Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization / Settlements
In unprecedented move, eight European countries to demand compensation from Israel for West Bank demolitions
Haaretz 19 Oct by Barak Ravid — Eight European Union countries wrote an official protest letter to Israel, demanding over €30,000 ($35,400) in compensation for confiscating and demolishing structures and infrastructure which the countries had built in Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli control. A senior European diplomat told Haaretz that the letter, which is the first of its kind, was expected to be delivered to senior Foreign Ministry officials within a few days. According to the European diplomat, Belgium was leading the move. The other countries involved in drafting the letter are France, Spain, Sweden, Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland and Denmark. All eight countries are members of the West Bank Protection Consortium, a body through which they coordinate humanitarian assistance to Area C. The countries were protesting the confiscation of solar panels they had installed in Bedouin communities and the demolition of mobile structures that were financed in various Bedouin communities to serve as classrooms….
WATCH: Week-long cultural festival aims to revive Palestinian traditions, life in Jerusalem
Reuters 17 Oct — A jubilant Palestinian wedding procession marched through the streets of Jerusalem, kicking off a festival aimed at reviving life in the ancient city. ‘Layali al-Quds’ is the first cultural festival in Jerusalem launched by ‘Shafaq’, also known as the Jerusalem Arts Network which includes five of the most prominent art centres in the city: Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, Palestinian Art Court-Al Hoash, Palestinian National Theatre, and Yabous Cultural Centre. Daoud al-Ghoul, the director of Shafaq, said there will be 50 events during the festival….
Palestinians vow to Israel: We’re not leaving Jerusalem
OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 14 Oct by Mersiha Gadzo — Mazen Jabari was heading towards the Yabous Cultural Centre in occupied East Jerusalem to deliver a presentation on al-Aqsa Mosque, when he received a phone call advising him not to come.”The Israeli police stormed the place, and they’re looking … to speak with you,” Jabari, a researcher with the Arab Studies Society NGO, recalled the Yabous Cultural Centre’s director telling him in late August. Israeli police and intelligence had arrived an hour before the scheduled start of the al-Aqsa lecture – which was intended to raise questions about Jordan’s custodianship over the holy site – and ordered the centre’s director, Rania Elias, to shut it down, claiming it had been organised by the “terrorist organisation” Hamas. “This has nothing to do with Hamas or any political party,” Elias told Al Jazeera. “These research papers are presented in newspapers, on social media, on TV and so on. It is discussed openly.” Jabari believes the event was cancelled because Israeli authorities did not want certain information disseminated to the public: “The two governments [of Israel and Jordan] have an interest not to discuss this type of information in front of the Palestinian public in Jerusalem after what happened in July,” he said, referring to recent protests over Israeli measures of control at al-Aqsa.
The cancellation and closure of the Yabous event, however, is by no means an isolated case. According to the Jerusalem-based Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights (CCPRJ), it is part of Israel’s broader effort to Judaise the city. Since 2001, the group found, Israeli authorities have temporarily or permanently closed at least 35 Palestinian public institutions and NGOs in occupied East Jerusalem. Among them are the think-tank Orient House, which served as the headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the 1980s and 90s; the Palestinian National Theatre; the Jerusalem Chamber of Commerce; the Agricultural and Industrial Chamber of Commerce; the Arab Studies Society; the Higher Council of Tourism; and the European Union’s Small Projects Centre….
Israel demolishes 2 homes in East Jerusalem, displacing Palestinian family of 9
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Oct — Israeli authorities raided the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday, where bulldozers demolished two Palestinian homes under the pretext that they were built without a permit. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozer escorted by armed forces raided and surrounded the neighborhood, closing all roads to the area before forcing residents of the two homes to evacuate prior to the demolition. The homes belonged to Murad Abu Rajab and his son Raed. Raed told Ma‘an that the two homes were built 14 months ago, and that there was a valid court decision postponing the demolition. He added that he informed the officer in charge of Tuesday’s demolition of the postponement, but the Jerusalem Municipality crews carried out the demolition anyway. Raed said that nine family members lived in the two homes.
According to official Palestinian Authority (PA) Wafa news agency, two other homes also slated for demolition in Silwan and the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-‘Issawiya were allegedly “spared at the last minute,” after the homeowners presented Israeli court orders that temporarily prevented the demolitions.
Israel approves another 2,600 settler homes
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP) 19 Oct — Israeli authorities approved another large set of plans for settlement homes in the occupied West Bank Wednesday, bringing the total for the week to more than 2,600, settlement watchdog Peace Now said. Some 1,323 settlement housing units were given a green light Wednesday, while 2,646 have been advanced this week, it said, as part of a government push to expand West Bank settlement construction. The plans passed this week, criticized Wednesday by the European Union, are at various stages in Israel’s complex approval process. A planning committee overseeing West Bank settlement construction granted the latest approvals. Peace Now said the push was “distancing us daily from the possibility of a two-state solution.” “The government is sending a clear message to settlers: Build illegally and anywhere and we will find a solution for you,” the organization said in a statement. Government officials have pledged a major boost in settlement home approvals this year, with U.S. President Donald Trump so far much less critical of such plans than his predecessor Barack Obama. Israeli officials say a total of around 12,000 housing units will be given various stages of approval this year, four times the amount in 2016….
EU calls on Israel to stop plans for new West Bank settlements
BRUSSELS (Reuters) 18 Oct — Israel must halt new building plans for settler homes in the West Bank, the European Union’s foreign service said in a statement on Wednesday, warning that such settlements threatened any future peace deal with the Palestinians. “The European Union has requested clarifications from Israeli authorities and conveyed the expectation that they reconsider these decisions, which are detrimental to on-going efforts towards meaningful peace talks,” the statement said.
“All settlement activity is illegal under international law, and it undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for a lasting peace.” The EU maintains that the lands Israel has occupied since the 1967 Middle East war – including the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights – are not part of the internationally recognized borders of Israel.
How the EU mocks victims of Israel’s crimes / Ali Abunimah
EI 18 Oct — …On Wednesday, the European Union put out a statement about Israel’s reinvigorated settlement drive, its forced expulsions of Palestinian Bedouins and its evictions of Palestinian families in Jerusalem. The statement does not clearly condemn Israel’s actions. Instead, it says the EU “has requested clarifications from Israeli authorities and conveyed the expectation that they reconsider these decisions, which are detrimental to ongoing efforts towards meaningful peace talks.” This is diplomatic speak for: we barely have the courage to even criticize you, let alone to take action … On Wednesday, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that eight European states are about to take the “unprecedented” step of threatening to demand $35,000 in compensation from Israel for the structures and equipment they funded in the West Bank that Israeli forces recently confiscated. While this move is being marketed as a bold and tough European step, it only underlines how timid the EU really is. The sum in question is a tiny fraction of the at least $74 million in European-funded aid projects that Israel has destroyed with impunity. The fact is that the EU is an active enabler of Israel’s crimes….
