Media Analysis

Israel has detained 148 Palestinian children since Trump’s Jerusalem speech 2 weeks ago

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Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

PPS:  490 Palestinians detained by Israeli forces since Trump decision on Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — Israeli forces detained at least 28 Palestinians overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday from the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to official Palestinian and Israeli sources. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported that 14 Palestinians were detained from the West Bank. According to the group, the Israeli army detained four Palestinians in Bethlehem, including a 15-year-old, three from the Hebron area, three from the Ramallah district, two from Jenin and two from the Nablus district. PPS added that Israeli police forces also detained 11 Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem.
The group said that as of Tuesday, the total number of Palestinians detained by Israeli forces since the beginning of the protests that followed US President Donald Trump’s’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was 490, including 148 minors and 11 women.
Israeli military raids into Palestinian cities, towns, and refugee camps are a near daily occurrence. Prisoners rights group Addameer recorded 6,198 Palestinians were detained by Israel as of October. The group has estimated that some 40 percent of Palestinian men will be detained by Israel at some point in their lives.

80 Palestinians wounded by Israel in West Bank
MEMO 21 Dec — Israeli occupation forces wounded 81 Palestinian protesters across the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem yesterday, the Anadolu Agency reported the Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC) saying. In a statement, the PRC said that its staff offered first aid to three Palestinians wounded with live ammunition and 23 others with rubber-coated steel bullets. Meanwhile, 43 Palestinian protesters suffered from suffocation due to the heavy tear gas fired at them by the Israeli occupation forces and 12 others suffered burns and bruises. Witnesses said Israeli occupation forces had a heavy-handed response to Palestinian protesters at the Qalandia checkpoint, near Ramallah, at Nabi Saleh village, Bab Al-Zawiyeh and Halhoul in Hebron, at Al-Naqqar area in Tulkarm and at the Israeli military checkpoint of Huwwara near Nablus.
Since 6 December, when the US President Donald Trump announced his administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Palestinians have taken to the streets in protest. After more than 3,400 Palestinians were injured in protests, the UN condemned the “level of casualties” as a result of the Israeli response, saying it “raises serious concerns as to whether the force used by Israeli forces was properly calibrated to the threat.”

Israel army attacking and impeding Palestinian medics, says British charity
MEMO 21 Dec — Israeli occupation forces have been impeding the work of Palestinian medical workers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a British charity has said, including through direct attacks. In a press release published this week, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) said it was “deeply concerned” by the loss of life and injuries caused by Israeli forces at recent protests in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). In particular, MAP flagged up reports from the Palestine Red Crescent of 14 separate “violations by Israeli forces against its medical teams” in the period 7-16 December. These incidents “included four injuries to emergency medical staff, three restrictions to access or movement of medical teams, and four attacks against ambulances”. According to MAP, such violations occur “in the context of ongoing and pervasive failure of Israel to credibly investigate previously-recorded violations of the protected status of medical teams and facilities, including violent raids on a Jerusalem hospital in July 2017 and widespread attacks on hospitals, clinics and paramedics during the 2014 offensive on Gaza.”

Palestinian Ahed Tamimi arrested by Israeli forces
BETHLEHEM (Al Jazeera) 20 Dec by Jaclynn Ashly — Ahed Tamimi, a prominent 16-year-old Palestinian activist, has been detained during a pre-dawn raid on her home by the Israeli army and border police in the occupied West Bank. Ahed’s mother, Nariman, was also arrested on Tuesday afternoon during a visit to Ahed at an Israeli police station. According to Ahed’s father Bassem, the Tamimi family, who are well-known activists in the village of Nabi Saleh, woke up with a shock at about 3am to the noise of Israeli forces banging on their front door and screaming. Bassem told Al Jazeera that he opened the door for the soldiers, who pushed him aside and trooped into the house. They forced the family into one of the rooms as they went about rifling through the household contents, throwing clothes and possessions on the floor and leaving behind a mess. The soldiers then informed the family that Ahed was being arrested, without giving any reasons. “Nariman was hysterically crying and attempted to hug Ahed, but she was thrown to the ground by the soldiers,” he said, referring to Ahed’s mother. Despite Ahed being a constant fixture at Nabi Saleh’s protests, this is the first time she has been detained by Israeli forces. Ahed was handcuffed and led by the soldiers outside to an Israeli army jeep. The family was prevented from following her outside. According to Bassem, at least 30 soldiers were involved in the raid and Ahed’s arrest. The soldiers confiscated the family’s phones, computers and laptops. Bassem told Al Jazeera that his 14-year-old son had refused to give the soldiers his phone. “Six soldiers pushed him down and violently took it from him,” he said. The family was left in shock following the raid.
The Tamimi family is no stranger to run-ins with the Israeli military establishment. Bassem has been arrested numerous times by Israeli forces, and was termed a “prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty International, the international rights-advocacy group, during one of his several stints in Israeli prison in 2012. Ahed’s arrest came a day after a video of the teen confronting Israeli soldiers during protests in Nabi Saleh on Friday, over US President Donald Trump‘s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, went viral. An Israeli army spokesperson told Al Jazeera that Ahed was suspected of “assaulting a soldier and an IDF officer”… The spokesperson accused Ahed of participating in a “violent riot” in which she said hundreds of Palestinians threw stones at Israeli forces during Friday’s protests…. However, Bassem says the Israeli narrative does not tell the full story. He says the now-viral video showing Ahed was shot immediately after Israeli forces fired tear-gas canisters directly at their home, which broke several windows. Moments earlier, Ahed’s 14-year-old cousin, Mohammad, had been hit point-blank in the face by a rubber bullet fired by  the Israeli soldier. Mohammad had to be put under a medically induced coma, from which he woke up on Tuesday, 72 hours later. “Ahed was telling the soldiers to get away from our home,” Bassem said. “She was trying to force them to leave to prevent the soldiers from hurting anyone else.”….

Second young woman from Tamimi family abducted by Israeli soldiers in Nabi Saleh
IMEMC 20 Dec — Following the highly publicized abduction of 16-year old Ahed Tamimi on Tuesday, along with her mother, Israeli soldiers entered the town of Nabi Saleh again early Wednesday morning and abducted Noor Tamimi, one of Ahed’s relatives, from her bed. Noor and Ahed are apparently being targeted for a video that went viral last week showing the two girls and Ahed’s mother pushing two soldiers, then standing hand-in-hand and telling the soldiers to leave their home. The soldiers, armed with assault rifles, had invaded the town of Nabi Saleh and the Tamimi family home. The Israeli military was insulted that teen girls would push their heavily armed soldiers, and the army spokesperson said the girls should have been handcuffed on the spot and taken to an Israeli military camp immediately….

