Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Fadwa Barghouthi reportedly banned from visiting her husband until 2019
Samidoun [Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network] 4 Sept — Palestinian lawyer Fadwa Barghouthi, the wife of prominent imprisoned Palestinian leader and Fateh central committee member Marwan Barghouthi, said on Monday, 4 September that she had been banned from visiting her husband until 2019 in retaliation for her involvement in supporting the prisoners’ hunger strike in April-May 2017. Barghouthi said that she had been denied a visit to see her husband four months ago, turned back at an Israeli occupation checkpoint. Donia al-Watan reported that Barghouthi said she received a one-time visit permit from the International Committee of the Red Cross one week ago, and that she went in a group visit with other families. She remained at the prison from 9 am until 4 pm, only to be told that she was prohibited from seeing her husband. She was told that she was banned from visiting all prisons and would not be allowed to see her husband until 2019, according to news reports….
Palestinian dies weeks after being shot by Israeli forces in al-Duheisha
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Sept — A 22-year-old Palestinian succumbed to critical injuries in an Israeli hospital on Sunday, weeks after he was shot by Israeli forces during a violent detention raid into al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem. Raed al-Salhi was shot multiple times in the chest at close range, puncturing his liver, during a predawn military raid on Aug. 9. Another resident of the camp Aziz Arafeh was also shot in the leg. The two injured young men were detained by Israeli forces and taken to Israel’s Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem. Arafeh has reportedly remained in a stable condition. Head of the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe told Ma‘an on Sunday afternoon that al-Salhi succumbed to his wounds. Qaraqe said he held Israel responsible for the young man’s death, and condemned is Israeli forces for targeting al-Salhi with live ammunition at point blank range. Palestinian prisoners’ solidarity network Samidoun reported that during the weeks following his detention, al-Salhi, held in the intensive care unit in a coma, was denied family visits and heavy guarded despite his unconsciousness and severe medical condition. Shortly after the announcement of al-Salhi’s death, mourners launched a march in al-Duheisha, chanting condolences to his mother and calling for revenge for the killing. It was later reported that locals in al-Duhiesha refugee camp decided to ban all press from covering al-Salhi’s funeral, due to the apparent lack of coverage by local media outlets during the weeks of al-Salhi’s hospitalization, according to al-Duheisha al-Hadath, a Facebook page reporting on local events in the camp and across the occupied West Bank.It remained unclear when the funeral would be held or when al-Salhi’s body would be handed over by Israeli authorities, who routinely detain the bodies of slain Palestinians for extended periods and impose strict restrictions on their funerals … During his imprisonment in the hospital, al-Salhi’s family members were reportedly denied permits to visit him under the pretext of an ongoing interrogation….[article continues]
Youth injured by Israeli fire in Ramallah village
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 4 Sept – Israeli forces early Monday predawn shot and injured a Palestinian young man after they raided the village of Beit Rima, to the northwest of Ramallah in the West Bank, according to local sources. The forces opened fire at the young man, who was not yet identified, injuring him in the thighbone. He was moved to hospital for medical treatment. Army forces also arrested another young man in the village during the raid.
Israeli settlers assault, injure Palestinian teen in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 6 Sept — A group of Israeli settlers assaulted and wounded a Palestinian teenager near Israel’s illegal Homesh settlement in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Wednesday. Locals told Ma‘an that 16-year-old Osama Jamil Daghlas, from the Burqa village, sustained wounds across his body after being assaulted by several settlers at the main road near the Homesh settlement, where locals said the settlers reside. According to locals, the settlers struck the minor with sharp objects and wood, and stripped off his clothes. When the settlers finally released Daghlas, he was taken to Nablus’ Rafidiya governmental hospital for treatment…
The UN reported last month that after a three-year decline of settler attacks on Palestinians, the first half of 2017 showed a major increase in such attacks, with 89 incidents being documented so far this year, representing an 88 percent increase compared to 2016. The attacks during this time period have led to the deaths of three Palestinians.
Palestinian youth in critical condition after being struck by Israeli settler’s car
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Sept — A Palestinian youth was injured after an Israeli settler hit the youth with his car Tuesday evening near the village of Husan west of Bethlehem, on Route 60, the occupied West Bank’s main highway. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in statement that “someone from the Jewish community” hit a Palestinian with his vehicle and fled the scene, but turned himself in at an Israeli police station shortly after. She identified the victim only as a Palestinian “youth,” presumably meaning a boy. She described the boy’s injury as critical and said he was being treated in a hospital, without providing further details. Incidents involving Israeli settlers hitting Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory are a regular occurrence, and are usually treated by Israeli security forces as accidents, even in cases when witnesses claim the car rammings were deliberate.
An eight-year-old Palestinian girl was killed just over a week ago after she was run over by an Israeli settler in the Nablus district of the northern occupied West Bank.
Every night, settlers harass the Umm al-Kheir villagers
Occupation magazine 1 Sept by Li Lorian — Demand that the Carmel settlement take responsibility and stop the harassment of Umm al-Kheir! The village of Umm al-Kheir in the south Hebron hills has been under attack by stone-throwers from the adjacent settlement of Carmel for the past five nights. With the sole aim of depriving the villagers of their sleep – every hour throughout the night, a stone is lobbed over the fence. A single stone, jerking an entire village out of sleep. Cowardly, under cover of darkness, the perpetrator runs away. In these summer nights when people sleep outside, the danger of one of the stones physically harming someone is real. Last night Ta‘ayush activists spent the night with the people of Umm al-Kheir. When we called the police after the first stone was thrown at about midnight, we were told they would call us back. But this didn’t happen. This morning, Friday, September 1, the people of Umm al-Kheir welcomed Eid al-Adha after another sleepless night. The website of the Carmel settlement says: “Here in Carmel, on the slopes of the southern Judean hills abutting the desert, we live a life of harmony between the rocky mountain and the soft desert, between the pristine mountain air and the caressing desert dryness. Here living side by side are old and young, academics and scientists alongside farmers, Torah scholars alongside hardworking professionals.” What harmony are they talking about?! In Umm al-Kheir children can’t get a full night of sleep. In Umm al-Kheir they can’t celebrate the holiday in peace. Umm al-Kheir’s neighbor, the settlement of Carmel, must be held accountable and stop the stone-thrower/s!
Israel detains elderly Palestinian woman for allegedly intending to carry out attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Sept — Israeli forces detained a 60-year-old Palestinian woman near the village of Ni‘lin in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah on Saturday amid unclear circumstances, as Israeli forces suspected that she was intending to carry out a stabbing attack. According to witness testimonies, Israeli soldiers had opened live ammunition on the woman, injuring her, after suspecting her of intending to carry out a stabbing attack when she walked close to where the soldiers were stationed at an Israeli checkpoint. However, others said that the soldiers had only opened live ammunition in the air, and the woman passed out on the ground before she was detained. The woman has yet to be identified. No one reported seeing a knife on the woman. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that the incident was not under the army’s jurisdiction. An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available to comment.
Israeli forces detain 19 Palestinians, target rehabilitation center and print shop
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Sept — The Israeli army detained at least 19 Palestinians, including at least one minor, in predawn military raids across the occupied West Bank on Tuesday. Raids in the Ramallah area, which sparked clashes between locals and Israeli forces, targeted a print shop that was sealed off, as well as a center in a refugee camp dedicated to the rehabilitation of disabled people, while leaflets were scattered in the city ordering merchants not to sell toy guns.
