Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli colonists flood dozens of Palestinian olive trees with sewage
IMEMC 24 Oct — Israeli colonists flooded, Tuesday, dozens of Palestinian olive trees with sewage water, in Deir al-Hatab town, east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Coordinator of the Israeli Rabbis for Human Rights organization in the occupied West Bank, Zakaria al-Sidda, said the colonists flooded the olive orchards near Elon Moreh illegal colony. He added that the Palestinian owners of the olive orchards have been isolated from them, and are only allowed to reach them twice a year through special permits and coordination. The coordinator also stated that the colonists already picked many olive trees in the area, and stolen the produce, especially since they have unrestricted access to the orchards.
Settler violence on the rise as olive harvest begins in West Bank
+972 mag 20 Oct by Orly Noy — Since the beginning of the olive harvest two weeks ago, Israeli human rights organizations have documented 10 cases of settler violence and theft against Palestinians and their property. For now, it seems like the police are doing their job — The olive harvest season, which began two weeks ago across Israel-Palestine, is one of the most heated seasons in the year for Palestinians in the occupied territories, especially for those living in Area C, under complete Israeli military control. Nearly every plot of Palestinian land designated for farming in the West Bank is located in this area, yet 60 percent of that very land now belongs to settlement local and regional councils. Israel’s multifarious practices of dispossession, from land expropriations to declaring whole swaths of private property closed military zones, have restricted Palestinian access to their agricultural land. In many places, they are allowed access only during seasons when they plow the land, or during the olive harvest. The success of the harvest has a direct effect on their livelihood. Often times, land that has been abandoned by Palestinians due to settler violence is later taken over by those very same settlers.
Every year at this time, like clockwork, Israeli settlers head out to Palestinian olive groves to sow destruction and violence. Since 2005, Israeli anti-occupation NGO Yesh Din has documented around 280 police cases relating to attacks on olive trees. According to the organization, only six of those cases ended in indictments. Over 93 percent of them were closed due to police failure to find the criminals or to gather the proper evidence to put the suspects on trial. Often times, the army simply “takes care” of conflagrations between settlers and Palestinians by preventing the Palestinians from accessing their agricultural land, a practice that has been roundly criticized by Israel’s High Court of Justice.
Thus, reports over the past few weeks of cases in which Israeli security forces actually caught settlers as they were harassing Palestinian farmers are surprising in just how out of the ordinary they are. Under normal circumstances, a news report on police catching criminals in the act as they attack innocent people would be a case of dog bites man. In the reality of occupation, this is clearly a case of man bites dog. Last Sunday, for instance, settlers were caught stealing olives from a Palestinian grove adjacent the village of Al-Jinya, not far from the settlement outpost of Zait Ra’anan. Zacharia Sada, who coordinates Israeli NGO Rabbis for Human Rights’ field workers, witnessed the incident and directed the security forces to the area where they caught the suspects….
Israeli police say Palestinian must prove he owns land from which his olives were stolen
Haaretzx 24 Oct by Yotam Berger — For two weeks, the Judea and Samaria District Police has been holding the olives from 200 trees owned by a Palestinian in the northern West Bank that are suspected of being stolen by a settler from the Adei Ad outpost. Two days ago, the Palestinian was informed by the police that the theft is being investigated and that a settler from the outpost has been arrested on suspicion of the theft. A source says the olives were seized at the time of the arrest. The police asked the Jerusalem District Court to extend the suspects’ detention, but the judge released him with restrictive conditions, including an order that he stay away from the area of the olive orchard. An officer with the Binyamin District investigations and intelligence departments says the olive crop “is being held by the Israel Police.” The police document given to the Palestinian says he must present “land ownership or custody documents” to retrieve the crop, and that “the sooner he can bring these documents, the sooner the seized crop will be released to him.”….
Health condition of Palestinian shot by Israeli forces improves
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Oct — The health condition of a Palestinian detainee who was shot by Israeli forces last week has improved and been declared as stable, according to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs. Lawyer of the committee, Karim Ajweh, said in a statement that Ahmed Nafez al-Masri was being held at the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem and had regained consciousness. Al-Masri was shot and critically injured by Israeli forces last week at the Gush Etzion Junction south of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank after he allegedly attempted to commit a stabbing attack against soldiers stationed in the area. According to Ajweh, al-Masri, who underwent two surgeries, was still being held in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Meanwhile, Israel’s Ofer military court had decided on Sunday to extend al-Masri’s detention in absence by 12 days. A number of Palestinians have been arrested, shot, or killed by Israeli forces for allegedly attempting to carry out attacks or being in possession of a knife at the Gush Etzion junction…. [Ma‘an on 18 Oct: 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.]
Israeli settlers throw stones at Palestinian homes in Hebron-area village
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 24 Oct — Israeli settlers reportedly attacked Palestinians in the southern occupied West Bank village of Umm al-Kheir village, located in the Hebron district, on Monday afternoon. Coordinator of popular committees in the southern West Bank Ratib al-Jabour told Ma’an that physical altercations erupted between Israeli settlers from the nearby illegal Karmel settlement and Palestinians from Umm al-Kheir, after the settlers threw rocks at homes in the village. According to al-Jabour, the Israeli army arrived in the area and began firing flares and sound bombs to disperse the crowds.
Palestinian drops large rock on head of boy, 12, in Hebron
[with video] JERUSALEM (JTA) 22 Oct — A Palestinian man threw a large rock at a young Israeli boy playing in a spring in the West Bank city of Hebron, knocking him unconscious, according to the army. The 12-year-old boy on Saturday then fell into Abraham’s Well spring, located in the flashpoint city’s Jewish enclave. His friends pulled him out of the water and called for help. He was taken to Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem, where he required 10 stitches in his scalp. The IDF spokesman said a Palestinian man had thrown the rock and security forces were searching the area for suspects. “Such violence is nothing less than terror,” he said. Footage from an army security camera appears to show the man hurling the rock into the spring from above before running away. The video is being shared on social media.
Opinion: For the women under occupation, it’s time for #AnaKaman (#MeToo) / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 22 Oct — The next global social media campaign should bring the stories of Palestinian women who live (or were killed) under the Israeli occupation — …The next campaign should also address respect for women and their bodies, their fates, their rights, their life and death. It must start in Israel and spread throughout the world. A single Weinstein will not ignite this campaign. It will accuse an entire state. And the testimonies will not come only from the rich and famous. They will come from female victims who never dreamed of Hollywood, or even of the beach in Tel Aviv. The next campaign should be called #وأنا كمان, ana kaman, “me too” in Arabic. Let’s see how the world responds to this campaign, especially Israelis – the same Israelis who took part in #MeToo and are now tut-tutting in the streets of Ramat Hasharon and Ramat Aviv over the painful testimonies of Limor Livnat, Meital Dohan, Orna Banai and Yael Abecassis. #AnaKaman will bring the testimonies of Palestinian women who live (or were killed) under the Israeli occupation. We provide the first ones below. All are from this summer, a relatively quiet one in the history of the occupation.