Opinion: A girl’s chutzpah / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 20 Dec — Ahed Tamimi, 16, is a heroine, a Palestinian heroine. Maybe the intifada of slappings will succeed where all other methods of resistance have failed — Last Tuesday, Israel Defense Forces soldiers shot Hamed al-Masri, 15, in the head, wounding the unarmed boy from Salfit severely. On Friday, soldiers shot the unarmed Mohammed Tamimi, also 15, in the head, wounding the Nabi Saleh boy severely. Also on Friday, soldiers killed Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, a double amputee, shooting him in the head, too. On the same day Ahed Tamimi, 16, stood in the courtyard of her home with her girlfriend and slapped an IDF officer who had invaded her home.
Israel woke from its slumber angry: How dare she. The three victims of the barbaric shooting didn’t interest Israelis, and the media didn’t even bother to report on them. But the slap (and kick) by Tamimi provoked rage. How dare she slap an IDF soldier? A soldier whose friends slap, beat, abduct and of course shoot Palestinians almost every day. She really has chutzpah, Tamimi. She broke the rules. Slapping is permitted only by soldiers. She is the real provocation, not the soldier who invaded her house. She, who had three close relatives killed by the occupation, whose parents have been detained countless times and whose father was sentenced to four months in prison for participating in a demonstration at the entrance to a grocery store – she dared to resist a soldier. Palestinian chutzpah … It’s all because of the “incitement.” Otherwise she certainly wouldn’t hate her conqueror.
But there are other sources of the unbridled lust for revenge against Tamimi. (Education Minister Naftali Bennett: “She should finish her life in prison.”) The girl from Nabi Saleh shattered several myths for Israelis. Worst of all, she dared to damage the Israeli myth of masculinity. Suddenly it turns out that the heroic soldier, who watches over us day and night with daring and courage, is being pitted against a girl with empty hands. What’s going to happen to our machismo, which Tamimi shattered so easily, and our testosterone? Suddenly Israelis saw the cruel, dangerous enemy they are confronting: a curly-haired 16-year-old girl. All the demonization and dehumanization in the sycophantic media were shattered at once when confronted by a girl in a blue sweaterSuddenly all the cards were reshuffled: For one rare moment the enemy looked so human….

Nablus: Qusra village sees no end to settler violence
Al Jazeera 20 Dec by Farah Najjar & Shatha Hammad —  The killing of a Palestinian farmer by Israeli settlers in a northern West Bank village last month has left his family in mourning while fighting an ongoing legal battle to save their home, which is slated for demolition. Mahmoud al-Zaal‘s eight-member family live in Qusra, a village encircled by illegal settlements and outposts south of the city of Nablus. An Israeli settler from a nearby outpost shot al-Zaal, 48, while he was ploughing his land. “He saw them approaching, and when they began to pester him, he called out for me,” Awad, al-Zaal’s son, told Al Jazeera. “I was just 100 metres away, but when I ran back my father continued working and didn’t succumb to their threats,” the 23-year-old said. “Right after, a settler took out his gun and shot my father in the back.” About 25 years ago, al-Zaal inherited his land that lies in Area C, where Israel maintains full civil and military control over the occupied West Bank…
Al-Zaal’s family received several eviction notices, with the state claiming their two homes – one of which is under construction – lack the necessary building permits. Residents across the West Bank, who share the same fate as Qusra’s 6,000 residents, say these building permits are impossible to obtain. Although Area C covers more than 60 percent of Palestinian territory, less than five percent of the Palestinian population live there, facing severe restrictions on planning, construction and access to resources such as water. “My father was always out in the field. He loved the land even more than us,” said Awad. “The settlers regularly trespass on our land to tear down our trees and crops.”…
Prior to his death, al-Zaal began taking legal steps to counter the Israeli eviction notice in 2015. His death resulted in the delay of a court hearing in which he was a main witness; he had planned to testify in a bid to save his home. According to the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), which oversees home demolition cases in Qusra and other villages that are under existential threat, the rate of settler attacks in the area is considerably high in comparison to other towns in the West Bank. Wael al-Kut, the JLAC lawyer representing al-Zaal’s case, told Al Jazeera that he is overseeing six other demolition cases from the same village. “Much of the village’s land has been expropriated, and this has empowered the settler community in the West Bank to carry out such attacks against Palestinian farmers and landowners,” he said….

Israel arrests Palestinian carrying pipe bombs at West Bank military court
Haaretz 17 Dec by Yotam Berger — A Palestinian was arrested Sunday morning at the entrance to the Samaria Military Court in the northern West Bank after two explosive devices were found on him, the police said. The man was arrested by the court, which is located near the village of Salem, east of Nablus. A police sapper was rushed to the scene to deactivate the explosives, and the area was cordoned off until it is declared safe again. Police later confirmed that the man was indeed carrying explosives. According to Border Police, the suspect entered the security post at the entrance to the court clad in a coat, and while going through a routine security checkup security forces spotted on him what appeared to be a pipe bomb. Border policemen subsequently asked that the man remove his coat, at which point they spotted what they suspected to be another device. The suspect, a resident of a refugee camp in the West Bank Palestinian city of Jenin, was taken into investigation….

Israeli forces detain 13 Palestinians in West Bank, Jerusalem raids
JENIN (WAFA) 19 Dec – Israeli forces detained on Tuesday at least 13 Palestinians, including four minors, mostly during multiple overnight raids across the West Bank, said local sources. Israeli forces raided Rabba and Jalqamous villages, southeast of Jenin, where they detained four Palestinians, including the father of a slain Palestinian. In a subsequent raid into Siris village, south of Jenin, Israeli forces detained a Palestinian young man. They also detained a 65-year-old Palestinian and his son after ransacking their home in a raid into Yaabad town, south of Jenin. They also conducted a similar raid that triggered clashes in ‘Arraba town, southwest of Jenin. During the raid, Israeli troops opened fire towards Palestinians who attempted to block their passage, causing several to suffocate.
Meanwhile, Director of Palestine Prisoner’s Society (PPS) in Tubas Mahmoud Sawafta said Israeli forces detained two Palestinian minors after raiding their family homes in al-Far‘a refugee camp in the northern West Bank. In the meantime, Israeli troops raided Beitunia town, west of Ramallah, where they assaulted several Palestinians and showered local schools with tear gas canisters, causing scores of students to suffocate. Two schoolchildren were nabbed during the raid.
In Jerusalem, Israeli police detained two Palestinian minors after ransacking their family homes in East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Thuri.

