Prisoners / Court actions
Family of Palestinian who killed three Israelis to be charged for not preventing him
Haaretz 16 Aug by Yotam Berger — According to sources in the prosecution, five family members were aware of Omar al-Abed’s plans to carry out an attack but did not try to stop him — The military prosecution is expected to indict five relatives of Omar al-Abed, who stabbed to death three Israeli civilians in the settlement of Halamish last month. The five would be charged with failing to prevent a crime. According to sources in the prosecution, the family members were aware of Abed’s plans to carry out an attack but did not try to stop him. Expected to be charged are Abed’s father, Abed al-Jalil, his mother, Ibtisam al-Jalil, two of his brothers and another relative. As far as is known, the main piece of evidence against the family is a Facebook post Abed wrote a few hours before the attack. “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,” he wrote. “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 added, saying that the Palestinians who had weapons “only take them out for weddings and celebrations: Are you not ashamed of yourselves?” According to sources familiar with the details, the family apparently saw the post. The family members allegedly discussed how to respond to the post but did not inform the authorities. After the attack the army arrested Abed’s mother and interrogated her after she said she was proud of her son and hoped that her other sons would do the same….
[Note, below, that many Palestinians read the post, and approved it. How many of them will be subject to prosecution? –Editor]
— Dani Dayan (@AmbDaniDayan) July 22, 2017
Israel’s collective punishment policy: Entire family in prison, whole village under siege
KOBAR, West Bank (WAFA) 14 Aug by Ihab Rimawi – The family home of Omar el-Abed in the Ramallah area village of Kobar stood empty of people and furniture. Omar el-Abed is the 19-year-old Palestinian from Kobar who on July 21 sneaked into the illegal settlement of Halamish, not far from his West Bank village, to avenge earlier Israeli police killing of three young Palestinians during pro-Aqsa protests in East Jerusalem and stabbed to death three Israeli settlers. He was shot, wounded and arrested. Ever since the incident, his family composed of his parents and four siblings, two of them handicapped, along with other relatives, have come under severe and inhuman harassment from the Israeli army and intelligence. Army units raid their village and home almost every day in a way to punish not only the entire el-Abed family, but the whole village of 6000 young and old people. The family, anticipating demolition of its home as has been the case with every Palestinian involved in the killing of Israelis, emptied it from its essential furniture and moved to live with another relative.
The mother, Ibtisam, was arrested two days after the incident under the pretext of incitement. While she was released a few days later after posting around $3000 bail, she was rearrested a few days later along with her husband, Abdul Jalil, and two of her sons: Khaled, the eldest who works as driver of a company van, who was arrested while waiting for his wife to give birth at Ramallah hospital, and Munir, a senior at Birzeit University studying finance. Omar, the assailant, who is also in detention, has just completed first year in college at al-Quds Open University in Ramallah. A handicapped brother and sister were the only two members of el-Abed family the army has so far spared. Yet, they were left with no one to take care of them after the arrest of their entire family. Abdul Jalil’s brother, Ibrahim, who gave shelter to the family after evacuating their home, was also arrested…
Kobar mayor Izzat Badran said the village has been under army siege ever since the incident. The soldiers have closed the main roads to the village to prevent people from moving. “We have people who are diabetic, cancer patients and those who have to do dialysis and when the roads are closed, they cannot reach hospitals,” he said. “When the army leaves, the village youth come out and reopen the roads. But every time we do it, the army comes back and blocks the roads. It happened six times so far,” he said, stressing that “we cannot surrender to the occupation. We have to keep our country open.”….
‘My youngest child has no idea that I am his mother’
Al Jazeera 14 Aug by Hiba Aslan — Dalal Abu al-Hawa’s 22-month-old son does not recognise her. Hamza was just 10 months old when his mother was imprisoned for a year by an Israeli court for charges she vehemently denies. Abu al-Hawa, who was released on August 7, is having trouble sleeping, is considering seeing a psychiatrist and is finding it hard to reintegrate into her family. “My youngest son [Hamza] refuses to come close to me. “I wanted to put him on my lap, but he hit my hand and ran away,” Abu al-Hawa tells Al Jazeera. The mother of six was imprisoned on August 28, 2016, on allegations that she gave Hamas-affiliated prisoners cash inside Israeli detention centres. During her time in prison, her husband, Abu Omar, and children were denied the right to visit her.Her eldest son, Omar, was also handed a two-and-a-half-year sentence at around the same time, for allegedly throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli occupation forces. Omar continues to languish in the Megiddo prison, north of the occupied West Bank. She recalls the pain she experienced last October when both their trials were set on the same day. “I got out of the bus and Omar was in the [military] jeep behind us.” “I wanted to embrace him and when I did, the police forces took me away from him, and kept kicking him in his stomach. It was a hard thing to witness as a mother. Then they threatened to beat him if we tried to talk to each other, even from a distance,” she explains. Like other prisoners, Abu al-Hawa endured humiliating conditions during her 23-day-long interrogation period and detention centre in occupied East Jerusalem. She remembers them with anxiety. “I did not know day from night,” she said. “They never turned off the lights, even at night, and they left the air conditioner on at a very low temperature – I was freezing.” … Her ordeal did not end there. Upon being freed, she was handed an Israeli order banning her from returning to Jerusalem, where she resided with her family prior to being incarcerated. The ban order meant that she must live on the West Bank side of Israel’s illegal Separation Wall, which divides the West Bank from Jerusalem. “When I left the court, they gave my husband an [order] that said I am not allowed to return to Jerusalem. My husband rented a house in July, and prepared it for me, and when I was released from prison, I came here to Ezariyeh.” Her family will now have to cross an Israeli military checkpoint to attend school, go to a hospital, or visit family.”….
Brazil to extradite Israeli settler convicted of killing Palestinian in 2004
RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) 10 Aug — A German-Israeli settler who fled to Brazil after killing a Palestinian will be extradited to serve his sentence in the Jewish state. Brazil’s Supreme Court decided unanimously on Wednesday to accede to an Israeli request to extradite Yehoshua Elitzur back to Israel to serve a prison sentence for killing Palestinian taxi driver Sael Jabara al-Shatiya in 2004. Judge Luis Roberto Barroso hailed the Israeli government’s effort to punish the settler and read a report from Brazil’s umbrella Jewish organization, the Brazilian Israelite Confederation. According to the indictment against him, Elitzur flagged down Shatiya, who was driving toward him in a van on Route 557 near the Elon Moreh settlement. Armed with an M-16, Elitzur stood in the middle of the road and demanded the Palestinian halt and get out of the car. Shatiya did not stop where Elitzur demanded, continued driving and began to pull over further down the road on the shoulder, at which point Elitzur shot and killed him. Elitzur, 46, claimed that he had acted in self-defense, and that Shatiya was trying to run him off the road, but witnesses at the scene denied this claim. He was initially accused of murder, but was convicted of manslaughter after prosecutors could not prove he had intended to kill Shatiya. Elitzur, who also holds German citizenship, was placed under house arrest in the Itamar settlement and eventually convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for murder. However, he was able to use his German passport to successfully board an airplane out of Israel. He was caught ten years later in Sao Paulo at his hideout, a kosher restaurant.
