Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian children beaten, tortured under Israeli interrogation
IMEMC/Agencies 14 Oct — Several Palestinian child prisoners in Ofer prison revealed their experiences with torture and mistreatment to Palestinian lawyer Wael Awakah, including beatings and threats by Israeli occupation soldiers and interrogators from the moment of their arrest. Awakah reported that Waleed Riyad al-Dali, 14 years old, a tenth-grade student and a resident of the village of Biddu in the Ramallah district, was seized on 28 September 2017 at 5:00 pm from the center of his village by undercover Israeli occupation soldiers disguised as Palestinians. He was assaulted and beaten by the soldiers, punched in the head and left bloody by their attack. Waleed was then taken to a settlement while shackled and blindfolded in a military jeep. He reported being beaten by the soldiers rifle butts and kicked by them during the travel to the settlement. At the settlement military base, Waleed was interrogated; the interrogator threatened to break his hands, refused him food and directed curses and obscene insults at him. Yazid Akram Humaidan, 15, also a resident of Biddu, was also seized on 28 September from the center of town by undercover Israeli occupation soldiers, who threw him to the ground, punched and slapped him. Yazid said that one of the undercover occupation soldiers stomped on his neck so hard that he feared for his life as he was beaten on the head and face with sharp blows. Yazid also said that he was screamed at and cursed by interrogators at a nearby settlement and that he was physically weak and tired during interrogation as he had had surgery only two months before….
Children assaulted by Israeli settler in Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Oct — An Israeli settler, on Sunday morning, physically assaulted two children while they were on their way to school in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, according to local sources. Noura Nasser, principal of Qurtuba school in Hebron, told WAFA that an Israeli settler, who was hiding behind a vehicle parking outside the school, assaulted Ameer Ibrahim Ramadan, eight years old, while he was on his way to school. The settler also assaulted Ramadan’s sister, Yara, when she attempted to defend him.
Earlier today, Israeli settlers backed by a military escort attacked Palestinian residents of the village of at-Tuwani, east of the town of Yatta, to the south of Hebron.
Soldiers injure one Palestinian in Bethlehem
IMEMC 15 Oct — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Sunday at dawn, the Deheishe refugee camp, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and clashed with many youngsters, before injuring one Palestinian, and abducted another from his home. Media sources said the soldiers fired many live rounds, gas bombs and concussion grenades, after invading the refugee camp, while many local youngsters hurled stones and empty bottles at them. They added that a young man was shot with a live round in his leg, before local medics rushed him to a hospital in Bethlehem. Furthermore, the soldiers invaded and violently searched several homes, and abducted Odai Mustafa al-Khmour, 20.
Extremists attempt to burn Hebron mosque
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Oct — Israeli settlers tried, on Sunday at dawn, to set fire to Eltona Mosque in Moshafer Yatta, south of Hebron governorate, occupied West Bank. Local sources reported, according to Al Ray, that residents of nearby Ma’on settlement stormed, at dawn, the village mosque and tried to burn it before Palestinian residents discovered them. They added that Israeli forces interfered and protected the setters by throwing gas and sound bombs towards the residents.
Schools close in East Jerusalem neighborhood to protest presence of Israeli Border Police
Haaretz 17 Oct by Nir Hasson — The parents’ committee in ‘Issawiyah is suspending studies in the East Jerusalem neighborhood until further notice to protest the presence of Israel’s Border Police there during school hours. On Sunday, four students were injured in clashes with the Border Police in the neighborhood. Parents say that in recent days members of the Border Police have been entering the village every day at noon as children leave school, and that the policemen deliberately deploy near schools to provoke disturbances. Several children were injured Monday by rubber-coated and sponge-tipped bullets, as well as by stun grenades, after students threw stones at the police. One child was taken for treatment at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem after being hit in the torso by a sponge-tipped bullet. His condition is not serious. Others were hurt by a stun grenade that landed near them. “The smaller children are afraid of the policemen, who are here to provoke,” said Darwish Darwish, a member of the ‘Issawiyah council. “We’ll suspend all studies tomorrow, and 4,300 children will not go to school.” Recent days have seen increased violence in East Jerusalem, including clashes between young Palestinians in ‘Issawiyah and the A-Tur neighborhood….
Updated – PPS: ‘Israeli soldiers abduct fourteen Palestinians in the West Bank’
IMEMC 15 Oct — The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers abducted, on Sunday at dawn, fourteen Palestinians from their homes, in various parts of the occupied West Bank. One child was also abducted in Jerusalem.
The Hebron office of the PPS, in the southern part of the West Bank, said the soldiers stormed and ransacked homes in different parts of the governorate, and abducted five Palestinians identified as former political prisoner Mohammad Mahmoud Sleibi, 32, in addition to Abdul-Rahman Ismail Awad, Rashid Ismail Abu Hadid, Mos’ab Sweity and Samer Dajjani.
In Jenin, in northern West Bank, the soldiers abducted four Palestinians, identified as Abdul-Qader Ahmad Abu ar-Rob, 16, Hamza Mohammad Abu ar-Rob, 20, Bassel Mohammad Abu Zeid, 22, and As’ad Abu ar-Rob, 21, all from Qabatia town, south of Jenin. In addition, the soldiers abducted two Palestinians, identified as Amer Atef Abu Alia, 18, and Ehab Salama Abu Alia, 22, from the al-Mughayer town, and Mohammad Rashid Barghouthi, from ‘Aboud.
In Bethlehem, the soldiers abducted Odia al-Khmour, and injured another Palestinian during ensuing clashes.
Another Palestinian, identified as Ibrahim Awad Dweikat, 28, was abducted in Qalqilia, in northern West Bank.
On Sunday morning, the soldiers abducted a Palestinian child, near the Rashidiyya School, close to the Sahera Gate (Herod’s Gate), in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem.
