Canada bans ‘Product of Israel’ labels for West Bank wines
Times of Israel 13 July by Sue Surkes & Jacob Magid — Ruling singles out 2 settlement wineries, also blacklists Golan and East Jerusalem vintages; Jewish group calls decision ‘disturbing’ — Canadian food inspectors have ordered liquor stores to stop selling wines made in the West Bank, saying their label identifying them as Israeli contravenes Ottawa’s policy on the territory … News of the order emerged with the issue of a letter Tuesday from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario to liquor vendors, detailing the ruling by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency a week earlier “that ‘Product of Israel’ would not be an acceptable country of origin declaration for wine products that have been made from grapes that are grown, fermented, processed, blended and finished in the West Bank occupied territory.” The ruling extended to wines from “any other territory occupied by Israel in 1967” that carried such a label, which would be “considered misleading,” specifically mentioning the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Gaza, as well as the West Bank. The CFIA is a government body that controls all marketing and sales of wine in Canada….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Watch: Israeli settlers harass Palestinian man in Hebron as troops look on
+972 blog 11 July by Yael Marom — The B’Tselem video shows a group of Israeli settlers and their dog, who decide to celebrate a festive Jewish holiday by intimidating and abusing a Palestinian man at a checkpoint. Instead of intervening, the Israeli troops on scene made the victim leave, telling him it is a place for Jews only — There is no blood in this video, published here in English for the first time. There is no extraordinary physical violence. For a checkpoint in the occupied city of Hebron, it’s fairly routine — a few Israeli Border Police officers and a handful of settlers having a little fun for the Jewish holiday of Purim. Their fun, however, includes intimidation, harassment and bullying with a canine. Fun times.
This past Purim, March 12, 2017, Hebron resident ‘Abd al-‘Alim a-Salaimeh filmed Israeli Border Police officers detaining a young Palestinian man who wanted to cross an Israeli army checkpoint on his way to the Ibrahimi Mosque, part of the same complex Jews refer to as the Cave of the Patriarchs. In the film, comprised of footage by a-Salaimeh and B’Tselem volunteer Suhair Fakhuri from the window of her home, one of the officers is seen approaching a-Salaimeh and asking for his ID. Then vehicle full of settlers shows up, along with their German Shepherd. It seems they decided to celebrate Purim by “backing up” the border cops, and the best way they could think of doing that was to boost their morale by harassing Palestinians at the checkpoint. “Guys, we’re here. Don’t worry,” they tell the border cops, as they throw their impromptu party around a-Salaimeh. The Border Police officer returns the ID card to a-Salaimeh, who continues filming once he puts some distance between himself and the settlers. Then one of the setters approaches him again, with his barking dog in a threatening manner. The officers ignore his pleas to get the dog away from him….
Israeli forces shoot, kill 2 young Palestinians during raid in Jenin refugee camp
JENIN (Ma‘an) 12 July — Israeli forces shot and killed two young Palestinians — one 17-year-old and one 20-year-old — and injured at least two others after a violent military raid into Jenin refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank erupted into clashes early Wednesday morning. An Israeli army spokesperson said that during an “operation” in the camp, a Palestinian gunman opened fire at Israeli forces, and other locals threw Molotov cocktails, which prompted Israeli forces to open fire toward the “attackers.” No casualties were reported among the heavily armed and armored Israeli forces.
According to the Israeli army, no one was detained during the raid. The spokesperson did not acknowledge the deaths of the two Palestinians, and said reports of casualties were under investigation.
Medical sources at Khalil Suleiman governmental hospital said that 17-year-old Aws Muhammad Youssif Salameh died later in the hospital after succumbing to a gunshot wound. The Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma‘an that 20-year-old Saad Nasser Hassan Abd al-Fattah Salah was shot and killed by Israeli forces at the scene of the clashes. He reportedly sustained bullets to his head and chest. Local sources highlighted Salah was survived by three brothers — one of whom, Youssif, is currently imprisoned in an Israeli jails — and that their father was permanently disabled after being shot by Israeli forces some time in the past.
Medical sources at Jenin governmental hospital told Ma‘an that as of mid morning Wednesday, two other Palestinian youths were being treated after arriving to the hospital from the clashes suffering from moderate wounds. One was injured with an expanding “dumdum” bullet lodged in his leg, and the other was injured by shrapnel.
A funeral was held for Salameh and Salah later on Wednesday morning. The procession set off from the front of the Khalil Suleiman hospital and continued across Jenin city…
Salah and Salameh became the 38th and 39th Palestinians to be killed by Israelis this year, with at least eight of them being killed during clashes.
Funeral held in Bethlehem for Palestinian shot dead by Israeli forces
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 July — Thousands of Palestinians marched in the funeral of slain Palestinian Muhammad Ibrahim Jibril in the village of Tuqu‘ in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem on Tuesday, after the 24-year-old was shot dead by Israeli forces on Monday after allegedly committing an vehicular attack against Israeli soldiers.
The funeral procession set off from the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital, as mourners waved Palestinian flags and condemned the killing of Jibril, while demanding accountability for his death. Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli authorities had decided to return Jibril’s body after raiding the village and warning locals that the body would only be returned if the town “remained quiet.”
Jibril was gunned down Monday at a junction near Tuqu‘, south of Bethlehem city, after he allegedly rammed his car into Israeli forces, lightly injuring one soldier, and then emerged from the vehicle wielding a knife, according to the Israeli army.
Tuqu‘ Mayor Hatem Sabbah had told Ma‘an that he had accompanied the Jibril family to the military base to identify the body, and corroborated that Israeli intelligence had notified them that the body would only be returned on the condition that calmness prevail in the mourning village. “This is yet another crime added to the list of crimes committed by the Israeli occupation,” Sabbah said. “This Israeli military tower,” he said, referring to the tower that presides over the main entrance to Tuqu‘, “has become a spot for executing young men.” Sabbah called for the watchtower to be removed….
13-year-old Palestinian loses eye after Israeli forces shoot him with sponge-tipped bullet
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 11 July — A 13-year-old Palestinian from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya lost his eye on Sunday after Israeli forces fired a sponge-tipped bullet at the teenager during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces in the neighborhood. According to Israeli daily Haaretz, Israeli police had entered ‘Issawiya after a fight broke out between neighbors. Palestinians began to hurl rocks at Israeli forces, who responded by shooting crowd-control weapons into the community. According to the injured boy’s family, 13-year-old Nour Hamdan was struck by a sponge-tipped bullet when playing with other children on the second-floor balcony of their home. The family told Haaretz that when Hamdan’s mother called the children to come inside due to Israeli police presence in the area, Hamdan stood up and was hit in the eye with the bullet.
Hamdan, who the family reportedly said was not involved in any incident of rock-throwing, suffered from fractures in his eye socket and other facial injuries.
According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), in 2014 Israeli forces began using black sponge-tipped bullets as a crowd control weapon during clashes with Palestinians. The new bullets are “twice as hard and heavy and their potential to cause injury is much greater” than the bullets used previously, according to ACRI. The group has documented 30 cases of Palestinians being injured with sponge-tipped bullets shot by Israeli forces between July 2014 and February 2016 in occupied East Jerusalem, with at least 12 East Jerusalem residents losing an eye, half of whom were children. In September 2014, Muhammad Sunqrat was killed after being shot by sponge-tipped bullets in the neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz in East Jerusalem, ACRI added….
