Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Shooting attack at illegal settlement leaves Palestinian, 3 Israelis dead
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Sept — Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian on Tuesday morning after the 37-year-old carried out a shooting attack at the entrance of the illegal Israeli settlement of Har Adar in the occupied West Bank, killing two security guards and a border police officer. According to Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld, the attack was carried out by a Palestinian from the village of Beit Surik in the West Bank’s Jerusalem district, later identified as Nimr Mahmoud Ahmed Jamal. Luba al-Samri, the Arabic spokesperson for the Israeli police, added that Jamal had arrived at the settlement along with a group of Palestinian workers. When Palestinians began entering the Israeli checkpoint at the entrance of the settlement, Israeli police forces asked him to stop after becoming suspicious of the Palestinian, who then exposed a gun and shot at the officers. After an exchange of fire, Jamal was shot dead, while three of the officers were killed. Another Israeli, the security coordinator of the settlement, was also seriously injured at the time. Rosenfeld confirmed that the slain Palestinian was a holder of an Israeli work permit. Al-Samri noted that the Israeli officer killed was 20-year-old Soloman Gabariya. Israeli police closed off the area near the settlement following the attack. Israeli daily Haaretz identified the two security guards as Yussef Utman, a resident of Abu Gosh village near Jerusalem, and Or Arish, 25, from Har Adar. According to Ma‘an documentation, Jamal became the 56th Palestinian to have been killed by Israelis since the beginning of the year during attacks, alleged attacks, in clashes, or during deadly detention raids. Since the beginning of 2017, 16 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians, almost all of whom were uniformed Israeli officers or Israelis living on Israeli settlements in violation of international law.
[Haaretz: Mahmoud had significant personal and family problem, including domestic violence. His wife had fled to Jordan recently and left him with his children, the Shin Bet security services said. In a message, he asked his wife to post on Facebook and asked for forgiveness, writing that he understands the gravity of what he was about to do and asked her to take care of their children.]
Following the attack, Husam Badran, spokesperson for the Hamas movement, released a statement calling the attack “heroic,” adding that the attack was a sign that the intifada was continuing — referring to the uptick of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel which first broke out two years ago. “The resistance is aimed at ending the occupation and (Israel’s) occupation of Palestinian land,” he said in the statement. Palestinians “will continue by all means of liberation and resistance, no matter how much sacrifice,” he added. Meanwhile, Munir al-Jaghoub, a Fatah official, also released a statement, saying that “Israel alone is responsible for Palestinian reactions to the crimes of the occupation, and if it continues its aggressions against the Palestinian people.”….
Israeli forces seal hometown of Palestinian attacker, declare village-wide curfew
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 26 Sept — Israeli forces placed the village of Beit Surik under a military lockdown on Tuesday following a deadly shooting attack carried out by a village resident, with all passages and crossings around the village blockaded by the Israeli army and a village-wide curfew being announced by Israeli forces. Earlier on Tuesday, 37-year-old Nimr Mahmoud Ahmed Jamal carried out a shooting attack outside of Israel’s illegal Har Adar settlement near Beit Surik — the attacker’s hometown — in the occupied West Bank’s Jerusalem district, leaving an Israeli border police officer and two Israeli security guards killed, while the security coordinator of the settlement was also seriously injured during the attack. Jamal was shot dead on the scene following an exchange of fire amid the attack. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that all crossings and passages around the village have been sealed, and that Palestinians were only permitted passage after undergoing security checks or for humanitarian reasons. The nearby village of Beit Iksa was also sealed following the attack, the spokesperson said.
Israeli forces had raided the village, including Jamal’s home, when they detained his brother Medhat, according to locals. Locals reported that Israeli forces had destroyed the family’s furniture and other items during the raid … Wafa spoke with Mutassem Qandeel, a member of the village council, who said that Israeli forces had raided the village at 7 a.m. following the attack and sealed all entrances, while forcing shops to close and announcing a curfew for village residents. Israeli forces had also forced a United Nations health clinic to close during the raid, Qandeel added. Israeli authorities routinely seal entire villages following Palestinian attacks on Israelis, which rights groups have condemned as a form of “collective punishment.”
Israeli news daily Haaretz reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had confirmed that the home of Jamal would be punitively demolished, in a widely condemned Israeli policy, and that the Israeli work permits of Jamal’s extended family would be revoked. Following the attack, Israeli Housing Minister Yoav Galan threatened to deport Jamal’s entire family to Syria, saying that “If you want to kill Israeli kids, we will deport you, not to Gaza, but to Syria. You are not allowed to stay here.”
Israeli forces detain 15 Palestinians as siege on Beit Surik continues
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Sept — Israeli forces detained at least 15 Palestinians in overnight raids across the occupied West Bank and continued to blockade the hometown of a Palestinian who was shot dead Tuesday morning after carrying out a deadly attack in a nearby illegal Israeli settlement.
Separately, Israeli forces also raided Jenin refugee camp and the town of Yaabad in the northern Jenin district of the West Bank overnight and took pictures of several houses for unknown reasons. Locals said that Israeli forces raided Yaabad’s al-Malul neighborhood and took pictures of Ahmad Ghaleb Abu Bakr, a local who was released from Israeli prison two days ago. Soldiers also took photos of the houses of his relatives Ghazi and Munir Khalid Abu Bakr …The Israeli army reported in a statement that it confiscated thousands of shekels from the Jenin refugee camp and at a crossroads near the town of Qalqiliya. Israeli forces also confiscated vehicles from inside an auto-part shop belonging to Muhammad Naim Abu Rajab, according to locals.