Electricity returns to Palestinian village, three months after Israel confiscates power system
Haaretz 20 Oct by Amira Hass — Each family in Jubbet Adh-Dhib village is allotted only three kilowatt hours per day as Israeli-Palestinian group reinstalls hybrid solar power system taken by Israel — Electricity has been restored to the modest stone and cement houses of the Palestinian village Jubbet Adh-Dhib, southeast of Bethlehem. In late June, the Civil Administration confiscated the hybrid (solar and diesel) electrical system that had been in operation there for eight months. The reason, as told to Haaretz by a spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories (COGAT) on the day of confiscation, is that the solar panels were installed without the required permits. At the end of September, the confiscated panels were returned. The reason, as written by Civil Administration head Brig. Gen. Ahvat Ben Hur to the lawyers who filed a High Court petition in August against the confiscation: “Given the circumstances of the matter – for one, the period of time that passed from when they were installed until they were taken – I have decided to immediately release the seized objects.” The decision rendered the petition unnecessary. On October 3, a team from Comet-ME, which had built the hybrid system, reinstalled the panels and reconnected them to the rest of the system, after they were released unconditionally from the Civil Administration warehouses in Gush Etzion. The circumstances of the matter, i.e., the reason the village even needed this hybrid system to begin with, is that for decades the Civil Administration has been turning down its requests to connect to the electricity grid.…
Israeli forces demolish Palestinian structures across Hebron district
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — Israeli forces on Thursday demolished agricultural structures belonging to Palestinians in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, according to local sources. In the village of al-Tuwani, south of Hebron, coordinator of national and popular committees in the southern West Bank Ratib al-Jabour told Ma‘an that Israeli forces demolished an agricultural structure belonging to Palestinian farmer Muhammad Issa al-Yatim, under the pretext that it was built without a difficult-to-obtain Israeli-issued building permit. Al-Jabour said that Israeli authorities are” increasing their attacks against residents and farmers of eastern Yatta to force them to leave their lands.” In the nearby village of Halaweh, southeast of the town of Yatta, Israeli forces destroyed two Palestinian homes earlier Thursday morning. In the village of Beit Ummar, north of Hebron city, Israeli forces demolished steel structures and confiscated its contents, claiming it was built without a license. Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma‘an that Israeli forces surrounded the structures, belonging to Saber Zamel Abu Maria, and prevented locals from approaching before destroying the structures.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Army injures a Palestinian child in Hebron
IMEMC 21 Oct — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Friday afternoon, Bab az-Zawiya area, in the center of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and fired many live rounds, gas bombs s and concussion grenades, wounding one child with a live round in his leg. Medical sources in Hebron said the child, Odai Ibrahim Abu Aisha, only 15 years of age, suffered moderate wounds, and was rushed to Alia governmental hospital. Local sources in Hebron said the soldiers attacked many Palestinians in Bab az-Zawiya, and interrogated several others, while inspecting their ID cars. Several residents then protested the invasion and ongoing violations, leading to clashes with the invading soldiers.
Palestinian shot, injured at Gush Etzion junction for alleged stabbing attempt
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Oct — A Palestinian youth was shot and injured by Israeli forces on Wednesday at the Gush Etzion junction south of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank, for allegedly attempting to carry out a stabbing attack. Israeli media reported that the youth disembarked from a bus at the Etzion bus station carrying a knife and was immediately shot by Israeli soldiers in the area. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that an assailant armed with a knife ran towards Israeli forces stationed at the junction, and “in response to the immediate threat forces fired shots towards the suspect, who was injured and taken to the hospital.” However, witnesses told Ma‘an that the youth, who remained unidentified, was crossing the street running to catch another bus that was departing when Israeli soldiers opened fire at him.
Gideon Levy & Alex Levac: The West Bank terror you never hear about
Haaretz 20 Oct — He lies on an iron bed in the living room of his home in the West Bank town of Asira ash-Shamaliya, a white fluorescent light illuminating the large black skullcap atop his head. The cap conceals a fresh scar with 42 stitches arcing across his skull. There is also a deep wound on his brow, above his right eye, covered with a bandage. He is still frail: He has difficulty rising from the bed, and speaking is also a strain for him. Mohammed Jarara is the victim of a hostile act, a casualty of terror. At the beginning of the Sukkot holiday, three Israelis – settlers or their guests – ambushed the car he was in, stopping it and hurling stones into it. A large stone hit Jarara’s head from just a few meters away, seriously injuring him. This week, he returned home after two operations on his head and some 10 days in a hospital. Jarara, a 29-year-old bachelor, is a policeman in the Palestinian National Security Forces; a week of service on his base alternates with a week at home. For many years, his father has been ill with Parkinson’s disease and Mohammed has been helping to support the family; there are four brothers and four sisters.
On October 5, Jarara was a passenger in a car, returning to his base in Bethlehem after attending a friend’s wedding in the village of Bruqin, near Jenin. Together with him were two of his colleagues from the security services, Thair Abeidi, 43, and Ghassan Qasrawi, 23 … Just before the junction for the entrance to the settlement of Shiloh, on Highway 60, they saw from afar three figures standing by the roadside. One of them was turning a flashlight on and off to signal them to stop. Convinced it was an ad hoc army or police roadblock, they hastened to slow down … “I was surprised to see three people in civilian clothing, one of them holding the flashlight. The other two threw stones at us. We were just a few meters away from them. One stone broke the window next to me. The other hit Mohammed. I heard Mohammed scream and I realized he had been hit. I turned to look at him and saw his face was covered in blood … Jarara’s two companions in the car filed a complaint the next day with the Palestinian liaison command in Beit El, to be sent on to the Israel Police. They noted that the Shiloh junction is covered by many security cameras. After filing the complaint, they are yet to hear anything, and no one in the Israel Police has taken evidence from the three men.
Israeli colonists attack a Palestinian in his orchard near Bethlehem
IMEMC 21 Oct by Saed Bannoura — Several extremist Israeli colonists attacked, Friday, a Palestinian man while picking his olive trees in his orchard in the al-Khader town, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. The colonists attacked the man, Ibrahim Mohammad Sbeih, 58, in his olive orchard in the al-‘Amara area, close to the illegal Sidi Boaz colonialist outpost. Palestinian medical sources said the man suffered several cuts and bruises to his head and chest. Ahmad Salah, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Annexation Wall and Colonies in al-Khader, said the Palestinian was attacked by colonists who tried to occupy his land, 4 dunams, by placing fences to encircle it. The lands in question are planted with olive trees and grapevines, Salah added. It is worth mentioning that the attack is one of the frequent assaults by the colonists against the Palestinian and his brothers, as the colonists are trying to illegally confiscate their lands, and frequently prevent them from entering them.