Young man seriously injured after being rammed by a speeding settler’s car
IMEMC 12 July — Palestinian medical sources have reported, on Tuesday evening, that a young man was seriously injured, near Qalqilia, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, after an excessively speeding Israeli setter’s car rammed him, and fled the scene. Eyewitnesses said the Palestinian, As‘ad Arfan, was walking in the center of Nabi Elias village, east of Qalqilia, when he was struck by the speeding Israeli car. They added that Red Crescent medics rushed to the scene, and provided Arfan with urgently needed first aid, before moving him to a hospital in Qalqilia.
In related news, Israeli soldiers invaded the eastern part of ‘Azzoun town, east of Qalqilia, and launched a surveillance balloon, before the soldiers took aerial and ground photos of the Palestinian homes in that area.
Pictures: The injury of Ishaq Tamimi with fractures and wound while waiting for the funeral of Ali Abu Gharbieh
Silwanic 6 July — The Jerusalemite Ishaq Tamimi (38) from the neighborhood of Al-Sowaneh in Jerusalem was injured with multiple fractures and wounds in his face during the funeral of Ali Abu Gharbieh who was drowned in Tiberius Lake. Ishaq Tamimi who is currently receiving treatment in Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital explained that he suffered fractures in his nose in addition to fractures above and under his eye and upper jaw. He needed more than 80 stitches under his eye and still requires surgery to implant platinum in his face. Tamimi said he was injured last Sunday night after “washing” the body of Ali Abu Gharbieh at Al-Maqased hospital and was heading to Al-Rahmeh Gate Cemetery. He said: “I had left the grave and didn’t know what was happening outside. Suddenly, I was hit with a sound grenade or a rubber bullet directly in my face. I was transferred to Al-Maqased hospital and was then transferred to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital.”
Silwan – The injury of a child with a sound grenade and raiding Madaa Center
Silwanic 10 July — The 6-year old girl Jana Munther Rajabi was injured in her hand after the occupation forces fired a sound grenade towards her house in the neighborhood of Batn Al-Hawa in Silwan. Rajabi family explained that the occupation forces raided the neighborhood of Batn Al-Hawa in Silwan and randomly fired sound grenades towards the residential houses. One of the sound grenades was fired towards the house of Jaber Rajabi, broke a window and injured the child Jana in her hand. The family said the girl was taken to the hospital for treatment after suffering wounds and bruises; she will also undergo necessary procedures and check-ups.
On the other hand, the occupation forces raided Madaa Creative Center in Batn Al-Hawa and searched the center’s facilities and roof when nearly 30 children were inside the center participating in various activities. Fatima Abbasi from Madaa Center explained that raiding the center and searching it terrifies the children who are between 5-14 years old.
Jerusalem: Israeli soldiers demolish storage rooms, car-wash facility, and abduct a young man after shooting him
IMEMC 12 July — Israeli soldiers invaded, Wednesday, the al-Jisir area, between Jabal al-Mokabber and Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, and demolished storage rooms and a car-wash facility, owned by Mousa Obeidat, and abducted one Palestinian after shooting him. The soldiers invaded the facilities and demolished them, under the pretext of being constructed without a permit from the Jerusalem City Council.
Many Palestinians protested the invasion and the demolitions, before the soldiers shot a young man, identified as Ali Ziad Odah, with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his leg, and abducted him, after repeatedly assaulting him.
In related news, the soldiers, accompanied by military bulldozers, invaded Wadi Abu Hindi Bedouin area, southeast of Jerusalem, raising fears among the residents of possible demolitions and displacement.
Israeli settlers raid Palestinian village to pray at holy site, spark clashes
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 11 July — Clashes broke out late Monday night between young Palestinian men and Israeli forces who stormed the village of Kifl Haris in central occupied West Bank district of Salfit to escort hundreds of Israeli settlers on a visit to pray at a Jewish holy site. Local activist and lawyer Izzat Shaqour told Ma‘an that Israeli troops closed all of the village’s entrances and restricted the movement of residents. “Settlers often storm the village under the pretext of visiting Jewish shrines. They sing and shout until the early dawn hours, disturbing the residents.” Residents of Kifl Haris have been living under continuous tension due to Israeli settler raids on a number of tombs in the village, which Palestinians in the area believe to be the graves of the Muslim prophet Dhul Kifl, the Sufi saint Dhul Nun, and another shrine built by 12-century Sultan Saladin. However, some Jews believe the tombs belong to the biblical figures Joshua, Caleb, and Nun. Shaqour added that clashes broke out between local young men and the Israeli troops who escorted the settlers. The Israeli soldiers, he said, fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades at the protesters. The Israeli army said in a statement that Israeli forces organized the entry of “1,000 Jewish worshipers to visit the tomb of Joshua. Rocks were hurled at the forces who escorted the worshipers, and the forces responded with stun grenades. No injuries were reported.”….
Just one night’s detentions
Israeli forces detain 19 Palestinians in military raids across West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) — Israeli forces detained at least 19 Palestinians in overnight raids between Monday night and Tuesday morning, including at least two minors — one of whom was reportedly beaten by Israeli soldiers during his detention. According to a statement from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), Israeli forces raided several areas in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem. The statement identified the detainees as Yousif Mahmoud al-Sheikh, 24, from Marah Rabah, Hussein Hmeid Taqatqa, 21, from Beit Fajjar, and Akram Adawi from al-‘Azza refugee camp. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the three detentions and informed Ma‘an that four additional Palestinians were detained during an overnight raid in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron.
The Israeli army also raided the southern occupied West Bank village of Tuqu‘ to interrogate the brother of a Palestinian man who was shot and killed Monday afternoon for allegedly carrying out a vehicular attack.
PPS said nine Palestinians were detained in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. They were identified as Ghasan Muhammad Ata, Muhammad Nimir Ata, Udayy Issa Zahran, Abdullah Hamdan Ata, 17-year-old Mahmoud Suleiman Ibrahim, 21-year-old Amin Muhammad Rabee, Yazan Muhammad Rabee, Ayid Abed Ankoush, and Muath Rasmi Abu Alia. An Israeli army spokesperson only confirmed seven detentions in the Ramallah district, saying that three were carried out in Deir Abu Mashaal, one in ‘Abwein, one in al-Mughayyir, and two in Kafr Nima.
Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that in the village of Sabastiya in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, Israeli forces “abducted” 14-year-old Muhammad Azim on Monday night after violently beating him in the village. The PPS statement also documented the detention, but named the boy as Mahdi Nasser Jamal Shihab. Elsewhere in the Nablus district, Israeli forces detained Firas Fayiz Hamid Mansour, 41, from Kafr Qalil, which was confirmed by the Israeli army.
PPS also said that 35-year-old Fadil Farajallah was detained in the city of Tulkarem in the northern occupied West Bank “after he was shot and injured.” It was unclear from the statement if Farajallah was shot during Monday night’s raid or by Israeli forces at some time in the past….