Meanwhile, in the town of Dura west of Hebron city in the southern occupied West Bank, Israeli forces detained a Palestinian youth identified as Yousef Fares Abu Arqoub, local sources said. Israeli forces also raided a house belonging to Abed al-Latif Abu Isnineh in Dura and turned it into a military outpost, with Israeli soldiers informing the owner that soldiers would be deployed on the rooftop of the house for several days.
For the third day, sixteen villages remain isolated, fifty schools shut, near Jerusalem
IMEMC 28 Sept — The Israeli army continued, for the third consecutive day, the complete isolation of sixteen Palestinian villages northwest of occupied Jerusalem, in addition to closing various roads and continuing the state of curfew, imprisoning the villagers in their homes, and causing the closure of fifty schools. The soldiers shut all roads leading to the villages, especially the “Tunnel Road” leading to Biddu village, Beit Anan – Beit Liqya road, in addition to all roads linking the villages with each other. The army also imposed curfew in the sixteen villages, imprisoning the Palestinians in their homes, and resulting in closing fifty schools, providing education for more than 4000 students. The soldiers also invaded, violently searched and occupied several homes, after forcing the families out from many homes in Biddu and Beit Surik, and informed some families of their intention to remain in their properties indefinitely. In addition, the army issued many demolition orders targeting homes, in addition to halting the construction of many other homes. The army also prevented ambulances and journalists from entering the isolated villages, and fully surrounded Beit Iksa. Furthermore, the soldiers continued the violent and extensive searches of homes in Beit Surik town, which is also under curfew, and distributed leaflets, threatening to kill the Palestinians who leave their homes, or “violate the army’s commands and directives.” The latest Israeli violations are acts of collective punishment against thousands of Palestinians in the aftermath of the fatal shooting, which was carried out by Nimir Mahmoud Jamal, 37, who opened fire on Tuesday morning.
Israeli forces injure 7 Palestinians amid clashes in besieged Jerusalem-area village
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 Sept — Israeli forces injured at least seven Palestinians during clashes that erupted early on Wednesday between hundreds of Palestinian youths and Israeli forces in the village of Biddu in the occupied West Bank’s Jerusalem district following an Israeli-imposed siege placed on the entire village. According to locals, Israeli forces closed the main road, which is also the entrance of the village, between Ramallah and the surrounding villages and towns, causing clashes to erupt with Israeli forces. Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that Biddu was one of several Jerusalem-area villages placed under an Israeli military siege following a shooting attack carried out by a resident of the nearby Beit Surik village on Tuesday, which killed an Israeli border police officer and two Israeli security guards outside Israel’s illegal Har Adar settlement.
The seven injured Palestinians were treated at the al-Karmel Medical Center. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the center searching for them. However, the reports did not mention whether any of the Palestinians were indeed detained.
Israeli forces demanding wounded Palestinian turn himself in after violent raid
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Sept – A young Palestinian man has been hospitalized after he was shot and critically injured by undercover Israeli forces seeking to detain him in a predawn military raid into al-Duheisha refugee camp the southern occupied West Bank. Israeli forces raided the Bethlehem-area refugee camp to detain local Akram al-Atrash, with soldiers clashing with youth and firing tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets at residents, with a number of people suffering from tear gas inhalation and other minor injuries. Israeli forces shot Akram with live ammunition, and locals managed to take him to a hospital, evading Israeli soldiers who deployed throughout the camp to detain the wounded man.
Soldiers broke into the al-Atrash home and detained Akram’s father Imran and cousin Rami to pressure Akram to turn himself in.
Social media news outlet Duheisha al-Hadath reported on Facebook later Wednesday morning that Israeli forces released Rami on the condition that Akram turn himself in half an hour later. According to the site, Akram was critically injured in his arm and Israeli authorities refused to allow him time to undergo surgery scheduled for later in the day, and were demanding he immediately turn himself in. Earlier reports said he had been shot in the leg.
15 Palestinians in Tubas suffer tear gas inhalation after Israel suppresses protest
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Sept — Israeli forces suppressed a protest in the Sahl al-Biqeaa area of Tubas in the northern occupied West Bank on Wednesday by shooting tear gas at the demonstrators, causing at least 15 Palestinians to suffer from tear gas inhalation. Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that five of the Palestinians who had suffered tear gas inhalation, including the Governor of Tubas Ahmad al-Assad, were moved to a hospital for treatment. According to Wafa, the protest included the participation of dozens of Palestinians, including farmers, landowners, and community activists, who waved Palestinian flags and chanted slogans while marching in the area against Israeli policies.
Israel decides not to bury 3 slain Palestinians in ‘cemeteries of numbers’
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 25 Sept — The Israeli state has decided not to bury the bodies of three Palestinians in Israel’s so-called cemeteries of numbers, though the Israeli Supreme Court has postponed ruling on a petition filed by the families of the slain men to have the bodies released for proper burial, according to Muhammed Mahmoud, an attorney from the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs representing the families. The Israeli state prosecution’s decision came in response to an urgent appeal submitted to the court last week by Mahmoud on behalf of the families of Adel Ankoush, 18, Baraa Saleh, 18, and Osama Atta, 19 — all from the central occupied West Bank town of Deir Abu Mashaal — that demanded their sons’ remains be handed over.
Israel has detained their bodies since the three were shot dead after carrying out a stabbing and shooting attack that left an Israeli police officer dead outside of Jerusalem’s Old City on June 16.