“Me too,” Zeinab Salhi of the Deheisheh refugee camp will write despairingly. She is 52, a single mother who for years cleaned the homes of Jews in Jerusalem, until illness forced her to quit. She lives in the West Bank refugee camp in nearly indescribable poverty and neglect. Her live-in partner, an Israeli Jew from Jerusalem, suffers from cancer. One night this summer, she watched as soldiers fired seven bullets into her son Raad Salhi, 22, as he tried to flee. As he lay dying in Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, she sought to see him one last time, but soldiers stationed outside his room chased her away. A week after Raad was shot, soldiers came and arrested his brother Mohammed, again in the middle of the night and with the brutality of those who snatch people from their bed. Raad died a few days later; his mother never had a chance to say goodbye…
“Me too,” the Israeli voice of Raba Abu al-Kiyan will chime in. For nearly a year, she has been living in a tent with her 10 children, after Israeli police killed her husband Yakub, a teacher, while demolishing their home in Umm al-Hiran in order to build the Jewish town of Hiran there….
Israeli forces detain 66 Palestinians, majority teenagers, in overnight raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Oct — Israeli detained at least 66 Palestinians during overnight raids Monday in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources …
West Bank — The Israeli army said in a statement that 15 Palestinian youths were detained from the West Bank for “security purposes.” The army said that a gun was found during search and detentions raids in Hebron city, while another weapon was found in the Beit Fajjar village in Bethlehem in the southern West Bank.
East Jerusalem — Israeli police forces raided the neighborhood of al-‘Issawiya overnight and detained 51 Palestinians after searching dozens of homes in the area. Official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency reported that a large number of police forces stormed the neighborhood around midnight from all entrances “causing panic and fear among residents” while a helicopter flew overhead. Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said in a statement that 51 Palestinians were detained for “disrupting order” recently in al-‘Issawiya, including throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at security vehicles. Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, a member of the local follow-up committee in al-‘Issawiya, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces delivered interrogation summons to several Palestinians in the area — including former prisoner Shirin al-‘Issawi — and that forces raided the neighborhood again Monday morning while students were on their way to school. Lawyer of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affair Muhammad Mahmoud, who visited detainees at different detention centers, said that he followed up on the cases of 27 of the detainees, who he said were all teenagers between the ages of 15 to 18. He identified them as Muhammad Ibrahim Mustafa, Adam Khalid Abu Shammaleh….
Israeli forces detain 19 Palestinians in overnight West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Oct — Israeli forces detained at least 19 Palestinians during overnight raids between Monday night and Tuesday morning in the occupied West Bank, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society reported that 16 Palestinians were detained, saying that five were detained in the Qabatiya town, near Jenin, five others in Bethlehem, two from Hebron, two from Qalqiliya, and one from Ramallah. Locals in the Hebron-area village of Beit ‘Awwa, located in the southern West Bank, told Ma’an that Israeli forces detained Muhammad Yasser Abd al-Razeq Masalma after raiding his, and several other homes in the area. Israeli forces allegedly confiscated 80,000 shekels ($22,851) from Masalma’s home claiming the money was given to support “illegal” Palestinian groups. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that 19 Palestinians were detained in the West Bank, giving no details regarding the locations of the arrests.
Israel arrests Palestinian because Facebook translated ‘good morning’ to ‘attack them’
Haaretz 22 Oct by Yotam Berger — The Israel Police mistakenly arrested a Palestinian worker last week because they relied on automatic translation software to translate a post he wrote on his Facebook page. The Palestinian was arrested after writing “good morning,” which was misinterpreted; no Arabic-speaking police officer read the post before the man’s arrest. Last week, the man posted on his Facebook page a picture from the construction site where he works in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Ilit near Jerusalem. In the picture he is leaning against a bulldozer alongside the caption: “Good morning” in Arabic. The automatic translation service offered by Facebook uses its own proprietary algorithms. It translated “good morning” as “attack them” in Hebrew and “hurt them” in English. Arabic speakers explained that English transliteration used by Facebook is not an actual word in Arabic but could look like the verb “to hurt” – even though any Arabic speaker could clearly see the transliteration did not match the translation. But because of the mistaken translation the Judea and Samaria District police were notified of the post. The police officers were suspicious because the translation accompanied a picture of the man alongside the bulldozer, a vehicle that has been used in the past in hit-and-run terrorist attacks. They suspected he was threatening to carry out such an attack and the police arrested him. After he was questioned, the police realized their mistake and released the man after a few hours….
Palestinian minors arrested by Israel ‘suffer abuse’
Al Jazeera 25 Oct by Linah Alsaafin — Mohammed, 14, was with his friends riding horses in a park in Jerusalem’s Old City when the Yassam, a special patrol unit of the Israeli police, arrived at the scene. Sound grenades were fired at the teenagers. One landed near Mohammed’s feet. He picked up a rock and threw it in the direction of the notorious riot police, whose excessive force against Palestinians has been well-documented. Unbeknownst to Mohammed, Yassam had been surveilling him and had also taken photos. Later, on his way back home, the boy was arrested by Israeli security forces on Saladin Street. He was handcuffed, taken to an interrogation centre, and was questioned without the presence of a lawyer or his parents. Little did he know then, in mid-September 2016, that his ordeal through the Israeli military court system had just begun. “They called me after he was interrogated,” Salwa, Mohammed’s mother, told Al Jazeera. “He spent the night in jail and was due in court the next day. He was imprisoned for a further two weeks and in that period he had another court appearance that was postponed four or five times.” More than a year later, Mohammed is still under house arrest. He is one of the hundreds of Palestinian minors in the occupied territories that are arrested by Israel on a yearly basis. The most common charge leveled against them is stone throwing, which under Israeli military law can carry a sentence of up to 20 years in jail.
A new report published on Wednesday by Israeli rights groups HaMoked and B’tselem details the alleged violations committed by Israeli forces against Palestinian minors. The study, titled “Unprotected: The detention of Palestinian Teenagers in East Jerusalem”, includes 60 affidavits collected from Palestinian teenagers who were arrested by Israel between May 2015 and October 2016. “What we are dealing with is not a few individual rogue interrogators or prison guards who defy regulations,” says the report. “Rather it is a case of a plain and clear policy followed by the various authorities: the police who carry out the arrests; the IPS (Israel Prison Service) which keeps the boys incarcerated in harsh conditions; and finally, the courts, where judges virtually automatically extend the boys’ custodial remand.”….
Prisoners / Sentencing
Palestinian hunger striker’s health ‘deteriorating’
Al Jazeera 22 Oct by Farah Najjar — A Palestinian prisoner’s health is “rapidly deteriorating” as he enters the 12th day of his hunger strike, according to his father. Hassan Showka, from the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, was arrested on September 29 without charges for a second consecutive time. He is being held in administrative detention at Israel’s Ofer prison. “He does not have family visitation rights, so we can’t see him, but we’re in touch with his lawyer, who is able to see him every now and then,” his father, 57-year-old Hassanein Showka, told Al Jazeera. Hassan, 29, has been denied the right to see his family members, including his toddler.
Administrative detention is a legal procedure that allows Israel to imprison Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip without charge or trial, for renewable periods of up to six months. Israeli authorities have been using this procedure [which originated under British rule] for more than 50 years, based on secret evidence. “The lawyers who manage to see him [Hassan] depict to us his current state, but most times we’re unsure whether the picture depicted is 100 percent accurate – usually they want to spare us the pain,” Hassanein said. “They don’t want us to worry about him, but we know he’s unwell.” Earlier this year, Hassan went on another hunger strike to protest his previous term of administrative detention, his father said. He was arrested again days later.
