Violence — West Bank / Jerusalem
3 Palestinians killed in Al-Aqsa clashes in Jerusalem, West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 July — Three Palestinians were reportedly shot and killed during clashes in occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank on Friday, amid large-scale clashes across the occupied Palestinian territory over new Israeli security measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The deaths come amid a large-scale demonstration across East Jerusalem on Friday to denounce new Israeli security measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound following a deadly attack last week.
Israeli forces have violently suppressed the protest in East Jerusalem, as well as other solidarity marches in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip, as the Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma‘an that at least 390 Palestinians had been injured in East Jerusalem and the West Bank on Friday.
According to Ma‘an documentation, 49 Palestinians have now been killed by Israelis in 2017, 14 of whom in the month of July alone.
Palestinian killed by Israeli settler in Ras al-Amoud A Palestinian teenager was killed during clashes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amoud, medical sources told Ma’an, as witnesses said that the youth was shot by an Israeli settler. A short time before the teen was killed, photos circulated on social media of at least one armed Israeli settler positioned on the rooftops of the Old City aiming at Palestinian demonstrators. The slain young man was identified as 18-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Sharaf from the neighborhood of Silwan. Witnesses said Sharaf was shot in the neck by an Israeli settler, and later succumbed to his wounds. Very shortly after his death, mourners carried out Sharaf’s funeral, out of fear that Israeli authorities might confiscate his body, as participants chanted slogans about the teenager and Al-Aqsa.
Another Palestinian succumbs to wounds in Jerusalem hospital Meanwhile, another Palestinian, identified by medical sources as Muhammad Abu Ghanam, succumbed to his wounds in al-Makassed hospital after being shot by Israeli police forces during clashes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur. Witnesses said that Israeli forces raided the hospital on Friday afternoon looking to detain Palestinians who were injured during the clashes. A Ma‘an reporter on the scene said that a funeral was also promptly held for Abu Ghanam, as Palestinians were filmed hauling his body over a wall surrounding the al-Makassed hospital to avoid Israeli forces confiscating it, as Israeli authorities commonly seize and withhold the remains of slain Palestinians and prevent their families from burying them to use the bodies as bargaining chips. Witnesses said that Israeli forces fired sound bombs in the cemetery of al-Tur during the funeral. Locals told Ma‘an that Abu Ghanam was a 20-year-old resident of al-Tur and a second-year student at Birzeit University.
Palestinian shot, killed in Abu Dis demonstration Later on Friday afternoon, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said a Palestinian succumbed to his wounds in a hospital in Ramallah after having been shot in the chest by Israeli forces during a demonstration in the village of Abu Dis in the Jerusalem district of the West Bank. The slain Palestinian was identified by local sources as 17-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Khalaf, whereas other sources identified him as Muhammad Lafi. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) issued a statement on Friday evening hailing Muhammad Khalaf as a “heroic martyr” who died “in support of Al-Aqsa and in rejection of the (Israeli) occupation’s coward and racist policies.”DFLP added that Khalaf and his family were affiliated with the leftist movement, adding that the young man had recently passed his end-of-high-school tawjihi exams, and had led the student committee in the Arabic Institute in Abu Dis.
Israeli soldiers shoot, kill Palestinian after alleged stabbing attempt, sparking clashes
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 July — Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian in the southern occupied West Bank village of Tuqu‘ on Thursday afternoon, sparking clashes in which at least one Palestinian was injured. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that a Palestinian attempted to stab Israeli soldiers at an Israeli military checkpoint near Tuqu‘, adding that “responding to the immediate threat,” soldiers shot and killed the man. They added that no Israelis were injured in the case. A Ma‘an reporter present at the scene said that Israeli soldiers fired four shots towards the Palestinian near Tuqu‘’s school, while eyewitnesses said that an Israeli military vehicle then ran over the man. The army spokesperson said they would look into the reports of the Palestinian being run over. Palestinian medical and security sources identified the slain Palestinian as 26-year-old Muhammad Hussein Ahmad Tnouh. Israeli forces prevented bystanders and Palestinian medics from approaching the scene, and were seen covering up the Tnouh’s body with a sheet as he lay by an army vehicle’s wheel. A spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma‘an that one of the organization’s ambulances had been prevented from accessing and treating Tnouh. Following the killing, clashes erupted in Tuqu‘ between residents and Israeli forces, as soldiers fired live bullets and rubber-coated steel bullets towards the crowd, injuring a Palestinian police officer who was hit by a rubber-coated steel bullet to the head.
According to Ma‘an documentation, Tnouh is the 46th Palestinian to have been killed by Israelis thus far this year, 10 of whom were killed in the month of July alone. Tnouh is the third resident of Tuqu‘ to have been killed in 2017, after 17-year-old Qusay al-Umour and 24-year-old Muhammad Jibril.
Palestinian gunman shot dead by Israeli forces during West Bank raid
Haaretz 16 July by Gili Cohen — A Palestinian man who carried out two shooting attacks over the weekend was killed on Saturday night by Israeli security forces that came to arrest him in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. The man, Amer Ahmed Khalil, drew his weapon during the Police Special Anti-Terror Unit’s raid and was shot to death by the troops, the army said. The 34-year-old Khalil shot at a car near the West Bank settlement of Ateret on Saturday morning. The driver [Nasser Nael] was lightly wounded by shrapnel and his car was damaged. Khalil managed to escape the scene by car, and in the evening again opened fire toward a military post in the village of Nabi Saleh, where he lived. No one was wounded in the incident, and he managed to escape the scene. On Saturday night, Police Special Anti-Terror Unit troops arrived in the village to detain him. According to the Border Police, during the attempt to arrest him Khalil drew a self-made weapon and aimed it at the Israeli forces, which then shot and killed him. No Israeli forces were wounded in the incident. Another man who was arrested in the operation was lightly wounded and treated at the scene.
Palestinian shot, detained after killing 3 Israelis in settlement stabbing attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 July — A Palestinian was shot and reportedly left in a moderate condition after breaking into a home in an illegal Israeli settlement in the central occupied West Bank and carrying out a stabbing attack that left three Israelis dead and one injured Friday night, according to the Israeli army. An Israeli army spokesperson said an assailant entered a home in the illegal Halamish settlement, also known as Neve Tzuf, and stabbed four Israelis. Two succumbed to their wounds shortly thereafter and two were hospitalized in a serious condition. A third was later confirmed dead. The assailant was shot, the spokesperson said. He was identified by Israeli media as Omar al-Abed, between 19 and 20 years old, from the nearby village of Kobar in the northern Ramallah district. According to Israeli news site Ynet, a 70-year-old man and his son and daughter in their 30s were slain, and their 68-year-old mother badly injured. The four were reportedly having Shabbat dinner with about 10 members of their family when the attacker broke into the house. Some were able to hide in a separate room and call the police and yell for help. A neighbor, a soldier in the Israeli army, reportedly heard the disturbance, and arrived at the scene and shot and moderately wounded the assailant, according to Ynet. Israeli media reported that al-Abed wrote on Facebook before carrying out the attack: “I have many dreams and I believe they will come true, I love life and I love to make others happy, but what is my life is when they (Israel) murder women and children and defile our Al-Aqsa.” The deadly attack took place after three Palestinians were killed — two of them by Israeli police and one reportedly by an Israeli settler — when large-scale civil disobedience demonstrations in Jerusalem erupted into violent clashes earlier on Friday.
