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Kicked out of Qatar, Hamas leaders eye move to Algeria

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Amid Qatar crisis, Hamas lays groundwork for official presence in Algeria
Al-Monitor 28 July by Adnan Abu Amer — Hamas and Algeria are in talks about accommodating Hamas leaders as well as opening a new office in the sympathetic North African country — Hamas’ foreign relations chief Osama Hamdan told Al-Monitor, “We have visited Algeria several times in an official capacity, and we met with its officials. Hamas enjoys official and public Algerian support, and Algeria has contributed to the success of the convoys to lift the siege on Gaza.” Hamdan noted that the party also appreciates the lack of ties between Algeria and Israel, adding “Hamas has good relations with all Algerian political parties, especially the ruling National Liberation Front.” … The Saudi-backed Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported July 17 that Hamas is searching for a foothold in Algeria to shelter its officials who left Qatar in early June. Algeria received an official request from Hamas to establish a representative office for the movement on its territories, but it has yet to respond. Hamas leaders are now spread across the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, Malaysia, Qatar and Turkey. A Hamas political source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “Hamas’ inclination toward with Algeria preceded the latest Gulf crisis because the movement realized the importance of the North African countries on the media and political levels. Hamas seeks to mobilize more supporting countries to expand its influence around the world without relying on one country alone.”….

Israeli forces kill 16-year-old Palestinian in Gaza amid mounting tensions over Al-Aqsa
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 July — Israeli forces shot and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian in central Gaza on Friday during clashes that erupted along the border with Israel, while at least seven other Palestinian protesters were injured with live ammunition, as tensions have continued to mount over Israel’s restrictive policies at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.
The Ministry of Health in Gaza said that Israeli forces shot and killed 16-year-old Hussein Abu Hasima east of Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza during clashes that had erupted over Israeli policies at Al-Aqsa, while seven others were injured with live ammunition in the eastern districts of the Gaza Strip. The slain Palestinian and the seven injured were transferred to Shuhada Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah. Four of the seven injured were wounded with live ammunition during clashes that had erupted east of the Jabaliya refugee camp north of Gaza city, while at least one was injured in clashes east of Khan Yunis city in the southern Gaza Strip.  Witnesses said that Israeli forces had fired “heavily” on Palestinian protesters, while simultaneously shooting tear gas into the crowd of demonstrators. Gaza’s Health Ministry added that two Palestinian medics had suffered from tear gas inhalation during the clashes…
According to Ma‘an documentation, Abu Hasima was the sixth Palestinian to be killed by Israelis, one of whom was killed by an Israeli settler, since mass protests were organized among Palestinians over the past week. Since the start of the year, 53 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis, while 13 Israelis — almost all of whom were uniformed Israeli officers or settlers residing in Palestinian territory in violation of international law — have been killed by Palestinians during the same time period.

Gaza power watch: How many hours of electricity did Gaza get yesterday?
Haaretz 30 July — A severe electricity shortage in Gaza leaves residents with as little as four hours of power a day in the sweltering summer heat. Who gets electricity and when? [updated often]

Iconic girl from Gaza beach massacre graduates
MEMO 28 July — Eleven years after the 2006 Gaza beach massacre that killed seven members of her family, Huda Ghalia has graduated after completing her undergraduate studies in Sharia and Law at the Islamic University of Gaza. On the afternoon of 9 June 2006, the Ghalia family were picnicking on the Sudaniya beach near Beit Lahia in northern Gaza when Israeli artillery and naval shelling struck the beach, killing seven members of her family, including her father, stepmother and five siblings. Huda’s heart wrenching cries for her father as she ran towards his dead body not long after the blast were broadcast around the world. The images of her collapsing besides his body, weeping have turned her into an icon of the Palestinian struggle. Before handing Huda an honorary award, the head of the Islamic University of Gaza Adel Awadallah said: “Huda is not an average person; she is a piece of every Palestinian. She got into our souls and into our hearts, and it is our duty to take care of her and stand by her.”  “I am particularly grateful for my mother who stayed up with me, did so much to take care of me, raised me and encouraged me to finish my education,” Huda said during her graduation ceremony.
Israel initially took responsibility for the bombing, saying it regretted the civilian deaths. Later, however, it retracted and said the Israeli army was not responsible, concluding that the bombing was caused by a bomb planted by Hamas on the beach.

From Gaza to Sandymount: Teens living under blockade enjoy first trip abroad and enjoy kick-about on Dublin beach 31 July by Rebecca Lumley — A group of Palestinian teenagers were welcomed to Ireland today with a friendly game of football on Sandymount Strand. Arriving to Dublin from Gaza at 7:20 this morning, 18 boys from the country’s only football academy went straight from airport to astroturf, triumphing over local team, Iveagh Trust, in the first of a series of games scheduled for the week. They were then taken to the South Dublin beach for a less competitive kick-around. Speaking to, trip organiser Zoe Lawlor said for most of the boys, it was their first trip out of Gaza. “For many of them, except for the kids who were here last year, they’ve never been outside Gaza, which is a very small area. So they live essentially in a prison.” Ms Lawlor is a senior member of Gaza Action Ireland, a charitable group attempting to “make links between Palestine and Ireland”.
Following an Israeli takeover in 2014, travel has been heavily restricted for natives, particularly adults. Ms Lawlor said that unless the siege is lifted, many of the group’s members may never have the opportunity to travel again. Before the trip, two members of the group were stopped from leaving the country, as was the team’s coach. “There should have been 20 but one of the children was denied a permit before we were supposed to travel and one of the children was stopped yesterday at an Israeli checkpoint and had to go back to Gaza, which was extremely distressing for him,” Ms Lawlor said. “Their coach (also) didn’t get a permit. And that’s two years in a row we tried to bring him and couldn’t bring him.” This is the second year of the initiative, called Gaza Kids to Ireland, though the group have been attempting to organise such trips since 2013….

