Haaretz: 20 Gaza patients died waiting for Israeli exit permits
MEMO 4 Dec — Since the start of this year, 20 Palestinian patients from the Gaza Strip died due to an Israeli ban on their travel, Israeli newspaper Haaretz has revealed. The Israeli newspaper cited rights groups’ reports noting the “unjustified” increase of the Israeli “trend” to prevent issuing exit permits for patients. Haaretz reported the case of four-year-old Yara Bakheet who vomited frequently for an entire week and became dehydrated. After a series of tests in the European Hospital in Gaza, doctors told her mother that she suffers from a heart disease. She was granted a medical transition report to Al-Maqasid Hospital in East Jerusalem where she should have been treated. The family prepared the needed documents and applied for an Israeli permit to leave the Strip, they were told that Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet would need to approve the application. This it did, however only for the child and not for her mother. As a result, the family applied for her grandmother to apply and have her application approved. Yara travelled to Jerusalem, received the first part of her treatment then returned to Gaza. Israeli occupation forces did not allow her to leave the Strip again to continue her treatment and she later died as a result.
WHO report – According to the World Health Organisation, in June 1,920 applications were made for exit permits by patients. The international body says 951 of those applications were approved, 20 were refused and 949 (49.4 per cent) went unanswered by the date of the hospitalisation or treatment. The number, according to WHO, included 222 children and 113 elderly people … According to Haaretz, the international medical body said that since start of 2017 until September, 43.7 per cent of 20,000 applications did not receive responses, 2.9 per cent were rejected for security reasons and 53 per cent were approved with 75 per cent travelling to the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It said that 20 per cent of the applications which did not receive responses were for children and eight per cent for elderly persons.
Gaza’s isolation takes a toll on medical patients
GAZA (CNN) 4 Dec by Ian Lee — …We first met the Al Dan family at the end of July 2014 on the day baby Feras was born. He is known to his family as the son of war. Ra’eda had just arrived at the Shiffa Hospital in Gaza City. It was the height of the war between Hamas and Israel, which began after Hamas fired rockets into Israel. Israel responded with a military operation in Gaza. Doctors said the stress from the constant aerial bombardment was inducing complications in mothers-to-be; and so it was too for Ra’eda, who needed a C-section. After an hour’s anxious wait, a healthy eight-pound, two-ounce baby boy appeared. “He was born during the war, that’s why we called him the son of the war,” Ra’eda said. “He is always very angry, but with a brave character.”
Life hasn’t changed much since the guns fell silent. Electricity is still intermittent. The family home currently gets about four hours’ supply a day. It’s almost like a switch goes on in the children when the power comes back on — Feras and Rahaf sprint to the TV as it blinks back to life, to watch children’s programming and WWE Wrestling. Ra’eda and her mother start the laundry.
Medical care is another problem the family faces. Ra’eda said her brother died recently because he couldn’t get proper treatment in Gaza and couldn’t get permission to travel to Israel or Egypt, which control the borders. It’s a problem that she worries about for herself. Recently, she found a lump in her breast. She sold her jewelry to have a mastectomy as a precautionary measure. Doctors later told her she had cancer. “The only way to get proper treatment is to go abroad but it will be difficult,” says the mother of three. “I’ll have to leave my children.”
CNN went to see what treatment for cancer patients is like in Gaza….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian in critical condition after Israeli forces, settlers raid Qusra village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 4 Dec — A Palestinian man was critically injured after Israeli forces shot a live bullet into his back during clashes that erupted in the Qusra village southeast of Nablus on Monday. Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern occupied West Bank told Ma‘an that Ahmad Fayiz Hasan, 24, was critically injured during clashes in the eastern area of the village. Hasan was transferred to the Rafidiya Governmental Hospital in Nablus city by crews from the Palestinian Red Crescent and was immediately sent into surgery. Palestinian medical sources said that the bullet entered through Hasan’s back and settled into the left side of his chest. Daghlas said that locals had gathered in the eastern area of Qusra after Israeli settlers had raided the area under Israeli army escort, stationing themselves in the area where an Israeli settler shot dead Mahmoud Odeh, a 48-year-old resident of Qusra, on Thursday. Witnesses told Ma‘an that locals tried to push out the dozens of Israeli settlers who raided the village in an attempt to provoke people, causing clashes to break out. Israeli soldiers fired tear-gas and live ammunition against locals.