Army abducts fifteen Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 12 July — Israeli soldiers abducted, Wednesday, at least fifteen Palestinians, during extensive military invasions and violent searches of homes, in different parts of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported. The Jenin office of the PPS, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, said the soldiers abducted a lawyer, identified as Abdullah Khalaf, in addition to two siblings identified as Mahdi Jamil ‘Aasi, and Medyin Jamil ‘Aasi, from Burqin town, north of Jenin. Also in Jenin, the soldiers abducted Said Nazzal from Qabatia town, south of Jenin, and Ismael Zyoud, from Ti‘innik town, northwest of Jenin.
In Nablus governorate, in northern West Bank, the soldiers abducted Firas Hasan Noubani, 38, from al-Lubban ash-Sharqiyya town, in addition to Osama Ez Ordoniyya from ‘Iraq at-Tayeh town, Ahmad Badawi and Adham Abu Sareesfrom Balata refugee camp, and Waseem Eqab Mansour from Kufur Qalil town….
Israel offers tourists the chance to be soldiers
MEMO 11 July — Ever wanted to try and shoot a Palestinian? Israel has set up a military simulator which allows tourists to do just that. Controversial fantasy “anti-terrorism” camps set up in the occupied West Bank provide visitors with the opportunity to play the role of Israeli forces in a variety of situations, ranging from an explosion at a Jerusalem marketplace, to a stabbing attack and sniper tournament, Haaretz reported. The industry has seen a boom in recent years, with six such facilities opening across the country, all of which use live ammunition. Former high ranking officers in the army teach tourists combat skills. Caliber 3, a camp set up in an illegal settlement, also includes a live demonstration of an attacker being taken down by police dogs, all for just $115 per person. Sharon Gat, the founder and CEO of the camp estimates that 15,000 to 25,000 visitors come to Caliber 3 each year. Most visitors are from the United States, but increasingly tourists from Brazil, Argentina, France, Italy, Russia and China, are showing interest in the experience. Gat, who commanded 10,000 troops during his time in the army, said the inspiration behind opening the academy to tourists was to show the capabilities of the Israeli state: “I said to myself that I am going to open this place to the public to show what a long way the Jewish people have come in 75 years.” The tourism camps also serve in promoting the idea of the Israeli army as a moral force that is facing a real threat, primarily from Palestinians.
Prisoners / Court actions
Prisoner aid cut could trigger Palestinian crisis: activist
AFP 13 July — International pressure on the Palestinian Authority to halt payments to the families of Palestinians held in Israeli jails, including those convicted of attacks, could trigger political crisis, rights groups say. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is caught between pressure from US President Donald Trump’s administration and a potential backlash from Palestinians, most of whom view their prisoners as heroes. Those killed carrying out attacks against Israelis are regularly venerated as “martyrs”. Palestinian officials say some 850,000 people have spent time in Israeli prisons in the 50 years since Israel seized the Palestinian territories in the 1967 Six-Day War. Israel currently detains some 6,500 Palestinians for a range of offences and alleged crimes. It says making payments to the families of attackers encourages further violence. But for Palestinians, such payments are a key source of income for families who have in many cases lost their main breadwinner. They are also symbolically important after decades of yearning for elusive statehood and struggle against Israel’s occupation. A recent poll showed that 91 percent of Palestinians oppose suspending stipends to those in Israeli jails for security-related offences. “To lay a finger on the prisoners’ rights is to attack the Palestinian struggle,” said Helmi al-Aaraj, director general of the Centre for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights. Since 2004, Palestinian law has stipulated that the government pay allowances to families of those jailed for attacks and activities against Israel and Israelis. The legislation obliges the Palestinian authorities to ensure “a dignified life” to inmates and ex-prisoners by “guaranteeing their economic rights and those of their families.” “If their rights are eroded we are heading for a real crisis in Palestinian society and in due course toward an explosion,” Shawan Jabarin of Palestinian rights group Al-Haq told AFP….
Qaraqe testifies before UN commission on Palestinian prisoners’ living conditions
AMMAN, Jordan (Ma‘an) 13 July — Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs head Issa Qaraqe testified in front of a United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Wednesday over violations of international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory. The testimony took place in the Jordanian capital, Amman, after Israel denied the commission investigators entry to the occupied Palestinian territory. In a statement released after the meeting, Qaraqe said that he focused his testimony on what he called “unprecedented, oppressive, and brutal” Israeli violations Israel against Palestinian prisoners during a mass hunger strike between April and May. The hunger strike called for an end to the denial of family visits, the right to pursue higher education, appropriate medical care and treatment, and an end to solitary confinement and administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial — among other demands for basic rights.
While the Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs stated at the end of the hunger strike that Israeli authorities had acceded to the prisoners’ demands, the Israel Prison Service (IPS) has maintained that it did not negotiate with the hunger strike leaders, nor accede to any of their requests….
On 34th day, Muhammad Allan ends hunger strike in Israeli prison
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 12 July — After completing at least 33 days on hunger strike, imprisoned Palestinian lawyer Muhammad Allan suspended his hunger strike on Tuesday. Local reports said Allan ended the hunger strike after he reached a deal with the Israel Prison Service (IPS) to end his strike. In response to a request for comment Wednesday, an IPS spokesperson only confirmed that Allan was no longer on hunger strike but provided no other details regarding the reported agreement. Allan, a lawyer from the Nablus-area village of Einabus in the northern occupied West Bank, had been released from prison in November 2015 after a year-long stint in administrative detention — Israel’s widely condemned policy of internment without charge or trial — during which time he carried out a grueling 66-day hunger strike in protest of his detention. However, Allan was redetained by Israeli forces on June 8 and began his hunger strike that same day. He was reportedly placed in solitary confinement 10 days into his strike.
An Israeli military court charged Allan with “incitement” on social media and for attending demonstrations in support of Palestinian prisoners, prompting his father to say at the time that Israeli forces “have been after his son to detain him and take revenge on him since the day he was released last year from administrative detention.”….
Israel sentences Khalida Jarrar to six months in prison
Al Jazeera 13 July — An Israeli military court has sentenced Palestinian politician and human rights activist Khalida Jarrar to six months of administrative detention. The ruling on Wednesday came after Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was arrested from her home in a pre-dawn raid at the beginning of the July by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. A court hearing on July 17 is expected to affirm her administrative detention sentence, which is a form of internment without trial or charge that is subject to indefinite renewal. Jarrar, 54, was previously imprisoned for 15 months before her release in June 2016. Israel had charged her with offences relating to her activism and membership of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – which Israel considers a terrorist organisation – and had accused her of inciting violence. Prisoner rights group Addameer, of which Jarrar is the vice-chairperson of the board of directors, released a statement following her most recent arrest calling for her release. “The arrest of Khalida Jarrar constitutes an attack against Palestinian political leaders and Palestinian civil society as a whole,” the statement said … At least 13 Palestinian politicians are currently imprisoned in Israeli jails. At least nine of them are being held without charge under administrative detention, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies.
