The Russian and Ukrainian women who left their lives behind to raise families in Gaza
[with photos] Haaretz 26 July by Liza Rozovsky — ‘Everything here is fine. The only thing I don’t like is that it’s impossible to leave,’ says Elena, one of hundreds of women from the former USSR who are married to Palestinians and are living in Gaza — …“I love him just like 24 years ago,” Lydia writes to me. “It’s personal, and I know that many people who are hostile to us call us ‘those dumb women,’ or worse, ‘mattresses for Arab men,’” she adds, which is why she doesn’t want the pictures to be published. “I’ve heard that more than once from your people. I’m a simple woman who loves her husband very much. He was never my enemy, and it doesn’t frighten me that he’s an Arab.” She continues, “There are no pure nations, they all intermixed long ago. My name from home is Romanovskaya, my grandmother was German. I am Russian according to my passport, but no one ever asked me about it, and I don’t care. What’s important is that I’m happy with my husband and my children. The only thing I want is for the occupation to end and the borders to be open, so we will be able to travel where we want.” Since 1997, Lydia, 43, an accountant by profession, and the mother of three children, has lived in the Gaza Strip with her husband, Ihab, a dentist who has his own clinic …
My phone conversation with Elena went on for a while. She says she loves Gaza. “I’ve gotten used to it, as far as I am concerned everything here is fine. The only thing I don’t like is that it’s impossible to leave [the Gaza Strip].” What about the electricity? “You can live without electricity. It used to be hard, now it’s alright. But I don’t want to return to Ukraine. There’s a war there, too, and I have children, I worry. There are those gangs there I am afraid that my boy would become a junkie, or start drinking. There, I simply would not be able to keep an eye on them. If it’s one child it’s possible, but not three. One of them for sure would find himself in bad company.” And in Gaza that can’t happen? “Here it’s possible to keep an eye on them. There, I would not be able to do that. I simply would not.”….
Israel builds pipeline to absorb sewage from Gaza
Ynet 27 July by Matan Tzuri — After the sewage treatment facility in Gaza was shut down due to the electricity crisis, and waste water started polluting Israeli groundwater, Israel decided to once again have a pipeline connect it with Gaza — after 12 years of disengagement — and help alleviate its wastewater problem. This week, the Israel Water Authority deployed a pipeline for the absorption of wastewater in the neighborhoods of northern Gaza, Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun. Israel invested NIS 40 million in the project. The pipeline is supposed to transport the sewage from the Gaza Strip to the sewage treatment plant in Sderot and the settlements of the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council, located in the area of Kibbutz Erez.
Over the last two weeks, following the collapse of water purification facilities in Gaza and the inability to repair them due to the electricity crisis, Palestinians in the northern neighborhoods of the Gaza Strip — Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia — began to drain sewage into Nahal Hanun, which crosses Israel and empties into the sea. As a result of the flow of wastewater, the stream was flooded, creating a large environmental hazard, which began to pollute groundwater from the coastal aquifer, from which Mekorot, a national water company, pumps drinking water. In the last few days, the Palestinians have increased the flow of the sewage, forcing Israel to construct a dam in Nahal Hanoun, east of Nativ HaAsara near the Gaza border. Initially, the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council had attempted to pump the sewage into trucks, but the amount of accumulated sewage rendered this option unfeasible. The closing of ground water pumping stations is an extreme step and serves to highlight the extreme humanitarian crisis currently underway in the Gaza Strip and its direct impact on Israel.
Gaza power-sharing deal moves ahead with parliament meeting
GAZA CITY (AP) 27 July by Fares Akram — Rival Palestinian lawmakers came together for the first time in a decade on Thursday in Gaza’s parliament, the latest sign that an emerging Gaza power-sharing deal between the territory’s Hamas rulers and a former Gaza strongman is moving forward. Mohammed Dahlan, a former Gaza security chief and Hamas rival, praised the new partnership, addressing the gathering by video conference from his exile in the United Arab Emirates. “We have made mutual efforts with our brothers in Hamas to restore hope for Gaza’s heroic people,” Dahlan told the lawmakers. The gathering included dozens of legislators from Hamas, several Dahlan backers from the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and independents. Fatah legislators loyal to Abbas stayed away from the meeting, underscoring the deepening rift in the movement. Dahlan fell out with Abbas in 2010. The legislature has been idled since Hamas routed pro-Abbas forces, then under Dahlan’s command, and took over Gaza in 2007. Over the past decade, only Hamas lawmakers met in parliament to pass resolutions concerning GazaIn an interview with The Associated Press over the weekend, Dahlan revealed that the power-sharing deal with Hamas aims at easing a crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade on Gaza, help resolve the acute power shortage and pay reparations for hundreds of families who lost members during Hamas-Fatah infighting….
Israeli forces invade Khan Younis, fire shells
IMEMC 25 July –Local sources reported that Israeli tanks fired shells Tuesday morning toward Palestinian farmland and grazing pastures for animals east of Qarara, in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip. The shells reportedly were fired from the Kissufim military base located southeast of Khan Younis. Israeli forces also entered the area with armored vehicles, according to local sources, and fired a number of rounds.
Israeli bulldozers level lands near northern Gaza border
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 July — Israeli military vehicles and bulldozers crossed the border into the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning, where they leveled lands in the “buffer zone” of northern Gaza. Witnesses told Ma‘an that five military vehicles and bulldozers leveled lands in the outskirts of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, about 50 meters inside the border fence separating the coastal enclave from Israel. They added that Israeli drones hovered over the area during the incursion. No gunfire was reported.
Israeli forces arrest Palestinian who tried to cross from Gaza into Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 July — Israeli army forces arrested a Palestinian man on Monday night, after the man allegedly “infiltrated” southern Israel. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that the man was apprehended “at the point of infiltration,” and that he was carrying a knife with him. The spokesperson said the man, whose identity remained unknown, was taken for questioning.
Gaza Power Watch: How many hours of electricity did Gaza get yesterday?
Haaretz 28 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? A daily tally since 9 July. 26.7.2017: Gaza City 11:00-15:00 Beit Lahia 15:00-19:00 Deir al-Balah 14:00-18:00 Khan Yunis 10:00-14:00 Rafah 6:00-10:00….