Israeli forces assault passengers at checkpoint near Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 5 Dec – Israeli forces stopped a busload of passengers and assaulted some of them at Beit Iksa checkpoint, to the northwest of Jerusalem, according to local sources. Soldiers at the checkpoint shut down the checkpoint, which is the main and only entrance to the village, and stopped a busload of about 20 passengers for more than three hours and reportedly assaulted a girl who was among them. Clashes erupted between local villagers and the Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint in the aftermath of the incident. There were no reports of injuries among the Palestinians. Mohammad Awadallah, member of Beit Iksa village council, said Israeli forces recently stepped up their provocative measures at the checkpoint, frequently harassing passengers especially women.
Palestinian transport is restricted or entirely prohibited on 41 roads and sections of roads throughout the West Bank, including many of the main traffic arteries, covering a total of over 700 kilometers of roadway, according to rights groups.
Israeli forces detain 17 Palestinians, mother and children, during overnight raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Dec — Israeli forces detained at least 17 Palestinians during overnight raids between Monday and Tuesday in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources.
Northern West Bank The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement that in the Jenin district, two Palestinians were detained and identified as Mutie Jamil al-Hajj and Nael Kamil. In Nablus, Israeli forces detained Amir Mahmoud Daghlas, 23, and Ahmad Iyad Abu Omar, 23.
East Jerusalem & Central West Bank The Wadi Hilweh Information Center, located in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem, reported that Israeli forces detained three Palestinian children late Monday from the Ras al-‘Amud neighborhood of Silwan. The center’s lawyer, Khaldun Nijm, said that Israeli forces detained Khalid Fawwaz Abu Qalbein, 14, Muhammad Hani al-Haymuni, 12, and Abdullah al-Abbasi, 13, and transferred them for interrogation regarding rock-throwing at an illegal Israeli settlement outpost.
Meanwhile, PPS reported that four Palestinians were detained in the Jerusalem district of the central West Bank. One detainee was identified as Ahmad Zahran from “northwestern Jerusalem,” though it remained unclear exactly where he was arrested.
In the town of Kafr ‘Aqab, a woman and her two children were detained and were transferred to the Oz detention center for interrogation. PPS said that Israeli forces detained Khalid Walid Suleiman, 27, Naim Abd al-Hafith Mither, 15, and Ahmad Mahmoud Damra from the Ramallah district.
Southern West Bank According to PPS, one Palestinian, identified as Ahmad al-Hroub, was detained from Hebron city.
Meanwhile in the town of Beit Ummar, located in the northern Hebron district, local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the homes of two former prisoners after Jalal Ahmad Abd al-Hamid Brighith and Jalal Qassem al-Raiee, allegedly in search of money that was being used for “illegal political activity.”
Soldiers abduct a Palestinian teen & a young man, and beat up two siblings in their homes, near Jenin
IMEMC 6 Dec — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Tuesday evening, a Palestinian teenage boy from Jenin refugee camp, in addition to a young man in Siris village, south of Jenin, and invaded two homes before beating up two siblings, in Ya‘bad town, west of Jenin, and closing Dothan military roadblock, in Jenin governorate, in northern West Bank.
