Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel to mark 50 years to ‘return to historical lands’ with state ceremony
Ynet 17 Sept by Itamar Eichner — Israel will hold a large-scale event in late September to mark 50 years to the “return to the historical lands of Judea and Samaria, the Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights.” The hasbara center, led by Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, will organize the event, which will be held in Gush Etzion on September 27. It will feature stories about the lands and the Jewish communities established there alongside videos telling the historical, cultural and human story of these lands, along with pyrotechnics. The state ceremony will be attended by Israel’s top officials, including the president, the prime minister, ministers, members of Knesset, judges, IDF General Staff members, regional council leaders and more. All in all, some 4,000 guests will be in attendance … “To the different forces in the world and in Israel trying to undermine the Jewish people’s connection to its country, we say — you won’t succeed,” Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev said. “Fifty years ago, we returned to Judea, Samaria, the Jordan Valley and the Golan. We returned home to our ancestral lands, and we are here to stay for all of eternity. Our belonging to these lands should be above political or diplomatic dispute,” she continued….
Bedouin in unauthorized West Bank village urged to relocate, warned of evictions
Haaretz 17 Sept by Yotam Berger — The Civil Administration this week warned the residents of the unauthorized Bedouin village of Khan al-Amar, whose structures have no building permits, that they could expect to be removed shortly. Civil Administration employees came to the village on Wednesday and urged the residents to evacuate to an alternative site at Jabal. The residents refuse to move to that location, saying it isn’t suited to their needs. Khan al-Amar, located near Ma’aleh Adumim, has become a symbol of the Bedouin settlement in the region against which Israel is battling. The Bedouin around Ma’aleh Adumim live in areas that Israel considers strategic for building and expanding settlements and establishing a territorial link between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem. The government has long expressed its desire to evacuate Khan al-Amar, but has delayed doing so for fear of international criticism. Around 150 people live in Khan al-Amar in temporary dwellings that are not properly connected to any utilities. This is the village in which a nongovernmental organization in Italy erected a school built from used tires, which is attended by Bedouin children throughout the region. In the past, various foreign governments, including the Obama administration, have come out against the demolition of the village, and Israel in turn has refrained from enforcing planning and construction laws there. But now the security apparatus has made it clear that the village is to be evacuated in the near term. According to the B’Tselem organization, demolition of an entire community in the territories has almost no precedent since 1967….
Palestinian landowners push to halt settlement building
Al Jazeera 14 Sept by Rania Zabaneh — With his face pale, his cheeks hollow and his eyes weary, Fawzi Ibrahim sat on a sofa, waiting for his ride to the doctor’s office. The 62-year-old held his head in his hands as though it were too heavy for his neck to carry. The agony he felt wasn’t merely physical, he explained. “I got used to sorrow,” Ibrahim said. “I used to walk a 15km stretch from north to south on my land … [but] not anymore.” The Ibrahims owned around 800 hectares of land in the Palestinian village of Jalud, south of Nablus. They have been planting barley, chickpeas and sesame on it for generations. But over the last couple of decades, more than 90 percent of their land has been taken over by Israel. Now, they struggle to access the little land that remains because of the illegal Israeli settlements and outposts that dot the area.
The Ibrahims aren’t the only ones who have been affected. Close to 1,600 hectares of land in Jalud is off limits to its Palestinian owners – either as a result of official Israeli confiscation orders or because Israeli settlers have intimidated, harassed and attacked Palestinian farmers and taken over locals’ land to plant vineyards and olive groves of their own. Israel’s solution to the settler violence has been to ban Palestinian farmers from accessing their land without prior coordination, enabling them to plough, plant, reap and harvest under military escort only a few days a year. “An officer once told me he’d allow me a ‘whole week’ to harvest my olive trees, I told him ‘I’ll give you a week to count my trees’,” Ibrahim recalled. “We used to work in the land for two months with tens of workers.” Jalud is strangled by a ring of eight illegal settlements and outposts, soon to be nine. In June, Amichai was approved as the first official Israeli government-approved settlement in over two decades. It is reportedly intended to house 40 settler families evacuated from the outpost of Amona last February, in 100 housing units … Two weeks ago, Palestinian landowners, three village heads and the Israeli rights organisations Bimkom and Haqel filed an objection to the Israeli Civil Administration, a military governing body in the West Bank, in a bid to prevent the approval of the Amichai building plan….
Palestinian farmers return to their land (video)
Al Jazeera 15 Sept — As Palestinian landowners prepare to take court action to halt the construction of a new Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, farmers are being given a temporary reprieve. They are being allowed back to land that was previously blocked by security forces. Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid reports from Ramallah.
Israeli forces demolish Palestinian home in Negev for 8th time
NEGEV (Ma‘an) 14 Sept — Israeli bulldozers demolished a Palestinian home in Umm Qabu village in the Negev of southern Israel for the eighth time on Thursday. According to witnesses, Israeli bulldozers raided the village on Thursday morning and demolished a house belonging to Salman Abu Sabileh, whose home was demolished seven times before by Israeli authorities for allegedly lacking difficult-to-obtain building permits. Israeli forces had also raided other villages in the Negev at the time, according to locals, including Umm Batin and Abu Kaff village.
Israel halts work on donor-funded agricultural road near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 16 Sept – Israeli forces Saturday ordered a halt to work on opening an agricultural road in the village of al-Khadr, south of the city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, according to Ahmad Salah, a local activist. He told WAFA that Israeli forces stopped work on the road that is supposed to serve several farmers in the area and which was funded by the Basque Agency for Development Cooperation through Cooperation for Peace and Progress (CPP). The soldiers informed the workers from Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees that they would confiscate their vehicles and tools if they continue to work on the road.