Today, there are some 600 administrative detainees in Israeli prisons, 16 of whom are children. “Administrative detention is a real problem. We’ve been trying to understand why, what’s the purpose behind his arrest, but we’re still left wondering and haven’t been provided with a valid explanation,” Hassanein said. “From the day they took him and until this very moment, we’re all confused … This is our son and he’s precious to us.” Hunger strikes have traditionally been used as a way to pressure Israel into improving living conditions in prisons and to push for basic rights, including visitations. On Monday, Mousa Soufan, a prisoner diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, was planning to start an open-ended hunger strike to protest medical neglect in Israeli prisons, local media reported….
Jerusalemite Palestinian sentenced to 16 years in prison for stabbing attempt
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Oct — An Israeli court on Monday sentenced a Palestinian to 16 years in prison over an attempted stabbing attack two years ago, according to Israeli media. Israeli news website Ynet reported that the Jerusalem District Court sentenced Bahaa Eweisat, 22, a resident of the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, to 16 years in prison for attempted murder and illegal possession of a knife. In October 2015, Eweisat was allegedly waiting with a knife in the Nof Zion settlement to carry out a stabbing attack when a police officer asked him to identify himself. According to Ynet, Ewisat refused and tried to stab the policeman.
Three Palestinians found after going missing from Egypt-Gaza tunnel
AFP 23 Oct — Three Palestinians who went missing from a tunnel between Egypt and the Gaza Strip in mysterious circumstances on Monday have been located, authorities in the Islamist Hamas-run territory said, after indications they had been kidnapped. “The three Palestinian workers who disappeared this morning on the Palestinian-Egyptian border have been found and returned safely,” Hamas interior ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bozom said in a statement, providing no further details. A security source told AFP “the three were kidnapped by mistake by gunmen probably belonging to an extremist Salafist group but were returned because they were not the target.” The three men are currently under investigation at the interior ministry in Gaza, the source said. One witness told AFP earlier that a group of masked gunmen snatched the three and took them across the border into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The account of the witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was not confirmed by authorities … In August, a suicide bomber killed a Hamas guard along Gaza’s border with Egypt in what was described as a rare Islamist attack against the Palestinian group. In 2015, gunmen seized four Hamas members from a bus bound for Cairo from the Gaza Strip in the Sinai near the border. [from Ma‘an: Sources from Gaza told Ma‘an that the three workers are from the al-Shujaiyya neighborhood in eastern Gaza City, and were identified as Hasan Jamal Abu al-Beid, Rami Jaber Nasrallah and Khalid Ziad Abu Asr.]
Conjoined twins born in Gaza ‘will need life-saving medical treatment abroad’
AFP 23 Oct — Conjoined twins born in Gaza on Sunday need to leave the blockaded Palestinian enclave for treatment crucial to their survival, their doctor and a family member said. “A woman gave birth this morning to Siamese twins joined at the stomach and pelvis,” Allam Abu Hamda, head of the neonatal unit at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, told AFP. Abu Hamda said the girls’ complicated condition “cannot be dealt with in the Gaza Strip, so we hope they will be transferred abroad for a separation.” An uncle who preferred not to be named said: “We hope they can leave to do what is necessary for their rare conditions.” Conjoined twins that share key organs have low chances of survival. The twins, whose condition Abu Hamda said was stable, have one shared leg, but separate hearts and lungs. Conjoined twins born in Gaza in November 2016 later died.
Palestinian families from Gaza visit relatives in Israeli prison
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 Oct — Families of Palestinian prisoners from the Gaza Strip were able to visit their imprisoned relatives in the Ramon prison in the Israel’s southern Negev desert on Monday morning. Spokesperson of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Amani al-Naouq said in a statement that 20 Palestinians, six of whom were under the age of 16, left the besieged Gaza strip through the Erez crossing to visit 13 imprisoned relatives. There are currently 310 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip jailed in Israeli prisons among some 6,000 Palestinian prisoners. The International Committee of the Red Cross organizes weekly visits on Mondays for Gazan families to their imprisoned relatives.
Israeli forces open fire at Gaza fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 Oct — Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats early Monday morning off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli boats opened fire at Gaza fishermen off the coast of al-Sudaniya.
Israeli bulldozers raze lands along Gaza border
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Oct — Several Israeli bulldozers entered into the “buffer zone” in the central Gaza Strip, along the border with Israel, and leveled lands in the area on Tuesday morning. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that four Israeli bulldozers entered dozens of meters into the Juhr al-Dik area and razed lands as drones flew overhead.
Palestinian president Abbas begins recruiting Gaza security forces
The Media Line 22 oct by Dima Abumaria — Following the recent unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has initiated a recruitment process in Gaza to resurrect his security forces in the Strip. Fatah Central Committee member Hussein Sheikh revealed that Abbas’ aim is to restructure the security establishment amid calls for Hamas’ disarmament. “We want a security institution committed to the basic laws of the State of Palestine whose doctrine is to protect the national project and the political agenda of the legitimate Palestinian representative,” he stated. According to sources, the PA plans to enlist some 5,000 Gazans between the ages of 18 and 22, who are medically fit and have unblemished records in their previous jobs. When reached by The Media Line, both Palestinian Authority Vice President Mahmoud Al-Aloul and Fatah Central Committee member Tawfik Tirawi—the latter being the head of the PA’s military college in Jericho—refused to comment on the matter. For his part, Abdul Haj Ibrahim, the head of the Department of Political Science at Birzeit University in the West Bank, explained that the new recruits will take the place of some six thousand officers who will be forced into retirement in an effort to both inject fresh blood into Gaza’s new security body as well as to ensure loyalty to Abbas. “It is a strategy to absorb youth into the security forces, in hopes of changing the stereotype in Gaza as well as to create hope and minimize the tensions,” he told The Media Line….
Shikun U’Binui wins contract to build Gaza barrier
Globes 23 Oct by Kobi Yeshayahou — The barrier includes an underground wall tens of meters deep with sensors to counter the threat posed by tunnels from Gaza — Shikun u’Binui Holdings Ltd. (TASE: SKBN) Israeli construction unit Solel Boneh has been awarded another contract to build sections of the new barrier surrounding the Gaza strip over the coming year. Solel Boneh successfully bid for the Ministry of Defense tender to build two sections of the Gaza barrier for a combined value of NIS 640 million. The company previously won the first tender for a section of the barrier worth NIS 220 million. There is an overall budget of NIS 3.3 billion for construction of the Gaza barrier, which combines underground and above ground elements. Construction of the barrier, which is meant to provide a comprehensive solution to the threat posed by tunnels dug into Israel from Gaza, will begin in the coming weeks and be completed by the end of 2019. Once construction moves into high gear, 1,000 workers will be employed on the project working 24 hours around the clock at 40 sites. The barrier will include an underground concrete wall tens of meters deep with alert sensors. The administration in charge of the project says that each kilometer of the barrier will cost NIS 40 million with a further NIS 1.5 million per kilometer for an over-ground metal fence.
Gaza to get second cellular network, from Qatar
GAZA CITY (AP) 23 Oct — A Palestinian cellular provider said Monday it will soon expand coverage from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. Palestinian and Qatari officials attended the announcement event at a Gaza City hotel. Wataniya Mobile, a subsidiary of Qatar’s Ooredoo, says it will launch operations in Gaza on Tuesday. Until now, Gaza has only been served by one operator, Jawwal, which was launched in the Palestinian territories in 1999. Wataniya has been operating in the West Bank since 2009. Both companies do not offer 3G internet services, pending a political deal with Israel which controls Palestinian telecommunications frequencies. Wataniya’s expansion was held up by the political divide between the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority and the Islamic militant group Hamas which rules Gaza, and an Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the coastal territory. The two rival Palestinian groups say they are close to reaching a reconciliation agreement that would return Gaza to the control of the Palestinian Authority. Wataniya Mobile CEO Durgham Maraee said hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on building the network in the Palestinian territories. “This was the largest investment that Gaza has known in nearly two decades,” he said. “We hope our success in Gaza would encourage others to invest in Gaza like us.”…..