The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said the soldiers abducted Waseem Matahen, 16, in the Salem Israeli Military Court. The PPS stated that Matahen, from Jenin refugee camp, was attending the trial of his detained friend, when the soldiers abducted him. In addition, the soldiers invaded Siris village, south of Jenin, and abducted Saffah Fawzi Qteit, after storming his home and ransacking it. Furthermore, the soldiers invaded Ya‘bad town, southwest of Jenin, before breaking into and ransacking the homes of Yahia Abu Shalma, and his brother Ghattas. The soldiers forced the two families out of their homes while violently searching them, and beat up Ghattas’s sons, Ya‘ish and Laith. The families said that the soldiers interrogated them in the cold, after the army alleged that live wounds were fired at the Dothan military roadblock, on the main road between Jenin and Tulkarem. The army installed many roadblocks in the area, while dozens of soldiers were deployed around Ya‘bad town, before conducting extensive military searches in olive orchards, and completely closed Dothan roadblock.
Human rights report: Israel punishes Palestinian prisoners and their families by paying arbitrary fines
MEMO 7 Dec — The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor has condemned the Israeli policy, “which imposes heavy fines on Palestinian prisoners in an arbitrary and unjustified manner in order to punish them and to economically put pressure on them and their families.” According to the report, issued today, “the imposition of fines on Palestinian prisoners has become a consistent approach adopted by the Israeli judiciary, to the extent that no prisoner is sentenced without being fined.” The monitor also pointed out that “fines are always heavy and must be paid within a short period of time, causing the families of the prisoners to suffer severe financial burdens. In case these fines are not paid, they will be replaced by an additional period of imprisonment.” A report released by the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs in the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) revealed that a total of 700,000 Israeli shekels (about $200,000) fines were imposed by the Israeli authorities on imprisoned minors. The report added that during the past three years, the policy of imposing heavy fines on prisoners has escalated and the fine has reached half a million Israeli shekels (approximately $142,857) per prisoner last year. The fine is often imposed on the prisoner because he refuses naked inspection or protests against poor living conditions. “The policy of imposing fines affects all prisoners, even women and children. It represents a war of attrition against the prisoners and their families in an attempt to limit their livelihoods,” said the legal advisor to the Euro-Mediterranean Monitor, Ihsan Adel. “These fines represent a nightmare to the families of the prisoners and financial pressure during the already difficult economic conditions,” added Adel. “The arrest of Palestinian prisoners is carried out through military orders that criminalize all aspects of Palestinian life in violation of the Geneva Conventions….
Israel extends detention of injured Palestinian teenager
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Dec — Israel’s Ofer Military Court ruled on Monday to extended the detention of a wounded Palestinian teenager until December 11, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS lawyer Akram Samara said in a statement that Ibrahim Karajeh, 17, from the Halhul town in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, who was shot by Israeli forces on November 17, was brought into the court on Monday in a wheelchair. Karajeh, who was accused of carrying out a car-ramming attack on Israelis in the area, was shot in his shoulder and leg. The court extended his remand under the pretext of “continued interrogation.” According to Samara, the teenager was kept in the hospital for two weeks, and is need of a hip-replacement surgery.
Israeli court rules in favor of early release for 2 Palestinian prisoners
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Dec — An Israeli court ruled on Tuesday to an early release for two Palestinian prisoners. The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said in a statement that the two prisoners, Ahmad Ammar Salameh and Ahmad Adel Hazahzeh, were granted an early release by the court. The two are both currently being held in Israel’s Megiddo jail. It remained unclear when they would be released.
According to prisoners rights group Addameer, 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.
Al-Aqsa Mosque: Five things you need to know
Al Jazeera 6 Dec — Here’s a breakdown of why the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem is a constant point of contention in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Israeli army enforces punitive closure of Jenin-area town
JENIN (Ma‘an) 6 Dec — Israeli army forces have temporarily closed off the entrance to a Jenin-area town in the northern occupied West Bank, allegedly in response to shots fired at an Israeli settler bus near the village. Official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency reported that Israeli forces used dirt mounds to block the western entrance to the town of Yaabad and the entrances to two homes in the village. Wafa reported that the entrances to the homes of Abdullah Khatib and Naser Abu Bakr were closed off. Meanwhile, soldiers reportedly raided homes in Yaabad using search dogs, and seized several surveillance cameras in the area. Wafa reported that soldiers also also closed the gate leading to another village near Yaabad and set up two checkpoints in the area, allowing only residents to pass through …
Israel often enforces punitive measures, including closures, raids, and permit revocations, on entire Palestinian towns and villages for things such as stone throwing and alleged attacks on Israeli forces. Rights groups have condemned such practices as “collective punishment.”