Human rights organizations have widely condemned Israel’s policy of withholding Palestinian bodies, with prisoners’ rights group Addameer calling it a form of “collective punishment” against Palestinians who had not been accused of any wrongdoing, also noting that it “adds to the severe grief and trauma of families of the deceased.” Furthermore, the three families in Deir Abu Mashaal have had their homes punitively demolished and blown up, leaving a total of 22 people homeless despite having not having been charged with any wrongdoing.
Israeli colonists pump sewage into farmlands near Bethlehem
IMEMC 26 Sept — Several extremist Israeli colonists pumped, on Monday evening, sewage water into Palestinian agricultural lands in the al-Khader town, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Ahmad Salah, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Annexation Wall and Colonies in al-Khader, said the colonists, from Efrat illegal colony which was built on illegally confiscated Palestinian lands, flooded the farmlands in Wad al-Byar area with sewage water, destroying a large area planted with grapevines. He added that this serious assault was not the first of its kind, and expressed concerns regarding the spread of diseases besides the destruction of plants and trees.
Prisoners / Court actions
Palestinian gets life in prison for fatal drive-by shooting of Israeli in West Bank
Haaretz 26 Sept by Yotam Berger — An Israeli military court in the West Bank has sentenced a Palestinian man, Amjad Khamed, to life imprisonment for his role in the fatal drive-by shooting of Malachi Rosenfeld near the Israeli settlement of Shiloh in July 2015.
Khamed, who is one of the three members of the terrorist cell that carried out the attack, was also ordered to pay 325,000 shekels ($92,000) in compensation and got a 25,000-shekel fine ($7,000). Rosenfeld, who was 26 at the time, was killed and three of his friends, Hananel Cohen, Yair Hooper and Shai Maimon were wounded in the shooting. Khamed was convicted of three attempted murders and of being an accomplice in the murder of Rosenfeld. He has been under arrest since July 2015. Another terrorist from the same cell, Abdallah Ashak, was sentenced in January to life imprisonment and 325,000 shekels in compensation for his role in the attack. The third member of the cell is still on trial.
Sentence of Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter reduced: army
JERUSALEM (AFP) 26 Sept — Israel’s military chief of staff on Wednesday reduced the sentence of a soldier convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead a prone Palestinian assailant by four months, the army said. The move cut Elor Azaria’s sentence from 18 to 14 months after the soldier pleaded for leniency, military spokesman Jonathan Conricus told AFP. Azaria was convicted in a military trial that deeply divided the country and began his sentence in August. Military chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot had repeatedly denounced Azaria’s actions, putting him at odds with right-wing politicians including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who called for the soldier to be released. “Despite the fact that it is clear from the words of the chief of staff that Azaria’s actions were contrary to the code of conduct and to the values of the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) … he decided to do so out of consideration of the fact that he is a combat soldier and a warrior” who had “endured a lot,” Conricus said of the reduction. The March 2016 shooting in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron was caught on video by a human rights group and spread widely online. It showed Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, 21, lying wounded on the ground, shot along with another Palestinian after stabbing and wounding a soldier, according to the army. Some 11 minutes after the initial shooting, Azaria shot him in the head without any apparent provocation….
Hamas takes another step on path to Gaza handover
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 27 Sept by Ahmad Melhem — The Palestinian government announced Sept. 25 that Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and other ministers will be heading to the Gaza Strip Oct. 2 to hold the weekly Cabinet session on Oct. 3. This came in response to the PLO Central Committee’s call Sept. 24 for the government to assume its responsibility in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, in a Sept. 23 meeting headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah Central Committee called on the consensus government to go to the Gaza Strip. This step will be the government’s first genuine move toward exerting its powers at all levels in the Gaza Strip, after Hamas announced Sept. 17 the dissolution of the Gaza Strip’s administrative committee. In a Sept. 26 meeting, Hamdallah stressed that once “the government is handed its responsibilities in Gaza, its work will be comprehensive and effective.” He added that the government “decided to form a number of ministerial committees tasked with handling the handover process of the crossings, security and government departments. It will also address the impact and repercussions of the split, as well as all of the subsequent civil, administrative and legal issues, obstacles and challenges.” The visit is perceived to be the first government response to Hamas’ call for the government carry out its duties in the Gaza Strip. Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, said at a Sept. 19 press conference, “We welcome the National Consensus Government in the Gaza Strip.” The government is scheduled to arrive in the Gaza Strip Oct. 2 for a two- or three-day visit to evaluate the situation and needs in the ministries in Gaza and to take over its tasks and powers … Fatah Central Committee member Mohammad Shtayyeh told Al-Monitor that the reconciliation will be achieved gradually. Some of the important steps were already taken, and others are underway. This is why the Fatah Central Committee demanded that the government go to the Gaza Strip to receive all of the responsibilities and powers, including the crossings and ministries, he added. He said, “An Egyptian delegation will be supervising the government takeover of the ministries and institutions. The delegation will oversee the transfer of power from Hamas to the government and ensure that the reconciliation terms are implemented on the ground.”….
Gazans now complaining online
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 27 Sept by Hani Abu Rezk — Residents of Gaza have typically had to spend hours waiting to lodge their complaints at various government agencies, but for a few weeks now, they have been able to submit their grievances with a click. On Sept. 5, the administration in Gaza inaugurated an electronic complaints system, which should save residents much time and effort. Previously, complaints had to be submitted in writing or in person. The Centralized Complaints System is under the administration of the Ministry of Telecom and Information Technology (MTIT), with complaints being channeled through the Governmental Performance Quality Unit. Some 100 employees follow up on the expressed grievances and route them to the concerned ministries….
