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Only in death are Palestinians allowed to re-enter besieged Yarmouk camp in Syria

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Palestinian refugees – Syria

Burying the dead in Syria’s Yarmouk camp
Al Jazeera 4 Nov by Tom Rollins — Yarmouk camp remains open to the dead and closed to the living. This is the ironic reality in the southern Damascus camp for Palestinian refugees, which has been under partial or total siege since late 2012, barring most residents from exit and re-entry. Yarmouk has all but emptied since then, with multiple attacks causing mass displacements. Hundreds of Palestinians have died in and around Yarmouk in recent years, either as a result of starvation or a lack of access to medical supplies. But through a complex bureaucratic process, those who died outside of the camp have been able to secure burial within its borders. For nearly two years, Syrian and Palestinian officials have been helping to facilitate the process of returning bodies to Yarmouk for burial. In Damascus, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) arranges for the bodies to be transferred to Yarmouk, while a Syrian security agency approves a permit allowing them to be brought across a checkpoint separating regime-held and rebel-controlled areas of Damascus. A local organisation, known as the Palestinian Civil Committee, then liaises with Syrian opposition groups in areas bordering Yarmouk to handle funeral arrangements. There have been several such burials in recent weeks, including that of a one-year-old girl….

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Palestinian ‘extrajudicially executed’ by Israelis laid to rest
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Nov — Palestinians on Friday evening laid to rest 26-year-old Muhammad Moussa in his home town of Deir Ballout, near Salfit in the central occupied West Bank, shortly after receiving his body from Israeli authorities on Friday afternoon.
Moussa was shot and killed on Tuesday morning near the illegal Halamish settlement north of Ramallah, after Israeli forces opened fire on his vehicle as he was passing a flying checkpoint set up in the area.
Witnesses at the time said that Moussa was shot in the back, and was left to bleed out on the street before medics arrives. He died on the way to an Israeli hospital. His sister Latifa, 33, was injured during the shooting and was reported to be in moderate condition.
The Israeli army claimed at the time that they opened fire on a “suspect” vehicle that approached the soldiers in a “suspicious manner.”  A report from Wafa news on Friday claimed that the siblings were driving to Ramallah in a car with Israeli license plates when an Israeli army patrol waved at the car to stop. “However, driving an illegal car, (Moussa) panicked and drove away, but when he got to the entrance of the nearby settlement, an Israeli settler opened fire at the car killing Mohammad and injuring his sister in the shoulder,” Wafa said, contradicting earlier reports that he was shot by Israeli forces.
An Israeli army spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on Moussa’s killing.

Family mourns Palestinian shot by Israeli forces
Al Jazeera 5 Nov by Jaclynn Ashly — When 26-year-old Mohammad Mousa left his home in the small village of Deir Ballut in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday morning to renew his driver’s license, his family never expected him to return several days later in a plastic body bag. “I remember what my son was wearing and how he smelled that day,” Abdallah, Mousa’s grieving father, told Al Jazeera. “He finished building his home, he was buying a new vehicle, and after the olive harvest he was planning on getting engaged,” he said. “I lost my senses when I heard the news. I lost my mind. Only God can understand how we are feeling right now.”  Hundreds of Palestinians attended Mousa’s funeral on Friday, after Israel released his remains to the family almost four days after he was fatally shot by Israeli forces. Shortly before the incident, Mousa was on his way to Ramallah city with his 33-year-old sister, Latifa. He was driving a car with an Israeli license plate – which is illegal for Palestinians with West Bank ID cards – when the siblings turned a corner and unexpectedly met an Israeli “flying” checkpoint at a junction near Israel’s illegal Halamish settlement, adjacent to the village of Nabi Saleh. Local media reported that Israeli forces motioned for Mousa to stop, but he continued past the checkpoint. Israeli forces then opened fire on Mousa’s car. Mousa was allegedly shot in the back and succumbed to his wounds at Israel’s Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva. Latifa, meanwhile, was struck by a bullet in the shoulder. Although her wounds are moderate, she has remained at Istishari Hospital in Ramallah and underwent surgery on Friday. Bassam, Mousa’s uncle, told Al Jazeera that the full autopsy results have not yet been disclosed. However, based on the wounds on his body, “it’s clear he was shot from the back, because the bullet entered the back of his waist and exited from the front.” Bassam described Mousa as a kind and simple man who did not involve himself in politics. The village itself is well-known to be non-political, he added, noting that Israeli soldiers had even given the village the nickname “peaceful town”. Abdallah told Al Jazeera that the family would focus on obtaining justice for Mousa through legal avenues, saying the excessive violence was extremely disturbing. “They could have shot the tires to stop the car, but they wanted to kill him,” Bassam said….

Israeli settlers attack farmer in northern Jordan Valley
JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA) 3 Nov – Israeli settlers Friday attacked a Palestinian farmer while he was tending his land in Sakout area, in the northern Jordan Valley, said a local official. Head of Tubas agricultural, Majdi ‘Odeh, told WAFA settlers physically attacked the farmer while he was tending his land in Sakout area and adjacent to the borders with Jordan, causing bruises throughout his body.

Israeli forces suppress demonstration in Ramallah-area village
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Nov — Israeli forces suppressed Palestinian protesters on Friday in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, according to official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency. Palestinians in the village of Ni‘lin were holding their weekly demonstration in protest of Israeli settlement and separation wall construction in the area, when Israeli forces “attacked” the protesters, Wafa reported. Israeli forces reportedly fired tear gas and stun grenades towards protesters. No injuries were reported.

Israeli soldiers attack the weekly procession in Kufur Qaddoum
IMEMC 4 Nov —  Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly procession against the Annexation Wall and colonies in Kafr Qaddum village, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, and fired rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs. Morad Eshteiwi, the media coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Annexation Wall and Colonies in Kufur Qaddoum, said dozens of locals, accompanied by Israeli and international peace activists, marched in the village, protesting the ongoing closure of Kafr Qaddum’s main road, which was blockaded by the army more than fourteen years ago, to enable easy access to colonists driving to and from Kedumim illegal colony, built on private Palestinian lands. He added that the soldiers resorted to excessive force against the protesters, and fired gas bombs and concussion grenades at them. The soldiers also prevented many Israeli and international activists from entering Kafr Qaddum to participate in the procession with the Palestinians … It is worth mentioning that the soldiers invaded and ransacked many stores in Kafr Qaddum, an issue that led to clashes with local youngsters, who hurled stones on the military jeeps.