In the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement that three Palestinians were detained. Jihad al-Masri was detained in the town of Dura, while Yousif Mahmoud Abu Mariya and Hasan Muhammad Zaaqiq were detained in Beit Ummar, the statement said. Local sources clarified that Hamza Jihad al-Masri was detained in al-Surra village near Dura. Local activist in Beit Ummar Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma’an that Israeli troops stormed the town’s central Bahar neighborhood and ransacked two houses, damaging their interiors, before detaining the two men and taking them both to Israel’s Gush Etzion detention center north of Beit Ummar. Awad highlighted that Abu Mariya, 39, has previously served a total of seven years in Israeli custody, and that 22-year-old Zaaqiq was a senior undergraduate at al-Quds University…
In the nearby al-‘Arrub refugee camp, Israeli forces also detained 31-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Hasaniya from his house. Locals said Hasaniya is an officer in the Palestinian Authority’s national security forces. The Israeli army spokesperson confirmed one detention in al-‘Arrub and said another Palestinian was detained in al-Alaqa village, also in the Hebron district. Ofir Gendelman, a spokesperson for the Israeli prime minister, said on Twitter that a top Palestinian security official, who was later identified as Jalal Naji Sweiti, was also detained for allegedly “inciting to kill Israelis” and expressing admiration for Adolf Hitler and Adolf Eichmann in Facebook posts.
Locals also reported military raids in Hebron city‘s al-Mahawir, Abu Rumman, al-Sharif, and Abu Sneina neighborhoods, where no detentions were reported.
According to the PPS statement, Israeli forces raided al-‘Amari refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah and detained 17-year-old Yahya Jibril Rummana. Local sources said Israeli forces also raided the offices of a local committee for the rehabilitation of disabled people in al-Amari refugee camp, and that the Israeli soldiers damaged equipment there.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces also scattered leaflets throughout the streets of Ramallah and al-Bireh, warning shop owners and merchants not to sell toy guns. The leaflets said that anyone who trades toy guns could be detained because toy guns serve “a dual purpose,” locals said. Separately, Israeli forces raided and shut down al-Nur printing house in Ramallah city and confiscated equipment, including computers and printers. The Israeli army alleged that the printing workshop “produced inciting materials,” and confirmed that equipment was seized from the business…. https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=778977
Israeli forces detain 14 Palestinians, seize cash, and assault family in raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Sept — Israeli forces detained at least 14 Palestinians during raids in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem before dawn on Wednesday, with one family reporting being violently assaulted by Israeli soldiers during a raid to detain a young man who was not in the house, according to Palestinian sources.
Local sources in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron said that Israeli forces detained three Palestinian residents of the area, also seizing cash and a private vehicle during the raids. Munjid Mousa al-Jenidi and Muhammad Maher Ebied were detained after Israeli forces raided their houses in Hebron city, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) and local sources. Israeli forces detained Muhammad Mousa Rujoub, a Palestinian security forces officer from the Hebron-area town of Dura, after he passed through the Allenby Bridge border crossing with Jordan, upon returning from the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, PPS and local sources said. Israeli forces raided and searched the homes of Nihyad al-Jabaa and Amro Ebied in Hebron city, but did not detain them, according to locals. A bakery in Hebron was also raided and searched, but its two Palestinian owners were reportedly not detained, according to locals. Sources added that Israeli forces seized 13,000 shekels (about $3,650) and a vehicle from Saadi al-Qawasmeh after raiding his house in Hebron city, though he was not detained. Meanwhile, sources in Beit Ummar north of Hebron city said Israeli forces conducted a violent raid in the town, assaulting a family, but reported no detentions.
Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad said that Israeli soldiers raided Muhammad Kamil al-Zaaqiq’s house, destroying doors, beds, and other furniture and belongings. Israeli soldiers assaulted Muhammad’s two sons Ayman, 37, and Kamil, 20, by kicking them and beating them with rifles. Israeli forces also attempted to assault their 60-year-old Muhammad and his wife, Awad said. According to Awad, Kamil sustained different injuries and was badly bruised…
Palestinian Wafa news agency also reported that Israeli forces shut down a metal workshop in the town of Arraba in the northernmost Jenin district. Palestinian security sources told Wafa that Israeli forces shut down the metal workshop, owned by Mustafa Sadeq Arda, and confiscated equipment from three other metal workshops in the town. Israeli forces regularly target West Bank metals workshops on allegations that weapons are produced there. Israeli news site Arutz Sheva said reported that the workshop was manufacturing firearms and other weapons “intended for use in terror attacks against Israeli civilians and security personnel.” The newspaper also said that during a raid in the Jenin-area village of al-Mughayyir, Israeli forces found “a makeshift firearm.”….
Detained Palestinian activist begins hunger strike
RAMALLAH (AP) 5 Sept by Mohammed Daraghmeh — A prominent Palestinian activist began a hunger strike Tuesday to protest his detention by the Palestinian authorities after he criticized the autonomy government of President Mahmoud Abbas. Issa Amro was detained Monday by Palestinian security forces in Hebron, the West Bank’s largest city, after he criticized the detention of a local journalist who had called for Abbas’ resignation. Amro expressed his views in a Facebook post. Leading human rights groups blasted Amro’s detention. London-based Amnesty International and the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights said it signals a growing crackdown on free expression in the autonomous Palestinian enclaves in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Amro is the founder of the group Youth Against Settlements in volatile Hebron, where Jewish settlers live in heavily guarded enclaves in the center of the city. Amro was on hunger strike to protest what he said was an unlawful detention, made without a warrant or due process, said his brother, Ahmad Amro. “Issa started a hunger strike today protesting his arbitrary arrest,” he said. “He has been in detention for more than 24 hours without being presented before a prosecutor and without official charges.” Amro’s lawyer, Farid al-Atrash, said he visited Amro and the detained local journalist on Monday. “It is shameful for the Palestinian Authority to arrest such a strong activist against settlement activities and (Israeli) aggressions in Hebron,” the lawyer said. Amro, 35, also faces charges in an Israeli military court, including allegedly calling for illegal protests and obstructing the official duties of soldiers. Amro has said Israel is trying to silence him and Amnesty has called for the “baseless” charges to be dropped. His trial is to resume in October. Al-Atrash said that Israel is trying to halt what he called Amro’s “relentless struggle against settlement activities in Hebron.”….
Israeli court reinstates former prison sentence for Palestinian-French NGO worker
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Sept — A Jerusalem court replaced a six-month administrative detention order — imprisonment without charge or trial — issued against human rights defender Salah Hamouri, and replaced it with a reinstatement of a past sentence against him in 2005. The court reinstated the rest of the prison sentence against Hamouri, who is a field researcher for Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer, and rescinded the administrative order that was issued against him last week, according to a statement released by Addameer. Hamouri, 32, who holds dual Palestinian-French citizenship, was released three months early from his nearly seven-year sentence in Israeli prison during the Wafa al-Ahrar, or Gilad Shalit prisoners exchange deal in 2011. According to Addameer, the judge has ordered Hamouri to serve the rest of this sentence. The Israeli prosecution and Israeli intelligence have decided to appeal the decision, Addameer said. Hamouri was detained during an overnight raid last month from his home in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Kafr Aqab.
The East Jerusalem resident was banned from entering the occupied West Bank until Sept. 2016, and his wife Elsa Lefort is currently banned by Israeli authorities from entering the occupied Palestinian territory or Israel. In an unusually high-profile case illustrating the difficulties Palestinians face to obtain — and keep — their East Jerusalem residency, Lefort was detained and deported by Israeli authorities in 2016 when she was six-and-a-half months pregnant….
Egyptian power lines to southern Gaza resume operation
GAZA (Ma‘an) 6 Sept — One of the Egyptian power lines feeding the Gaza Strip resumed operation on Tuesday after being cut off for about two months, Gaza’s electricity company said. Muhammad Thabet, head of public relations at the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company, said that the ‘Gaza 2’ electricity line that powers districts in southern Gaza with 10 megawatts was back in operation and providing electricity. Egyptian authorities fixed ‘Gaza 1’ last week, after it had fallen into disrepair for some 50 days, he added. Now that both power lines have resumed operating, Thabet said he expected the electricity distribution in the besieged coastal enclave to improve. The electricity company official reiterated that most Palestinians in Gaza are being supplied with only four hours of electricity a day. Over the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha that ended on Monday, for a few days, Gaza reportedly received between six to eight hours of electricity a day because ministries and public institutions were on holiday.