Palestinian assailant posts on Facebook before killing three Israelis; ‘I’m going to die for Al-Aqsa’
Haaretz 22 July by Jack Khoury & Gili Cohen — The Palestinian assailant who murdered three Israelis in the West Bank settlement of Halamish on Friday posted on Facebook nearly 90 minutes before the attack that he was “going to die for Al-Aqsa.” In the hours preceding the attack, 20-year-old Omar el-Abed posted on Facebook: “I am writing my will and these are my last words. I am young, I have not yet reached the age of 20, I have many dreams and aspirations.” “But what life is this, in which they murder our wives and our youth without any justification. They desecrate the Al-Aqsa mosque and we are asleep, it’s a disgrace that we sit idly by,” he continued, asking those who have weapons “but only take them out for weddings and celebrations: Are you not ashamed of yourselves? Why won’t you declare war for God? They have closed Al-Aqsa mosque and your weapons are still.” ….
Israeli army raids, seals hometown of Palestinian assailant, detains brother
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 July — Hours after a stabbing attack inside the illegal Israeli settlement of Halamish in the central occupied West Bank left three Israelis dead and a fourth seriously injured, Israeli forces raided and imposed a military closure on the nearby hometown of the assailant, preventing residents from entering or leaving the village, and detained the attacker’s brother.
The assailant, identified as 19-year-old Omar al-Abed, was reportedly shot and moderately wounded by an Israeli soldier, a neighbor to the victims who arrived at the scene of the attack after hearing shouting coming from the house, according to Israeli media reports. Omar al-Abed’s uncle Ibrahim told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided Kobar village, located north of Ramallah city and just a few kilometers east of Halamish, at around 5 a.m. Saturday, stormed Omar’s family’s home, and handcuffed his siblings, mother, and father. As Israeli soldiers searched the house for more than an hour, upending and destroying the family’s furniture and belongings, Israeli forces interrogated each of the family members separately, asking if they had any knowledge of Omar’s intentions to carry out the attack. The family insisted that they were surprised by the attack and said they had learned of it only after seeing reports on social media and news sites, Ibrahim said.Israeli forces detained Omar’s 22-year-old brother Munir, a student at Birzeit University.
Israeli forces stormed and searched dozens of other houses in Kobar during the raid, including the home of the sister of Nael Barghouthi — the longest serving Palestinian prisoner in Israeli custody– and stole an amount of money from her …
In response to a request for comment on the raid, the spokesperson said that the army “surveyed the house of the assailant, and confiscated weapons and money used for terror.” They confirmed Omar’s brother was in custody and that “movement out of the village is limited to humanitarian cases only.” Israeli media sites also reported that Israeli forces had taken measurements of the al-Abed home in preparation to punitively demolish it.
Israel detains 6 Jerusalemites, suppresses protests as Al-Aqsa prayers continue
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 July — After a day of violence in the occupied territory left three Palestinian protesters and three Israeli settlers killed, thousands of Palestinian worshipers were suppressed by Israeli forces overnight Friday in occupied East Jerusalem, as clashes continued in the city late into the evening. Overnight, Israeli police detained at least six additional Palestinians and continued to use live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets, sound bombs, and tear gas on locals during clashes in a number of Palestinian neighborhoods.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said it had treated some 110 Palestinians in Jerusalem, among a total of over 450 Palestinians who were injured during clashes in the West Bank over the course of Friday. Among them were 23 live fire injuries, 147 rubber-coated steel bullet injuries, 65 fracture injuries due to assaults by Israeli forces, and 215 tear-gas inhalation cases.
Israeli forces had attacked Palestinian demonstrators who turned out in Jerusalem and across the occupied Palestinian territory to perform Friday prayers in solidarity with Jerusalemites, seeking to protect Al-Aqsa from further Israeli control over the compound, which is regarded as the third holiest site in Islam as well as a national symbol for Palestinians….
Palestinian town in Israel shaken by Jerusalem killings
Al-Monitor 20 July by Daoud Kuttab — The July 14 attack by three Palestinian citizens of Israel that led to the death of two Israeli soldiers and their own death by the Israeli security has focused attention on two Palestinian towns in Israel. Umm al-Fahm, a city of 52,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel, lies in the Wadi Ara area. Twenty kilometers (12.5 miles) north of the West Bank city of Jenin, Umm al-Fahm is home to the northern branch of the radical Islamic Movement and its leader and former mayor of the city, Raed Salah. Three cousins who shot the two Israeli border guard police came from this city. Muhammad Ahmed Jabarin, 29, Muhammad Hamid Jabarin, 19, and Muhammad Ahmed Mufdal Jabarin, 19, traveled to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and carried out the shooting rampage. Shortly after the news of the attack emerged, the city council of Umm al-Fahm met and issued a statement calling on the town’s citizens to remain calm. Some 40 kilometers west of Umm al-Fahm and in the heart of the Galilee lies the town of Mughar. While Umm al-Fahm is predominantly made up of Palestinian Muslims, Mughar’s 22,000 citizens belong to three faiths: Muslim (20%), Christian (20%) and Druze (60%). Mughar is home to Israeli Advanced Staff Sgt. Maj. Hayil Satawi, a Druze citizen who was killed in the Jerusalem attack. Satawi, 30, was married with a three-week-old son, Ramos. The other policeman killed is Staff Sgt. Maj. Kamil Shnaan, 22, and hails from the predominantly Druze village of Hurfeish also in the Galilee area. Media attention was focused on the town of Mughar because it has a mixed religious population and due to the 2005 violent tensions in the city … Following the attacks in Jerusalem and cognizant of the potential of a recurrence of the internal violence, the religious and political leaders of Mughar met July 17 and issued a joint statement. The leaders called on the local community, especially the youth, to be tolerant and not to fall for rumors; they urged the police to do their job to protect the village from anyone breaking the law … Tarabshi said that there is a general consensus the attacks in Jerusalem targeted the occupation forces and were not specifically targeting Druze policemen. However, he noted that many mourners expressed opposition to the location of the attack….
Video of Al-Aqsa attack made public as Adalah calls for release of Palestinians’ bodies
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 July — Israeli police released security camera footage on Thursday purportedly showing how three Palestinian citizens of Israel managed to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound with weapons, which they then used to carry out a deadly shooting attack on Friday , in which the three assailants and two Israeli police officers were killed. The footage was made public as the Israeli Supreme Court agreed to hold a hearing over whether to return the bodies of Muhammad Ahmad Muhammad Jabarin, 29, Muhammad Hamid Abd al-Latif Jabarin, 19, and Muhammad Ahmad Mufdal Jabarin, 19, who were killed that day in occupied East Jerusalem. According to Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the footage allegedly shows the Jabarins walking through Jerusalem’s Old City and entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. A fourth person is seen entering the compound separately, with a backpack Israeli police believe was holding the weapons used in the attack. The alleged accomplice is later seen leaving Al-Aqsa without his bag, with the three Jabarins seen leaving the compound carrying the backpack. According to Israeli police, upon exiting with the weapons, the Jabarins changed clothing and headed back towards Al-Aqsa once again with the weapons, shooting and killing police officers Hail Stawi, 30, and Kamil Shakib Shinan, 22 — who also happened to be Palestinian citizens of Israel — before being shot and killed themselves by Israeli forces inside the compound….Meanwhile, rights group Adalah reported on Thursday that, hours after it had submitted a petition calling for Israeli authorities to immediately return the bodies of the Jabarins to their families for burial, the Supreme Court had decided to hold a hearing on the issue, scheduled for Sunday….