Israeli forces detain Palestinian teachers on their way to school in Hebron hills
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 5 Nov — Israeli forces on Sunday detained an unidentified number of Palestinian teachers from the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron as they were on their way to school, according to official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency. Wafa reported that the teachers, from the al-Masafer school, were on their way to the school, south of the town of Yatta, when Israeli forces stopped their vehicle. Israeli soldiers reportedly detained the teachers for an unspecified period of time, and seized the vehicle. Wafa added that Israeli forces “chased civilians on nearby roads and prevented them from making any movements in (the) area, under the pretext that the area was declared a military zone.” An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an they were looking into reports. The South Hebron Hills, known locally as Masafer Yatta, lies almost entirely in Area C, the 62 percent of the West Bank under full Israel civil and security control since the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Israeli forces detain 17 Palestinians from West Bank, East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Nov — Israeli forces detained at least 17 Palestinians during overnight raids in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement that Israeli forces raided the city of Tubas in the northern West Bank and detained four Palestinians after breaking into and searching their homes.
In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces detained two Palestinian minors from the Jabal al-Tur neighborhood, according to PPS.
Meanwhile, PPS reported that in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, Israeli forces detained eight Palestinians. Local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma‘an that dozens of Israeli soldiers raided the town of Beit Ummar on Thursday before dawn, and arrested four former prisoners. Awad identified them as Saif Kassab Abu Dayyeh, 23, his brother Muhammad, 20, Ahmad Rifaat al-Sleibi, 19, and Anwar Youssef Awad, 23. They were all reportedly transferred to the Gush Etzion detention center north of the town. Awad added that 72 Palestinians from Beit Ummar have been detained by Israeli forces since June 6th, 2017, half of whom, he said, were minors. Locals in the Yatta town told Ma‘an that Israeli forces detained university student Anas Jamal al-Hreini after raiding and searching his house. Hasan Yousif Madi, also a university student, was detained during raids in the al-‘Arroub refugee camp, according to local sources. Meanwhile, Israeli forces raided Hebron city where they detained Fadel Irfaiyeh and his son Mutaz.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that 15 Palestinians were detained from the West Bank alone. An Israeli police spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment on the two detentions in East Jerusalem.

Israel’s ‘dogs of war’: another form of colonial violence
MEE 3 Nov by CJ Werleman — Guard dogs are kept in wooden boxes outside settlements across the West Bank for one purpose only: to attack Palestinians — …The first time I visited an Israeli outpost, its residents gave me a tour of the compound. Situated approximately 30-minutes drive from the centre of Jerusalem, the front gate to this particular outpost looked like an attempt to turn an old highway tollbooth into a pseudo-military checkpoint, which on this day was manned by a heavily armed 23-year-old Jewish American kid from Florida. Behind him a loose gravel driveway snaked its way to the top of the ridgeline. When you stand atop of the hill, you stand among two dozen mobile homes and trailers that house the outpost’s 50 or so occupants. In the distance, and in all directions, you can see the unmistakable red-tiled rooflines of the larger Israeli settlements that strategically trace the Palestinian territory’s hilltops. Midway down the hill, a series of wooden boxes are tied together by chains, each box located approximately 50 yards from the next. These 3ft by 3ft boxes trace the outpost’s entire perimeter, each housing two guard dogs that are chained permanently to them. Should a Palestinian approach the perimeter, the dogs bark, serving as an alarm for the residents to grab their guns.
Inhumane and barbaric — This scene is typical of every Israeli outpost settlement in the occupied West Bank, and it is every bit as inhumane and barbaric as you can imagine. These dogs are permanently tied to these boxes, throughout the hottest days of summer, where daytime temperatures surpass 100 degrees Fahrenheit, to the coldest nights in winter, where the mercury often touches zero degrees Celsius. No respite. No end to their heinous mandated duty. They are put there for one purpose and one purpose only: to attack Palestinians. For settlers with a reasonable income, there are settler dog training programmes…
In some instances, an impoverished Palestinian is paid a small fee to give a dog a savage beating, thereby ensuring the dog forever remains fearful of Palestinians, which guarantees a more vicious response any time in the future a Palestinian might approach the settlement. With an ever increasing number of Israelis illegally occupying the West Bank, bringing an ever increasing number of trained attack dogs, it’s little wonder reports of Palestinian being attacked by settler dogs are also increasing in both frequency and ferocity. Palestinian kids as young as five years of age have suffered life-long horrific injuries from these dogs. These attacks coincide within a pattern of overall increase in settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank – with the number of attacks increasing by more than 30 percent year-on-year, according to a report published by the European Parliament….

Israeli occupation’s brutal routine: nightly raids, boys cuffed for hours and seized jewelry
Haaretz 2 Nov by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — There’s never a dull night in the village of Beit Ummar, where the Israeli army is a regular visitor — It’s the last street at the southern edge of the West Bank town of Beit Ummar, between Bethlehem and Hebron. The settlement of Karmei Tzur looms on the hill across the way. A street like any other: one- and two-story homes, potholes, no sidewalk. On this long road, which doesn’t even have a name and where grace does not abound, hardly a night goes by without a raid by the Israel Defense Forces. The troops swoop in four or five times a week, usually in the dead of night. Here’s what they’ve done in the past few weeks: They caught a boy who was suspected of throwing stones, dragged him across rock-strewn ground for hundreds of meters, thrust him into a room and forced him to stay there for six hours, blindfolded and hands bound; they confiscated money and jewelry from a number of homes; wrested a few young people from their beds; and handcuffed members of an entire family, including the women, leaving them bound that way after they left
Soldiers have raided the Abu Marya home about 20 times in the past few years. It’s routine. The previous visit was less routine, though. On October 4, soldiers arrived at dusk and went up to the roof. They left after a while and returned at night to conduct a search. Ibrahim told Faduah to bring the cash they had in the house – 20,000 shekels ($5,680), which he’d borrowed from his brother-in-law to help pay for a heart operation for his father, Abdel Hamid, who is 83. He shows us the documents stating that his father was in Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron at the time. A female soldier took the bag containing the cash and counted the money, taking 10,500 shekels and giving Ibrahim 9,500 shekels. The authorization form, signed by Inbal Gozlan, describes the cash as “Hamas money”: 52 200-shekel bills and one of 100. The form, a “Seizure Order in Arabic,” is rife with clauses and sub-clauses citing security and emergency regulations, according to which the money was impounded. Ibrahim tells us he has no ties with Hamas or any other organization….