Israel challenges court over return of Palestinian corpses
JERUSALEM (AFP) 18 Dec — Israeli ministers on Monday challenged a Supreme Court ruling that the bodies of Palestinian assailants killed during attacks must be released for burial and not used as bargaining chips. A government statement said members of the security cabinet decided Thursday’s ruling by Israel’s highest court was “unacceptable” and asked it to hold a fresh hearing on the issue. The government announced last year it would not return bodies unless Palestinians in Gaza agreed to release the remains of two Israeli soldiers believed to have been killed in a 2014 war in Gaza. Last week, responding to a motion filed by families of nine dead Palestinians, the court said Israeli law does not allow the bodies to be held, but gave the government six months to enact new legislation or hand the corpses to their families. Monday’s meeting of senior ministers turned down both options. “Ministers made it clear that the bodies of the terrorists would not be returned and that the principles set out in the majority opinion of the judges were unacceptable,” the government statement said. “Legislative proceedings will not be advanced at this stage,” until the court responds to the demand for a new hearing, it added….

Musta‘ribeen, Israel’s agents who pose as Palestinians
Al Jazeera 18 Dec by Linah Alsaafin —  They are dressed like Palestinian protesters, speak with the same accents and expressions, and show the same mannerisms. Their faces covered with checkered keffiyehs or balaclavas, they chant against the Israeli army and sometimes throw stones in the direction of the soldiers, all while drawing in other protesters as they get closer and closer to the army. Then, quick as a bang, the scene erupts, and this group suddenly turns on the rest of the Palestinian protesters, brandishing guns that were concealed under their shirts, firing in the air, grabbing those nearest to them and wrestling them to the ground. The army advances and takes into custody the Palestinians that were caught, as the rest of the protesters disperse, screaming out one word as a warning to others: “Musta‘ribeen!”
Disguised as Arabs — Musta‘ribeen, or mista’arvim in Hebrew, is a word that is derived from the Arabic “musta‘rib”, or one that is specialised in Arabic language and culture. In Israeli security terms, the word denotes security forces who disguise themselves as Arabs and carry out missions in the heart of Palestinian societies or other Arab countries. The agents are given rigorous training, and in operations concerning the occupied territories, are taught to think and act like a Palestinian. Their main missions, according to Israeli affairs expert Antoine Shalhat, include gathering intelligence, arresting Palestinians, and – in their eyes – counterterrorist operations … “The agents must speak Arabic as if it is their mother tongue,” Shalhat said. “They undergo courses to master Palestinian dialects and Arabic accents according to which Arab country they operate in, such as Yemen or Tunisia.” These courses take between four to six months and include how to master customs and religious practices, such as fasting and praying. The agents use makeup and wigs to complete their disguise but are chosen according to how similar their physical features are to Arab countenances….

Prisoners / Court actions

Settler teen who attacked activist rabbi at knifepoint gets community service
Haaretz 18 Dec by Yotam Berger — An Israeli teenager who threw rocks and threatened the head of a Jewish human rights organization with a knife near a West Bank settlement in 2015 was given 150 hours of community service by a juvenile court. The court did not convict the teen, who was born in 1998, of a crime and his name remains under a gag order because he was a minor when he committed the offense. The incident took place on Hill 851 next to the settlement of Itamar in the northern West Bank in October 2015, when Rabbi Arik Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights was returning with a Palestinian farmer after harvesting olives. The teenager, wearing a mask, punched and kicked Ascherman, attacked him with rocks and threatened him with a 13-centimeter knife. In her decision, Judge Sharon Halevy wrote that she opted for community service because a conviction could hamper the teen’s chances of getting drafted into the Israeli army, and because she believes he has a good chance at rehabilitation. The prosecution argued that the teenager was nearly an adult when the incident occurred. It said that on top of concealing his face, he hadn’t momentarily lost his senses but carried out a sustained attack using various forms of violence. Prosecutors argued that if he had been adult at the time, there is no question that he would spend time in prison for the assault….

Palestinian charged with attempted murder for throwing stones at hikers in West Bank
Haaretz 18 Dec by Yotam Berger & Yaniv Kubovich — Indictment alleges that Mohammed Wadi threw rocks at children from close range – 19 other Palestinians were arrested and more indictments are expected to follow — A Palestinian who threw stones at a group of Israeli hikers near the West Bank village of Qusra last month has been charged with attempted murder. The indictment against Mohammed Wadi, filed in an Israeli military court on Monday, accuses Wadi of entering a cave where 20 children and one adult had taken shelter and throwing large rocks at them from close range. “Some of the rocks were thrown at the adult’s head, wounding him,” a statement from the Israel Defense Forces Spokesman’s Office said. The military prosecutor has asked that Wadi be held without bail. Other indictments are expected to follow. Two weeks ago, 19 other Palestinians were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the incident. The IDF statement said that some of those arrested are suspected of incitement to terrorism. The incident occurred late last month, when the children, accompanied by two adults, were on a bar-mitzvah hike near the Palestinian village. One of the adults, a reserve army officer, shot and killed a Palestinian, Mahmoud Odeh, in the course of the incident. An Israeli military investigation concluded that the Israeli opened fire in an effort to drive the assailants away and only after the Palestinians attacked. But the Palestinians claim the shooting occurred first and that the attack was a response to it. The Israel Police in the West Bank have been investigating the shooter on suspicion of negligent homicide, but are leaning toward accepting his claim that he fired in self-defense. Immediately after the incident, the shooter said he thought he had fired in the air, and people who spoke with him afterwards said he hadn’t realized that he had hit anyone.

UPDATE: Attack on the Tamimi family: Ahed’s detention extended in military court; Bassem Tamimi detained and released
Samidoun 20 Dec — Bassem Tamimi, Palestinian human rights defender and the father of detained Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi, was released late at night on 20 December after being seized by Israeli occupation forces himself in the morning as he attended his daughter’s hearing at the Ofer military court, according to his Facebook post. Ahed was seized in the pre-dawn hours of 19 December from her family home and the Tamimis’ computers, phones and other electronics were confiscated by occupation soldiers. Ahed’s mother, Nariman Tamimi, was detained later in the morning on 19 December after she was called to the “Benjamin” police station near Jaba village. Both Ahed and Nariman remain jailed; Nariman will be brought for a hearing in military court tomorrow, 21 December, and Ahed’s detention was extended until Monday, 25 December at the earliest. Bassem has previously been detained 11 times and spent 3 years in administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial; he was recognized by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience. This came one day after both Ahed and then her mother were arrested by occupation forces following attacks on them in Israeli media for protesting and defending their land from Israeli occupation soldiers who had shot another local boy, 14-year-old Mohammed Tamimi, in the head with a rubber-coated metal bullet. In overnight, violent raids, occupation forces seized a cousin of the family, Nour Tamimi, 21, from her family home in Nabi Saleh.