Video: Israeli settlers filmed stealing olive harvest of West Bank Palestinian farmers
Haaretz 18 Oct by Jack Khoury — Israel Police detained four settlers over the past week on suspicion of involvement in stealing olives from Palestinian farmers’ groves in the northern West Bank, but all of them were released. An NGO provided documentation that shows settlers in the act and throwing rocks, and Palestinian farmers claimed that settlers stole from and vandalized hundreds of trees. According to the Palestinians, the thefts and vandalism occurred mainly on Palestinian land near settlements that the Palestinian can only reach by coordinating ahead of time with the the Israeli military. Activists from Rabbis for Human Rights, a non-denominational group that says it seeks to “inform the Israeli public about human rights violations,” claimed that they have documented four cases in three different locations in the past week in which settlers were caught red-handed vandalizing Palestinian olive trees. Ibrahim Salah, a resident of a village to the southwest of Nablus, said that, upon arriving at his grove next to the Havat Gilad outpost, which has a thousand olive trees, he discovered that about 450 trees had been harvested of their olives, severely damaged or cut down….
Israeli forces raid refugee camp, ransack homes in search of weapons
[see photos for meaning of ‘ransack’] HEBRON (Ma‘an) 20 Oct — Israeli forces raided the al-‘Arroub refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron early Friday morning, where they searched two Palestinian homes allegedly in search of weapons. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided and searched two houses belonging to Wael and Fadi Jawabreh looking for weapons and confiscated cell phones from both homes. No detentions were reported. An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports.
Israeli raids into Palestinian Authority-controlled towns, villages, and refugee camps are a daily occurrence in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Since the beginning of 2017, the United Nations documented a biweekly average of 87 Israeli military search and arrest operations into the West Bank.
Health minister denounces Israeli invasion into Qalqilia hospital
IMEMC 19 Oct — The Palestinian Health Minister, Dr. Jawad Awwad, issued a statement denouncing the Thursday morning Israeli military invasion, and the firing of gas bombs, in the yards of Darwish Nazzal hospital, in Qalqilia, in northern West Bank. The statement came after the soldiers invaded the yards of the hospital, and fired many gas bombs, especially near the Children’s Ward, causing many Palestinians to suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation. Dr. Awwad stated that the ongoing Israeli invasions and attacks targeting hospitals and medical centers in occupied Palestinian, are grave violation of all International Laws, and human rights treaties.
Armed Israeli soldier wounded by rock in overnight raid on West Bank refugee camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — An Israeli army soldier sustained minor wounds overnight Wednesday, as Israeli forces raided the al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, Israeli media reported. According to Ynet news, the soldier, whose identity remained unknown, was hit by a rock during the raid. He received medical attention onsite and was then taken to a hospital for treatment, Ynet said.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian for allegedly planning vehicular attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Oct — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian man on Thursday after he stole a truck as part of an alleged plan to carry out a car-ramming attack against Israeli soldiers. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that a 39-year-old Palestinian from the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah was [arrested] for stealing a truck in the coastal Israeli city of Holon. While it remained unclear when exactly the man stole the truck, he was arrested on Thursday when he was signaled to stop by Israeli police forces near Beit Dajan in the northern West Bank district of Nablus. According to al-Samri, the driver ignored the police signal and continued driving until he reached the Israeli city of Rishon Lezion where he was stopped by Israeli forces and detained. “He then said that he stole the van to carry out a vehicular attack against Israeli soldiers,” al-Samri said, adding that the man’s detention was extended to Friday where he would be presented to the Rishon Lezion magistrate court.
Israeli forces detain 32 Palestinians in overnight raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Oct — Israeli forces detained at least 32 Palestinians in overnight raids between Tuesday and Wednesday across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that 18 Palestinians were detained from the West Bank overnight. Israeli raids in Palestinian towns, villages, and refugee camps are a daily occurrence in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
According to United Nations documentation, Israeli forces conducted 121 search and arrest operations across the West Bank and arrested 205 Palestinians, including nine children, between September 26 and October 9.
East Jerusalem — Wafa cited a report from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), saying that Israeli police detained six Palestinians after storming and ransacking their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-‘Issawiya. The detentions came after Israeli troops raided the neighborhood several times, ransacking the family home of lawyer Shirin al-Issawi, 39, who according to Wafa, was recently released from prison after spending more than three and a half years behind bars. During the raid, Israeli forces tore down all flags and protesters welcoming al-Issawi home. Clashes erupted between Israeli forces and Palestinian youth who attempted to block the troops’ passage through the neighborhood. According to Wafa, Israeli forces opened fire at the Palestinians, injuring one with live ammunition. The report stated that another Palestinian was detained from an unspecified area of East Jerusalem, while a Palestinian woman was detained at the al-Qattan entrance to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Northern & Central West Bank — Israeli forces conducted multiple raids across the northern West Bank, detaining eight Palestinians from the Tulkarem district. Seven Palestinians were detained in raids across the Jenin-area towns of Jabaa, Qabatiya and Zababdeh. In the Qalqiliya district, Israeli forces detained four Palestinians. In the al-Jalazun refugee camp, located in the central West Bank district of Ramallah, Israeli forces detained one Palestinian. [continued]
Dying Palestinian teen longs for imprisoned father
Al Jazeera 18 Oct by Zena Tahhan — Majd Tahhan’s life is hanging by a thread. As he lays on his hospital bed in critical condition, the 19-year-old young man’s only wish is to see his imprisoned father before he parts with life. In his 19 years, Majd, who is battling leukaemia – a cancer of the blood – has only spent two years and eight months in total with his father, Rajab. His father was imprisoned in 1998, when Majd was only four months old, on charges of killing an Israeli settler. Rajab was subsequently released in 2011 under a prisoner exchange deal for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who had been captured by Hamas, the Gaza-based Islamic Resistance Movement. Less than three years later, Israeli occupation forces embarked on a campaign of mass arrests in the Palestinian territories when three Israeli settlers disappeared in the West Bank. Hundreds of Palestinians were rounded up, and many of those who were released in the 2011 deal were rearrested and their sentences were reinstated, including Rajab’s. Despite having found out shortly after the incident who had carried out the kidnapping and killing of the three settlers, Israeli authorities kept those who were rearrested in prison. Rajab’s life sentence was reinstated on “secret evidence”, including claims he violated the conditions placed on him when he was released, according to the family. “This is not about politics […] It is an issue of depriving a son from his father. What is being asked of anyone with a conscience is to realise that there is a son in need of his father,” a close relative of Majd and Rajab, told Al Jazeera from Jerusalem. “We’re not even asking for Rajab to be released because we know they won’t release him. We just want the son to see his father – even for just 30 minutes,” he said, adding they would be content with transporting Majd with an ambulance to the prison….