Israeli forces obstruct wounded Palestinians from reaching Jerusalem clinic
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 July — Amid ongoing attacks by Israeli forces on Palestinian protesters in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, officials at a local clinic have reported that Israeli forces are deliberately obstructing the work of medics attempting to treat injured demonstrators. Tareq Barakat, head of the Makassed Islamic Charitable Society Hospital east of the Old City that also runs a clinic near the Bani Ghanim Gate (Bab al-Ghawanima) entrance to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, told Ma’an that Israeli forces have been preventing medics and patients from reaching the clinic. At least 70 Palestinians were injured Tuesday night, three of them seriously, amid protests against unprecedented security measures imposed at Al-Aqsa by Israeli authorities. Clashes continued into Wednesday and have been ongoing since the metal detectors were installed Sunday. One of the wounded was Sheikh Akrama Sabri, head of High Islamic Committee, who sustained severe bruises on his back after being shot by Israeli police with a rubber-coated steel bullet and beaten with batons, and later underwent surgery at Makassed Hospital. Barakat called upon human rights organizations and the World Health Organization to intervene to protect patients who were being continuously searched at a checkpoint set up by Israeli police at the entrance to the clinic, obstructing them from receiving treatment. He also called for protection for Palestinian health and humanitarian institutions attempting to fight the Israeli violations. Barakat stressed that “only a few” patients have been able to reach the clinic, which provides free treatment….
Palestinian girl hit by Israeli settler vehicle in Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 21 July — A Palestinian girl was left wounded after she was hit by an Israeli settler’s vehicle today, in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron. Local sources told Quds Press that the 10-year old girl, Wijdan Faris Nasser Al-Jabari, was transferred to an Israeli hospital in Jerusalem for medical care after she was seriously injured in the incident, which took place in Wadi Al-Hsien area, near the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement, in the occupied city of Hebron. Incidents involving Israeli settlers ramming Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories are getting more common, according to the PNN.
Israeli soldiers injure sixteen Palestinians in Al-‘Ezariyya
IMEMC 19 July — Several Israeli military jeeps invaded, on Tuesday at night, the town of al-‘Ezariyya, east of occupied East Jerusalem, and clashed with local youngsters, wounding sixteen. The Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC) said its medics rushed to the town, and provided the needed treatment to eleven Palestinians, who suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, three who were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets and two others who suffered burns. On Tuesday evening, PRC medics provided medical treatment to 34 Palestinians, including the Khatib of al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, and moved at least fourteen others to hospitals, including one who suffered a serious injury, after the soldiers attacked dozens of Palestinians in the Tribes Gate area, and Jerusalem’s Old City.
Army injures eleven Palestinians in Beit Ummar, abducts one
IMEMC 22 July — Israeli soldiers invaded, Friday, Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and clashed with dozens of youngsters, before shooting a teen with live fire, and ten youngsters with rubber-coated steel bullets, and causing many others to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. Medical sources said the soldiers shot a 10-year-old teen with a live round in his left thigh, before he was rushed to a Palestinian hospital in moderate condition. The clashes started after the soldiers invaded the town, and assaulted hundreds of Palestinians, marching against the ongoing and escalating Israeli violations against Al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied Jerusalem, and the entire Palestinian territories. The soldiers shot at least ten Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets, and caused many others to suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation. Furthermore, the soldiers assaulted Mohammad Thiab Sabarna, 19, causing various cuts and bruises, before abducting him, and took him to an unknown destination. The soldiers also used violence against Sabarna’s parents, and other family members, when they started talking with the soldiers, asking them to release him.
Four Israeli youths arrested on suspicion of vandalizing Christian cemetery in Haifa
Haaretz 22 July by Noa Shpigel — Four teens have been arrested on suspicion of vandalizing gravestones at Haifa’s Christian Templar cemetery and have been brought to court in that northern coastal city. The Templars, a religious society founded in Germany, built colonies in Jerusalem, Haifa, Jaffa and elsewhere in the Holy Land in the middle of the 19th century. Over the past two weeks a number of gravestones have been damaged at both the Templar cemetery and the city’s World War I cemetery. The police conducted undercover operations in the area before making their arrests. On Wednesday night, three 16-year-olds, one boy and two girls, were arrested after they were unable to account for their presence at the site. They have since been released to house arrest after appearing in court Friday. Police youth investigators arrested another teen on suspicion he was involved. The police said they view the incidents as a serious affront to religious sensitivities, and they would pass on the material to prosecutors once they had completed their investigation.
Muslims still refusing to enter Aqsa Mosque through metal detectors, hold prayers outside
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 22 July – For the second week in a row, Al-Aqsa Mosque remains empty of Muslim worshipers as they are still adamant about entering it for prayer going through metal detectors the Israeli police set up on Sunday after closing the mosque for two days and hold the five daily prayers outside its gates. The Saturday dawn prayer went peacefully in spite of the presence of a large Israeli police force around the gates to the old city of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque. Tension was high on Friday, the day thousands of Muslims come to worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque. It was the first Friday since the installation of the new gates and the second Friday that the mosque is left empty of worshipers in decades. Police closed the mosque last Friday for Muslims following an attack outside its gates that left three alleged attackers and two policemen dead. The mosque was reopened on Sunday but after metal detectors were installed, a move the Palestinians said they will not accept because it changes the status quo at the mosque. Since then, Palestinian Muslims have been holding the daily prayers outside the gates to the mosque, insisting that they will not enter it for worship until the metal detectors are removed. The prayers often end up with clashes with the police, who attack the worshipers with stun grenades, beating and rubber bullets.
Photos: Foreign visitors stand by Palestinians as tensions remain high over status of Al-Aqsa
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 July — Dozens of Muslim tourists joined prayers held at the entrance of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Thursday, in solidarity with Palestinian worshipers who have denounced newly installed Israeli security measures at the holy site following a deadly attack last week … Hundreds of Palestinians performed prayers outside of the Al-Aqsa compound for the fifth day in a row on Thursday. Ahead of the noontime dhuhr prayer, demonstrators — who included representatives of different Christian faiths participating in solidarity– marched through the Old City towards Lions’ Gate, holding copies of the Qur’an and chanting “Determination, determination,” and “No to metal detectors,” as dozens of Israeli police officers looked on. Israeli forces attempted to coerce participants in a funeral march to enter the Al-Aqsa compound through the metal detectors, but the deceased’s family rejected the security measures, choosing instead to perform funeral prayers in the street.
A number of tourists from Middle Eastern and East Asian countries told Ma‘an that they had traveled thousands of kilometers and flown as long as 30 hours to visit the Holy Land and pray at Al-Aqsa, the third holiest site in Islam. However, despite their long journeys, they said that they had chosen to pray alongside Palestinians in the street leading to the compound’s Lions’ Gate, as a show of unity against the recent changes, emphasizing that Israel did not have the right to change the status quo at Al-Aqsa….