Palestinian primary schools defy demolition orders
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Sept — Palestinian activists restored some good cheer to primary school students in Jub al-Dhib as they set about rebuilding their school, over the night of September 9-10, using concrete blocks. On August 22, Israeli authorities had demolished the only school in this West Bank village, located east of Bethlehem, a day before the start of the new school year. The Israeli occupation has banned practically all construction by Palestinians in Area C, where Jub al-Dhib is located, denying them permits to do so and prohibiting the use of concrete. It destroyed the school building on the grounds of being constructed without a permit. Area C is completely controlled by Israel, as set out in the Oslo Accords signed in 1993. The demolition left some of the 64 students in grades one through four in tears. The children had previously attended classes in warehouses and had been looking forward to a new school building. The residents of Jub al-Dhib worked for months to build the since-destroyed school, the first to be erected in their village. The European Union provided financial support for the project, and construction proceeded under the supervision of the Palestinian Authority’s ministry of education and higher education.
55 schools threatened with demolition — In an August 23 statement, the Norwegian Refugee Council said: “Right now, some 55 schools in the West Bank are threatened with demolition and ‘stop-work’ orders by Israeli authorities.” Shadi Othman, EU spokesperson in Palestine, said that 20 of the schools are EU-funded, and four, including Jub al-Dhib, have been destroyed …
Given the lack of resources available, West Bank municipal councils, anti-settlement committees and other local organisations and prominent figures in Area C work in cooperation with foreign donors in efforts to counter such actions and find alternatives and solutions. In the case of Jub al-Thib, for instance, to get around the prohibition on concrete, residents had seized on teaching students in warehouses before the proper school building, which had a steel frame, could be erected. After Israel demolished the school, tents were erected on the site so students could continue to attend classes. In the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, in East Jerusalem, 170 students are studying in a school that was built out of tires and mud in 2009 after Israel banned construction with cement. They were inspired by such buildings in poor and marginalized areas elsewhere in the world, such as in parts of Colombia. “This, however, did not stop Israel’s multiple demolition threats,” said Uday Abu Khamis, community spokesperson for the Bedouin in East Jerusalem. “Before building this school, the village had no school. The nearest one was 15 kilometres (9 miles) away….
Violence / Detention — West Bank / Jerusalem
Clashes erupt during Israeli raid on Hebron-area town
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 15 Sept — Several Palestinians suffered from severe tear gas inhalation on Friday morning after clashes erupted in the southern occupied West Bank town of Beit Ummar, following an Israeli raid on the area. Local activist from the Hebron-area town, Muhammad Ayyad Awad, told Ma‘n that Israeli forces raided several areas in central Beit Ummar, where they searched a house belonging to Ibrahim Sabri Awad. The soldiers claimed they were “searching for wanted men.” They also raided a house belonging to Abed al-Qader Muhammad Ikhlayyel, claiming they were searching for weapons. Israeli forces also raided the houses of Mahmoud Abdullah Awad and Ibrahim Ayyad. Clashes erupted following the raids, during which time Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition in the air and tear gas at locals, causing several Palestinians to suffer from severe tear gas inhalations.
Israeli forces suppress Friday march in Kafr Qaddum
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 15 Sept — Israeli forces suppressed a weekly march in the village of Kafr Qaddum in the northern occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya on Friday by shooting rubber-coated steel bullets at protesters. Coordinator of the village’s popular resistance Murad Shteiwi said that Israeli forces raided the village and fired rubber-coated steel bullets at the protesters, without causing any injuries. Israeli forces had also installed a military checkpoint at the entrance of the village Friday morning and banned supporters of the march from entering the village, according to Shteiwi. The soldiers also searched vehicles and checked identity cards of locals passing the checkpoint … Residents of Kafr Qaddum began staging weekly protests in 2011 against Israeli land confiscations, as well as the closure of the village’s southern road by Israeli forces. The road, which has been closed for 14 years, is the main route to the nearby city of Nablus, the nearest economic center. The Israeli army blocked off the road after expanding the illegal Israeli settlement of Kedumim in 2003….
Israeli forces suppress Palestinian marches in Hebron City
[with photos] HEBRON (Ma‘an) 15 Sept — Israeli forces suppressed two marches in Hebron city in the southern occupied West Bank on Friday, one of which was launched to protest the expansion of municipal services to Israeli settlers residing in the Old City in violation of international law. Israeli forces suppressed a peaceful march that was launched following Dhuhr (noon) prayers towards the Old City to protest a recent decision by the Israeli army to extend municipal services to Israeli settlers illegally residing there. According to witnesses, Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters at protesters, and prohibited them from approaching the settlements in the city. Governor of Hebron Kamel Hamid said earlier this month that the decision would serve to further strengthen Israeli control in Hebron while undermining the Palestinian Authority (PA), in a city where Palestinians already contend with the highest concentration of military checkpoints in the West Bank and are surrounded by hundreds of notoriously aggressive settlers living under the protection of the Israeli army.
Meanwhile, in a separate incident, Israeli forces suppressed a march at the entrance of Khirbet Qalqas south of Hebron city. The march was launched to protest the Israeli closure of the village’s entrance several years ago. Protesters demanded that Israeli forces open the gate. Israeli forces responded by shooting tear gas canisters at the protesters, causing several to suffer from tear gas inhalation. Israeli forces also detained two Palestinian protesters.