Palestinian child dies from wounds suffered in 2014
[with photo] IMEMC 6 Dec — Palestinian medical sources have reported that a child died, on Wednesday morning, from serious wounds he suffered when the soldiers bombarded his family’s home, during the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza, killing three family members. The sources stated that the child, identified as Mohammad Saleh Abu Haddaf, 4, remained in a critical condition until his death. He was injured, on August 8th, 2014, when Israeli army drones fired missiles at his family’s home and several other homes in al-Qarara, north of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The missile which struck Haddaf’s family home killed three family members and wounded at least six others, including the child, medical sources said. The slain family members have been identified as: 1. Mahmoud Khaled Abu Haddaf, 15, Khan Younis. 2. Suleiman Samir Abu Haddaf, 21, Khan Younis. 3. Mahmoud Mohamad Abu Haddaf, 9, Khan Younis.
Palestinian policeman seriously injured in Gaza stabbing, ministry says
Times of Israel 4 Dec by Dov Lieber — A Palestinian policeman was seriously wounded after being stabbed, apparently by an Islamic extremist, on Monday, officials and media reports said. The incident took place while the policeman was manning a checkpoint on Salah-a-Din Street in eastern Gaza, the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza said in a statement. The assailant was injured during the incident and taken to a hospital, the ministry added. Gaza media reports said the assailant was an “extremist,” likely referring to a radical Salafi, a group that has targeted Hamas personnel in the past. In August, a member of the Islamic State group, which is a Salafi organization, carried out the first suicide bombing against Hamas forces in Gaza, killing a border guard.
Hamas and Fatah agree on Gaza employee issue
MEMO 6 Dec — Hamas and Fatah appear to have reached agreement on the vexed issue of the employees engaged in Gaza by the Islamic Resistance Movement during its time running the government in the enclave, Al-Resalah has reported. “We are seeking a solution that guarantees old employees to have an honourable return to their work and guarantees the rights of new employees,” explained senior Hamas official Salah Al-Bardawil on Tuesday. The movements, he told a press conference, have a “verbal agreement” regarding the employee issue. “Hamas wants to remove all obstacles ahead of a full handover of the Gaza Strip in a way that reserves the rights of all employees,” said Al-Bardawil. “We are waiting for the 10th of this month to confirm the full handover of the government.” In the meantime, he confirmed, all of the ministers in Gaza are working properly. Expressing his hope that matters move forward smoothly, the Hamas spokesman pointed out that this will let the people of Palestine feel the end of the political split. “I hope that at the start of next week all people also feel the end of the punitive measures imposed on Gaza,” he concluded.
Gaza rallies in support of reconciliation
MEMO 4 Dec –Palestinian movements in the besieged Gaza Strip held a rally yesterday [3 Dec] in support of the reconciliation and ending divisions, Arab48 reported. The groups also called for the immediate lifting of sanctions imposed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the Gaza Strip. Large numbers of people gathered in Al-Saraya Park in the centre of Gaza City and moved towards the statue of the unknown soldiers in front of the headquarters of the Palestinian Parliament in Gaza. Member of the political bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Saleh Naser, said: “These people are taking to the streets in support of the reconciliation; they will never accept its retreat. They are calling for implementing the reconciliation based on the terms of the Cairo agreement reached in 2005.” … He also called for accelerating the formation of the legal and administrative committee which should take up its responsibility to review the position of government employees and the security issue based on the mutual Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal signed on 12 October. In addition, he called for the formation of a national support committee to help both Hamas and Fatah carry out their responsibilities, calling on both sides to “be patient” and “stop delivering negative remarks” to the media….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Judaisation
Israel orders demolition of Palestinian structures in Qalquiliya-area villages
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Dec — Israeli authorities reportedly ordered on Tuesday that 17 Palestinians in the Qalqiliya district of the northern occupied West Bank destroy structures that they had built on their lands. Official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency reported that officials from Israel’s civil administration raided the Qalqiliya-area villages of Sanniriya and Beit Amin, saying that 17 villager should remove any structures that they had built on their own lands. The civil administration reportedly told the villagers to “return the land back to the way it was,” according to Wafa. Wafa added that the villagers were also ordered to appear at the civil administration offices in the West Bank. Palestinian construction in Area C — the more than 60 percent of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli civilian and security control — is completely forbidden. Palestinians are not allowed to build on their own private lands without nearly impossible-to-obtain Israeli-issued building permits….