Abu Khdeir’s cousin, two others indicted for security offenses
Ynet 14 Aug by Yael Friedson — Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 22, the cousin of the 16-year-old boy of the same name who was murdered in 2014 [burned alive] by Jewish extremists, and two other residents of the Shu‘afat neighborhood in east Jerusalem were charged Monday with planning attacks against Israeli security forces. The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office filed an indictment against Abu Khdeir and his two accomplices, Abbas Salahi and Amro Ma‘atouk, for multiple security offenses, including active membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is designated a terror organization by Israel, the United States, Canada, Australia, and the European Union. The three were indicted for conspiring to commit murder, attempting to illegally purchase weapons, possession of arms, shooting in residential areas, attempting to attack policemen, rioting and other offenses. According to the indictment, the three met on several occasions between March 2017 and their arrest in July 2017 and conspired to carry out attacks against Israeli citizens. Among other things, the defendants planned to carry out a shooting attack against Israeli vehicles traveling on the Nablus bypass and plant explosives on it. In addition, on several occasions, the defendants participated in riots and stone throwing at Israeli military forces….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
5 Palestinians shot, injured in the legs during clashes in Ramallah-area village
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 Aug — Five Palestinians were injured with live fire during clashes that erupted Thursday evening in the Beit Rima town in northern Ramallah between Palestinian youths and Israeli undercover forces that raided a house in the town, according to official Palestinian sources. Israeli forces fired live bullets, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear-gas and stun grenades at youths that surrounded the undercover forces as they were raiding a house in the area. The Palestinian Ministry of Health said in a statement that five Palestinians were injured with live fire during clashes in Beit Rima, which is located in the central occupied West Bank. The ministry added that the injured “youths” arrived at the Salfit Governmental Hospital, all with gunshot wounds in their lower extremities. The ministry highlighted that in all five cases, the bullets had entered and exited their bodies. According to the ministry, four were in stable condition, while one was transferred to another hospital due to bone fractures in his leg caused by the bullet.
Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian worker trying to cross separation wall
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Aug — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian man as he attempted to cross from the occupied West Bank into Israel on Monday morning, witnesses told Ma‘an. The witnesses said that Anas Hijazi, a 25-year-old resident of the Hebron-area village of al-Rihiya, was shot in the right foot as he was trying to climb over Israel’s illegal separation wall in the Wadi Abu al-Hummus area on the outskirts of the village of Dar Salah in the Bethlehem district of the southern West Bank. Hijazi was transported by Palestinian Red Crescent medics away from the scene to the Beit Jala public hospital for treatment … Palestinian residents of the West Bank are not allowed to access occupied East Jerusalem or Israel without an Israel-issued permit, and many risk being shot and injured while trying to cross into Israel to work.
Israeli settlers chase Palestinian child, throw rocks at family’s home in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 12 Aug — A group of Israeli settlers chased a Palestinian child and threw rocks at their [his?] house on Friday night in the Wadi al-Hassin area of Hebron city, located directly beside Israel’s illegal Kiryat Arba settlement. Kayid Daana, the uncle of the child — whose exact age was not provided — told Ma‘an that Israeli settler assaults against the community have increased over the past month. “Tonight, settlers attacked and chased my nephew,” he said. Residents of Kiryat Arba are well known for their extremist ideologies and for their violent attacks against Palestinians. Daana told Ma‘an that the settlers had also thrown rocks at the family’s home. Aref Jaber, a resident of the nearby al-Salaymeh neighborhood said that Israeli forces were deployed heavily in the area and examined the IDs of the local residents.
Meanwhile, in what was likely the same incident, Israeli media reported that an Israeli and two Palestinians were injured when Israeli settlers and Palestinians began throwing rocks at one another in the Hebron area on Friday night, adding that the injured were “evacuated to receive medical treatment after IDF forces separated both sides.”….
4 Palestinian kids injured after jumping from car in contested incident with Israeli settler
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Aug — New details emerged on Friday afternoon about the case of four Palestinian Jerusalemite children who were injured in contested circumstances on Thursday in an incident involving an Israeli settler. Initial reports from locals, received and published by Ma‘an, said that the four boys were “deliberately run over” by an Israeli settler vehicle in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan early Thursday evening. On Friday, however, the Silwan-based Wadi Hilweh Information Center released a statement saying that the settler, who lives in an illegal Israeli settlement built on the lands of Silwan, “started driving his pickup truck while the children were sitting in the trunk of the vehicle.” “The Israeli settler began driving the vehicle very fast, passing the grocery store that the children wanted to go to,” the statement said, “the children started hitting on the back glass of the vehicle to tell the settler to stop, but he didn’t, and continued driving away at a high speed, frightening the children and leading them to jump from the speeding vehicle.” The children reportedly told the center that they were scared the settler would kidnap them or “take them away from their homes.”It was the jump that caused the four boys’ injuries, not being hit head-on by the car, as was previously reported. It remained unclear why the boys were in the back of the settler’s vehicle.
The center identified the four children as 6-year-old Hamza Taysir Abu Sbeih, 9-year-old Youssif Mazen Raman, 9-year-old Amir Taysir Abu Sbeih, and 11-year-old Anas Himuni. Raman broke a tooth in the fall, Amir Abu Sbeih sustained a “deep injury in his knee” that required stitches, while the two others sustained bruises.
According to the center, a group of Israeli forces were stationed at the scene where the boys jumped and sustained injuries. The soldiers “just stood without intervening, while locals called an ambulance to the area that transferred the children to Hadassah hospital,” the center said….
Israeli forces raid mosque in central West Bank, detain 3 Palestinian worshipers
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Aug — Israeli forces on Thursday raided a mosque in the central occupied West Bank town of al-Eizariya, and detained three worshipers, according to local sources. Palestinian Minister of Waqf (Islamic endowment) and Religious Affairs Sheikh Yousif Ideis spoke to Ma‘an, and called the raid “racist and provocative,” and one of the many “Israeli crimes against Muslim holy places.”Ideis denounced the raid, saying “there aren’t any safe places of worship anymore amid Israeli aggressions against all holy sites,” referring to last month’s events at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian man and his daughter in Salfit-area town
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 14 Aug — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian man and his daughter after assaulting the man on Monday afternoon in the village of al-Zawiya east of Salfit in the central occupied West Bank. Eyewitnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces assaulted and detained Yasser Suleiman and subsequently detained his 15 year-old daughter, Sujoud, in the al-Jisr area north of al-Zawiya.
Israeli forces reportedly prevented ambulance crews from reaching Suleiman and providing him with medical care. Locals added that Suleiman is originally from the besieged Gaza Strip, and has been living with his family in al-Zawiya since 2000. The circumstances surrounding Suleiman’s detention and assault remained unknown.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian woman in Jerusalem over stabbing attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Aug — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian woman outside the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem on Saturday, for carrying out a stabbing attack that reportedly lightly injured a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri had initially said in a statement that a Palestinian woman approached a “civilian security guard” while holding a knife in her hand on Sultan Suleiman Street, across from Damascus Gate, and stabbed an Israeli guard in the shoulder, lightly injuring him. However, al-Samri said later in the day following the release of security camera footage that the woman had initially attempted to stab an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Israeli who ran away. The woman then reportedly stabbed the Palestinian Jerusalemite in the hand. Israeli border forces then “quickly controlled, neutralized, and detained her,” al-Samri said. The woman was then transferred for interrogations with Israeli authorities, she added. Witnesses confirmed that a Palestinian woman was detained near Damascus Gate. The woman had a knife in her hand and had stabbed someone in the area, witnesses told Ma‘an …
Locals later identified the woman as Fadwa Nazih Kamil Rabayaa, whereas Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said she was a 29-year-old resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Bahir. Following the stabbing, Israeli police forces stormed Rabayaa’s home in Sur Bahir, al-Samri said, where they seized a computer and other personal belongings….
Raed Salah arrested for incitement: ‘You’re prosecuting the Qur’an’
Ynet 15 Aug bu Hassam Shaalan — The leader of the Islamic Movement’s outlawed northern branch, Sheikh Raed Salah, was arrested early Tuesday morning on suspicion of inciting terrorism. The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court extended Salah’s remand by three days. Salah was arrested for remarks delivered in a speech last month at the funeral of three Israeli Arab gunmen who killed two police officers at the Temple Mount. In the speech, he praised the attackers and exhorted others to follow their example … “I told the investigators I teach at mosques, and I told them (my remarks) were Islamic insights we got from the Sunni Quran,” Salah said during his court hearing. “You are not prosecuting me, you are prosecuting the Quran. What you’re doing is an expression to the continued persecution of our public by the Israeli government. This is political persecution. This is an attempt to get the media to talk about my arrest.” Salah’s lawyer, Mustafa Mahamid, blamed the police of “presenting a partial and distorted picture of the investigation material to the judge. The judge stated this specifically.”