As temperatures soar, desperate Gazans try any means to beat heat
GAZA (Reuters) 27 July by Nidal al-Mughrabi — As Middle East summer temperatures soar above 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit), Gazans are struggling to stay cool amid a power crisis, with less than four hours of electricity a day and little chance to run fans and air-conditioners. The power crisis is affecting health and sanitation – because sewage treatment plants can’t run, raw sewage is pouring into the Mediterranean – and now the elderly and sick are desperately trying to handle the heat. Plastic trays and scraps of cardboard are doubling as hand-held fans. Precious piped water is hosed over children and work animals. Those trying to sleep have abandoned clammy mattresses, preferring the relative cool of bare tiled floors … A family excursion to the beach that might elsewhere have been a delight was, for Sabah Joudah, a forced decision, especially when having to put up with the sewage problems. “We came here to entertain the children, even though the sea is polluted,” she told Reuters as the dirty surf lapped close by. “It is summer and there is no electricity; no water and no fans are working in our homes. It is very tough, very tough.” Environment officials say disruptions at sewage treatment facilities have meant more than 100,000 liters of untreated wastewater is discharged along the coast daily. Around 75 percent of the seawater is polluted. Swimming there frequently leaves children with skin inflammations and abdominal complaints, parents say….
How Gaza was made into an unlivable place
Al Jazeera 24 July by Michael Lynk, UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian territories — What is it like to live in a place with a few hours of electricity a day and eight hours of water every four days? — Gaza and Tel Aviv lie only 75 kilometres apart from each other. They share the same sandy topography and the same intensely hot Levantine summers. But the similarities largely end there. Any recent satellite image taken at night over the eastern Mediterranean would show an incandescent blaze for Tel Aviv, and only wan pinpricks of light further down the shore in Gaza. Gaza is in the third month of an externally enforced reduction of its already meagre electrical power supply …
The background to the Gaza crisis The United Nations Country Team in the occupied Palestinian territory recently released an incisive report on Gaza (PDF), focusing on the humanitarian impact of Israel’s 10-year blockade and the internal political divisions among the Palestinians. Its findings are bleak: Gaza’s impoverishment is entirely the product of human decisions, and not the fate of nature. The year 2007 was ground zero for Gaza. In July of that year, Israel imposed its comprehensive blockade on the Strip, and declared it to be an “enemy entity”. Life before 2007 in Gaza was already very difficult, but now it has become harsh and unremitting. Gaza, which was once said to be the future “Singapore of the Middle East”, has become a metaphor for immiseration … The UN report reminds the world that Israel remains the occupying power in Gaza, as it controls its land, sea and air borders, even if it no longer has “boots on the ground.” Gaza’s traditional economic sectors are withering. Agriculture, forestry, fishing and manufacturing have all declined in economic size, and the principal source of growth, tragically, has come from the reconstruction of the neighbourhoods destroyed during the three conflicts with Israel over the past nine years…. INTERACTIVE: 24 Hours in Gaza [20 May 2015]
Palestinian photographer devotes decade to capturing life in Gaza
GAZA PORT, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 25 July by Amjad Yaghi — Photo: The ‘Mona Lisa of Gaza’… Hundreds of faces reflecting hope, sadness, a sense of loss or anger look back at those visiting photographer Fadi Thabet’s open exhibition at the Gaza Port, west of Gaza City. The 1,000 photos are the result of Thabet’s work that spans over a period of 10 years, during which he took pictures in different parts of the Gaza Strip. On July 12-13, the large exhibition, organized and funded by the Palestinian Ministry of Culture in Gaza, occupied 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) of wall space. Thabet, 38, chose to convey the aesthetic aspect of Gaza and its people through his photographic work, focusing on hope and life rather than the destruction and human suffering that usually is portrayed to the world. “I took it upon myself to photograph moments of happiness in Gaza and convey a message of love and peace from my city,” Thabet, the winner of the 2006 Arab Organization for Photography Award, the 2017 Hamdan Award and the 2016 Abdulrazzaq Badran Photography Award, told Al-Monitor….
For the first time ever. students from the West Bank meet Gaza students through UNRWA Summer Fun Weeks
UNRWA 24 July — On 14 July 2017, for the first time ever, 38 UNRWA students from the West Bank arrived in Gaza to participate in a week of activities with 40 of their peers from the coastal enclave. The Students’ Camping Activity is one of many initiatives being facilitated by UNRWA during the annual Summer Fun Weeks (SFWs) in Gaza. The SFWs are a month-long programme of summer activities that offer more than 186,000 Palestine refugee children with a safe space to exercise their right to play in 124 different locations across the Gaza Strip, helping them overcome the challenges of the ongoing blockade and find some respite from the difficult conditions of life in Gaza. “We tried to make this year’s Summer Fun Weeks more special for the participating students by bringing kids from the West Bank to Gaza as an important message that Palestine refugee children have the right to free movement,” explains Yousef Mousa, Head of the UNRWA Summer Fun Weeks in Gaza….
Opinion: in 2014, UN schools offered precious shelter for Gaza’s civilians. Then Israel bombed them / Marilyn Garson
Haaretz 26 July — Israel never denied knowing the UNRWA schools it struck three years ago were civilian shelters. I know they knew, because I compiled the lists of emergency shelters sent to them — A season of Israeli-Palestinian anniversaries will soon see seven more: the schools. During the 2014 war in Gaza, Israel’s armed forces struck seven UNRWA schools where Gazans sheltered beneath the UN flag. The subsequent UN Secretary-General’s Board of Inquiry found that “at least 44 Palestinians were killed as a result of Israeli actions and at least 227 were injured at United Nations premises being used as emergency shelters.” The report also noted that Palestinian militants stored weapons in three locked, empty schools, which were not being used as shelters. The IDF has offered a range of statements about the seven strikes on Gazan schools, but they have not denied knowing that the buildings were shelters. They knew. I reminded them regularly. As a member of UNRWA’s emergency response team in Gaza, I compiled the details of schools that became Designated Emergency Shelters for displaced Gazans. The lists, sent to the IDF co-ordinating offices, created no new obligation. The IDF was already obliged to comply with International Humanitarian Law, to distinguish between civilian and military objects, and exercise precautions each time it targeted and fired. No party can absolve itself of these obligations, which apply at all times in armed conflict. UNRWA’s shelter lists merely added specifics, in order to facilitate the IDF’s adherence to their existing obligations. The lists additionally assured the protection of clearly marked buildings, and the human beings who sought safety within them … With each list, I hoped to equip Israel’s better angels. Humanitarian law does that. It equalizes us, because we all have people to protect. As a Jew, I had people on both sides, facing grossly asymmetrical dangers. Blockade walls locked Gazan civilians into the battle. 293,000 of them were eventually shoehorned into UNRWA’s ninety bursting shelter schools. The dire conditions attested that people had nowhere else to go. The schools offered them a roof, a flag and a law. An IDF heat-seeking anti-tank missile hit a Deir al Balah shelter school on July 23. I thought for a deathly moment that the list must have designated the wrong building. But there was no error … Each school strike proved the futility of protection behind a blockade, and killed Gazans who were doing what they had been told to do. People in the shelters had, as ordered, abandoned their homes and everything they owned. Captive, they staked their lives on the law of a marked shelter. The school strikes betrayed them….