Meet the generation of Palestinian division
Al-Monitor 22 Oct by Asmaa al-Ghoul — Back in June 2007, Palestinian Ihab Abu Armanah, 18, was taking his national high school exams, the “tawjihi,” at the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip amid an exchange of fire between Hamas and Fatah gunmen. On June 14, 2007, Hamas took over Gaza, and the geographical division turned into a deep political division that resulted in clashes. Today, a decade later, the two Palestinian rival movements are exerting ambitious efforts to ensure the success of the reconciliation agreement reached on Oct. 12 in Cairo. But for Abu Armanah, the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation, which aims at handing over control of Gaza back to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, is meaningless. Like most of his generation in the Gaza Strip, Abu Armanah was unable to pursue his academic studies or achieve his future plans under a 10-year-long siege imposed by Israel and Egypt on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. He told Al-Monitor, “I was worried and terrified. I made sure to finish all of my exams in just half an hour and to run back home.” Abu Armanah, now 28 years old, did not score good results in his tawjihi exam and was unable to achieve his dream of entering the department of English language, literature and simultaneous interpretation at Al-Azhar University. Today he is unemployed, single and living with his parents in a modest home in the Nuseirat refugee camp. “I feel I wasted years of my life. I am not the only one, as all people of my generation feel the same. We grew up in times of division and war, and we were denied joy and stability,” he said … For Gazan blogger Mohammed Sheikh Yusuf, the world has been frozen in time throughout the division years. He was 19 years old when it all started. “In addition to the ensuing social, political, economic and national predicament, the 10-year split has also caused me personal life difficulties. I was arrested several times by Hamas security forces for taking part in protests calling to end the division,” he said. Yusuf is now settled in Qatar, where he says he can plan his life for five years to come, while in Gaza he was unable to make even a five-hour plan….
Gaza report shows 80% below poverty line, 50% unemployment
JP 22 Oct — A group called The Popular Committee Against the Siege, located in the Gaza Strip, last week issued a report the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, concurrent with the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. According to the report, the humanitarian situation of the Gaza Strip after more than ten years of an Israeli blockade by land, sea and air, three wars with Israel, in 2008, 2012, and the effects of the ongoing conflict between the PLO and Hamas, have led to a catastrophic situation – as evidenced by the recent UN warnings that by 2020 life in Gaza would become impossible. The report claims that during the decade of the blockade there has been an increase of half a million civilians in Gaza, without any improvement in services. Instead, poverty, unemployment and the decline in purchasing power have increased dramatically:
80% of the population is below the poverty line.
50% unemployment rate.
60% unemployment rate among youth and young adults.
The average income is down to $2 a day per person.
40% of the children suffer from malnutrition and anemia.
There are 15,500 orphans living in Gaza, who suffer from poor living conditions.
50,000 residents suffer from disabilities, from birth or from war injuries.
30% of the needed medicine is unavailable.
45% of medical consumables are unavailable.
13,000 cancer patients go without medical infusions.
Thousands of civilians, especially the poor, are chronically ill.
95% of the water is not drinkable
Can animated film sensitize Israelis to suffering in Gaza?
Al-Monitor 24 Oct by Shlomi Eldar — Human rights organization Gisha has found an original way to inform Israelis about the distress and hardships of factory owners in the Gaza Strip. In partnership with the sweets manufacturer Al-Awda (The Return), it produced an animated short film titled “Gaza’s Candy Kingdom.” Thus, the organization that works for the freedom of movement of Palestinians in the West Bank and especially in the Gaza Strip, which is often subjected to closure, hopes to crack the wall of indifference among Israelis about what is happening an hour and a half drive from Tel Aviv. In the film, a girl named Noor (which means “light” in Arabic) finds a 10 shekel coin (about $2.85) while on the way home from school. With glee, she goes to buy an ice cream cone and wins a ticket to visit the large sweets factory owned by Muhammad Tilbani, who greets her with open arms. I don’t know if you know,” he tells the surprised little girl, “but I decided to give you the whole factory as a gift.” During a tour of his factory, she is exposed to the impossible task of manufacturing in Gaza — that is, running a factory under the conditions of closure, war and the lack of a reliable supply of electricity, which has caused the factory to abandon modern technology and return to the days of the 19th-century Industrial Revolution. Tilbani is a real person. He has owned Al-Awda for 40 years. “Two years ago, Gisha, with whom I worked for years, approached me and suggested making a film centered on my factory. I agreed immediately,” he told Al-Monitor. According to Tilbani, he knew that other factory owners in Gaza, who experienced a similar struggle for survival, would reject the offer out of fear of incurring even greater economic disaster in the form of retaliation by Israel….
PHOTOS; Gaza’s blue gold
EI 24 Oct by Mohammed Asad & Tamara Aburamadan — Beach refugee camp in northern Gaza – home to many fishing families – is transformed each autumn with the arrival of crab season. Being a fisherman in Gaza means to practice one of the world’s most dangerous professions. Israel severely restrains Palestinian fishermen’s access to the sea and regularly fires on fishing crews, damaging and confiscating their boats, and often detaining the fishermen as well. Two Palestinian fishermen have been killed by Israeli naval forces this year alone. Because of Gaza’s chronic electricity crisis, a direct result of Israel’s repeated military assaults and decade-long blockade, 100,000 cubic meters of raw sewage are pumped into the Mediterranean Sea each day, polluting fishing waters. A sharp increase in poverty since the siege was imposed means that fewer families can afford to put fish on the dinner table – half of Gaza’s population of 2 million is moderately to severely food insecure. All of this has taken a hard toll on Gaza’s fishing industry, upon which more than 35,000 Palestinians still depend.
But crab season offers a respite – and rare period of profit – to Gaza’s beleaguered fishing families. Akram Abu Foul (seen at right), 32, has worked as a fisherman for 15 years. “I wake up at daybreak, take my paddle and head to the sea to pull in the fishing nets that I threw out the day before,” Abu Foul told The Electronic Intifada. During crab season Abu Foul needs to replace his nets every few days, as the animals’ pincers tear them up when they are caught. Each net costs around $70. “All fishing materials in Gaza are scarce because of the siege,” Abu Foul said … Abdel Fattah Abd Rabou, a teacher of environmental sciences at the Islamic University in Gaza, said that it is safe to eat Gaza crab provided it is caught 200 to 300 meters from the shore. Raw sewage affects areas some 100 to 150 meters from the shore, which fishermen avoid … The crab harvest is a family affair. Mohammed’s 9-year-old daughter, Safaa, helps by untangling crabs from the fishing net. “I enjoy helping my father during crab season; it is a festive time for our family,” Safaa said.