Elaborating on the allegations, the lawyer said that “incitement is attributed to the sheikh over three speeches or sermons he gave. The sheikh claims these were religious sermons, that he was quoting from the Quran, and that those quotes were not incitement and the Quran cannot be viewed as inciting material.” … The wife of the sheik, Um Omar, said, “Twenty policemen came into the house and took the computer and told my husband to prepare himself for his arrest. I do not know the reasons for this decision. However, all these steps will not change our path.”….
One night’s detentions
Israeli forces detain 17 Palestinians, one a minor, in overnight West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Aug — At least 17 Palestinians, including one teenager, were detained by Israeli forces during overnight raids between Monday and Tuesday across the occupied West Bank, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that four Palestinians were detained in the northern West Bank, identifying one detention from the Jenin district, one from the Nablus-area village of Salem, and two from Qalqiliya City.
The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement that three Palestinians were detained in the Nablus district, identifying them as Qais Sawalma, Muhammad Naim Issa, and Muhammad Khalid Tabanji.
Locals from Qalqiliya told Ma‘an that Israeli forces detained three Palestinians from the city, identified as Kamal Ibrahim al-Baz, his son Baraa, 17, and Ahmad Quraan, 25. PPS added that in the Tulkarem district, Israeli forces detained Khalil Ibrahim Tayyim, 27.
According to PPS, five Palestinians were detained in the central West Bank district of Ramallah, who were identified as Ahmad Hisham Elayyan, Mahmoud Nasser Zeid, Muhammad Nasser Zeid, Usama Mustafa al-Hattab, and Muhammad Othman Zahran, 18. The Israeli army spokesperson confirmed five detentions from the Ramallah area, identifying three detentions from the al-Jalazun refugee camp, one from the village of Deir Abu Mashaal, and one from an unidentifiable village.
In the Hebron district of the southern occupied West Bank, Israeli forces detained Abd al-Halim Qafisha, 16, Issa Hassan Adi, 28, Muath Ikhlayyil, Fawzi Mahmoud Fawzi Awwad, and Muhammad al-Qassam Abu Hammad, according to PPS. Local sources told Ma‘an that Adi, Ikhlayyil, and Awwad were detained from the Hebron-area village of Beit Ummar, highlighting that a Molotov cocktail was thrown at an Israeli military vehicle when Israeli forces left the area. Meanwhile, locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces detained 16-year-old Qafisha from his home in Hebron City. PPS added that Qafisha was “injured” when he was arrested, though the nature of his injury remained unknown.
Why does Israel keep the bodies of Palestinians?
Al Jazeera 10 Aug by Zena Tahhan — A recent report has found that Israel is keeping hundreds of bodies in its infamous cemeteries of numbers — Mohammed Nassar has not seen his son in 15 years. On March 7, 2002, during the Second Intifada, or Palestinian uprising, he says his son Shadi “left the house and never came back”. Shadi had gone to carry out a suicide bombing at the entrance to the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel in the occupied West Bank, killing himself and wounding 15 Israelis. “We had no idea that he was planning to carry out an attack,” Nassar says. “If I had any suspicions, I would have beat him up, and thrown him at home. “A father losing his son? How am I supposed to feel?” Fifteen years later, Israel continues to refuse to return Shadi’s body, or what’s left of it, to his family for burial. The youth’s remains are said to be in Israel’s infamous “cemeteries of numbers”, along with hundreds of other Palestinians. In a recent report published last month, Palestinian rights groups estimated there are at least 249 Palestinians, including Shadi, buried in cemeteries across Israel in closed military zones, and nine others in freezers in Tel Aviv. The cemeteries are made up of mass graves marked with numbers rather than names, and some of the bodies have been there since the 1967 war. “We’re always nervous … even though it’s been 15 years,” Nassar tells Al Jazeera from his home in Nablus in the occupied West Bank, continuing: “Sometimes, we get doubts about whether he’s really dead, because we haven’t buried him ourselves.”… It is widely known that Israel employs the practice as a tactic for leverage in negotiations. In 2012, Israel released the bodies of 90 Palestinians in a gesture for reviving peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials. And, between 2013 and 2014, some 27 bodies were returned … The practice is a violation of both Israeli domestic and international law. The Geneva Conventions state that the parties of an armed conflict must bury the deceased in an honourable way, “if possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged and that their graves are respected, properly maintained, and marked in such a way that they can always be recognised”. It is also illegal under Israeli law….
Yehuda Glick sits outside of Al-Aqsa in protest of ban on MK visits to the holy site
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 Aug — Far-right Israeli parliamentarian Yehuda Glick protested outside of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Monday morning to denounce the ban preventing Knesset members from accessing the compound for the past year and a half. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had ruled in early July to temporarily lift the ban preventing Israeli MPs from accessing the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for a five-day period in late July. However, the decision was canceled in the wake of a deadly shooting attack on July 14 that led to a 13-day long civil disobedience campaign in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank to denounce security measures installed at the Al-Aqsa compound, to avoid further fueling the tensions surrounding the holy site.Glick, who is one of the leading advocates for Jewish visitation to the Al-Aqsa compound, arrived on Monday morning at Al-Aqsa’s Lions’ Gate under heavy police protection, and decided to symbolically work outside of the compound on Monday to denounce the ban.
Meanwhile, dozens of far-right Israelis toured the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound early on Monday under heavy police protection.
Israeli forces enforce closure of main Jerusalem-area road for 3rd day
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 Aug — Israeli authorities on Thursday continued to enforce a road closure for the third consecutive day, cutting ten villages northeast of Jerusalem in the central occupied West Bank off from the main road. Locals told Ma‘an that as of Thursday, Israeli forces had for three days, closed down the entrance to the three-kilometer long “tunnels” road which originates in the Rafat villages, and leads to the villages of Qatanna, Biddu, Beit Surik, Beit Anan, al-Qubieba, Beit Duqqu, Beit Ijza, Khirbet Em al-lahem, Beit Iksa and Nabi Samwil.
An Israeli army spokesperson said they were unaware of the closure.
Army injures several Palestinians, including a teen in serious condition, in Gaza
IMEMC 11 Aug — Israeli soldiers shot and injured, Friday, many young Palestinian men, including a teenager who suffered life-threatening wounds, during clashes that took place in several parts of the besieged Gaza Strip. Medical sources said a teenage boy, 16 years of age, suffered a serious injury after the soldiers, stationed across the border fence, shot him with a gas bomb in the head, during clashes that took place in Jabalia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. The sources added that the soldiers also targeted several ambulances and medics, during their attempts to provide aid to wounded Palestinians. Furthermore, two young men suffered moderate wounds during clashes that took place east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza, after the soldiers opened fire on Palestinian protesters. More clashes took place between the soldiers, also across the border fence, near Nahal Oz military base, when the army fired many live rounds at the protesters, wounding two young men in their legs, before medics rushed them to the Shifa medical center, suffering moderate wounds.
Israeli navy detains 2 Palestinian fishermen off northern Gaza coast
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Aug — Israeli naval forces on Friday morning detained two Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, according to local sources. The Palestinian Fishermen Union said in a statement that the Israeli navy detained brothers Saddam and Uday Abd al-Bari al-Sultan. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that after a vessel “deviated from the designated fishing zone,” warning shots were fired in the air, and then at the vessel. When the vessel allegedly did not respond to the warning shots, Israeli forces took the vessel to Ashdod port in southern Israel, where the two fishermen were transferred for interrogation.