Israeli soldiers injure one Palestinian, abduct another, near Nablus
IMEMC 16 Sept — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Saturday evening, the village of ‘Iraq-Burin, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and clashed with many Palestinians, before injuring one and abducting another. Medical sources said the soldiers shot Jaber Hakim Qadous, 16, with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his arm, before he was moved to a local hospital for treatment. The soldiers also abducted Eyad Mahmoud Qeino, and took him to Huwwara military base, south of Nablus. Furthermore, the soldiers installed a military roadblock at the main entrance of the town, before stopping and searching dozens of cars, and investigated the ID cards of scores of Palestinians.
Israeli soldiers abduct four Palestinians during a wedding near Jerusalem
IMEMC 17 Sept — Israeli soldiers attacked, on Saturday at night, many Palestinians participating in a wedding ceremony in the town of al-‘Ezariyya, southeast of occupied East Jerusalem, and abducted four young men. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency said the soldiers installed a roadblock near Maale Adumim colony, close to the main entrance of the town, and stopped dozens of cars heading to a wedding ceremony and party in al-‘Ezariyya, and abducted four young men. The army claimed that the Palestinians “attempted to attack soldiers,” after stopping them at the roadblock, and took them to an unknown destination. The Palestinians were part of a convoy of cars heading towards the wedding ceremony, when the soldiers stopped them and attempted to block their path. On Sunday at dawn, the soldiers invaded several areas in the occupied West Bank, broke into and searched many homes, and abducted at least eight Palestinians.
One night’s detentions in detail:
Israeli forces detain 14 Palestinians during overnight raids in West Bank
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Sept — Israeli forces detained at least 14 Palestinians during raids between Wednesday and Thursday across the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS).
In the northern West Bank, PPS said in a statement that Udayy Moussa Ghawadra, 35, from Bir al-Basha village in Jenin was detained by Israeli forces. PPS noted that five other Palestinians were detained from Nablus and Jenin, but did not provide further details.
According to PPS, Hassan Husni Abu Zant, 35, and Samer Khalid Muhammad Ghanem, 35, were detained in a neighborhood west of Tulkarem city. According to PPS, Israeli forces had raided and searched the homes of Abu Zant and Ghanem before detaining them. Witnesses told Ma‘an that clashes erupted in the area following the raids and detentions, as Israeli forces fired stun grenades and tear gas bombs at Palestinians. No injuries were reported.
In the central West Bank, Israeli forces detained five Palestinians from the Qalandiya refugee camp in Ramallah, according to PPS, who identified the detainees as Muhammad Nimr al-Luzi, Ahmad Hasan Mteir, Nael Abed al-Rahman, Adham al-Qumbuz, and Wissam Abu Lafi — the brother of 17-year-old Muhammad Khalaf Lafi, who was killed by Israeli forces during clashes in July.
Israeli forces also raided and searched several houses in the refugee camp, causing clashes to erupt that continued until the morning hours as Palestinian youth threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers, who opened live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at youths.
Ratib Jubour, coordinator of the popular committees in the southern West Bank, said that Israeli forces had detained Abdullah Mahmoud Ideis, 49, after raiding his home in the area of Ruqaa in the Hebron-area Yatta village . Ideis is the father of 16-year-old Murad Ideis, who was sentenced to life in Israeli prison after committing a deadly stabbing attack in the illegal Israeli settlement of Otniel. Jubour added that Israeli forces had raided and searched a blacksmith workshop belonging to Inad Abu Taha, in addition to a lathing workshop. Israeli forces were heavily deployed across the area, he noted.
Israeli forces detain 11 Palestinians from the West Bank
RAMALLAH, (WAFA) 17 Sept – Israeli forces Sunday detained 11 Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, said the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). In a statement, PPS said Israeli soldiers detained four people from Jerusalem, two from Qalqilya, another two from Hebron and one from Bethlehem. Israeli forces also detained two Palestinians from several areas in Ramallah.
Ashrawi slams Israel for burying Palestinian bodies in cemeteries of numbers
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Sept — Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi denounced the Israeli government’s decision this week to bury the bodies of four Palestinians in so-called cemeteries of numbers in Israel. The Israeli state had announced on Wednesday that it had already buried the bodies of Abd al-Hamid Abu Srour, Muhammad Tarayra, Muhammad al-Faqih, and Rami Awartani, all allegedly affiliated with the Hamas movement, despite an ongoing appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court by which the families of the slain Palestinians have demanded the bodies be released for proper burial.
Ashrawi released a statement Thursday, saying the move was “a blatant disregard for life and the sanctity of death, and is yet another violation of international law and international humanitarian law.” She cited Article 34 of the Additional Protocol to the Fourth Geneva Convention, which say “the remains of persons who have died for reasons related to occupation or in detention resulting from occupation or hostilities and those of persons not nationals of the country in which they have died as a result of hostilities shall be respected, and the gravesites of all such persons shall be respected, maintained and marked.” Furthermore, Ashrawi noted, the Articles affirm that states are “required to facilitate access to the gravesites by relatives of the deceased,” “to protect and maintain such gravesites permanently,” and “to facilitate the return of the remains of the deceased and of personal effects to the home country upon its request or, unless that country objects, upon the request of the next of kin.”….