Palestinian youth find outlet in new skate park
JAYYOUS, West Bank  (Al-Monitor) 3 Nov by Tessa Fox — Where a playground once stood in disrepair, between the municipality and the school of a small village in Palestine, a free access community skate park now stands. The majority of the children of Jayyous, a village in the northwest of the West Bank, are rolling around their new play space, while others celebrate on a terrace overlooking the park, singing and dancing to a local party song. “Skateboarding is amazing. I feel like a bird when I’m skating,” Yasmeen Foqha, 15, told Al-Monitor, between laps around the park. The 650-square-meter (7,000-square-foot) skate park was constructed in September by the British charity SkatePal with a team of international volunteers, alongside local partner SkateQilya. SkatePal has been operating within Palestine since 2013 to promote the benefits of skateboarding in a region where cultural, educational and sporting opportunities are limited. Their last project was a 700-square-meter skate park in the village of Asira al-Shamaliya, just north of the West Bank city of Nablus. SkateQilya is a youth empowerment program based in Qalqilya, west of Jayyous and bordering the Israeli wall. Through their summer camps, they use skateboarding to teach leadership skills and community building to young people in the West Bank. The organization is primarily funded through the American nonprofit Playgrounds for Palestine as well as individual donors. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Jayyous is home to just under 4,000 people with half of the population under 25. The village is in close proximity to the Israeli-West Bank wall and directly affected by frequent raids by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Only one hour into the opening of the park, word spread that the IDF was in the village. A group of children started running toward the center of town to see where the soldiers were, while other park visitors and skaters stayed within the safety of the park. SkateQilya Director Mohammad Othman’s main aim of the park in Jayyous is to keep the children out of trouble with the Israeli soldiers. “The most important thing is us protecting the children from being arrested, harassed or humiliated by the Israeli army,” Othman told Al-Monitor….

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (26 Oct -1 Nov 2017)
PCHR-Gaza 2 Nov — A Palestinian civilian was shot dead and his sister was wounded by Israeli settlers, northwest of Ramallah. 12 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  Israeli forces conducted 52 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one into the southern Gaza Strip. 70 civilians, including 9 children and 3 women; one of whom a journalist, were arrested in the West Bank. 12 of them, including 2 women, were arrested in Jerusalem and its suburbs. An old and abandoned house was demolished in ‘Erq al-Ras area, southeast of Nablus. 350-gram jewellery was stolen from a house belonging to the family of Malek Hajeh in Kenar neighbourhood in Dura. Israeli authorities continue to make a Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli forces dismantled a sit-in tent established in al-Bustan neighbourhood by the Committee for the Defence of Real Estate in Silwan. Israeli forces continue settlement activities in the West Bank Israeli forces stopped Salfit Municipality’s rehabilitation works and threatened to confiscate its vehicles. Israeli forces demolished a stone-cutting workshop in Barta’ah village, southwest of Jenin. Settlers uprooted 40 olive trees in Jeenasafout village lands, east of Qalqilya. Israeli forces continued to target the Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. Israeli forces turned the West Bank into cantons and continued to impose the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip for the 10th year Dozens of temporary checkpoints were established in the West Bank and others were re-established to obstruct the movement of Palestinian civilians. 3 Palestinian civilians were arrested at the checkpoints in the West Bank. (Details follow)

Restriction of movement

Erdan announces plan for dozens of Jerusalem checkpoints
IMEMC/Agencies 5 Nov — Israeli Minister of Internal Security, Gilad Erdan, has prepared a plan which aims to intensify the security in the Bab al-Amud area and in the Old City district, through deploying dozens of checkpoints similar to those used by the military. According to the PNN, the deployment of the Israeli forces and the border guards at those points, in addition to the deployment of 40 smart security cameras which the plan includes, is reportedly to enable the Israeli police to monitor what is happening in the region. The process of setting up these points will take place within a month,  said Israeli Channel 10, noting that it will highly affect the image of the old town. The Israeli occupation, during the past periods, has deployed dozens of surveillance cameras in the area, especially in the vicinity of Bab al-Amoud, as well as a near permanent checkpoint in the area where Israeli forces inspect citizen ID cards.

Amnesty International slams Israel for denying entry of group’s advocacy director
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Nov — Israeli authorities on Tuesday denied the entry of an Amnesty International USA staff member to the occupied West Bank, drawing heavy criticism from the human rights organization, which alleged that the decision was a “retaliation against the organization’s human rights work.” Raed Jarrar, Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA was attempting to cross through the King Hussein border crossing between Jordan and the Israeli-occupied West Bank on a personal trip to visit family following the recent death of his father, Amnesty International said in a statement Wednesday. Jarrar was interrogated by Israeli officials about the reasons for his visit, his family in the occupied Palestinian territory, and his work with Amnesty International. According to the group, Jarrar was specifically questioned regarding the organization’s work denouncing Israel’s illegal settlement activity in the West Bank, before he was denied entry and returned back to Jordan. After his interrogation, Jarrar was given a document saying that he was denied under Israel’s Entry to Israel Law citing “public security” or “public order” considerations as reasons.Amnesty International said they were seeking an official answer from the Israeli authorities about why he was denied entry. “The fact that Raed Jarrar was barred from entry after being interrogated about his work with Amnesty International appears to suggest that this move was taken in retaliation for the organization’s work on human rights violations in the cccupied Palestinian territory (OPT),” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International….


Israeli forces open fire at training site in central Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 2 Nov — Israeli forces opened fire on a training site in the central Gaza Strip twice on Thursday, according to local sources. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces targeted a “resistance site” two times throughout the day in the eastern area of the al-Maghazi refugee camp, located in the central Gaza Strip. No injuries were reported.

Israel finds bodies of five Gaza militants killed in tunnel demolition
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 5 Nov by Ori Lewis — Israel said on Sunday it had recovered the bodies of five Palestinians who were killed when it blew up a tunnel last week that was dug by militants under the Gaza Strip border, and hopes they can be used to effect the return of Israelis held in Gaza. The bodies of seven other militants were recovered on the Gaza side of the frontier last Monday when Israel destroyed the cross-border tunnel, raising the death toll to 12. A military statement said that since the tunnel was blown up, forces had worked in Israeli territory to complete its uncovering and destruction and that “during the ongoing work in the area, the bodies of five terrorists were uncovered.” On Friday, the Islamic Jihad militant group said that five of its militants were missing.
Israel said this year it would withhold the bodies of Palestinian militants killed in attacks against its citizens in order to pressure the larger Islamist Hamas faction to return the remains of soldiers and hand back missing Israeli civilians. Hamas says it is holding two Israeli soldiers whom the army declared dead after they were lost in action in the 2014 Gaza war. The group also says it is holding two Israeli civilians who strayed into the territory. Simha Goldin, the father of one of the two Israeli soldiers, on Sunday urged the Israeli government to live up to its promise and said: “Pressure will make Hamas understand that holding Israeli soldiers in not an asset but a burden.” Both Islamic Jihad and Hamas have refused to discuss any deal with Israel. Dawoud Shehab, an Islamic Jihad spokesman in Gaza said on Sunday: “We are committed to regaining the bodies of our comrades and we will find a way to compel the enemy to do this.”