Egypt opens Gaza border crossing for Hajj pilgrims
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Aug — Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip on Monday morning to allow Palestinian pilgrims to exit the blockaded coastal enclave to perform the Muslim hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. Gaza’s borders and crossings committee said the crossing would remain open for four consecutive days. The committee said that some 2,500 residents of Gaza had been granted permission to go to Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca this year, adding that some 800 people were expected to go through on Monday alone.
The crossing was last opened in early May, more than three months ago. The long-term closures at Rafah contradict Egyptian claims made back in March, when sources claimed that Egyptian President Abd al Fattah al-Sisi himself had ordered for Rafah to be opened twice a month in order to lessen the siege on Gaza.
Israeli tanks, bulldozers invade and uproot farmlands in central Gaza
IMEMC 14 Aug — At least three Israeli army tanks and three armored military bulldozers invaded on Monday morning Palestinian agricultural lands, fired live rounds and bulldozed large sections close to the border fence, east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza. The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported that the bulldozers uprooted farmlands and created sand hills near the border fence. It added that the army also fired several live rounds during the invasion, to keep the Palestinians out of their lands.
Gaza electricity crisis leaves more people without water than in aftermath of war
Oxfam 10 Aug — The impact of the Gaza electricity crisis on people’s access to water and power is worse than it was in the aftermath of the 50-day war that ended three years ago this week, Oxfam said today. In August 2014 when the war ended 900,000 people in Gaza lacked proper water and sanitation facilitates, today that number is 2 million people. The current crisis was caused by Israel’s decision to cut electricity supplies to Gaza by 40 per cent, at the request of the Palestinian National Authority. This has seen supplies drop to as little as two hours per day. Chris Eijkemans, Oxfam’s Country Director for the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel said the four-month crisis must end now and relieve an already trapped population, now seriously threatened by risk of widespread disease, with few functioning services. Eijkemans said: “After the 2014 Gaza War, 50 per cent of the sewage treatment centres were no longer operating. Today, none are working. After the last war, 80 per cent of the population received four hours of electricity per day. Today many people in Gaza are living on as little as two hours per day,” … All Oxfam’s water and sanitation, agriculture and economic development projects in Gaza have been affected by the current crisis. Desalinization plant rehabilitation projects have ground to a halt, fishermen cannot store their catch and farmers cannot irrigate their crops. The economic, development and humanitarian costs are staggering….
UN rights office ‘deeply concerned’ about deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Gaza
UN 11 Aug — The United Nations human rights office today expressed deep concern about the steadily deteriorating humanitarian and human rights conditions in Gaza, especially the restrictions on the enclave’s power supply. “At the height of summer, with soaring temperatures, electricity provision has not risen above six hours per day since the beginning of the current crisis in April, and has often been under four hours,” Ravina Shamdasani, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights(OHCHR), told the regular media briefing in Geneva. “This has a grave impact on the provision of essential health, water and sanitation services,” she added, noting that power outages threaten the life and well-being of vulnerable groups, particularly those needing urgent medical care … “Israel, the State of Palestine and the authorities in Gaza are not meeting their obligations to promote and protect the rights of the residents of Gaza,” she said, urging them to uphold their human rights.
Abbas: If Hamas refuses PA terms of reconciliation, Gaza will face further cuts
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 Aug — Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated threats against the Hamas movement, the de facto ruling party in the besieged Gaza Strip, on Tuesday, threatening further repressive measures should Hamas not unconditionally abide by the PA’s demands to resolve the decade-long intra-Palestinian conflict. Numerous attempts have been made in the past to reconcile Hamas and Fatah since they came into violent conflict in 2007, shortly after Hamas’ 2006 victory in general elections held in the Gaza Strip. However, Palestinian leadership has repeatedly failed to follow through on promises of reconciliations, as both movements have frequently blamed each other for numerous political failures. The PA has been the focus of fierce condemnation in recent months after being accused of deliberately sending the impoverished Gaza Strip further into a humanitarian catastrophe — by slashing funding for Israeli fuel, medicine, and salaries for civil servants and former prisoners — in order to wrest control of the territory from Hamas. The PA has demanded that Hamas accept its terms for any possible reconciliation: ending the Hamas-run administrative committee in Gaza, relinquishing control of the besieged coastal territory to the PA, and holding presidential and legislative elections.
Fatah halts all of its activities in Gaza
MEMO 14 Aug — After some 6,000 Fatah employees in the besieged Gaza Strip were referred for early retirement, the movement has halted all its activities in Gaza, Quds Net reported. New reports and leaks from President Mahmoud Abbas’ office indicate that he is likely planning to force all the remaining PA employees in Gaza into early retirement – approximately 6,000 employees, most of whom are Fatah affiliates. In a statement, Fatah in Gaza said that it had halted its activities in protest against Abbas’ latest measures. According to Quds Net, Fatah said in the statement that it would hold a press conference for its senior officials on Thursday. “Our striving brothers, we would like to let you know that all of our activities were officially and actually frozen,” Fatah said in the statement, reiterating that this was in protest against Abbas’ “oppressive measures against Fatah members in the beloved Gaza.”
Japan comes to the rescue of Gaza’s hospitals
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 14 Aug by Ahmad Melhem — On Aug. 3, Palestinian Minister of Health Jawad Awad authorized the installation of solar panels in public hospitals in the Gaza Strip, financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Awad, Takeshi Okubo, the Japanese representative to Palestine, and JICA officials met in Ramallah to discuss the deal. The solar panels are scheduled to be installed in early September. The project aims to secure a power supply to vital units in government-run hospitals in Gaza hit by the electricity crisis that started in 2007 in tandem with the Israeli blockade imposed on the enclave. “The Minister of Health gave his approval to start the first phase of the project at a cost of $1 million, which will begin within weeks after the completion of the technical studies by JICA,” Ramlawi said. He explained that Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical complex in the Gaza Strip, will be the first to benefit from the project. He noted that JICA Vice President Tomiyoshi Kenichi had visited Al-Shifa Hospital on May 17 to inspect its conditions and evaluate the technical studies related to equipping some units of the hospital with solar panels. “The second stage, which has not been discussed in detail, should be initiated after the completion of the first phase,” Ramlawi added….
Gaza civil society organizations aim to empower women
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 11 Aug by Dina Farwana — The ongoing Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip enters its 11th year with Palestinians suffering the ensuing crises that have affected all aspects of life in the enclave. Because women are a vulnerable group in society, a pressing need has emerged to support Gazan women by empowering them to obtain their rights, promote their status and improve their financial situation …the 2017 Women’s Leadership Incubator (WLI) project is the first to allow women’s support organizations in Gaza to identify their needs as an organization as well as the needs of the community they target. The 2017 WLI project implemented by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor funds, trains and supports the staff of organizations that were chosen to participate in the project, to strengthen their staff’s sensitivity to marginalized women’s needs and rights, and implement projects to support them. The difficult economic situation of women in the Gaza Strip was the main motivation behind the launch of the project. A March 7 press release by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics stated, “The female participation rate in the labor force was 19.3% of the total female population of working age [15 years or older] in 2016 … while the male participation rate was 71.6% in 2016.”…
Hamas calls Israel’s planned subterranean barrier with Gaza a ‘declaration of war’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Aug — Following reports that the Israeli army would be expediting its project to build a subterranean barrier along the Israeli border with the besieged Gaza Strip, a Hamas official condemned the move on Thursday, calling the construction of the barrier a “declaration of war.”Israeli news website Ynet reported on Thursday that in a press briefing along the border, an Israeli army general told reporters that the decision to expedite the subterranean barrier came after “intelligence” that Hamas, the de facto ruling party in Gaza, was attempting to expand the network of tunnels underneath Gaza. The general, Major General Eyal Zamir, reportedly told Ynet that expediting the construction of the barrier was “not intended to see the tenuous ceasefire with Hamas unravel, but that the (Israeli army) would not shy away from another confrontation should Gaza’s rulers choose to launch one.”“We will turn the tunnels into a death trap in the next war,” Ynet quoted Zamir as saying. “Whoever is inside these buildings is endangering himself and his children, and this entire building is a legitimate military target and has entered our bank of objective,” Zamir said, referring to two residential buildings and a mosque, under which entrances to tunnels have allegedly been built. An unnamed Hamas official reportedly told Israeli newspaper Israel Today that the barrier “is another step to escalate the siege on Gaza,” stressing that “Hamas will not allow Israel to conduct its plans and crimes against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and will prevent the construction of the barrier with all possible means.”