Israeli forces allegedly detain Gaza university lecturer over suspicions of hacking
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Sept — Israeli forces allegedly detained a Palestinian lecturer from the besieged Gaza Strip last week over suspicions that he was working with a Hamas-affiliated hacker group, sources told Ma‘an on Tuesday. Palestinian sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces had detained Dr. Ramzi Abid when he attempted to leave Gaza through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing last Sunday. The sources said that Abid had been traveling to Italy in order to attend a workshop. Abid works as a lecturer at Gaza’s Islamic University, according to the sources. The sources added that Abid was being accused of working with a Hamas-affiliated hacker group, which reportedly targets cell phones and cameras belonging to the Israeli army.
Israeli forces level lands near Gaza City
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Sept — Israeli military vehicles and bulldozers staged a limited incursion into the besieged Gaza Strip and leveled lands Tuesday morning, witnesses told Ma‘an. Eyewitnesses said that four D9 Israeli military bulldozers leveled land approximately 50 meters beyond Israel’s border fence, east of the Shujaiyya neighborhood of Gaza City. No gunfire was reported.
Letter from Gaza: ‘Alive due to lack of death’
Al Jazeera 2 Sept by Jehad Abusalim — In Gaza, entire families sit in the darkness of their living rooms, with candles generating the only light. Dozens of families have lost loved ones in house fires. Propane is scarce, and small generators are unsafe and hard to come by. They are usually smuggled through tunnels and poorly made. One of my college professors lost three children (a 14-year-old and eight-year-old twins) after their generator exploded. Gaza residents face so much hardship and pain, just to secure one of life’s basic necessities. When the electricity goes out, the silence is deafening. Everything grinds to a halt: refrigerators, televisions, hospital equipment, water pumps and fans. Modern life stops. The quiet allows us to imagine what the world was like before we were immersed in the noise of car horns and the hum and buzz of modern machines. Later, the quiet is replaced by a storm of sound as generators whir and screech back to life. I will never forget the afternoon when I asked my father how long he thought the blockade would last. “A few months, my son. A few months. It won’t take long,” he answered. A few weeks ago, more than a decade since the Israeli blockade of Gaza was implemented, I spoke with my father again and reminded him of what he said that day. I could practically feel his sorrow and grief through the phone. “I don’t know how many 10 years there are in one’s life,” he answered, crushed by the naivete of his statement all those years ago. How is it acceptable that in 2017, Gaza’s residents, including my own family, have to spend so much of their time worrying about water, light and food? What justifies a policy that causes toddlers like my younger brother to soak in sweat during the night and place their cheeks on the cool tile floor to escape the heat of Gaza’s nights?….
Using 3D printers to tackle Gaza’s medical shortages
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 5 Sept by Mersiha Gadzo — The stethoscope, a staple device in modern medicine, is a luxury item in Gaza. At Gaza’s largest hospital, al-Shifa, there are only one or two stethoscopes in each department; doctors left without one resort to pressing their ears against patients’ chests to diagnose an illness. “That would be the best-case scenario,” Canadian doctor Tarek Loubani told Al Jazeera. “If someone’s full of blood, most doctors aren’t going to put their ears to the chest. So, doctors are making decisions without that piece of information.” Loubani and three of his peers are working to change that. As part of the Glia team, their goal is to mass-manufacture low-cost, high-quality medical devices for Gaza using 3D printing. They recently received their first batch of stethoscopes. In their office in the centre of Gaza City, a small square piece of the 3D printer moves back and forth across the plate, refining two long pieces. In about two hours, it will finish printing all the pieces to form the tested and approved 3D printed stethoscope – the first of its kind in the Gaza Strip. “It looks like a toy, but the quality is just as good as the leading brands,” Mohammed Abu Matar, 31, told Al Jazeera, as he held up one of their finished stethoscopes. The item costs only $3, compared with the industry-leading Littmann Cardiology III, which sells for around $200. It is a huge feat for the Gaza Strip, which suffers from a shortage of much-needed medical equipment. Under the decade-long Israeli-Egyptian blockade, a wide range of medical items are banned from entering Gaza without special coordination due to Israel’s “dual-use” concerns – namely, that the items could also be used for military purposes. Affordability is another obstacle. A $300 stethoscope is roughly equivalent to a doctor’s monthly salary in Gaza….
VIDEO: ICRC calls on Palestinian Authority to end Gaza sanctions
5 Sept — The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, is calling on the Palestinian Authority (PA), which governs the occupied West Bank, to end its pressure tactics on Gaza, a Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory. Maurer was visiting Gaza before meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He said the PA’s squeeze on salaries and electricity was taking an “unacceptable toll” on civilians in the territory, which also suffers from an Israeli blockade. Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett reports from Gaza.
Save the Children warns of unlivable conditions in Gaza
Al Jazeera 4 Sept — Save the Children says kids are ‘unable to sleep, study or play’ as enclave faces electricity and environmental crises — One million children are suffering from “unlivable” conditions in the Gaza Strip, according to Save the Children, an international charity that promotes children’s rights and provides aid worldwide. “One million children in Gaza are living in dire conditions,” the group said in a statement on Tuesday. “Save the Children considers Gaza to be unlivable now.” … The continuing electricity crisis and “environmental crisis” has left the more than one million children in Gaza unable “to sleep, study or play”, Save the Children said. According to the charity, more than 740 schools are struggling to function without electricity, and most families receive only two to four hours of electricity each day.
Three years after the war: Gaza youths speak out
MEMO 4 Sept by Ramzy Baroud — “At bedtime, I am afraid to turn the lights off. I am not a coward, it is just that I worry that this bulb hanging from the ceiling is the last light that remains (shining) in my life.” Soon after he penned these words, Moath Alhaj, a young artist from a Gaza refugee camp, passed away in his sleep. After disappearing for two days, Moath’s friends broke down the door of his house and found him huddled with his blanket in a place in which he lived alone for 11 years. Moath lived in the Nuseirat Refugee Camp, one of Gaza’s most crowded camps, a name which is associated with historic hardship, war, and legendary resistance. Raised in the United Arab Emirates, Moath returned to Gaza to join the Islamic University, but remained there, experiencing three wars and a decade-long blockade. Somehow, the young man maintained a semblance of hope as expressed in his many drawings and emotive commentary. Moath learned to live in his own world ever since he was young. The outside world to him seemed unpredictable and, at times, cruel. When his mother passed away, Moath was only 1 year old. His father died of cancer in the UAE and, due to circumstances beyond his control, Moath lived alone. Keeping him company were his friends in the neighborhood, but mostly it was his self-effacing, yet profound artistic expressions. “Smile, may the war feel shame,” was one of his cartoons. In it, a little girl with a flowery dress turns her back at the reader, looking the other way. Moath’s art characters always had their eyes closed, as if they refuse to see the world around them, and insist on imagining a better world inside their own thoughts. After his body was thoroughly examined, doctors concluded that Moath died as a result of a stroke. His heart, heavy with untold personal and collective miseries, had just given in. And just like that, one of Gaza’s finest young men was buried in an ever-crowded graveyard. Social media buzzed with statements of condolences, made mostly by young Palestinians from Gaza, devastated to hear that Moath had died, that his last light had been extinguished, and that the young man’s life had ended while the siege and state of war remain….
Internal rift exacerbates academic challenges in Gaza
Gaza (Asharq al-Awsat) 3 Sept – The number of students attending the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip schools declined as the new academic year started due to difficult economic conditions suffered by their guardians. The problems of the education system in the Gaza Strip have been exacerbated by the continued division between Fatah and Hamas, and by the Israeli siege on the coastal strip. As the internal rift widened, hundreds of teachers consequently refused to work due to fear of having their wages cut as the Palestinian Authority took harsh measures against Hamas ministries and institutions in the Gaza Strip. “The new teachers have been appointed with low salaries, 50 percent less than the original salary, which affects their living conditions and educational contribution,” media and public relations officer at the Education Ministry in the Gaza Strip Moatasem al-Minawi told Asharq Al-Awsat … On the academic curricula, Minawi said that there is full coordination between Gaza and the West Bank, revealing as well the construction and furnishing of new schools. There is coordination, but we hope that differences will end so that the work is improves for us all,” said Minawi.