Israeli court sentences Palestinan brothers from Hebron to 5 years in prison
HEBRON (Ma‘an) — An Israeli military court at Israel’s Ofer detention center in the central occupied West Bank sentenced two Palestinian brothers from the village of Surif in the southern Hebron district to five years in prison for charges related to activities “against Israel.” The family told Ma‘an on Tuesday that Rafi Jibril Abu Fara, 30, and his 22-year-old brother Alaa were both sentenced to five years in prison and seven years of probation for activities centered on “resisting Israel,” but did not mention the exact charges the brothers faced. In addition, the family has been ordered to pay a 8,000 shekel fine ($2,240) for Rafi and 2,000 shekels for Alaa ($560). According to the family, the brothers were detained in June last year from their home in Surif during an Israeli military raid.
Israel to indict 2 Palestinians accused of involvement in Damascus Gate attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 July — Israeli police said Wednesday that investigations concluded regarding two Palestinians accused of involvement in a deadly attack outside of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City last month, in which three Palestinian assailants were shot dead and an Israeli border police officer was fatally stabbed. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri reported that charges were expected to be filed against the two suspects later Wednesday. A 52-year-old man from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya was accused of driving the three Palestinians from the occupied West Bank — who did not have Israeli permits to be in the city — the day before the attack. Al-Samri wrote that the man transported the three young men, two of them 18 and one 19 years old, “to allegedly pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan, taking a long and indirect roads to drive them to Damascus Gate.” A Palestinian man from the Ramallah area was accused of “organizing and assisting the three terrorists.” The two suspects were interrogated for causing the death of others by negligence, and have seen their detentions extended multiple times. A list of charges is expected to be brought against them by the Israeli public prosecution later Wednesday. “It should be clarified once again that any person that transports a person, Palestinian or not, without a legal permit to enter Israel, will be considered transferring a potential terrorist and will take the responsibility of all consequences without any exceptions,” al-Samri wrote….
Israeli special forces lead ‘provocative raid’ on Al-Aqsa Mosque compound
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 12 July — A group of officers from Israel’s special forces “raided” the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem on Wednesday morning, according to the director of the mosque. Director of Al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Omar al-Kasawani told Ma‘an that a group of officers from Israel’s special forces raided the compound, as one of the officers had an Israeli flag draped over his shoulder in an “obvious attempt to provoke Al-Aqsa guards.” Al-Kasawani said that the officers’ behavior was “dangerous,” as they were aiming to “send a message about the sovereignty of Al-Aqsa Mosque and that (Israel) can do anything it wants with the site.” Palestinians have long feared that Israel has been attempting to shake up the status quo at the holy site, in the shape of routine Jewish incursions on the site and right-wing Israeli calls to demolish the mosque and replace it with a third Jewish temple. “The (Israeli) occupation must be held accountable for this kind of behavior, which occurred under the force of weapons,” al-Kasawani added, referencing the fact that the Israeli officers were armed when they led the provocative incursion into the compound. He also noted that that the officers’ actions were not “spontaneous,” but part of Israeli plans focused on “imposing a new reality at Al-Aqsa.” According to al-Kasawani, an Israeli “settler” had also “raided” Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Wednesday morning wearing a shirt with a picture of the Israeli flag printed on it
Restriction of movement
Palestinian liaison: ‘huge efforts’ yield opening of several West Bank roadblocks
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 11 July — The department of public relations at the Palestinian military liaison said Monday that after undertaking “huge efforts,” the Israeli army had agreed to remove a number of military blockades established across the occupied West Bank.
However, in response to request for comment on the matter, the Israeli army only confirmed that some of the roads had indeed been reopened. Israeli forces routinely close roads and entire villages in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, for alleged security purposes. These actions have been widely condemned by rights groups, who have said such measures amount to “collective punishment” and represent a clear violation of international law, while exacerbating hardships in communities by severely restricting the freedom of movement of Palestinians. The Palestinian liaison said that a road connecting the villages of Tell, Burin, and Madama in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus was opened after two months of closure, which the Israeli army confirmed. In the northern Tulkarem district, the liaison alleged that checkpoints at the entrances of the villages of Beit Lid and Shufa were lifted. The Israeli army acknowledged the existence of these barriers and denied that they were removed.
The Israeli army confirmed that barriers that had been installed at the entrance to the villages of Sarra and Jit southeast of Nablus were removed. The Israeli army denied the liaison’s claim that roadblocks to the entrance of the village of Habla in the Qalqiliya district were removed. The Palestinian liaison also claimed that a barrier to the northern entrance of Salfit city was removed, while the Israeli army said it was not. In the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, the Palestinian liaison said checkpoints were lifted at the entrances to the villages of ‘Abud, Nabi Saleh, ‘Atar, Deir Abu Mashaal, and Silwad. The Israeli army said all of these barriers had indeed removed with the exception of the barrier blocking Nabi Saleh, which remained in place.
Palestinian family served punitive demolition order by Israeli army
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 July — The Israeli army delivered a punitive demolition order to a Palestinian family in the village of Deir Abu Meshaal in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah in a predawn military raid Wednesday, in the wake of a deadly attack in front of Jerusalem’s Old City last month in which three Palestinians assailants were shot dead and an Israeli border police officer was killed. Last week, the Israeli army already delivered demolition warrants for the homes belonging to the families of two of the slain Palestinians, and for unknown reasons, the third family was not notified that their house would be demolished until Wednesday’s raid. The Israeli army said in statement that the family was given 72 hours to appeal the demolition order. A copy of one of the warrant’s delivered earlier this month confirmed that [the house of] the family of 18-year-old Baraa Ibrahim Saleh was ordered to be demolished. It remained unclear which family — that of Adel Hassan Ankosh, 18, or Osama Ahmad Atta, 19 — also received a warrant that day and which received it on Wednesday.
Immediately following the June 16 attack, Israeli authorities took measurements of the homes in preparation for the demolitions.
According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, a total of 22 people will be left homeless once they are carried out, none of whom who have been charged with any wrongdoing. The delivery of the warrants came after the families and the wider communities of Deir Abu Mashaal have already been subjected to a series of reprisal measures that are routine following deadly attacks, which have been denounced by rights groups as “collective punishment.”….
Gaza’s last power plant just shut down, plunging the Strip into darkness
DPA 12 July — The Gaza Strip’s only operating power plant was turned off late Wednesday due to a severe shortage of fuel, leaving the coastal enclave in a complete blackout, local officials said. Officials at the Hamas-run power corporation said they had turned off the last operating turbine at the plant in southern Gaza city. The Gaza Strip, with more than two million people, has been suffering from an energy crisis since mid-April due to a dispute over taxes between the Islamist Hamas movement, which rules the enclave, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Gaza power watch: How many hours of electricity did Gaza get yesterday?