Notifications to stop construction in Idhna, western Hebron
MEMO 7 Dec — On Wednesday, Israeli occupation forces ordered the cessation of the construction of a number of houses and facilities in the town of Idhna in western Hebron. According to sources in the municipality of Idhna, the Israeli occupation forces have issued random notifications, which demand stopping construction and the demolition of a number of houses and facilities in the area of Ouad Naga in the western part of Idhna town. The Israeli forces notified Alaa Eid Al-Batran, whose house covers an area of 150 square meters on the site, and Khalil Hussein Al-Batran, whose house covers also an area of 100 square meters, of the decision to stop the construction of their houses. It has also notified Achraf Mohamed Al-Batran to stop building a sheep pen, which covers an area of 200 square meters. The sources stated that those in the area have been subject to the occupation’s harassment continuously.
Israeli bulldozers demolish building foundations in occupied Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 5 Dec — Bulldozers of the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem demolished on Tuesday the foundations of a building in Ras Shehadeh area of Shu‘fat refugee camp, in occupied East Jerusalem, and warned other building of demolition for lack of construction permit, according to WAFA correspondent. Israeli police forces and crews from the West Jerusalem municipality accompanied a bulldozer in the demolition of foundations. The crews also handed owners of other buildings demolition orders for construction without permit.
Israel turns West Bank into a ‘garbage dump’
Al Jazeera 5 Dec by Jaclynn Ashly — Israeli rights group B’Tselem has released a scathing new report detailing Israel’s transferral of waste to treatment facilities in the occupied West Bank, in violation of international law. According to the report, released on Tuesday, Israel has established at least 15 waste treatment facilities in the West Bank to recycle waste largely produced inside Israel. Six of the facilities process hazardous waste that poses serious health and environmental risks for surrounding Palestinian communities, the group stated. The report details five Israeli facilities in the West Bank treating waste from Israel, four of which handle hazardous waste, including biological and medical waste, solvent waste from the pharmaceutical and chemical industries, oil waste, and electronic and metal waste. ” Israel has turned the West Bank into a garbage dump,” Adam Aloni, a B’Tselem researcher and author of the report, told reporters at a news conference. ‘Sacrifice zones’ Israel produces some 350,000 metric tonnes of hazardous waste each year, according to B’Tselem. Environmental regulations inside Israel can make the operating costs of waste treatment facilities high, encouraging Israel “to seek sacrifice zones” – areas “irrevocably impaired by environmental damage or neglect” – to absorb the costs and risks of managing hazardous waste, the report noted. Israel found what it needed in the occupied West Bank and has been “abusing its status as an occupying power” in a territory where Palestinians have no rights to oppose Israeli policies that directly affect them, B’Tselem said….