Updated: Bodies of five fighters found under rubble, twelve confirmed dead
IMEMC 4 Nov — A statement released by the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, revealed that the bodies of five of its fighters have been recovered from the rubble of the tunnel which was bombarded by the Israeli army last Monday, bringing the number of confirmed deaths to twelve. The Brigades confirmed the bodies of Badr Kamal Mosbeh, Ahmad Hasan Sabakhi, Shadi Sami al-Hemri, Mohammad Kheireddin al-Buheisi and ‘Ala Sami Abu Ghrab have been located under the rubble. It added that despite Israel’s usage of advanced warfare technology, especially the special equipment it uses to locate tunnels, the fighters managed to dig tunnels that extended hundreds of meters across the border fence. Last Monday, the brigades declared the death of seven fighters; five of its members, and two from Al-Qassam, who were among many who rushed to their aid after Israel bombarded the tunnel. It added that the two fighters were killed in a second explosion resulting from an Israeli missile, after they rushed to the aid of the five Qassam [al-Quds?] fighters. The brigades identified the fighters as; the head of its Central Command, Arafat Mershed Abu Abdullah, his deputy Hasan Abu Hassanein, in addition to Ahmad Abu Armana, Omar al-Faleet and Husam Samiri. The two fighters of Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, have been identified as Misbah Shbeir and Mohammad al-Agha. The Palestinian Civil Defense said that many Palestinians are still missing under the rubble, and that the search has been impacted by many factors, including the toxic fumes and Israel’s refusal to allow the Red Cross to search for their remains on the Israeli side of the border. It added that Israel is trying to bargain with the Palestinians, by demanding to receive information about Israeli soldiers, who went missing during Israel’s war on Gaza, in the summer of 2014, in exchange for allowing the search. It also stated the chances of finding any of the missing Palestinians alive are rapidly dropping while the Israeli military continues to refuse any type of search and rescue on its side of the border.

Refusing Israeli blackmail, five missing in Gaza tunnel attack declared dead
GAZA (WAFA) 4 Nov – Hours after Israel has announced that it will not allow the Palestinians to search for five people who went missing in a tunnel inside Gaza but close to the Israeli border that it had blown up on Monday, killing seven, the Islamic Jihad, responsible for the digging the tunnel, said it considers the five dead therefore raising the death toll from the attack to 12. Israel had conditioned allowing the search for the five in return for information about corpses of two Israeli soldiers allegedly held by Hamas in Gaza. Meanwhile, Gaza physicians have accused Israel of using a mysterious gas for the first time after some of those killed in the tunnel have died apparently from highly poisonous gas they have inhaled after going inside to look for survivors following the Israeli attack. Those who survived have also shown symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, chest pains and headaches among others doctors said they have never seen anything like them before. Doctors said some who recovered after getting treatment and were sent home, returned to hospital a day later suffering from the same and new symptoms, which indicate the gas they inhaled cause recurring illness. In the meantime, two rights centers said preventing rescue of missing persons in area under Israeli military control is blatantly illegal policy contrary to Geneva Conventions. They also stressed that it is forbidden to use trapped people as bargaining chips.

Israel to detonate tunnel which it bombarded last week, killing 12 fighters
IMEMC 6 Nov — The Israeli army announced Sunday that it intends to detonate what is left of a border tunnel which it bombarded a week earlier in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, killing twelve Palestinian fighters, members of Al-Quds Brigades of the Islamic Jihad, and Al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas. Israeli media sources have confirmed the army’s intention to detonate what is left of the tunnel, on the Israeli-controlled side of the border fence. They added that dozens of soldiers have been deployed in the Eshkol Regional Council of Settlements, after the army bombarded the tunnel, killing the twelve fighters. The military stated that the tunnel was not fully destroyed in the initial bombing, and that it intends to detonate what is left of it.
Responding to an appeal filed with the Israeli High Court by the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah), regarding allowing Palestinian rescue teams to search for the remains of Palestinians, buried under the rubble, the court said that “all Palestinians in the bombarded tunnel are dead,” and that the area is now closed, “under constant operations by the military.” On Sunday at night, November 5th 2017, the Israeli army said it has unearthed and is now holding the bodies of five Palestinians who were killed when it destroyed a tunnel adjacent to the Israel-Gaza border. The families of the deceased maintain their right to demand the return of the bodies of their relatives for burial. Following the Israeli announcement, Adalah and Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights (Gaza) moved to withdraw their petition with the Israeli Supreme Court.

Two Palestinians shot, injured by Israeli forces during Gaza border clashes
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — At least two Palestinians were shot and injured on Friday during clashes that erupted along the Gaza border with Israel, according to official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa new agency. According to Wafa, two “youth” were injured in separate clashes that erupted along the northern and central areas of the Gaza border with Israel. One Palestinian was shot with live ammunition in clashes east of the al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza. He was reported to be in moderate condition. Meanwhile along the northern border, one Palestinian was shot by a rubber-coated steel bullet in the foot….

Israeli forces fire shell, raze land in Gaza
GAZA (WAFA) 5 Nov – Israeli navy on Sunday fired a shell at Palestinian fishing boats in the al-Waha coastal area, to the northwest of Gaza, according to WAFA correspondent. Fishermen who were present at the scene said they were forced to leave the site in fear of getting shot. No injuries were reported, however. Meanwhile, Israeli bulldozers razed agricultural land adjacent to the Gaza-Israel border fence, east of al-Qarara, near Khan Younis city in southern Gaza Strip.