Palestinians who praised deadly attack in song get the full Israeli army treatment
Haaretz 14 Sept by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — On two consecutive nights soldiers raided the home of Nazzal Abu Kharma, an amateur musician, arresting him in front of his wife and baby son, beating his brother and confiscating his instruments — Here’s how soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces spend their time: On two consecutive nights, dozens of soldiers from the Binyamin Brigade raided a home in Kafr Ein, a village north of Ramallah, where a young Palestinian man lives with wife, infant son and elderly grandparents. They damaged the property, beat and handcuffed the detainee’s brother, and confiscated equipment suspected of being used for purposes of terror: two electric organs, a microphone, computer, and a 48-inch television. The soldiers didn’t bother explaining to anyone why they abducted Nazzal Abu Kharma, who had never been arrested before (nor had anyone from his family), why the arrest had to be made so brutally, in the middle of the night, in the presence of an elderly couple and a baby, and why it was necessary to return the following night in the same violent fashion. It would be interesting to know what kind of briefing the forces received before setting out on their mission two weeks ago, what they were told about their target. The soldiers swooped in before dawn in their daring operation behind enemy lines – a three-pronged offensive aimed at two villages – armed with intelligence supplied by the omniscient Shin Bet security service, to arrest individuals suspected of producing a song praising the terrorist attack that took place in the settlement of Halamish in July, during which three members of the Salomon family were killed. The song is indeed a blunt, explicit ode to the attack and to its perpetrator, Omar al-Abed, from the village of Kobar. The IDF arrested Abu Kharma, as well as singer and lyricist Mohammed Barghouti and keyboard player Naji Rimawi, the latter two from the village of Beit Rima, also near Ramallah. As far as can be ascertained, Abu Kharma is suspected of producing the song in the makeshift studio in his house and also of posting it on social media. He and Barghouti have been in detention for about two weeks. Rimawi was released, for some reason, within a few days.
It’s not hard to imagine what would have happened were Abu Kharma a Jewish Israeli, who’d recorded a song calling for the death of Arabs….
Military court extends detention of severely wounded Palestinian child Haitham Jaradat
Samidoun 14 Sept — Severely wounded Palestinian child Haitham Jaradat,15, from Sair near al-Khalil, has had his detention extended by the Ofer military court for 11 days, even after he lies in intensive care in Shaare Tzedek medical center, shot with a bullet in his back that penetrated his abdomen and stomach. His lawyer, Karim Ajwa, said that he has had part of his intestines removed and is using artificial respiration, although he can see and hear. Despite his desperate and life-threatening medical condition, he is shackled to the hospital bed, Ajwa reported. Along with Jaradat, the military court also extended the detention of Laith Muammar Daraghmeh, 18, from Tubas; Daraghmeh was also shot with a live bullet, in his case during a violent “arrest raid” as occupation forces invaded his city, and is too injured to attend the court hearing. Both of these cases are particularly poignant following the death of Raed Salhi, shot six times by Israeli occupation forces who invaded his home in Dheisheh refugee camp, accusing the unarmed youth – a camp activist involved with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – of “fleeing.”….
Two Qassam fighters killed in tunnel accidents in Gaza
IMEMC 15 Sept — The Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, has reported Friday that two of its fighters were killed, on Thursday evening, in two separate incidents, when border tunnels collapsed on them. Al-Qassam Said the Khalil Bassem ad-Dumyati, 32, from Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza city, was killed when a border tunnel collapsed on him. It added that another fighter, identified as Yousef Sabri Abu ‘Abed, 22, from Bani Sohaila in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, was killed in a similar accident.
Badran: Hamas delegation remained in Cairo for dialogue with Fatah
GAZA (PIC) 16 Sept — The Hamas spokesman and member of its political bureau, Husam Badran, said that the delegation of his Movement has decided to postpone their return from Cairo to Gaza in order to give Egyptian officials more time to convince Fatah Movement to come to Cairo to start a real and serious dialogue. The Hamas leader expressed hope, in a series of Tweets on Saturday, that Fatah Movement would show interest in reconciliation talks in Cairo without conditions simply as Hamas did by sending its delegation to Egypt. Badran affirmed Hamas’s willingness to dismantle the governmental committee immediately upon reception of a positive response from Fatah. The Hamas spokesman also revealed that he contacted a number of national leaders who all appreciated Hamas’s position toward reconciliation. The latest statement by Hamas was welcomed and hailed by Egypt and Palestinian factions, Badran highlighted.
Hamas says ready to disband Gaza administration, hold Palestinian elections
Haaretz 17 Sept by Jack Khoury — Announcement comes after two days of Hamas-Fatah talks in Cairo and just before Abbas’ upcoming meet with Trump — Hamas announced Sunday morning it was ready to dissolve the administration it had established in recent months to manage the affairs of the Gaza Strip, hold general elections and immediately begin direct reconciliation talks with Fatah. According to a statement from Hamas, this decision was a response to the Egyptian efforts at reconciliation between the principal Palestinian factions. The announcement called on Palestinian government ministers in Ramallah to come to Gaza and fully assume their roles. Ramallah, the seat of the Fatah-lead Palestinian Authority, has yet to respond to Hamas’ announcement … The PA is being careful not to talk about reconciliation with Hamas at this stage. It would therefore seem that they will wait to see how things actually develop and to what extent Hamas is truly willing to give up control of the Strip. At the same time, Hamas appears to be waiting to see how much Abbas is willing to cooperate with them and bring them into the institutions of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the PA. An Egyptian source close to the intelligence services told Haaretz that Hamas is trying to prove to Egypt that it is not obstructing reconciliation and is responding to demands, hoping to reap the benefits if and when the talks falter on the PA’s part. Hamas’ announcement came two days after a Fatah delegation’s arrival in Cairo and two meetings between the parties on Saturday….