How Israel is judaising East Jerusalem
Al Jazeera 6 Dec — …Using a series of measures that involve massive land grabs, rapid construction of Jewish settlements, and the imposition of a repressive system on Palestinians designed to stifle their daily lives and push them out of the city, the Israeli state has managed to change the demographic makeup of occupied East Jerusalem and entrench their control over it. Today, 86 percent of East Jerusalem is under direct control of the Israeli authorities and Jewish settlers. Around 200,000 settlers live in settlements that have been mostly built either entirely or partially on private Palestinian property. Of that number, 2,000 settlers live in the midst of Palestinian neighbourhoods under army protection. Based on the law in the West Bank, a state is only allowed to expropriate private land for public Palestinian needs. Israel uses this law, however, to confiscate private land for building Jewish-only settlement roads, connecting them with one another and to Israel. In this way, 12 settlements were built in East Jerusalem on Palestinian property declared for “public needs”. The separation wall, which Israel started building in 2002, snakes through the West Bank territory, dividing villages, encircling towns and splitting families from each other. It has also impacted Palestinian Jerusalemites: more than 140,000 residents living in Jerusalem neighbourhoods are disconnected from the rest of the city and as a result, suffer from a severe lack of basic services and infrastructure….
Israel demolishes Al-Araqeeb for the 122nd time
MEMO 6 Dec — Israeli occupation bulldozers razed the village of Al-Araqeeb in the Naqab area for the 122nd time today leaving its residents homeless despite the stormy and cold weather. Police units protected bulldozers which stormed the village and demolished the tin and wood houses which the Bedouins had setup following the last demolition on 16 November. Al-Araqeb is one of 35 “unrecognised” Bedouin villages. According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), more than half of the approximately 160,000 Bedouins in the Negev reside in unrecognised villages.
Trump decision on Jerusalem
President Abbas: Trump disregarded international law with his declaration on Jerusalem
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 6 Dec — President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday that with US President Donald Trump declaring that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, he has chosen to disregard all international resolutions and bilateral agreements, preferring to ignore and contradict the international consensus expressed by many countries and leaders of the world, its spiritual leaders and regional organizations over the past few days on the issue of Jerusalem. He said in a speech in response to Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, “These measures are a reward to Israel’s violations of international resolutions and an encouragement for Israel to continue its policy of occupation, settlements, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.” Abbas added, “These measures also serve extremist groups attempting to turn the conflict in our region into a religious war that is dragging the region, which is living critical situations in the midst of international conflicts and endless wars. This is what we have always warned of and we have rejected and fought.” He said, “These measures, which are denounced and rejected, are a deliberate undermining of all efforts to achieve peace, and is a declaration of the withdrawal of the United States from playing the role which it has played over the past decades as a peace broker.” Following is an unofficial translation of Abbas’ speech:….
Ashrawi: Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem is a fatal blow to peace and security
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 5 Dec — Commenting on US President Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem, PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi strongly condemned the move. “Today US President Donald Trump called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other Arab leaders informing them of his decision to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem,” she said in a statement. Ashrawi added: “Despite repeated words of advice and caution from all concerned and from global leaders, President Trump seems to be hell-bent on annihilating the chances of peace and destroying the stability and security of the entire region and beyond, provoking violence and playing into the hands of extremists and terrorists around the world. He is willfully committing an act of the utmost folly which is not only illegal but also designed to inflame religious and spiritual sentiments, and raise the specter of sectarianism and religious strife. It simultaneously emboldens the most aggressive, hardline and warmongering elements in Israel to guarantee the destruction of the two-state solution. As a global power, the US would do well not to encourage violence, chaos and extremism….
Palestinians voice despair over Trump’s Jerusalem decision: ‘Nothing left to lose’
Haaretz 7 Dec by Nir Hasson — Expectations of Palestinians living in Jerusalem are so low that nothing can shock them — A few hours after U.S. President Donald Trump’s dramatic declaration of recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, two things happened in its Old City: City Hall turned on the spotlights and projected the American and Israelis flags on its ancient walls. Meanwhile, the lights illuminating the Al-Aqsa Mosque went black. At first it appeared to be a planned protest, but it turned out that a power outage killed the light on the Dome of the Rock. Nonetheless, these two events perfectly captured the mood in the city: euphoria on the one hand, despair on the other. Even WhatsApp, the messaging service that’s popular among both Israelis and Palestinians, went silent. In East Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood, some activists tried to put together a demonstration, but a message soon went out saying there would be a general strike. An hour and a half after the speech, rumors began to spread that there would be a march on the Temple Mount. Palestinian activists who spoke with Haaretz said that a response on the streets could be expected as early as Wednesday night, but it would likely be relatively restrained. It seems that the expectations of Palestinians living in Jerusalem – from the international community, from the Arab world and even from the Palestinian leadership – are so low that nothing can shock them. However, as the blackout of Al-Aqsa hinted, there is a pervasive fear that this new diplomatic low could translate into a religious furor that would set the city ablaze … While Palestinian and Arab leaders spoke with one voice, those on Jerusalem’s streets spoke with many. “Nothing will change, no one really cares, we want to live. Why would people make a mess and start an intifada, so their kids will die?” asked Ziad Fauzi, a merchant from the Old City, rhetorically. “What difference does it make if the embassy is here or in Tel Aviv or in Hebron?”