Ship from Sweden set to break siege on Gaza
MEMO 24 July — Ship to Gaza, a Swedish-registered NGO, has bought a new boat measuring nine metres in order to sail to Gaza and break the Israeli siege on the coastal enclave, Anadolu reported yesterday. Jeanette Escanilla, spokeswoman of the NGO, said that a fundraising campaign has been launched called “Armada For Gaza, armed with Peace and Solidarity” in Sweden to pay for the new ship and to buy others, which are going to sail to Gaza in 2018. Escanilla noted that the boat they already bought has been named after the prominent Irish activist Mairead Maguire from Northern Ireland, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976. Maguire took part in several voyages aimed at breaking the siege; she was on board the Mavi Marmara in 2010 when Israeli commandos boarded the ship and killed nine Turks. The Gaza Strip has been under a strict Israeli siege for 11 consecutive years backed by Egypt and the international community. Israel justifies the blockade by claiming it is part of efforts to fight Palestinian terrorism.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem / Israel
25-year-old Palestinian succumbs to wounds days after being shot in head by Israeli forces
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 July — 25-year-old Muhammad Kanaan succumbed to his wounds Thursday night, days after he was shot in the head by Israeli forces during clashes in his hometown of Hizma in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Kanaan had been in the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah in critical condition since he was shot on Monday. According to Ma‘an documentation, Kanaan was the fifth Palestinian to have been shot and killed by Israelis in the past two weeks, all during clashes with Israeli forces that had erupted across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in response to Israeli security measures at the 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….
Umm al-Fahm buries 3 al-Aqsa assailants after Israel releases bodies
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 27 July — Palestinian citizens of Israel buried three residents of the town of Umm al-Fahm, who were killed while carrying out a deadly shooting attack on July 14, on Wednesday night after Israeli authorities decided to return their bodies to their families. Muhammad Ahmad Muhammad Jabarin, 29, Muhammad Hamid Abd al-Latif Jabarin, 19, and Muhammad Ahmad Mufdal Jabarin, 19, were killed by Israeli forces after shooting and killing two Israeli border policemen at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem. The event triggered an unprecedented Israeli security crackdown at Al-Aqsa, sparking nearly two weeks of escalating unrest during which seven Palestinians and three Israelis were killed.
The Israeli Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday to release the Jabarins’ bodies, in what was seen as a possibly precedent-setting case. Thousands of Umm al-Fahm residents gathered in front of the Jabarins’ family homes for a funeral procession after Israeli authorities returned the bodies around midnight. Thousands performed funeral prayers at the al-Faruq mosque in Umm al-Fahm, before burying the three young men in the al-Malsaa neighborhood cemetery. The court had agreed to release the three bodies while stating that Israeli police could set conditions regarding how many people were allowed to attend the funerals and at what time they could be held. Legal NGO Adalah had reported on Tuesday that Israeli police was ready to return the bodies under specific conditions, including a 75,000-shekel ($20,996) fine to be paid by the families of the three suspects, a complete media ban, barring Knesset members and other public figures from attending, and a restricted number of total attendees. However, it remained unclear as of Thursday morning which of these conditions had finally been imposed….
Israeli police turn East Jerusalem hospital into battlefield amid hunt for dying Palestinian
Haaretz 27 July by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — A ‘barbaric’ Israeli police raid on Makassed Hospital could have ended in a massacre, director says — Through the window of his office, Dr. Rafiq Husseini has a view of the courtyard of the hospital he directs, the stone wall that surrounds it and the pine grove on the other side. The wall is still speckled with bloodstains, now turned brown. This is the blood of Mohammed Abu Ghannam, 22, who was shot and killed by Israeli security forces during the rioting over the Temple Mount last Friday. Why is his blood smeared on the wall? Because friends of the dead young man rushed to smuggle his body out of the hospital, just minutes after he died in the corridor, to elude the unbelievable hunt for the cadaver conducted by the Border Police and the Jerusalem District’s men in blue. The body, wrapped in a bloodstained sheet, swayed from side to side as the group ran with it and passed it over the wall, which is several meters high. For a moment it seemed that the body was about to slide out from under the sheet, but in the end it reached the other side safely. From there it was carried to a nearby monastery and then, swiftly, was transported in a private car to the cemetery of the A-Tur neighborhood – “our village,” as residents call it – on the Mount of Olives. On the way, the car carrying the body was stopped by police at an intersection, but it was permitted to proceed on condition that no more than seven people be present at the burial. In the end, hundreds defied the police to accompany Abu Ghannam on his final journey, though the funeral was conducted hastily and not in accordance with the tradition of first going to the home of the deceased and then to the mosque – all because of the policy of pandering in human bodies that’s being pursued by Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, hero of the Temple Mount disturbances…
Husseini arrived at his office, on what should have been his day of rest, at about 3:30 P.M., when it was clear that dozens had already been wounded. Upon his arrival he was told that Border Police troops were present and making their way to the operating rooms. Three were in the one Husseini entered – their very presence a violation of the rules of operating-theater hygiene. They were looking for Mohammed Abu Ghannam. He wasn’t there, so the police ordered Husseini to take them to the morgue – without saying whom they were after, Husseini says now … As he left the operating suite, Husseini saw dozens more Border Police personnel in the corridors. He estimates their number at about 50, though the hospital security guards we spoke with later think there were even more. In any event, the force moved in the direction of the morgue. On the way they passed the blood bank, where they told the dozens of people who were waiting to give blood to leave the premises immediately. The video footage shows one donor departing with a needle still stuck on his arm. “It turned into a madhouse,” Hussein recalls….