Israeli soldiers abduct nine Palestiniana in the West Bank
IMEMC 17 Oct — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Tuesday at dawn, nine Palestinians from their homes, in different parts of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported. The Hebron office of the PPS, in the southern part of the West Bank, said the soldiers invaded Doura and Beit Ummar towns, searched many homes and abducted three Palestinians, identified as Hamza Ali Awad, 21, and Amin Emad Sleibi, 15, from Beit Ummar, in addition to Yousef ‘Ayed al-Faqeeh, 21, from Doura. It added that the soldiers detonated the main doors of the homes of the abducted Palestinians, before searching and ransacking them. The soldiers also invaded and searched a gas station in ‘Aseeda area, in the center of Beit Ummar … In Bethlehem, the soldiers invaded and searched homes, and abducted Saleh Amin al-Hreimi, 18, from Khalayel al-Louz area, in addition to Morad Mousa al-Khmour, 19, and Nabil Akram Fararja, 27, from Deheishe refugee camp, south of the city. The soldiers also invaded the home of Adel Daoud Sha‘er, to abduct his son, but could not locate him, and searched the property along with several nearby homes.
In related news, the soldiers invaded al-Yamoun town, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and abducted ‘Ala Ahmad Houshiyya, 30, in addition to a former political prisoner, identified as ‘Assem Jamal Abu al-Haija, from Jenin refugee camp. Clashes took place around Jenin governmental hospital, after the soldiers invaded homes in the area, and interrogated many Palestinians.
In addition, the soldiers invaded al-Hisba Street, east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, searched homes and abducted Samer Ibrahim as-Sidda, 22.
Israel turns bus into torture chamber
EI 10 Oct by Shahrazad Odeh — Jerusalem’s al-Asqa mosque – one of Islam’s holiest sites – received much attention during the summer when Israel blocked Palestinian worshipers from entering it. Some incidents of Israeli brutality around that period nonetheless went unreported by international media. Through my work as a lawyer with the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, I gathered testimony from victims of one such incident. On 27 July, Israeli police raided the al-Aqsa compound at around 10pm. That was shortly after Israeli authorities had removed the metal detectors and cameras they had placed at the entrance to the compound. The raid, not the first at al-Aqsa that day, was perceived as police exacting revenge on Palestinians who had successfully resisted the restrictions on access to the mosque with two weeks of civil disobedience … The police stripped the medical staff of their uniforms, clumped them together with the worshipers and forced them into a corner with their hands raised in the air. The police then forced all the detainees to the ground. Many were beaten by police wearing padded gloves and wielding batons … The detainees were split into two groups and forced to walk barefoot out of the mosque to the Moroccan Gate – an entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City. Some were forced to walk with their heads facing down; others were forced to bow at a 90 degree angle while walking. At the gate, some were forced onto their knees again while others were given a full body search. All this took place as Israeli onlookers mocked, filmed and photographed the detainees … The second group, about 100 detainees, was forced onto a low floor bus run by the Israeli public transport firm Egged. Once they were loaded onto the bus, the detainees were forced to sit with their hands behind their backs. One young man said that there was an initial sense of relief “that I was finally seated on a chair, because my feet were killing me from the beating, being stepped on by police officers, and walking barefoot during the arrest. I wasn’t able to move, my feet were swollen.” The young man quickly added that he was “wrong to feel at ease.” He was promptly told to bow his head between his knees. “My back was cracking” While in that position, police officers threw another detainee on his back and those of the three detainees placed beside him. Another three detainees were then piled on top of them, forming a kind of human pyramid. “They threw a heavy person on the four of us,” the man said. “I felt my back was cracking.” Other detainees were made to open their legs so that two detainees could be placed on each leg. In some cases, a further detainee was placed lying the floor between fellow detainees’ legs and facing their genitals….
Closures / Restriction of movement
Opinion: The closure of the West Bank and Gaza has lasted 26 years / Amira Hass
Haaretz 16 Oct — When Israel announces a lockdown of the occupied territories, it creates a false impression that the Palestinians normally have freedom of movement – that hasn’t existed since January 1991 — I was reminded of the great distance between 21 Schocken Street (the Haaretz offices) and Qalandiyah, Nablus or Jayyous with some of the articles published in Haaretz before the Sukkot holiday. They reminded me (again, again) how badly I have failed in my attempts to describe, explain and illustrate Israel’s policy of restrictions of movement. Because I have written reams on the closure policy in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank since it was first imposed in January 1991, I recognize my personal responsibility on the matter. Several of my colleagues at Haaretz (including in one editorial) rightly criticized the order of the Israeli political and military leadership to prohibit the exit of Palestinians from the West Bank during the entire Sukkot holiday. The writers noted the cruelty of harming the livelihood of tens of thousands of workers with collective punishment, with a blockade.
But these articles created the false impression that the checkpoints are open to everyone normally and, consequently, somehow justify the word used by the military establishment – “crossings,” as though these are border crossings between two sovereign and equal states. From the criticism in the articles, it appeared that, just as the average Israeli can board a bus or get into a car and travel eastward, freely, on any day of the week and at any hour, a rank-and-file Palestinian can likewise hit the same deluxe highways and head westward. To the sea. Or to Jerusalem. To their family in the Galilee; as they choose, on almost any day and at any hour, except on Shabbat and holidays.
So let’s say it once more: The closure has not been lifted since it was imposed on the population in the Gaza Strip and West Bank (not including East Jerusalem) on January 15, 1991. How should we define it today, more than 26 years on? The closure is the reinstatement of the Green Line – but only in one direction, and for one people … For almost two decades, and for its own political calculations, Israel respected the Palestinians’ right to freedom of movement – with a few exceptions – and they entered Israel and traveled between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank without requiring a time-limited permit. Since 1991, though, Israel has denied the right to freedom of movement to all Palestinians in these areas, with a few exceptions, … (Israelis view the closure as a means of preventing suicide bombings, conveniently ignoring its starting date long before the attacks began.)….