[with map] Haaretz 12 July — UPDATED every day — When electricity was available in the Gaza Strip July 11, 2017 — Beit Lahia: 10:30 – 14:30; Gaza City*: 15:00 – 18:30; Deir al-Balah: 02:00 – 06:00; Khan Yunis: 02:00 – 04:00; Rafah: 01:30-04:30 *neighborhood hours varied
Phone, internet access in Gaza cut due to power shortage
Haaretz 11 July by Jack Khoury — The Palestinian telecom firm Paltel announced Tuesday that it has cut phone and internet services to Gaza City after one of its generators broke down as a result of the electric power crisis plaguing the Gaza Strip. Tens of thousands of land-line customers and some 8,000 internet users have been cut off, and those numbers could rise. In June, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked Israel to reduce the electricity that it supplies to the Gaza Strip, to which Israel acquiesced. Abbas’ Palestinian Authority also cut its payments for electric power that Israel supplies to the enclave. The move is just one in a series of steps that the PA has taken to increase the pressure on Hamas, which wrested control of Gaza from the PA in 2007. The current breakdown was a result of the increased use of the generators to overcome rolling electricity outages, Khalil Abu-Salim, who heads Paltel’s operations in Gaza, told a researcher for the Israeli human rights group Gisha. Technicians were carrying out urgent temporary repairs, but they lack spare parts that Israel will not allow into the Gaza Strip. When the current electric power crisis began about three months ago, Paltel ordered 40 generators to compensate for the lack of electricity from the grid. The company said 14 of these generators were essential and applied to the Israeli authorities to allow them into the Gaza Strip on an urgent basis. So far only one of these generators has been allowed in.“Our generators have already been operating more hours than they are able to for three months. Some of them are operating 14 hours straight, which leads to wear and tear and breakdowns….
‘Gaza will be unlivable next year, not 2020 as the UN says’
+972 mag 11 July by Edo Konrad — +972 Magazine talks to Khalil Shaheen, a Gaza resident and expert on the impact of Israeli, Palestinian Authority, and Hamas policies in the besieged coastal strip, to get a picture of what life is like in Gaza, and why it’s probably going to get unfathomably worse — Things have gotten acutely worse in the Gaza Strip over the past month, since Israel and the Palestinian Authority cut the besieged strip’s already inadequate supply of power. But an entire generation of Gazans have grown up without ever experiencing electricity that is available around the clock. Crisis is nothing new. In addition to sewage that flows into the sea untreated, and hospital ICUs that must rely on gasoline-powered generators, the power shortage also has dire consequences on everyday life in regular households. Without electricity, the pumps that deliver tap water to apartments in high-rise residential buildings stop working. “Water used to reach these houses between two-to-three hours every few days,” Khalil Shaheen says. “And this is in the summer. Yesterday, my building only had one hour of water.” … What is Gaza usually like in the summer? Usually it is full of life. But nowadays it is all darkness. You walk in the street with darkness. The only solution is the beach, because it is the only area where you can find bits of light from generators. But people are afraid of the sewage. Usually you’ll find thousands of people swimming in the water in the summer. Today you can barely find a few because they are afraid of the toxicity. Who do Gazans blame for the current crisis? Both Israeli policies to isolate Gaza and the internal conflict between Palestinian Authority and Hamas have caused this suffering. Gazans pay taxes to both the PA and Hamas, and yet they hardly receive services from either. They believe that both sides have failed to show any political will to end the conflict, reach unity, and give Palestinians access to all basic rights. Meanwhile, the rivalry stokes a culture of fear. PA employees in Gaza are afraid to criticize Abbas, and Hamas employees are afraid to criticize Hamas. How are people coping? The poorest and most marginalized are resorting to living off bread and tea only. I’m afraid that with the ongoing situation, Gaza will be unlivable by the end of 2018, not 2020 as the United Nations previously predicted. Gazans cannot enjoy culture, they cannot go to the theater or to the movies. This makes life impossible. The world must remember that isolation breeds extremism and terrorism….
Abbas keeps up pressure on Hamas with new economic sanctions
Haaretz 11 July by Jack Khoury — The Palestinian Authority plans to intensify its pressure on Gaza’s Hamas-run government by slashing welfare payments to families in the enclave, a senior official close to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has told Haaretz. The official said that some 80,000 families in the Gaza Strip get monthly stipends of a few thousand shekels from the Palestinian Authority’s Welfare Ministry, but added: “Sixty thousand of those families have ties to Hamas. Their economic situation is relatively good, and they don’t need the allowances, and the remaining families have other income.” Welfare cuts to families not affiliated with Hamas will be carried out only at a later stage, and will be temporary, he added. The PA also plans to retire all employees of the Gaza health and education systems who are still on its payroll, as a cost-cutting measure, the official said. This step is expected to affect a few thousand people. They will join the 6,000 other Gaza bureaucrats whom the PA sent into retirement last month….
Interview: UN’s Robert Piper says political actors losing sight of suffering in Gaza
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 July by Chloe Benoist — On Tuesday, the United Nations issued a report raising the alarm over the ever-worsening humanitarian situation in the besieged Gaza Strip, a month after the Palestinian territory marked its ten-year anniversary under Israeli blockade. The report, entitled “Gaza ten years later,” notably warned that Gaza’s aquifer would become unusable by the end of the year, in addition to ongoing energy and health crises, as more than half of Gaza’s two million residents suffer from food insecurity … On the occasion of the report’s release, UN Coordinator for humanitarian aid and development activities in the occupied Palestinian territory Robert Piper sat down with Ma’an on Tuesday and discussed the ongoing crisis in Gaza, as well as the UN’s handling of tensions when covering international law violations in the occupied Palestinian territory. The interview, edited for clarity and brevity, can be read below.
What was the UN’s aim in issuing this report, five years after warning that Gaza could become unlivable by 2020?
First, whenever we attempt to share the story of Gaza, we’re constantly attacked from different corners for getting the sequence wrong, for oversimplifying, letting someone off the hook and so forth. Across the UN system, there’s this worry that year after year, we lose sight of the civilians caught in the drama that is Gaza today, and we mustn’t miss any opportunity to tell their story …
In the report, you mention that you visit Gaza twice a month. What do Gazans tell you about how they see the situation?
Gazans are just so resilient. They are proud, and unwilling in some ways to complain and show weakness, there is an element of incredible stoicism and resilience that is pretty breathtaking. But you also quickly get this sense of exhaustion among the average Gazans, who have been through so much, for so long, and feel that no one is really in their corner. They don’t have anything great to say about any leaders, frankly. I think they feel tremendously neglected.
And when you meet a subgroup of extraordinarily vulnerable people — women with breast cancer, children who need dialysis machines — you realize that while there might be a layer of people who somehow can cope, very soon you hit another layer of incredibly vulnerable people who are trapped in Gaza, are incredibly dependent on electricity, health care, (Israeli) permits to get to a hospital, and they are increasingly desperate….
British war surgeon Nott returns to Gaza to train doctors
GAZA (Reuters) 12 July by Nidal al-Mughrabi — British war surgeon David Nott was back in the Gaza Strip this week to share with local doctors specialist knowledge he has amassed from working in conflict and disaster zones over the past quarter-century. An expert in using minimal equipment to treat patients in basic facilities, Nott returned three years after his previous visit during the 2014 Gaza war between Israel and Palestinian militants. This time, hospitals in Gaza are again struggling to cope with a crisis: power cuts and medicine shortages stemming from tensions between the enclave’s ruling Hamas Islamist group and the rival West Bank-based Palestinian Authority. In a hall at a beachfront restaurant this week, Nott instructed 36 Palestinian surgeons in special techniques to deal with injuries in a war zone … Nott is a co-founder of the David Nott Foundation, which is dedicated to furthering the principles and improving the standards and practice of humanitarian surgery. A specialist in vascular surgery, he worked in hospitals in Syria in 2012, 2013 and 2014 to treat victims of its civil war. He has also practiced surgery in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Darfur, Iraq and other conflict areas … “It seems a great shame to me that I come back and things do not seem to have moved on to where we have liked to see them three years ago,” he said.