Opinion: The wall of insanity / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 13 Aug — Israel has opted for another wall, this time around Gaza. Israel will pay for it — The next time a cap gun is fired or a toy balloon is launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip, the army will start building a steel dome over the Strip to prevent it. The ceiling will also cut off the territory from the sky. After all, we’re talking about national security. When the first crack forms, and another balloon is launched or cap gun fired, the defense establishment will proceed to the next phase: flooding the Gaza Strip with water until it is completely submerged. After all, we’re talking about Israeli security. Until that happens — the plans have already been drawn up — the modest, hard-up Israeli army is making do with smaller measures: It’s building a new “barrier” around the Strip, the father of all the fences and the mother of all the walls with which Israel is surrounding itself, six meters high and reaching tens of meters underground. Israel is becoming a state with a wall at its heart: There’s nothing it likes more than to surround itself.
History is replete with megalomaniacal rulers who built palaces. For now, Israeli megalomania settles for walls. The separation barrier and the border fence, the Good Fence on the Lebanese border and the bad fence, the entire country is fences.…
How Israeli used its own civilians as human shields while assaulting Gaza / Max Blumenthal
Alternet 6 Aug 2014 [reprinted] — Throughout the ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip, perhaps no phrase has featured as prominently or persistently in the lexicon of Israeli propaganda as “human shields.” Repeated in stentorian fashion by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a heavily regimented army of 10,000 public relations flacks, the phrase has been ruthlessly deployed to shield Israel from responsibility for the bloodbath it has caused in Gaza. Israel has killed 1,800 civilians in a matter of weeks, including some 430 children, but it was Hamas that forced them to do it. Like so many Zionist accusations against Palestinian society (“They only understand force,” “They teach their children to hate,” “They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”) the human shields slander is a projection. Israel is the most militarized society on earth, with soldiers and military installations honeycombed throughout its civil society. With full military conscription for all men and women and reserve duty required for all Jews until they reach their 40s, Jewish Israelis alternate constantly between the role of civilian and soldier, blurring the line between the two. Within one of Tel Aviv’s most densely populated neighborhoods sits Ha’Kirya, the army’s headquarters, a gigantic complex of monolithic buildings that house the offices where attacks on Gaza are planned. The uniformed officers and soldiers who work inside take lunch in the cafes and shop in the malls surrounding their offices, embedding themselves among the civilian population. A military base is nestled in the middle of the campus of Haifa University while Hebrew and Tel Aviv Universities offer military officers free tuition, encouraging their enrollment and allowing them to carry weapons on campus. It is hard to find a henhouse, flophouse, or fieldhouse anywhere in Israel without some kind of military presence. In an editorial for the Israeli daily, Yedioth Aharonot, veteran Israeli military advisor Giora Eiland argued in favor of collectively punishing Gaza’s civilian population. “In order to guarantee our interests versus the other side’s demands, we must avoid the artificial, wrong and dangerous distinction between the Hamas people, who are ‘the bad guys,’ and Gaza’s residents, which are allegedly ‘the good guys.’” Naturally, Eiland failed to consider the terrible implications of eliminating the distinction between civilians and the armed factions that move among them: If his logic were inverted to apply to Israeli society, where civilians are soldiers and soldiers are civilians, almost every Jewish Israeli citizen could be considered a legitimate target….
Gaza’s little chefs have big dreams
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 11 Aug by Rasha Abou Jalal — Ten-year-old Sana Abu Hasira can hardly believe that she was able to make it. She managed to cook a musakhan for the first time in her life. The musakhan is a traditional Palestinian dish of grilled chicken and onion, with a touch of olive oil, pepper and sumac. Hasira insisted that this Al-Monitor correspondent taste her food; it was absolutely delicious. Amin Mashharawi, a 22-year-old cook who lives in Gaza City, assisted her in the preparation of the dish. Sana, who also lives in Gaza City, made this traditional Palestinian dish as part of the first culinary training program for kids in the Palestinian territories, “The Little Chef.” The program was launched July 1 by Zad Al Khair restaurant in downtown Gaza City … Khalil Ifranji, director of Zad Al Khair, told Al-Monitor that the idea to have cooking classes for kids, a first in Gaza, was spurred by a lack of social and entertainment programs for children. “When we first announced the kids culinary program, nearly 500 kids applied. We selected 120 and divided them into small groups, to be trained by the restaurant’s cooks at different times,” he said….
Young photographers celebrate love, hope in Gaza ‘Alleys’ exhibit
Al-Monitor 10 Aug by Hani Abu Razk — Pictures of an old man with a wrinkled face, a dreamy young girl or children playing among the narrow streets of refugee camps decorated the narrow alleyways of Gaza’s Jabalia camp in mid-July. The message of the 70 young photographers who participated in the exhibition, called “Aziqqa” (Arabic for “Alleys”), was clear in its slogan: “The camp is the start of the story.” The one-day exhibition, which attracted large crowds of visitors and journalists to Abu al-Aish Street, was the first of its kind in the Gaza Strip. The photographers chose Jabalia camp, as it is the oldest, largest and most important one in Gaza. The camp was also the birthplace of the first intifada in 1987. Each photographer hung three of his pictures on the walls of the houses on the street to attract visitors’ attention. One of the participants, freelance photographer Munjid Halas from the Shajaiya neighborhood, explained to the visitors how he selected his photos. He said that he saw in the face of the old man the simple life in Gaza, and hope in the eyes of the young girl….
VIDEO: Crazy parkour amid explosions and rubble in Gaza City
Belfast Telegraph 9 Aug — A team of parkour athletes are pushing their bodies to the limits against the backdrop of a war-torn urban landscape.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Palestinians perform prayers at Jerusalem home threatened by settler takeover
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 Aug — Tens of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem performed prayers outside the Shamasna home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood on Friday in a show of solidarity with the family, who are facing imminent evacuation from their home of 53 years to make room for Israeli settlers claiming they own the family’s home. Ekrima Sabri, head of the High Islamic Committee, said during the Friday khutbah — Islamic sermon — that “the land that the Shamasna family home is built on belongs to the family, and not to Jews.” He said that the Shamasna family had rented the house from its “original owners” since before 1948 — the year Israel was established. However, Sabri’s claims contradict reports that the family patriarch, Ayoub Shamasna, moved into the house in 1964. The family has told Ma‘an that they were forced to flee the Jerusalem-area village of Qatanna some 69 years ago during the creation of Israel. While the village is now part of the occupied West Bank, it is located close to Israeli territory.
After 1948, the village mostly became a “no-man’s land” after Israel declared a buffer zone between Israel and what was then Jordanian territory, forcing the village’s residents to flee the area …
The magistrate court in Jerusalem, the district court, and the Israeli Supreme Court have all ruled in favor of claims that the Shamasna house is Jewish property and that the owners could evict the family. According to Israeli law, Jewish Israelis are permitted to claim ownership over property believed to have been owned by Jews before 1948 during Ottoman or British rule. However, such a law does not exist for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who were displaced from their lands and homes during and after the establishment of the state of Israel….