Prisoners / Court actions
Israel releases Palestinian lawmaker after 7 months in prison
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 13 Oct — Israeli authorities released on Friday Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Muhammad Ismail al-Tal, 51, after nearly seven months in Israeli prison. The Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies said in a statement that Israeli released al-Tal, who was detained from the Hebron-area town of al-Dhahiriya in the southern occupied West Bank on, March 21.
Al-Tal was initially sentenced to four months of administrative detention — Israel’s widely condemned policy of internment without charge or trial. However, after four months, Israel refused to release the lawmaker and continued to hold him on grounds of new intelligence information. Israel then indicted him on several charges, according to the center. Israel’s Ofer military court then sentenced al-Tal to seven months in prison with a fine of 4,000 shekels ($1,143).
Detained Jerusalem teen released after being tortured
IMEMC 16 Oct — The Israeli police released, on Sunday evening, a Palestinian teenager from the al-‘Issawiya town, in occupied East Jerusalem, after he was interrogated and tortured, under suspicion of throwing Molotov cocktails and stones at army jeeps. The Palestinian, Mohammad Abdul-Raouf Mahmoud, 18, told the Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) that the officers and interrogators tortured him in al-Maskobiyya prison. He added that the soldiers also placed him in a waiting cell, after a court hearing this past Friday, before one of them entered it, and started kicking and punching him on several parts of his body, including his face and head, until he lost consciousness. The soldiers then poured water on him, but he remained unconscious, and was later transferred to Hadassah Ein Karem hospital, in Jerusalem. The child was abducted by the soldiers, on Thursday evening, while he was walking in a neighborhood in his town, and was sent to court, Friday, facing allegations of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at army jeeps, but a court ordered his immediate release, Sunday.
Opinion: In a Gaza hospital, Palestinian reconciliation is a matter of life and death / Mohammed M.
GAZA CITY (Haaretz) 17 Oct — While Gaza’s electricity supply is still hostage to unresolved Hamas-Fatah tensions, the Al-Shifa hospital uses generators to keep its neo-natal intensive care unit operational. ‘We’ve lost infants who could have been saved’, its director says — I entered the big gates of the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip to visit a sick relative. The hospital yard resembled an expansive factory: it was full of massive generators, roaring at high decibels to supply patients power for their medical equipment, including ventilators for babies who depend on the oxygen supply to survive. Al-Shifa’s open spaces have become generator-land because there hasn’t been a reliable electricity supply here, or anywhere in Gaza, since June. That’s when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas requested that Israel reduce electricity purchases and supply to the Gaza Strip in order to pressure Hamas, a request to which Israel acquiesced. I couldn’t find my relative’s room. But on my search, I saw a mother, followed by female family members, leaving the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) weeping after their infant had passed away. The child had seemed healthy when he was born, but then he deteriorated. As a result, he was moved to the NICU unit at Al-Shifa hospital, where the doctors did their best to keep him alive, but weren’t able to save him – a child for whom his parents had waited four long years. He died because the treatments that could have saved him are only available outside of Gaza – and there was no way out … From inside that unit, I heard the beeps of incubators. It was surprising to see there were three or four babies lying together in the same incubator. At the door, I met Dr. Allam Abu Hamida, director of the intensive care unit, who said that in addition to the incubators, power is the lifeline for those babies, and that if it is cut, most of these babies will die within seconds….
5 Palestinians injured during clashes with Israeli forces along Gaza border
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Oct — Five Palestinian youths were injured during clashes with Israeli forces near the border in the central and northern Gaza Strip on Friday, according to Palestinian sources. Spokesperson of the Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra said in a statement that two youths were injured in the legs with live ammunition during clashes in central Gaza, and were reported to be in moderate condition. Al-Qidra added that three other youths were lightly injured after they were hit with tear gas canisters in the northern Gaza Strip….
Israeli navy abducts four fishermen in Gaza
IMEMC 15 Oct — Israeli navy ships attacked, on Sunday morning, several Palestinian fishing boats, in the Sudaniyya Sea area, northwest of Gaza City, fired many live rounds at them, and abducted four fishermen. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency has reported that the navy fired dozens of live rounds at the boats, while were fishing less than four nautical miles from the shore, and boarded two. It added that the navy abducted four fishermen who were on the boarded boats, and took them to Ashdod port.
Israeli forces detain 2 Palestinians for crossing Gaza border fence into Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Oct — Israeli forces detained two Palestinians who crossed the border fence from the southern Gaza Strip into Israel on Saturday morning. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that two Palestinian youths from the Gaza Strip were detained after “infiltrating” into Israel. The two, who remained unidentified, were transferred to the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence agency, for interrogation.
Israeli bulldozers level land in northern Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Oct — Several Israeli bulldozers entered the Beit Lahiya town of the northern Gaza Strip and razed lands on Monday, according to locals. Witnesses told Ma‘an that four Israeli military bulldozers entered dozens of meters into Beit Lahiya, where they leveled and razed lands near the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Witnesses added that Israeli drones were also flying above the area at the time. An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports. Israeli military incursions inside the besieged Gaza Strip and near the “buffer zone,” which lies on both land and sea sides of Gaza, have long been a near-daily occurrence.
Gaza fishermen union denies reports saying Israel to expand fishing zone
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Oct — Israeli authorities reportedly announced on Monday that they would be expanding the designated fishing zone off the [southern] coast of the Gaza Strip from 6 to 9 nautical miles starting Wednesday October 18th, 2017, according to Israeli media. Reports said that Israel demanded all Gaza fishermen “not violate” the boundaries of the designated zone, threatening them with immediate punishment. Meanwhile, head of the Gaza Fishermen’s Union Nizar Ayyash denied to Ma‘an any knowledge of the new Israeli decision, saying that the union did not receive any calls in this regard from any official sides.
