure, and effectively restricts millions of Christians’ and Muslims’ freedom of movement and worship. In addition, the US State Department reported that Israel has issued fewer and fewer residency or work permits to Christian clergy and other religious workers in recent years; clergy travel has become complicated, disruptive, and expensive; to Gaza it is essentially impossible. This is in addition to the demeaning Orthodox Jewish practice of cursing and spitting at Christian clergy in the streets of Jerusalem that has been for years “a matter of routine.”….

Opinion: Jerusalem without Palestinians? / Amira Hass
Haaretz 18 July — Israel continues to treat peace talks with the Palestinians like a soccer game: There has to be a winner and a loser. Peace as a shared interest has disappeared from Israelis’ emotional and intellectual lexicon — Is an Old City of Jerusalem without Palestinians unimaginable? This question couldn’t have been put into words if it were unimaginable. Given the ghost town in Hebron and the hell of besieged Gaza, there’s no choice but to conclude that the dynamics of the perpetuation of the temporary Oslo Accords, combined with the security mythos, might lead to a similar nightmare scenario in Jerusalem. In Israel, “security” is only for the Jews and their state. The fact that the Palestinians under this state’s rule constantly live without any kind of security – physical, employment-wise, property-wise, emotional or nutritional – is erased from every intelligence assessment and every moral positionToday, metal detectors are a security measure, ostensibly a necessary one. Ostensibly this has no connection to other steps – bureaucratic, planning, legal, administrative – that Israel has systematically taken to dismantle East Jerusalem as a Palestinian city and the capital of the State of Palestine … Security for Jews only, perpetual negotiations, separation and siege until the Palestinians surrender, Palestinian weakness – all the elements that made Gaza and Hebron possible also exist in Jerusalem. The pan-Muslim Al-Aqsa Mosque saves us from a full Hebronization. But not from all the steps along the way. (listserv) (archive)

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