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem / Israel

Palestinian shot and killed in alleged stabbing attack at Gush Etzion junction
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 July — A Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli forces Friday afternoon after the Palestinian allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack at the Gush Etzion junction in the Bethlehem district of the southern occupied West Bank. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that there was a stabbing attempt at the junction, and confirmed that the Palestinian was killed. Local sources told Ma‘an that the Palestinian died minutes after being shot and was put into a plastic bag by Israeli forces.
An eyewitness told Ma‘an that a Palestinian male was “heading to Bethlehem on foot and Israeli forces shot at him while he was around 20 meters away from them,” adding that “one of the soldiers approached the martyr and turned him over with his foot and shot him more than five times.”  “I swear that he didn’t have any type of knife with him or any kind of weapon.”
Israeli media released a picture of the slain Palestinian’s alleged ID card, which news outlets said was released by the Israeli army. The ID card identified the Palestinian as Bethlehem-born 24-year-old Abdullah Ali Mahmoud Taqatqa.
He was the 52nd Palestinian to be killed by Israelis since the start of the year, 13 of whom were killed over the past two weeks during alleged attacks or in clashes following protests against Israeli security measures at Al-Aqsa mosque. Since the beginning of 2017, 13 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians. [See second Friday killing of a Palestinian in the Gaza section]

Israel-Palestine timeline – 2017 deaths
At least 55 Palestinians (16 of them children) and 13 Israelis have been killed by someone from the other side in 2017. The youngest victim [besides the 18-month-old killed by tear gas] was Omar Qweider, 8 years old, and the oldest victim was Suleiman Salah, 81 years old. Click on the names or photos for more information and sources. [not yet updated with the deaths on 27 and 28 July as of this writing. Discrepancy in numbers between this site and Ma‘an may result from decisions about whether to include those killed by abandoned ordnance, tear gas, etc.]

Thousands in Hizma march in funeral of slain Palestinian Muhammad Kanaan
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 28 July — Thousands of mourners marched in funeral of slain Palestinian Muhammad Fathi Kanaan, 25, in the Hizma town northeast of Jerusalem in the central occupied West Bank on Friday, one day after Kanaan succumbed to a gunshot wound to the head. Kanaan was pronounced dead on Thursday night, days after he was shot in the head by Israeli forces during clashes in his hometown of Hizma. The funeral was launched from the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah city, where Kanaan was being treated, towards Hizma, where the funeral prayer was performed before mourners laid Kanaan to rest in the town’s cemetery.
According to Ma‘an documentation, Kanaan was the fifth Palestinian to have been shot and killed by Israelis in the past two weeks during clashes with Israeli forces that had erupted across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in response to Israeli security measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the violent repression of a near two-week long Palestinian civil disobedience campaign.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, approximately 1,090 Palestinians had been injured within 10 days of Israeli authorities installing metal detectors, turnstiles, and additional security cameras at Al-Aqsa following a deadly shooting attack at Al-Aqsa on July 14.  Despite Palestinians celebrating victory and returning to the compound after a nearly two week boycott on Thursday — once all the entrances had been reopened and the Israeli security measures dismantled — Israeli forces quickly suppressed worshipers who were celebrating their return to the mosque, which is the third holiest site in Islam. The Palestinian Red Crescent said in a statement that their crews treated more than 90 Palestinian worshipers for rubber-coated steel bullet injuries and tear gas inhalation, while others were physically assaulted and pepper sprayed by Israeli forces.

Duma arson attack: ‘The sadness has not stopped’
DUMA, Occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 30 July by Lizzie Porter — On a scrap of land in the Palestinian village of Duma, thorns and wild daisies bloom between rough pebbles and three breeze-block graves. To the left is the smallest grave, containing the remains of 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh. Propped behind it is a sign reading: “Here lie the bodies of the martyrs of the dawn burning, who rose to the heavens after the sinful assault by a group of settlers on their home on Friday, July 31, 2015.” Ali, along with his parents, Saad and Reham Dawabsheh, fell victim to an arson attack by Israeli settlers that night. Ali died immediately, while Saad, 32, passed away after a week in hospital, and Reham, 26, after six weeks. Ahmed, Ali’s older brother, now 7, was the only survivor. Nearly two years later, their friends and relatives are still struggling to deal with the tragedy. I am trying to bring my life back to normal,” Ali’s uncle, Nasser Dawabsheh, told Al Jazeera from his family home in Duma, a 15-minute walk from the gravesite. “But that takes time. Maybe it will take years.”
Their grief is compounded by the dead ends they have encountered while trying to obtain an admission of responsibility from the Israeli government. In April, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the young boy would not quality for compensation as a “terror victim”. Under Israeli law, the state must compensate victims of “terrorism” – but the law does not apply to Palestinians, such as Ahmed, who live in the occupied West Bank and are not Israeli citizens or residents … Back in 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the Dawabsheh case as “a terror attack in every respect”. In January 2016, settler Amiram Ben Oleal was charged with murder on the basis of a hate crime in relation to the firebombing. A minor, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was charged with being an accessory to committing a racially motivated murder. For the Dawabsheh family, it was not enough: “[The state must] accept responsibility for the attacks and the terrorism from the settlers, who live in the outposts built on our lands … with the protection and help from the occupation army,” Nasser said … Between 2013 and 2016, just eight percent of completed cases of ideologically motivated attacks against Palestinians and their property in the occupied West Bank led to indictments, according to human rights group Yesh Din, which cited a trend of “protracted failure” in the investigations….

Palestinian boy seriously wounded by Israeli army gunfire near separation barrier
Haaretz 30 July by Yotam Berger — A 13-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and seriously wounded by Israeli soldiers last week near the West Bank separation barrier. The army said troops fired at Mohammed Qaddumi after he threw rocks and tried to cross into Israel. His family said the boy was only collecting firewood alongside the barrier adjacent to their home in the village of Jayyus.
Qaddumi was admitted to Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba in very serious condition. The hospital said he underwent a long operation and that his condition has improved significantly. According to the boy’s father, Qaddumi was shot in both legs and in one arm. “He was by the fence, the children were there, four children, and there were soldiers under the olive trees. They went up there by the fence, they could have grabbed him by the arm but they shot him three times,” said the father. The father said his son did not try to cross the barrier and did not try to throw stones at the soldiers, who were hidden from the children’s view. The family said the army has initiated legal proceedings against Qaddumi, on suspicion of throwing rocks. Israel’s Civil Administration prohibited Qaddumi’s family from entering Israel to be at their son’s side in the hospital, but reversed the decision after the hospital and the human-rights organizations Mahsom Watch and Physicians for Human Rights intervened….

Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian in Salfit tending to his land near separation wall
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 29 July — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian on Friday while he was tending to his land near Israel’s separation wall in the village of Deir Ballut in the western part of Salfit district in the occupied West Bank. Medical sources at the Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma‘an that Faed Saleh Odeh Moussa, 33, was injured with a live bullet in his left hand after Israeli forces opened fire on him while he was on his land watering trees. The sources added that he was transferred to the Yasser Arafat Hospital in Salfit, where doctors reported his injury as moderate. Saed, Moussa’s brother, told Ma‘an that they were caring for their land near Israel’s separation wall, like every Friday, when Israeli forces arrived in the area at 7:30 p.m. and randomly opened live ammunition on them. Saed said that they quickly hid behind rocks before his brother was injured. He added that their children were also with them at the time and two men from Qalqiliya city in the northern West Bank who were en route to Israel. Israeli forces remained in the area for some time before leaving following the incident, Saed noted …
According to the Bethlehem-based Applied Research Institute–Jerusalem, the village of Deir Ballut has had thousands of dunams of land confiscated for the purpose of illegal Israeli settlement building, while Israel’s separation wall — deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004 — is expected to swallow up at least 35 percent of the village’s lands.