Nariman and Nour Tamimi’s detention extended until Monday by Israeli military court
Samidoun 21 Dec — The detention of Nariman Tamimi, the mother of Ahed Tamimi and an activist, human rights defender and land defender in Nabi Saleh, occupied Palestine, and Nour Tamimi, 21, Ahed’s cousin and also a leading organizer in the village’s popular resistance to Israeli colonization, settlement construction, land confiscation and mass arrests, has been extended until Monday, 25 December by an Israeli military court on Thursday, 21 December; the Ofer military court extended 16-year-old Ahed’s detention until Monday on 20 December. Bassem Tamimi, Nariman’s husband and Ahed’s father, reported the updates on his Facebook page…
The three Tamimi women are currently being held in HaSharon prison, with Ahed in one room and Nariman and Nour in another. Bassem Tamimi wrote that they are being held with Israeli “criminal” prisoners rather than in the rooms with their fellow Palestinian political prisoners in HaSharon; this is used as a tactic of intimidation and an attempt to force confessions, especially as Palestinians are at a high risk for racist abuse and violence.


Israel finds no wrongdoing in paraplegic Palestinian’s death
JERUSALEM (AP) 18 Dec by Tia Goldenberg — An investigation by the Israeli military into the death of a paraplegic Palestinian man cleared Israeli troops of wrongdoing on Monday, saying it found “no moral or professional failures” in the incident. Palestinian health officials say Ibrahim Abu Thraya, 29, was shot in the head while demonstrating last week along Gaza’s border with Israel, an area that has experienced repeated unrest since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital this month. Abu Thraya’s death has become a rallying cry among Palestinians against Trump’s move, which upended decades of U.S. foreign policy and countered an international consensus that the fate of Jerusalem should be determined in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The military said Friday’s protest was “extremely violent,” with protesters hurling stones, burning tires and explosive devices at troops. In its findings Monday, it said no live fire was aimed at Abu Thraya and it was impossible to determine the cause of death. The military said it has repeatedly requested details about Abu Thraya’s injuries and will examine them if they are received. The military did not disclose from whom it had requested details. Abu Thraya, who had previously worked as a fisherman, lost his legs in an Israeli airstrike during a 2008 war between Israel and Hamas. According to relatives, he was assisting in the evacuation of people after an earlier airstrike when he was struck. He had since used a wheelchair. Itedal Abu Thraya, Ibrahim’s mother, questioned the military’s self-investigation and said her son posed no threat. “He was only holding a flag, not an explosive belt or a bomb,” she said. “I do not trust them or their investigations.”….

UN condemns Israel’s ‘shocking and wanton’ killing of Palestinian amputee
The National (UAE) 20 Dec by Noor Nanji — A senior UN official has criticised Israel’s killing of a wheelchair-bound Palestinian protester with no legs last Friday, saying he was “truly shocked” by the incident. Zeid Ra‘ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the shooting of Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh by Israeli security forces in the Gaza Strip was “incomprehensible” and that evidence gathered by his staff points to the use of “excessive” force. “Given his severe disability, which must have been clearly visible to those who shot him, his killing is incomprehensible – a truly shocking and wanton act,” Mr Al Hussein’s statement said. Mr Thurayeh, 29, was shot in the head by a sniper close to the border fence east of Gaza City as he protested against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital … Mr Al Hussein said there was nothing to suggest Mr Thurayeh was posing an imminent threat when he was killed and “the facts gathered so far by my staff in Gaza strongly suggest that the force used against [him] was excessive”. His statement said Israel’s heavy-handed response to protests had resulted in loss of lives in Gaza as well as more than 220 injured by live ammunition. “This level of casualties raises serious concerns as to whether the force used by Israeli forces was properly calibrated to the threat,” he said. “And these events… can sadly be traced directly back to the unilateral US announcement on the status of Jerusalem, which breaks international consensus and was dangerously provocative.”….

Israeli navy abducts two fishermen in northern Gaza
IMEMC 21 Dec — Israeli Navy ships attacked, on Thursday morning, Palestinian fishing boats in Gaza territorial waters west of Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the coastal region, and abducted two fishermen. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers fired many live rounds at fishing boats, and abducted Orans Sultan and Mohammad Sultan, before taking them, along with their boats, to Asdod (Ashdod) Port. It is worth mentioning that, several months ago, Orans was abducted by the navy, when the navy ships attacked a number of fishing boats in the same area, and was released later.

Israeli bulldozers level lands in southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Several Israeli bulldozers entered into the southern Gaza Strip on Monday and razed lands, under heavy military protection. Witnesses told Ma‘an that four Israeli bulldozers entered lands east of Rafah city, where they razed and leveled lands near the border fence with Israel. Israeli military drones reportedly hovered overhead during the incursion. 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.

Israel ‘will not tolerate’ Gaza rocket fire: Lieberman
AFP 19 Dec — Israel is ready to pay the price for the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as its capital but will not accept Palestinian rocket fire, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday. President Donald Trump’s December 6 decision to recognise Jerusalem and move the US embassy there has led to near-daily protests in the Palestinian territories, with at least 15 rockets or projectiles fired at the Jewish state from the Gaza Strip. A number have fallen inside the Palestinian enclave itself or been intercepted by Israel’s missile defence systems, but a few have hit Israel. They have caused minor damage but no injuries, although the attacks have raised fears of a new round of confrontation with Gaza’s rulers Hamas, with which Israel has fought three wars since 2008. “It was clear to us that the US President’s declaration (on Jerusalem) will have a price, and I repeat, we are ready to pay the whole price. This determination (on Jerusalem) is important,” Lieberman said during a visit to a military base near the Gaza border. “We will not tolerate any leakage” of rockets fired from Gaza at Israel, he added. Since the last round of conflict in 2014, Islamists Hamas and Israel have observed a tense ceasefire. The Israeli army believes the rocket fire from Gaza has not come from Hamas but from more radical Islamist groups, broadly called Salafists. Lieberman said Hamas had arrested Salafists in recent days, but there has been no confirmation of this from Hamas….