Even in death, Palestinians have to fight for their freedom
+972 mag 25 July by Rami Younis — …What should really keep Israelis up at night, possibly more than anything else, is the question of why Palestinian youths had to smuggle out of an East Jerusalem hospital the corpse of their friend who was shot dead by Israeli police hours earlier. Police raided Al-Makassed hospital in East Jerusalem last Friday to seize the corpses of youths who were shot during confrontations over Al-Aqsa. Over the past few years Israel has turned Palestinian corpses into morbid negotiation cards. Since the raid was not really covered by the Israeli media, authorities didn’t even bother to invent some story about there being contraband or ISIS weapons of mass destruction in the hospital. Nobody even bothered to ask for an explanation. The heroic officers besieged the hospital using stun grenades. Stun grenades. In a hospital. Take a moment to digest that. They wrested control from the fierce enemy, nurses and doctors, and even managed to obstruct their work, as attested to by MK Ayman Odeh, who was there. And all for one purpose: to abduct the corpses of two children. The photos of friends and family of Muhammad Sharf (17) and Muhammad Abu Ghannam (20) passing the bleeding corpses of their loved ones over the hospital walls to bury them quickly, even if that meant preventing mothers from having one final farewell to their children, should tear into pieces the heart of anyone with a conscience. Seeing these pictures, of family and friends willing to do anything to prevent continued humiliation and indignity even after death, should touch everyone’s heart. This is what the occupation does to Palestinians, and perhaps through this scene, is it possible to show Israelis and the world what that means on the most human level. There are very few things more sacrilegious than attacking a hospital, obstructing a medical staff buckling under the weight of hundreds of wounded patients, and all for the purpose of taking corpses for use as negotiation cards, tormenting the families of the slain in the process. When Palestinians, all Palestinians, see these pictures, they understand exactly what type of adversary they are up against….
Amnesty: Israeli forces carry out violent hospital raids in ruthless display of force
Amnesty International 25 July — Israeli soldiers and police stormed a Palestinian hospital twice over the past week terrifying staff and patients and in some cases preventing doctors from providing emergency medical care to critically injured patients, said Amnesty International today … Eyewitnesses at al-Makassed hospital described scenes of “absolute mayhem” as armed Israeli soldiers and police stormed the premises on 17 and 21 July apparently in pursuit of critically injured patients … Dr Bassam Abu Libdeh, al-Makassed Medical Director, said that since the protests and ensuing clashes broke out, the hospital had received a stream of patients suffering from tear gas inhalation, beatings or who had been injured by rubber bullets. He described how on 17 July soldiers had chased a 19-year-old young man [Alaa Abu Tayih] from Silwan, who had been shot in the thigh wounding an artery and was bleeding severely, through the hospital like “hungry dogs after their prey”. “They had long weapons and stun grenades and aggressively pushed and shoved through. They chased the injured youth, who’d been brought into the operating room, when a few of us doctors intervened to stop them… Others then began to roam the hospital and to harass anyone they found, staff, nurses, doctors, patients. There are kids in the hospital, old people. This is not acceptable…Why did they want to arrest the kid? He was bleeding to death and in critical shape, he wasn’t going anywhere,” he said.
Speaking about the second raid, the hospital’s head of reception, Talal al-Sayed, who has worked there for 10 years said the staff have become accustomed to raids by Israeli forces over the years but that the events of 21 July were “above and beyond what we’ve ever seen”. He described how, around 200 heavily armed soldiers surrounded the hospital and entered forcefully, arresting people in their path and using tear gas. They were pursuing a young man with a major chest wound in critical condition and followed him all the way to the operating theatre. “They invaded the entire hospital…They even entered the neonatal unit… What do they want in there? It was pure terrorization of the patients,” he said, describing how soldiers shoved and hit a doctor who was trying to care for the injured young man in the operating room. The young man, Mohammad Abu Ghannam, died of his wounds during the scuffle….
Family of Petah Tikva stabbing victim still in shock
[with photos, video] Ynet 25 July by Hassan Shalaan — The Abu Halal family from ‘Ar‘ara [Israel] is still surprised by the stabbing of their son, an Egged bus driver, Monday in a Petah Tikva terrorist attack at a local shawarma restaurant he frequented. The 35-year-old driver was wounded moderately-to-severely after being stabbed in the torso and neck by a 21-year-old Palestinian from Qalqilya [who apparently mistook him for a Jew]. The victim was rushed to Rabin Medical Center where he underwent emergency surgery. Adel Afaneh, a relative of the victim, told Ynet, “He was completely surprised by the attack. He works hard to support his family and take care of them. We spoke with him and we still haven’t digested what happened. He still hasn’t recovered.” Afaneh added, “We are against terrorism everywhere, such a case can harm any person, Arab or Jew, not only Jews. I hope that such events will not happen again, because we all want to live quietly without any danger to our lives.” Another resident of ‘Ar‘ara told Ynet that he believes “what happened was because of what is happening at the Al Aqsa Mosque. It is time to remove the metal detectors—otherwise more terror attacks could happen everywhere. The police are the ones endangering the lives of the citizens because of their stupid decision to harm the Muslim faith and worshipers. “The atmosphere is very tense … Upon his arrest, the terrorist told police he “did it for Al Aqsa.” He had previously been incarcerated for a separate nationalistic crime from 2015-2016….
Army abducts a Palestinian near Jenin, attacks family of slain Palestinian in Hebron
IMEMC 28 July — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Friday at dawn, a young Palestinian man in ‘Aneen village, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and attacked the family of a slain Palestinian in Hebron, in southern West Bank. Media sources in Jenin said the soldiers invaded ‘Aneen village, before searching homes, and abducted a young man, identified as Abdul-Karim Mustafa Ghazeel, 19.
In Hebron, the soldiers invaded Qeizoon area, in Hebron city, and broke into the family home of Basel Seder [Basil Bassam Ragheb Sidr], who was killed on October 14, 2015, in occupied East Jerusalem, in addition to invading his grandfather’s home and homes belonging to his relatives. The soldiers forced the families (approximately 30 persons) out of their homes, and rounded them in one home, before searching and ransacking their properties.
Palestinian journalists injured covering West Bank protests
BEIRUT (Committee to Protect Journalists) 25 July — Israeli authorities should independently and credibly investigate reports that Israeli security forces injured journalists covering protests in the West Bank last weekend, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. At least six Palestinian journalists were injured while covering protests in East Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron on July 20 and 21, according to news reports and the journalists’ employers. Protests erupted in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the evening of July 20 over Israeli security forces’ installation of metal detectors and turnstiles at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in Jerusalem, news reports said. At least three people have been killed in the protests. At least two other journalists were targeted by Israeli security officials on July 18. “Journalists should be able to cover demonstrations and other events of significant public interest without fear of being attacked by the authorities,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said from Washington D.C. “We call on Israeli officials to hold to account any security personnel who commit violence against journalists.” Carsten Seibold, head of Reuters TV for Israel and the Palestinian Territories, told CPJ that Reuters cameraman Sinan Abu Maizer was filming clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces around Lion’s Gate in Jerusalem on the evening of July 20 when an Israeli border police officer hit him with a baton on his head, Seibold said. The journalist was treated at a nearby hospital for a concussion and an open wound, Seibold told CPJ….