1 Palestinian injured with live fire in Bethlehem clashes
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 July — Israeli forces clashed with Palestinians in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem on Friday afternoon, injuring several Palestinians, including one with live fire, shortly after Friday prayers. 150 to 200 Palestinians performed Friday prayers on a main street in Bethlehem, in front of Israel’s separation wall, as Israeli soldiers looked on from a watchtower. Israeli forces fired live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, sound bombs, and tear gas, and sprayed water at Palestinian youth who threw stones at the armed forces. The Palestinian Red Crescent said in a statement that one Palestinian was injured with live bullets, two with rubber-coated steel bullets while 10 others suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation. Israeli forces have been heavily deployed across occupied East Jerusalem and in “seam zones” across the West Bank in anticipation for widespread clashes after Friday prayers in response to Israeli measures at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam. Israeli authorities imposed new restrictions on the compound Friday morning, allowing only men above the age of 50 and women of all ages to enter the holy site.

VIDEO: Israeli forces violently repress Al-Aqsa solidarity demonstration in al-Khalil (Hebron)
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Al-Khalil Team) 30 July — An Al-Aqsa solidarity march organized this Friday in occupied Hebron was heavily repressed by Israeli Forces. Soldiers and border police fired stun grenades, teargas, putrid-smelling “skunk” water, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition at demonstrators, injuring many. Several young protesters were also beaten and detained….

Israeli forces raid PalMedia headquarters in Ramallah, seize equipment and documents
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 July — Israeli forces raided the headquarters of PalMedia, a media production company, and searched several offices belonging to Arab and international news outlets in Ramallah city in the central occupied West Bank during dawn hours on Saturday, seizing equipment and documents from at least one of the offices, over accusations of alleged “incitement.”
Media sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the headquarters, which provides broadcast services to several media outlets, including Russia Today, al-Mayadeen, al-Manar, and al-Quds news. Israeli forces searched and damaged properties in these offices, according to the sources. A reporter from RT, which also has an office in the building, said that Israeli forces had destroyed some of the doors to the media outlets’ offices in order to get inside. However, no equipment was confiscated from RT’s office during the raid. Witnesses told Ma‘an that 10 Israeli army vehicles had surrounded the building in Ramallah city before raiding and searching the offices…
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Ministry of Information released a statement condemning the raid, saying that the targeting of media “proves Israel’s intentions to prevent the guardians of truth from continuing their media, national, and ethical role of transferring the message of our people’s desired freedom.” The ministry called upon the International Federation of Journalists to take immediate actions against the Israeli violations and for the UN Security Council to apply Resolution 2222 to the Palestinian territory in order to provide protection to journalists.

Israeli forces detain 17 Palestinians, shoot and injure 2 minors in overnight raids
JENIN (Ma‘an) 30 July — Israeli forces detained at least 17 Palestinians and shot and injured two Palestinian teenagers with live bullets in the occupied West Bank overnight Saturday. Local sources told Ma‘an that a military raid in Jenin refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank sparked clashes, and that Israeli forces shot and injured two Palestinian minors with live bullets.
The two injured youths were identified as Bassem Ibrahim Amouri and Muhammad Usama Alawna, both 17 years of age and from Jenin’s Kharouba neighborhood. A statement from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said that during the raid, Israeli forces detained two young Palestinians, 19-year-old Abdullah Qasim al-Saadi and 18-year-old Diyaa Muhammad Salameh, the brother of 17-year-old Aws Salameh, who was shot and killed by Israeli forces in a violent military raid into Jenin refugee camp earlier this month. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed that two people were detained in Jenin refugee camp and that approximately ten Molotov cocktails were thrown at Israeli forces during the Israeli army “activity.” “In response to the threat, forces fired 0.22 caliber rounds toward suspects. Hits were confirmed,” she said.
In the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, PPS said that Israeli forces detained Rayan Zuheir Hussein, 22, and Thaer al-Aghbar. An Israeli army spokesperson said that three Palestinians were detained in the Nablus area, including one in Nablus city, one in the town of Yasid, and another in the village of Asira al-Shamaliya. During a predawn raid in the Iskan Rujib area east of Nablus, Israeli forces also reportedly confiscated at least one vehicle belonging to Abdullah Hamad, the brother of Yahya al-Hajj Hamad who is currently serving a life sentence in Israeli prison over his alleged involvement in the killing of two Israeli settlers in October 2015. According to Israeli media, the Israeli army claimed that vehicles were confiscated because they were paid for with compensation from the Hamas movement, which also allegedly helped the prisoner’s family rebuild their home after it was punitively demolished by Israel.
According to PPS, three Palestinians were detained in the Ramallah district of the central West Bank, identified in the statement as Jamil Hasan Kifaya, Fouad Mustafa, and Ahmad Suleiman Abu Eid — whose father is in Israeli custody after being rearrested by Israeli forces after he was freed in the 2011 Shalit prisoners exchange deal. The Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the three detentions and said one was made in al-Bireh, one in Ramallah city, and one in Beituniya. [continued]

State officials skip out on visiting Arab terror attack victim
Ynet 27 July by Raanan Ban Zur — Three days have passed since Abed al-Fatah Abu Halal, an Egged bus driver from Ar‘ara, was stabbed in Petah Tikva by a Palestinian terrorist, and according to his family, no one from the government or the Knesset made any contact with him or came to visit him at the hospital … Abu Halal, 32, who was moderately wounded and still hospitalized at Rabin Medical Center, away from his wife and two young children, recounted the day when the harrowing events transpired. After stopping for his lunch break, Abu Halal decided to eat at the shawarma stand. “I usually only order the food as takeout and continue to work, but I saw that I had time and decided to sit down and eat like a human being,” he said … “I sat there and saw him (the terrorist—ed) come in, but I did not expect anything,” he said. “You do not look at people and wonder if they will stab you or not … He sat behind me, ordering food. After about three minutes, he suddenly attacked me and I did not understand what was happening. It took me a few minutes to process what had happened.” …
Abu Halal’s brother, Mahmoud, criticized the elected officials who he claims ignored his brother and did not visit him after he was stabbed.  “I want him to receive support from public figures, I want him to be recognized,” Mahmoud said. “No one, neither from the government nor from the Knesset, spoke to us, not even one conversation,” the brother said angrily. “We did not get anything. We were just us alone. And my question is ‘why do they not come’. Maybe because he is an Arab citizen?”,7340,L-4995399,00.html