Gaza women to join PA army
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 5 Nov by Rasha Abou Jalal — Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh announced Oct. 17 on a talk show on the official Palestine TV channel that President Mahmoud Abbas approved women enlisting in the Palestinian Authority (PA) security services in the Gaza Strip, with the aim to restructure these services. This step, the first of its kind since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007, is part of the PA government’s plan to economically empower the Gaza Strip in the wake of the reconciliation agreement signed by Hamas and Fatah on Oct. 12 under the auspices of Egypt. The reconciliation agreement is expected to end all of the repercussions of the decadelong internal split and give the PA control over the enclave. During the talk show, Sheikh said, “The key to empowerment is security. We want only one security. We want to build a unified Palestinian security ideology under the leadership of the PA.” Maj. Gen. Serhan Dweikat, a member of the Fatah Advisory Council, told Al-Monitor, “The decision to allow Gazans to enlist in the [PA] security services will also include Gazan women, because of the Palestinian society need for female soldiers to deal with women-related civil issues.”….

All you need to know about Gaza border crossings
CAIRO (Egypt Today) 2 Nov — 2 November 2017: Seven border crossings in Gaza have been handed over to the Palestinian National Reconciliation Government after a long period of conflict between Fatah and Hamas that severely affected their capability to negotiate their cause internationally …  Here is all you need to know about the Gaza crossings that have been handed to the government:  The Rafah border crossing: one of the most important crossings between Egypt and Gaza which was under Gaza authorities’ control. This crossing is mainly specialized for individual movements across borders, and it was being prepared for goods transfer between the two countries …  The Nahal Oz crossing: also known as Al-Shaga‘ia crossing, it is one of the most important crossings for fuel transportation; usually closed by Israeli authorities since the Gaza authorities assumed control over it. The Kerem Shalom crossing: operates occasionally as an alternative to the Rafah crossing since it is located near the Egyptian-Palestinian-Israeli borders. It is used mainly for trade movements between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Sympathy and prejudice
EI 1 Nov by Nesma Seyam — It took a long time before Maryam’s father would sanction her marriage to Nasser. “Marrying Nasser was a kind of fantasy for me,” Maryam, who did not want to give her real name or that of her husband for this article, told The Electronic Intifada while playing with her toddler son. The problem? On the surface, there shouldn’t have been any. Nasser was eligible by most measures. He drew a good salary as a bank employee, owned his own apartment and came from an educated family. Maryam loved him. But Maryam’s father was not enthused because, like some 1.3 million other Palestinians in Gaza, Nasser came from a family of refugees. Maryam and her family are Gaza natives, a minority now, and her father wanted her to marry another Gaza native. Such social stratification is not unusual in Palestinian society. It is mirrored across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip where refugees wound up with their UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) ration cards, poverty and homelessness. As a sense of shared Palestinian kinship competed with, and often came out second to, traditional ties to village and town, refugees came to be seen as outsiders to be treated with “a mixture of pity and contempt,” according to George Bisharat, a lawyer and commentator on Palestinian affairs. Every city in occupied territory has refugee camps attached to it, and these often organize themselves in parallel to the city. Refugees have their own schools – run by UNRWA, which was originally set up as a stopgap measure until refugees could return – often their own soccer teams and it is common for people to speak of themselves as being from either the camp or the city. If the former, that is almost always preceded by the town or village they were originally from.
Reactionary mindset — Still, Maryam did not expect her father to have such a reactionary mindset. He is young compared to other parents, and so his argument – “What will we tell people?” – shocked her….

Israeli army calls for Gaza ‘Marshall Plan’ to thwart takeover by forces more extreme than Hamas
Haaretz 5 Nov by Amos Harel — Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, has called for the implementation of a Gazan version of the Marshall Plan through which the international community would direct large amounts of assistance to improve the economy in the Gaza Strip. Mordechai said he believes there is an inseparable link between the conditions the residents of Gaza are enduring including its struggling economy and the security situation. He warned that a continued worsening of the situation there would increase the chances of an escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that has run the strip for the past decade. So he decided to recommend that Israel support a wide-scale plan that would bring real hope for positive change to the population of Gaza … Genuinely good news for the Gaza Strip, the authors wrote, needs to come from “turning the strip into a place that is developing, with advanced industrial zones, tourist areas, innovative means of transportation and infrastructure that responds to the residents’ needs.” … The effort, they wrote, needs to be combined with security and economic arrangements, limiting Hamas’ acquisition of military power and a solution to the issue of Israelis missing in the Gaza Strip … “The process is fundamentally complex, but not impossible. What is mainly missing to advance it is the goodwill of those with interests in the region,” the three wrote. Mordechai and his colleagues did not state what would be required of Israel to implement such a plan, but it clearly could not be advanced in the absence of long-term Israeli agreement, at least indirectly, with Hamas, to direct large sums of money into the enclave and for widespread reconstruction of Gaza….

First school for disabled children opens in Gaza
Anadolu Agency 5 Nov — The first school for physically and mentally challenged children of the Gaza Strip opened on Sunday. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Principal Fedva Mustafa said the Algeria-funded Al-Jazaer Special Education School has now a total of 60 students with special needs. It will contribute significantly to the integration of disabled children into the society, Mustafa told Anadolu Agency. Pupils suffering from autism, cerebral palsy, or some physical disabilities will now be able to get education from trained teachers, he said.  People in the blockaded Gaza Strip have been deprived of their basic needs since the past 10 years. As a result, some 80 percent of its population now reportedly depends on international aid to survive. Reporting by Muhammed Macid; Writing by Ayse Humeyra Atilgan