Two Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike against administrative detention: Bilal Diab and Hassan Shokeh
IMEMC/Agencies 20 Oct — Bilal Diab launched a hunger strike on Tuesday, 17 October following the denial of his appeal against his administrative detention, Israeli imprisonment without charge or trial on the basis of secret evidence. The Ofer military court rejected the appeal, claiming that the secret file shows that he is a “danger to the security of the area.” Diab, 32, was seized by occupation forces on 14 July; he was previously held under administrative detention and conducted a 77-day strike with fellow detainee Thaer Halahleh in 2012 to win his release. He conducted a 20-day hunger strike when he was seized by occupation forces in July. He announced his hunger strike with a statement: “My dignity is more precious than my life. I reject the unjust policy of administrative detention and walk in the footsteps of all those who struggle, all lovers of freedom, all those who crave justice, and all those who dream of a free and just state on the historic land of Palestine with its capital al-Quds,” he said. “I declare to our people and its active forces, to the people of our nation and the free people of the world and humanity, that I will fight this battle of will, of the open hunger strike. I hope for your support and solidarity until victory or martyrdom.”….
Israel releases lawyer Shireen al-‘Issawi after holding her captive for 43 months
IMEMC 18 Oct — The Israeli authorities released, on Tuesday evening, lawyer Shirin al-‘Issawi, from the al-‘Issawiya town, south of occupied East Jerusalem, after holding her captive for 43 months. Al-‘Issawi was repeatedly abducted and imprisoned by Israel, including three times when her brother, Samer al-‘Issawi held a hunger strike for nine consecutive months, before was released, only to be abducted and imprisoned later. Her brother, Medhat al-‘Issawi, is also a political prisoner who was abducted in April of 2014, and was sentenced to eight years.
Israeli soldier jailed for manslaughter seeks presidential pardon
AFP 19 Oct — An Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead a prone Palestinian assailant has asked the country’s president to pardon him, the presidency said Thursday. “A request for pardon in the case of Elor Azaria was submitted today, Thursday, October 19, to President Reuven Rivlin,” Rivlin’s office wrote in English. The request will be considered by the relevant authorities and, as is customary in the case of pardon requests by soldiers, will be passed to the ministry of defence and the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) for consultation,” it said. A number of Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have called for Azaria to be pardoned. 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, a sergeant and military medic at the time of the incident, shot him in the head without any apparent provocation….
Opinion: Breaking up West Bank families: an unseen Israeli policy / Amira Hass
Haaretz 17 Oct — What happened that caused the Israeli apparatus of control to once again make use of their license to abuse mixed couples? — Why is Israel so concerned about a Palestinian woman from Ramallah who is married to a citizen of a certain European country, or about a Palestinian man from Bethlehem whose beloved has an American passport? What bothers Israel so much about these “mixed” couples that it sends its long arm into their bedrooms, yanks the partner who is not a resident of the West Bank out of there – and deports them beyond the borders of Israel? Five weeks ago, Haaretz published an article on this Israeli abuse, the systematic refusal to allow non-Palestinian partners to remain with their families in the West Bank. The article was swallowed up in the Israeli black hole of “it’s not our affair.” But since then more couples have called to tell how Israel is forcing them to live separately. This is policy, not just a collection of individual incidents. The methods for forced separation are varied. The common basis is a prolonged freeze in the “family reunification” process, which Israel determines if and when it will start and end, how many families will be included and which ones. Family reunification means granting residency in the West Bank and an identity card of the Palestinian Authority. So the foreign partners are living in their homes with a tourist visa from Israel that is extended periodically, whether through the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank or after a short trip abroad. Suddenly the couple wakes up to discover their request for an extension of the permit was not approved, the visa is for a very short time, the partner is being threatened that if she continues to work in the West Bank she will be deported because that is seemingly a violation of the visa conditions. Or before he returns to the West Bank he must deposit an astronomical sum of money that is difficult for them to acquire, or the partner is summoned for a threatening talk in the offices of the Civil Administration. “You entered Israel through Ben-Gurion Airport,” is how the official describes the terrible crime the woman committed….
Israeli navy injures a fisherman in northern Gaza
IMEMC 20 Oct — Israeli navy ships opened fire, on Thursday evening, on Palestinian fishing boats in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, wounding one fisherman with a live round. Eyewitnesses said the navy fired many live rounds at Palestinian fishing boats in the al-Waha area, in the Sudaniyya Sea shore, northwest of Beit Lahia. They added that the navy wounded a fisherman, 19 years of age, with a live round in his leg.
Israeli naval forces destroy and drown Palestinian fishing boat off Beit Lahia shore
PCHR-Gaza 19 Oct — Israeli gunboats fired shells at a Palestinian fishing boat sailing within 2.5 nautical miles. As a result, the boat was destroyed and drowned in the Sea. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) monitored that Israeli forces have escalated their attacks against Palestinian fishermen despite expanding the allowed fishing area from 6 to 9 nautical miles. This proves that Israel continues its policy of targeting fishermen and their livelihoods. According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 10:00, Israeli gunboats stationed off Beit Lahia shore in the northern Gaza Strip fired shells at a Palestinian fishing boat holding No. 442 and belonging to ‘Ezz Wajih Mohammed Abu Ryalah (36) from al-Mokhabarat area, northwest of Gaza city. As a result, the fishing boat sailing within 2.5 nautical miles off Beit Lahia shore was totally damaged and drowned in the sea. It should be noted that Abu Ryalah left his boat at approximately 05:30 on the same day after he finished fishing. The boat is designated for night fishing and transferring the fishing equipment. On the boat, there were 2 generators, 4 flashlights, and paddles.
Video: Israel’s expansion of Gaza fishing zone fails to ease concerns
19 Oct — Israel is temporarily expanding the waters off Gaza that Palestinian fishermen are allowed to use. The zone will grow by about six kilometres for a two-month period. But the fishermen say it will do little to improve their meagre incomes. Israel’s blockade has caused a massive unemployment crisis in Gaza that has forced many to resort to fishing as a means to survive.
Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith reports from Gaza.