Gaza family remains rooted 15 years after massacre
[with photos] Electronic Intifada 5 Sept by Mousa Tawfiq & Mohammed Asad — The al-Hajeen family’s sun-soaked and verdant orchard in southern Gaza City, planted in an area near the Mediterranean coast famous for its figs and grapes, is idyllic. But like just about every other patch of land in Gaza it has also been the scene of tragedy. Fifteen years ago, four members of the family were killed by Israeli fire as they rested on their land. The al-Hajeen orchard is less than a mile away from the former location of Netzarim, an Israeli settlement that was evacuated in 2005. “Every evening, two Israeli tanks would sit on a hill 200 meters from our land, watching us while we harvested,” Khaled al-Hajeen, who goes by Abu Ismail, told The Electronic Intifada. In early August 2002, on the eve of the annual grape harvest, soldiers in tanks came to the al-Hajeen family’s land and there was a short conversation. “We told them that we would be coming every day with our women and children to harvest our crops. They told us that they watch us and we are safe, as long as no one reaches their hill,” Abu Ismail said. The family, including women and children, began to spend more time on their land for the harvest. But everything changed on 29 August, just a few days before the start of the new school year. “My nephews wanted to spend their last night [before school] on our land,” Abu Ismail explained. “I came here with my brother, his wife and my nephews.” After dinner, Abu Ismail took his younger nephews to sleep in one tent, while the older ones were in a separate tent along with Abu Ismail’s brother. Shortly before midnight Abu Ismail heard a tank shell nearby. “I stood up and saw the laser of the Israeli tanks on me,” he said. “I quickly lay on the ground. I knew that the shell had hit my nephews’ tent. I saw my brother’s wife running towards her children. She was directly hit and died immediately. They were shooting at everything that was moving. Shells and bullets were everywhere.”…
But the army wasn’t done turning the family’s lives upside down. “Two months later, in October 2002, my neighbors called me and said, come and look at your land, the bulldozers were here. I didn’t understand and came here quickly,” Abu Ismail said. The army had razed his orchard, leaving “nothing but hills of sand,” he added. “What did I do? I cried. I cried as I had never done before.” The Gaza municipality helped Abu Ismail and his neighbors, whose lands were also razed, to delineate the boundaries of their properties. Abu Ismail and his relatives began digging deep in the sand to excavate and replant the roots of their oldest trees, the ones planted by his father decades ago. “We worked for four months, from morning to evening, to find our trees. Luckily we found 80 percent of them. And now, this is our new farm – old roots but new branches….
When getting a college degree requires self-exile
NY Times 6 Sept by Zaina Arafat — Before Ghada Tafesh left the Gaza Strip for college in the United States, her family gave her a necklace with two pendants. One was in the shape of historic Palestine. The other was an olive tree. “They wanted me to have something that would remind me of home, and to never be ashamed of where I come from,” she told me. Ms. Tafesh has much to be proud of as she begins the final year of her master’s program in humanities at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa., this fall. But the trade-off was painful: getting her education meant not returning home for six years … But Ms. Tafesh was often homesick, especially during wars (two have occurred so far in her time abroad) and when, during her sophomore year, she had to undergo open-heart surgery for a congenital heart condition. “Back home in Gaza, I would probably be dead by now,” she said….
Gaza rapper hopes to hip-hop to world stardom
GAZA (Reuters) 5 Sept by Nidal al-Mughrabi — Ibrahim Ghunaim, or MC Gaza as he likes to be called, raps to a different beat in an Islamist-ruled Palestinian enclave rocked by internal conflict and three wars with Israel over the past decade. The 25-year-old, who grew up listening to American rapper Eminem, began rapping when he was 13 and hopes for an international career one day. “I believe I was born to become a rapper,” Ghunaim told Reuters. It took years to change the public perception of hip hop in the conservative Gaza Strip, which the Hamas movement seized in 2007 from forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Rappers in Gaza did not have an easy start, and their first performance in 2005 – to celebrate Israel’s withdrawal of troops and settlers – did not go down well. At the show, a pioneer rap band had to flee the stage after a crowd was angered by what it viewed as offensive hand gestures by the performers. Ghunaim’s songs focus on Gaza’s high unemployment, women’s rights, young Palestinians jailed by Israel for alleged security offences and the absence of peace. This year alone, he’s written 25 songs….
Southern farmers seek to bring back Gaza workers
YERUSHALAYIM (Hamodia) 4 Sept by Dror Halavy — Despite suffering from them for years, farmers in southern Israel want to have a closer working relationship with Gazans. In a letter to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, the farmers asked for authorization to allow workers from Gaza to enter Israel to work on their farms. In the letter, the farmers wrote that their request “is based on mutual interests – both ours and that of Gazans. We wish to restore the situation to what it was in years past,” when tens of thousands of Gazans worked on Israeli farms. Israel largely banned workers from Gaza after Hamas took over the Gaza Strip 11 years ago, and since then farmers in southern Israel have searched the world for migrant workers willing to do the hard agricultural work Israelis are not interested in. Workers on farms hail from Thailand, China, Philippines and other Asian countries, as well as from Eastern Europe. However, the expenses involved in housing and feeding these workers are high; in their letter, the farmers wrote that “in most cases, it is economically more advantageous for us to employ workers from Gaza than the current arrangements we have.” In addition, the farmers wrote, providing Gaza farmhands with work will help alleviate the poverty in Gaza. “We are also interested in helping Gaza families to whatever extent we can. We believe that providing economic assistance and benefits for Gaza residents is in Israel’s interests as well,” the letter said. While Liberman is said to be favorably disposed to the idea – as is the IDF – the Shin Bet is opposed to it, over the likelihood that Hamas will use the program to smuggle terrorists into Israel, making it easier to attack Israeli citizens.
Rally marks three years since disappearance of Ethiopian-Israeli man into Gaza
JERUSALEM (JTA) 4 Sept — About 100 people attended a rally in support of the family of an Ethiopian-Israeli man held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip to mark three years since his disappearance. The demonstrators joined the family of Avraham Abera Mengistu on Sunday night at Tel Aviv’s Habima Square. Mengistu, 30, of Ashkelon, has not been heard from since September 2014, when he is believed to have voluntarily climbed over the security fence between Israel and Gaza. He suffers from mental illness and was exempt from serving in Israel’s military. Mengistu’s parents met last week in Israel with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and called for information about their son’s fate. In June, the Israeli army turned over to the family a security camera video showing Mengistu crossing over into Gaza. Hamas has admitted that it holds Mengistu, as well as a Bedouin-Israeli man who also is said to be mentally ill who crossed into Gaza, and a third Israeli who entered Gaza voluntarily. Hamas also holds the remains of two Israeli soldiers, Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul, both killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Apartheid
The writing on the wall: Signs of occupation in Hebron
The Forward 29 Aug by Issa Amro — … There are between 600 and 850 settlers, many of them extremists, living in downtown Hebron, with around 1,500 soldiers to protect them. For more than a decade, settlers have been installing these new Hebrew and English signs throughout Hebron as part of an effort to assert their dominance over Palestinians in the city and erase our identities. Over the past two years, the number of signs has rapidly increased. Throughout Shuhada Street are directional signs in Hebrew and English: Chabad Cemetery, Old Jewish Cemetery, Ancient Tel Hebron. In the middle of the street are a series of murals. Above the murals are signs posted by the settlers with political statements declaring that Hebron belongs to them. Their signs are illegal even under Israeli law, which requires, according to the Hebron Protocol signed in 1997, that the Palestinian identity of the city be protected. In addition to changing street names from Arabic to English and Hebrew, many of the signs are mounted on private Palestinian shops and homes without the owner’s consent. This is not only erasure, it is incitement. As part of an effort to have the signs removed, Rabbis for Human Rights has partnered with my organization, Youth Against Settlements, in filing suit against them in an Israeli court. Given the illegality of the signs, we had requested the Israeli army secure the area so we could remove them. The army refused to grant our request, citing fear of violence. Now we are taking the case to Israel’s high court in Jerusalem. Our petition reads: “In a systematic, deliberate manner, the Committee of the Renewal of the Jewish Community of Hebron erases Palestinian cultural identity from Hebron’s Shuhada Street and replaces it with a narrative consistent with the position of its members … Let me be clear. I am not opposed to Jews coming to Hebron. It is the violent, hateful and illegal settler presence, protected by a hostile foreign army, that I am opposed to. It is decades of a colonial project that works day and night to erase my Palestinian identity and displace me from my land and birthplace that I am opposed to. Because of the illegal settlers, unemployment in Hebron’s old city, the area under Israeli military control, is over 70%. That is even higher than in Gaza. Having control of our religious sites and historic streets and marketplaces, combined with the removal of the Israeli military and their checkpoints and movement barriers, could create a booming tourist industry for our city, for which, without a doubt, Jews would be among our most frequent visitors….