Gaza Bronze Age remains disappearing under concrete
JERUSALEM (AFP) 24 Oct by Sakher Abou El Oun with Laurent Lozano — Archaeologists and preservation activists in the Gaza Strip have managed to halt the destruction of a Bronze Age site for now, but the future of what remains may still be in jeopardy. Palestinian archaeologist Moain Sadeq says the mound at Tell es-Sakan near Gaza City is a “unique” site that could offer an invaluable glimpse into the region’s ancient heritage. It is “maybe the only fortified Canaanite city in southern Palestine” occupied continuously from 3200 to 2000 BC, he says. Since it was discovered by chance in 1998, the man-made mound has been scarred by bulldozers more than once. A few weeks ago the earthmoving equipment returned yet again, destroying a large part of archaeological excavations carried out in 1999 and 2000 by Sadeq and his French colleague Pierre de Miroschedji. The land was to be cleared for homes for public officials in the Palestinian territory ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement. After a concerted effort by archaeologists, academics and those concerned with Gaza’s heritage, the work was eventually halted. But the activists are unsure how long the reprieve will last in a strip of land that has already seen its archaeological riches devastated by three wars with Israel, Palestinian infighting, overcrowding and indifference … The first building works actually helped uncover the site as vigilant archaeologists spotted traces of ancient civilisation being revealed and quickly intervened to stop construction. After that French and Palestinian experts moved in, but their dig was cut short in 2000 when the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, against Israeli occupation drove them away. Since then excavation work has remained frozen in time — with any attempt to restart it complicated by a new housing project that has cut off the north of the site. When the bulldozers recently returned, they devastated the excavation Sadeq and his colleagues had left as a work in progress. “The damage is very, very significant. Ancient dwelling structures and sections of the ramparts have been destroyed. Moveable artifacts have been taken away,” he said. Tell es-Sakan, a 300-metre (984-foot) diameter expanse of sand in an arid landscape, does not catch the eye of the casual observer. But archaeologists insist the site is of major interest, marking the shift from agricultural to urban society. Beneath the surface is “a huge, very important site, with (the remains of) fortifications, houses,” Sadeq said. “It is a city — not a small town, but a royal city, with a high level of organisation, administrative and military structures.” The site is located at the mouth of Gaza’s main watercourse, on the coastal route between Egypt and the ancient Canaanite region and beyond, to Syria and Mesopotamia….
Photos: Gaza farmers stretch out an olive branch
MEMO 23 Oct — Farmers in Gaza are now reaping the rewards of the olive harvest as the season begins. A family affair, the harvest seems fathers and mothers working with their children and relatives to pick, gather and sort the olives they have grown. The varieties range from Al-Sara, Ki 18 and Shamlali, from which olive oil is extracted. Farmers care for the trees as they do their children’s education because of how sacred and important they are and how beneficial the oil that they produce is. Most of this product is sent to olive mills to extract high quality olive oil. Olive oil prices in the Gaza Strip have reduced this year because of the reduction in consumers’ purchasing power as a result of the ongoing Israeli siege.
Israel thwarts smuggling attempt at Gaza border crossing
JPost 23 Oct by Anna Ahronheim — Israeli authorities have foiled an attempt to smuggle thousands of military gloves destined for Hamas hidden in a shipment of clothing products, Israel’s Defense Ministry announced Monday. Officials from the Crossing Authority of the Ministry of Defense along with representatives from the Gaza District Coordination Office (DCO) and the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) discovered the gloves at the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza on Sunday … Israeli authorities intercept illicit goods heading for Hamas on a regular basis at crossings from Israel into the Strip. Last January, COGAT said that it had foiled ,226 smuggling attempts in 2016 through the Kerem Shalom crossing, an increase of 165% from the previous year. In early October, authorities foiled an attempt to smuggle thousands of military-grade shoes labeled as slippers destined for Hamas’s military wing in Gaza….
Netanyahu appoints new negotiator for Israelis captive in Gaza
i24NEWS 21 Oct — Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday announced the appointment of a new lead negotiator for the return of Israelis and the remains of soldiers held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, after criticism from one of the soldiers’ families that the post had been left vacant. Yaron Blum, a former senior officer in Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet, will take up the high-profile position, the prime minister’s office said in a statement. Blum was part of the inner circle of advisers who negotiated the release of soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity in 2012. “I thank the Prime Minister for the trust,” Blum — who is also a fellow at the Institute for the Study of Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya — said, adding that he “see[s] in the role that has been bestowed on me, a national mission of the first order.” “Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke tonight with the Goldin, Shaul, Al-Sayeed and Mengistu families, updated them on the appointment and emphasized his commitment to bring their sons home,” the statement said. Hamas is believed to be holding captive at least two Israelis, Avraham (Avera) Mengistu and Hisham Al-Sayeed, who entered Hamas-controlled Gaza during periods of poor mental health. A third Israeli, Jumma Abu Ghanima, has not been heard from since he was spotted entering the blockaded enclave in July 2016. The Islamist group is also holding the bodies of two Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed during the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Activists demand settlers leave Palestinian home in Hebron following court order
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 22 Oct — A Palestinian committee in the city of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank has reportedly received an order by the Israeli Supreme Court to evacuate a group of Israeli settlers illegally occupying a Palestinian home in the area. The home, which belongs to the Abu Rajab family, has been embroiled in a legal battle with Israeli settlers who claim that they purchased the rights to the home, though the Palestinian homeowners and the Israeli state have maintained that the settlers forged the documents. Despite several court orders preventing the settlers from moving into the home, they forcibly took over the home in late July. The state of Israel ordered the 15 settlers families living in the Abu Rajab house to evacuate last month, however, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered in September to delay the evacuation based on an appeal submitted by the settlers. According to Palestinian activists, who held a sit-in protest in front of the home on Friday, the Hebron Reconstruction Committee “was able to issue an order by the Israeli Supreme Court to evacuate Israeli settlers of the Abu Rajab building as it was proven that their entrance to the building was not legal.” During the sit-in, Israeli forces detained coordinator of the Youth against Settlement group Issa Amro.
Israel delivers demolition notices, cuts off water to homes in Silwan
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Oct — For the second time this week, Israeli authorities delivered demolition notices to Palestinians in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Tuesday. Official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency reported that staff from the Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality, escorted by Israeli police, distributed demolition notices to several homes in Silwan under the pretext of being built without difficult-to-obtain Israeli construction permits. According to Wafa, staff from the Israeli water company Gihon cut off the water supply to a number of homes in Silwan under the pretext of accumulated debts … Israeli forces on Sunday delivered demolition notices to the neighborhood, and last week, forces demolished two homes in the area.
Israel sets up iron gate at entrance of private Palestinian graveyard
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Oct — Israeli forces on Wednesday set up an iron gate at the entrance of private Palestinian graveyard in the southern occupied West Bank Bethlehem-area village of al-Walaja. Locals told Ma‘an that the plot of land where the gate was set up around belongs to Ahmad Barghouthi, and holds the graves of several of his family members. Israeli forces reportedly told Barghouthi that the land is located inside the route for Israel’s separation wall, therefor cutting off his access to the graveyard…
Residents of al-Walaja have lost over three-quarters of their lands since the state of Israel was established in 1948, when most of the village’s residents became refugees. During Israel’s military takeover of East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967, 50 percent of al-Walaja’s lands were annexed to the Jerusalem municipality. Meanwhile, Israel’s separation wall encircles al-Walaja, the hometown of slain Palestinian activist Basel al-Araj, and swaths of land have been reappropriated by the Israeli government for the construction and expansion of the illegal Israeli settlements of Gilo, Har Gilo, and Givat Yael. The Israeli government has also planned to confiscate hundreds of acres from al-Walaja for the establishment of a national park.