‘They killed him because he was Arab’
ISRAEL (Al Jazeera) 30 July by Zena Tahhan — The family of a young Palestinian man fatally shot by Israeli police in Jaffa are demanding justice for what they believe was a “cold-blooded killing”. Mahdi al-Saadi, a 22-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel, was shot in the chest and killed in the early hours of Saturday morning. Israeli police also shot another young man at the same scene, Sleiman Abu Taleb, who was taken to hospital in critical condition. “I was travelling, and I got a phone call from my wife telling me that they killed our boy. The police did not get in touch with us or tell us what happened. He was killed for no reason – in cold blood. They killed him because he was an Arab,” Jamal, Mahdi’s father, told Al Jazeera. Israeli police say the young men were suspects in a shooting at a store in Jaffa around 4am (01:00 GMT) on Saturday. “A number of suspects opened fire and fired shots in Jaffa. They fled the area on a motorbike. The police unit chased the suspects. What we know after that is that the two suspects were taken to a hospital. One of them passed away from their wounds and the other one was wounded moderately. The case is being examined,” Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told Al Jazeera.
The family does not believe the police narrative.  “The owner of the store that they’re claiming my son fired shots at is my friend, and he’s with me here at the funeral. Whether it happened or not, my son didn’t do it,” Jamal said. Umm Musab, Mahdi’s aunt, said, “this would have never happened if they were Jewish”. “The occupation narrates the story as it likes – whichever way it works for them. Even if they were involved in any crime, it should not have led to the killing and wounding of anyone,” she told Al Jazeera. “We’re not going to be quiet about this. We’re going to stop the world to find out who killed him and make sure that he gets punished. Their job is not to kill our boys. Their job is to secure our safety, but they do the exact opposite.”
There are some 1.8 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, the descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land when Israel was established in 1948 in a violent process of ethnic cleansing that led to the expulsion of some 750,000 Palestinians from historical Palestine. They face discrimination in almost all fields of life in a state that defines itself as “Jewish”, making inequality a reality. There are over 50 laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of the state.
“We are in utter shock. That night, Mahdi was calling his dad and telling him that he wanted to get married, that he was ready for marriage,” said Umm Musab, noting that the heavy deployment of Israeli police in Palestinian neighbourhoods constantly stirs tensions….

Israeli police detain 5 in Jaffa as residents protest racial profiling
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 July — Israeli police detained five Palestinian citizens of Israel overnight Sunday in the town of Jaffa, which has been the scene of protests over the weekend against police brutality and racial profiling. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement on Monday that five residents of Jaffa, including three minors, were detained after setting fire to garbage containers during the night. She added that Israeli police was also investigating the torching of two vehicles in the area on Sunday night. Hundreds of mourners participated in a funeral on Saturday night in Jaffa for 22-year-old Mahdi al-Saadi, who was shot dead by police early Saturday morning. According to Israeli police, the man was suspected of taking part in a criminally motivated shooting and was shot dead, alongside another who was shot and injured, in a police chase as the two allegedly fled on motorcycles. However, locals argued that al-Saadi posed no threat to Israeli police when he was fatally shot and that he could have been detained without using lethal force. The incident sparked major street protests in Jaffa against police brutality and racial profiling Saturday afternoon, triggering clashes with Israeli police amid an atmosphere of tension and outrage….

Collective punishment

West Bank villagers decry collective punishment
KOBAR, Occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 30 July by Nigel Wilson — It was Waed Barghouti’s first day back on the job, driving a shared taxi from the Palestinian village of Kobar to Ramallah and back again. For the past four days, he had stayed at home in Kobar, after the Israeli military imposed a closure on the village in the wake of a deadly stabbing attack at a nearby Jewish settlement on July 21. The attacker, 19-year-old Omar al-Abed, who killed three Israelis and injured a fourth in the attack, came from Kobar. Approaching the village from the southeast on a hot summer morning, Barghouti slowed his taxi to a crawl before a series of new obstacles. The Israeli military had dug down through the asphalt and rock below, and then dumped three separate metre-high piles of rubble on the road, blocking traffic from entering or leaving. At night, young men from the village had built a dirt track for vehicles around the obstacles, enabling traffic to pass. Barghouti cautiously negotiated the three bumpy workarounds and sped into the village. “For the first few days, it was crazy,” he told Al Jazeera. “It felt like the Israeli army was raiding the village all the time; they could come at any time. They blocked the road and stopped people leaving and entering the village. I stayed at home and did not go to work.”
On the eastern side of the village, Omar al-Abed’s extended family lives in a row of two and three-storey homes. On a recent afternoon, in front of the final house in the row, men gathered under a blue tarpaulin, while a group of women sat together around the side. Posters of Omar decorated the wall, even though he did not die in the attack; he remains in Israeli custody. The mood was sombre, and Omar’s family expressed shock at what had transpired. “I did not raise him for 20 years to do something like that,” Omar’s father, Abed, told Al Jazeera. “I don’t support such a thing.” Omar’s uncle, Ali, added: “If I had known that my son was going to carry out an operation, I would have broken his legs to stop him.” Omar had been acting normally on the day of the attack, Abed said. In the morning, he ate breakfast with his family, and in the afternoon, he watched the local news, which showed massive protests by Palestinians near al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem and a violent crackdown by Israeli forces. One clip showed a group of Palestinians hiding the dead body of a young man from Israeli forces, so that they could carry out a burial before the body could be confiscated. “We were all appalled to see the body being pushed over the wall so it could be buried,” Abed said. “I was discussing it, but Omar did not say anything. He was a private person. He did not share his thoughts with those around him.” Later that day, Omar told his father that he was going to attend a wedding in the village. Instead, he travelled to the settlement of Halamish, where he attacked an Israeli family in their home with a knife, killing Yosef Salomon, 70, and two of his children, Chaya, 46, and Elad, 36. The teenager was shot and wounded by a neighbour and later arrested.
Most of the family did not sleep that night and were still awake when the Israeli military arrived at the family home around 5:30 in the morning. “They came in like monsters,” said Abed, noting that there were eight family members in the home at the time. “They started beating everyone. There were around 40 soldiers. They searched us, they separated us, cursed us and interrogated us. They started smashing the furniture. They emptied everything in the kitchen and broke the appliances. They destroyed the house, and they arrested my son, Munir.” The following day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Abed family home would be demolished “as soon as possible”….