Analysis: Temple Mount protests could turn into an intifada in the blink of an eye / Nir Hasson
Haaretz 21 July — The Palestinian protest at the Gate of the Tribes, the main entrance to the Temple Mount, is deceptive. For brief moments on Thursday, it looked like an intifada, with stones and bottles flying from one side and stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets from the other. But for most of the day, it looked more like the 2011 social justice protests in Tel Aviv. Hundreds of people have been praying at the site round the clock, including many women who were apparently bused in from around the country. On Thursday, they came with backpacks, preparing to sleep in the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City to make sure they are there for Friday’s prayers. Rumors had circulated among the Palestinians that the police would prevent people from coming on Friday, so many, including West Bank Palestinians, rushed to Jerusalem on Thursday. A kind of civic infrastructure has already sprung up at the site. There’s a group that hands out food and another that distributes water. The Red Crescent has set up stations to treat the wounded, and volunteer guards keep order, though it’s not clear on whose behalf they are acting. Waqf guards, who had been prominent at the protests in previous days, were barely visible on Thursday. Surrounding them all are scores of policemen, whose tension is visible in their stern faces and aggressive behavior toward residents and journalists alike. Shortly before each prayer service – especially the noon prayer at 12:45 P.M. and the evening prayer at 7:45 P.M. – the hundreds of protesters turn into thousands. These mass prayers have become an endless string of protest chants and shouted oaths of fealty to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. “Takbir,” someone shouts, and the masses answer, “Allahu akbar.” That call and response is heard over and over, interspersed with chants such as “With blood and spirit we’ll redeem Al-Aqsa.” Usually, after an hour or two of chants and sermons, tempers cool until the next prayer … Wednesday was completely calm … Thursday was also fairly calm until evening. But in the blink of an eye, one of the rounds of chanting and whipping up emotion that followed the evening prayer deteriorated into violence. Even from a few meters away, it was impossible to tell who started it. Was a stone or bottle thrown at the police, or did someone merely imagine seeing a stone or bottle? Either way, it all blew up in an instant. The police rushed in, firing dozens of stun grenades. The Palestinians responded with stones, and the policemen replied with sponge-tipped bullets. Within seconds, at least two Palestinians were down on the ground, unconscious. The speed and intensity of the flare-up are worrying omens of what could happen at Friday’s noon prayer….
President Abbas suspends all contacts with Israel over Al-Aqsa Mosque
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 21 July – President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday that he has decided to suspend all contacts with Israel until the latter cancels all measures it has implemented against Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque. Abbas, who cut short a trip to China and returned home following the deterioration in the situation at Al-Aqsa Mosque, headed an urgent joint meeting for the Palestine Liberation Organization and Fatah Central Committee to discuss strategy in confronting the Israeli measures. Israel placed metal detectors at the gates to Al-Aqsa Mosque, an act strongly rejected by the Palestinians who believe it is a step toward Israel’s eventual control over the mosque. “In the name of the Palestinian leadership, I declare the suspension of all contacts with the occupying country on all levels until Israel revokes all its measures against our Palestinian people and Jerusalem, particularly at Al-Aqsa Mosque, and preserve the historic status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Abbas said at the end of the leadership meeting held in Ramallah. “We also reject the so-called electronic gates because they are a political move hiding under the cover of an imaginary security pretext that aims to control Al-Aqsa Mosque and evade the peace process as well as turn the conflict from a political one to a religious conflict,” he added. Abbas said that he has allocated $25 million to help the steadfastness of the Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem. He also announced a meeting for the Palestinian Central Council to discuss steps to protect the Palestinian national project and the Palestinian right to self determination and statehood. He called on the Palestinian political factions, particularly Hamas, to work toward unifying the Palestinian people and turn the struggle toward Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque, calling on Hamas to dismantle its administrative committee in Gaza and allow the conciliation government to take control of the Gaza Strip that would lead to national elections. President Abbas said the Palestinian leadership will remain in an open session to follow up on all developments.
El Hayyah calls for closing Israeli embassies in Arab countries
[with photos] Hamas 21 July — The member of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Khalil Al Hayyah, called upon the leaders of the Arab and Islamic countries to close the Israeli embassies in their countries in response to the Israeli violations against Al Aqsa Mosque. In his speech during Al Aqsa marches in Gaza city Friday, Al Hayyah stated that these demonstrations send a clear message to the Israeli Occupation that the Arab and Islamic people do not accept normalizing the relations. He called upon the Palestinian Authority to stop security collaboration with the occupation and urged the youth in the occupied West Bank to rebel against the enemy and its hostile measures. Al Hayyah also pointed out the Israeli Occupation is trying to impose a new reality in Jerusalem and to take control over Al Aqsa Mosque adding “Cameras and electronic gates are not accepted.” Al Hayyah asserted that the Israeli enemy thinks that the current problems across the Arab and Islamic nations will enable it to pass its plots. However, it fails to understand that the spark of the revolution of the Islamic and Arab nations starts from Al Aqsa Mosque.
Israeli police shoot Al-Aqsa Mosque imam after prayer
JERUSALEM (Anadolu) 19 July by Eshat Firat — The spiritual leader of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, was injured Tuesday by a plastic bullet after praying outside the gates of the famous site, according to Palestinian medical personnel. he imam had just finished leading the night prayer when Israeli police attempted to disperse worshipers by force, leaving many injured, some seriously, according to the Palestine’s Red Crescent Society. Sabri was taken to the Al Maqassid Hospital in eastern Jerusalem and his condition has not been disclosed. Turkey’s Minister of Religious Affairs Mehmet Gormez “strongly condemned” the attack in a statement Wednesday on Twitter. “While our geography is facing tremendous pain, the incidents going on at Al-Aqsa Mosque and its surroundings have been bringing any prudent man to worry greatly. I believe that they will not let Al-Aqsa have the same fate as Al-Khalil Mosque, cave of discretion, prudency, moderation, and peace patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph”, he wrote in reference to the 1994 massacre at the Ibrahimi Msoque in Hebron where 30 Muslim worshipers were killed by a U.S.-born Jewish terrorist
Israeli military court orders to release Elor Azarya to house arrest amid appeal
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 July — An Israeli military court ordered the release of Elor Azarya to house arrest on Monday, amid an ongoing appeal process of the Israeli soldier’s 18-month prison sentence for the filmed, execution-style shooting of 21-year-old Palestinian Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif in March 2016. Azarya will also be free to leave home to attend prayer services on the Sabbath with his parents. Azarya was convicted of manslaughter for shooting and killing al-Sharif as the disarmed Palestinian lay severely wounded on the ground in March 2016. Azarya’s defense team appealed both the manslaughter conviction and the 18-month jail sentence for being too harsh, while the Israeli military prosecution has submitted an appeal to increase the sentence.
According to Israeli media reports, Azarya’s military service term is set to end on Thursday, meaning that the soldier will no longer be able to remain confined to a military base. The military prosecution has already agreed that he can move to house arrest, between now and July 30, when his appeal is due to be decided. Azarya’s defense lawyer had reportedly called for a “half house arrest,” meaning that Azarya could have left home during daylight hours, which was not granted….