In boost to Gaza reconciliation efforts, Palestinian factions meet to compensate bereaved families of Hamas-Fatah clashes
Haaretz 14 Sept by Jack Khoury — Hundreds meeting in Gaza on Thursday night as part of reconciliation event based on Sharia law; Fatah’s Mohammed Dahlan has raised $50,000 for each family — Hundreds of senior Hamas officials, associates of former senior Fatah figure Mohammed Dahlan and dozens of relatives of those killed as a result of violent clashes between Hamas and Fatah in 2007 are set to meet in Gaza on Thursday. The gathering is being billed as a reconciliation event between families associated with Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. The event is based on the tradition in Islamic Sharia law through which families of victims receive monetary compensation in exchange for waiving claims against those responsible for killing or wounding their loved ones. The Palestinian split followed parliamentary elections in 2006 in which Hamas beat Fatah – the party associated with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessor, Yasser Arafat – in Gaza. Following the election, clashes ensued between factions and clans associated with the two sides, culminating in a bloody battle the following year in which Hamas took over the Gaza Strip and ousted the PA from the enclave. A total of 356 people, most of whom were identified with Fatah, were killed in the clashes, including 160 who died between June 10 and June 15, 2007 – the period when Hamas assumed control of the Gaza Strip. The legacy of those deaths is considered one of the thorniest issues that needs to be resolved if there is to be a reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah (which controls the PA in the West Bank). Beyond the political significance of the deaths, there are also aspects relating to clan identity and social ties. The families of those who died on both sides have been seeking to identify the responsible parties for the deaths of their loved ones … One senior Hamas official, Ismail Radwan, said recently that it would require an estimated $50 million to provide compensation to the families of those killed plus those wounded – some of whom are unable to work due to their injuries. Hamas has spoken of about 800 wounded. Work on the issue began several weeks ago in Khan Yunis and will continue in the coming months. Some families have already been involved in the process, while others have yet to submit necessary information to the official reconciliation panel….
Rival bereaved families in Gaza make peace at reconciliation ceremony
[photo] Xinhua 15 Sept — Rival Palestinian families in Gaza, which lost children in the internal fighting between Hamas movement and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Fatah Party in 2007, take part in a reconciliation ceremony in Gaza city on Sept. 14, 2017. About 6,000 people, including 14 families out of 400 families which had children killed in the internal fighting, attended the peace ceremony, which was sponsored by the joint social reconciliation committee in Gaza, which includes the two rival groups’ representatives. (Xinhua/Wissam Nassar)
Opinion: What Hamas’ leader in Gaza really said about war with Israel / Ronit Marzan
Haaretz 17 Sept — Media sensationalism reinforces the populist ‘there’s no partner for peace’ attitude. Have a closer look at what Yahya Sinwar actually said — “If Israel does something stupid we’ll crush it,” “If Israel starts a war we’ll crush it” — these were the top headlines in most Israeli newspapers and news sites, quoting the Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, at a media briefing a month ago. Why did Israeli editors choose these headlines, noting only in the subhead or body of the item that Sinwar also said Hamas doesn’t want a confrontation with Israel? The answer is clear. The headlines matched the populist “there’s no partner for peace” attitude, that reassures the Israelis and obviates the need for them to think. Did any journalist mention that Israel has made the same warning — “attrition will be met with a pounding” (as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in 2014)? For Israel, such belligerence is part of the heroic talk that makes us stand tall, puff out our chests and remind everyone in the regional neighborhood of our power. But when the Palestinians take the same tack, it’s a threat that reminds us once again of “the nature of our adversary,” and that there’s no possibility of change.
And so, instead of settling for the interpretations in the Hebrew media, I offer an annotated summary of Sinwar’s remarks in Arabic.
1. “Hamas is not at all interested in war with Israel. The longer the war is postponed, by an hour, a year or years, it serves the Palestinian interest, and it’s better to put it off as long as possible. If the occupation government dares to attack militarily, the resistance forces will regain what they lost in the last war, and they’re willing to conduct the next confrontation over a long period and even to crush the Israelis. Hamas has weapons of deterrence that make Israel think 1,000 times before attacking Gaza, and if it behaves foolishly, it is liable to regret it.”….
MADA denounces Gaza sentencing of female Palestinian journalist battling cancer
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 16 Sept — The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) released a statement on Thursday denouncing a Gaza court’s absentia decision to imprison a female Palestinian journalist who is currently in Jordan receiving cancer treatment. According to MADA, the Gaza Magistrate Court sentenced journalist Hajar Muhammad Abu Samra to six months in prison and a fine of 1,000 shekels ($284) over an investigative report done by Abu Samra or the Arab television network more than a year ago about corruption in the Medical Referrals Department in the Ministry of Health in Gaza Strip. “MADA expresses its deep concern of this ruling that is considered a very serious precedent against media freedoms, freedom of expression and the role of the press in Palestine. It sees this as another setback to the growing repression of media freedoms,” the statement said. The statement also highlighted that the decision was issued in absence of the journalist and without her or her lawyer’s knowledge. According to MADA, Abu Samra’s lawyer Mirvat al-Nahal, who works for the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, learned of the decision through social media….
Gaza crossings [to be] sealed off by Israeli state
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Sept — Israeli occupation authorities are to seal off crossings with the besieged Gaza Strip during September and October [for Jewish holidays], the Palestinian Authority said on Thursday. Director General of the Public Administration of the Crossing Points and Borders Committee in Gaza, Nazmi Muhanna, said that Karem Abu-Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing will be fully closed from 20-23 September. Karem Abu-Salem is the only operating commercial crossing through which Israel drops few amounts of the needed commodities to Gaza residents. The statement also said, according to Days of Palestine, that the Israeli occupation authorities will open the crossing on 24 September only to close it once again on 29-30 September. He did not give details about the planned closures in October, or the closure of Erez Crossing, the only passage for people in Gaza.