Young Palestinians skeptical that Hamas-PA unity will help them escape Gaza
Haaretz 5 Nov by Elisheva Goldberg — Leaving the enclave via Egypt is a labyrinthine struggle, but young Palestinians maintain hope that the reconciliation deal will help them on their way to Western universities, vacation spots and further afield — Jehad Abu Saleem was studying Hebrew in the Gaza Strip when he heard he had been accepted to a Ph.D. program in the United States. He was ecstatic. This was his dream — to study Palestinian intellectual history at one of the world’s top universities. But first he had to get out of Gaza — and that was not going to be easy. Abu Saleem is the eldest of four children, and the only one in the United States. His youngest sibling, he said, “doesn’t know a world with 24 hours of electricity.” Hours of electricity, like the number of Gazans allowed to leave, have been steadily declining since 2007, when Hamas seized control of the Strip and Israel imposed a blockade, and both Israel and the Palestinian Authority tightened their grip. The fresh reconciliation between Hamas and the PA is ushering in tentative hope among many Gazans that more electricity will flow in, and more people out. The deal, signed last month in Egypt, brought Gazans to the streets, eager for more flexibility at the Rafah crossing. The deal, which took effect on November 1, is likely to crack Egypt open. For Gazans, this means more freedom of movement for medical travel, study abroad, or just vacation.
Still, for those who seek to leave for good, especially young people looking to move to the United States, not much will changeAbdelhadi Basheer was 24 in 2010 when he first tried to secure a permit to go from Gaza to Jerusalem. He had been accepted to a Ph.D. program at Washington State University in 2010, and registered for a visa interview at the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem, the only consulate dedicated to serving Palestinians. But to get to the consulate, he would need permission from the Israeli army — which he was denied repeatedly for months. “I think they had some concerns that I would leave and not go back to Gaza,” he said in a phone interview It took Basheer’s future American host Michael Hayes, a professor at Washington State University, showing up at the Gaza border and guaranteeing his return to Gaza to finally get him the necessary permit. Basheer has been living in Washington state for seven years and became an American citizen in March 2015. Still, he can’t go back. “American citizenship,” he said, “like any privileges you have, ends in Palestine.” When his father died this past June, he couldn’t go to the funeral because it was in Gaza — he was afraid he’d never get back out   Egypt restricts its border with Gaza in part because it doesn’t want Gazans to stay indeterminately in the country. On the books, it refuses entry to Palestinians who do not already possess a visa to go abroad. This leaves Gaza’s Palestinians in a catch-22: They want to go Egypt to get a visa, but need a visa to get there….

UN envoy, EU missions celebrate PA takeover of Gaza crossings
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Nov — The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, released a statement on Wednesday commending the handover of Gaza crossings from Hamas to the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a “landmark development” in the implementation of the reconciliation agreement that was signed between Hamas and the Fatah-led PA last month. “The positive momentum should be maintained and the Palestinian Government must be fully empowered to function in Gaza,” Mladenov said, adding that “I take this opportunity to remind all factions in Gaza of the importance of maintaining security and ending militant activities that undermine peace and security for both Palestinians and Israelis alike.” The European Union Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah released a similar statement, saying “the European Union reiterates its readiness to provide its full support to the efforts to reunite Gaza and the West Bank under one single and legitimate Palestinian Authority.” “We will continue to liaise with the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Israel, and our international partners, including in the Quartet, in order to help this process to succeed, which is critical for reaching a negotiated two-state solution and sustainable peace,” the statement said….

Navy implements smart sonar to battle Hamas naval commando
Ynet 2 Nov by Yoav Zitun — With land and air defenses covered by Iron Dome and the Gaza underground obstacle, IDF implements special precise sonar to defend against possible Hamas commando incursion by sea — The Israeli Navy is currently implementing the “Simba”, a mobile sonar for precise location in shallow waters, designed to quickly and precisely identify terrorist infiltrations into Israel by sea, mainly from the Gaza Strip. Three and a half years since the last naval incursion into the Zikim Beach just north of the Gaza Strip during the Operation Protective Edge, the IDF estimates that Hamas’ naval commando has improved dramatically and already includes hundreds of trained fighters equipped with advanced diving systems. In light of the proven capabilities of Iron Dome against rockets, and against the backdrop of the underground anti-tunnel obstacle and its related technologies whose effectiveness were proven this earlier week in the destruction of the terror tunnel in the southern Gaza border, it is estimated that in the next confrontation Hamas will invest its efforts, apparently at the outset, in penetrating Israel by sea….,7340,L-5037845,00.html

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization / Settlements

Renovation work in Jewish-Arab threatens to erase its Arab past
Haaretz 6 Nov by Nir Hasson — Structures built after 1700 are not legally designated ‘antiquities,’ meaning Arab structures found near Lod’s outdoor market are not eligible for protection — Excavation work being carried out in the Jewish-Arab city of Lod has led to accusations that the municipality and Israel Antiquities Authority are trying to erase the city’s Arab past. In recent weeks, work was conducted around the central Israel city’s outdoor market, for the purpose of laying sewer pipes and expanding the market plaza. The IAA first approved the work after carrying out inspection excavations, but local activists maintain that the project is another step toward removing any memory of the pre-1948 Arab city of Lydda. Dr. Tawfiq Da‘adli, an archaeologist and Lod native, has been using high-resolution aerial photography taken in 1936 to study the city. The photos show a very densely built city with hundreds of buildings, courtyards, walls and more. Much of this disappeared in the years following the War of Independence, but the large mosque, the Church of Saint George and a number of other buildings – some in ruins, some uncovered in archaeological digs and now awaiting rebuilding – remain. The most important of these is the city’s large khan building. Not far from it and the mosque is the city’s outdoor market, where the upgrading work has begun. In the course of this work, more remains of buildings and underground spaces dating from before 1948 have been uncovered. Activists from the city tried to go to court to stop the work, but it was too late – and the city completed the excavations. Da‘adli is sure there’s a connection between ancient Lydda’s cultural identity and the authorities’ disregard for preserving the structures found within the city….

After heavy diplomatic pressure, Israel moves to delay demolition of Palestinian village of Sussia
Haaretz 2 Nov by Yotam Berger — The government has asked the High Court of Justice for a two-week postponement in presenting its position concerning the evacuation of a Palestinian village in the West Bank. The government has delayed its response on the matter for several months. Haaretz has learned that the present request for a postponement was filed after European diplomats, including the British, applied pressure on the Defense Ministry and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to demolish the village.
Ahead of Netanyahu’s trip to London, Haaretz learned that British diplomats contacted Israeli officials and made it clear that Britain had reservations about the planned evacuation, said a source involved in the matter. Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit also supports postponing the evacuation so as to conduct further legal examinations, and has made his position clear to Lieberman, said the source. Sussia [or Susiya], which is located near the Jewish settlement of the same name, was established without any building permits, and demolition orders have been issued for its structures … Sussia is located in Area C, the region under full Israeli civil and security authority. Its residents are among the poorest in the West Bank, and they have been removed from their homes a number of times over the past 30 years. In 1986, the area around the village was declared a national park and its residents were evacuated to nearby agricultural land. They were again evacuated by the IDF in 2001, and their living quarters in caves and huts were demolished…

Other news

Palestine in Pictures: October 2017
EI 3 Nov — During the month of October a Palestinian man was shot and fatally wounded by Israeli soldiers while driving in a car with his sister in the central occupied West Bank. The Palestinian Authority accused Israel of “extrajudicially executing” Muhammad Musa, 26, whose sister Latifa, 33, was also shot and injured. In a separate incident, a Palestinian man was shot and critically injured by soldiers as he ran across a highway. Video shows that the man appeared to pose no immediate danger when he was shot. Twelve Palestinian fighters were killed when Israel detonated a tunnel along its boundary with Gaza. An Islamic Jihad military wing commander was among those killed. At least a dozen others were injured….