Qatar pledges Gaza support despite Saudi pressure
AFP 11 July — Qatar’s envoy to Gaza said Tuesday Doha was committed to funding projects in the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave, despite pressure from Saudi Arabia and others who accuse it of supporting extremism. Speaking in Gaza City alongside a top UN official, Mohammed al-Amadi said Qatar would continue to fund projects in Gaza, despite the “siege” imposed by Saudi Arabia and its allies in recent weeks. “We came to assure you we stood and will continue to stand with the besieged Palestinian people and we will continue with the reconstruction process,” he told a news conference. “The policy of Qatar is to support the people and the official government. We do not support Hamas, we support Hamas as a part of the Palestinian people.” On June 5, Saudi Arabia and its allies severed all diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing the gas-rich state of bankrolling “extremist” groups, including Hamas….
After Abbas, Egypt hold talks, official says Gaza border won’t be opened without PA supervision
Haaretz 11 July by Jack Khoury — The Egyptian government will not open the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip on a routine basis unless Palestinian Authority forces are present at the crossing, said senior Fatah leader Azzam al-Ahmad on Monday. Al-Ahmad accompanied Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on his visit to Cairo and in meetings with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi on Sunday. Speaking in an interview broadcast on Palestinian television on Monday evening, Ahmad said: “The Rafah border crossing will not be opened in a regular manner without the official and legitimate border authority [forces] subordinate to [Abbas] and with the presence of Presidential Guard.” In meetings with the PA, Egyptian leadership emphasized in the meetings that any steps taken concerning Gaza would be made with the intention to strengthen the Palestinian Authority and Abbas. “The relationship between [Egypt and the PA] is as strong and deeply rooted as an ancient olive tree and nothing will damage this relationship, regardless of who the leader is,” said Ahmad.
Ahmad’s statements contradict recent reports by Hamas leaders in Gaza, who expressed confidence that the Rafah crossing will soon open as normal based on understandings reached with Egypt, as expressed by Ismail Haniyeh in a speech last week. Haniyeh is a former Hamas leader and the current head of Hamas’ political bureau in Gaza….
UNRWA provides cash transfers to Palestinians in Gaza displaced by 2014 war
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 11 July — The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), tasked with providing services to some five million Palestinian refugees, told Ma‘an on Tuesday that cash was distributed to Palestinians whose homes were damaged during Israel’s devastating 2014 offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip. Adnan Abu Hasna, spokesman for UNRWA in Gaza, told Ma‘an that cash transfers worth up to $5,860 were deposited in the bank accounts of 440 Palestinian families whose homes were damaged in the 2014 Gaza war and have since remained uninhabitable. According to Abu Hasna, the transfers were made after UNRWA received $2.5 million from the European Commission….
Nearly 200,000 Gaza children take part in UNRWA ‘Summer Fun Weeks’
[with VIDEO] MEMO 9 July — 186,000 children have registered to participate in a month-long programme of summer activities organised by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The ‘Summer Fun Weeks’ (SFWs) began on 08 July and culminate in a series of closing ceremonies that end on 5 August 2017. According to the Director of the Summer Fun Weeks, Yousef Moussa, the event is well-balanced in terms of the gender of the participants: “50.3 per cent of participants will be girls and 49.7 will be boys. There will be football for the boys and basketball for the girls. We have also included mural painting and handicrafts, as well as bouncy castles and trampolines for the younger children.” The SFW events will involve 115 UNRWA schools across the Gaza Strip, including the Al-Nour Centre for the Visually Impaired in Gaza City and seven community-based rehabilitation centres. UNRWA has also devised area-specific activities such as ‘Rethink and Recycle’ in Rafah, the ‘Expo Tech’ exhibition in Khan Younis, and the ‘Equity and Equality’ initiative in the north. New activities include the Student Ambassador programme, Students Camp and the UNRWA School Choir. The Summer Fun Weeks will culminate in the final week with the Gaza Champion’s League: a football competition for boys and a basketball tournament for girls.
Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange deal ‘closer than ever’ / Shlomi Eldar
Al-Monitor 11 July — “Israel and Hamas are closer than ever to a deal on the release of the bodies of soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, and Israeli civilians Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayad, but there are still fairly large gaps to be closed,” a source in the Gaza Strip close to former senior Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. According to the source, now that Dahlan has become Gaza and Hamas’ possible savior through his attempts to save the Gaza Strip from total collapse, an Egyptian effort is also underway to seal an overall deal that both Israel and Hamas can accept. The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing, has been holding the bodies of the two soldiers since the war of summer 2014, during which Israel launched Operation Protective Edge into the Gaza Strip. The movement is demanding the release of its members held in Israeli jails, including prisoners previously released in a 2011 deal with Israel for the return of soldier Gilad Shalit who were rearrested following the June 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli youths in the West Bank. The rearrest of the released prisoners was one of the triggers for the bloody armed operation that followed, with Hamas perceiving that Israel had wiped out the most significant achievement it could present to the Palestinian public — freedom for some 1,000 prisoners in return for one Israeli….
The IDF wanted to investigate a key moment in the Gaza War. Netanyahu said no
Haaretz 13 July by Gili Cohen — Massive firepower was used on ‘Black Friday’ in 2014, when the Israeli army killed dozens of Palestinians trying to prevent the abduction of a soldier — The previous military advocate general recommended establishing a panel to investigate incidents where the Israel Defense Forces used massive firepower during the 2014 Gaza war, but Prime Minister Benjamim Netanyahu shelved the initiative, a reserve officer told Haaretz. The previous military advocate general, Maj. Gen. Danny Efroni, believed that the panel could help counter domestic and international criticism over such incidents. On August 1, 2014, in an attempt to thwart the abduction of Lt. Hadar Goldin, the IDF used attack helicopters and artillery, killing dozens of Palestinians on a day that has become known as “Black Friday.” Efroni envisoned a committee made up of academics and senior legal officials. The army and government considered the idea, partly because of the initial investigation by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which found that war crimes had been committed during the fighting in Gaza. But Netanyahu and other senior politicians opposed the idea.…
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel freezes plan to give Palestinian city land to expand
JERUSALEM (AP) 13 July — Israel’s cabinet has frozen a plan to expand the West Bank’s most densely populated Palestinian city by ceding military control over a parcel of land, a proposed concession that has outraged settler leaders. A spokesman from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Wednesday that the government will deliberate the issue of Palestinian development in Israeli military controlled areas of the West Bank later this month. Until then, the proposal to grant a part of Area C to allow the expansion of the city of Qalqiliya will be on hold. Last year, Netanyahu’s government quietly passed the eagerly awaited plan to allow the Palestinian city to double its size by expanding into off-limits land in Area C. Since then, settler leaders have railed against the move, calling it a “reward for terror.”