At Palestinian assailant’s village, locals lament Israeli army’s nightly raids
Haaretz 30 July by Amira Hass — In Kobar, people are afraid to go to sleep. Residents of this village northwest of Ramallah never know at what hour soldiers will enter the village, which houses they’ll break into, whom they’ll beat to the point of serious injury the way they beat Abbas Barghouti on Tuesday. Parents fear for their sons, who go out to throw stones at army jeeps. Between the previous Friday, when 20-year-old Omar al-Abed killed three members of the Salomon family in the settlement of Halamish, and the following Thursday, the army raided the village every night except Wednesday. Thus its 6,000 residents extend their waking hours a little longer to keep their children from having soldiers suddenly loom over them with rifles pointed, or from being woken to a new trauma by frightening bangs on the door. Last Sunday morning it was still possible to hear a few reservations about Abed’s act. By Wednesday, a veteran Fatah activist said, “The Shin Bet security service and the army think they’re deterring people, but they’re also causing people who don’t support violence to do so.”…
At 2:30 A.M. on Tuesday, Abbas Barghouti, 35, and his wife Maram were sitting on their unfinished balcony, which has no walls. His 73-year-old mother Adiba lives one floor down and his brother Ashraf across the way. His three children – ages 4, 6 and a few months – were sleeping inside. “We heard noises,” Barghouti said. “My wife said, ‘Let’s go inside.’ She entered, and as I was at the door, the soldiers came up from the outside, up the ramp, and aimed their rifles at me. “I was in shorts. They caught me and began beating me. They threw me to the ground, with my face to the concrete floor. One soldier knelt on my back, a second hit me in the head. That’s where the wound on my forehead comes from … Maram Barghouti turned on the balcony light, and the two soldiers moved Abbas away from the light. One took his hands, the other his feet, and they carried him away, propping him up against a pillar. Then they handcuffed and blindfolded him, “and one, I don’t know who, hit me in the eye, I don’t know with what.” … The soldiers left at about 3 A.M., and within 15 minutes a Palestinian ambulance crew arrived and took him to the hospital. It’s too soon to tell whether Barghouti’s retina was damaged, and with it his sight. Blood and fluids from his swollen eye continue to drain through his nose …
Abbas, a geography teacher, supplements his family’s income by making three-dimensional letters for companies’ signs that appear on roads. The soldiers raided his workshop and confiscated “equipment owned by every carpenter,” along with a compressor and spray paint. They also destroyed his computer and took the hard drive. The army’s Arabic-language website boasted of finding a press that prints inflammatory material. As proof, it posted a sketch of the Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem that Abbas was commissioned to frame. But amid the destroyed workshop, that picture remained unconfiscated and unharmed. “There were no posters, no books, no signs they could confiscate, because it’s not a press,” said Abbas, who estimated the damage at 50,000 shekels ($14,050). “Ten years I’ve had that workshop; it’s impossible that the Shin Bet didn’t know.”


For Palestinians, holy site showdown represents rare victory
AFP 30 July — Though it was well past midnight, as news filtered through that Israeli police were removing the remaining new security barriers from the Al-Aqsa mosque compound hundreds of Palestinians flooded the streets. When one youth started to taunt Israeli police warily watching the gathering crowds early on Thursday, others angrily remonstrated with him. This was a night for celebrating what the Palestinians saw as a rare victory. For Israelis, the situation grew out of a horrible attack on July 14 that killed two policemen. But many of them also viewed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the crisis as inadequate. While Palestinians’ joy at the removal of the security measures was somewhat tarnished by clashes inside the mosque compound later Thursday, Palestinians that night chanted and hugged each other, as car horns sounded incessantly. A huge Palestinian flag was carried by young men onto one of the Old City’s walls — an extremely rare act in a city that Israel considers its undivided capital. “We feel joyous. I live quite far away but I walked here for Al-Aqsa,” said Nisreen, a young woman in the crowd. “The Israelis think this is it. God willing this is just the beginning.”…
A poll of Israeli Jews found 77 percent thought the move constituted “capitulation”, while even the normally pro-Netanyahu newspaper Israel Hayom attacked his handling of the crisis. Netanyahu, who heads what is seen as the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, has since called for the death penalty for the Palestinian who stabbed the Israelis in what some analysts saw as a move to please his right-wing base. “There is a strong sense of humiliation, especially among the right wing,” Ofer Zalzberg from the International Crisis Group think tank told AFP. “They are pushing the government to reverse this humiliation by giving them something else.”
The Palestinian movement was called to the streets by the Waqf but quickly took on a life of its own. “This cut across all lines — religious, not so religious, Muslim, Christian, rich or poor,” Diana Buttu, a former Palestinian official turned analyst, said. According to Buttu and others, the Palestinian political leadership of all factions, including the internationally recognised leadership of the Palestinian Authority, had been mostly irrelevant, with the movement led largely by protesters.

Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative helped resolve Temple Mount standoff
Ynet 29 July by Kobi Nachshoni — The Religious Peace Initiative—a joint Israeli-Palestinian interreligious dialogue group—took part in negotiations between the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf and Israel in an attempt to bring the Temple Mount crisis to an end. The Israeli Mosaica organization, together with the Muslim Adam Center worked with both the Israel Police and the Waqf to “translate” into detail the understandings between the Israeli government and Jordan. Former minister and Knesset member Rabbi Michael Melchior, told Ynet, “The removal of the cameras was not the end of the story. There were a lot more details to the agreement. They were delicate things we can’t go into detail about. Despite interest from the public and the press, we don’t want to ruin what we have fixed.” For Melchior, the bottom line is what matters. Israel removed “provocative and inefficient” security measures while the Waqf will be obligated to keep the quiet at the Temple Mount. However, he makes it clear there is no acceptance of Israeli sovereignty over the site….,7340,L-4995939,00.html

Religious official cautions against rumors on Israeli violations at Al-Aqsa
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 31 July — The President of the Supreme Islamic Council in Jerusalem, Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, urged caution on Monday over reports alleging that Israeli forces had caused major damages inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound over recent days. Israeli authorities shut down the Al-Aqsa compound for almost three days following a deadly shooting attack on July 14, only to reopen it after having installed increased security measures. The Israeli move sparked widespread anger among Palestinians, who perceived the move as further infringement of Al-Aqsa, the third holiest site in Islam. After two weeks of protests in which six Palestinians were killed in clashes, the security measures were lifted completely after noon prayers on Friday.
Speaking to Ma‘an on Monday morning, Sabri emphasized that the technical committee of the Islamic endowment (Waqf) tasked with examining the premises after the compound was occupied by Israeli forces was the only authority entitled to make statements about any damages or losses incurred since, urging media outlets to exercise caution when publishing new on Al-Aqsa. Sabri’s comments came after Hassan Khater, the chairman of the International Jerusalem Center claimed that Israeli forces had seized important documents from the Waqf archives during the three days following the July 14 attack, adding that Israeli officers had been “moving freely between rooms, offices, archives, and documents after they evacuated worshipers, employees, and security guards from the compound.”….