Gaza’s fishermen struggle to stay afloat
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 27 Sept by Ismail Abdel Hadi — Fishing is not always a peaceful time at sea for Gaza’s fishermen, who follow in the footsteps of their fathers and grandfathers. They are allowed only to catch the fish in a small area close to the shore due to Israeli restrictions, and if they go beyond the permitted fishing zone they risk being shot at or losing their boats. Yet Palestinian fishermen still hold on to their trade, which has passed on to them for generations, fishing off the coast of the Gaza Strip and making their own fishing nets by hand. In the port of Gaza, dozens of fishermen sit under canopies, amid their nets, either repairing those that are damaged or making new ones with basic tools such as hooks and pins to knot the silk and nylon threads. Fisherman Saadi Jarad works from dawn to dusk making and repairing fishing nets for his sons, for whom the trade is the only source of the family’s livelihood. “Making fishing nets is one of the old professions passed on from one generation to the next. We will not abandon it. It is a source of livelihood for us and our children, especially in light of the rampant unemployment among young people,” Jarad told Al-Monitor….
MPs urged to help Palestinian student denied exit visa from Gaza to take up place at Goldsmiths
BEIRUT (The Independent) 27 Sept by Bethan MvcKernan — A Palestinian scholarship student due to begin a masters programme at Goldsmiths, University of London is worried that he may have to forfeit his place on the course thanks to the delay of his travel papers from the Israeli authorities. Mohammed Awad, 28, was delighted to be accepted for a fully-funded place on the MA in Multilingualism, Linguistics, & Education at Goldsmiths’ New Cross campus, beginning 1 October … “I worked hard for such an opportunity. It took one year of dedicated focus, attention and interest… I bought my suitcase and packed my luggage,” said the student from Jabalia, north of Gaza City. However, subsequent red tape and lengthy delays at Cogat (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, the body responsible for implementing Israeli policy in occupied areas) in processing his application to leave Gaza mean that just a few days before his course begins, Mr Awad is still stranded in the coastal enclave without the necessary paperwork. He now faces missing out on the beginning of the term – and in a worst case scenario, having to give up his place due to a lack of time and funds to restart the visa process again….
Mr Awad is not alone: according to Gisha, the Israeli NGO which helps protect Palestinians’ freedom of movement, 362 Gazans who have won places at colleges and universities abroad have applied to leave the Strip since January 2017. Only 73 have been granted permission, while seven were outright refused, 50 were returned or placed under review and 239 applications remain pending….
Gaza: Children suffer from war trauma three years on
Al Jazeera 27 Sept by Ghada al-Haddad — As Gaza marks three years since the Israeli assault that devastated the Strip and left more than 2,200 Palestinians killed, the psychological effects of the violence linger on. Children were among the most affected groups; in the 50-day onslaught, the Israeli army killed 500 children. The bombing campaign, which started in July and ended in late August 2014, caused outrage and spurred international protests as images of dead children flooded social media. The United Nations estimates that, currently, more than 300,000 children are in need of psychosocial support. Three years after the war, Al Jazeera speaks to the families of three children who were psychologically affected after surviving attacks or by the death of their siblings, relatives and friends.
Amir Ibrahim Al Reqeb, 9, Khan Younis: Every time Amir hears the sound of Israeli warplanes buzzing in the sky, or the sound of thunder in winter, or a loud bang, he rushes to his parents for protection. Last July, on the first night of Eid al-Fitr, an Israeli attack hit near Amir’s home in the town of Bani Suhaila, in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. His uncle and two of his neighbours were killed in the attack. Thirty-seven others were injured, including Amir. First responders could not find Amir easily – they thought he was dead, but later found his body about 100 metres away, covered in sand. “Amir suffered an injury to his skull and broken bones in his jaw,” his mother, Ibtisam, recalls. She then pointed to the shrapnel that injured Amir in different parts of his body, particularly his eye and his lungs. “He lost one of his eyes,” she continued in a muffled voice. Since the war, Amir has become a permanent visitor to hospitals….
PCHR calls upon Attorney General to investigate death of prisoner in al-Shuja‘iya police station
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights: Third Case during this Month in Gaza: On Sunday morning, medical resources at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, declared the death of prisoner (A. S. F), after he was referred to al-Shifa Hospital from al-Shuja‘iyia police station. The prisoner was serving a 1-year sentence in jail on grounds of theft. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) expresses its deep concern over repeated death cases in the Gaza police stations and detention facilities in various circumstances. PCHR is also concerned that these cases might be due to torture and degrading treatment that detainees were exposed to or resulting from negligence of providing them protection and security.
According to the victim’s brother, who was also arrested with him in the Shuja‘iyia police station on grounds of another theft incident, at approximately 07:30 on Sunday, while his brother (A. S. F) was heading to the bathroom and before he entered, he fell on the ground and fainted. His body was trembling and his color changed into red. He added: we called the police, who responded after 10 minutes and took my brother to al-Surani Clinic. The al-Surani Clinic refused to admit him, so he was returned to the police station. The police then brought a doctor, who was detained on financial grounds, to check him up. The doctor confirmed that his health condition is serious, so he was transferred to al-Shifa Hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds. The Forensic Medicine Department at al-Shifa Hospital declared that (A. S. F) died due to Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). The victim’s brother added that his brother was exposed to torture several times while he was in the prison. He also said that when my family previously visited my brother, he complained of pain in his chest and being maltreated and tortured by the police officers….