Victims of Abbas’ Gaza travel restrictions raised to 20
IMEMC/Agencies 21 July — The Palestinian Ministry of Health announced, Thursday morning, the death of the 20th patient case in Gaza, due to the ban on travel abroad for treatment. Spokesperson for the Ministry, Ashraf al-Qedra, said in a statement that the patient Baha Radee,aged 14, died today because he could not receive treatment abroad, as the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority banned the medical vouchers. Al-Qedra explained that the Radee was waiting for a medical voucher for more than 18 days, but in vain, Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency reports. The health ministry warned of the increase in the number of dead patients and children because the Palestinian Authority suspended issuing medical voucher to patients in the sector. Earlier this month, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) said that it documented a reduction of 75% in medical vouchers to Gaza patients for treatment, last month. The reduction of foreign medical vouchers to the Gaza Strip was part of a punitive set of measures imposed by the Authority, on Gaza.
Army injures twenty Palestinians, including six medics, in Gaza
IMEMC 21 July — Israeli soldiers injured, Friday, at least twenty Palestinians, including six medics, in various areas near the border fence, in the Gaza Strip, and caused damage to two ambulances. The Palestinian Health Ministry said the incidents took place along the border fence, from Rafah in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, until Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza. It added that twenty Palestinians, including six medics, suffered the severe effects of teargas inhalation, especially after the army caused damage to two ambulances, after firing gas bombs at them. The incidents took place when the soldiers assaulted dozens of Palestinians, protesting in their lands, in areas close to the border fence.
Opinion: Qatar crisis cranks up pressure on besieged Gaza / Hamza Abu Eltarabesh
EI 18 July — The Gaza Strip is often seen as a place apart, cut off from the rest of the world and the rest of Palestine by Israel – with the collusion to varying degrees of Egypt – which appears bent on its isolation. But while it is true that the passage of people and goods to and from Gaza is severely restricted, the impact of politics has not been similarly constrained. The latest spat between Qatar and three fellow Gulf Cooperation Council countries – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – plus Egypt, is a perfect illustration. The confrontation could have a dramatic impact on Gaza if Qatar’s economic standing declines. In recent years, Qatar has provided an exception to Gaza’s isolation.
The importance of Doha to Gaza expanded in 2012, after the exiled Hamas leadership left Damascus, unable to side with President Bashar al-Assad against his opponents in Syria’s civil war. At the time, the Egyptian revolution and the election of Muhammad Morsi as president might have made that departure from Syria appear a small price to pay. Egypt shares a crossing with Gaza and seemed a natural ally. Turkey, too, looked like a promising breakthrough for Hamas in Gaza. Its leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan is cut from the same Islamist cloth as Hamas. Turkey became closely connected to Gaza after nearly 600 Turkish citizens participated in a flotilla in 2010 to break the siege …
Relations with Israel have been normalized and the opening to Turkey has since narrowed for Gaza … Of course, Gaza’s connection with Turkey did not cool as much as the relationship with Cairo, which went from close to hostile after the 2013 military coup against Morsi and the installation of Abdulfattah al-Sisi as Egypt’s ruler. As a result of these regional shifts since 2013, Hamas has found itself with fewer international friends than ever, and only Doha was prepared to offer visible political support. In the years since, not least after the devastating Israeli assault of 2014, Hamas and two million Palestinians in Gaza have relied disproportionately on Qatari aid. After Damascus, Doha became the new home for the exiled Hamas leadership under Khaled Meshaal, while Qatari-financed building projects and cash assistance have been vital to the impoverished coastal strip … Analysts are divided over the potential economic consequences of Qatar’s isolation. Some say Qatar is unlikely to completely cut its support for Gaza and Hamas, while others suggest Doha may be left with little choice….
Why is UN pushing for Gaza’s surrender? / Maureen Clare Murphy
EI 20 July — The new report on Gaza by a team led by Robert Piper, the United Nations’ chief humanitarian coordinator in Palestine, makes for disturbing reading. That’s not only because of the alarming statistics or “indicators” about the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, of which there is no shortage in the report. That the situation in Gaza is untenable, its population living in a pressure cooker that gets worse by the day, is clear to anyone who pays attention. The UN has previously predicted that Gaza would become “unlivable” by the year 2020. Piper’s report “tries to look past the polemic and review – as we approach 2020 – the socioeconomic, humanitarian and human rights disaster that is unfolding in Gaza and to advocate on behalf of the two million people trapped in this sad reality.”
Pushing for Gaza’s surrender Yet what the report actually does is reveal how the UN has apparently aligned with Israel and its international backers in pushing for Gaza’s total surrender to its tormentors. This is made evident with the background context provided in the report which frames Israel’s economic blockade on Gaza as the response to Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, which Piper’s report perversely describes as a “coup.” Hamas was the unexpected winner in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections held in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. Investigative reporting by David Rose in Vanity Fair and a trove of leaked documents revealed by Al Jazeera describe a 2007 coup attempt in Gaza, but not by Hamas. Following Hamas’ victory at the ballot box, Israel and its allies, principally the United States, spared no effort in undermining the new Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government with the goal of restoring power exclusively to Mahmoud Abbas, the West Bank-based PA president whose Fatah party lost the election. After months of street fighting, Hamas and Fatah formed a “national unity government” headed by a Hamas prime minister. The US then enlisted Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan to rout Hamas militarily in Gaza….
Hamas blocks Fatah officials from traveling to West Bank
Al-Monitor 19 July by Mohammed Othman — Hamas’ security forces in Gaza have prevented Fatah figures from traveling to the West Bank in what observers say is the movement lashing out at President Mahmoud Abbas’ escalating measures against the Gaza Strip — Several Fatah leaders loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas have been prevented from traveling to the West Bank to attend meetings recently. Hamas’ security forces in the Gaza Strip prevented the deputy secretary of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, Fayez Abu Eita, from traveling to the West Bank on July 11 through the Beit Hanoun/Erez checkpoint to attend a Fatah meeting. No justification was given. On June 30, Hamas security prevented Fatah Central Committee member Ahmad Halas from crossing the checkpoint. Member of the PLO’s Executive Committee and head of its Department of Refugee Affairs, Zakaria al-Agha, was turned back twice, on May 19 and 30. Abu Eita told Al-Monitor that he went to the Beit Hanoun checkpoint on July 11, but was shocked to find out that he would not be allowed to go to the West Bank. “The Hamas security forces at the checkpoint prevented me from passing without giving any justification. This completely violates Palestinian laws,” he said….
UNICEF: The children trading homework for hard labour
[with photos] stuff.co 18 July by Lachlan Forsyth — Thirteen-year-old Ahmad doesn’t attend school. Instead, he works. Hard, back-breaking work. “Every day I go and look for scrap metal and gravel in the rubble of the houses which were destroyed in past wars,” he says. “I carry steel and stones, put them on the donkey and go to the market to sell them to firms which will use them to make gravel and construction materials. It is very hard work.” It is extremely tough on both Ahmed and his donkey. But every day he returns to his job, in an effort to make life ever-so-slightly easier for his family. Ahmad’s father is ill and unable to work, and while the family receives assistance from charitable organisations, it is still not enough to make ends meet. “My brothers and I work so we can earn a few shekels” says Ahmad, “I never know how much money I will make, it depends on how much steel and gravel I can find and how many hours I can work before the donkey and I become tired. I always return home exhausted.” The family’s tin-roofed shelter isn’t connected to the water network, so every drop must be lugged from the nearest water source in heavy jerry cans. That task again falls on Ahmad and his brothers, in addition to their work. Ahmad is one of the many thousands of children who have given up on education in order to earn some small additional income for their families. Like many families living in Gaza, there is little that is easy in their daily routine. Nearly 40 percent of Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip live under the poverty line, and almost three-quarters of families rely on some form of external aid….