Abbas demands British government recognize Palestine on Balfour centenary
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Nov — The office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas released a statement on Thursday, the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, calling on the British government to “apologize to the Palestinian people for the suffering caused as a result of the Balfour Declaration a hundred years ago.” “The second day of November marks the centennial of the disastrous Balfour Declaration, which, in 1917, the British government gave the Jews of the world a national homeland in Palestine while it was aware that Palestine is owned and inhabited by another people, the Palestinian people,” the statement said.
Abbas called the declaration “null and void” given that it ignored the national and political rights of the indigenous Palestinian people. “The Palestinian people have suffered as a result of this promise,” Abbas said, highlighting the Nakba, or ‘catastrophe’ in 1948, during which time the state of Israel was created, leaving some 750,000 Palestinians and millions of their descendants as refugees. “Since then, the suffering and tragedies of the Palestinian people have not stopped, whether inside what was left of the land of Palestine, which has now been under occupation for 50 years, since 1967, or in the Diaspora and refugee camps,” the statement said. Abbas went on to say that the “responsibility for the displacement and suffering of the Palestinian people” belongs not only to the British government that issued the Balfour Declaration, but the current administration of UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who on Thursday celebrated the centenary in London with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “What is troubling today is that…the British Government insists on celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, persisting to openly confirm its colonial policies against our Palestinian people,” the statement said….

Photos: Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters take to London’s streets to demand ‘equal rights’ on the 100-year anniversary of the creation of Israel
Daily Mail 4 Nov by Charlie Bayliss — Thousands of pro-Palestinians demonstrators took to the streets of London today to protest against the 100 year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration which lead to the creation of Israel. Activists carrying signs which read ‘Free Palestine‘ and ‘Justice for Palestine’ were seen, while chants of ‘Free, Free Palestine’ and ‘Occupation no more’. It comes as Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Britain to celebrate the centenary of the then-foreign secretary Arthur Balfour’s promise that the UK would support calls for a Jewish homeland. TV reports claimed that some members of the crowd called for the destruction of Israel, chanting ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’. Some broadcasters estimated there were around 3,000 protesters took to the streets around Westminster. Counter-protesters also arrived at the scene, brandishing Israeli flags nearby.

On Balfour centenary, UK urges Israel to end illegal settlements
LONDON (AFP) 3 Nov — U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May told Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday that Israel must end illegal settlements to achieve peace, as they celebrated the centenary of the British statement that helped lead to the Jewish state’s creation. The two leaders attended a dinner celebrating the Balfour Declaration of 1917, a statement offering Britain’s support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” In a speech at the event, May said Britain was committed to a two-state solution with a viable Palestinian state. “There will need to be compromises from each side if we are to have a realistic chance of achieving this goal — including an end to the building of new settlements and an end to Palestinian incitement too,” she said….

Netanyahu suggests a sovereign state might not work for Palestinians
LONDON (Haaretz) 3 Nov by Anshel Pfeffer — In London, Netanyahu warns a future Palestinian state could be taken over by militant Islam and says removing Israeli settlers from the West Bank would constitute ethnic cleansing — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday that before establishing a Palestinian state “it’s time we reassessed whether the modern model we have of sovereignty, and unfettered sovereignty, is applicable everywhere in the world.” Netanyahu made the remarks at an open session at the Chatham House think-tank in London….

Match not over as West Bank football claim moved to court
thejc 2 Nov by Simon Griver — When world football’s governing body refused to discuss Palestinian demands to ban Israel over Jewish West Bank teams in its leagues, many saw it a triumph. The Palestinian side had said the five teams represented areas that were not part of Israel and should be expelled from Israeli professional leagues. But the match is far from won for Israel as play now moves to the Court for Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The Palestinians claim Fifa’s argument that “it must remain neutral regarding political matters”. Fifa refused to discuss the matter, saying “must remain neutral with regard to political matters”, but the Palestinians claim this contravenes Fifa regulations. CAS should instruct Fifa to allow a vote on the matter at the Fifa Congress next June in Moscow, the Palestinian FA has said. “Fifa has clearly violated its own regulations,” Palestinian FA president Jibril Rajoub has said. “The Israelis are organizing league matches on land that is not Israeli land. Even the Israeli league would not dare say that this is their land. Fifa is making decisions as if it were a fascist or Nazi government.”….

Next year in Jerusalem: Giro riders face political hurdles
JERUSALEM (AP) 3 Nov by Josef Federman & Andrew Dampf — When the world’s cycling elite converge on Israel next year for the storied Giro d’Italia race, they will grapple with the rugged hills of Jerusalem, speed by the shimmering Mediterranean Sea and huff their way through the moonscape of the southern Negev Desert. But one place the riders will skip is the crown jewel of the local tourism industry, Jerusalem’s ancient Old City. Under a longstanding tradition, the annual multi-stage race has had some starts and stages take place outside of Italy. In a public relations coup for Israel, the 2018 event here will be the first time the race has taken place outside of Europe. The Giro is to start in Jerusalem and include two additional stages in Israel. Race organizers said the route will not go through any land considered occupied by the international community. That means the course will circumvent the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war and claimed by the Palestinians as parts of a future independent state. Race director Mauro Vegni said he was aware of the political sensitivities and had drawn up the course with the “guidance” of the Italian Foreign Ministry … In the case of the Giro, the opening stage in Jerusalem will carefully avoid the city’s invisible pre-1967 boundaries. Riders will be able to glimpse the ancient walls of the Old City, but they will not enter it or any Palestinian neighborhoods. Other stages are planned along the Mediterranean coast, and in the Red Sea resort of Eilat.