Israeli bulldozers demolish Palestinian house in Arab city in Israel
LOD (WAFA) 22 Oct – Bulldozers of the Israeli municipality in the Arab city of Lod, in Israel, Sunday demolished a Palestinian-owned house under the pretext the house was built without an Israeli-issued permit. Israeli bulldozers, under the protection of Israeli police who cordoned off the area during the demolition, demolished the house of the al-Faqir family, leaving it homeless. According to the “Arab 48” website, the municipality issued a demolition notice against al-Faqir’s family house six months ago, under the pretext that it was built without a permit. The Al-Faqir family was even forced to entirely demolish their own house and was threatened to be fined in case bulldozers of the municipality did the demolition. As a result, the family was fined 150,000 NIS to pay for Israeli government’s bulldozers, and the policemen who provided protection for the bulldozers.
Israel demolishes Palestinian Bedouin village for 120th time
NAQAB (WAFA) 25 Oct – Israeli authorities on Wednesday demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Naqab [Negev] desert in southern Israel for the 120th time. Staff from the Israel Land Authority accompanied by Israeli police and bulldozers broke into the village and demolished the metal shelters residents build every time their village is demolished. The first demolition of al-Araqib took place in late June 2010. Al-Araqib is one of 35 Bedouin villages considered “unrecognized” by the Israeli government.
Israel seizes land from Nabi Saleh village to expand settlement
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 23 Oct – The Israeli occupation’s military government issued orders on Monday expropriating Palestinian land near the illegal settlement of Halamish, northwest of Ramallah, a local activist said on Monday. Mohammad Tamimi, from the anti-settlements committee, told WAFA that farmers from the village of Nabi Saleh were surprised to find out when they went to their lands to harvest olives that the army would not let them enter it and ordered them to go back. He said the soldiers passed on notices to the farmers informing them that their land will be confiscated “for security reasons,” the excuse Israel always uses to justify all its illegal acts. Tamimi said the land seizure is clearly intended to expand the settlement of Halamish, which has been growing in area at the expense of area Palestinian villages ever since three Israeli settlers were killed in that settlement by a Palestinian attacker few months ago. He said the anti-settlements committee is going to contest this order.
Former defense minister, courted by Labor Party: There’ll be no peace, West Bank can hold millions of settlers
Haaretz 22 Oct by Chaim Levinson — ‘The illusion of peace has now evaporated,’ said Moshe Ya’alon, but so has ‘the illusion of a Greater Land of Israel’ — Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon expressed support on Thursday for continued Palestinian autonomy in parts of the West Bank, but not independence, and said the territory could hold one or two million additional Jewish settlers. After speaking at a religious girls’ school in Beit Shemesh on Thursday, Ya’alon was asked his views about Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and about evacuation of Jewish settlements more generally. Ya’alon said that as army chief of staff he had opposed the withdrawal. “My home is the kibbutz,” he said. “The border is marked by the furrows of the plow. The border is marked by the children’s house. Where there is no children’s house, there is no army. If you want to hold territory, you need for there to be people living there.” Turning his attention to the peace process with the Palestinians, he said: “On one hand, I don’t see prospects for a [peace] agreement in the foreseeable future. The gap between us is not bridgeable. They have not agreed to any proposal to divide the land. They are not prepared even to accept a state along the 1967 borders and a division of Jerusalem. From their standpoint, that’s just 22 percent of Palestine,” he said.“I don’t foresee that they will have a leadership that will want to divide the land,” adding that he doesn’t foresee it among the leadership of Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority, or among Hamas, based in the Gaza Strip. “On the other hand,” he said, “I don’t want a binational state,” noting that the Palestinians already have autonomy. “I say we will not evacuate Jews or Arabs. On the map that already exists at the moment, we can protect our interest that there not be a binational state….
How Israel engages in ‘water apartheid’
JORDAN VALLEY, Occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 21 Oct — After the 1967 war, one of Israel’s first acts was to declare all water resources to be under its control — Water is not scarce in the Jordan Valley, known as the traditional “breadbasket of Palestine” – yet Palestinian farmers struggle to survive, with little water to nourish their crops. They say the amount of water that Israeli authorities allocate to them has been decreasing daily since the Second Intifada. Meanwhile, neighbouring settlements consume copious amounts of water. They grow produce, such as bananas, requiring large amounts of water, which is mostly pumped from wells in the occupied West Bank, and they export a rich variety of fruits, vegetables, flowers and spices to Europe and the United States. In the village of Ein al-Beida, barbed wire divides a field in two. On one side are rows of orange trees covered in lush green leaves, grown by Israeli settlers from a nearby illegal settlement; on the other is barren land allocated for Palestinians, where nothing grows except stiff stalks of yellow grass, long dried out due to the lack of water. Farmers in Ein al-Beida, one of the few villages in the Jordan Valley that is connected to the water grid, last month staged a peaceful protest after Israeli authorities cut their water for more than a week. Israeli authorities eventually turned their water back on, but locals say the amount is now less than half of the 240 cubic metres an hour that they received before the protest. “They gave us the excuse that there’s not enough water underground,” farmer Mahdi Foqaha told Al Jazeera. “In reality, Israel doesn’t want us to live here any more … We just want the Israelis to let us extract our own water.”….
Ministers said to delay vote on repealing 2005 West Bank pullout
Times of Israel 22 Oct by Marissa Newman — Proposed legislation would allow Israelis to return to 4 settlements, evacuated 12 years ago but still under Israeli control – A key ministerial panel on Sunday reportedly postponed a vote on a proposal to “cancel” the 2005 pullout from the northern West Bank and permit Israelis to return to settlements that were razed during the unilateral withdrawal 12 years ago. The proposed legislation was submitted to the Knesset in February and presented to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation — the panel which determines whether bills receive coalition backing — for approval on Sunday. By Sunday afternoon, however, the ministers had decided to postpone a decision on the bill until next week, according to Channel 2 news. The bill, penned by Jewish Home MKs Shuli Moalem-Refaeli and Bezalel Smotrich, would dramatically amend the original 2005 Knesset law that paved the way for the Israeli withdrawal from 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the northern West Bank … While the text of the bill speaks generally about permitting Israelis entry to areas that were relinquished, with Gaza under Hamas control it relates in effect only to the four settlements in the northern West Bank — Kadim, Ganim, Homesh, and Sa-Nur — that were evacuated in the same period. Settlers have attempted to reestablish Sa-Nur and other evacuated West Bank settlements in the past, including in 2008, when some 1,000 people converged on Homesh and dozens more on Sa-Nur in a short-lived attempt to rebuild….
Maryland governor signs order to block boycotts of Israel
ANNAPOLIS, MD (AP) by Brian Witte — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order Monday blocking the state from awarding contracts to companies that support boycotts of Israel. Hogan said requests for future bids on state contracts will include language certifying that a company has not engaged in a boycott of Israel. The governor, speaking with Jewish leaders by his side at a news conference, also said he is asking the state pension system to divest itself of companies who have participated in the movement known as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. BDS was founded in 2005 to protest Israel’s actions toward Palestinians by boycotting Israeli products and companies. Hogan said BDS runs counter to an economic relationship Maryland has sustained for decades with Israel … Last year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, issued the first executive order in the country that forces state entities to drop investments linked to boycotts of Israel. State legislatures have been passing measures to stop boycotts. So far, 23 states have enacted laws or issued executive orders banning state business with companies that support boycotts. Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, said it was “profoundly disappointing” the governor acted by executive order, when legislation has failed to gain enough support in the General Assembly. He also noted that the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit this month against a law in Kansas that has similarities to Hogan’s executive order.