Nabi Saleh: “It’s a silent ethnic cleansing’
RAMALLAH, Occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 4 Sept by Jaclynn Ashly — Ahed Tamimi was just 14 when she rose to international prominence through the release of a video and a series of photos capturing her desperate attempts to save her 11-year-old brother, Mohammad, from the grips of an Israeli soldier in 2015. “Many Israelis threatened me on social media after the video was released, demanding that I be detained or even killed,” 16-year-old Ahed told Al Jazeera from her family’s home in the village of Nabi Saleh, where the distinct, red-tiled roofs of illegal Israeli settlement housing dot the adjacent hilltop. “The harassment handcuffed my life. I was scared to even go outside or visit my friends.” … The harassment began immediately following the video’s release, as Israelis called her a “terrorist” on social media and threatened to kill her, the family says. Bassem, Ahed’s father and a long-standing leader in the village, said that her 19-year-old brother, Waed, was detained after the release of the video. At the start of his 10-month stay in Israeli jail, Ahed’s mother, Nariman, received permission to enter Israel to visit him, and Ahed tagged along. “When we passed a checkpoint near Jerusalem, the Israeli soldiers got on the bus and immediately singled her out,” Nariman told Al Jazeera. “While everyone else was permitted to pass, Ahed was pulled off the bus and told she wouldn’t be allowed into Israel.” During the village’s protests, Israeli forces would often scream Ahed’s name and shout curses at her. “Look! It’s Ahed Tamimi. Shoot her!” Bassem recalled one soldier as saying. The family was often scared for their daughter, he added: “Whenever the soldiers recognise her, they do something to make her life difficult. Every time she left the house, we were scared something would happen to her.” Ahed was even forced to stay at her cousin’s home in Ramallah, where she attends school, to avoid the danger of passing through Israeli checkpoints on her way from Nabi Saleh. The Tamimi family is no stranger to Israeli persecution. In 2012, Amnesty International labelled Bassem a prisoner of conscience during one of his numerous stays in Israeli prison. Nariman has been detained five times by Israeli forces, and Waed twice, for their involvement in protests. In 2010, just a few months after the weekly protests began, Israeli authorities issued a demolition order on the family’s home, which Bassem believes was intended to pressure them to cease their involvement in the protest movement. Their home has since been raided more than 150 times by Israeli forces, he said. Meanwhile, hundreds of dunams of Nabi Saleh’s lands have been confiscated for the purposes of building Israel’s illegal Halamish settlement, whose residents have burned hundreds of the village’s olive trees – attacks that escalated after the protests began. In 2009, the village’s water spring was also confiscated for the use of the settlers. The 600 or so residents of the village receive only 12 hours of running water a week from Israel, while the settlers in Halamish have running water 24 hours a day….
Israel ‘illegally’ transfers Palestinian land in West Bank to Jewish National Land
Daily Sabah 5 Sept — Israel’s Ministry of Justice transferred nearly a hundred hectares of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank to the Jewish National Fund (JNF), the Palestinian Authority said Monday. Hassan Burejiya, the Bethlehem coordinator of the committee against the separation wall and settlement units, said the Palestinian Authority condemns the move to transfer 80.5 hectares of agricultural land to the JNF, calling it theft and a violation of the law. Last week, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said the land located in south Bethlehem was transferred. The decision was taken despite a continuing legal battle over the ownership of the land near the Gush Etzion junction. The Jewish National Fund, founded in 1901 to develop land in Palestine for Jewish settlements, is an organization obtaining funds from Jewish families around the world….
B’Tselem to Netanyhau and other top Israeli officials: Demolishing Palestinian communities – a war crime for which you would bear personal liability
B’Tselem press release 5 Sept — The Defense Minister declared that Israel is preparing to expel two Palestinian communities in the West Bank – an unlawful action that would constitute forcible transfer of protected persons in occupied territory — Yesterday, 4 September 2017, B’Tselem sent a grave letter to Israel’s prime minister, the defense minister, the chief of staff and the head of the Civil Administration, cautioning that demolition of the Palestinian communities of Susiya and Khan al-Ahmar as planned would constitute a war crime for which they would bear personal liability. B’Tselem made the unusual move after Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told the press last week that the defense ministry was “preparing for the evacuation of Palestinian communities built without authorization” and that “work was being done to implement plans to evacuate the Palestinian villages of Sussia in the South Hebron Hills and Khan al-Ahmar near Ma’aleh Adumim within a few months.” The demolition of entire communities in the Occupied Territories is virtually unprecedented since 1967. In its letter, B’Tselem warned that under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which Israel is obliged to respect in all its actions in the West Bank, forcible transfer of protected persons inside the occupied territory is prohibited and constitutes a war crime. The organization emphasized that the prohibition on forcible transfer of protected persons is not limited to transfer by physical force, but applies also to “departure due to impossible living conditions created by the authorities – through, for instance, demolishing homes or disconnecting them from electricity and running water. “….
Ministers earmark $15 million to resume construction of new settlement
Times of Israel 3 Sept by Jacob Magid — After a month-long building freeze due to budgetary disputes, the cabinet approved a plan on Sunday that will allow for construction to resume on a new settlement for evacuees of the illegal Amona outpost. The Finance Ministry will transfer NIS 55 million ($15.3 million) to the Interior Ministry for the purpose of infrastructure work in Amichai, adjacent to Shiloh in the northern West Bank … An additional NIS 5 million ($1.4 million) will go to the Defense Ministry to fund the installation of mobile homes on a hilltop adjacent to Shiloh until the construction of permanent homes is completed … The Peace Now settlement watchdog panned the cabinet’s decision. “There is no limit to the groveling of the Israeli government,” the NGO said in a statement Sunday. The group added that “42 families, which the court ruled had stolen private land, are extorting the government,” while funding for educational programs and pensions for the disabled is neglected. Amona was evacuated in February after the High Court of Justice ruled that it had been built on private Palestinian land. The 42 families that used to live there have since been residing in dormitory-style housing in the nearby Ofra settlement, waiting for the completion of Amichai.
Israel to destroy sole water source of Nablus area village
IMEMC 6 Sept — Israeli forces, Tuesday, notified Palestinians of their intentions to destroy the water pipeline providing services to residents in a locale near the village of Douma, south of Nablus, said a local official. Ghassan Daghles, monitoring Israeli settlement activity in the north of the West Bank, said that forces handed residents notices informing them of their intention to remove the pipeline; the sole source of water for that area. There are only 14 families living in the locale, according to WAFA.