General strike observed in Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 7 Dec – A general strike was observed in most of the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, on Thursday in protest against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Shops remained closed as students stayed home following a call for a strike in all schools as well. Many businesses also observed the strike. Palestinian nationalist and Islamist forces called for the strike following Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem, which Palestinians saw as a betrayal of the US role as honest peace broker in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Palestinians came out in spontaneous protests following the announcement on Wednesday night in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and other West Bank cities and in Gaza. Christmas trees in Bethlehem and Ramallah were turned off in a sign of mourning. Further rallies and protests are planned for Thursday in most West Bank and Gaza cities and in East Jerusalem where activists called for a gathering at Damascus Gate shortly before noon. The Palestinian forces called for three days of rage to protest the US move on Jerusalem, which Israel has occupied in the June 1967 war. The climax of these protests is expected on the third day, Friday, following the noon prayers.
Hamas chief calls to ‘ignite new intifada’ after US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
Haaretz 7 Dec by Jack Khoury & Reuters — The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas called on Thursday for a new uprising against Israel after U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. “We should call for and we should work on launching an intifada in the face of the Zionist enemy,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a speech in Gaza. Haniyeh said that the Palestinian issue was at a critical crossroads for the Arab and Islamic nation, and called Trump’s announcement the end of one political period and the beginning of a new chapter in Palestinian policy. “We must take decisions and build a new strategy to deal with the new plot against Palestine,” Haniyeh said. “The Palestinian Authority must be courageous enough to rid itself of the Oslo accords and the arbitrary conditions for the Palestinians in these agreements,” he said, referring to the accords resulting from negotiations in the 1990s between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization that established the Palestinian Authority. “And in the face if these challenges, I repeat our position that there be no recognition of the legitimization of the occupation of the land of Palestine.” “The only way to deal with the Zionist policy, which has backing from the United States, is sparking a new intifada against the occupation and welcome resistance to this occupation,” he said, using the Arabic term for uprising….
Video: Gazans burn US flag in protest of Trump decision to move embassy
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) -6 Dec – Palestinian protesters in the besieged Gaza Strip burned the American flag in on Wednesday in protest, hours before US President Donald Trump is expected to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announce his decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Hamas leader Salah al-Bardawil told Ma‘an that “what the US administration is planning to do is the stupidest decision they made in their history, because they are harming the Palestinians’ soul and faith in an attempt to drag them into a very dangerous confrontation.” Al-Bardawil called the decision a “declaration of war” that Trump “brought onto himself,” adding that “we as Palestinians are ready to fight.” During the protest, Palestinian protesters waved Palestinian flags and held signs demanding the US cancel its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Jerusalem’s Christian leaders caution against sudden change in status of Holy City
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 6 Dec – Jerusalem’s Christian leaders cautioned on Wednesday that any sudden change on the status of Jerusalem could cause irreparable harm and yield increased hatred, conflict and violence. In a letter addressed to US President Donald Trump on the eve of his expected announcement that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, the 13 heads of churches in Jerusalem said they are following with concern reports about the possibility of the US changing its long standing position on Jerusalem. “Mr. President, we have been following, with concern, the reports about the possibility of changing how the United States understands and deals with the status of Jerusalem. We are certain that such steps will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division,” they said in a statement. “Our solemn advice and plea is for the United States to continue recognizing the present international status of Jerusalem. Any sudden changes would cause irreparable harm.” The Christian leaders said that as the world is getting ready to celebrate Christmas, the feast of peace, Jerusalem, nevertheless, may be deprived from peace….