As Rafah reopens, Egypt stops Palestinian students from leaving Gaza
MEMO 18 Dec — Egyptian authorities prevented scores of Palestinian students from leaving the besieged Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing this weekend, Safa reported yesterday. The crossing had temporarily been opened for four days from Saturday, however Egyptian authorities returned more than 100 students to Gaza after they were questioned by security officials. Hundreds of Palestinian students had registered their names with Palestinian border authorities in an effort to leave the enclave to begin their studies abroad. During the 11-year Israeli-Egyptian siege on Gaza, hundreds of students have lost places at high education institutes abroad after they could not travel through the Rafah crossing. Egypt only opened the crossing for 44 days in 2016.

Officials: Patients in Gaza hospitals left with no food
MEMO 19 Dec — Companies which provide meals to patients in hospitals in the besieged Gaza Strip have stopped catering to medical centres because they have not been paid for months, a Ministry of Health spokesperson revealed yesterday. Speaking to Quds Press, Ashraf Al-Qidra said the government of national accord in occupied Ramallah had not settled the catering companies’ payments.  “Hundreds of patients are now without food,” Al-Qidra said, adding that the Ministry of Finance had not responded to requests made weeks ago to settle the companies’ dues. He said that patients in the hospitals in Gaza need 86,000 meals a year at a cost of 6 million shekels ($1.7 million). Last year, Gaza could not cover the cost of the meals and obtained funding from charities.

Hamas leader declares Gaza-based group ‘no longer rules the Strip’
i24NEWS (Israel) 21 Dec — Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar announced on Wednesday that his Gaza-based organization would no longer rule or manage the coastal enclave, describing this as a “strategic” and “permanent” move, according to Walla news site. “This decision is a strategic one and there is no going back. Hamas will be completely out of the picture,” the Hamas leader said at a meeting with civil defense institutions in the Gaza Strip. Another Hamas leader meeting added that “it is imperative to end the split in every situation” due to the damage that divisions between Gaza-based Hamas and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) have had on the resistance effort. “[It] harmed all of us as a people and as a liberation movement, we must end the division at any price.” … Reconciliation attempts have since been stalled further following US President Donald Trump’s widely-contested decision to recognize the coveted holy city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Attention was diverted to waging an “uprising” against the announcement, which witnessed Palestinians in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip take to the streets in a string of ‘day of rage’ protests. In a bid to redirect attention to the landmark rapprochement agreement, Sinwar stated that Trump’s Jerusalem declaration was an opportunity to accelerate Palestinian reconciliation. “Trump’s actions on Jerusalem require rapid steps to reconcile and end this tragic chapter in the history of the people,” Sinwar stated. “This declaration is a real opportunity to overcome the obstacles on the way to reconciliation.” Whilst there has been an uptick in rocket attacks fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel in recent weeks, Salafi groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks. According to a Haaretz report, Hamas seeking to avoid a wider escalation in violence with Israel, embarked on an arrest of Salafi militants in an effort to halt the fire….

430-year-old Ottoman house restored in Gaza
[with photo] GAZA (Daily Sabah) 21 Dec — A restaurant named Bait Sitty has opened in a 430-year-old Ottoman building in Gaza. It is expected that the restaurant, which has opened in one of the most beautiful examples of Ottoman architecture in Al-Zaytoun neighborhood, will attract the attention of tourists.The building, the historical structure of which was protected during the decoration, houses an inner court with an ornamental pool and well in the middle along with a guest room near the entrance where people are hosted. A large, high-ceiling room, which is used as a kitchen, dining rooms and a library with many books, are located downstairs. The rooms upstairs have also been prepared in a way for the visitors to have a nice time and enjoy their meals. Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Atif Selame said that the building where the restaurant is located is one of the important historical places in Gaza … According to the data of Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Historical Works, there are 134 buildings which are more than 180 years old in Gaza.

Gaza fashion house combines tradition, style
Al-Monitor 19 Dec by Hani Abu Rezk — Working at her small, crowded desk with sheets of paper, pencils and thread, Aziza Msabeh first sketches a dress on white paper, then goes over her work in black. Then she starts the second stage of her work, taking the design from a drawing to a unique dress that her client will wear to her brother’s wedding. Msabeh, who lives in the central Gaza Strip neighborhood of Deir al-Balah, is one of the four founders of a fashion house and boutique called “Dar Organza Fashion,” a pioneering fashion design house in downtown Gaza City. Its first boutique was opened in February 2017, followed in September by a second branch in the Rimal neighborhood. The fashion house provides employment for 30 women who had never worked professionally before….

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

Political and religious leaders light Christmas tree at the endangered Jabal al-Baba community
JABAL AL BABA (WAFA) 21 Dec — Political and religious leaders attended on Tuesday a solidarity event in the endangered Bedouin community of Jabal al Baba, east of Jerusalem, during which a Christmas tree was lit. The community is at imminent risk of forced displacement after the so called “Israeli Civil Administration,” an arm of the occupation authority, ordered all of the community’s 320 Palestinian residents on November 9 to evacuate their homes ahead of the demolition of their homes and structures, despite ongoing court proceedings. Israel wants to take over the land located in the occupied West Bank to build a new settlement on it. The Prime Minister’s office coordinated the event, which was attended by Adnan Husseini, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, Walid Assaf, Minister of Anti Wall and Settlements, Atalla Hanna, Archbishop of Sebastia, Rev. Jamal Khader, Latin Patriarchate, Mustafa Barghouti, General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, the PLO Negotiations Support Unit, and a number of diplomats and representatives of various Bedouin communities. During the opening ceremony, Minister Husseini reiterated the importance of celebrating Christmas during the latest developments in Jerusalem and noted that US President Donald Trump “wanted us to refrain from celebrating Christmas but despite of his decision we tell him that we will celebrate in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jabal al Baba and everywhere because we are ambassadors of peace.”…
Part of the land where the community resides belongs to the Catholic Church; the residents live there with the Church’s permission. The mountain was renamed “Jabal al Baba” [Pope Mountain] in 1964, when Pope Paul VI visited the West Bank, then under temporary Jordanian rule, and the late King Hussein gave him 170 dunums of land in the area to build a church. Jabal al Baba is one of 46 Palestinian Bedouin herding communities, comprising over 7,000 residents, the majority of which are refugees, the Israeli government is seeking to relocate to one of three designated sites by the occupation, in order to go forward with the “E1” plan, which entails the construction of thousands of additional settlement units in an area between East Jerusalem and the illegal settlement of Maale Adumim, where several of these Bedouin communities are currently located….