Video: Gaza Strip refugee receives prosthetic leg in Detroit
(WJBK) 18 July by Camille Amiri — Muath Abudaher is a healthy and happy 16-year-old boy from Palestine. From throwing the basketball around to visiting the Niagra Falls, he’s enjoying his time in the U.S. as he waits for his second new prosthetic leg. “As a young child, he lost his mom when he was 4 to cancer and when he was 6 he got bone cancer and had to have his leg completely removed,” said Yasmeen Hamed, his host mother. The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, or PCRF, made it possible for Muath to travel to Michigan for his first prosthetic leg in 2013 and now for his second prosthetic leg in 2017. He outgrew his first one about 5 months ago. “We’re making it more of an adult leg, adult knee, and hopefully he’ll be able to keep it a little longer as he grows,” Hamed said. Both Yasmeen and Muath hope his story will inspire people to help others who are less fortunate. “There’s children that in Gaza now that have cancer that can’t leave. Well that’s why our organization is building … our second pediatric cancer center and we’re building it in Gaza for children like Muath. Maybe if there was a facility there we could’ve saved his leg,” Hamed said. [Muath is not a refugee, in spite of the headline]
Photos: ‘Gaza Girls: Growing Up in the Gaza Strip’ – resilience in the fact of adversity
Yahoo News 21 July — Photojournalist Monique Jaques first traveled to Gaza to cover an eight-day war between Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas. That was five years ago, and she has returned again and again since then, driven to document the strength, creativity and vibrancy of Palestinian girls and young women. When you’re a young girl in Gaza, your existence is defined by its boundaries — literal and metaphorical, defined by both regional and cultural politics. Many women say that in a place as small as Gaza, it is impossible to be truly free. “I am awed and haunted by their tremendous resilience, even in the face of unimaginable adversity. I also see so much similarity between these teenage girls and the teenage girl I once was, despite our different circumstances.” shared Monique. Here’s a look.
FotoEvidence and Monique Jaques have launched a campaign to fund the publication of “Gaza Girls: Growing Up in the Gaza Strip,” stories of girls coming of age in a difficult place. Visit their Kickstarter page to learn more.
450-year-old home restored in traditional style in Gaza
[with photos] Al-Monitor 19 July by Amjad Arafat — In the old town of the Zaytoun neighborhood in Gaza City, a 450-year-old house stands out with its unique archaeological design. Built during Ottoman rule in Palestine, the house belongs today to Atef Salameh. Salameh has turned it into a shami, a typical Syrian house like the ones in popular TV series, such as “Bab al-Hara” (“The Neighborhood’s Gate”) and “Layali al-Salihia” (“Salihia Nights”). “I turned my home into a traditional Syrian house, or shami, because I take pride in the Arab heritage, which the Israeli occupation strives to erase from our memory. I want to prove wrong the old Israeli saying ‘The old die and the young forget,’” Salameh told Al-Monitor. With its ancient cut stones, stained glass windows and an inner courtyard with a well, Salameh’s house is the result of a major investment, in terms of both planning and funding….
Sinn Féin Republican Youth are encouraging people to take part in the ‘Light for Gaza’ initiative to draw attention to the crisis
Derry Now (No. Ireland) 19 July — Sinn Féin Republican Youth are encouraging people to take part in the ‘Light for Gaza’ initiative by lighting a candle and placing a solidarity message beside it, take a photo of it and upload it to Facebook and Twitter between 10.00pm and 11.00pm on Sunday 23rd July. Spokesperson for Sinn Féin Republican Youth in Derry Caolán McGinley said: “People have been outraged by what has been happening in Gaza over the past number of years with the continued Israeli onslaught and occupation … Many news outlets ignore what happens in Gaza and the inhumane conditions in which people are forced to live due to Israeli occupation. Social media can be a powerful method of sharing their story … In an effort to highlight the horrible conditions in which people currently live in Gaza. We are encouraging people to take part in the ‘Light for Gaza’ initiative.
Palestinian sewage polluting Israeli streams
The Media Line 18 July by Linda Gradstein –Israel’s Ministry of Health has instructed the National Water company, Mekorot, to close two piping stations near the border with the Gaza Strip over fears of water pollution stemming from Gaza’s sewage dumping. In the last two weeks, water purification facilities in Gaza have collapsed and they have not been repaired because of the ongoing electricity crisis. Palestinians in the northern neighborhoods of Gaza — Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia – have begun pumping sewage into Nahal Hanun, which crosses Israel and empties in the sea. That stream flooded, which experts said created an environmental hazard, which began to pollute groundwater from the coastal aquifer. Mekorot pumps drinking water from that aquifer, and closed the pumping stations … There has also been a sharp increase in the amount of sewage coming from the densely populated Gaza Strip over the past week, as the electricity crisis in Gaza has intensified. The wastewater facility in Gaza, run by the Islamist Hamas movement, has shut down completely, because it has no electricity to run. Israeli officials said that at first they were able to manage the flow of sewage with vacuum pumps, but they are no longer proving effective. Two Israeli beaches were forced to close last week….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Settlements to cut off Ramallah from Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 22 July — The Israeli construction and housing ministry is planning a major housing project that includes 1,100 settlement units, cutting off Ramallah from Jerusalem. The plan will extend through the city’s built-up areas, eastward, filling in the gap between the illegal settlement of Adam (also known as Geva Binyamin) and the illegal settlement of Neveh Yaakov. According to Haaretz, the planned settlement units will cut off the southern outskirts of Ramallah from East Jerusalem, Days of Palestine reports. The paper noted that Israeli Housing Minister Yoav Galant’s office confirmed the details of the settlement plan. “We will be everywhere that it is possible to build and to provide solutions to the housing shortage, particularly, as in the case of Adam, in the vicinity of Jerusalem,” the minister’s office said. The report added that officials from the Civil Administration confirmed that such a plan had been discussed in 2004, but had languished since then. It noted that the housing ministry has yet to submit a new plan for the same project.