Egypt backtracks on opening Gaza border
MEMO 16 Oct — Egyptian authorities announced yesterday that they had decided to postpone the opening of the Rafah border with the Gaza Strip after six soldiers were killed in the Sinai province, according to the Palestinian Information Centre. Despite planning to open the crossing for four days from today, Hesham Udwan, head of the Commission of Crossings and Borders, notified Gazan authorities of the change after clashes between militants and the Egyptian army in the region. Egypt had announced that the crossing was to be opened to allow urgent medical aid through to the besieged coastal enclave, particularly in light of the reconciliation of rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas.
Israel reopens sole commercial crossing with Gaza
MEMO 16 Oct — Israeli occupation authorities yesterday reopened the Kerem Shalom Crossing with the Gaza Strip after four days of closure to mark the Jewish holiday, Shehab.ps reported. The director of the Palestinian side of the Gaza crossing, Naji Siyam, said 612 truckloads of commodities are planned to enter the besieged enclave through the crossing. He said that 40 truckloads of petrol, gasoline and cooking gas were planned to go through the crossing towards the Gaza Strip. Siyam noted that Israel had not allowed industrial fuel for the only electricity plant in Gaza for 185 consecutive days. Some 312 truckloads of construction material were to be allowed into the Gaza Strip, most for the use of international construction agencies. The Palestinian official said that eight truckloads of vegetables would be exported from Gaza.
Al Mezan: Military police in Gaza must stop policing civilian affairs
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Oct — Overstepping their jurisdiction, the military police in Gaza continue to interfere in civilian cases. In the latest instances, the military police are holding one civilian in detention and maintaining a summons to appear in another. In doing so, the military police are disregarding the ruling of the Administrative Court and the orders of the Attorney General that the cases be dropped. On 8 September 2017, the military police in Gaza detained Nabil Asaad Basal, 52, after he was involved in a personal dispute. While the Administrative Court in Gaza ruled, on 28 September 2017, that Basal should be immediately released, he remains in detention at the time of publication. Basal’s son confirmed that the military police have refused to release his father despite the court ruling. Al Mezan also received a complaint from Ibrahim Ghanim Jaarour, 27, who was detained for three days by the military police and then summoned and pressured to resolve a dispute pertaining to an inheritance issue. On 3 October 2017, the Attorney General cancelled the arrest warrants against Jaarour and referred his case to the public prosecution. Yet the military police maintain a summons for Jaarour at the time of publication.
Amid reconciliation efforts, Palestine sets its sights on Gaza gas field
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 15 Oct by Ismail Abdel Hadi — Natural gas off the coast of the Gaza Strip under the Palestinian territorial waters in the eastern Mediterranean sea remains a prime focus of the Palestinian Authority (PA). While the PA has tried to exploit natural gas in a step to strengthen the Palestinian economy through natural resources, the 10-year Fatah-Hamas division has undoubtedly obstructed these attempts. However, thanks to the Palestinian reconciliation efforts, the PA seems to be taking actions to extract natural gas from one of the gas fields off the coast of the Gaza Strip, known as the Gaza Marine gas field. The Gaza Marine offshore gas field is located under Palestinian territorial waters about 30-36 kilometers (19-22 miles) off the shores of the Gaza Strip in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, at a water depth of 603 meters (1,978 feet). The PA is seeking to supply the two power stations in Jenin and Gaza, which operate on natural gas. However, continued Israeli obstacles have led many international gas exploration companies to renounce previous agreements entered into with the PA. In May, the Anglo-Dutch Shell company notified the PA of its desire to withdraw from an $800 million agreement it had signed with the Palestine Investment Fund. This development comes less than a year after Shell acquired British Gas (BG) on April 8, 2016, and its 55% stake in Gaza Marine….
Showdown looms between Hamas and Gaza Salafis
EI 13 Oct by Hamza Abu Eltarabesh — The posters outside the home of Nidal al-Jaafari in Rafah, southern Gaza, tell their own story. Most bear messages of congratulations for the 29-year-old’s nuptials. But they are now a little faded. The marriage was nearly a year ago. Instead a fresh one, a little apart, stands out, bearing Nidal’s picture in full uniform. Smiling and posing with his gun, it carries the announcement of his death. Nidal, a member of the Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, was killed on 17 August in a suicide bombing near Gaza’s boundary with Egypt. The bombing was attributed to the Islamic State group. It was the latest instance of a deadly rivalry between the Islamist party overseeing Gaza’s internal affairs and Salafi militants in the coastal enclave and beyond that has erupted into several episodes of violence over the past decade … The Hamas response was swift. The day after the incident, Hamas security forces, aided by the Qassam Brigades, launched a crackdown on Salafi groups in Gaza, focusing on the southern cities of Rafah and Khan Younis. Offices for two Salafi groups operating in Gaza – the Islamic State of Gaza, which is seen as loyal to the Islamic State, and the Army of Islam, seen as close to al-Qaida – were shut and several people were arrested. Ahmad Abu Naji, an officer with Gaza’s internal security service, confirmed that the crackdown also included raids on houses and training camps affiliated with Salafi militants. He said dozens were arrested, especially in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood in Rafah, where the suicide bomber, Mustafa Kullab, lived … The crackdown has continued into October. Earlier this month, as Hamas was preparing to send a delegation to the reconciliation talks in Cairo, Hamas arrested Nour Issa and three others in Rafah. Issa is reportedly a senior commander in a Salafi militia affiliated with Islamic State….
Gazans abroad eager to visit, but unready to move home
Al-Monitor 16 Oct by Daoud Kuttab — The tens of thousands of Palestinians from Gaza who have been living abroad for decades are looking forward to returning — but are not sure if they are ready to go back for good. Wafa‘a Abdel Rahman, a leading Gaza activist living in the West Bank, told Al-Monitor that she is cautiously optimistic about the Palestinian reconciliation and is excited to visit. “We can now say that we have reached at least an agreement to manage the division, but it will take a couple of years for people to be sure that we are on the right track in Gaza.” After years of broken promises, it appears that the Islamic Hamas movement has accepted the conditions of the Ramallah government to reunite both West Bank and Gaza into one entity, one law and one government. Abdel Rahman, who manages Filastiniyat, a women-led nongovernmental organization in Ramallah, says that the approximately 50,000 Palestinians from Gaza living in the West Bank will be among the first to visit the Strip, but that Israel will have to ease the permit protocols. She noted, “Going to Gaza from the West Bank is not a Palestinian issue. Unfortunately, we are still under occupation and the occupiers are the ones who regulate our lives and our ability to travel, including between the West Bank and Gaza.”….