Former Israeli attorney-general calls eviction of Sheikh Jarrah family ‘unjust’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Aug — Israel’s former Attorney-General, Michael Ben Yair, has spoken out against the forcible expulsion of Palestinians from their home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, saying that the Israeli government should expropriate disputed properties in East Jerusalem and give them to the Palestinian inhabitants of the homes, who have lived there for decades. The Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday that Ben Yair made the comments on Friday while speaking to a crowd of Palestinians who had gathered in solidarity in front of the home of the Shamasna family, who is facing imminent evacuation from their home of 53 years to make room for Israeli settlers claiming they own the family’s home … “The current Israeli law that enables double compensation only for Jews for [lost] properties in East Jerusalem from the times before 1948 is unjust,” The Jerusalem Post quoted Ben Yair as saying, adding that the former attorney-general’s family owned properties in Sheikh Jarrah prior to 1948….
Israeli forces demolish Palestinian building in occupied East Jerusalem
[with videos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Aug — Israeli forces demolished a two-story building in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya on Tuesday. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli police forces and crews from Israel’s Jerusalem municipality, accompanied by bulldozers, stormed and surrounded the neighborhood early Tuesday morning. The bulldozers demolished a building containing shops on the ground level, and apartments on the second story. Sources added that the apartments were being inhabited by Palestinian families, though it remained unclear how many people were displaced as a result of the demolition. According to locals, the building was constructed 10 years ago, and belonged to Abdullah Hamdan.
A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality told Ma‘an on Tuesday afternoon that the building had been demolished for being built “in flagrant violation of building and zoning codes,” adding that Israeli courts had rejected the homeowners’ appeals.
The Jerusalem municipality has claimed that compared to the Jewish population, it receives a disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities, which see high approval rates. However, testimonies collected by the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ) found that the procedures to apply for Israeli-issued building permits were lengthy, sometimes lasting for several years, while the application costs could reach up to 300,000 shekels ($79,180). As four out of five of Palestinians in East Jerusalem live under the poverty line, applying for costly building permits is nearly impossible, leading to only seven percent of Jerusalem building permits go to Palestinian neighborhoods….
Israeli forces confiscate cash and jewelry from East Jerusalem homes of Palestinian assailants
Haaretz 15 Aug by Nir Hasson — Israeli forces raided the East Jerusalem homes of a number of Palestinians who had carried out terrorist attacks. The raids by Israeli police and Shin Bet security were carried out overnight between Monday and Tuesday, were aimed at confiscating money and property that law enforcement officials said came from the Hamas Islamist movement. The operation yielded about 100,000 shekels (about $28,000) in cash in addition to jewelry and a motor vehicle. A similar raid was carried out about six months ago in which 200,000 shekels was seized. All of the families are relatives of attackers who were killed during or following their attacks. They include the family of Tareq Abu Arfeh, who was a member of a cell involved in the 1994 kidnap and murder of soldier Nachshon Wachsman, and the family of Ayman Adin, who was killed in a violent demonstration the same year.
The raids were also directed at families of assailants involved in carrying out attacks in the wave of violence against Israelis at the end of 2015 – Mohammed Nimr, who stabbed two security guards near Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate in October 2015, and Ahmed Fathi Abu Sha‘ban, who stabbed and wounded a women near the Jerusalem central bus station that same month. The police also raided the home of the family of Hassan Mahani, who together with a young cousin, committed a stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood that month. “The involvement of Jerusalem residents in one or another kind of activity financed by Hamas is a serious offense and represents an attempt by Hamas to get a foothold inside Jerusalem.”….
3 Palestinian homes demolished in Yatta town
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Aug — Israeli occupation forces, on Monday morning, demolished three homes in the Khashm Al-Daraj area of Yatta town, southern Hebron hills, southern West Bank. The homes were funded by the European Union, and were demolished by Israeli soldiers who broke into the area with bulldozers, closed it off, and began the process. According to anti-wall, anti-settlements committee in southern Hebron, Rateb al-Jabour, the demolition left more than 20 people homeless. The area is located in area C of the West Bank, which falls under complete Israeli control -military and civil administration, PNN further reports.
Israeli settlers set up mobile homes in settlements near Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 12 Aug — Jewish settlers Saturday set up mobile homes in the illegal Israeli settlement of Yitzhar, near the city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, said Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlements activities in the northern West Bank. He told WAFA that the homes were set up on land overlooking the villages of Burin and Urif, south of Nablus. Mobile homes were also set up on land near Qosin as well as in the illegal settlement of Innab, west of Nablus. It is believed the mobile homes were set up as part of a larger land-grab scheme in order to expand the existing settlements on nearby Palestinian land.
Israeli settler school built in part on private Palestinian land, with a little help from US donors
Haaretz 13 Aug by Uri Blau — Aerial footage reveals that part of the campus of a school in the West Bank settlement of Efrat was built on privately owned Palestinian land. The footage was obtained and analyzed by a civil-society organization that monitors land ownership in the West Bank … The vast majority of the Ohr Torah Stone budget came from the Education Ministry, but last year the organization also received more than 19 million shekels in contributions, including about 11.5 million shekels from Ohr Torah Stone’s American friends’ organization, a non-profit entity with offices in New York, contributions to which are tax deductible. That means that donors to the organization in the United States are entitled to deduct a portion of their contributions from their income taxes, and also means that indirectly, the U.S. government is financing Ohr Torah Stone.
Jerusalem drops plan to build luxury homes atop abandoned Palestinian village
Haaretz 11 Aug by Nir Hasson — In a victory for opponents of plans to redevelop the abandoned Palestinian village of Lifta at the entrance to Jerusalem as a luxury neighborhood, the city’s local planning and building committee on Wednesday removed the controversial proposal for the construction of 200 new housing units there. The move came in the face of opposition from members of Jerusalem’s city council. Opponents of the plans include architects, historic preservation advocates and descendants of the original residents of the village. City officials will have difficulty getting the plans approved in the future in their current form and will apparently have to make changes to them in advance of any reconsideration of proposals for the village … “I’m very pleased that, despite the pressures exerted on members of the local [planning] committee, a clear majority of members opposed the plan,” said opposition Meretz party councilwoman Laura Wharton. “The village of Lifta is a unique place from a historical and archaeological standpoint, in addition to being a green gem. The readiness of the municipal administration to also destroy this rare asset for money from real estate sharks is additional proof of its moral shortsightedness and bankruptcy. Lifta needs to be preserved and cared for as part of the history of the area.”
Greek Orthodox Church aims to block property sale in court
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) 12 Aug by Karin Laub — The Greek Orthodox patriarch in the Holy Land announced Saturday that his church will appeal an Israeli court decision that approved the sale of prime church property to companies representing Jews seeking to expand their presence in Jerusalem’s Old City. The church had challenged the property deal in court for the past decade, arguing it was conducted illegally by the since-deposed previous patriarch and was therefore invalid. The Jerusalem District Court upheld the deal two weeks ago, paving the way for three large properties near the Old City’s Jaffa Gate to be leased for 99 years to Ateret Cohanim, a group that has been buying properties for Jews in traditionally Arab areas of Jerusalem. Patriarch Theophilos III alleged Saturday that the lower court ruling was “politically motivated” and said the church would appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court. The church will do “everything within its power so that this unjust ruling will be overturned,” he said at a news conference in the Jordanian capital of Amman. Theophilos leads a predominantly Arab flock of 220,000 Christians in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. The Greek Orthodox church is one of the largest property owners in the Holy Land, including in Jerusalem’s Old City, one of the most sensitive areas of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict … The patriarch also expressed concern about what he said was an effort by some members of Israel’s parliament to restrict the rights of his church and other Christian denominations in the Holy Land to deal independently with their real estate holdings. He urged the heads of churches to find a joint response to “this alarming and serious development” that he said will affect Christians in the region and around the world….