Expansion of Gaza fishing zone ‘pointless PR stunt’
Al Jazeera 20 Oct by Farah Najjar — For the 4,000 registered fishermen in the besieged Gaza Strip, a proposed Israeli plan to let them temporarily fish farther out from shore is “far from enough”. Fishermen told Al Jazeera that Israel’s move to slightly expand the fishing zone limit from six to nine nautical miles, implemented this week, will have little effect in reality. “It makes no difference whatsoever to us,” Nizar Ayash, head of Gaza’s fishermen’s union, told Al Jazeera. “It’s economically pointless, and this is just a publicity stunt that Israel is using to improve their image internationally.” Nine nautical miles is equivalent to approximately 16 kilometres. The expansion, which will last for six weeks, is not applicable to boats in Gaza’s northern port. The limit for these will remain at six nautical miles. The purpose of the expansion is to boost Gaza’s economy, which is heavily reliant on the fishing sector. However, the decline of Gaza’s fishing sector is a consequence of Israeli policy … Although the expansion allows the fishermen to reach a wider array of fish, the nine-mile nautical border us still not enough to serve some 1,000 boats. Under the Oslo Accords signed in 1993, Israel is obligated to permit fishing up to 20 nautical miles, but this has never been implemented….
Two Palestinians detained after crossing Gaza border fence into Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — Israeli forces detained two Palestinians after they were caught crossing the border fence into Israel from the southern Gaza Strip. Israeli news website Ynet reported that the two Palestinians were searched and not found to be carrying weapons. They were then taken in for questioning by security forces.
Israel delays five cancer patients in Gaza from receiving medical treatment
The Media Line 19 Oct by Dima Abumaria — Israeli authorities have delayed issuing medical permits to five female cancer patients from Gaza that would enable them to seek treatment in Israel. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) revealed in a press release that the women are in critical condition and need to exit the Strip to receive lifesaving treatment unavailable there. Gazans reached out to PHR-I for help, which, in turn, submitted an urgent request to the Israeli government. Some of the patients have nevertheless been waiting for over six months, with the Israeli body responsible for granting the necessary permission having confirmed that the applications remain “under review.” … The Media Line succeeded in contacting one of the patients, Sana’ al-Siri, 51, who has breast cancer. The mother of five, who lost two of her sons in the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, explained that she urgently needs a type of radiation treatment that is unavailable in Gaza. “I underwent a mastectomy in the European-funded hospital in Khan Younis and was meant to receive follow-up treatment two months later at the most. I have been waiting for six months now, and still no permit,” she asserted. Al-Siri says her application to enter Israel has been denied four times, most recently three weeks ago. “It is my right as a human being to receive medical treatment when needed. Egypt is closing the Rafah border crossing point and Israel too. I don’t know what to do. “I am really sick but there are even worse cases in the strip,” she concluded….
Palestinian officials begin transferring control of Gaza borders from Hamas to Fatah
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Oct — Head of the Palestinian Authority (PA) borders and crossing committee Nathmi Muhanna arrived in the Gaza Strip on Monday in order “to carry out the first article of the reconciliation agreement signed in Cairo regarding taking over the crossings,” Muhanna told Ma‘an. Muhanna entered Gaza through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing, and was welcomed by the Palestinian Minister of Public Work Housing Mufid al-Hasayna. Upon his arrival in Gaza, Muhanna told Ma‘an that a committee to oversee the takeover of Gaza border crossings by the Fatah-led PA was formed upon instructions by President Mahmoud Abbas. In the reconciliation agreement signed last week by Hamas and Fatah, it was reportedly agreed that the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza would be operated by PA presidential guards by November 1. Muhanna stressed the importance of the PA “carrying out its duties” at all of Gaza’s crossings including Rafah, Kerem Shalom and Erez. He added that he hoped his visit could “open the way for enabling the government and all its ministers and institutions to bring back the Gaza Strip” to how it was prior to the violent split between Hamas and Fatah in 2007, after Hamas’ 2006 victory in general elections held in Gaza.
Commenting on a timeline for when control of the crossings would be transferred from Hamas to the PA, Muhanna told Ma’an that the handover would officially begin on Monday.
Two Hamas fighters injured in training accident in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Oct — Two Palestinian fighters for the Hamas movement’s Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades were injured during an accidental explosion at a training site in the city of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday. Spokesperson of the Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra said in a statement that two “youths” were injured with different wounds in an explosion and were transferred to the Nasser Hospital for treatment.
The jobless youth of Gaza have lost faith in everyone
GAZA CITY (Le Figaro via Worldcrunch) 19 Oct by Cyrille Louis — Their world doesn’t extend much beyond this piece of sidewalk that never seems to change. Glued to their white plastic chairs, Khaled, Mohammed and Abdel Rahman spend their time talking about everything and nothing while fiddling with their smartphones. There’s no 3G coverage, so their only connection to the rest of the world depends on a router powered by a portable battery. The hairdresser’s salon down the street, which is forced to turn on its generator whenever a client comes, lets them charge up during power shortages, which is most of the time. This is daily life for these three young men in the poor neighborhood of Shuja‘iyya, on the east side of Gaza City: closed and dull. “The world out there is like the future: I don’t think about it,” jokes the 20-year-old Khaled Sukkar, who gets by selling second-hand clothes. Abdel Rahman says he and his friends are part of a “lost generation,” and looks back on the past as if talking about a golden age.
Photos: Experimenting in Gaza
MEMO 18 Oct by Mohammed Asad — Children take part in experiments as part of the Days of Science in Palestine during the 2017 exhibition in Gaza — The Qattan Centre for the Child has launched its science festival in Palestine; Days of Science in Palestine. Considered an important event across Palestine, the event is held in many cities including Jerusalem, Ramallah, Gaza, Qalqilya, Jenin, Hebron and Bethlehem. It aims to build and develop scientific ideas and display some of the scientific theories children learn in school. The exhibition in Gaza has been divided into several sections, including an agricultural section that displays how to deal with crops. Another section shows how to deal with school curriculums using modern methods and the delivery of information. In another area, details relating to the medical field were exhibited, showing the human body’s functions and systems, while the chemistry section showed interactions between elements….
$50,000 payments help grieving Gaza families end blood feuds
BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza Strip (AP) 20 Oct by Fares Akram — As the rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas move to reconcile, families of loved ones killed in Gaza’s civil war a decade ago are also learning to get along. With the backing of an exiled former Palestinian security chief, grieving families are agreeing to drop their 10-year-old blood feuds in exchange for $50,000 payments. The idea is to help Gaza move beyond one of its darkest chapters — the weeklong round of internecine fighting that ended with Hamas’ takeover of the territory in 2007. More than 700 Palestinians were killed in the infighting between the Fatah and Hamas factions, which was characterized by pitched gunbattles on Gaza’s streets and scenes of people being thrown off the rooftops of high-rise buildings. The project is also giving Mohammed Dahlan, the former Gaza intelligence chief, his most direct involvement in Palestinian affairs since he was forced into exile in 2010 by President Mahmoud Abbas. In this conservative society, family feuds are perhaps the biggest threat to the social fabric. Organizers hope that working at the local level can help on the broader political level as well … When Khalil al-Anqah, a new recruit in the Hamas police force, was killed by a roadside bomb in 2007, Hamas blamed Fatah for the explosion and his family vowed to retaliate. But recently, the family dropped its plan to avenge his death. They were among hundreds of people who attended a reconciliation ceremony held at a wedding hall in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya. After a reading from the Quran and speeches by local officials, a representative from each family was called to the stage, shook hands with officials and received a check….