Ahead of cabinet debate, Liberman defends plan to expand West Bank city
Times of Israel 12 July by Judah Ari Gross & Jacob Magid — Defense minister tells settlers fight over proposal to give Qalqilya more room is between ‘responsible’ right-wingers and ‘messianists’ — Touring a West Bank settlement, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman defended his proposal to allow Palestinians to expand the city of Qalqilya Wednesday, ahead of a cabinet meeting on the plan scheduled for that night. Qalqilya, which is surrounded on three sides by Israel’s security fence, is the West Bank’s most densely populated Palestinian city. Under Liberman’s plan, the Palestinian Authority would be allowed to double the size of the city by expanding into land that is currently under Israeli control, in a part of the West Bank known as Area C. The proposal was approved last year as part of Liberman’s policy of “carrots and sticks,” in which Palestinians would be rewarded for maintaining calm and swiftly punished for attacks and other disturbances to day-to-day life in the West Bank and Gaza. Amid recent pushback against the Qalqilya proposal by some members of the right-wing coalition government, the issue was brought back on the docket, with the possibility of having it overturned. During his tour of the West Bank settlement of Maale Shomron on Wednesday, Liberman described the ongoing fight over the plan as one aspect of a much larger ideological debate.…
Israeli minister backs annexing settlements into Jerusalem
AFP 10 July — Israel’s intelligence minister proposed on Monday to annex five settlements into the Jerusalem municipality, while also removing around 100,000 Palestinians from the city’s census. Yisrael Katz said residents of the settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank would be able to vote in Jerusalem municipal elections but the settlements would not be under full Israeli sovereignty. For most of the world, the status of Jerusalem is still to be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians, though the Israeli government considers the city its undivided capital. Some of the settlements are deep in the West Bank, more than 10 kilometres (six miles) from Jerusalem. “Those settlements, those towns — Maale Adumim, Gush Etzion, Givat Zeev, Beitar Illit and Efrat — will become part of Jerusalem but without changing their status — without putting the Israeli sovereignty on those places,” Katz told reporters. Simultaneously around 100,000 people living in Palestinian neighbourhoods outside the Israeli wall surrounding the city would be removed from the city’s census, with a new municipality built for them, Katz said. The move would make Jerusalem’s official demographic balance significantly more Jewish….
PHOTOS: How Israel’s wall keeps farmers off their land
Activestills 11 July Photos and text by Ahmad Al-Bazz and Haidi Motola — Palestinian farmers, along with Israeli and international activists, demonstrate in front of a military gate in the northern West Bank, calling to relax Israeli restrictions on access to their land — Approximately 100 Palestinian farmers protested on Sunday morning in front of an Israeli military gate in the northern West Bank, calling on the army to ease restrictions on their daily journey through the gate, which separates them from their land. Joined by some 10 anti-occupation Israeli activists and several international human rights observers, the farmers refused to cross through Military Gate 623, part of Israel’s separation barrier, instead calling on the army to renew expired entry permits for their family members, to issue permits for their workers, and to open the gate earlier than 7 a.m. on a daily basis, due to the recent heatwave … Gate 623 is used by the famers of the towns Deir Al Ghusun and Attil, and separates the towns’ built-up areas from 500 acres of agricultural fields — despite the fact that both are located in the West Bank….
Palestinians brace for new West Bank settlement
JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 10 July by Ibrahim Husseini — Driving northbound from Jerusalem on Route 60, one cannot miss the abundance of olive groves on both sides of the road. Turning east after the Palestinian town of Turmus Aya will take visitors to the occupied West Bank villages of Qaryut and Jalud, where the groves are even richer. On a recent afternoon in Jalud, from a hilltop amid the olive trees, yellow construction vehicles can be spotted in the distance, breaking ground on a road leading to the new Israeli settlement of Amichai. “The jurisdiction of Amichai encircles private land, and that will prevent the owners from reaching it,” Gilad Grossman, spokesman for the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, told Al Jazeera. For Palestinians, new settlements usually mean a loss of their land or restrictions on access. Settlements, which are considered illegal under international law, also come with threats of settler attacks on Palestinian lives and property. In conjunction with Jalud’s village council, last month Yesh Din filed a petition to Israel’s Supreme Court to challenge the settlement’s jurisdiction, with an ultimate goal to halt construction at Amichai, which translates to “My People Live”. The state has until September to respond … Abdel Allah Haj Mohammad, who heads the village council in Jalud, noted that most of his village’s land has become inaccessible to Palestinians due to army orders and the presence of other Jewish settlements….
Part of land for Amona evacuees’ settlement is owned by Palestinians, say petitioners
Haaretz 11 July by Yotam Berger — Part of the land on which the state is building the new settlement for the families evacuated from the Amona outpost earlier this year is private Palestinian land, according to a legal opinion submitted to the High Court of Justice. The opinion refers to a 14-dunam (3.5 acre) plot on which the new settlement of Amihai is going up, and that was declared state land last year. The plot is south of the access road to the settlement. The legal opinion submitted by Palestinians petitioning against the building of the new settlement is based on aerial photos from the 1990s showing that the land in question had been cultivated. According to West Bank land laws, which are based on Ottoman law, cultivation of land is proof of ownership. Regarding a photo from 1997, the opinion states, “In this photo the area that requires examining is clearly seen to be agricultural land, with its broad terraces that were prepared by man and on which actions such as clearing, straightening and farming were performed. The entire area looks as if it was cultivated as one continuous unit, except for the walls of the existing terraces because of the topographical structure of the area. The entire area under review is characterized by broad, cleared terraces that are used for cultivation without any rocky ground that cannot be farmed.” The area shows a similar situation in later aerial photos, from 1999, 2001 and 2002 … Along with the legal opinion, Ottoman-era documents were submitted that ostensibly establish a link between the land and a Palestinian who lives in the area….
Israel agrees to install bus stops for Bedouin schoolchildren in Negev
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 July — The Israeli Education Ministry has reportedly decided to provide bus stops to enable Bedouin children in the Negev Desert to safely go to school, NGO Adalah reported on Tuesday. According to Adalah, the ministry responded on July 2 to a petition by the rights group before the Beer Sheva district court, saying that the Israeli government was planning to build safe school bus stops to benefit six Bedouin villages in the southern Negev. The court set a hearing for September in order to monitor any progress on the issue.
Adalah filed the petition in January on behalf of families in the unrecognized Bedouin villages of al-Zarnuq and Wadi al-Naam, and the recognized villages of Abu Tlul, Abu Qrinat, Umm Batin, and Kuhleh. “Hundreds of school children currently gather at random locations close to main roads with no signs, sidewalks or shelters. The lack of bus stops poses a serious safety hazard that endangers the lives and physical well-being of these children,” Adalah’s legal petition read. “These conditions do not exist in schools in Jewish communities in the (Negev), where authorities take care to establish proper bus stops and to eliminate safety hazards. The failure to establish proper school bus stops [for the Bedouin community] creates a situation of blatant inequality in the enforcement of the law.” The Education Ministry said that it would fund infrastructure related to the bus stops to also include protective fences, sidewalks, and road crossings, Adalah said….