Al-Karama (Allenby) Border Crossing will also be affected by the Jewish holidays, which will see it reduce its hours of operation, Muhanna said. It provides the only access from the occupied West Bank to Jordan; Israeli occupation forces control the crossing.
Israeli forces detain two Gazans for trying to cross border fence
GAZA (PIC) 16 Sept — Israeli occupation forces on Saturday morning announced arresting two Palestinian youths who allegedly tried to sneak from the Gaza Strip to the 1948 occupied Palestinian territories. According to the Hebrew website MivzakLive, an Israeli military force arrested two Palestinian youths near the border fence to the east of the Gaza Strip and took them for interrogation. Many Gazans try to sneak into the 1948 occupied Palestinian territories in search for job opportunities which are hard to find in the Gaza Strip due to the tightened blockade imposed on the enclave for more than 11 years and lack of jobs.
Israeli forces clash with Palestinian youth near border of northern Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Sept — Three Palestinian youths suffered from severe tear gas inhalation on Friday, during clashes with Israeli forces near the border of the northern Gaza Strip. Spokesperson of the Gaza Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma‘an that Israeli forces fired tear gas at Palestinian youths near the border, outside the Jabaliya refugee camp, causing three “youth” to suffer from suffocation. An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports. Clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian youth in Gaza regularly occur on Fridays near the highly militarized fence along Gaza’s border with Israel.
The 2014 war through the eyes of Gaza’s youth
Al Jazeera 14 Sept by Ramzy Baroud — Last August, Palestinians commemorated the three-year anniversary of the end of Israel’s devastating war against the Gaza Strip. The war had killed over 2,200 Palestinians – the vast majority among them civilians – and 71 Israelis, the majority of them soldiers … There is a whole generation of Palestinians in Gaza that grew up knowing nothing but war and siege and have never seen the world beyond Gaza’s deadly borders. These are the voices of some of these young Gazans, who shared their tragic personal stories, hoping that the world would heed their calls for freedom and for justice:
Our recurring Nakba by Shahd Abusalama, a Palestinian artist, blogger and a PhD candidate at Sheffield Hallam University — This is not just a commemoration of the catastrophic human, material and emotional costs that Israel inflicted on Gaza in its deadliest attack during the summer of 2014. This is a remembrance of an ongoing Nakba which Palestinians have experienced since 1948. I am a third-generation refugee, born and raised in one of Palestine’s largest refugee camps, Jabalia, originally from Beit-Jerja, my grandparents’ evergreen home village which they had to flee under Israeli fire nearly 70 years ago. I was born a survivor – my mother went into labour during a curfew that Israeli military forces imposed on Jabalia, the place from which the first Intifada erupted a few years before I was born. While fearing for her life and her yet-to-be-born child, she walked through Jabalia’s alleys, leaning on my grandmother who held a white piece of cloth and a lantern, hoping for mercy from the Israeli soldiers who shot at everyone that dared break the curfew. This is just my birth story in short, and this piece would not be enough to cover the immense trauma that I shared with the population of Gaza ever since….
A women’s circus school is growing in Gaza
Atlas Obscura 14 Sept by Mousa Tawfiq — “I felt as free as a bird,” says Hend Al-Khodary. Last October, the 22-year-old woman was working as a translator for Jennifer Higgins, 30, an Irish circus trainer who works as a consultant in Gaza for a psychological support project. During her free time, Higgins was training a group of young men at the Gaza Circus School — which has all male students, as the Islamic society requires gender segregation. The only circus school in Gaza, it’s an initiative implemented by young residents, and has been operating since 2011. Higgins had always encouraged Al-Khodary to practice circus, but she refused. She had never thought she could do any circus movements, as she believed that circus requires a lot of flexibility and fitness. But when she tried it, she was surprised by her abilities. “One day, we waited for the boys to leave the training hall, then Jenny helped me climb the circus silks,” she says. “The feeling was amazing.” Al-Khodary invited two of her friends to join her in circus training at Al-Mishal Cultural Center in Gaza City. The circumstances were not perfect, with no electricity and a poorly equipped stage, but the young women were very excited to experience this art and to discover how it feels to be “flying high,” as Al-Khodary describes. “We felt flexible and creative.” After two weeks of training, the Gaza Circus School organized a show at Al-Mishal Cultural Center, but Higgins and the three women were not allowed to perform. “Local authorities didn’t allow any girl to perform as it’s not allowed to have any kind of mixing at public events,” says Al-Khodary. “It was a big disappointment.” After this experience, Higgins contacted the Irish Ministry of Culture and held a fundraising campaign to help the Gaza School of Circus launch a women’s project….
PLO marks 35th anniversary of Palestinian refugee camp massacre in Lebanon
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Sept — On the 35th anniversary of the massacre of hundreds of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon’s Sabra and Shatila camps, Executive Committee Member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Hanan Ashrawi said the massacre “still represents Israel’s cruelty and inhumanity towards the Palestinian people as a whole.” The massacre took place after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, when Christian Phalangist militias entered the Beirut camp under Israeli military watch to wreak retribution for the alleged assassination of their leader Bachir Gemayel. Between September 16 and 18, Palestinian refugees were killed in droves. At the time, the number of dead was estimated at 700, but eyewitness British reporter Robert Fisk says the number was closer to 1,700, while the PLO has previously said nearly 3,500 Palestinians were killed. Israeli soldiers in control of the perimeter of the camps did not stop the slaughter, firing flares overhead at night to aid the Phalangist gunmen. An Israeli investigation found then defense minister Ariel Sharon, who Ashrawi said “ left a legacy of bloodshed and destruction,” guilty of failing to prevent the deaths of innocent civilians. He was demoted but later became Israeli prime minister.