QRCS backing for Nasser Hospital in Gaza
Gulf Times 16 Oct — Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) has announced that it has initiated a new project to support the government-run Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Yunis, southern Gaza Strip, at a cost of $284,000 (QR1,025,920). In co-ordination with the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the QRCS mission in Gaza is implementing a plan to renovate and develop the Coronary Care Unit (CCU), providing “much-needed help for cardiac patients in the enclave”, according to a press statement.
The director of Nasser Hospital, Dr Ayman al-Farra, said: “The complex is Gaza’s second-largest health facility. Due to overpopulation, the number of cardiac patients in the southern parts of the Strip is steadily increasing. The premises are obsolete and need renovation and furnishing. The CCU and outpatient department have a capacity of six and 14 beds, respectively. This is not enough and we have often to accommodate inpatients at other departments.” “The available medical equipment is inadequate and outdated,” Dr al-Farra added. “The new QRCS project is expected to upgrade cardiac services in the neighbouring districts. The capacity will be increased to 30 beds in both departments.”….
US firm to build solar plants in blackout-plagued Gaza
GAZA (Reuters) 18 Oct by Nidal al- Mugahrabi — The Gaza Strip will have three new solar energy plants operating by April, the U.S.-based energy firm behind the project said on Tuesday, providing the territory with some relief from daily blackouts but far from meeting its severe power shortages. Gaza was already chronically short of electricity before West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cut payments for Israeli-supplied power to the territory in June, attempting pressure the rival Islamist Hamas group to relinquish control of the Gaza Strip. Despite a reconciliation deal between the two sides, these sanctions are still in place. Gaza’s daily power needs are estimated at nearly 600 megawatts. Israel, Egypt and the enclave’s only electrical generating plant currently supply 165 megawatts. Solar power plants will be built in three areas in the Gaza Strip and in total produce 40 megawatts of electrical power as early as April, said Volker Gutjahr, technical director of the Samaha Group. The project, called “Turn on the lights in Gaza”, was announced at a ceremony on Tuesday in the territory attended by company representatives and Palestinian officials….
Abbas opens recruitment for security services in Gaza
RAMALLAH (Asharq al-Awsat) 8 Oct by Kifah Ziboun — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas opened the door to recruitment in the Gaza Strip, in a move that would rearrange the security services in the sector. Member of Fatah Central Committee Hussein Sheikh said that Abbas signed the decision to open the recruitment in the Gaza Strip to restructure the security establishment, noting that a number of security leaders in the West Bank would head to Gaza in the coming days in order to oversee the structure of the security services there … Abbas’ decision came ahead of scheduled meetings with security officials from the West Bank and others from the Gaza Strip, in order to arrange security in the sector. Sources close to the matter told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that the president’s decision would entail “rebuilding the security services and getting rid of any burden.” “The decision was made in coordination with the Egyptians. They have been informed,” the sources added. They went on to say that a large number of the PA’s military personnel would be referred to retirement. “This may also apply to the Hamas military, and then the remainder will be chosen as the nucleus of the new forces in Gaza,” the sources explained….
Israeli forces raid, shut down Palestinian media offices over ‘incitement’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Oct — Israeli army, intelligence, and civil administration forces raided several offices of Palestinian media outlets and arrested two journalists overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday, confiscating equipment and shutting down offices under the pretext that the organizations were “broadcasting inciting material.”
In the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus, Israeli forces raided the Transmedia and Palmedia offices and confiscated all equipment before closing the offices with a six-month military order. Locals told Ma‘an that clashes erupted during the raids, resulting in the injury of several Palestinian youth.
Meanwhile, in the southern West Bank, Israeli forces raided the Palmedia offices in Bethlehem city and confiscated equipment.
In Hebron, Israeli forces raided the al-Quds TV, al-Aqsa, Palestine Today, Transmedia and Palmedia offices and confiscated equipment. The TransMedia and Palmedia offices were closed for 6 months by a military order. Israeli forces also arrested the director of TransMedia in Hebron, Amer Al-Jaabari, and the managing director, Ibrahim Al-Jaabari.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that Israeli army and security forces searched media offices “suspected in broadcasting inciting content and promoting violence and terrorism against Israelis.” “Forces seized documents from companies that provided services to associations that promote terrorism and violence,” the spokesperson said, adding that the TransMedia and Palmedia offices in Nablus and Hebron were closed for “providing services” to Hamas-affiliated news channels al-Aqsa and al-Quds TV.
The Palmedia company released a statement on Wednesday condemning Israeli authorities, saying that “these actions threaten the company’s ability to continue its job providing services for TV channels and producing programs for local, Arab and International media.”
The Palestinian government strongly condemned the raids and closures on Wednesday, with government spokesman Yousif al-Mahmoud describing the raids as a “blatant violation of all international resolutions,” according to official Palestinian Authority (PA) Wafa news agency.
Palestinian journalists launch independent online news channel
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 18 Oct by Rasha Abou Jalal — A group of Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip launched Oct. 1 the first Palestinian online news channel — Baladna (Our Country) — both on YouTube and Facebook. Chief among the channel’s founding journalists and staff is journalist Ahmed Saeed, the chairman of the channel and anchor on the local Shaab radio station, and satirist Akram al-Sourani. The number of internet subscribers in Gaza is on the rise. According to a May 7 report issued by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in Gaza, there were 116,793 subscribers at the end of the first quarter of 2017, compared to 94,958 at the end of the first quarter last year. Saeed told Al-Monitor, “The idea behind the launch of Baladna is to create an independent media outlet at a time when Palestinian media outlets are controlled by political parties. This gives us larger leverage away from partisan influence or ideologies; it gives us the courage to expose all forms of corruption and tackle issues in a more objective and impartial manner.” Saeed said they opted for an online platform based on the citizens’ increasing interest in social networking sites, at the expense of TV and radio, and because people carry around their laptops and cellphones. Concepts Technologies, a Ramallah-based company that provides digital and social media services and solutions, issued a report in January in cooperation with Jawwal and the Palestine Telecommunications Company – Paltel, noting that 52% of Palestinians are connected to the internet and one in three uses social networks….