Death penalty should immediately stop: 3 new death sentences issued in Gaza
The Palestinian Center For Human Rights (PCHR): On Tuesday, 26 September 2017, Deir al-Balah First Instance Court convened in Khan Younis issued 3 new death sentences in the Gaza Strip. The death sentences by hanging were issued against S. A. G. (54); Y. H. A. (64) and A. ‘A. B. (38), all of them from Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, after being convicted of corporate murder and burglary as they were accused of killing A. M. M. while robbing his house in Deir al-Balah. PCHR is concerned over the excessive use of this penalty in the Gaza Strip in light of absent fair trial guarantees and lack of investigation potentials. PCHR also calls upon the judiciary in Gaza not to issue any death sentence in light of the divisions and its recursions, including absence of rule of law and possibilities for having a conviction based on certainty. The number of death sentences issued since the beginning of 2017 has risen to 20 sentences, 18 of which were new sentences while the 12 others were to uphold previous sentences. Thus, the total number of death sentences issued in the Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled areas has risen to 192 sentences since 1994. Twenty of them have been issued in the West Bank and 172 in the Gaza Strip. Among those issued in the Gaza Strip, 103 sentences have been issued since 2007 … PCHR is also gravely concerned over the continued application of death penalty in the PA controlled areas, and calls upon the Palestinian President to sign the 1989 Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty and issue a presidential decree to halt it until the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) convenes and abolishes it….
Police show Gaza women how to stay safe online
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 26 Sept by Rasha Abou Jalal — The Interior Ministry’s security services in Gaza arrested a man accused of luring women and girls into collaboration with Israel after meeting them online and having romantic relationships with them, according to a Sept. 12 Facebook post by Gaza’s all-female police unit. The post stated that the man, in his 30s, confessed that he had been commissioned by an Israeli officer to lure women from Gaza into working with Israel by threatening to publish their pictures or recordings of romantic conversations. Director of the unit in Gaza, Narimeen Adwan, told Al-Monitor, “This collaborator takes advantage of naive girls who chat with guys on social networking sites, and he tries to convince them that he is their long awaited bridegroom in order to exploit them and send all the information they provide to the enemy. Girls thus fall prey to the extortion of the [Israeli Security Agency].” The announcement was part of the Sahwa campaign in partnership with the Culture and Free Thought Association, which is funded by the European Union, to raise awareness of the dangers of online extortion and other cybercrimes. Speaking to Al-Monitor, Adwan said that the campaign offers a series of free awareness and educational events held in various venues such as schools, universities, mosques and nongovernmental organizations to teach girls the dangers of extortion and what to do in case of electronic blackmail. She added that the campaign targets not only young women but also parents and young men….
Opinion: In Gaza, too, we fall in love. But there are fewer happy endings / Mohammed M.
Haaretz 27 Sept — The besieged Gaza strip has a lot of hidden stories the media can’t properly access. Those stories are populated by individuals who won’t reveal their names and details to outsiders, out of pride, or privacy, or shame. Every story has its own shocking and surprising details. They need to be told so a wider audience can begin to understand, just a bit more tangibly and personally, what it means to live in the enclave. In Gaza, we also fall in love … I am my parents’ eldest son. They want me to marry so they can enjoy being grandparents, but they know that I don’t have an apartment to live in or a stable salary that would allow me, my wife and them to survive on. My father has been unemployed since 2005 when he, along with thousands of other Gazans, could no longer work inside Israel after its withdrawal. He became one of the 80% of all Gazans who depend on social assistance and international aid. My girlfriend’s parents loved me so much that they said they could not live without me. “If you ever leave us, you will kill our souls,” her mom once told me. Her words made me cry for hours, because I already knew marrying her daughter would never happen. I felt trapped between Scylla and Charybdis. I was afraid to be realistic and to tell her family that financial difficulties prevented me from marrying their daughter, and I was also scared to promise the girl and her family to wait for me, and for my situation to improve, because I did not want them to wait for years. Between fear and hope, the relationship lasted for about two years, and she was almost 20 years old when her mother asked to meet me alone. I knew what her mother wanted to talk about. I met her in a restaurant in Gaza, popular with families, and she started talking about the social culture of Gaza and how people regard young women when they pass the age of 20. In Gaza, and in most of the Arab world, families consider girls over 20 as irredeemable spinsters. That means many have no chance of marrying – for several reasons. There is a gender ‘surplus’ of young single women because so many young men immigrate to the West looking for jobs, because men disproportionately lose their lives in combat, and because men don’t have the financial means to get married….