Haaretz editorial: A city without borders
21 July — Netanyahu must act now to stop the new construction plan that will cut off Ramallah from East Jerusalem — The map of Jerusalem, including the territory annexed to Israel in violation of international law, depicts a territorially defined city with clear boundaries. But this cartographic picture can’t conceal the fault lines that cut through this municipal space, which is very far from being a model of urban cohesiveness. Israel’s capital city is a demonstration of political power, which not only imposes itself on the city’s Arab residents, but also serves as violent leverage with which to thwart any diplomatic solution, sabotage the chances of implementing a two-state solution and plant mines on the territory of the future Palestinian state. The latest demonstration of this intent to dominate Jerusalem is a plan to build a new neighborhood to the city’s northeast. Ostensibly, this neighborhood is meant to ease the housing shortage, but in practice it will divide the city from the Palestinian communities to its east, and thereby prevent the needed territorial contiguity between these communities and Ramallah.…
Summer 2017: New movement restrictions in Hebron heighten isolation of Palestinian neighborhoods
[with testimonies and videos showing how Palestinians are forced to detour from direct routes to their homes, no matter how old or infirm they might be, or how heavy the load they need to transport] B’Tselem 20 July — Since the mid-1990s, the Israeli military has imposed a policy of segregation in the center of Hebron. As part of this policy, major streets in the area have been declared off limits to Palestinians, some entirely, while in others, pedestrian Palestinian traffic is allowed. Nonetheless, as detailed below, in May 2017 the military added new measures to the already severe limitations on Palestinian movement in the area. As a result of this policy, thousands of Palestinians have left downtown Hebron, and what used to be a lively regional trade center is now practically a ghost town. The residents who have not moved out suffer violence and daily harassment at the hands of Israeli security forces and the settlers who have moved in under their protection. These drastic measures, which have taken a toll on tens of thousands of Palestinians, constitute collective punishment. The Palestinians who still live in the area are denied the ability to lead normal lives and their daily experience is unbearable. In imposing this policy, Israel is effecting a silent, ongoing transfer of Palestinians from the heart of Hebron.
Ultra-Orthodox now make up 30% of West Bank settlers
The Forward 18 July by Ari Feldman — The growing demand for housing in Israel’s rapidly expanding ultra-Orthodox community has led to a paradox, according to the Times of Israel: the population of the two largest settlements in the West Bank is almost all Hasidic even though they do not have much nationalist zeal. According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, ultra-Orthodox Jews make up 30% of the 400,000 Israelis living in the West Bank, spread across eight settlement cities. Modiin Ilit, near Modi’in-Maccabim-Re’ut, is the largest settlement city with 65,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews. In Beitar Ilit, near Bethlehem, 50,000 residents are ultra-Orthodox — and nearly two-thirds are under 18 years old. Ultra-Orthodox Jews were initially opposed to settling the West Bank. But overcrowding in Jerusalem and in Orthodox sections of the Tel Aviv metro area have made settlement an easy choice for many. “What may have started as a method to solve the housing crisis in Haredi communities has also become an opportunity for them to connect with their heritage by living on land where 80% of the Bible took place,” said Shilo Adler, the Director General of Yesha, an umbrella group of municipal councils in the West Bank.
Settlers up in arms as IDF bans West Bank tours led by civilians
Times of Israel 18 July by Jacob Majid — Settler leaders slammed on Tuesday a command given by the IDF’s outgoing chief education officer banning civilians from guiding informational tours for soldiers in the West Bank. “This is a delusional, Communist-Russia style decision designed to delegitimize and drive a wedge between citizens that live in Judea and Samaria and those who do not,” said Samaria Regional Council Chairman Yossi Dagan, referring to the West Bank by its biblical names. In an interview with the Kan public broadcaster on Sunday, Brig. Gen. Avner Paz-Tzuk referred to the sensitive task of educating soldiers about the history of the West Bank land on which they are serving as a “vulnerability point.” Due to what he characterized as the territory’s deep complexity and sensitivity, Paz-Tzuk announced that starting in 2018, educational tours for soldiers in the West Bank will only be led by fellow uniformed conscripts … A number of settler organizations including a the Kfar Etzion Field School have for years been employed by the IDF to guide West Bank tours. Critics have challenged the bias of those educating new recruits, pointing out that many are active in the preservation and expansion of the politically-charged territory over the Green Line. Dror Etkes of the Kerem Navot settler watchdog said the same is the case for tours for soldiers in the Old City of Jerusalem which are often led by the right-wing Elad organization….
Stealth bill targets Palestine supporters in Massachusetts
EI 19 July by Charlotte Silver — The Massachusetts state legislature had a heated, five-hour hearing Tuesday, on proposed legislation that civil rights groups call a veiled attack on the right to boycott. Meanwhile, a county lawmaker in New York is trying to ban a concert by prominent Palestinian rights supporter Roger Waters. The Massachusetts bill, S.1698, purportedly targets “discrimination in state contracts.” It would require anyone who enters into a contract with the state worth more than $10,000 to pledge that they will not refuse to do business with any person “based upon such other person’s race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, gender identity or sexual orientation.” The bill also requires contractors to certify that they are in compliance with state anti-discrimination laws. While it does not explicitly mention boycotts or Israel, the legislation been promoted by lawmakers and Israel advocacy groups as a means to counter the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights … Immediately after the “anti-discrimination” bill was proposed in January, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts warned that “an anti-boycott motivation calls into question the constitutionality of the legislation, even if it is neutral on its face.” The law could have a “chilling effect” on the right to boycott and would be unconstitutional if used against peaceful political boycotters, the civil liberties group said….
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (13-19 July 2017)
PCHR-GAZA 20 July — Israeli forces killed 3 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. 3 Palestinian civilians from Um al-Fahm were killed in an armed clash inside al-Aqsa Mosque yards. 35 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli forces continued to target the Gaza Strip border areas with no casualties reported. Israeli forces conducted 58 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 8 ones in Jerusalem. 57 civilians, including 5 children, 3 girls and a journalist, were arrested. 26 of them, including 2 children and the 3 girls, were arrested in Jerusalem. Ramasat and Palmedia offices in Hebron were raided. Israeli forces continued efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied Palestinian Jerusalem. The Islamic Call to Prayer (Adhan) was banned in al-Aqsa Mosque as an unprecedented measure. 58 Islamic Endowments’ (Awqaf) officers, including the current and former Grand Muftis of Jerusalem and Palestine. Israeli forces continued to target the Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip sea. 2 fishermen were wounded off Khan Yunis shore, south of the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces turned the West Bank into cantons and continued to impose the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip for the10th year Dozens of temporary checkpoints were established in the West Bank and others were re-established to obstruct the movement of Palestinian civilians. 4 civilians were arrested at military checkpoints in the West Bank. [Details follow]
Palestinian rights group calls on journalists to reject the summons by security services
MEMO 17 July — On Sunday, Al-Haq, a human rights organization called on Palestinian journalists to refuse responding to summonses from Palestinian security services in the West Bank. Al–Haq said in a statement that calls to journalists and members of the public by the security services, regardless of their form – whether phone calls or written and signed summonses – are unconstitutional in principle and a violation of the guarantees included in the Basic Law (the Palestinian constitution). Al-Haq asserted that, in accordance with the principle of the rule of law, anyone contacted by the security services in this way should to refuse to deal with such summonses. The organization urged the Syndicate of Journalists to uphold the constitutional procedural guarantees and to emphasize the right of journalists not to deal with summonses, not only to inform them about the unconstitutional summations. Al-Haq called on the Palestinian Attorney General to use his powers to force security services to be held to account. It also called for the cancellation of decisions to block websites as they violate the provisions of the Basic Law and international standards of human rights. The organization stressed the need to suspend the Electronic Crimes Law, which was adopted without the participation of civil society, since it represents a flagrant violation of the freedom of expression and the right to privacy, and to re-discuss it with the community. The security services in the West Bank have recently carried out a summons campaign involving a number of journalists from the West Bank, including Ali Obaidat, Mohammad Awad, Nayla Khalil and Rama Yousef, in addition to the detention of journalist Abdul Mohsen Shalaldeh….