One night’s West Bank raids and detentions
Israeli forces detain 17 in overnight West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 July — Israeli forces detained at least 17 Palestinians during overnight raids across the occupied West Bank between Wednesday and Thursday, Israeli and Palestinian sources told Ma‘an.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that four Palestinians were detained in the Nablus district in the northern West Bank — three in the village of Qaryut, and one in the village of Salim.
In the district of Qalqiliya, the army spokesperson said Israeli forces detained one Palestinian in Qalqiliya city, and another in the village of Kafr Qaddum. Relatives identified the Palestinian detained in Kafr Qaddum as 20-year-old Asef Hikmat Ali, adding that Israeli soldiers brutally raided the family’s home at around 2:30 a.m., before taking Ali to an unknown location.
In the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, Israeli soldiers detained one Palestinian in the city of al-Bireh, and another in the village of Abu Shukheidim, the army spokesperson said. The spokesperson added that two Palestinians were detained in Bethlehem city.
In the southern West Bank district of Hebron, locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces detained five Palestinians, identified as Khalid Ali Tbeish, 30, Ahmad Ishaq Abu Hashhash, 32, Mahmoud Abd al-Halim al-Talahmeh, 25, Nawwaf Ahmad al-Jiawi, 47, and Waad al-Haq Arafat al-Hidmi, 25, during raids in the villages of Dura, Idhna, and Surif. During the raid to detain al-Hidmi, Israeli forces reportedly confiscated the Palestinian’s vehicle, and took 7,000 shekels ($1,970) from his home. Meanwhile, local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awwad said that Israeli forces raided the village of Beit Ummar and detained Riyad Khdeir Marshud Sabarneh, 40, and Hammad Ahmad Hammad Abu Maria, 25.
Awwad said that Abu Maria was a former prisoner who had just been released on Sunday. He added that Israeli forces also delivered a summon to former prisoner Mahmoud Yasser Muhammad Brighith, 25, who was released from Israeli custody 10 days ago after having spent three years in prison.
The Israeli army spokesperson listed seven detentions in the Hebron district — two in Beit Ummar, two in Dura, one in Surif, one in Sair, and one in Khirbet Raqa‘.
Israel imposes new restrictions on Al-Aqsa as anticipation of widespread clashes grows
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 28 July — Hours after thousands of Palestinians entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem, after a near two-week long boycott of Israeli security measures imposed at the site, Israeli forces imposed a new series of sweeping restrictions on the compound Friday morning. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that only men above the age of 50 would be allowed into the compound, while no restrictions would be placed on women. Hebrew-language media reported that the restrictions were ordered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli forces remained heavily deployed across the compound and inside the Old City of Jerusalem, as well as in “seam zones” across the occupied West Bank in anticipation of heavy clashes following Friday prayers. Al-Samri said that forces were deployed “upon receiving information that some extremist sides are planning to disrupt order, harming public security,” adding that Israeli forces are also deployed on all roads leading to Al-Aqsa. Al-Samri also added that Sultan Suleiman Street and the area around the Old City would be closed off to vehicles on Friday.
Israeli forces had raided Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, Thursday evening following sunset Maghrib prayers, and detained some 100 worshipers from inside the mosque, while firing rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas at the crowds in the compound, causing dozens of injuries. An estimated 30,000 Palestinians performed prayers inside Al-Aqsa Mosque Thursday evening after all gates of the holy site were reopened — though the Remission Gate (Bab al-Hutta) and King Faisal Gate were closed again shortly after clashes began. The clashes came just hours after Israeli forces reopened all the gates to the compound on Thursday afternoon, in what was celebrated as a victory by Palestinian Jerusalemites who had been participating in a 13-day long civil disobedience campaign against Israeli-imposed security measures at the holy site.
Israeli forces attack peaceful crowds at Jerusalem holy site
Amnesty International 27 July — Israeli forces attacked peaceful crowds of Palestinians as they gathered at al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem this afternoon [Thursday?] for the first time since Israel lifted recent security measures imposed at the site, according to Amnesty International staff at the scene. “Israeli forces started firing stun grenades, tear gas and sponge-tipped bullets into a peaceful crowd as they stood at the entrance of the al-Aqsa mosque compound and inside. It appeared to be an entirely unprovoked attack. Some Palestinians threw empty water bottles in return. Others began to throw stones as well,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International. “Using unnecessary and excessive force to disperse a peaceful gathering is a flagrant violation of Israel’s obligation to uphold the rights of Palestinians to peaceful assembly”
Palestinian journalists, medics, and 10-year-old girl injured in Al-Aqsa clashes
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 26 July — Israeli forces injured scores of Palestinians, including medics, journalists, and a 10-year-old girl on Tuesday night, as ongoing demonstrations against new Israeli security measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque were again brutally suppressed. The violent clashes came hours after Israeli authorities removed metal detectors that were installed at the mosque’s gates last week — which in part led to the boycott of the mosque — only to replace them with more advanced surveillance technology at the holy site and throughout the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinians have maintained their objection to all new security measures, and are demanding that the situation return to how it was before July 14, when a deadly shootout at the compound provided an excuse for Israel to further impose its control over Al-Aqsa in contravention of long-standing agreements, under which the Jordanian, Palestinian-led Islamic Endowment (Waqf) administers the site. Israeli forces attacked Palestinians who were performing the ishaa night-time prayer inside and outside the walls of the Old City as part of the ongoing civil disobedience movement, that has so far left four Palestinian demonstrators killed and more than 1,000 injured.Israeli soldiers chased thousands of peaceful worshipers, including women, children, and the elderly, haphazardly firing stun grenades and tear gas at the crowds … The Palestinian Red Crescent said its medics provided treatment to the wounded, including three who were evacuated to the nearby al-Makassed Hospital, one of whom was shot in the head with a rubber-coated steel bullet, another who was hit in the head with a stun grenade, and a 10-year-old girl that was injured in the head and hand with a stun grenade….