Palestinian, Italian chefs share their love for food
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 27 Sept by Mohammed Jaser — A Palestinian-Italian exchange program brought Italian cuisine to the refugee camps in the Gaza Strip, as professional Italian chefs cooked together with Palestinian women — and both sides learned a trick or two from each other. The Palestinian and Italian chefs came together Sept. 11 at the Center to Empower Women in Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. They gathered around a single table to share their experiences, each assembling the ingredients needed to prepare the Italian and Palestinian dishes, including pasta, chicken, rice and spices. Then they set to work, showing each other their recipes and sharing cooking tips. First, Palestinian women learned Italian recipes that they described as “brilliant.” Then it was their turn to cook. Inshirah began peeling the onions, while Kholoud peeled the potatoes, eggplant and the other vegetables they needed to prepare their dish. Another woman focused on cooking the rice and putting oil into a large pan to start making maqlouba, a popular Palestinian dish. The Italians sat with the Palestinians at the same table to taste the Palestinian meal, which they liked very much. Italian chef Domenico Maurizio Loi said that he had wanted to learn about Palestinian and Middle Eastern food for a long time, because he had heard so much about it from the customers who visit his restaurant in Sardinia, Italy. Loi told Al-Monitor, “Palestinian cuisine is characterized by its over-the-top use of spices, unlike Italian cuisine. However, both cuisines tend to use flour in most dishes.” He said that he learned the secrets of preparing maqlouba from the Palestinian chefs, stressing that he plans to serve it to his customers back home. The cooking session in the camp was part of a joint cultural gathering co-organized by the Italian Center for Cultural Exchange and the Palestinian Ministry of Culture in support of a cultural exchange program to promote Palestinian culture internationally….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Soldiers destroy water pipeline near Tubas, confiscate tractors and water truck in northern plains
IMEMC 28 Sept — Israeli soldiers destroyed, on Wednesday evening, a water pipeline and bulldozed an agricultural road in ‘Atouf village, south of Tubas, in the northeastern West Bank, in addition to confiscating a tractor and a water truck in the West Bank’s Northern Plains. Bashar Bani Odah, a member of ‘Atouf Local Council, said dozens of soldiers, accompanied by armored bulldozers, invaded an agricultural area owned by the villagers, before destroying a water pipeline and bulldozing an agricultural road leading to the targeted lands. He added that the soldiers attacked a nonviolent procession against the escalating Israeli violations targeting the Palestinians and their lands in al-Baq’a Meadow, in the same area, wounding at least fifteen, and abducted two Palestinians, including a journalist. In related news, the soldiers illegally confiscated a tractor and a water truck, owned by Jamil Khdeirat, from Bardala village, in the West Bank’s Northern Plains. Israel controls all water resources, and frequently disconnects water supplies, an issue that forces the Palestinians to buy water, which is delivered to them by water trucks, for higher prices than they would normally pay if they had constant running water.
Israeli officials deliver demolition notices for homes in ‘Issawiya
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Sept — Israel’s Jerusalem municipality distributed demolition notices for several Palestinian homes in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya on Monday for allegedly building homes without Israeli-issued building permits. According to Palestinian news agency Wafa, Raed Abu Reyaleh, a member of the village’s follow-up committee, said that Israeli forces and municipality officials had “conducted provocative tours” in Issawiya. He added that Israeli forces had photographed streets and Palestinian-owned residential and commercial structures, while handing demolition notices to several homes in the neighborhood.
B’Tselem: Israel to commit war crime against West Bank villagers
MEMC/Agencies 26 Sept — Israeli rights group B’Tselem said, on Monday afternoon, that Israeli government is to commit war crimes against Palestinian villagers in Khan al-Ahmar. B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai el-Ad said, according to Days of Palestine: “Following the state’s response submitted earlier today to the [Israeli] High Court of Justice, that the state was asking the court to authorize a war crime.” He explained: “No sanctimonious language about a ‘planning, proprietary and realistic’ alternate, or ‘time to prepare’ can erase the disgrace or hide the facts: the destruction of Khan al-Ahmar means the forcible transfer of protected persons, and forcible transfer is a war crime.” El-Ad added: “Those responsible for it will bear personal criminal liability – exactly as B’Tselem stated two weeks ago, in a letter addressed to the prime minister, defence minister, justice minister, chief of staff and the head of the Civil Administration.”
Another Palestinian West Bank village to be emptied, Israeli security official says
Haaretz 26 Sept by Yotam Berger — A senior security official has said that residents of the Palestinian village of Sussia in the southern West Bank will be evicted within a few months, like the Bedouin village of Khan al-Amar. The source told Haaretz that the Defense Ministry has explained that “When it comes to Sussia, we’ll do the same thing. We’re no longer willing to postpone – we’ll ask the court for eviction.” The demolition of Sussia, near the Jewish settlement of Susya in the South Hebron Hills, has been before the High Court of Justice for years. In recent months the state has repeatedly asked for postponement, one reason being the diplomatic sensitivity involved in evicting the residents from the village, which was built without construction permits. Now eviction is expected within two months. Yesterday the state announced that Khan al-Amar in the Gush Adumim bloc would be evicted by next April….
Israel’s Chief Justice bars judge from attending ‘controversial’ settlements jubilee event
Haaretz 26 Sept by Yotam Berger — The Supreme Court president saw the judge’s attendance as ‘inappropriate’ due to the political nature of the event, which was to mark 50 years of settlement in Judea and Samaria — Supreme Court President Miriam Naor defended on Wednesday her decision to cancel the court’s participation in a government ceremony marking 50 years since Israel conquered the West Bank and would not be sending one of its justices as previously planned. “In response to a petition filed on the matter, Naor wrote: “The court system avoids participating in any controversial public event, in particular when the entire stage is dedicated to one side.” The courts’ legal adviser argued Naor’s decision to the High Court of Justice in response to a petition that the right-wing Regevim group had filed against Naor’s decision on Tuesday … Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other ministers will participate in the official event named, “50 years of settlement in Judea and Samaria.” Representatives of all branches of the government were invited. Before the Supreme Court’s announcement, Haaretz reported that the new Public Broadcasting Corporation and Army Radio both refused to air the government ad promoting the ceremony. The two media outlets said the slogan used in the ad, “We have returned home”, was controversial….