Occupation authorities cut off water supply to West Bank village
BETHLEHEM (PNN) 6 Sept — Palestinians living in Ain al-Baida village, Tubas, West Bank, staged a demonstration on Wednesday against the occupation’s decision to cut water supply to the village. A member of the village council Fares Fakha told PNN that the occupation’s policy started by gradually reducing the amount of water that reaches the villagers, who are almost 1700 villagers and most of them work in agriculture. He added that water supply went from 240 to 180 until it reached 30 cups per hour, causing damage to the agriculture especially with the high temperature. Another member of the village council said that the occupation cut off the water this morning at 8 o’clock completely. He added that the occupation follows this systematic policy against the people of the village in particular, and the people of the Jordan Valley in general to displace them from their land.
After decades of darkness, Palestinian village gets power
Haaretz 4 Sept by Yotam Berger — Following a High Court petition, Israel takes steps to provide the West Bank village with electricity — Asma Rashid Hatib, 76, used to get out of bed and crawl to the bathroom every night. In Dhaher al-Malah, a village in the northwestern West Bank where she lives, there was never an orderly link-up to the electricity. There was no light on the street at night, and Hatib was afraid of falling. “I did actually fall many times,” she told Haaretz. The lives of Hatib and the other 240 residents of the villages changed dramatically early last month, when Israel’s Civil Administration finally turned on the switch and the little village was linked up to the electricity network for the first time in its history. “Life before electricity was different. It was dark. Now everything has changed,” said Hatib. Dhahar al-Malah is one of the few Palestinian villages whose residents have lived in Area C for around ninety years. It is now under Israeli military and civil control — and is located on the western side of the separation fence, near the Israeli community of Katzir. Those who live and work in the Palestinian Authority have to cross a checkpoint every morning to the Palestinian side of the fence. The village was built in the 1930s and has never had electricity. In 1967 it had about 10 buildings and now it has several dozen. A few are defined as illegal, but most fell between the cracks, and Israel did not grant them official recognition until now….
Israel delays evacuation of settlers from Palestinian-owned home in Hebron
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Sept — After the state of Israel ordered a group of Israeli settlers to evacuate a Palestinian-owned building in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, the Israeli Supreme Court has ordered to delay the evacuation based on an appeal submitted by the settlers. According to Israeli media reports, the settlers’ appeal is based on the same erroneous ownership claims to the property — owned by the Abu Rajab family and referred to as Beit HaMachpela by the settlers — that have already been debunked in previous legal proceedings. The 15 settler families forcibly took over parts of the three-story Abu Rajab house in July. Last Sunday on Aug. 27, the Israeli state prosecutor gave them a week to leave peacefully in response to the petitions submitted by the Palestinian owners to the Israeli Supreme Court. A week later on Sep. 3, the settlers submitted their own petition to the court, which then issued a temporary injunction to prevent the evacuation until the deadline for the state’s response to that appeal, due on Sep. 10, according to Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now….
Palestinian family evicted from Jerusalem home of 50 years
Al Jazeera 6 Sept — Israeli police have evicted a Palestinian family from their home of more than 50 years in occupied East Jerusalem, a move denounced by rights groups as part of a wider attempt by pro-settlement groups to “Israelise Palestinian neighbourhoods”. The members of the Shamasneh family were evacuated early on Tuesday morning after fighting several court battles to keep the house – but Israel’s Supreme Court decided that Israeli claimants were the legal occupants. Municipality officials backed by armed police officers enforced the court order to remove the family from the home, which was claimed by heirs of a Jewish family forced to abandon it in 1948 when it came under Jordanian control. Israel took control of the area after the 1967 war and continued existing rental arrangements with Palestinian tenants, but a law allowing Jews to reclaim former homes or repurchase them have created conflicts. Under Israeli law, Jews who fled East Jerusalem can reclaim their property, however, Palestinians who fled property in 1948 are not afforded similar rights. Armed officers were seen escorting the Shamasnehs out of the home in Sheikh Jarah neighbourhood, with the elderly Ayoub Shamasneh, 79, carried out by his relatives. “Our case is a humanitarian case, deeper than a political case,” Mohammed Shamasneh told Al Jazeera ahead of the eviction. “The humanitarian aspect is that families have been living here peacefully for decades, with love and kindness.” This is the first evacuation of a Palestinian family in Jerusalem since 2009….
PHOTOS: Settlers move into East Jerusalem home after Israel evicts Palestinian family
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Sept — A Palestinian family was evicted from their home of 53 years in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah early Tuesday morning, culminating a protracted legal battle by which Israeli authorities claim the property belongs to Israeli settlers … Members of the Shamasna family told Ma’an that large numbers of Israeli police officers, special units, and intelligence officers stormed the house and forcibly evacuated the family before they started to move their furniture and belongings into a truck. The family highlighted that Israeli forces closed all streets and entrances to the area and prevented reporters and neighbors from accessing the building. Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now reported later Tuesday morning that the settlers were already inside the house, while the Shamasna family looked on from outside. A reporter from Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post said on Twitter that three teenagers had occupied the building.
Jewish heir opposes eviction of Palestinians from East Jerusalem home: ‘I feel very bad’
Haaretz 7 Sept by Nir Hasson — Dalia Hubara says she feels very bad about Tuesday’s eviction of the Shamasneh family from their home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem. Hubara, one of the heirs to the house, told Haaretz she “does not like to see people removed from their homes, not Jews and not Arabs.” Hubara inherited the building, a rather small house in the neighborhood, named in Hebrew Shimon Hatzadik, from her mother, who lived there until 1948. Over 10 years ago the family, who inherited the property, sold their rights to right-wing activist Aryeh King, today a member of the Jerusalem city council. They had wanted to sell the house to a Palestinian family before that, but the Palestinians could not raise the money needed, said Hubara. “King and his friends got in touch with us and we thought it would be good to be rid of the property and sell it, she said. “I considered selling it to the people living there, my husband was in contact with them. We wanted to do it so what happened [Tuesday] would not happen. But they couldn’t manage to buy the house,” said Hubara. When they saw it wasn’t working out and King was constantly after them to buy it, they sold it to him in the end. “But I didn’t evict people and I’m not involved. I had completely forgotten about the story,” she said.
Michael Ben-Yair, a former attorney general, came to the house on Tuesday. He too inherited a family property in Sheikh Jarrah, but says he, like all the other Jewish families who lived in the neighborhood, has already been compensated for the loss of the home. In return they received a home abandoned by Arabs who fled West Jerusalem during the War of Independence, he says. Ben-Yair said he intends on requesting all the ownership documents concerning the house and plans on giving them, for free, to the family that was evicted. “If it is even possible to speak of ‘justice under conditions of war,’ then such justice was not done here,” he wrote on Tuesday on his Facebook page….
Opinion: In Arab East Jerusalem, Zionism’s model apartment / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 7 Sept — There’s one like it in every construction project, the model apartment. Anyone who wants to see what the building will look like when it’s completed, comes to see the model apartment. The up-to-date Zionist project also has a model apartment – on Kunder Street, not far from Nablus Road, in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. It’s worth visiting. This apartment is where they should bring all the Birthright participants, to show them what the Zionist project, in whose name they are brought here by the tens of thousands, really looks like. Other guests of Israel, those who ask whether there’s apartheid here, should also be brought to the house on Kunder Street. This is where their questions will end. This is where the Shamasneh family lived for 53 years, as renters. This is what it’s like in Zionism’s model apartment. This act of eviction is nothing new, of course. It’s as old as the entire Zionist project. Eight family members, including an 84-year-old man in a wheelchair, were evicted from the apartment because before 1948, its owner was Jewish. Now the house has been returned to the owner’s heirs, the descendants of the late Haim Ben Sulimani Yan’i … The house on Kunder Street is the Zionist project’s model apartment, because here you get it all in a refined, condensed form. Here Israel says, without stammering: Entrance for Jews only. Exit for Arabs. Not only the right of return, but the right of property is also exclusively for Jews. A Jew who lost his home in 1948 will have his house returned to him with all respect. A Palestinian – and there were hundreds of thousands of them – has lost it forever. Two justice systems on an ethnic basis. In other languages it’s called apartheid. There’s no other name for it … Justice can only exist in one format: equality for everyone. But Zionism continues to say “no” to this singular justice. To say that in 1948 there were only Jewish refugees is an especially insolent version of Nakba denial. For what is the difference between the heirs of the owners of the land on which my house is built, on the ruins of Sheikh Munis, and Haim Yan’i’s heirs? In the model apartment on Kunder Street, all shame has been lost.