Video: Women’s baseball in Gaza
EI 16 Oct — There are no baseball diamonds in Gaza. And the players train with tennis balls. Some oppose women even playing the sport. But the Women’s Baseball Team in Gaza, the first of its kind in Palestine, aims to bring more people to the game. “It’s an American sport we used to see in films and TV shows,” says one player, Mariam Siyam. A friend got her interested in the sport, the rules of which she admits she didn’t fully understand at first. “It is a very enjoyable game,” Siyam adds. “Nothing should prevent us from playing.” Video by Ruwaida Amer for The Electronic Intifada.
Funds not yet in for Gaza plant that would stop sewage from marring Israel, too
Haaretz 16 Oct by Zafrir Rinat — The World Bank says it’s working with the Palestinian Authority to solve the problem, while the Israelis have built a dam in a stream in the south — The construction work for northern Gaza’s new sewage treatment plant is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year, but funding has not yet been secured to allow for the facility’s operation and maintenance — putting at risk water in Israel as well. Without suitable funding, the sewage will not be treated and will continue to threaten water sources. The new facility is being built with World Bank funds collected from countries that often contribute to projects in the Gaza Strip. According to the plan, the new plant will treat a large percentage of the sewage in northern Gaza and bring it to a level of purification also suitable for irrigating crops. Another problem is a shortage of electricity to operate existing facilities….
Israeli tech companies start contracting in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 13 Oct by Khaled Abu Amer — Palestinians are increasingly joining the programming and information technology (IT) sector, one of the fastest-growing business sectors in the Palestinian economy. Statistics issued by PalTrade in 2016 showed that the annual growth rate of the information and communications technology (ICT) sector is 25% with a market share estimated at $500 million in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, a Sept. 20 report by the Times of Israel cited the French news agency AFP as saying that Israeli tech giant Mellanox — which makes technology that connects computers, databases and servers — employs 10 workers in a Gazan programming company. AFP chose not to name the company for security reasons. Those 10 people work for both companies. This is the first time Palestinian companies from Gaza have signed contracts with Israeli tech companies following Hamas’ takeover of Gaza in 2007 and its refusal to conclude contracts with Israeli companies for fear that the Israeli Mossad would recruit spies. Hamas fears that the Israeli intelligence service would exploit the Palestinians’ need for work and lure them into collaboration through fraud, extortion and intimidation. A number of programming companies in the West Bank, most notably ASAL Technologies, which is based in Rawabi, have been working with the Israeli side in the field of IT since 2012. According to Reuters, about 70 engineers from the West Bank are working with Israeli companies….
Young Gazans write away their ‘collective depression’
GAZA CITY, Palestine (Anadolu Agency) 14 Oct by Kaamil Ahmed — A washed-out filter lightly veiled the photo of Mohannad Younis, sitting by Gaza’s seaport, smoking a cigarette. The photo was shared by Mohannad’s friends on Aug. 30 — the day after he took his own life. An aspiring writer and a pharmacy graduate, Mohannad had struggled with the same problems most other young Gazans do — but he was also burdened by rejection from his own father, who disowned him when he was one year old, divorcing Mohannad’s mother and remarrying. “Who will prevent the deaths of more Mohanneds?” wrote the group “We Are Not Numbers” on its Facebook page that day. In Gaza, where the issue of suicide and mental health can be hard to discuss, We Are Not Numbers was set up in part to relieve the daily stresses caused by Israel’s 10-year blockade of the coastal enclave … The group pairs writers — a mixture of journalists, fiction writers, poets and filmmakers — with mentors abroad. “Releasing is about talking. If you’re having a problem and you want to release it, even if you can’t solve it, you talk about,” says Tarneem Hammad, 22, an English literature student.“[But] if you’re in Gaza, we’re all having the same problem, so…it doesn’t help much,” she added….
How art is blooming amid the Gaza wasteland
The Guardian 14 Oct by Donald Macintyre — From film festivals to Shakespeare, the Palestinian enclave is producing top class culture. In this extract from his new book, Donald Macintyre meets some of the strip’s artists — … In his introduction to the Book of Gaza, a collection of short stories, novelist Atef Abu Saif writes that Gaza has been a “centre of civilisation” since Canaanite times. He points out that Imam al-Shafi’i, the great eighth-century Islamic jurist, was also a poet, and that in the latter part of the 20th century Gaza writers turned increasingly to novellas and short stories to get around Israeli printing and publishing restrictions. Short stories are now a staple of the Strip’s literature. The artist Maha al-Daya and her husband Ayman Eissa, also a painter, lived, when I first met them in 2009, in a prematurely ageing apartment block overlooking a desolate stretch of wasteland on the edge of Jabalya. The climb up the grimy stairs to their fourth-floor apartment wound around a lift shaft with no lift. It was a shock to find elegant decor and furnishings inside. The walls were covered with their paintings: a haunting portrait of a naked child by Ayman; Maha’s own vibrant land and seascapes that chronicle an ever-changing city and its coast….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel approves Hebron settler plans for first time since 2002: NGO
JERUSALEM (AFP) 16 Oct by Laurent Lozano — Israel on Monday approved permits for 31 settler homes in Hebron, the first such green light for the flashpoint West Bank city since 2002 and part of a major increase in settlement activity, an NGO said. An Israeli committee approved construction permits for the 31 units, Anat Ben Nun of the Peace Now NGO told AFP, in a move harshly condemned by Palestinians. Several hundred Israeli settlers live in the heart of Hebron under heavy military guard among some 200,000 Palestinians. The approvals are part of nearly 4,000 settler home plans to be advanced in the occupied West Bank under a push to greatly boost settlement growth, an Israeli official has said. Peace Now, which closely monitors settlement construction, said a planning council meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday is expected to have more than 2,000 units on the agenda. The Hebron units are to be built on Shuhada Street, formerly an important market street leading to a holy site where the biblical Abraham is believed to have been buried. The street is now largely closed off to Palestinians. Peace Now said in a statement that the Hebron settlement represented “the occupation in its most ugly” form. “In order to protect a small group of settlers, tens of thousands of Palestinians had been forced to move from their homes, and roads and shops had been closed,” it said….