Wild West Bank: Israeli web series follows women settlers who pack heat
[with sample episode] Haaretz 28 Sept by Shany Littman — Chen Verker, a 29-year-old settler with two young daughters, says shooting is relaxing, in the manner of yoga. “It frees me, it quiets the mind, to focus on something. … In yoga class you work a lot on breathing. Just as with shooting.” “Hamushot” (“Armed”) a new web series from the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, follows the daily lives of Verker and two other young women setters, all of whom carry guns, on their daily routines. Liora Ben Tsur runs the small farm started by her father, a white South African who converted to Judaism and immigrated to the West Bank after the apartheid regime ended. Hana Halevi is trying to build her own home in an unauthorized settlement outpost and is coping with a daunting bureaucracy. All three stay are always armed, happily or not. Each woman is the focus of five or six of the series’ five-minute episodes. “Armed” immediately attracted a lot of attention for a web series. Two TV critics attacked it for allegedly taking the settlement project out of context, examining it without judgment, anthropologically, normalizing the occupation and ignoring the Palestinians. “This series is nauseating. It presents these despicable fascists as courageous pioneers and glorifies them as role models,” Rogel Alpher wrote in Haaretz (in Hebrew). .The series creator, Ayelet Bechar, braced herself from the start for this assault. She calls herself a filmmaker with leftist views who is deeply involved in the community of political filmmakers in Israel….
‘Strangers’ in the vineyards
Tablet 27 Sept by Sara Toth Stub — West Bank [settler’ wineries find unexpected help from Christian volunteers who see themselves fulfilling a Biblical prophecy — Just after sunrise on a recent morning, Matilda Haggstrom was among about 200 Christians picking grapes on a hillside in the Jewish community [settlement outpost] of Pnei Kedem. During a short break, she looked across the valley to Hebron, mentioned in the Bible as the burial place of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their wives. “Before I came here, these were just stories,” said Haggstrom, a health coach from Stockholm, who is here for the sixth time as a volunteer with HaYovel, a Christian nonprofit organization that helps Jewish farmers harvest grapes in the growing number vineyards in the West Bank. “But now that I have seen these places, it helps me see the past, present, and future. What we are doing here now is fulfilling a biblical prophecy.” Haggstrom was referring to Isaiah 61:5, which says that when the Israelites return to their land, “strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.” HaYovel’s volunteers see themselves as these biblically prescribed “strangers” and “sons of the alien” helping to support revived Jewish agriculture. The vineyards themselves—especially in these areas of the contested West Bank that were once the heartland of biblical Israel—are also seen as the fulfillment of prophecy since Jews began to plant them again in the 20th century….
Interpol approves Palestinian membership bid
Al Jazeera 27 Sept — Secret ballot seen as diplomatic win for Palestinian statehood, as Israel was actively seeking to postpone the vote — Interpol has approved the Palestinian Authority’s membership bid, a new victory in its drive for international representation despite strong Israeli opposition. Israel lobbies hard against Palestinian efforts to join global organisations to advance their goal of statehood. It claimed victory last year when the Palestinian bid to join the global police body was suspended. Interpol approved the Palestinian application along with a bid by the Solomon Islands during its annual general assembly in Beijing on Wednesday. “New member countries State of Palestine and Solomon Islands bring Interpol’s membership to 192,” it said on its Twitter account. It did not detail the voting but candidacies require the approval of a two-thirds majority of countries present at the general assembly, excluding abstentions. The Palestine Liberation Organisation’s negotiations affairs department said on Twitter they had received more than 75 percent of the vote. “Palestine’s membership is the outcome of members defending this organisation’s raison d’etre and advancing its core values, and a clear rejection of attempts at cynical manipulation and political bullying,” Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki said in a statement. Israel’s foreign ministry did not immediately comment. Palestine gained observer status at the United Nations in 2012 and since then has joined more than 50 international organisations and agreements, according to the Palestinian foreign ministry. Among them are the International Criminal Court and the United Nations heritage body UNESCO….
PLO to request ICC investigation of Israeli settlement activity
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Sept — The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has decided to submit an official request to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate illegal Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi told Ma‘an on Monday. Official Palestinian Authority (PA) Wafa news agency reported on Sunday that the Executive Committee had “asked” the ICC to begin investigations, though Ashrawi said that the committee had only made the decision to move forward with submitting an official investigation request. According to Wafa, during an Executive Committee meeting on Sunday, the PLO condemned Israel for “ethnic cleansing and racial segregation,” which they highlighted were “considered war crimes that should be investigated by the ICC.” A PLO statement reportedly accused Israel of carrying out a “silent ethnic cleansing” in Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley, Hebron, and in other areas of the occupied West Bank particularly exposed to Israel’s settlement project. As a result of said violations of international law, the PLO “decided to refer the file of settlements as a war crime and the file of ethnic cleansing, discrimination and apartheid to the ICC with an urgent appeal to open a judicial investigation into the war crimes committed by the State of Israel in the Palestinian territories occupied during the 1967 aggression,” Wafa quoted the statement as saying….
Palestinians speak out about torture in PA prison
JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 27 Sept by Jacob Burns — Palestinian journalist Sami al-Sai had been ordered released from the custody of the Palestinian intelligence services in Tulkarem in February, but just as he was about to leave, he was rearrested and transferred to Jericho prison. There, he underwent 15 days of interrogation and torture, he told Al Jazeera. “They strung me up from the roof of the cell with a rope tied around my arms, which were behind me. There was so much pain,” he said, noting that he was beaten on his feet with a hose during another interrogation session. “I couldn’t believe the pain … Afterwards, I couldn’t walk properly; I couldn’t reach out my arms.” Sai was released after paying a fine to suspend a three-month sentence for links to the Gaza-based Palestinian movement Hamas. His story fits with a pattern of abuse, which ex-detainees, their families, lawyers and human rights organisations say is increasingly common in the occupied West Bank, and especially Jericho. The prison, they say, is playing a key role in a Palestinian security apparatus that has ratcheted up its attempts to stifle dissent and imprison political opponents. “People face torture in many places when they are in [the] custody of the Palestinian Authority,” said Anas Barghouti, a Ramallah-based human rights lawyer. “Many people also face torture in Jericho, but what makes it different is that it is especially a place for political prisoners.”….