WATCH: Israeli police arrest, rough up Activestills photojournalist
+972 mag 26 July by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man & Oren Ziv — Journalists were standing off to the side of a mass prayer action that devolved into light clashes when police charged at them, singling out Faiz Abu Rmeleh, later beating and harassing him, he says — Israeli police roughed up and detained Activestills photojournalist Faiz Abu Rmeleh Tuesday night while he was covering a mass prayer at the Lions’ Gate of the Old City in Jerusalem. The incident is one of many in recent days in which Israeli, Palestinian and foreign press have accused police of restricting their access and in some cases assaulting them. Police accused Abu Rmeleh of attacking them and held him until 4 a.m., eventually releasing him with a 15-day restraining order from Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Lions’ Gate, and the Old City of Jerusalem, despite the fact that he lives in the Old City. Multiple witnesses and Abu Rmeleh himself reject the accusation that he acted in any way violently toward officers. He has not been charged….
Palestinian Christians, Muslims come together over Al-Aqsa protests
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 27 July by Ahmed al-Komi — Video footage showing Nidal Aboud, a young Palestinian Christian man, reading his Bible amid a crowd of Muslims performing Friday prayers July 21 in front of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem created a buzz on social media. Palestinian activists saw the video as an example of coexistence between Muslims and Christians in Jerusalem and an expression of a shared fate against Israeli measures in the city … Aboud, 24, from Mount Olivet in Jerusalem, seen praying among thousands of Muslims, told Al-Monitor that he participated in the sit-in in front of Al-Aqsa Mosque as an act of patriotism. He said, “A day before the sit-in, I saw on TV an elderly Palestinian in a wheelchair crying because he was not allowed to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque. I was deeply touched and felt I must act out to end this. This is why I decided to take part in the sit-in in front of Al-Aqsa Mosque and took my cross and Bible with me. I was there at 8 a.m. the next day in front of one of the mosque’s entrances.” Aboud noted that Israeli soldiers at the entrances of Al-Aqsa Mosque prevented him and a number of elderly Palestinians from entering the mosque and fired tear gas at them, describing the scene as “devoid of humanity and appalling.” “Because I am a Palestinian national it is my right to defend all of my country’s religious sanctities,” he said….
Thousands in Gaza march against Israeli actions at al-Aqsa
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 July — Thousands of Palestinians protested in Gaza City on Tuesday in solidarity with Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem against Israeli actions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, and Israeli forces’ violent suppression of Palestinian protesters that have left four killed and over 1,000 injured in clashes over the past 11 days. A march, called for by the Palestinian Youth Movement, set off from central Gaza City towards the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (IRC). Spokesperson of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Luay al-Qarnuti spoke at the march, saying “the Judaization of the Al-Aqsa Mosque is an organized plan to take control over the mosque and work on its spatial and temporal division.”Al-Qarnuti called upon representatives of all Palestinian factions and the Palestinian people to “continue to resist in solidarity with Al-Aqsa Mosque, and to hold on to the battle against the Israeli project of controlling all that is Palestinian.”
Timeline: Al-Aqsa Mosque
Al Jazeera 27 July by Dalia Hatuqa & Mohsin Ali — A review of the critical events that have marked the history of al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
Closures / Restriction of movement / Takeovers
Al-Haq: Palestinian shopkeepers suffer as famous Old City souq remains closed
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 July — Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq released a statement on Tuesday expressing concern over the fact that the majority of the 54 shops inside a historic souq in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem have remained closed ever since Israeli forces began to impose strict closures and punitive measures on the city almost two weeks ago. In the wake of a deadly shootout at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on July 14, Israeli forces installed metal detectors — which have since been taken down, only to be replaced by more advanced security systems — inside the holy site, sparking a widespread civil disobedience campaign among local Palestinians, who have been met with violent repression at the hands of Israeli forces. Following the shooting, which left three Palestinians and two Israeli police officers dead, Israeli forces imposed a closure on the Old City and the holy site for nearly three days. When the closure was lifted, however, only three of the eight entrances leading to Al-Aqsa were reopened to worshipers. The entrance to the al-Qatanin Souq, a street that leads straight into the Al-Aqsa compound, is one of the streets that has remained closed with an Israeli checkpoint at its entrance, according to al-Haq. As a result, a source of constant traffic and local customers of the souq has disappeared, while the armed presence of Israeli forces at the souq’s entrance has “served to intimidate tourists and locals from entry,” al-Haq said.
Israeli forces install iron gate at an entrance of Bethlehem-area town
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 July — Israeli forces installed an iron gate at an entrance of the village of Janata on Thursday, southeast of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces installed a large iron gate at the eastern entrance of Janata, without providing any reason for the measure. Local activists said that the installation of the gate “aims to restrict the life of Palestinians by closing the gate at any time Israel wants to.”
Israeli forces close checkpoint southwest of Jenin
JENIN (WAFA) 28 July – Israeli forces Friday continued to close Mavo Dotan military checkpoint, located to the southwest of Jenin in the northern West Bank for six days in a row, said a local source. Mayor of Ya‘bad Samer Abu Baker said Israeli forces continued to close the checkpoint from 9:00 pm to 4:00 am, obstructing the movement of thousands of Palestinian merchants and workers between Ya‘bad and Jenin and Tulkarem districts. He added Israeli forces also closed alternative dirt roads with earth mounds and concrete blocks and chased Palestinians who attempt to take these roads, further restricting their movement.
Army renews orders occupying a Palestinian home near Qalquilia
IMEMC 27 July — The Israeli army decided, Thursday, to keep the soldiers who occupied a Palestinian home four weeks ago in ‘Azzoun town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, in the property until next Wednesday. The property is owned by Mohammad Rasem Hussein, in the northeastern part of the town; it has been occupied by the soldiers, who turned it into a military post and a monitoring tower, since the beginning of this month, after they forced Hussein and his family out. Mohammad was supposed to retrieve his property this morning, but when he went there, the soldiers handed him a new military order, issued on Wednesday evening, extending the illegal takeover of his home until next Wednesday.
Israel to destroy remains of previously demolished Palestinian attacker’s home
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 26 July — Israeli forces on Wednesday delivered a demolition notice for the home of Khalid Makhamreh, who along with his cousin Muhammad, carried out a deadly shooting attack in Tel Aviv in June 2016 that left four Israelis dead. Both Khalid and Muhammad’s homes, located in the village of Yatta in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, had been demolished in August, though one floor of the two-story house belonging to Khalid’s family was apparently left intact. On Wednesday, Israeli forces delivered a demolition notice to Khalid’s family, saying that the remaining floor of the house would be demolished because the family had allegedly been using it. The notice stated that the family had 72 hours to evacuate the house.