PM pledges West Bank bypass roads for settlers
Times of Israel 15 Oct by Jacob Magid — Netanyahu says funds will be found even if he has to take them from all ministries, but some settler leaders accuse him of empty promises — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Sunday to pave additional bypass roads for settlers in the West Bank, even if it meant skimming funds from the budgets of all the ministries. Speaking at a meeting with ministers from his Likud party, Netanyahu promised to promote a plan for the roads’ construction as soon as possible, an official close to the prime minister told The Times of Israel … The comments were believed to be made in response to criticism from Likud ministers and settler leadership over what they perceive as insufficient settlement construction in the West Bank. Not all present at Sunday’s meeting were satisfied with the pledge. “There are 10 billion shekels that the state is not using. The bypass roads are a matter of saving lives. There is a way to solve this and we must do so,” said Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel….
Israeli soldiers abduct three farmers, confiscate agricultural machines, near Tubas
IMEMC 15 Oct — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Saturday afternoon, three Palestinian farmers, and confiscated agricultural machines from them and others, ar-Ras al-Ahmar area, in Tubas, in northeastern West Bank. The soldiers stopped the farmers while heading to their lands, and abducted three of them. The soldiers also illegally confiscated several agricultural machines from the farmers, and prevented them from entering their lands. The attacks took place after dozens of soldiers invaded ar-Ras al-Ahmar area, and closed various roads leading to the Palestinian lands.
Israeli army jeep rams a Palestinian near Qalqilia
IMEMC 14 Oct by Saed Bannoura — Palestinian medical sources have reported, Friday evening, that a Palestinian man was injured after an Israeli military jeep rammed his tractor as he was crossing an agricultural road, causing moderate wounds. Eyewitnesses said the speeding army jeep struck the tractor, throwing the man, identified as Saber Hannoun, out of his agricultural tractor. Medical sources said the Palestinian suffered moderate wounds, before local medics rushed him to Darwish Nazzal hospital, in Qalqilia.
BDS / Solidarity
Prominent chefs urge colleagues to withdraw from Tel Aviv ‘culinary propaganda’ festival
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Oct — In an open letter, prominent chefs from Palestine and nine other countries called on their colleagues to withdraw from the upcoming Round Tables culinary festival in Tel Aviv. This festival is sponsored by the Israeli government and is in partnership with Dan Hotels, which has a hotel built in an illegal settlement on stolen Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem. Between October 29 and November 17, fourteen world-renowned head-chefs will spend a week cooking in Tel Aviv as part of the Israeli government’s public relations effort to use this international event to distract attention from its military occupation and apartheid policies. The letter states: Round Tables — dubbed “gastro-diplomacy” — is part of the Israeli government’s “Brand Israel” propaganda campaign, launched in 2005 to distract the world’s attention from Israel’s oppression and denial of Palestinian human rights through the use of culture and arts. The chefs added that their work is about “creating inspiring, beautiful culinary experiences for people,” pointing out that the “Round Tables festival is no place for chefs who care about indigenous peoples’ having access to their farm lands and traditional food ways.”….
HeidelbergCement’s transparent excuses for complicity in Israel’s crimes
EI 11 Oct by Adri Nieuwhof — HeidelbergCement has responded to my recent article on The Electronic Intifada about its illegal plunder of Palestinian resources at the Nahal Raba quarry in the occupied West Bank. The German company’s response came at the invitation of the London-based Business and Human Rights Resource Centre. But unfortunately, HeidelbergCement offers only transparent excuses and fails to address its role in the denial of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination … Israel’s use of natural resources stolen from occupied territories for the benefit of its own economy erases the line between occupation and colonization. Administering the occupation then becomes administering the colonization of Palestine. By carrying the responsibility for Nahal Raba quarry, HeidelbergCement has become an enabler and beneficiary of Israel’s colonial project … Despite the company’s excuses, the message is getting through: this month one of Denmark’s largest pension funds excluded four companies for their complicity in Israel’s occupation. One of them is HeidelbergCement.
Medical students at Chile’s largest university overwhelmingly vote for BDS
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Oct — More than three-fourths of students at the University of Chile’s Faculty of Medicine voted to break institutional ties with Israeli universities in a student referendum held last month. They also voted against Israeli government sponsorship or attendance of events at their university. This is the third such vote to take place at the University of Chile, the country’s largest university. Over the last two years, more than 90% of students at the Faculty of Social Sciences and more than 60% of students at the Faculty of Law also voted in support of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) measures….
Olive picking in Palestine: Another form of solidarity (Video)
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Oct — A group of 70 elderly internationals, today, participated in an olive harvest in Wadi Fukin village, southwest of Bethlehem, central West Bank, located in area C and falling under Israeli control, according to the Oslo Accords. The group, according to the PNN, aims to help Palestinian farmers in these lands and provide a sense of international protection in the area, especially as it is surrounded by illegal settlements and is threatened with settlement expansion and extremism. Coordinator of the YMCA Olive Picking Program, Mohannad Al-Qaisi, said that this program is held every year in cooperation with the Bethlehem-based Alternative Tourism Group. “The participants come to Palestine to see our lifestyle and how we live here, under occupation. They offer to provide help to farmers in area C,” Mohannad said. “We target lands that are close to settlements and the apartheid wall, especially since there are a lot of settlers and soldiers who assault the Palestinian farmers during the olive picking season,” Mohannad added. The participants stressed that they want to show solidarity for the Palestinian people by being here and delivering a message of support in the face of settlements and occupation….