Video: Palestinian businesses count losses after Al-Aqsa Mosque protests
Al Jazeera 30 July — People who have built their livelihoods around the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem are taking stock after two weeks of protests. Small business owners say they have collectively lost millions of dollars. Al Jazeera’s Scott Heidler reports from occupied East Jerusalem.

Opinion: With Jerusalem poised to explode, Israel far-right — and Adelson — pour on fresh fuel / Bradley Burston
Haaretz 29 July — Casino magnate’s newspaper gives center stage to prominent figure on the Israeli far-right, who urges rebuilding of the ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, and relocation of the Muslim shrine of the gold-clad Dome of the Rock —  …One of the trigger issues of the crisis has been the allegation, advanced by militant Muslim clerics and others, that Israel intends to do harm to Al-Aqsa and the surrounding compound. The hard-liner, former lawmaker and reserve IDF brigadier general Aryeh Eldad, also voiced strident criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership in the current crisis“We will have no alternative but to change the status quo on the Temple Mount,’ Eldad said, using the Jewish term for the compound, sacred to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. Metal detectors must be returned to its entrances, he said, adding that “as time goes on, we will build a synagogue, and after there is freedom of Jewish worship on the Mount, perhaps it will be possible to build the Temple.” Asked if that was the goal, Eldad replied, “I think the Temple should be built, yes. For the same reasons that [Zionist movement founder Theodor] Herzl wanted to build the Temple, as a a symbol of the return of Israel to its land, its homeland. “We won’t demolish the Dome of the Rock, which is a stunningly beautiful structure. After the [construction] tender, without back-room deals or cronies, we will move it, because the lot is already taken.” Asked who would build the Temple, Eldad answered, “Chinese people, apparently. Jews don’t like to work in the sun.”….

Court actions

Israeli military court to indict Palestinian teen for throwing Molotov cocktail
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 July — An Israeli military court is preparing to indict a 17-year-old Palestinian suspected of throwing a Molotov cocktail at Rachel’s Tomb, adjacent to ‘Aida refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri wrote in a statement Sunday morning that the investigation on the case was almost finished, regarding a teenage suspect from the town of Beit Sahour next to Bethlehem city. The youth allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail at the base of Rachel’s Tomb, which is located next to an Israeli military base at the edge of ‘Aida refugee camp, on July 25. The police statement made no mention any casualties resulting from the incident. Al-Samri said Israeli forces were able to detain the suspect “quickly,” and that at least one court session was held at the Ofer military court near Ramallah, which decided to indict the teen, to file the charges “soon.”

Judges reject appeal of Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter
TEL AVIVv (AFP) – A military court on Sunday rejected an appeal by an Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter and upheld his 18-month prison sentence for shooting dead a prone Palestinian assailant, Israeli media reports said. The reports said military judges also rejected an appeal by prosecutors to increase the 18-month sentence for Elor Azaria, a sergeant and military medic at the time of the incident. Azaria was convicted in January and sentenced the next month. The March 2016 shooting in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron was caught on video by a rights group and spread widely online. It showed Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, 21, lying wounded on the ground, shot along with another Palestinian after stabbing and wounding a soldier, according to the army. Azaria then shot him in the head without any apparent provocation….


Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Israeli settlers occupy Palestinian home in Hebron for sixth day in a row
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 30 July — Israeli settlers continued to occupy a building in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron for the sixth day in a row on Sunday, despite an ongoing legal battle between the Palestinian homeowners and Israelis. Since Tuesday, some 40 settlers have raided the Abu Rajab family home, under the surveillance of Israeli forces despite a court ruling barring both Palestinians and Israelis from entering the building’s second and third floors. Residents of the Abu Rajab house, located in the Old City of Hebron near the Ibrahimi Mosque, have been embroiled in a legal battle with Israeli settlers for years, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his intention to encourage the establishment of a new illegal Israeli settlement there to be named Beit Hamachpela. However, Israeli authorities have not granted permission to establish the settlement on the grounds that the settlers have failed to prove their alleged purchase of the Palestinian house, as the Palestinians have accused the settlers of forging the documents. Netanyahu reportedly asked Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to send an army delegation to negotiate with the settlers and evacuate them from the building. However, the settlers posted a Hebrew-language sign on the building reminding Netanyahu of a statement he had written in December 2013: “Prime Minister Netanyahu: To house and to populate the house of patriarchs. He who tries to uproot us from the city of our ancestors will find the opposite. We will continue to fight terrorism and strike terrorists in one hand, and in the other hand, we will strengthen settlements.” …
Since Wednesday, the settlers have also moved furniture inside the building and hung large Israeli flags, as Israeli soldiers threatened to detain members of the Abu Rajab family when they tried to protect their home. HRC lawyer Tawfiq Jahshan told Ma’an on Sunday that the Abu Rajab building was first stormed by settlers in March 2012, adding that the Palestinian family had submitted six complaints to Israeli courts before a ruling was reached to evacuate the settlers from the premises….

Israeli bulldozers level lands in southern Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 30 July — Israeli bulldozers leveled lands in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, locals said on Sunday. Residents of Dura said that Israeli forces had declared that the Kharsa Triangle — an area of land south of the village — was a closed military zone, and had forbidden Palestinians from entering the area. The locals told Ma‘an that the Israeli army was planning on building a military watchtower there.


Israel to strip Amnesty International of tax benefits over support for BDS
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 July – Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has reportedly taken steps to strip Amnesty International of its tax benefits in Israel, barring Israeli donors from receiving tax deductions from their donations to the international human rights organization owing to its calls to boycott Israel’s illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, Israeli media reported on Saturday. According to Israeli media, Miki Zohar, a member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, from the right-wing Likud party wrote a letter to Kahlon in which he accused Amnesty International of working to “persecute and slander IDF soldiers.” “Amnesty supports illegal infiltrators and draft refusers, and works with all its might to harm the State of Israel,” he reportedly wrote. He then went on to request that the finance minister use the anti-Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) bill passed in March — which banned foreigners who have openly expressed support for BDS from entering the country — in order to “immediately revoke Israel’s recognition of donations to Amnesty, since it is an organization which encourages others to boycott all or part of Israel.”….