Sabra and Shatila massacre: A reminder of a criminal who escaped justice: Erekat
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 16 Sept – The 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre, whose 35th anniversary coincides on Saturday, was a criminal act engineered by then Israeli General Ariel Sharon who escaped justice, charged Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). “The memory of the brutal Sabra and Shatila massacre still resonates in our minds and hearts. It is embedded in every Palestinian memory and soul,” said Erekat in a statement. “Thirty-five years ago, the vicinity of the two refugee camps in Beirut was filled with the scent of death and bodies of thousands of butchered and injured Palestinian children, women, and men. A criminal act engineered by Ariel Sharon, Israel’s Military General at the time, who facilitated the barbaric butchering of defenseless refugees by Phalangist forces under his watch. Today is a reminder to the world of a criminal who escaped justice and got away with it.” Erekat stressed that Sabra and Shatila massacre “will not be wiped off from our consciousness. It is a reminder of the more than 400 Palestinian villages destroyed by Zionist paramilitaries and of the Palestinian exodus who were uprooted and forced out their homes. It is also a reminder of the absence of justice and accountability. Sharon and the Israeli leaders who masterminded this massacre should have been tried in international courts. Instead, Sharon was awarded to become Israel’s tenth prime minister.”
Palestinian Prisoners’ Group says it is not being disbanded, contrary to rumors
Haaretz 14 Sept by Jack Khoury — Activists tell Haaretz there was a major power struggle between the club and Fatah on the one hand, and the Palestinian Authority on the other, but the PA will not be cutting funds — The Palestinian Prisoners Club on Wednesday quashed rumors about its reported demise, saying there are now no plans to disband it. The announcement followed stories at the weekend that the Palestinian Authority had suspended its funding of the group. According to the prisoners club, the stories about its closure were unfounded rumors. The PPC’s announcement followed a similar one by Fatah Secretary-General Jibril Rajoub, who denied any plan to disband the group. Rajoub stressed that the nongovernmental organization was established through the efforts of Fatah prisoners, and that it will maintain its present role of providing support to Palestinian prisoners held in Israel. But despite the announcements and denials about a possible closure, Haaretz has learned there was a major power struggle behind the scenes between the directors of the NGO and senior Fatah officials on the one hand, and the PA on the other.…
Trump administration backs bill to halt aid to Palestinians
WASHINGTON (AP) 14 Sept by Richard Lardner — The Trump administration declared its firm support Thursday for a bill that would suspend U.S. financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority until it ends what critics have described as a long-standing practice of rewarding Palestinians who kill Americans and Israelis. The State Department announcement comes nearly six weeks after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee backed the measure. The legislation, which is named after an American who was stabbed to death in Israel by a Palestinian, reflects bipartisan outrage over what lawmakers have termed a “pay to slay” program endorsed by the Palestinian Authority. “The Trump administration strongly supports the Taylor Force Act, which is a consequence of Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization’s policy of paying terrorists and their families,” the State Department said….
Palestinian girl footballers break cultural barriers
DEIR JARIR, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 15 Sept by Hossam Ezzedine — Dozens of young Palestinian girls are practising their footballing skills on a makeshift village pitch, enjoying an opportunity denied their mothers’ generation in the socially conservative West Bank. Gender barriers and religious taboos mean that the sight of women wearing football kit, even girls, is still shocking to some Palestinians who regard it as a men’s game. Yet women’s football has developed significantly since the first Palestinian team was formed in 2009. There are now six adult teams playing in an outdoor league and a dozen more in an indoor league. Around 400 girls over the age of 14 are registered as players, and more and more younger girls are taking up the sport. The 40 or so girls between 10 and 14 training in the village of Deir Jarir, outside Ramallah, have to make do with just six balls between them and their shirts have the name of the boys’ team on the back. But under the watchful eye of coach Rajaa Hamdan, they are learning how to trap and pass a ball, dribble between cones and jump for headers. Hamdan said she had been desperate to play as a child but was prevented by social attitudes in the village. Now aged 32, she decided to set up a team for girls….
Palestinian orchestra uses ‘music as resistance’
BIRZEIT, Occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 16 Sept by Nigel Wilson — On a humid summer evening in Birzeit, the atmosphere in the Naseeb Azeez Shaheen Auditorium turned raucous when it was announced that two musicians from Gaza would be performing. The audience had barely settled by the time the Palestine Youth Orchestra (PYO) launched into the familiar, dramatic opening bars of the Star Wars main theme. For its 2017 tour, the PYO had scheduled two concerts in Amman, Jordan, followed by two dates in the occupied West Bank, in Nablus and Birzeit. “We try to make a point to come to Palestine because this is home,” PYO manager Zeina Khoury told Al Jazeera. “We do it once every few years, when we feel it is possible…” When the PYO was founded in Birzeit in 2004, applications were opened to Palestinians based within historic Palestine and throughout the diaspora. Musicians from across the globe applied to join, including from the Americas and Europe, as well as the Middle East region. The PYO has since shifted its entry requirements and welcomes young Arabs, aged 14 to 26, from across the region. Sometimes, they are joined by members of international music conservatories who have taken part in exchange programmes with the orchestra over the years … One of the trickiest destinations for the PYO to hold a concert is within the occupied Palestinian territories, which have been controlled by Israel since 1967. Khoury said that in previous tours of the West Bank, the PYO’s requests for entry permits and travel permits for its performers have mostly been ignored or denied by Israeli authorities. “It’s not easy to make this happen. It’s our message to the world, music is our form of resistance, and making it happen in Palestine,” Khoury added….