West Bank telecom authorities flounder in flood of Israeli phone tech
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 18 Oct by Ahmad Melhem — Hundreds of contraband Israeli SIM cards have been seized at the Palestinian border in the past three months. In the West Bank, the Palestinian Customs Police announced Oct. 8 that it had seized 110 cards in Jericho, south of the West Bank. On Oct. 5, 380 cards were seized in Hebron. On Sept. 24, 200 cards were seized in Nablus in the north. The biggest seizure took place Aug. 20, when 2,200 SIM cards and prepaid-phone cards were confiscated in Nablus. The use of Israeli SIM cards in the Palestinian territory has increased due to the technology gap with neighboring countries, as Israel dominates communications. While Israeli companies provide 4G services to their customers, Palestinian companies only provide 2G services. The Ministry of Telecommunications prohibits the sale of settlement products, including cellphones and services, in the Palestinian markets. Israeli communications companies provide services to Israeli settlers, so their signal booster towers are installed in the West Bank settlements. On April 6, the Palestinian attorney general warned all shops and communication service points that possession or circulation of Israeli SIM cards is a crime under Palestinian law … The use of Israeli cards is costing the Palestinian economy, since Israeli companies that profit from the Palestinian market and compete with Palestinian companies in their own cities do not pay licensing fees or taxes to the Palestinian treasury.
Palestinians keep wary eye on reconciliation agreement
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 19 Oct by Ahmad Abu Amer — The Palestinian street is witnessing an escalating popular and trade union movement with the aim of exerting pressure on both sides of the Palestinian division — Fatah and Hamas — to speed up the implementation of the agreement reached in Cairo on Oct. 12 in anticipation of its failure. Previous agreements have failed after their implementation stalled and the parties refused to make concessions. The popular and trade union events — in which hundreds of Palestinians participated in different areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip — began with the dialogue sessions that started in Cairo at the end of September. The organizers of these events confirmed in separate statements to Al-Monitor that they will resume their activities in the coming days to press for the speedy implementation of the agreement. On Oct. 10, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) erected a tent in support of Palestinian reconciliation efforts, as participants hoped that the latest round of negotiations in Cairo, which subsequently culminated in an agreement, would be different from previous rounds of failed negotiations. Ahmed Tannani, head of the PFLP’s Youth Movement, told Al-Monitor, “We took part in this tent and other events to pressure both sides of the Palestinian division … into reaching a final and irreversible agreement. [We seek] to prevent scenarios of previous agreements from rolling out and to allow Palestinian factions to devote themselves to confronting the Israeli occupation instead of getting carried away by internal differences.”….
Hamas says unity deal at risk if Abbas does not end sanctions
GAZA CITY (AFP) 17 Oct — Hamas warned on Tuesday that Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s delay in easing sanctions on Gaza was putting at risk a landmark unity deal signed last week. “The continuation of the punitive measures against our people in Gaza a month after the dissolution of the administrative council spoils the general atmosphere for reconciliation,” a party spokesman said in a statement to Hamas media. Islamist group Hamas last month agreed to dissolve its administrative council, seen as a rival government in Gaza, and return civilian power in the enclave to the Palestinian Authority a decade after seizing it in a near civil war. Chief among their demands, however, was that Abbas drop a series of measures taken against Gaza. Among these were reductions in energy payments for the territory, which left its two million residents with only a few hours of mains electricity per day.
Hamas calls US comments on unity deal ‘blatant interference’
GAZA (AFP) 19 Oct — Islamist movement Hamas accused the United States of “blatant interference” in Palestinian affairs Thursday after US President Donald Trump’s envoy demanded they disarm and recognise Israel in any unity government. “This is blatant interference in Palestinian affairs because it is the right of our people to choose its government according to their supreme strategic interests,” senior Hamas official Bassem Naim told AFP. He accused Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, of bowing to pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government. “This statement comes under pressure from the extreme right-wing Netanyahu government and is in line with the Netanyahu statement from two days ago,” Naim said. Hamas and rival party Fatah have agreed a deal that should see the Islamists hand over control of Gaza to the internationally recognised Palestinian Authority by December 1, with talks also expected on forming a unity government. Earlier Thursday, Greenblatt said in his first detailed response to the reconciliation agreement that any such government must commit to non-violence and “disarm terrorists,” an apparent reference to Hamas.
Hamas: We will neither disarm nor recognize Israel
Haaretz 19 Oct by Jack Khoury — Hamas will not disarm, recognize Israel or cut off ties with Iran, as Israel and the United States are demanding of it, Yahya Sinwar, the organization’s leader in the Gaza Strip, said on Thursday. Sinwar also spoke for the first time about the organization’s conditions for a prisoner exchange with Israel, naming some of the prisoners whose release Hamas would demand. He personally named Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life terms after being convicted by an Israeli court in 2002 of directing two shootings and a bombing that killed five people. Meeting with Palestinian youths, Sinwar declared, “The discussion is no longer about recognizing Israel but about wiping Israel out.” He said Hamas would disarm “when Satan enters paradise,” and that no one can force it to disarm. “There’s not one minute of the day or night when we aren’t building up our military might.” The meeting was the second of its kind in the past month, and he used it to speak at length about various issues. He is currently considered the strongest man in Gaza and in Hamas in general, due in part to his closeness with the head of the group’s military wing, Mohammed Deif….
Hamas delegation visits Iran: official
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 20 Oct — A high-ranking Hamas delegation began a visit to Iran Friday to inform its backers in Tehran about reconciliation efforts with rival Palestinian faction Fatah, an official from the Islamist movement said. The group led by deputy chief Salah al-Aruri will meet senior Iranian officials over the next several days, the representative said on condition of anonymity, after Israel insisted it will not recognize any unity Palestinian government unless Hamas cuts off ties with Tehran. The two Palestinians factions have agreed a landmark deal to end a decade-long split and seek to form a unity government along with other parties. Hamas has controlled Gaza since 2007 with Iranian backing, but is expected to hand it over to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority.
Upscale Tokyo department store withdraws products from illegal Israel settlements
IMEMC/Agencies 20 Oct — The upscale Mitsukoshi department store in the Ginza district of Tokyo has withdrawn Israeli settlement products. Earlier this month, the store was scheduled to host an event featuring Israeli wines, including wines made in illegal Israeli settlements built on stolen land. But after Japanese civil society raised concerns, Mitsukoshi shortened the event and removed all wines which Japanese BDS activists indicated were made in Israeli settlements.
Palestinian teenager declared Arab Reading Challenge winner
The National 18 Oct by Nawal Al Ramahi — A Palestinian girl has won this year’s Arab Reading Challenge ahead of a record 7.4 million participants across the Arab world and with it a prize of US$150,000. Afaf Raed, 17, has won the overall award in the challenge to read 50 Arabic books a year. She finished ahead of the other regional winners that had already been announced: Hafsa Al Thunhani from the UAE; Shatha Al Twaiqi from Saudi Arabia; Sherif Saeed from Egypt; and Bushra Maison from Algeria. Egypt’s Sherif Saif finished second and the Eman School in Bahrain won the school prize, picking up US$1 million (Dh3.7m) for its efforts. The winner’s ceremony took place at Dubai Opera on Wednesday morning and saw total prize money of about Dh11m being dished out. It was attended by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, who said: “I am very pleased that we reached 7.4 million participants in the Arab Reading Challenge.” A video played during the ceremony showed Sheikh Mohammed saying, “In my life, a day that goes by without learning something new is a day wasted”….