Opinion: How some of the food Israelis eat gets to their tables – a West Bank story / Amira Hass
Haaretz 14 Aug — A farmer plowed his land. Fawzi Ibrahim and his sons Mohammed and Mahmoud, who live in the village of Jalud south of Nablus, plowed their land last week. Hallelujah. (This is not a big reason to rejoice, because our illustrious army did not allow Ibrahim and his sons to get to their wheat on time. They let him wait until the wheat had completely dried out. But more on that later.) Only in our Jewish and democratic country between the river and the sea is such a sentence worthy of becoming a news item. Because “Jewish” means we do everything possible to prevent “fallah,” a farmer, in other words a Palestinian, from working the land that has belonged to his family for generations. And by saying “fallah,” we of course refer to tens of thousands of farmers. And “democratic” means that it is still permitted for us to write about the shrewd methods by which we prevent the farmer from making a living off his land, and the Israeli media are free to ignore it. I still have the democratic right to write: Anyone who wants to know something about terrorism should go and learn how Jews (as individuals and government institutions) prevent Palestinians from working their land. Ibrahim, 62, is one of my heroes. He has been fighting incessantly the powerful, land-grabbing institutions. Now his sons are following in his footsteps. I attribute his deteriorating health primarily to this struggle. His exhausted visage touches your heart … From the end of 2000, Ibrahim’s access to his land was blocked, the same way access was blocked to other residents of Jalud and villages in the area, and everyplace else in the West Bank where the settlements, and in particular the outposts, are built nearby. The methods of preventing access have been intimidation, harassment, vandalism, arson, physical attacks by unknown people who look Israeli, who come down from the outposts. Then our brigade and battalion commanders and generals order the closure of large areas to their legal owners and farmers – the Palestinians, “for fear of friction.” A golden opportunity for the outposts to take over those lands, or part of them. Just around Jalud and its neighbors, some 10,000 dunams (2,500 acres) of Palestinian land have been lost.
True, I have written about it before. But it is my democratic right to repeat myself: First, because you are consuming the agricultural produce of those very outposts and settlements, which, thanks to violence, had managed to take over land and water sources and usurp the livelihoods of dozens of villages. Second, because our illustrious army completes the work….
Israel, PA discreetly resume security coordination
Al-Monitor 10 Aug by Shlomi Eldar — Security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been renewed, but no official announcement was issued — nor is one expected. Al-Monitor had learned about it from Israeli defense sources who spoke on condition of anonymity. On July 21, at the height of the crisis triggered by the shooting death of two Israeli policemen at the Temple Mount compound, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared he was suspending security ties with Israel. The move was intended to prove to the Palestinian public that Abbas was taking a tough line with Israel over its placing of metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif site, a move perceived in the Arab world as a violation of the fragile status quo there. Abbas had initially not intended to halt security coordination with Israel. When Palestinian journalists asked PA officials whether the suspension of ties with Israel included a stop to the security coordination, the officials hemmed and hawed and did not provide a clear answer. The Palestinian leadership in Ramallah understood that absent an unambiguous announcement to the effect that the security ties had also been halted, they would not be able to appease public opinion. Abbas then made a dramatic announcement in which he said that he was freezing cooperation with Israeli security echelons until things at the site return to the way they were. But even after Israel removed all its new security devices, continued public pressure made it hard for Abbas to officially announce that business with Israel was back as usual. Security officials on both sides say the coordination between them has foiled dozens of terror attacks against Israelis in recent years. But so as not to be perceived as caving in too easily, the Palestinian president presented Israel with a set of demands for renewing security ties….
Palestinian leader curbs social media expression in decree
RAMALLAH (AP) 11 Aug by Mohammed Daraghmeh — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has clamped down on social media and news websites — the main outlets for debate and dissent in the West Bank — with a vaguely worded decree that critics say allows his government to jail anyone on charges of harming “national unity” or the “social fabric.” Rights activists say the edict, issued without prior public debate last month, is perhaps the most significant step yet by Abbas’ government to restrict freedom of expression in the autonomous Palestinian enclaves of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. A Palestinian prosecutor denied the decree is being used to stifle dissent and insisted that a new law on electronic crimes was needed to close legal loopholes that in the past allowed offenders, such as hackers, to go unpunished. However, the government has blocked 30 websites in the past month, according to the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, or Mada. Most of the sites were affiliated with Abbas’s two main rivals — a former aide-turned-foe, Mohammed Dahlan, and the Islamic militant group Hamas, Mada said. A few of the blocked sites had supported the extremist Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria … Ammar Dweik, head of the government-appointed Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights, said the new law is “one of the worst” since the Palestinian autonomy government was established in 1994. It’s “a big setback to the freedoms in the West Bank,” he said, citing the vague definition of the purported crimes, the wide authority given to the security forces, the large-scale blocking of news websites and the harsh punishments … The new decree stipulates prison terms ranging from one year to life for those who use digital means for a range of all-encompassing offenses. The list includes endangering the safety of the state or the public order as well as harming national unity or social peace….
‘The PA can now arrest anyone’: Palestinian journalists declare hunger strike
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Aug by Jaclynn Ashly — As local and international criticism continued to mount against the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority’s (PA) tightening noose on freedoms of expression in the occupied West Bank, seven Palestinian journalists imprisoned by the PA have begun a hunger strike after being detained under the controversial Cyber Crimes Law, approved by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last month. Palestinian journalists Mamduh Hamamra, a correspondent for Al-Quds News, Al-Aqsa TV correspondent Tariq Abu Zeid, and freelance journalist Qutaiba Qassem all declared a hunger strike immediately after their detentions were extended by up to 15 days on Thursday, according to a statement released by Omar Nazzal, a member of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and former prisoner of Israel. Issam Abdin, a lawyer and head of advocacy at Palestinian NGO al-Haq, confirmed to Ma‘an that four more Palestinian journalists –Al-Quds News correspondent Ahmad Halayqa, Shehab News Agency correspondent Amer Abu Arafa, and reporters Islam Salim and Thaer al-Fakhouri — had declared a hunger strike on Thursday to protest their detention … However, Addameer added, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate contacted Palestinian security forces on Wednesday morning and were told that the journalists were detained “in order to pressure Hamas to release another journalist detained in the Gaza Strip,” referring to Fouad Jaradeh, a correspondent for official PA news channel Palestine TV who has been imprisoned in Gaza for more than two months. Both Hamas and the PA have been criticized for carrying out retaliatory acts on individuals affiliated with the opposing group, most notably in the shape of politically motivated arrests and imprisonment.
Palestinian Authority frees journalists arrested amid media crackdown
AFP 14 Aug — The releases came a day after Hamas freed a journalist in the Gaza Strip from the PA-linked Palestine TV — The Palestinian Authority decided to release five journalists on Monday after arresting them last week, their lawyer said, a day after political rivals Hamas released a PA-linked reporter. The five, including from Hamas-linked media, had been arrested in the West Bank on accusations of “leaking sensitive information to enemy groups”. Three of the five were freed earlier Monday, with the others expected to be released later in the day, the lawyer said. “The relevant courts decided to free five journalists and all journalists are supposed to be released,” Alaa Freijat, lawyer for the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, told AFP. They were held under the PA’s new electronic crimes law, which has been criticized by rights groups who say it restricts criticism of officials on social and traditional media, with the potential for jail sentences. One of the journalists worked for the Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV….