Israel protests marathon body’s exclusion of West Bank race
JERUSALEM (AP) 14 Sept — Israel on Thursday said the international marathon body was injecting politics into sports by excluding an Israeli race because it passes through West Bank territory the Palestinians and most of the world consider to be occupied. The Israel Marathon Association said the Association of International Marathons and Distances Races had displayed a “discriminatory nature” against the Bible Marathon that “will certainly result in great anger” among runners around the world. Next month’s Bible Marathon stretches from central Israel to the settlement of Shiloh, tracing a path described in the Book of Samuel. Organizers call the route the oldest recorded marathon in history. The Greek-based organization said it had to exclude the Israeli marathon to comply with “international public law.”….
Israeli ministers seek to curb Supreme Court power
JERUSALEM (AFP) 15 Sept — Key Israeli ministers have announced plans to limit the power of the Supreme Court, accusing it of hindering the work of the rightwing coalition government. The plan by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, from the far right Jewish Home party, would give the Israeli parliament the right to effectively overrule in cases where the Supreme Court declares a bill unconstitutional. The plan follows the Supreme Court striking down as unconstitutional a number of proposed laws. In a statement late Thursday Bennett, head of Jewish Home, said the recent vetoes had forced him to act. “This new situation, in which cancelling laws had become routine, will force us, publicly elected legislators, to act and restore the needed balance between the authorities.” “That is what we are doing today.” Ministers and critics accuse the court of being dominated by liberals and of undermining the authority of the democratically elected government. Rights groups view it as a check on the power of the government, the most rightwing in Israel’s history. Among those bills vetoed was the so-called Regulation Law, which would retroactively legalise dozens of Jewish settlements built on private Palestinian land, as well an amendment to allow ultra-Orthodox Jews to continue to avoid military service. The plan is not yet official government policy and will be presented to party heads on Sunday….
Israeli firm chosen to build prototype of US-Mexico border wall
JTA 13 Sept — Elta North America, an Israeli-owned defense manufacturer with US headquarters in Maryland, was one of four companies chosen to build a prototype for the border wall between the United States and Mexico. The company is a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries. Some 200 companies vied for the tenders, which will provide a $300,000 to $500,000 grant to develop a model. The tender was announced late last week. In total, eight companies are building prototypes for the nearly 200,000-mile-long wall. Four will be concrete and four will have see-through or “smart” walls. Elta was chosen to work on the see-through walls project. The final project could cost up to $25 billion. Elta manufactures radar systems and components for branches of the American military. It also provides radar components for the Israeli military, which purchases them using U.S. military aid, which must be spent in the United States. In its Israeli headquarters, Elta manufactures radar systems for Arrow missiles, the Iron Dome anti-missile system, espionage and fighter jets, according to Ynet. President Donald Trump has praised Israel for its southern border wall meant to stop African migrants from illegally entering the country.
Trump admin doesn’t expect Israeli-Palestinian peace breakthrough during UN General Assembly
Haaretz 17 Sept by Amir Tibon & Barak Ravid — Trump administration doesn’t want to allow the diplomatic gathering to interfere with the slow and cautious pace it has taken so far regarding the peace process, senior official tells Haaretz — The Trump administration does not expect any kind of breakthrough regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process during the United Nations General Assembly this week despite their overall optimism, a senior White House official told Haaretz on Sunday. U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the diplomatic gathering, but the senior official noted that “this week is not about the peace effort.” “Achieving peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians remains one of the president’s highest priorities but the United Nations meetings will primarily focus on other issues and serve as check-in opportunities,” the senior official added. The official noted that Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, recently returned from a visit to the region together with senior advisers Jason Greenblatt and Dina Powell. The official called the visit “very productive” and said that “those peace conversations are continuing at a steady pace and will be mostly separate from the United Nations meetings.” The Trump administration doesn’t want to allow the diplomatic gathering to interfere with the slow and cautious pace it has taken so far regarding the peace process.…
A 50-year occupation: Israel’s Six-Day War started with a lie
The Intercept 5 June by Mehdi Hasan — Fifty years ago, between June 5 and June 10, 1967, Israel invaded and occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights. The Six-Day War, as it would later be dubbed, saw the Jewish David inflict a humiliating defeat on the Arab Goliath, personified perhaps by Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt. “The existence of the Israeli state hung by a thread,” the country’s prime minister, Levi Eshkol, claimed two days after the war was over, “but the hopes of the Arab leaders to annihilate Israel were dashed.” Genocide, went the argument, had been prevented; another Holocaust of the Jews averted. There is, however, a problem with this argument: It is complete fiction, a self-serving fantasy constructed after the event to justify a war of aggression and conquest. Don’t take my word for it: “The thesis according to which the danger of genocide hung over us in June 1967, and according to which Israel was fighting for her very physical survival, was nothing but a bluff which was born and bred after the war,” declared Gen. Matituahu Peled, chief of logistical command during the war and one of 12 members of Israel’s General Staff, in March 1972. A year earlier, Mordechai Bentov, a member of the wartime government and one of 37 people to sign Israel’s Declaration of Independence, had made a similar admission. “This whole story about the threat of extermination was totally contrived, and then elaborated upon, a posteriori, to justify the annexation of new Arab territories,” he said in April 1971….