Cancer clinic for Palestinians at risk as funds run dry
Al Jazeera 19 Oct by Farah Najjar & Linah Alsaafin — A hospital in occupied East Jerusalem that provides treatment for Palestinians in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip is no longer accepting new patients due to an overarching financial burden. The Augusta Victoria hospital, which is owned and operated by the Lutheran World Federation, may face closure due to unpaid debts from the Palestinian Authority (PA) that administers the occupied West Bank.Describing it as part of the network of East Jerusalem hospitals that form the “backbone of the Palestinian health system”, Walid Nammour, the hospital’s general manager, told Al Jazeera that the PA owes the hospital 180 million shekels ($51m). “Government bonds, donations, and the annual grant from the European Union have helped us get through financially difficult times,” Nammour said, “but even after subtracting that from the debt, the PA still owes us 122 million shekels ($35m).” According to Nammour, the debt owed by the PA has been accumulating for more than four years, creating a cash flow crisis. Although the PA has, to some extent, responded by paying some of its debt intermittently, Nammour said that during the past year, the hospital has “sunk to levels we haven’t reached before”. Yousef Hamamreh, the director general of oncology ward, told Al Jazeera that in the past few months, it has become increasingly difficult to provide a patient full and uninterrupted treatment. “Without any doubt, the financial crisis has put the lives of many of our patients at risk,” Hamamreh said….
Anger as UK university allows Balfour ‘celebration’
Al Jazeera 16 Oct by Shafik Mandhai –A British university has drawn criticism for its decision to allow a Balfour Declaration “celebration” organised by a pro-Israel group. The Manchester Balfour 100 event will be held at the University of Manchester’s main campus later in October and is part of a broader series of events to mark the anniversary of the declaration made by then British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour on November 2, 1917. For supporters of the Zionist cause, the declaration marks the first major milestone leading to the creation of Israel in 1948. However, for Palestinians, the declaration would lead to the eventual loss of their land, subsequent displacement, and later occupation. The university’s decision has been slammed by both academics and students. “Having the celebration of the Balfour declaration on campus is totally disrespectful to students of Palestinian origin,” said Ayham Madi, a Palestinian studying at the university, adding: “Many people lost their homes, land and their lives.” The cybersecurity student said a hundred years later, Palestinians continued to feel the impact of the declaration and that he felt “great pain” that the university has allowed the event to take place….
How Israel’s military rewrote rules of war to put Palestinian civilians in the line of fire
The National 19 Oct — Operation Cast Lead, the assault on Gaza nine years ago, killed more than 700 innocent people. In his new book, Donald Macintyre explains how a callous rewording of the IDF’s ethics code was to blame — For much of this year, at least until the current efforts to reconcile Fatah and Hamas offered some tentative hope of easing its isolation, Gaza has lived with the threat that war with Israel could again break out. An undeclared but effectively policed ceasefire — punctuated only by Israeli attacks on Hamas targets whenever a rocket from a rogue faction lands in Israel — has lasted for three years. Ending that uneasy truce is not in the interests of either Israel or Hamas. But experience does not suggest that this alone would be enough to prevent a repeat of the three wars which have devastated the Strip in the past decade. It is now clear in retrospect that it was the 2008-09 Operation Cast Lead, the first of the three Israeli military assaults, which set the pattern for a new kind of warfare in Gaza. While 13 Israelis — including three civilians – lost their lives (along with at least two dozen Palestinian alleged collaborators summarily executed by Hamas), 1,391 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during the three week operation, 759 of whom, according to the Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem, were “not taking part in hostilities” … But it was not just the scale which made Cast Lead a turning point. There was also a clear shift by the Israel Defense Forces in the unwritten rules of engagement governing its conduct….
‘Display of prejudice’: Police spark a diplomatic incident after using the Palestinian ‘symbol of struggle’ as a terrorists’s headscarf in mock attack on Sydney’s trains
Daily Mail Australia 18 Oct by Daniel Piotrowski — Palestine‘s ambassador to Australia demanded an apology from NSW Police after a fake terrorist apparently wore a symbolic Palestinian headscarf in a training exercise. Cops simulated a major attack involving two masked ‘gunmen’ dressed in headscarfs at Sydney‘s Central Station on Tuesday night – sparking a furious diplomatic row. Ambassador Izzat Saslah Abdulhadi slammed police because one of the headscarfs resembled the black and white symbol of Palestine’s resistance, the keffiyeh. Mr Abdulhadi claimed it was an ‘egregious… display of prejudice’ by police. ‘The keffiyeh is a symbol of the struggle of the Palestinian people for their right to self-determination and freedom,’ he fumed. But a police spokesman insisted: ‘In no way were we trying to stereotype members of the community, and any offence caused is unintended’. … Mr Abdulhadi claimed the use of the clothing was ‘all the more egregious in a country where 73% of the public support the self-determination of the Palestinian people in their own state’.
US Christian press finds friends in Israel
JERUSALEM (AP) 18 Oct — Israel’s nationalist government may be unpopular with Western liberals and much of its domestic press corps, but it has found a close friend among the world’s evangelical Christians and their media outlets. The government this week is hosting a first-of-its-kind summit for Christian journalists, featuring softball questions, mutual admiration and a welcome respite for embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His outreach to evangelical leaders reflects striking tactical parallels to his close ally and fellow media basher, President Donald Trump. About 130 journalists from some 30 countries are participating in the four-day summit, which ends Wednesday. The world’s largest broadcasters, including the Christian Broadcasting Network, Daystar, Trinity Broadcasting Network and God TV, are all represented. Nitzan Chen, the director of Israel’s Government Press Office, said he believed the summit was long overdue, and that planners chose the 50th anniversary celebrations of Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem as a fitting occasion for the conference. For many years, Israel has held a summit for Jewish media outlets, cultivating those journalists as unofficial “ambassadors” to help promote Israel’s image abroad, he said. “Using the same logic,” it decided to reach out to Christian media, in what could become a regular event … Sessions include discussions on archaeology and Jewish-Christian relations, but also “radical Islam” and alleged media bias, legal “warfare” and Palestinian “incitement” against Israel. While Israel’s West Bank settlements are largely vilified in the West, participants are offered a chance to visit one. Sessions include discussions on archaeology and Jewish-Christian relations, but also “radical Islam” and alleged media bias, legal “warfare” and Palestinian “incitement” against Israel. While Israel’s West Bank settlements are largely vilified in the West, participants are offered a chance to visit one….