Israeli soldiers demolish an apartment building in Jerusalem
IMEMC 11 July — Dozens of Israeli soldiers and police officers invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, the al-‘Eesawiyya village, in occupied East Jerusalem, and demolished a four-story apartment building, which also includes two warehouses, that was built by a Palestinian family on their own land. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) said the soldiers surrounded the building, consisting of six apartments, and two warehouses, and demolished it. The building, and the warehouses, are owned by members of Mahmoud family in al-‘Eesawiyya, and was constructed a year ago, on 800 square meters of land. The family said that the soldiers previously photographed the building, before the City Council issued an order for demolishing it, under the pretext of being built without a permit. The family hired a lawyer who was filed appeals against the demolition orders, and started the paperwork to obtain the needed permits for the building. The case was supposed to be discussed in a hearing that with the local court of the Jerusalem City Council, which was scheduled for today, but the soldiers demolished the building, just hours before the hearing was to take place.
Israeli forces demolish Palestinian homes in Jabal al-Mukabirr, Silwan
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 12 July — Israeli forces targeted Palestinian-owned buildings in occupied East Jerusalem with demolitions for the second day in a row, under the pretext that the structures lacked the nearly impossible to obtain construction permits from Israeli authorities. Locals told Ma‘an that Israel’s Jerusalem municipality enforced the demolition of three buildings, which included two homes, in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Jabal al-Mukabbir and Silwan. Amid the tense atmosphere in Silwan, Israeli forces reportedly assaulted a local youth during the demolition.
In Jabal al-Mukabbir, Musa Obidat told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers raided the neighborhood around dawn time and razed his house to the ground for being built without a permit. Obidat noted that he was away from his home when the demolition was carried out, and was informed by his neighbors of the raid. When he attempted to return to the house, Israeli forces prevented him from accessing the area and imposed a complete siege around the premises. According to Obidat, the house was built in 2012 and expanded in 2016 to become 200 square meters. He said that his wife and three children were forced to leave the house after he received a demolition order five months ago. The homeowner highlighted that he had tried to obtain a permit for the building and pay the Israeli fines, but the municipality rejected all of his attempts and carried on with the demolition.
Separately, in the Bir Ayoub area of Silwan, Israeli bulldozers escorted by armed Israeli forces raided the area in the early morning hours and proceeded to demolish a house owned by Salih Shweiki for the second time, after he was forced to demolish it himself in February. When he received a demolition order in February, Shweiki told Ma’an that his family chose to carry out the demolition themselves to avoid the huge fees imposed when municipality crews perform demolitions. The municipality would have charged 80,000 shekels (approximately $21,600) for the demolition, according to Shweiki. Since the self-demolition, Shweiki, left with no alternative, carried out renovations to provide shelter for himself, his wife, and his son, who will get married next month and also needs a house to live in, he said….
Other news, opinion
With the West’s backing, Abbas doesn’t need to worry about local support
Haaretz 11 July by Amira Hass — New poll shows that 62 percent of Palestinians want the Palestinian Authority president to resign, but his leadership does not depend on democratic elections — …Ma’an’s report didn’t say whether the monetary authority had confirmed or denied the freeze on bank transfers, but other punitive measures against Gaza by the PA have followed a similar pattern. One especially dramatic one was slashing the number of seriously ill Gazans being referred to Israel or the West Bank for treatment. The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported Monday that despite the official denial by the Health Ministry in Ramallah, the PA authorized only 500 Gazans for treatment outside the Strip in June – down from 2,190 in March. “Hundreds of patients are awaiting their deaths in hospitals in Gaza for lack of any chance of obtaining treatment outside it,” the center said …
A poll by Dr. Khalil Shikaki’s Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, whose results were released last week, found that 62 percent of Palestinians want Abbas to resign (that figure was 64 percent three months ago). An even larger majority, 84 percent, opposed his request that Israel reduce the power it supplies to Gaza, while only 10 percent supported it (opposition in the West Bank was even higher than in Gaza, at 87 percent and 80 percent, respectively). Abbas is evidently untroubled by either the catastrophic situation in Gaza caused by the power shortages or his waning popularity….
PA foreign ministry leaves diaspora Palestinians frazzled / Daoud Kuttab
Al-Monitor 12 July — Since the founding of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964, the group’s main objective has been the unity and defense of Palestinian refugees. Diaspora Palestinians were invigorated and given a purpose by an organization dedicated to liberating Palestine and allowing them to return to their homeland. With the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 and the return of the Palestinian revolutionary leaders to Palestine, the relationship between the PLO and the Palestinian diaspora began to suffer. The establishment of the Palestinian Authority, the election of a president and a legislative council, and the creation of quasi-governmental bodies reflected a change in the PLO’s priorities. Going forward, its priorities would focus more on state building than raising awareness of diaspora Palestinians. The change has been strongly felt in Latin America, home to one of the largest Palestinian communities. Hanna Safieh, the secretary-general of the Confederation of Palestinian Communities in Latin America and the Caribbean (COPLAC), told Al-Monitor, “Generation after generation, our people are proud of their Palestinian origin and have never ceased to be a full part of our people in Palestine, their pains and aspirations.” According to official Palestinian statistics, some 450,000 Palestinians live in Latin America, including in Chile (250,000), Honduras (100,000), El Salvador (50,000) and Brazil (30,000). COPLAC, an independent civil society organization, has been the regional body unifying these communities and helping to coordinate activities there between the diaspora community and the homeland.
Despite the change in priorities in Palestine, the Latin American diaspora, through COPLAC, planned to hold a major conference on Aug. 11. All delegates from Latin American diaspora communities as well as the Palestinian leadership were informed of the event. “We were hoping that this event would invigorate the community and at the same time, we, the older Palestinians, can use it to pass the baton to the new generation of Palestinians in the diaspora,” said Safieh. According to Safieh, the issues to be discussed included how to strengthen ties to Palestine and how to respond to anti-Islamic and anti-Arab, including anti-Palestinian, hate speech, which has been on the increase in Latin America. The plan for the gathering, however, ran into trouble. The PLO’s diaspora department, headed by Executive Committee member Tayseer Khaled, wanted to be involved and began making requests that Safieh and his colleagues felt crossed a line….
Video: What would happen if Palestinian refugees could return?
Israeli Social TV 7 July [English subtitles] — One of the biggest remaining gaps between the Israeli and Palestinian positions has always been the fate of Palestinian refugees, millions of whom live in refugee camps across the region. So what happens when regular Palestinians and Israelis get together to talk about the fate of the refugees — in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square? [answers are not always what one might expect]
Video: Coexistence mothers’ prayer song goes viral
Times of Israel 12 July by Jessica Steinberg — Singer Yael Deckelbaum tours the world with tune composed by ensemble of Jewish, Christian and Muslim women —It’s heady times for singer/songwriter Yael Deckelbaum, who has scored a viral hit with her latest song, “Prayer of the Mothers,” a heartfelt, hand-clapping tune made with 14 fellow female musicians of all types and stripes. Deckelbaum, an alumna of the well-known Habanot Nechama, a hip folk music trio with fellow female vocalists Karolina and Dana Adini, banded with an ensemble of Jews, Christian, Muslim, religious and secular, Israeli and Palestinian women to compose “Prayer of the Mothers.” The impetus was the Women Wage Peace movement, which came together after the 2014 war between Israel and Gaza-based Palestinian fighters. Last October, thousands of Jewish and Arab women participated in the March of Hope project, walking to the Dead Sea for a joint prayer for peace. The song, now with more than 3.5 million views on YouTube, became an anthem of hope around the globe, performed by a portion of the ensemble at festivals and concerts.…