Feature: Abbas sponsors mass wedding in West Bank refugee camp
WEST BANK (Xinhua) 10 Aug ed. Zhou Xin — Joy seemed overwhelming on the faces of 65 pairs of brides and grooms, who joined a mass wedding on Thursday evening in the Palestinian refugee camp of al-Fara‘a, north of the city of Nablus in the West Bank. The wedding was held under the patronage of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the first of its kind in the camp, which accommodates 7,000 people suffering from difficult economic conditions. With the theme “weddings despite suffering,” the collective wedding took place at Salah Khalaf cultural center in the camp, which was formerly a large Israeli prison that housed dozens of people from the refugee camp. At the wedding ceremony, artistic and heritage shows were presented in an atmosphere of joy and pleasure, witnessed by hundreds of guests including the relatives of the brides and grooms, Palestinian personalities and official leaders. “The goal of President Abbas and our goal is to bring joy to the hearts of the Palestinian people everywhere,” said Mahmoud al-Aloul, deputy head of Abbas Fatah movement. “We want the life in which we practice joy, marriage, childbearing, education, art, literature and culture. This is the life we want for the Palestinian people,” Aloul said in a speech on behalf of Abbas. Standing next to his bride, Ahmed al-Aarja, 46, was radiating great joy since his dream of marrying his beloved girl finally came true….
Palestinians protest closure of UNRWA hospital in Qalqiliya
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 13 Aug — Palestinians demonstrated outside of a hospital run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) on Saturday to denounce the recent closure of an UNRWA-run hospital in the northern occupied West Bank city of Qalqiliya. All wings of the hospital, with the exception of the emergency room, have been ordered closed since Friday, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness confirmed to Ma‘an. “The suspension of ENT (ears, nose, and throat), childbirth, and cold cases services at Qalqiliya Hospital is linked to an ongoing investigation,” Gunness said, without providing further details.
However, Kathem Abu Khalaf, the political and local affairs advisor for UNRWA’s director of operations, told Ma‘an on Sunday that the obstetrics department was the only one to be closed, adding that it would be reopened at the end of the internal investigation. Abu Khalaf stated that all other departments would continue to operate normally — contrary to Gunness’ statement — and that pregnant women would still be admitted to the obstetrics department if their lives were in danger. Najib Nitham, the head of the Palestinian doctors’ syndicate, told Ma‘an that a UNRWA representative had notified the hospital administration on Thursday that the obstetrics department would be shut down the next day, before stating a day later that all other wards, except the ER, would be shut down by Aug. 21 … Nitham called UNRWA’s decision “not carefully thought out,” stating that the 63-bed medical center served tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees in the Qalqiliya district. The closure, Nitham said, leaves only one hospital functioning in Qalqiliya City, severely impacting the ability to treat patients in the Qalqiliya district. The UNRWA hospital also represented a right for refugees “who had been displaced from their lands,” Nitham added, calling the closure unjustifiable. “What could be the goal behind leaving refugees without medical treatment and medical services?” he asked….
Palestinian officials denounce Israeli attempts to trade permits for good behavior
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Aug — Palestinian officials on Monday spoke out against recent Israeli actions in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, where the army distributed leaflets on Sunday calling on Palestinians from the city to “behave” in order to obtain lessened security restrictions on some of the city’s residents. Muhammad al-Bakr, who serves as a coordinator of political and national forces in the Hebron governorate, said in a statement that the leaflets were “nothing but an Israeli attempt to circumvent Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to halt security coordination with Israel.” “In accordance with the Oslo agreement, there are official Palestinian authorities specialized in liaising between Palestinians and Israel,” adding that the Oslo Accords “ban Palestinians from dealing with Israel directly.” Israeli forces had distributed leaflets in the al-Moskobiya, al-Salam, and al-Mahawir neighborhoods of Hebron City, stating that residents of those areas who had previously been refused entry permits to Israel would be eligible to apply on Tuesday for the security ban against them to be removed — allowing them to request entry permits to Israel in the future.
A similar one-day campaign allowing Palestinians to appeal their Israel travel bans was organized a week earlier for residents of the Hebron-area town of Idhna, the army said in a statement, adding that 52 Idhna residents had seen their security ban lifted immediately, while 137 more cases were being studied. “These campaigns are part of the security forces’ efforts to help peaceful Palestinian residents who do not partake in terror attacks,” the army statement read….
Israel opens 13 km. pipeline to alleviate West Bank water shortage
JPost 15 Aug by Tovah Lazaroff — Water flowed for the first time through a new 13-km. pipeline in the Samaria region of the West Bank, inaugurated on Monday. It was put into place to alleviate water shortages in the settlements of Peduel, Alei-Zahav and Bruchin and in the surrounding Palestinian villages in Area C. “The importance of laying this pipeline today can’t be overestimated,” Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said, who inaugurated its opening with Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz. It will provide an additional 2,500 to 3,000 cu.m. of water daily, said Dagan. Unfortunately, he added, “it only solves 25% of the problem.”
There are still three water lines that need to be completed and portions of the project have not yet received final approvals, Dagan said. Benny Elbaz of the Civil Administration said that an additional 7,500 cu.m. would be available next year when another section of the pipeline is laid near the Ofarim settlement. Water shortages chronically plague both Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, where the infrastructure cannot keep pace with the demands of the growing population and the agricultural needs of the area. The pipeline project, which began last year, has already increased water supplies by 5,000 cu.m. in the region, and is expected to also increase supply for Palestinians in the West Bank.
‘Get out of the way’: Counterterrorism boot camp aims to give Middle East tourists survival lessons
CNC News (Canada) 11 Aug by Derek Stoffel — Palestinian mayor says program is effort by Israelis to ‘change the picture of reality’ of occupation — … In a market lined with a few fruit and vegetable stalls, people mill about in the hot Middle Eastern sun. Then, several men armed with assault rifles rush forward to confront attackers who have launched a brazen assault … The aim of the simulated attack is to offer visitors a glimpse of how soldiers and police respond to such violence, while offering a few lessons to increase one’s chances of survival. Participants pay up to $150 Cdn for the two-hour boot camp, in which former and reserve members of the Israel Defence Forces take them through three simulated assaults. Adults in the group can also fire live ammunition at a shooting range. “It was important for my wife and I to have our kids come and see — not so much to train for it, but to see what Israelis go through on a regular basis,” said Elie Lowy, who brought his two sons and wife to the camp from Long Island, N.Y. … Most of the participants of the session attended by CBC News came from the United States, with a few visitors from Mexico. Caliber 3 says tourists from Canada, China and South America also regularly take part…
Daughter of Ambassador Friedman immigrates to Israel
Ynet 15 Aug by Itamar Eichner — Talia Friedman, 23, daughter of US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, officially immigrated to Israel on Tuesday morning, together with 232 other new Israeli citizens. Ambassador Friedman greeted his daughter when she disembarked at Ben Gurion Airport, saying, “We are so proud of her and love her very much; we only want her to be happy. She loves Israel and our whole family loves Israel.” Friedman is a nurse and until now, has worked at a New York hospital. “I hope she will bring aid to those who need her here in Israel,” said her father … Talia immigrated to Israel with the help of the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization, which promotes, encourages and facilitates Jewish immigration to Israel. She plans on making her home in Jerusalem. Together with Friedman there arrived 75 children, 21 families and 99 other young men and women, 72 of who will volunteer for IDF service as lone soldiers.
Al Jazeera gains from Israel’s attempt to close it / Daoud Kuttab
Al-Monitor 11 Aug — Despite Israel’s public statements about closing down Al Jazeera’s offices in Jerusalem, it appears that the execution of such a decision will require a great deal of legal work on the part of the Israeli government. The decision, if implemented, will do little to reduce the coverage by the most-watched Arab satellite TV station. The move seems particularly odd since it would not be favorable to Israeli officials, who used to provide some kind of balance to Al Jazeera’s stories, which allowed them to speak unfiltered in its reports. In addition to its Jerusalem office, Al Jazeera has a large office in Ramallah and a major bureau in the Gaza Strip. Both of these Palestine-located offices will not be directly affected by the Israeli decision should it be approved. While most Israelis receive Al Jazeera as part of their cable TV channels, the situation for Palestinians is different. Palestinians watch Al Jazeera through satellite dishes that are completely unregulated and unrestricted….