‘Wanted men’ in Balata refugee camp turn themselves in to PA
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 19 July — Seven “wanted” Palestinians from the Balata refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus turned themselves in to Palestinian Authority (PA) intelligence on Wednesday afternoon. Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Jamal al-Tirawi told Ma‘an that the seven turned themselves in following an agreement made with a PA committee, which included PA intelligence service members and members of Fatah’s Central Committee. Al-Tirawi said that PA intelligence services had received the “wanted men” from their homes in Balata upon Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ instructions. The seven would be interrogated by PA intelligence before being presented to court, he added. Part of the agreement with the men, al-Tirawi noted, ensures that the PA would “respect the dignity of the wanted men and give them a fair trial.” However, al-Tirawi did not mention what crimes the PA suspect the men of committing. The PA has been condemned in the past for holding Palestinians without charge or trial and committing acts of torture on imprisoned Palestinians.
Do-it-yourself farmer grows strawberries in the air
NPR 18 July by Shaina Shealy — Hezam Kittani didn’t want U.S. handouts to help him grow strawberries. He wanted to be a do-it-yourself berry farmer — and to teach others to follow in his footsteps. Strawberries were barely grown in the West Bank, where Kittani lives, before 2009. Today they’re a 250-ton yearly crop. And that’s because of $705,358 in grants from USAID for farmers in this “lower middle income region” (as classified by the World Bank). The USAID money offered a helping hand for farmers to set up a new way to grow the fruits — in hanging planters where pests can’t get to them as easily as on the ground and with “a computerized automated drip irrigation system that accurately measures the optimum amount of water needed.” The berries grow in a mix of perlite and peat moss. The system has a number of advantages. Elevated strawberries stay warmer than strawberries in the ground, which means a relatively long season, from November through April. And the plants grow downward, so the berries are easy to harvest. Outdoor strawberry farms yield about 12 tons of strawberries per acre; hanging strawberry plants in greenhouses yield three times as much. But Kittani thinks there’s a big disadvantage to the current setup. He doesn’t want local farmers to rely on foreign aid. He wants them to succeed — to help themselves and the economy — without outside help. That’s why Kittani set out to design a version of the USAID elevated strawberry system that Palestinian farmers could easily (and inexpensively) replicate themselves….
Israel admits Palestinian laborers are often exploited to receive work permits
Haaretz 21 July by Or Kashti — In what a rights group calls a historic decision, the government is moving to correct the system in which employers buy and sell work permits and pass the cost onto employees — Palestinians who seek an Israeli work permit are sometimes forced to pay up to 2,500 shekels ($703) a month to middlemen, according to a study in which the Finance Ministry took part. The sum ranges between 1,500 shekels and 2,500 shekels, about a quarter to a third of a Palestinian laborers’ average monthly salary, says the study, which marks the first time the government has recognized this exploitation of Palestinian workers – and a bizarre trade in work permits among employers. Palestinian laborers are bound to a specific Israeli employer when receiving a work permit. For example, Ayman, a 45-year-old from a village near Jenin, pays about 2,400 shekels a month, though his employer sometimes chips in. “There’s no choice,” says Ayman, who declined to give his last name. “We have to work, even if we have to pay a lot of money to a contractor.” According to a government document obtained by Haaretz, “The employment method has not created proper employment conditions for workers. Moreover, it has allowed many situations in which salaries have not been paid to employees.” … The document is the work of an interministerial team set up to implement a 2016 cabinet decision on “improving regulation and changing the allocation of workers in the construction industry.” Behind this bureaucratic language lies a dramatic change in the employment of Palestinian laborers, whose number is predicted to reach 87,000 by the end of this year, three times the number in 2011. One reason for the change is the need to increase the number of construction workers in a bid to build more homes and lower housing prices. The authorities also realize that the system for employing Palestinians – which has changed little over 50 years – has failed.…
Israeli police detain 98 undocumented Palestinians working in Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 July — Israeli forces have detained nearly 100 undocumented Palestinian workers across Israel in the past week, Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said on Thursday. Al-Samri said that 98 Palestinians were detained over the span of a week, adding that 44 remained in police custody, while the others had been released back to the occupied Palestinian territory.
She added that 19 people, the majority of whom were Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, had also been detained for driving the undocumented workers into Israel, employing them, and providing them with places to live. Al-Samri went on to say that 21 shops had been closed by Israeli police for employing undocumented Palestinians. Tens of thousands of Palestinian workers are forced to seek a living by working in Israel due to crippling unemployment in the West Bank…
Untreated sewage flowing from West Bank and East Jerusalem is polluting Israeli streams
Haaretz 18 July by Zafrir Rinat — Tens of millions of cubic meters of untreated sewage are flowing into Israel from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, polluting streams in Israel and the West Bank, according to a new study that for the first time provides quantitative measures of such wastewater. The Environmental Protection Ministry recently formulated a cabinet resolution on preparing to deal with this ongoing pollution. According to the resolution, within four months a government plan will be drawn up to deal with cross-border hazards, first and foremost the flow of some 60 million cubic meters of untreated sewage across the Green Line. Implementing the plan will require a significant boost in manpower for both the Civil Administration and the environment ministry, and budgets of hundreds of millions of shekels for pipelines and purification installations … The estimate of pollutants focused primarily on the large streams, at which flow meters were installed two years ago to measure the quantity of effluent passing through them. The data are for the years 2014 to 2016. Every year, some 90 million cubic meters of sewage and wastewater is generated across the Green Line. Of this, 21 million cubic meters comes from the settlements, some of which have built purification plants. By contrast, most of the Palestinian villages and cities let their sewage flow into the environment untreated.
Nahal Kidron has the largest quantity of wastewater flowing through it, with 14 million cubic meters annually. Some of this effluent comes from Arab and Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem that have not been hooked up to the wastewater treatment system that serves the western part of the city.
Nahal Hebron has a serious problem with industrial wastewater, which contains toxic metals like chrome; some 24 of the 28 measurements taken in the stream found chrome present...
IDF drone crashes near West Bank city of Nablus
JPost 18 July by Anna Ahronheim — An IDF Sky Rider drone crashed near the West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday morning, the army said in a statement. According to a statement released by the IDF, the Sky Rider drone fell out of the sky for as-yet unknown reasons and the incident is being investigated. The drone was later retrieved by the army and there was no fear that any classified information was lost. The Sky Rider, built by Elbit Systems and operated by the artillery corps, is the IDF’s smallest drone measuring in at seven and a half feet and operates on all fronts for tactical surveillance. It can be launched by one or two soldiers and can be operated on the roof of buildings or in the back of armored personnel carriers, providing live-video to operators once airborne. While it is considered an effective and popular drone, there have been several crashes since it was delivered to the ground forces in 2010. Tuesday’s crash is the latest in a series of crashes over the past several years and just last week another Sky Rider fell in the southern Gaza Strip and a week before another Sky Rider crashed near the West Bank city of Bethlehem before it was recovered by the IDF.