French trio Wanderer cancels Lebanon concert: festival
AFP 29 July — French classical group Trio Wanderer cancelled its Sunday evening concert in Lebanon’s Baalbek International Festival, a day after activists lambasted it for playing in Israel last year. A source at the festival confirmed to AFP on Saturday that Trio Wanderer would no longer be playing, but denied that it was because of political pressure. “The concert was cancelled because of personal reasons pertaining to Vincent Coq,” the group’s pianist, the source said on condition of anonymity. Trio Wanderer was not immediately available for comment. The celebrated festival is one of the most popular cultural events and is held in Baalbek’s spectacular Roman ruins, drawing large crowds. Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, an avid enemy of Israel, has a strong presence in the modern city by the same name. On Saturday, the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon (CBSIL) published a letter addressed to the French trio on its website. It said Trio Wanderer’s 2016 concert in the southern Israeli port city of Eilat “insulted the martyrs of Lebanon and of Baalbek.” “We demand that you follow the example of hundreds of musicians and international artists that have declared their support for the cultural boycott of the apartheid state,” the letter read….

Opinion: Radiohead is art-washing Israeli apartheid / Omar Barghouti
Al Jazeera 31 July — On July 19, and while Israeli forces were brutally suppressing nonviolent Palestinian protests in occupied East Jerusalem, Radiohead crossed the Palestinian boycott picket line to play in Tel Aviv. Most importantly, and just as Palestinian and international human rights defenders had cautioned, Israel played Radiohead, to the last note. Radiohead stubbornly ignored the voice of the overwhelming majority of Palestinians appealing to it not to undermine our rights and our Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as an indispensable, nonviolent means of achieving them. All that we have asked is for Radiohead to do no harm, if they can do no good, to our struggle for freedom, justice and equal human rights …  At concerts throughout Europe, Radiohead fans raised Palestinian flags and amplified our call for no-business-as-usual until Israel complies with its obligations under international law.  Yet Radiohead went on with their show in Tel Aviv, allowing Israel to use their brand for whitewashing, or art-washing, its siege of Gaza, forced displacement of Palestinian communities in Jerusalem, the Negev and the Jordan Valley, and incessant construction of illegal settlements and walls in the occupied Palestinian – and Syrian – territory.
To add insult to injury, Radiohead professed to know better than Palestinians how we should resist our oppression, in a classic colonial attitude. In doing so, they became the propaganda darlings of the Israeli government and its lobby groups….

Other news

Exhaustion led Palestinians’ Abbas to undergo medical checks
RAMALLAH (AP) 30 July — Medical doctors and Palestinian officials say 82-year-old Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suffers from exhaustion and that this led him to undergo medical checks at a West Bank hospital over the weekend. Hospital officials initially only said that Abbas underwent routine exams and that the results were good. However, doctors and Palestinian officials said Sunday that Abbas was exhausted. One physician says that Abbas suffered from an inflammation of the stomach, aggravated by stress. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss Abbas’ health with the media. Abbas’ latest checkups revived the debate over who will succeed him. In power since 2005, he has refused to groom a successor. In the current disarray in Palestinian political institutions, there is no clear path toward choosing one.

Voting closes in 14 West Bank municipalities that did not vote in May
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 July — Voting closed Saturday night for “complimentary elections” held at polling stations in occupied West Bank municipalities that did not take part in regular elections held in May. Elections were held in 14 municipalities, which had not presented electoral lists in time for the May elections.  The Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC) released a statement Saturday evening after polls closed at 7 p.m., saying that voter turnout reached 63.6 percent, as 27,255 out of 42,844 registered eligible voters participated. The CEC said that “the voting process proceeded smoothly without any challenges nor recorded violations that would affect the elections results.” Preliminary election results will be announced Sunday, to include the number of votes and seats obtained by each list, in addition to the names of winning candidates. According to the CEC, 51 nominated lists comprised of 411 candidates competed for a total of 142 designated council seats. The May 13 elections only took place in the West Bank, as Hamas, the de facto ruling party of the besieged Gaza Strip, rejected the legitimacy of the election, saying that elections should only be held after the more than decade-long rivalry between Hamas and Fatah came to an end and reconciliation was achieved.

PA says security coordination with Israel remains halted despite reports of arrests
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 July — The Palestinian Authority has decided to uphold a freeze on security coordination with Israel that was imposed during protests against now-removed Israeli security measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem, a high-ranking Fatah official told Ma‘an. Meanwhile, a report published Saturday in The Times of Israel cited multiple Palestinian sources as saying that PA detention campaigns targeting alleged “Hamas operatives” were ongoing. While a civil disobedience campaign launched by Palestinians in Jerusalem succeeded in pressuring Israel to remove metal detectors, turnstiles, and surveillance cameras that were installed following a deadly shooting attack at Al-Aqsa on July 14, member of the Fatah Central Committee Jamal Muhsen told Ma‘an that all communication with Israel would remain halted “until peace negotiations resumed” with Israel. He noted that the decision to suspend the PA’s widely condemned policy of security coordination with Israel was initially made by a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Central Council resolution in March 2015 over Israel’s lack of commitment to international agreements. The final decision to implement the decision rested with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Muhsen said the president only executed the decision in light of recent Israeli violations in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, but he did not comment on why Abbas didn’t make the move sooner, particularly since security coordination has been a primary source of growing anti-PA sentiment in recent years….

Crackdown aims to ‘silence’ Palestinian journalists
Al Jazeera 31 July by Dalia Hatuqa — Earlier this month, Jihad Barakat, a journalist with Palestine Today TV, was on his way from the northern West Bank city of Nablus to a village in the Tulkarem area to visit family, when he noticed something unusual at an Israeli military checkpoint. In contravention of protocol, Israeli soldiers were searching the convoy of Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Barakat took out his phone and documented the incident; hours later, he was detained by Palestinian security forces. Media rights activists and journalists quickly took to social media to voice frustration and demand that Barakat be released. A hashtag “Where is Jihad” was assigned to social media posts condemning his detention, and a protest was held by journalists in front of the prime minister’s office. The local journalists’ union was contacted to act on his behalf. Barakat was eventually released on bail, charged with a litany of unusual offences, including panhandling. He faces trial in September and colleagues fear that his detention, as well as other arrests in recent weeks, are an attempt to stifle their work and silence legitimate criticism of the PA. The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedom (MADA) noted that the number of violations against journalists, by both the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza, was significantly higher in June than in the previous month….