Israel secretly using US law firm to fight BDS activists in Europe, North America
Haaretz 25 Oct by Chaim Levinson & Barak Ravid — Israeli government hired lawyers to counter BDS; nature of work is kept a secret, and defined as ‘extremely sensitive’ — The government has been secretly using a U.S. law firm to help it fight the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in Europe, North America and elsewhere, according to documents obtained by Haaretz. The government has hired the Chicago-based firm Sidley Austin to prepare legal opinions and handle court proceedings. The Justice Ministry and the Strategic Affairs Ministry have declined to reveal the nature of these activities, for which the state has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past two years. The ministries call the activities “diplomatically extremely sensitive.” About two years ago, the security cabinet made the Strategic Affairs Ministry responsible for coordinating the fight against “delegitimization” and earmarked major resources for these efforts. The Strategic Affairs Ministry transfers some of the money to the Foreign Ministry in various places worldwide and some money has been given to Jewish organizations overseas for public relations work on campuses and elsewhere. But the Strategic Affairs Ministry is also operating on these matters in ways that have not been made public. In the past, the ministry’s director general, Sima Vaknin, told the Knesset that it is involved in “gathering intelligence and attacking.” … The secrecy surrounding the contracts raises the suspicion that the work involves not only writing legal opinions but also preparing lawsuits against BDS supporters, as Israel does not want to be revealed as supporting such actions, to avoid the perception that it is interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. “There is the danger of a slippery slope in the secrecy shrouding Israeli anti-BDS activity in the world,” Mack told Haaretz. “It is deeply worrying that the military terminology used by senior officials in the Strategic Affairs Ministry is being used in the fight against civilians abroad who criticize the State of Israel.”….
BDS vs BDS: West Bank boycott of Arab filmmaker divides Palestinians over Israel ties
Haaretz 24 Oct by Amira Hass — One of the most famous Palestinian actors is now calling to boycott the Palestinian boycott movement amid uproar over Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri film ‘The Insult’ — The Ramallah municipality over the weekend canceled the screening of the film “The Insult,” by Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri, in response to demands by activists promoting a cultural and academic boycott of Israel and the group Youth Against Normalization. The film was meant to be screened Monday evening at the close of the fourth annual Days of Cinema Festival held in five Palestinian cities. The film chronicles how an argument between a Palestinian refugee and a Lebanese Christian develops into a physical and legal confrontation. The boycott activists and their supporters viewed the screening of the film at a festival sponsored by the city and the Palestinian Culture Ministry as encouraging the normalization of relations with Israel. This is because five years ago Doueiri shot parts of his last film, “The Attack,” in Israel, and despite harsh criticism never expressed regret for doing so. The Ramallah municipality said the screening was canceled to preserve public safety. According to Palestinian sources, the Palestinian security apparatus also pressed to cancel the screening, especially when it was learned that a demonstration was planned in front of the cultural palace where the screening was to take place. In a Facebook post by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel that appeared on Saturday, the movement welcomed the holding of the film festival and even congratulated the East Jerusalem actor Kamel El Basha, who won the Best Actor award at the Venice International Film Festival in early September (but did not mention that he won the award for his appearance in “The Insult”). The post says the current film doesn’t constitute normalization, as opposed to Doueiri’s previous film. “Relating to Israel as if it’s a normal country is the equivalent of participating in its propaganda war,” said the lengthy post, which also called for an open discussion with Palestinian filmmakers on the principles of the struggle against normalization….
16 million strong organization in India joins the BDS movement
IMEMC/Agencies 24 Oct — Earlier this month, the largest national organization representing peasants in India, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), has announced that it has joined the BDS movement. AIKS is is spread across 21 states in India and is over 16 million members strong. AIKS has resolved to: Endorse the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law, in order to stand for the rights of the Palestinian people and to resist the corporate takeover of Indian agriculture sector by Israeli companies. Denounce and document any cases of Israeli corporate takeover in the Indian agro-sector. Raise awareness among Indian farmers to prevent Israel and its corporations from reaping profits in India that finance military occupation and apartheid in Palestine….
Palestinians of Gazan origin worried about possible travel restrictions
AMMAN, Jordan (Arab News) 22 Oct by Daoud Kuttab — While the Palestinian reconciliation efforts sponsored by Egypt and supported by the rest of the world appear to be moving in the right direction, unexpected problems are emerging. Gazans in the West Bank are worried that the reconciliation will have a negative effect on their travel while Hamas supporters in Gaza are worried about the willingness of the Ramallah government to pay Gaza employees appointed by Hamas. Hamas, which has been asked to stop collecting taxes from Gazans, has called on the Palestinian government to reassure worried public employees about their salaries, Al-Quds Al-Arabi added. Hamas wants the Palestinian government to commit to paying all salaries, including those of civil servants appointed by Hamas, until a final decision is made about their fate. The Ramallah-based Palestinian government, however, has repeatedly said that the status of these employees will be decided by a follow-up committee.
Payment of salaries is one of several concerns that Gazans have, with worries about freedom of travel expressed by some, especially in relation to entry to Jordan. Palestinians of Gazan origin must obtain before travel a Jordanian permission to enter the country. Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, West Bank and Gaza residents have been able to travel around the world using the same Palestinian issued passports. Nevertheless, Palestinians deemed by Jordan as Gazans (namely, if they were born in Gaza or are children of Gazan parents), must apply for a special permit called adam mumanaa — a no-objection document — issued by the Jordanian Ministry of Interior. Wafa Abdel Rahman, founder and director of Filasitynat, a leading women’s nongovernmental organization, is a Gazan who has been living in the West Bank for decades and active in dealing with this problem.
Abdel Rahman told Arab News that some 50,000 Palestinians of Gazan origin who have changed their residency to the West Bank, are worried that they will be unable to travel without restrictions. They are concerned that Jordan is likely to make it more difficult for them to get permission to travel to or through Jordan if the Rafah crossing is reopened….
Hamas: No rift with Qatar over Fatah reconciliation
Al Jazeera 22 Oct — Hamas has denied reports hinting that the Palestinian group is dissatisfied with the role of Qatar in the effort to reach reconciliation with Fatah. Local news media reports on the issue surfaced after Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar recently met youth groups in the Gaza Strip. In a statement, Hamas has said allegations of the rift are “completely not true” and dismissed talk of any tension. “It is worth noting Qatar’s role in supporting the steadfastness of the Palestinian people in general and our people in the Gaza Strip, especially in the shadow of the unjust siege,” the statement read. Hamas praised Qatar as having a “pioneering role” in bettering the lives of Palestinians living in Gaza. “Qatar has carried out dozens of humanitarian projects, reconstruction projects and infrastructure, which was felt by our people and contributed significantly to prevent the collapse of the Gaza Strip during the years of siege.” The statement mentioned Qatar’s support for Palestinian national reconciliation, noting the Arab Gulf country’s blessings for every effort to heal the rift between Hamas and Fatah….