IPS releases Shirin Issawi from solitary confinement after 36 days
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 July — The Israel Prison Service (IPS) has ended the solitary confinement of Palestinian lawyer Shirin Issawi and will transfer her from Jalama to HaSharon prison next week, according to a statement on Thursday from the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs. A lawyer of the committee, Yamin Zidan, who had previously filed an appeal against Issawi’s solitary confinement, noted that she was held in solitary for more than a month, since June 22. Issawi, who was detained in March 2014, was sentenced to four years in prison last year alongside her brother Medhat for allegedly being in contact with, and providing funds to, Palestinian prisoners. Committee lawyer Hanan al-Khatib told Ma‘an earlier this month that Issawi was put in solitary confinement after she reportedly confronted IPS officials carrying out a raid in Damon prison.
Al-Khatib said that the IPS forces violently assaulted Issawi during the Damon raid, leaving her bleeding and with bruises, before transferring her and three other prisoners to solitary confinement. Issawi told al-Khatib that following the violent Damon raid, she had been fined 700 shekels ($198), banned from family visitations and purchasing from the prison commissary for a month, and sentenced to seven days in solitary confinement, while all the other Palestinians detained in Damon had been barred access to the prison yard for three days. Issawi described the imprisonment conditions in Jalama as terrible, telling al-Khatib that three surveillance cameras were installed in her dirty cell, invading her privacy at all times, while the cell’s window was obscured with plastic sheeting, and prison guards shouted racist epithets at the prisoners. Shirin Issawi, who is also the sister of prominent prisoner Samer Issawi, threatened to launch a hunger strike should Israel continue to hold her in solitary confinement….
Israel releases mother of Halamish attacker Omar al-Abed after 3 days in jail
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 July — Ibtisam al-Abed, the mother of 19-year-old Omar al-Abed — who last week killed three Israeli settlers in a stabbing attack in an illegal Israeli settlement — was released from Israeli custody on Thursday after three days of detention. Yamin Zidan, a lawyer of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, said in a statement Thursday that al-Abed, who was detained during a predawn raid on her home in the Ramallah-area village of Kobar in the predawn hours of Tuesday, was released on a bail of 10,000 shekels ($2,812). At the time of her detention, locals in Kobar told Ma‘an that Israeli forces seized 6,000 shekels ($1,679) from the family’s home, which is set to be punitively demolished by Israeli forces. The Times of Israel reported that she was detained for “aggravated incitement” over a video in which she allegedly praises her son’s actions, saying she was proud of him and hoped for his release from prison. Since the attack, Israeli forces have carried out a series of punitive measures against al-Abed’s family and the residents of Kobar, raiding the local health clinic, and imposing a military closure on the village, preventing residents from entering or leaving the village….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israeli settlers raid Palestinian house, move in furniture despite court ruling
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 26 July — A day after raiding a Palestinian home in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, settlers began moving furniture into the house on Wednesday, in spite of an Israeli court ruling stating that they were not allowed inside the building. 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. On Tuesday, settlers escorted by Israeli soldiers had raided the building in an attempt to take it over. Hazem Abu Rajab al-Tamimi, a resident of the house, told Ma‘an that Israeli settlers attempted again to raid the house on Wednesday morning but were thwarted by the Abu Rajab family. However, the settlers later took over the second and third floors of the building, in addition to raiding the first floor, where the Palestinian family lives.
Al-Tamimi said that Israeli soldiers threatened to detain him and his brothers when they tried to protect their home, as a video [below] shared by NGO Human Rights Defenders showed soldiers manhandling Abu Rajab family members as scores of young Israeli settlers looked on, jeering. A Ma‘an reporter on the scene saw Israeli settlers moving furniture and belongings inside the house under armed protection by Israeli forces, who were deployed around the house, adding that the home had reportedly been turned into a closed military zone.
Hundreds of Bedouin protest demolitions in Israel’s Negev desert
Haaretz 28 July by Almog Ben Zikri — Hundreds protested in front of the offices of the Bedouin Development Agency in Be’er Sheva on Thursday, calling for the authority’s closure and an end to the policy of demolishing buildings in Bedouin communities in the Negev. The protesters called for the recognition of unauthorized Bedouin communities and called home demolitions “a crime against citizens.” Relations between the authority and Bedouin residents have grown increasingly tense over issues such as the forestation of areas the Bedouin claim ownership of, and the failed negotiations over the status of lands in the town of Bir Hadaj. Negotiations to legalize Bir Hadaj, officially recognized as a town in 2003, have been deadlocked; the Bedouin town has some 2,000 residents. A few months ago, Bedouin Development Authority Director Yair Maayan said the families who arrived in Bir Hadaj in the 1990s had been offered 5-dunam (1.25 acre) plots of land, while those who arrived later were offered plots half the size. However, Maayan subsequently said the offer was no longer on the table because residents had not responded to it. The state has also begun reforestation north of the Bedouin town of Tel Sheva, just outside of Be’er Sheva – which the Bedouin say is their property. The state is reportedly planting forests in a number of locations around the Negev in order to prevent illegal Bedouin communities from taking over the land …
Negotiations between the residents of Umm al-Hiran and the authority also failed in January, leading to an incident in which police officers who came to the town to protect forces carrying out demolitions ended up fatally shooting a local resident, Yakub Abu al-Kiyan. After he was shot while driving, Kiyan’s car ran over and killed a police officer, Sgt. Erez Levi. The demolition policy has gathered speed in recent years. Data from the Public Security Ministry shows that about 1,000 illegal structures are demolished every year, many of them just tin shacks….
Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (21-26 July 2017)
PCHR-Gaza 27 July — Israeli forces killed 4 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, in the West Bank. A child was killed after a suspicious object from the Israeli forces’ remnants exploded in Tubas. 259 Palestinian civilians, including 8 children and 2 paramedics, were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. 221 civilians were wounded in Jerusalem and its suburbs, 19 were wounded in the West Bank and 19 others were wounded in the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces continued to target the Gaza Strip border areas with no casualties reported. A checkpoint belonging to the Palestinian armed groups in the central Gaza Strip, causing material damages to the checkpoint and a nearby house. Israeli forces conducted 81 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 3 limited ones in the Gaza Strip. 128 civilians, including 14 children and 4 women, were arrested. 51 of them, including 5 children and a woman, were arrested in Jerusalem. Among those arrested was a Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Member and Former Finance Minister, Dr. ‘Omer ‘Abdel Razeq. Israeli forces continued efforts to create a Jewish majority in occupied Palestinian Jerusalem. Israeli forces continue to escalate their arbitrary measures against al-Aqsa Mosque. Israeli forces continued to target the Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. Israeli forces turned the West Bank into cantons and continued to impose the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip for the 10th year. Dozens of temporary checkpoints were established in the West Bank and others were re-established to obstruct the movement of Palestinian civilians. 11 civilians, including a child and girl, were arrested at military checkpoints in the West Bank. Among those arrested were writer Sa’id Media and activist ‘Abdullah Abu Rahmah. [Details follow]
Amid Al-Aqsa crisis, bill preventing division of Jerusalem passes first Knesset reading
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 July — As Palestinians celebrated the removal of Israeli security measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem, a bill seeking to prevent the division of Jerusalem under a possible future two-state solution passed its first reading in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, on Wednesday night. The bill, which would require that two-thirds of Israel’s 120 parliamentarians approve any decision to cede Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem, passed the reading with 51 votes in favor and 42 against, according to a statement released by the Knesset on Thursday. Bills need to pass three readings in the Knesset before they become law. The bill, titled “Basic Law: Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel” — also known as the “United Jerusalem” bill — stands as a suggested amendment to the Basic Law, Israel’s equivalent of a constitution. The proposed legislation would make it significantly harder to reach any potential agreement on a two-state solution, as negotiations have so far all proposed the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel with East Jerusalem as its capital….
King Abdullah demands Israel put embassy guard on trial
JORDAN (Al Jazeera) 28 July — Jordan’s King Abdullah has asked Benjamin Netanyahu to put an Israeli embassy guard who on Sunday shot and killed two Jordanian citizens, on trial. Jordan wants to question the guard but he has since returned to Israel, welcomed with an embrace by the Israeli prime minister. Jordan’s public prosecutor’s initial investigation has found the Israeli guard responsible for the killings and of possession of a firearm without a licence. Israel brought the guard home under diplomatic immunity on Monday. On Thursday in his first public comments on the case, Abdullah criticised Netanyahu for embracing the guard, calling it provocative and destabilising. There are different versions of how the Jordanians were killed.
Conflicting versions The Israeli foreign ministry says the guard was stabbed by 17-year-old Mohammed al-Jawawdeh, who was at an embassy residence delivering furniture. The official Jordanian government version of events is similar: It says Jawawdeh attacked the Israeli guard, who shot and killed him and the landlord of the residence, Bashar Hamarneh. The guard’s version of events, as communicated by the Israelis, suggested that he was defending himself when Jawawdeh attempted to stab him with a screwdriver in a row over a late delivery of furniture. Initially, the Jordanian government gave conflicting statements about the incident, describing it at one time as a “crime” against Jordanian citizens and then supported the Israeli version of events by saying that the embassy guard had acted in “self-defence.” … However, Jawawdeh’s family rejects the claim that attacked the guard.
‘Killed in cold blood’ Denying that the Jawawdeh family was knowingly doing business with the Israeli embassy in Amman, a family member told Al Jazeera: “Our family would never deal with the Zionist occupiers; they killed our son in cold blood on Jordanian soil.” Jawawdeh’s father, Zakariya, told AFP news agency that he wanted “the truth”, urging authorities to view CCTV footage from security cameras at the embassy. “My son has no interest in politics. He does not follow any extremist ideology,” he said. “I want to know how the investigation is going and know what happened, and what led to the killing of my son.” The Jawawdeh family has hired a lawyer to follow up the case with the Jordanian government. Family members said officials from the Jordanian government, including the prime minister and officers from the General Intelligence Department, have visited the family to pay their respects.
The missing witness Adding to the confusion and conflicting accounts has been the disappearance of a key witness who was present at the apartment where the shooting took place. Maher Faris Ibrahimi, the truck driver who delivered furniture to the apartment, witnessed the shooting, according to his family. After the shooting, Ibrahimi was questioned by the Jordanian police and remained in custody until he was released on Wednesday. Ibrahimi’s family members told Al Jazeera that he was told by the police not to stay at his house, to shut off his mobile phone and not talk to anyone about the incident….
Video: EU ruling to keep Hamas on terrorism blacklist ‘outrageous’
Al Jazeera 27 July — The highest court in the European Union has ruled that Hamas should remain on the EU’s terrorism blacklist. The decision by the European Court of Justice overturns a ruling from three years ago. A lower court then said the EU relied on media reports rather than its own investigations to keep the Palestinian group, which has controlled Gaza for the past 10 years and fought three wars with Israel, on the list. In an interview with Al Jazeera, Ahmed Yousef, a Hamas spokesman, explained why his group believes the EU ruling is “outrageous”.
Can Muslim politicians survive in today’s USA?
NEW YORK CITY (Al Jazeera) 25 July by James Reini — US voters seem to fail to see past the faith of Muslim American politicians, regardless of candidates’ background — Deedra Abboud, a Muslim American Democrat who is running for an Arizona Senate seat next year, stirred a hornets’ nest in early July. The headscarf-wearing politician wrote on her Facebook page about the separation of church and state, spurring a barrage of criticism. “Get out stinking Muslim,” read one post on her page. Her Republican rival, Senator Jeff Flake, and others, came to Abboud’s defence. But many of the online trolls could not get past the headscarf to see that blue-eyed Abboud was a convert who was born and raised in Arkansas. “I went in with my eyes wide open. I knew exactly what would happen and what would come out of the woodwork,” Abboud, 45, told Al Jazeera. In a toxic political climate that teaches people to “demonise our fellow Americans”, voters are more focused on Abboud’s faith than on her policies for defending gays, immigrants and the right to have an abortion, she said. Abboud has only a slim chance of winning in a traditionally red state that helped Donald Trump become president. The attack on her was just the latest example of the uphill struggle Muslims face at the ballot box. “I track about 30 or 40 Muslim candidates in the US and every one of them is subject to such attacks,” Abdulkader Sinno, an Indiana University scholar and editor of the book Muslims in Western Politics, told Al Jazeera. After winning a seat in Minnesota’s state legislature, Somali-born representative Ilhan Omar revealed how she endured “derogatory, Islamophobic, sexist taunts and threats” from a taxi driver in Washington, DC in December. The most prominent Muslim American politician, Keith Ellison, a Minnesota congressman and deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has repeatedly faced allegations of being an anti-Semitic religious hard-liner….