Short Video: The home on the wrong side of the wall
Haaretz 19 Dec —  Narrated by Omar Hajajla. Story by Nir Hasson. Photography by Olivier Fitoussi, Emil Salman

‘Living in a prison, though I have the key’: All alone on the wrong side of Israel’s separation barrier
Haaretz 19 Dec by Nir Hasson — The Hajajlehs say the Israelis are trying to get rid of them, but defense officials maintain the special gate at the family’s house is for security needs — Two weeks ago, a Border Police jeep arrived at the Hajajleh family home in the village of Al-Walaja, south of Jerusalem. The soldiers gave the family patriarch, Omar Hajajleh, a small remote control, like the kind used to unlock cars. Shortly afterward, the large electric gate separating the house from the rest of the village was locked. The remote is the family’s only way to open the gate and leave their home. “Think about this,” Hajajleh said. “If I need to go out and my wife is at a neighbor’s, how will I leave the house? If I’m at work, how will the rest of the family leave?” The Hajajleh house is the only one in Al-Walaja on the Israeli side of the separation barrier. For years, the state tried to get the family to leave, but they refused. Four years ago, following a petition to the High Court of Justice, the Defense Ministry reached a settlement with the family through which a tunnel under the separation fence was built for them at a cost of four million shekels ($1.1 million). A large iron gate was built inside the tunnel – the house’s only entrance….

Jordan Valley settlements to be expanded
IMEMC/Agencies 20 Dec — The Israeli Ministry of Settlement and National Fund announced, Wednesday, a new settlement plan in the Jordan valley, including doubling the number of Israeli settlers and constructing three more settlements. Haaretz paper reported, according to Al Ray, that there are 20 settlements in the Jordan Valley which are housing about 4,500 settlers. It explained that the goal of the plan is to increase the number of settlers in the valley, and that the Israeli government has not officially approved the plan as of yet, and that it did not allocate budget for this purpose. The Israeli government is to establish three settlements, Givat Silit, Petronot and Giv’at Eden, as well as expand the existing settlements. The state has doubled up on the settlements process, in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank, since the US declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Settlers place menorah on Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron
MEMO 18 Dec — Israeli Jewish settlers yesterday placed a menorah on the roof of the Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, a Palestinian minister said, noting it was a “dangerous precedent”, Quds Press reported. Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs Sheikh, Yousif Ideis, said that this “aggression” is classified as part of the “relentless Judaisation” efforts of the mosque, considering it a “flagrant violation” of an Islamic site. He referred to the Israeli measures taken in the wake of the Jewish massacre carried out against the Palestinian worshippers in the mosque in 1994. The Israeli occupation “expropriated” large areas of the mosque and allocated it for Jewish use only. Edeis said that the remaining part of the mosque is considered occupied because the Israeli occupation controls the Muslim call to prayer and the time of entering the mosque and leaving it and even the age of the worshippers who pray inside it. The minister noted that the mosque has been exposed to more than 20 Israeli “violations” including the banning of the adhan – Muslim call to prayer – during 2017….

New synagogue under Western Wall unveiled, $50m to be allocated for ‘Temple Mount explorations’
IMEMC/Agencies 20 Dec — Israeli authorities, today, unveiled a new Jewish synagogue under Al-Buraq Wall – known to Jews as the Western Wall – in occupied East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound — “Following 12 years of construction, the new synagogue was opened on Monday evening,” the Heritage Foundation of the Western Wall, an Israeli governmental body, said in a statement. “The unique design of the prayer hall combines rare art and unique lighting, creating a wonderful contrast between ancient and modern,” the statement read. In recent years, Islamic institutions in East Jerusalem have lodged repeated protests over excavations being carried out by the Israeli authorities under the flashpoint mosque compound. In a statement, Sheikh Ekrema Sabri, head of Jerusalem’s Supreme Islamic Council and a former Al-Aqsa imam, stressed that the Al-Buraq Wall was a component of the Al-Aqsa’s western wall. “The wall is part of our Islamic heritage and will remain so until Judgment Day,” Sabri said, according to Days of Palestine. “The Israeli occupation has no claim on Jerusalem’s heritage,” he added. “This new synagogue… doesn’t have any historical roots.” “All new construction by the [Israeli] occupation authorities in Jerusalem is illegitimate and lacks a historical basis,” Sabri said, adding that the holy city “cannot be partitioned”….
In related news, Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev has suggested the government allocate NIS250m ($50 million) for excavation works to explore foundations of alleged Jewish Temple beneath Al-Aqsa Mosque. The excavation works are to be carried out beneath, near and around Al-Aqsa Mosque and occupied Jerusalem’s Old City. Member of the Joint List in the Israeli Knesset Talab Abu-Arar said: “These works serve the Western agenda, as well as extremist Jewish organisations.” Abu-Arar said that the works “are the most dangerous,” noting they “were secret in the past.” He called for efforts to confront Israel’s Judaisation policies because “Al-Aqsa Mosque is in real danger”. It is expected that the government, which has met inside one of the excavated tunnels beneath Al-Aqsa Mosque and decided to prepare a plan for extra excavation works, would approve the funds.


NATO awards new contract to Israel firm accused of war crimes
MEMO 19 Dec — NATO has awarded Israel’s largest arms producer, Elbit System, a new contract. The successful $46 million bid was announced by Elbit System today and will see the arms producer supplying additional direct infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) self-protection systems to NATO for its Airbus A330 tankers. The contract will be carried out over four years and is said to be similar to several previous awards from global air forces and other customers. Elbit Systems will equip NATO’s Airbus A330, which is used as an aerial refueling tanker. With the reputation of being the backbone of Israel’s arms industry, Elbit Systems has been the focus of campaigns by human rights groups around the world. The company played a major role during Israel’s 2014 military assault on Gaza, which led to the death of more than 2,168 Palestinians, including over 500 children.

Palestinian refugees – Iraq

Iraq to abolish rights given to Palestine refugees
MEMO 21 Dec — The Iraqi government is planning to repeal laws that give merits, including citizenship and free education to Palestinian refugees in the country, Quds Press reported yesterday. Palestinian sources in Iraq warned that the Iraqi President Fuad Masum had issued a law regarding the residence of foreigners in Iraq on 2 October which will take effect at the beginning of 2018. The law, which applies to Palestinian refugees, annuls a number of previous decisions issued by the Revolutionary Command Council during former president Saddam Hussein’s era. One of the decisions gave several merits to the Palestinian refugees, including travel documents, identification papers, free education, healthcare insurance, financial stipends and free homes. Palestinian refugees in Iraq said that cancelling free education, healthcare insurance and the complex travel procedures are the most problematic issues for them.