Opinion: Why would the army spokesperson lie? / Amira Hass
Haaretz 4 Sept — Every Jewish Israeli mother should know her son was drafted to ensure that only kosher Jewish sheep enjoy a free life in the Jordan Valley — Before you know it, the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Office will also be saying that peace activist Rabbi Arik Ascherman attacked Israel Defense Forces officer Osher Ein-Gal. It’s just the type of falsehood that has appeared more than once in its responses to questions about Israeli soldiers who attacked Palestinian civilians, and it was all that was missing from the fantastical account it provided me of a recent incident. In brief, I had asked if when Ein-Gal had kicked a row of spikes under the slowing car being driven by Ascherman, he was following the procedure at flying checkpoints. The spokesperson’s office basically responded that Ascherman had driven over the spikes of his own free will. With four occupants in his car. These details are of marginal importance here, but they are typical. Anything goes when the IDF is obeying its settler masters and is fulfilling the sacred mission of expelling Palestinian shepherds from their pastureland. On Friday, August 25, at around 6 A.M., the cars of two Israeli activists arrived in the ‘Auja area of the West Bank, just north of Jericho. For several months now, the activists have been accompanying Palestinian shepherds from the Bedouin Ka‘bana tribe who had been driven off their grazing lands in the Jordan Valley by settler violence for many years. The activists are members of the joint Jewish-Palestinian Ta’ayush movement and are sometimes joined by members of Machsom Watch, Combatants for Peace and non-affiliated activists. By the way, some of the people accompanying the shepherds were attacked last April by “unknown” masked Israelis who came from the vicinity of the Kochav Hashahar settlement, armed with clubs and stones. A video clip of the brutal attack has been posted online. Thanks for asking. The attackers are all well and kicking … The shepherds’ decision to return their flocks to the grazing lands has irked the settlers of Mevo’ot Yericho and at the unauthorized, illegal Einot Kedem ranch. Members of the Najadah family from the Ka‘bana tribe sum up: “We are grazing our flock, Omer [Atidia, the owner of Einot Kedem] shows up. We see him making a call on his cellphone and the army immediately arrives.”
An effective deterrent? A closer look at West Bank home demolitions
JPost 1 Sept by Adam Rasgon — On a hot summer day in August, the Atta family received a phone call from its lawyer. “Evacuate everything from your home,” Labib Habib said. The High Court had largely rejected an appeal the family submitted days earlier to prevent the IDF from demolishing its home in the middle of Deir Abu Meshaal, a working-class Palestinian village about 20 minutes driving from Ramallah. The court had ruled that the IDF could demolish the top level of the home, but had to leave the bottom level intact. Two weeks later, IDF vehicles arrived at the Atta household and blew up the top floor. According to Muhammad Atta, the demolition not only took out the top floor of his family’s home, where he lived until two years ago when he married his wife, but it rendered the bottom floor uninhabitable. He said a local engineer told him that the explosion damaged the structure of the bottom floor to the point that “it would not be safe to live” there. Standing next to the remains of his family’s home, Atta asked why his family had to pay the price of his brother Osama’s actions, who, along with two of his neighbors, Adel Ankoush and Bara Salah, carried out a coordinated attack in two locations near Jerusalem’s Old City in mid-June, killing St.-Sgt. Hadas Malka and wounding others. Osama, Ankoush and Salah all were shot dead while carrying out the attack. “We had no idea that Osama was going to carry out an attack. And if we had known, we would have stopped him. We are absolutely against violence…. She [Malka] had a mother just as Osama had a mother. She did not deserve to die and had a life to live,” Muhammad said last week with a look of exhaustion on his face … In Israel, demolishing homes of attackers’ families is not straightforward. While the government and security services officially support the policy and hold that it establishes a deterrent against would-be attackers, a number of former IDF generals argue otherwise … A recent study conducted by Hebrew University professors and another Northwestern University professor complements Akerman’s conclusions. The study contends that “punitive house demolitions lead to fewer suicide attacks in the month following demolitions,” stating that “a one standard deviation increase in punitive house demolitions leads to a decrease of 11.7% in the number of suicide terrorists originating from an average district.” Nonetheless, a number of other voices in Israel’s security establishment question Akerman’s and the recent study’s conclusions. A former senior IDF officer, who served in a prominent role in the West Bank, said that “the conclusion is that home demolitions do not deter terrorists.” … “Frankly, I think politicians use home demolitions as a way to placate the public,” he said … “We found that it really was not an effective way of establishing deterrence,” a member of the IDF committee, who agreed to speak anonymously, stated. “[Home demolitions] actually created a great amount of fury among the Palestinians, and we even thought at times the policy had the opposite effect of deterrence.” He added: “We also thought that it was not worth the price the army paid in its image.”….
Palestine in pictures: August 2017
Electronic Intifada 1 September
Press freedom in Palestine: condemned to self-censor
Qantara (Germany) 4 Sept by Inge Gunther — To this day, the five Palestinian journalists have not been told why they were detained two weeks ago. They spent a week behind bars at a Palestinian Authority jail on the West Bank. The five, who work for opposition online media including outlets loyal to Hamas, have now been released. But speaking after his release, one member of the group Kotaibeh Kasem, a freelancer from Bethlehem, said he had at no point been confronted with concrete accusations. He went on to say that he has had frequent run-ins with President Mahmoud Abbas’ security authorities. And on this occasion, he immediately suspected “that this was a political detention.”To put it bluntly, it could be said that the five journalists served Palestinian security agencies as a kind of bargaining chip to force Hamas in Gaza to free a reporter associated with Fatah. Fouad Jaradeh, Gaza correspondent for “Palestine TV”, the news channel associated with Abbas, had been thrown in jail by Hamas police around two months ago. They finally released him in mid-August, whereupon autonomy government authorities released the aforementioned five journalists from detention. It is well-known that Hamas does not balk at the idea of hostage-taking. But now, it would appear that West Bank security agencies trained by the EU and the U.S. are also resorting to mafia-style methods to put pressure on Islamist rulers in Gaza. “It can’t really be described any other way,” says Shawan Jabarin, director of the Al-Haq civil rights organisation in Ramallah and adds: “arbitrary arrests under any random pretext are a crime.” Under such circumstances, Palestinian journalists have little opportunity to carry out independent reporting, even if they are not affiliated to either Fatah or Hamas….
PA arrests radio station chairman who publicly denounced Abbas
JPost 4 Sept by Adam Rasgon –The Palestinian Authority Preventative Security arrested Ayman Qawasmeh, the chairman of the Minbar al-Huriyya radio station, in Hebron late Sunday evening, a senior PA security official said on Monday. Qawasmeh’s arrest came some three days after he made disparaging comments of PA President Mahmoud Abbas and PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. In a fit of frustration, Qawasmeh on Thursday called on Abbas and Hamdallah to resign after the IDF raided his radio station in Hebron and confiscated equipment, accusing them of failing to protect PA -controlled areas in the West Bank. An IDF spokeswoman said security services raided the radio station because it was inciting violence, a charge that Qawasmeh has denied. “I call on PA President Mahmoud Abbas and the prime minister to submit their resignations and not to remain in their positions,” Qawasmeh said in a video that was widely shared on social media. “[To] he who cannot protect his institutions and people, I say to them, sit in your house.” The PA is technically in charge of security inside major West Bank cities like Hebron, but the IDF frequently enters them to carry out arrests and confiscate equipment. A senior official in the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate who is following Qawasmeh’s case said that Qawasmeh was arrested because of the remarks he made about Abbas and Hamdallah while technically serving as a member of the PA security services. According to a member of Qawasmeh’s family, the radio station chairman served for a number of years in the PA security services, but resigned before municipal elections took place last May … Members of the PA security forces, similar to many other security services around the world, are not allowed to take public positions on political issues. However, Hisham Sharabati, a political analyst and activist in the West Bank, said that the PA only upholds that standard when it pertains to itself or Fatah, the West Bank’s ruling party. “I have heard Ayman Qawasmeh criticize Hamas and the Popular Front [for the Liberation of Palestine] many times on the radio,” Sharabati said. “So why did the PA arrest him only after he made his recent statements about Abbas and Hamdallah? Where were they when he made the statements about Hamas and the PFLP?”