Netanyahu: Israel won’t cut ties with Palestinian Authority over unity with Hamas
Haaretz 17 Oct by Barak Ravid — Netanyahu tells security cabinet that Israel will not try to thwart the reconciliation pact, but will not recognize it either / Told Egypt, U.S. that deal doesn’t change Israel’s stance regarding peace talks — At a meeting of the security cabinet on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would not recognize or accept the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas, but will neither try to prevent its implementation nor break off relations with the Palestinian Authority. This was related by three sources with inside knowledge, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter. These sources said that Netanyahu told the members of the inner cabinet that if the agreement is implemented and individuals from the PA return to head civilian government offices in the Gaza Strip and to staff crossing points on the Gaza border, Israel should cooperate with them because it serves the state’s interest in preventing a humanitarian crisis and improving the living conditions in the Strip. Nevertheless, Netanyahu said he had clarified to Egypt and the U.S. that the agreement did not change anything for Israel in regard to negotiations with the Palestinians. He added that his message to Cairo and Washington was that he rejected the argument according to which the reconciliation, in putting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in charge of the Gaza Strip as well as the West Bank, will facilitate the resumption of talks between Israel and the Palestinians. A senior U.S. official said in response that the Trump administration is following the implementation of the reconciliation agreement and was in contact with Egypt, Israel and the Palestinians.…
Hamas agreed not to carry out terror attacks against Israel, Palestinian sources say
Haaretz 15 Oct by Jack Khoury — Hamas has agreed not carry out terror attacks or fire rockets against Israel as part of the Palestinian reconciliation deal, the London-based Asharq Alawsat reported on Sunday, citing Palestinian sources. Hamas and Fatah have agreed not take any unilateral actions that could disrupt the new reconciliation deal signed in Cairo last week. This includes any diplomatic steps on the part of the Palestinian Authority concerning Israel, or acts of terror against Israeli targets by Hamas. The agreement reportedly requires Hamas to avoid any action, whether from Gaza or the West Bank, that could trigger a confrontation with Israel. Both Fatah and Hamas are now acting very cautiously in an attempt not to undermine the reconciliation, a Palestinian source told Haaretz. Hamas seeks to operate in the West Bank on a political level without disruption from the PA’s security forces, the source said, asserting that any actions against Israel would not serve this interest. The agreement guarantees political freedom of action and freedom of expression both in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip with the goal of putting an end to political arrests carried out by both Hamas and the PA, each side against the other….
Palestinian Authority official in Gaza to advance unity deal
GAZA CITY (AFP) 16 Oct — The Palestinian Authority’s top official for border crossings visited the Gaza Strip on Monday, after Hamas agreed to hand over control of the borders under a landmark reconciliation deal. The two sides signed a reconciliation agreement in Egypt last week aimed at handing control of the Gaza Strip back to the PA a decade after Fatah and Hamas fought a near civil war. Nazmi Muhanna told journalists that he had been sent by president Mahmud Abbas to implement the “first step” in the reconciliation agreement, “the taking over of the crossings.” He said he was hopeful that in talks with Hamas they would agree on handing over the borders quickly … The border crossings are seen as a key test case as to whether the reconciliation agreement will succeed. They are meant to be handed over to the PA by the beginning of November ahead of the full transfer of power in December….
EU offers support to reunite Gaza Strip and West Bank
MEMO 14 Oct — EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said on Friday that the EU is ready to help the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to reunite under “one single and legitimate Palestinian Authority.” Mogherini made her comment after the main Palestinian factions – Fatah and Hamas – announced an agreement ending the 11-year-old political division. “The agreement signed by Fatah and Hamas in Cairo on 12 October can become an important step towards a full return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, and for making genuine progress on intra-Palestinian reconciliation,” explained the EU official, noting that the union “will closely study” details of the agreement. “We welcome the continuing engagement of Egypt, and we expect all Palestinian factions to move forward in good faith in further process, in order to enable the legitimate Palestinian Authority to resume full control in Gaza,” she added. Meanwhile, Mogherini stressed that it “is essential that the agreement delivers on the ground and that the situation of the people of Gaza is improved as a matter of urgency”….
EU border monitors have been waiting to go back to Gaza for 10 years
+972 mag 13 Oct by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — For the past 10 years, a group of European Union border monitors has been waiting inside Israel for the elusive, far-off moment when they can redeploy to the Gaza Strip, to supervise the border crossing separating Gaza and Egypt. If the reconciliation deal between Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas signed in Cairo Thursday survives and is implemented, those 10 years of waiting — and the millions of euros spent waiting — could simply vanish into thin air. The European Union Border Assistance Mission Rafah, or EUBAM as it is known, was created in 2005 — after Israel withdrew its military from the Gaza Strip — to support the implementation of a bilateral agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. EUBAM was supposed to monitor the PA-run border crossing, run up until that point by Israel, and operate a nearby liaison center where Israeli, EU and Palestinian officials monitored everything that went on at the Rafah crossing. In theory, the arrangement with the European monitors was supposed to be the first time in history that Palestinians controlled any international border leading in and out of Palestinian territory. In reality, Israel maintained ultimate control over the border crossing. Israeli control was maintained by defining who could pass through and even vetoing individual travelers, but also going so far as to force the entire border closed by refusing to let the EU monitors travel from their home base in Ashkelon into the Gaza Strip….