Other news

Protection of Civilians Report | 5-18 December 2017
UN OCHA 21 Dec — Biweekly highlightsThe reported period witnessed a wave of protests, clashes, rocket firing and airstrikes across the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), resulting in eight Palestinian fatalities and nearly 2,900 injuries, including at least 345 children; seven Israelis were also injured. The unrest, which followed a United States’ announcement on 6 December recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, raises concern because of its potential to escalate into a new round of hostilities.
In the Gaza Strip, three Palestinian civilians, all men, were shot and killed by Israeli forces and 658 other civilians, including 79 children, were injured during protests and clashes. The incidents, which took place daily next to the perimeter fence, involved stone throwing at Israeli forces deployed on the Israeli side, who fired live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas canisters towards protesters. The three killings occurred in two separate incidents, on 8 December east of Khan Younis and on 15 December east of Gaza city. One of the fatalities in the latter incident was a 29-year-old man who had his two legs amputated in 2008 after being wounded in an Israeli airstrike. Over a third of those injured during the clashes (223) were shot with live ammunition, and the rest were either hit by rubber bullets or tear gas canisters, or inhaled tear gas and needed medical treatment.
In response to the almost daily firing of projectiles from Gaza towards southern Israel, the Israeli air force launched a series of airstrikes targeting military sites in Gaza, killing three Palestinians, including a civilian and two members of an armed group, and injuring 25 civilians, including nine children. The civilian fatality was a 54-year-old man, injured on 8 December, in an airstrike on a site in Beit Lahia, who died of a heart attack shortly afterwards. In addition to the targeted sites, several residential buildings and two schools sustained moderate to minor damage. Most Palestinian projectiles fell short inside Gaza, injuring a Palestinian woman and a child, and damaging one school. One of the projectiles landed in the town of Sderot, Israel, causing damage to a kindergarten….

Hamas warns of Palestinian reconciliation collapse
GAZA CITY (AFP) 21 Dec — A senior leader in Palestinian movement Hamas warned on Thursday of the potential collapse of a reconciliation agreement made with political rivals Fatah. The reconciliation is collapsing and everyone must intervene to save it,” Yahya Sinwar, the Gaza head of Hamas, told a meeting of young people. “We took major steps to achieve reconciliation and we offered a lot of concessions, but the reconciliation is still in the same place.” Under an Egyptian-brokered deal Hamas was meant to hand over control of Gaza to the internationally recognized Palestinian government, which is dominated by Fatah, by Dec. 10.
But the deadline passed and Hamas still maintains control in the Palestinian enclave. The Palestinian government, based in the West Bank, has assumed responsibility at checkpoints between Gaza and neighbors — Israel and Egypt — but Hamas is still fully in control of the police and security apparatuses. Fatah officials accused Hamas of refusing to give up real power, while Hamas said Fatah was not really committed to the process. A key sticking point was the future of Hamas’s vast armed wing….

Global rights groups urge Palestinian Authority to reform law
MEMO 20 Dec — Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International, Avaaz and 7amleh: The Arab Centre for the Advancement of Social Media have urged the Palestinian Authority (PA) to amend its controversial cybercrime law so as “to bring it in line with their international legal obligations”. While the PA has proposed striking some repressive provisions in the 2017 law in response to concerns from civil society groups, it has “left in place others that would allow disproportionate and arbitrary restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, privacy and protection of data”. “The proposed amendments to remove provisions that allow prison sentences and heavy fines for anyone critical of the Palestinian authorities online are a welcome step,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International. “But further changes are required to fully safeguard Palestinian rights to freedom of expression, privacy and protection of data.”

Children of Arab-Israeli citizen banned at Tel Aviv
MEMO 20 Dec — Israeli authorities prevented two Arab children with Romanian passports from entering the country and visiting their family in the Negev, Arab48 reported yesterday. The two children Alaa, 13, and Ali, eight, are the sons of Arab-Israeli citizen Jamal Abu-Jame, who is married to a Romanian. The two boys hold Romanian passports. Ahead of a family visit to the occupied Negev, Jamal prepared a written agreement from his wife to say she is happy for the boys to travel with their father, and a legal agreement from Romania from where he left legally. However, when he and his sons landed in Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport authorities banned the boys from entry. No reason was given. He was told that he would need to deposit 60,000 shekels ($17,116) to release his sons, however when he did they were not released. “The airport received a call saying the deposit is not enough so the boys will not be released and they will be deported to Romania on the first flight heading there,” he said, noting that he was told to buy a ticket if he wanted to accompany them.

South Africa’s ANC decides on Israel embassy downgrade ahead of Jerusalem vote
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) 21 Dec — South Africa’s ruling ANC decided to downgrade its embassy in Tel Aviv to a liaison office over a U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, ahead of a U.N. vote on Thursday on a resolution urging Washington to drop the move. The decision was taken at the end of a five-day African National Congress conference, in which Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as its new leader and South Africa’s likely next president after 2019 elections, following Jacob Zuma. “Delegates endorsed the proposal that we must give practical support to the oppressed people of Palestine and resolved on an immediate and unconditional downgrade of the SA (South Africa) Embassy in Israel to a Liaison Office,” new ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule said on Thursday. There was no immediate comment from Israel’s Foreign Ministry….

US vetoes resolution on Trump’s Jerusalem decision
JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 18 Dec — The US has vetoed, as expected, a UN Security Council draft resolution rejecting President Donald Trump‘s recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and his plans to move the American embassy in Israel to the city. However, the proposed measure was backed on Monday by the 14 other Security Council members, including many US allies, highlighting Washington’s increasing isolation over an issue that has triggered mass rallies in support of the Palestinians in major international cities … Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, said: “It is paradoxical that while we were waiting for a peace plan from the US, the administration instead decided to further obstruct peace and delay its realisation. “The US decision encourages Israel to persist in its crimes against the Palestinian people and to continue its occupation of our territory. No rhetoric will hide this complacency in prolonging the occupation,” he added.
The Egyptian-drafted text reiterated the UN position on Jerusalem, affirming “that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council”. In an effort to keep Washington from exercising its veto power, the text did not mention the US by name, saying instead it “deeply regrets recent decisions regarding the status of Jerusalem.

Trump threatens to cut aid to countries over UN Jerusalem vote
The Guardian 21 Dec by Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem — Donald Trump has threatened to withhold “billions” of dollars of US aid from countries which vote in favour of a United Nations resolution rejecting the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. His comments came after the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, wrote to about 180 of 193 member states warning that she will be “taking names” of countries that vote for a general assembly resolution on Thursday critical of the announcement which overturned decades of US foreign policy. Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Trump amplified Haley’s threat. “Let them vote against us,” he said. “We’ll save a lot. We don’t care. But this isn’t like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said. “We’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer.” The warning appeared aimed largely at UN members in Africa, Asia and Latin America who are regarded as more vulnerable to US pressure. Egypt, which drafted Monday’s UN Security Council resolution which the US vetoed, is particularly vulnerable, receiving $1.2bn in US aid last year. But Trump’s comments may also resonate elsewhere – including in the UK, which is hoping to negotiate a quick post-Brexit trade deal with Washington. The emergency UN General Assembly meeting was called for Thursday to protest against the US veto at Monday’s Security Council meeting on a resolution to the Jerusalem issue – which was supported by all other 14 members….