Are days numbered for Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox patriarch? / Ahmad Melhem
RAMALLAH 23 Oct — The relationship between Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem and All Palestine and the Greek Orthodox community in the Palestinian territories and Jordan is closer than ever to escalating into all-out war. Theophilos, who assumed leadership of the church in 2005, has presided over the church while a number of deals have been reached to sell or lease church property to Israel, private Israeli citizens and investors. The patriarch is responsible for the management of all church endowments as stipulated by Jordanian Law no. 27 (1958). The church owns property in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza and in Israel. Fed-up members of the Greek Orthodox community have organized in opposition to Theophilos in an attempt to remove him and encourage Jordanian and Palestinian authorities to withdraw their recognition of him. Haaretz reported on Oct. 13 that six dunams of land with dozens of businesses on it around the clock tower in Jaffa as well as 430 dunams in Caesarea, including large parts of the Caesarea National Park and Amphitheater and a Roman amphitheater, were sold to anonymous foreign companies … The opposition movement — spearheaded by the Arab Central Orthodox Council and Arab Orthodox Youth — received a significant boost with the participation of Palestinian and Jordanian political factions and figures in the one-day National Conference to Support the Arab-Orthodox Cause in Palestine. The more than 200 attendees confirmed their opposition to the patriarchate being represented by Theophilos and called for his dismissal and trial for his role in selling church lands….
Palestinian activists build monument to Saddam Hussain
QALQILIYA, West Bank (AP) 24 Oct — Palestinian activists have built a monument to the late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in the West Bank. The monument, showing a portrait of Saddam in a bowler hat and pointing a rifle in the air, was erected last week in the town of Qalqiliya. A small faction called the Arab Liberation Front built the structure, but the city’s governor, Rafea Rawajbeh, a member of the ruling Fatah movement, was among those in attendance at last week’s opening ceremony. The Qalqiliya municipality declined comment. Saddam was a longtime supporter of the Palestinians, and gave millions of dollars to the families of suicide bombers during the Intifada that began in 2000. He remains popular among many Palestinians because he fired several dozen Scud missiles at Israel during the 1991 Gulf War. That year, posters of Saddam hung from lampposts in the Gaza Strip and rallies were held in his honor. Saddam was toppled in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and executed three years later. The Arab Liberation Front has built Saddam monuments in several other Palestinian towns.
Cambridge bars Arabic students from West Bank amid fears of Israeli airport security
Haaretz 22 Oct — The University of Cambridge has barred its students of the Arabic language from studying in the Palestinian authorities as part of year-abroad programs, the London Evening Standard reported on its website Sunday. The decision by the British university reportedly comes after five students from the university were interrogated or deported by Israeli security officials at Ben-Gurion International Airport during the 2016-2017 academic year. The students are required as part of their program to spend eight months in a place where Arabic is the primary language. Ben-Gurion airport has a reputation as one of the world’s most secure airports, including intensive security questioning and searches. A Reuters report recently called its protocol “a combination of high-tech and thinly disguised profiling.” “Due to the instability of many Middle Eastern states, the choices available to Arabic students are relatively limited, with the majority opting for Egypt or Jordan,” the Evening Standard said. “The [Palestinian] territories are the first place to be taken off of the list of acceptable destinations since Syria erupted into civil war in 2011, ending a long-standing partnership with Damascus University.” Most of the university’s students of Arabic have reportedly chosen to study at Birzeit University in the West Bank city of Ramallah, requiring them either to reach the Palestinian city via Ben-Gurion airport or a land border crossing from Jordan, where they also must be go through an Israeli security check.
“The interrogators screamed in my face, yelling things like ‘F*** you’ and ‘This is my country,'” one 21-year-old student, Cleodie Rickard, told the Evening Standard. “They said they had unlocked my phone and spoken to all my friends and family, saying I’d been working as a volunteer in Palestine – none of which was true. It was so surreal.”….
Japan deplores Israel’s approval of 3000 settlement units in West Bank
JAPAN (WAFA) 22 Oct — The Government of Japan deeply deplored Israel’s approval of plans for the construction of about 3,000 housing units in settlements in the West Bank despite repeated calls from the international community including Japan for freezing such activities, foreign Press Secretary Norio Maruyama said in a press release. The release was issued following reports that Israel has stepped up plans to build almost 3000 new housing units in settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Settlement activities are in violation of international law and Japan has repeatedly called upon the Government of Israel to fully freeze settlement activities….
Why Netanyahu loses no sleep over European uproar
A-Monitor 24 Oct by Akiva Eldar — … Everyone plays a role in managing the conflict. Israel demolishes and confiscates, the Europeans reprimand, the Palestinian Authority protests, the peace organizations condemn and the settlers rejoice and persecute their Palestinian shepherd neighbors. The European conscience is assuaged, a resolution of the conflict fades and the occupation remains. The Israeli left hopes that the bill presented by the eight European governments to Israel for its violations will awaken the Israeli public from its slumber. After all, Israeli taxpayers will have to foot the bill. There are no grounds for such hopes. For years, the state has been taking hundreds of millions of shekels out of their pockets, handing them over to the Israeli farmers and manufacturers operating in the occupied territories. The money is said to be compensation for settlers’ losses due to the EU’s refusal to play along with the trampling of the Green Line and of the two-state solution by granting them the same reduced tariffs enjoyed by Israeli companies operating within Israel’s sovereign borders. The Europeans learned the hard way that if they walk away from the administration and move on to sanctions such as the ones that resulted in the collapse of the apartheid regime in South Africa, Netanyahu will not hesitate to invoke the Holocaust and silence them with guilt. The fear of this discourse stops them from taking real actions. If Europe does not learn to cope with its guilty feelings over its history with the Jewish people, it can do nothing for the Palestinian people and lovers of peace.
Opinion: Dear Europe, take note: If you want to, Israel can be pressured / Amira Hass
Haaretz 23 Oct — A recent case involving Dutch solar panels shows how friendly states can make Israel back down when it violates international humanitarian law — The High Court justices once more found an escape hatch; once again, they would not have to discuss the basic, outrageous fact that Israel is not connecting thousands of Palestinians (on both sides of the Green Line) to the national electricity and water infrastructure. This time the way out was found in the village of Jubbet ad-Dhib at the foot of Herodion, southeast of Bethlehem. It needed a hybrid (solar plus diesel) electrical system that was installed by the Comet-ME Israeli-Palestinian aid organization, because Israel had not met its international obligation to connect it to the electrical grid. All those who accuse the High Court of being leftist can relax. It has missed hundreds of opportunities to rule that withholding water and electricity is illegal according to international law, illegal according to Israeli law, and unacceptable according to Jewish law … The Dutch government, which had funded the hybrid electrical system, was furious over the confiscation of the solar panels, and Netanyahu promised the Dutch in writing that the panels Israel had confiscated from the village in late June would be returned … The restoration of the solar panels was preceded by protest and condemnation from the Dutch Foreign Ministry; protest by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in a face-to-face meeting with the Israeli prime minister just days after the confiscation; two hearings in the Dutch parliament about the confiscation; agenda questions submitted by three factions of the Dutch parliament; and clear and detailed responses received from the Dutch foreign minister and minister of international cooperation and development. As part of those parliamentary activities, the information about Netanyahu’s meeting with his Dutch counterpart was revealed, and later, his written promise to return the solar panels … Holland and all of Europe, take note: When you want to, Israel can be pressured. You know that Israel’s violation of international law in Jubbet ad-Dhib is not some exceptional occurrence. So please continue, for the sake of the Palestinians and for the sake of the Jews who live in this country.