Two Palestinian youth activists detained by Palestinian Authority security forces
Samidoun 14 Oct — Two Palestinian youth activists have been detained on Saturday, 14 October in separate incidents by Palestinian Authority “security forces.” Montasser Karajah, 27, a former Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jails and a social justice activist, was detained by PA intelligence after he was summoned by security forces from his home in Saffa village. Meanwhile, Hamza Zbeidat, also a Palestinian youth activist, was also arrested by PA security forces as he accompanied a delegation of solidarity activists about land defense in the Jordan Valley against the settlements and Israeli agricultural and industrial exploitation taking place there on Palestinian land. “These arrests come amid a great deal of rhetoric about reconciliation and moving beyond political detention. Quite clearly, however, the Palestinian Authority is still engaged in the business of political detention, targeting young activists who work to defend the rights of the Palestinian people and who are at risk on a daily basis of arrest and imprisonment by the Israeli occupation,” said Charlotte Kates, international coordinator of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. While it is not yet clear why Karajah or Zbeidat are being detained, their arrests also come in the context of the Electronic Crimes Law, the new law created by decree by PA President Mahmoud Abbas….
Israel promised to build its first modern Arab city since 1948. Here’s what came of it
Haaretz 17 Oct by Jack Khoury — Nine years have passed since plans for Tantur where approved, at the time sparking Israeli Arab hopes. Since then, no cornerstone was laid, no road was paved and hope was lost — At the heart of one of the Arab community’s main complaints against generations of Israeli governments lies a number: zero. That’s the number of new communities that have been built for Arab citizens since the establishment of the state. At a time when the residents of Nazareth saw how Upper Nazareth was being built on the outskirts of the city, the residents of a number of communities in the Galilee watched the establishment of the city of Carmiel, and in Jerusalem dozens of new residential projects were added to the map, not a single one was designated for Arabs. In July 2008 everything changed, at least on paper. The Israeli government made a decision that was described at the time as historic: to build a new urban center for the non-Jewish population in the north. The site chosen several months later was a hill north of Highway 85 (Acre-Safed highway), south of the town of Jadida Maker and east of the city of Acre. The place is called Givat Tantur, an area in which most of the land was confiscated by the government in the 1970s …. A new city, an address for the upper-middle class, began to develop in the planning institutions. After decades when the popular option for improving quality of life was to move to Jewish or mixed Jewish-Arab cities, some people believed that the dream of living in a modern community with a direct connection to the large populations centers, yet still Arab, was possible.…
US launches $10 million water project in West Bank
AFP 15 Oct — 10,000 residents in Jericho region to be connected to treatment plant as part of plans to strengthen Palestinian economy — The US government on Sunday launched a $10 million project to improve access to wastewater treatment and water for Palestinian farmers in the Jericho area of the West Bank. A top aide to US President Donald Trump, Jason Greenblatt, was among officials launching the project in the historic city near the Dead Sea. Greenblatt has been among Trump’s aides seeking to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. US officials have spoken of improving the Palestinian economy and infrastructure as part of their efforts. The project announced Sunday aims to increase the number of homes connected to the Jericho area’s wastewater treatment plant, previously built with Japanese assistance, by about 10,000 residents….
Israel to probe foreign funding of human rights groups
JERUSALEM (AP) 15 Oct — Israel’s prime minister says he intends to establish a parliamentary committee to investigate the funding Israeli NGOs receive from foreign governments. Benjamin Netanyahu told a gathering of Christian journalists in Jerusalem that the committee will probe “organizations that operate against” Israeli soldiers. Such committees mostly serve as a way to shed light on a pressing public issue and tend not to have much bite. Israel already has a law, passed last year, which increases the regulation of many Israeli human rights organizations who receive foreign funding. But Netanyahu’s announcement Sunday highlights the hostility against those groups from Israeli hard-liners. It comes after Israel convicted an Israeli soldier this year for shooting to death a wounded Palestinian attacker. That incident was caught on video by a human rights group.
Palestinian news network suspended by YouTube over Gaza war footage
MEE 13 Oct by Mustafa Abu Sneineh — The YouTube channel of a prominent Palestinian news website was on Thursday suspended over a video it posted during the 2014 Gaza war showing members of Hamas’s al-Qassam Brigades. In an editorial posted on its website, the al-Quds network, which is based in Gaza, claimed the suspension was the result of an Israeli government campaign to pressure technology and social media companies to shut down Palestinian media outlets. The al-Quds network, which began as a Facebook page before launching its own website in March 2011, describes itself as “first Palestinian news society”. It relies on young reporters and volunteers using phones and other digital devices to cover local news across the Palestinian territories, often reporting on violations by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the illegally occupied West Bank and Gaza. Its content is widely circulated, with around six million people following the channel on Facebook. Al-Quds said its YouTube channel had gained almost 10 million views prior to being suspended on Thursday….
Opinion: America and Israel against the world / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 15 Oct — Coming soon: Maybe a joint exit from the United Nations? After all, the UN has also been critical of Israel — How did all this goodness fall upon us? What did we do to deserve it? Like a holiday present, the gifts from America landed upon us one after the other – first the American decision to quit UNESCO, and right after that, the Iran speech. Israel responded as always with an outburst of joy. Not only Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to whom the right wing chalked up the successes. Avi Gabbay, chairman of the Zionist Union, quickly did a Yair Lapid-worthy act, and published a statement of support for America’s UNESCO decision; the party’s Tzipi Livni joined in, and together they proved that these days there’s no opposition in Israel. Even they ignored the fact that it’s been a long time since such a dangerous honey trap has been set for Israel. It has been a long time since it was so embarrassing — to be under Donald Trump’s patronage and enjoy his favors in the only country in the world in which he is held in esteem. Also embarrassing is the thought that the United States is about to quit an important international agency only because of Israel – a step that Israel would not have taken for any of its allies, neither Britain, nor Germany nor Japan nor South Korea, if they had found themselves in a similar situation. And it’s no less embarrassing that under Israel’s influence, the agreement with Iran, the most important international American achievement in recent years, could collapse. What a source of pride: Netanyahu and Trump together against the whole world….