This Palestinian woman has a new, high-tech plan for forging Mideast peace
Haaretz 30 July by Judy Maltz — Jennifer Atala, the great-granddaughter of an Arab mukhtar, believes she can get Israelis and Palestinians together to talk technology deals – and then maybe more —There are lots of good reasons for Israelis and Palestinians to consider business partnerships. For starters, they operate in the same time zone – not a trivial matter in the age of global economics. It’s not just their clocks that are in sync, but also their workweeks: Israelis and Palestinians work Sundays but typically take off Fridays. Barring traffic and other unforeseen developments, it takes less than an hour to get from Tel Aviv to Ramallah, creating ample opportunity for face-to-face meetings. Given these advantages, in a perfect world, cross-border business partnerships between Israelis and Palestinians would be flourishing. But that’s hardly an apt description of the current state of affairs. Here’s where Jennifer Atala, a young Christian-American-Israeli-Palestinian, sees herself stepping into the picture. Change can happen, she believes, but it requires more than just bringing people together for the sake of bringing them together. “I don’t think sitting around a table over a plate of hummus or participating in an Israeli-Palestinian soccer camp or dialogue group is necessarily a bad thing,” says the 37-year-old consultant who today splits her time between Haifa and Ramallah. “Sure, it’s important to plant all these seeds, but I’m convinced the best way to create change is through business partnerships that get people to sit down and solve problems together.”  As a facilitator of such partnerships, Atala brings to the table an unusual blend of skills, experience and family history. Her father is a Christian Arab whose parents were expelled from their village in the northern Galilee during Israel’s War of Independence, while her mother hails from Mississippi. Born in Florida, where she was baptized by a famous televangelist, Atala grew up in Georgia and New Jersey and had many Jewish friends. Her 13-year career as a business consultant and project manager has included stints in the Middle East …  A key focus of Atala Consulting, her new business, is helping Israeli and Palestinian high-techies find one another and form alliances.

Analysis: The ‘apolitical’ approach to Palestine’s water crisis (Part I)
31 July — Al-Shabaka is an independent non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and foster public debate on Palestinian human rights and self-determination within the framework of international law. This is the first of a three-part analysis on water right in the occupied Palestinian territory, written by Al-Shabaka policy member Muna Dajani. The second part will be published on Ma’an News on Tuesday. The full report can be read here. — Overview   Earlier this month, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) announced a new deal in which Israel will sell the Palestinians 33 million cubic meters of desalinated Red Sea water per year, with 10 million cubic meters transferred to the Gaza Strip and the rest to the West Bank. The deal masks the fact that Palestine is undergoing a man-made, rather than natural, water crisis. Government officials, the international community, donor agencies, and even academic literature portray Palestine’s lack of water resources as a foregone conclusion — a result of the region’s climatic conditions. What these narratives fail to address is that Palestine’s water scarcity is a social and political construct that obscures how Israel entrenches its hegemony over water resources, resulting in severe water inequality for Palestinians. For decades, Israel has proposed technological solutions to address this scarcity, such as desalination plants and wastewater treatment and reuse. International donors have played a major role in reinforcing Israel’s approach. These solutions are tied to the belief that science, technology, and infrastructure will ensure that water is no longer a source of contention, conflict, and even war. But these technologically driven solutions disregard the social, political, and cultural elements of water….

World Bank provides $43 million to ‘improve life’ in occupied Palestinian territory
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 July — The World Bank released a statement on Friday announcing that $43 million in grants would be provided to projects focused on “improving living conditions and expanding opportunities” in the occupied Palestinian territory.  Four projects aimed at assisting life in the Palestinian territory would be funded by the grant money, according to the statement, and would include programs to support municipal services in the territory, electricity sustainability, job creation through the development of the private sector, and a project to address social vulnerabilities in the Palestinian territory — including programs to alleviate poverty and support victims of domestic violence. The economic projects are mainly focused on the development of the private sector in Palestine, with the statement saying that the private sector is “central to the socio-economic future of the West Bank and Gaza, a region currently suffering from limited job opportunities, particularly among youth and women.”….

Film highlights daily realities of Israeli occupation
GAZA 29 July by Sarah Schroeder — ‘This is Palestine’ aims to raise awareness of ongoing human rights abuses in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip — After 50 years of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and a decade of the blockade on Gaza, a new documentary tells the powerful stories of Palestinians living with these daily realities. Award-winning producer and director John McColgan documented his journey through Palestine with Trocaire, an Irish human rights charity. This is Palestine aims to “raise awareness of the human rights abuses that have been happening and are still happening in the West Bank and Gaza”, McColgan told Al Jazeera, noting that he hopes his film will help to pressure the Irish government to recognise Palestine and encourage a peace process … The documentary sheds light on life in Hebron, whose old city is under Israeli control. A military order closed all shops and businesses, and the daily life of the remaining Palestinian residents is made difficult through checkpoints, military raids and harassment by Israeli settlers. “I had done research in advance, but nothing prepares you for what you witness on the ground,” McColgan said. “I found Hebron’s deserted old town an extraordinary encounter. I had never seen anything like it.” …  The film attempts “to tell the story as honestly and balanced as possible within the context of the situation”, McColgan said. The idea was born out of an art exhibition with the same name, in which McColgan and his brother photographed Palestinians living under occupation….

Opinion: Still waiting for a Palestinian Gandhi? S/he’s already here / Zaha Hassan
Haaretz 30 July — Every little West Bank girl crossing a checkpoint to get to school is a Rosa Parks. Every prisoner on hunger strike is a Mandela, and every Gazan, surviving despite the dehumanizing conditions, is a Palestinian Gandhi — The second most common question asked of a Palestinian-American (after “Where is Palestine?”) is “Where is the Palestinian Gandhi?” Americans want to know why Palestinians don’t employ nonviolent tactics to put an end to their decades of oppression and the colonization of their land. Of course, implicit in such a question is the assumption, cultivated by media representations of the ‘angry Arab’ and the nihilistic Muslim, as well as by well-funded public advocacy campaigns involving lobby groups and their associated ‘think tanks’ that portray the entire Middle East as a seething hotbed of hate against the Christian West, that Palestinians are genetically wired for violence.
The truth is that if a Nobel Peace Prize were ever given to an entire people for the restraint they’ve shown and the dogged determination to survive, persevere and to build a better tomorrow despite systematic attempts to erase them – even attempts to deny that they ever existed, a la Golda Meir – it would have to go to the Palestinian people. For where is there precedent for the imprisonment of 2.2 million people who have been deliberately made food, water and energy-dependent for an entire decade, while the narrative persists that it’s all justifiable for Israel’s “security,” like Gaza’s current suffering?  Where is the precedent for seven million people to be denied their right to return to the homes and property confiscated seven decades ago, simply because they are the wrong religion, while new illegal settlements furiously expand into the bit of land in the West Bank meant to form part of their yet-to-be state? …
How many more thousands of prayer rugs have to be unfurled on the streets of Jerusalem before Palestinian nonviolent resistant is not just acknowledged but supported and encouraged? How many more weekly Friday protests need to take place in Bil‘in and other villages in the West Bank? How many peace tents need to be erected and torn down in Jerusalem and in the Naqab?
The real question, however, is not about quantifying the protests, it is about ensuring that others know about them…. (listserv) (archive)


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

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