A young Palestinian writer’s suicide sparks mental illness debate
StepFeed 1 Sept by Mariam Nabbout — Earlier this week, a promising young Palestinian student and writer ended his own life, sending shockwaves through his community in Gaza, Palestine. According to Gaza’s police chief, Ayman Al Batneeji, 22-year-old Mohanad Younes died after inhaling poisonous gas. Soon after news of Younes’ suicide began to circulate online, thousands shared moving tributes to the young man. But his death also sparked debate over mental illness in Gaza and the Arab world, leading thousands to discuss a dangerous, collective sense of hopelessness that currently affects millions of young people across the region. Younes was a university student, studying pharmacy at Al-Azhar university. He was also a promising young writer who rose to fame after he won first place in a literary competition in 2015 for “A Search for Warmth” – a short story he had written. In recent months, Mohanad won several other important literary awards including one awarded by Gaza’s Ministry of Education. After his untimely death, several of the young writer’s relatives took to social media, sharing different versions of stories that hinted at what might have led Mohanad to take his own life. His uncle, Asaad Ghurab, said that the young man decided to commit suicide due to familial issues related to his father, who had abandoned Mohanad many years back. Others explained that the young man’s decision was caused by an accumulation of factors which include severe depression … As devastating as it is, Mohanad’s suicide is not an isolated case, and he possibly reflects the plight of thousands of people in the Arab world who often suffer in silence. In many countries all over the Arab world, the mere discussion of any mental health issue is still considered a taboo. Even though it’s common across the region, there’s still a lot of stigma attached to mental illness, in addition to numerous social restrictions, misconceptions, and myths. These factors often discourage those affected from seeking necessary treatment that is crucial, especially in a region where youth are becoming less optimistic. Amid skyrocketing rates of unemployment, poverty, and violence that are all widespread across the region, it comes as no surprise that the Middle East has also seen a “sharp increase” in mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia….
Skateboarding camp helps Palestinians see beyond West Bank walls
[with video] QALQILYA, West Bank (NBC News) 2 Sept by Petra Cahill & Lawahez Jabari — Residents in this Palestinian city never see the sunset; Israel’s imposing security wall blocks the view towards the west, and much else. Now, a skateboarding summer camp in Qalqilya is helping kids to see a new horizon. “When you get on the skateboard, you don’t think about all the problems you have. All you’re focused on is that you have to stay on the board and not fall,” said Abdullah Milhem, a 17-year-old from Qalqilya who first picked up a skateboard five years ago. He says his hobby has changed his life and gave him a positive outlet for his energy instead of hanging out on the streets or getting involved in drugs or violence. “You have this feeling of flying,” said Milhem. “You have this feeling like you can do anything.” That’s exactly the kind of empowerment the organizers of the nonprofit camp, SkateQilya, are hoping to foster by using the skateboard as a tool to teach independence, creativity and leadership skills to young Palestinians in the West Bank, which was captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war … The camp is focused on what organizers see as three integrated activities: Reed teaches the kids how to skateboard, Abel leads photography and videography classes and Othman does community building — teaching boys and girls to work and play together — as well as leadership training.
Palestinians working for foreign companies causing ‘brain drain’ in West Bank
The Media Line 6 Sept by Dima Abumaria — The Israeli-Palestinian peace process may be at an impasse, but that has not stopped Israeli hi-tech companies from recruiting Palestinian programmers and engineers from across the divide. Over the past three years, Palestinian entrepreneurs have created more than seven hundred jobs in the local hi-tech market; however, some professionals are instead opting to work for Israeli companies or projects, a “brain-drain” that has resulted in a lack of technical expertise in the West Bank. Shadi Atshan, President of the Ramallah-based Leaders organization, which manages the “Fast Forward” start-up incubator for hi-tech entrepreneurs, explained that many Palestinians opt to work in Israel because the salaries are unmatched.”Israeli companies pay them double or triple than what a Palestinian start-up can pay,” he explained to The Media Line. Specifically, Atshan said that Palestinian hi-tech companies can generally offer a “maximum salary of seven hundred dollars per month and potentially some shares in the business, whereas Israeli companies offer between $2,500-$4,000 monthly depending on the position and its demands.”….
Opinion: Condemnations of Israeli occupation aren’t enough / Amira Hass
Haaretz 6 Sept — Holland, Belgium and France: It’s not enough to condemn with just words the Israeli policy of destruction, which damages equipment and buildings funded with your taxpayers’ money. It’s good that you are angry, but the pace of the accumulation of your anger lags far behind the galloping and dangerous pace of the bulldozers of the Civil Administration in the West Bank and the Settlements Defense Forces. The condemnations are seen as lacking urgency. You must take real actions. Yes, open and declared sanctions that have a path to becoming more severe. Painful sanctions. This may be the last chance to remove the average Israeli, including business people, tourists, judges, scholars, farmers and foreign soccer consumers from their indifference and criminal complacency. Stop being afraid of Israeli emotional blackmail. Israel trades in the memory of our families murdered in Europe in order to speed up the expulsion of the Palestinians from the bulk of West Bank territory to the enclaves of the Palestinian Authority. This is the intention behind all the demolitions and confiscations and bans on construction, herding and field irrigation. Whoever plans and implements this small, gradual expulsion is already thinking about the big expulsion, to Jordan. And what will you do then? Issue condemnations and send water tankers and tents to those expelled?….
Jewish Voice for Peace tells teens not to go on Birthright
The Forward 4 Sept by JTA — The pro-Palestinian group Jewish Voice for Peace is calling on young Jewish adults to eschew the free trip to the Jewish state offered by Birthright Israel. The organization calls on the young Jews to reject Birthright Israel using the slogan #ReturnTheBirthright. A manifesto on the organization’s website reads: “(T)oday, we must acknowledge that the modern state of Israel is predicated on the ongoing erasure of Palestinians. Taking a Birthright trip today means playing an active role in helping the state promote Jewish “return” while rejecting the Palestinian right of return. It is not enough to accept this offer from the Israeli government and maintain a critical perspective while on the trip. We reject the offer of a free trip to a state that does not represent us, a trip that is only “free” because it has been paid for by the dispossession of Palestinians. And as we reject this, we commit to promoting the right to return of Palestinian refugees.” The manifesto concludes: “There are other ways for us to strengthen our Jewish identities, in community with those who share our values. Israel is not our Birthright.” The eligible Jewish young people, ages 18-26 years old, are also asked to sign a petition which reads: “We are Birthright-eligible Jews between the ages of 18 and 26. We pledge that we will not go on a Birthright trip because it is fundamentally unjust that we are given a free trip to Israel, while Palestinian refugees are barred from returning to their homes.” Some 600,000 Jewish young adults have visited Israel on the 10-day, all expenses paid trips funded by private donors and the Israeli government.
David Friedman refers to ‘alleged’ Israeli occupation
Al Jazeera 2 Sept — The new US ambassador to Israel has described as “alleged” the Israeli occupation of Palestine, in his first interview since taking office. In the interview, published by the Jerusalem Post on Friday, David Friedman also claimed that US President Donald Trump – who is his close friend – will eventually deliver on his campaign promise and move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem … In the interview, published by the Jerusalem Post on Friday, David Friedman also claimed that US President Donald Trump – who is his close friend – will eventually deliver on his campaign promise and move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.