Palestine’s relief team praised for work in Dominican Republic
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 26 Sept – The Prime Minister of the Dominican Republic Roosevelt Skerrit thanked Palestine for sending a team to help in relief efforts in his country hard hit by the devastating hurricane Irma, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Riyad Malki said on Monday. He said in a statement that the Palestinian team arrived in the Dominican Republic four days ago and started immediately to provide assistance to the people of the Caribbean island. The team of doctors and civil defense arrived in Venezuela last week in preparation to fly to the Dominican Republic believed to be the hardest hit by the hurricane. Venezuela provided a military cargo plane to transport the equipment, medical supplies and food parcels purchased in that Latin American country to Dominica while a military helicopter was provided to transport the crews. Malki said the Palestinian team started work immediately after arrival in Dominica in spite of the hardship and difficulties of the situation on the ground due to absence of electricity, communications, water and food….
Deportations and harassment of Irish group traveling to West Bank
Global Research 25 Sept — A trip to Palestine resulted in deportations and harassment by security as the Israel authorities step up attempts to intimidate or frighten future travelers to the area. During our trip we experienced CS gas, checkpoints, apartheid in action and military harassment of Palestinians. Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin relates his experiences as a member of the group.
Departure — I joined the group in Dublin airport on the morning of September 8th and we flew out to Istanbul where we waited in a transit area cafe for a couple of hours. As it turned out our flight departure lounge for Tel Aviv was next to the cafe where we were sitting and we noticed that an extra layer of security was being prepared by ground staff for the Tel Aviv flight. After boarding, and a smooth Turkish Airlines flight to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, we disembarked and queued up for passport control. I was on my own and after 2 or 3 questions (what was the purpose of my trip, had I been to Israel before, etc). I was given a one month visa and waved through. Meanwhile, however, trouble was brewing as I could hear the two Irish girls at the kiosk next to me being asked to bring the group leader over. I went directly through to the arrivals hall as I had not checked in any bags. Then began a long wait as myself and the few who got through unhindered discovered that security had rounded up as many of the group as they could find including those who had decided to wait in the luggage hall rather than in the arrivals hall. In all 21 were detained and 6 questioned, and of those 4 were deported (Elaine Daly, Fidelma Bonass, Joan Nolan and Stephen McCloskey) a few hours later. The four who were detained were informed that they were being deported to prevent ‘illegal immigration’ even though they had valid passports and return tickets. Around 4am the others were released and we finally boarded the bus and made the journey to our hotel in Bethlehem….
IDF launches probe after two more mini drones crash
Times of Israel 25 Sept by Judah Ari Gross & staff — Commander grounds fleet as Skylark hand-launched military drones go down in West Bank, bringing total crashes this year to at least 8 — Two small IDF drones crashed in the West Bank on Monday, the latest Israeli unmanned aircraft to go down in recent months, for as yet unclear reasons, the army said. One of the hand-launched unmanned aerial vehicles fell in the city of Hebron, the second in the city of Bethlehem. Both were recovered, the Israel Defense Forces said. The army said there was no risk that intelligence could have been gleaned from the Skylark model drones … The head of the IDF Ground Forces Command, Maj. Gen. Kobi Barak, grounded the entire fleet of Skylark drones until an investigation could be completed into the crashes, noting that they occur regularly. The “sky rider,” as it is known in Hebrew, is a tactical surveillance drone created by Israel’s Elbit Systems and operated by the IDF’s Artillery Corps. The miniature UAV can be launched by one or two people, depending on the model, and once airborne provides a live video feed to soldiers on the ground … One crashed in January in southern Lebanon, prompting a mad dash by IDF forces to recover the aircraft and prevent its falling into enemy hands. Hezbollah claimed to have retrieved parts of the destroyed drone. In March, another crashed in northern Gaza and a third was shot down in southern Syria. A fourth fell out of the sky in May near the Lebanese village of Ayta ash Shab. And on July 4, a fifth crashed in southern Gaza, where Hamas claimed to have retrieved it. On July 18, yet another crashed near Nablus, but was returned to Israeli hands by Palestinian security forces….
UN sent warning letter to 150 companies for doing business in Israeli settlements
Haaretz 27 Sept by Barak Ravid — Israeli officials say some of the companies responded to the UN human rights commissioner by saying they won’t renew their contracts in Israel — The UN’s Human Rights Commissioner began sending letters two weeks ago to 150 companies in Israel and around the world, warning them that they are about to be added to a database of companies doing business in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, senior Israeli officials and Western diplomats involved in the matter told Haaretz. The Israeli official, who requested to stay anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue, noted that the letters, sent by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said these firms were doing business in the “occupied Palestinian territories” and could thus find themselves on the UN blacklist for companies acting in violation of “internal law and UN decisions.” The letters, copies of which also reached the Israeli government, request that these firms send the commission clarifications about their business activities in settlements. A Western diplomat, who also requested to remain anonymous, noted that of the 150 companies, some 30 were American, and a number are from countries including Germany, South Korea and Norway. The remaining half are Israeli companies….