Defying Trump threat, UN rejects US decision on Jerusalem
AFP 21 Dec —  Defying President Donald Trump’s threat to cut off funding, the United Nations approved by a resounding vote on Thursday a motion rejecting the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The 193-member General Assembly adopted the resolution by 128 to nine with 35 abstentions, in what Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour called a “massive setback” for the United States. An additional 21 countries did not turn up for the vote including Ukraine, which had supported the same resolution in the Security Council, indicating the US threats did have a chilling effect on some governments. Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo joined the United States in opposing the measure. Among the countries that abstained were Argentina, Australia, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, Romania and Rwanda. Speaking at the emergency session, US Ambassador Nikki Haley warned the United States “will remember this day.” “America will put our embassy in Jerusalem,” Haley said in defense of the US move, which broke with international consensus and unleashed protests across the Muslim world. “No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that,” Haley said. “But this vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN.” “When we make generous contributions to the UN we also have a legitimate expectation that our goodwill is recognized and respected,” she said. The resolution reaffirms that the status of Jerusalem must be resolved through negotiations, and that any decision reached outside of that framework must be rescinded…

Trump, take note: These are the top 10 countries receiving US aid — and how they voted on Jerusalem
Haaretz 21 Dec — Afghanistan $4.7B, Israel $3.1B, Egypt $1.46B, Iraq $1.14B, Jordan $1B, Pakistan $742.2M, Kenya $626.4M, Nigeria $606.1M, Tanzania $575.3M, Ethiopia $513.7M.  All except Israel voted for the resolution.

Christmas in Bethlehem: How Trump’s move ruined it
[with video] Al Jazeera 20 Dec —  President Donald Trump‘s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital looms large in Christmas festivities this year in the traditional birthplace of Jesus. Some food vendors, sellers of holiday trinkets and a leading hotelier in biblical Bethlehem say Palestinian protests, triggered by what many here view as a provocative show of pro-Israel bias, have hurt their Christmas business. Yet Bethlehem also offers a stage for a Palestinian rebuttal: banners proclaiming Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Palestine have been draped over facades on Manger Square as a backdrop for Christmas TV broadcasts to a global audience. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is keenly felt – perhaps even more so at Christmas – in Bethlehem, just a few miles (kilometres) south of contested Jerusalem. Israel’s separation wall cuts into Bethlehem and a segment of it has become a tourist magnet in its own right. Its cement slabs are covered with works by international graffiti artists such as Banksy and pro-Palestinian slogans left by visitors. While Palestinians try to draw attention to the barrier when foreigners pour in for Christmas, Trump’s policy shift on Jerusalem two weeks ago has emerged as the dominant theme this year …  In Bethlehem, the fallout was felt immediately. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was to have received Vice President Mike Pence, a devout Christian, in Bethlehem, but cancelled after the US pivot on Jerusalem. The snub came as Abbas rejected Washington as a Middle East broker. Meanwhile, Bethlehem’s flagship luxury hotel, the 250-bed Jacir Palace, closed because of frequent nearby clashes. General manager Marwan Kittani said the hotel had been fully booked for Christmas, but that he is now assessing day by day if he can reopen…
The vast majority of Palestinians are Muslims, but Abbas – like the late Yasser Arafat before him – values close ties with the Christian minority, regularly attending Christmas Eve mass at the Church of the Nativity, which is broadcast live. This year, TV footage will likely show two large banners hanging from roofs in Manger Square, reading: “Jerusalem will always be the eternal capital of Palestine.” Activists also plan to circulate a petition to Christmas visitors in support of Palestinian claims to Jerusalem and distribute stickers reading: “We (heart) Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine,” said organizer Munther Amira….

Israel attorney general joins lawsuit against Palestinian filmmaker
MEMO 21 Dec — Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has joined a lawsuit by an army reservist against Palestinian filmmaker Mohammad Bakri, over the latter’s 2002 film “Jenin, Jenin”. According to a report in Haaretz, “the unusual move” will see the top legal official support Nissim Meghnagi’s defamation of character suit against the acclaimed director due to the “public interest in the case”. The paper says this is a “rarely exercised” privilege of the Attorney General.  Meghnagi is a veteran of “Operation Defensive Shield”, which saw Israeli occupation forces conduct large-scale attacks on Palestinian population centres. In Jenin refugee camp, more than 50 residents were killed, including some two dozen non-combatants. In 2016, Meghnagi sued Bakri for 2.6 million shekels ($0.74 million), claiming that “he appears in and was named in the movie, and that the film libelled Israeli soldiers by presenting them as war criminals”. “Bakri argues that the purpose of the suit is persecution and political silencing, and says the case is without merit”, reported Haaretz, since Meghnagi only appears on camera for a few seconds, and “he cannot be identified as the person behind the deeds described in the movie”….

New Nablus / Welcome to Little Palestine, New Jersey
Haaretz 20 Dec by Tzach Yoked — A 14-minute drive separates Paterson and Fair Lawn in northern New Jersey. The former is home to America’s largest Palestinian community and largest proportion of Muslim residents. The latter is probably the city with the biggest proportion of Israelis in the region and one of the most Jewish cities in the United States … Despite the heavy Israeli presence, and with all due respect to Israeli snacks found in Fair Lawn, Paterson affords a much more powerful experience. Whereas Hebrew is often heard at newspaper stands or between neighbors at nearby Fair Lawn, English is now officially the second language in Paterson, and sometimes not even that. Paterson has several intersecting main streets, with numerous Palestinian meat restaurants, Lebanese bakeries, stores selling Syrian sweets and stands selling spices from Turkey. Loud Arabic music spills out of every store selling hookahs, large Syrian and Lebanese flags adorn storefront windows, and photos of the Temple Mount, the Al-Haram mosque in Mecca and the Beirut shoreline look down on you in any restaurant or barber shop. An entire Middle East is squeezed into a dense and lively area that spreads over barely four square kilometers, offering visitors culinary bounty and diverse culture that is hard to duplicate in any other Western country, including Israel…. (listserv)


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Two Palestinians killed today, over 40 injured including ‘Santa’ during Gaza border demonstrations.