Palestinian women’s council takes charge: ‘They depend on us’
JUBBET AL-DHIB, Occupied West Bank (MEE) 26 Oct by Chloé Benoist — On the outskirts of the remote Palestinian village of Jubbet al-Dhib, near Bethlehem, the afternoon sun can be seen spanning across the dusty, craggy terrain of the southern occupied West Bank. Fadia, I’tidal and Fatima al-Wahsh are looking on as their children clamber back home in their school uniforms. The young boys and girls’ return from the nearby al-Tahadi primary school was a reminder of just how far they have come in the span of two years. In 2015, the situation in Jubbet al-Dhib was dire. The small village, numbering 162 inhabitants, did not have access to electricity; children had to walk almost an hour to go to school, and the nearest grocery store was a three-kilometre walk away. Due to the difficult living conditions, 22 families left Jubbet al-Dhib in the past decade, I’tidal al-Wahsh told Middle East Eye. A large part of the problem is that well-documented Israeli restrictions make Palestinian construction in the West Bank area known as Area C – the 60 percent of the West Bank placed under Israeli control since the 1993 Oslo accords – nearly impossible. With almost all of the working-age male residents of Jubbet al-Dhib employed inside Israel, mostly in the construction industry, the village is devoid of men during the day. Fadia, I’tidal, and Fatima were among a handful of women who felt that their only chance at being represented was if they represented themselves. In October 2015, with the encouragement of some local and international NGOs, a women’s council was created in Jubbet al-Dhib, with Fadia al-Wahsh, a housewife and mother of six, as its president. Despite the significant pushback from men in positions of power in their community, the women managed to turn things around dramatically in the small town….

Hitler, Saddam: Palestinians cope with loaded names
HEBRON, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 3 Nov by Majeda El-Batsh — Hitler, Castro and Saddam Hussein meet in a bar. It may sound like the beginning of a joke, but in the Palestinian territories it is actually possible. Palestinians often name their children after famous celebrities, national heroes or backers of their cause. But from time to time, they pick far more controversial names and the children have to live with the consequences. Hitler Abu Hamad is not proud to carry the name of a man responsible for the slaughter of millions. “There is no relationship between my name and the actions of Adolf Hitler,” he told AFP at his home in the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank. “I hate what he did.” “I am against killing, violence and human rights abuses, but I got used to my name and it is part of my character.” How the quiet, polite 41-year-old school teacher came to be named after the most hated man of the 20th century says a lot about Israel and the Palestinians. Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967 in a move never recognised by the international community. Jewish settlers moved into the territory and the occupation continues. When Abu Hamad was born in 1976, his father wanted to send a message, though in perhaps the most offensive way possible: picking the name of the man who systematically murdered six million Jews in the Holocaust. “My father gave me the name to provoke the occupation,” he said. “He was not political. He was a simple man who made mistakes. He wanted to make the occupation think with my name.” The father of two studied English literature and is a deputy head at a school near his home, while also teaching adults. His name is “weird for the kids at school”, he said. He says it also causes him endless problems at Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank. When he was 15 and living in Hebron’s Old City, an army officer approached him and asked him his name. When he told him, the soldier flew off the handle, he alleges. “He said ‘you are a criminal’,” Abu Hamad said, alleging he was then beaten by soldiers, leaving him with a broken nose still bent out of shape … Many Palestinians have named children after their longtime leader Yasser Arafat, while other names heard include Castro, Guevara and Chavez — after the Latin American figures who supported their cause….

Opinion: Birthright’s Arab ban unmasks its real agenda: to erase the narrative of Palestinians like me / Zizo (Ziyad) Abul Hawa
Haaretz 5 Nov — As a Palestinian raised in East Jerusalem, I provided the ‘the other side’ for scores of Birthright groups. Now the organization has decided it shouldn’t expose participants to critical Arab voices, and I’m part of what they’re trying to hide — The first time I was invited to speak in front of a group of Taglit – Birthright, almost 12 years ago, I was 18 and didn’t even know what the Birthright program was. My brother was married back then to an Argentinian Jewish woman who made aliyah a few years earlier, and a friend of hers was guiding a Argentinian Birthright group of young adults. I was asked to meet with the group for a couple of hours and speak about my experience as a Palestinian from East Jerusalem living in Israel, so they could hear another point of view. As I am also a native Spanish speaker, I was well-suited for the job. I agreed to meet with the group, even though I didn’t know what I was signing up for. I spoke for an hour-and-a-half about my personal experience and about the Palestinian cause in general. The Argentinian teenagers had a lot of questions, most of them ignorant, but they tried to be polite. In the end they told me they were very satisfied, and thanked me for meeting with them. As we parted, I realized I still didn’t really know what this Birthright thing is all about. During that summer, I met with another half-a-dozen Spanish-speaking Birthright groups.
My political stance was and is very clear. I speak about the Israeli oppression against the Palestinian people, about the occupation and the Nakba, and also about the oppression of the LGBT community in Israel and in my society as well. I’ve never shied away from saying it all – including the ugly things. I know now what Birthright is and what it represents, and it represents almost everything I’m against. Every time I even read the word ‘birthright’, I get nauseous. Who are these privileged kids who get to have an all-expenses paid vacation here? People who get to visit here so easily, even if they don’t have any apparent affinity with this land, while hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are denied the right to visit their homeland?….

Bucharest, Romania to erect statue of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Nov — The Romanian capital of Bucharest is set to erect a statue of the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, the Palestinian embassy in Romania announced on Saturday. According to official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency, the Palestinian ambassador to Romania Fouad Kokaly held a meeting with Daniel Tudorache, the mayor of District One in Bucharest. Durng the meeting, Kokaly reportedly asked the mayor to approve the building of a Darwish statue in the town.“Tudorache welcomed the ambassador’s request and added that he will be proud to have the statute of the late Palestinian poet,” Wafa said. Darwish, who died in 2008, is also known as Palestine’s national poet, and stands as one of the most prominent figures of modern Palestinian literature. He has long been criticized by Israeli political figures for his stance against the occupation.

Fighting Israel’s foes in US courts, lawyer had help from Mossad
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 2 Nov by Dan Williams — An Israeli lawyer has shed light in a new book on the role the Mossad intelligence agency has played in U.S. litigation she pursues against the international financing of Israel’s enemies. Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, an Orthodox Jewish mother of six, heads the not-for-profit Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, which has named Palestinian authorities, Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and North Korea as defendants in lawsuits it has brought. Many of the cases were heard in U.S. courtrooms, either because victims of Palestinian shootings and bombings or Hezbollah rockets held American citizenship, or to target suspected militant funds held in banks in the United States. Titled “Harpoon” after the codename of the Mossad finance-tracking unit Darshan-Leitner worked with, the book lays out how Israel targets foes’ bank accounts as well as arsenals. In the closest that the secretive Mossad can come to a public endorsement, its former director provided praise for the book on its cover. Darshan-Leitner, who mostly is engaged by private citizens, said that after her law center began suing Palestinians over attacks during a revolt that they launched in 2000, she was invited to Mossad headquarters for a consultation…. (listserv)


American; political science major, M.A.; former ISM volunteer in the West Bank

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