UN Security Council to meet Friday on Jerusalem: diplomats
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) 6 Dec by Michelle Nichols — The United Nations Security Council will meet on Friday at the request of eight states on the 15-member body over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, diplomats said on Wednesday. The request for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to publicly brief the Security Council meeting was made by France, Bolivia, Egypt, Italy, Senegal, Sweden, Britain and Uruguay, said diplomats. Trump abruptly reversed decades of U.S. policy on Wednesday, generating outrage from Palestinians and defying warnings of Middle East unrest. Trump also plans to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv … “The U.N. has given Jerusalem a special legal and political status, which the Security Council has called upon the international community to respect. That is why we believe the Council needs to address this issue with urgency,” Deputy Swedish U.N. Ambassador Carl Skau said on Wednesday. A U.N. Security Council resolution adopted in December last year “underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations.” That resolution was approved with 14 votes in favor and an abstention by former U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration, which defied heavy pressure from long-time ally Israel and Trump for Washington to wield its veto. After Trump spoke on Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters: “I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians.”
Arabs, Europe, UN reject Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital
LONDON (Reuters) 6 Dec by Mark Heinrich — Arabs and Muslims across the Middle East on Wednesday condemned the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as an incendiary move in a volatile region and Palestinians said Washington was abandoning its leading role as a peace mediator. The European Union and United Nations also voiced alarm at U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and its repercussions for any chances of reviving Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. Major U.S. allies came out against Trump’s reversal of decades of U.S. and broad international policy on Jerusalem. France rejected the “unilateral” decision while appealing for calm in the region. Britain said the move would not help peace efforts and Jerusalem should ultimately be shared by Israel and a future Palestinian state. Germany said Jerusalem’s status could only be resolved on the basis of a two-state solution … The Saudi Royal Court issued a statement saying that the kingdom followed “with deep sorrow” Trump’s decision and warned of “dangerous consequences of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.” Egypt, which forged the first Arab peace deal with Israel in 1979, brushed off Trump’s decision and said it did not change Jerusalem’s disputed legal status….
Jordan rejects Trump’s move on Jerusalem as legally ‘null’
AMMAN (Reuters) 6 Dec by Suleiman Al-Khalidi — Jordan on Wednesday rejected the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, calling it legally “null” because it consolidated Israel’s occupation of the eastern sector of the contested city. Government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani told state news agency Petra that the announcement by U.S. President Donald Trump violated long-standing U.N. Security Council resolutions that “stipulated the non-recognition of the Israeli occupation” of the city’s eastern sector and the adjacent West Bank. The staunch U.S. ally considered “all unilateral moves that seek to create new facts on the ground as null and void”, the spokesman added. Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said later in a tweet that the move “frustrated” peace efforts, adding that the status of Jerusalem must be “determined in direct negotiations” between the Palestinians and Israelis. “Jordan rejects the decision and all its implications and will continue to work for an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” Safadi added. Jordan lost East Jerusalem and the West Bank to Israel during the 1967 war and says the city’s fate should only be decided at the end of a final settlement … The king’s Hashemite dynasty is the custodian of the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, making Jordan sensitive to any changes in the status of the city. A government source said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was due to hold talks with the monarch on Thursday in a stepped-up diplomatic offensive to counter Trump’s plan….
Jordan ‘humiliated’ by Trump’s decision on Jerusalem
Al Jazeera 6 Dec by Ali Younes — As Palestinians continue to denounce the Trump administration’s intention of recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, several Arab leaders have voiced their discontent with the move, which many fear will have dangerous consequences for the region as a whole. In neighbouring Jordan, a major US ally in the Middle East, King Abdullah II told US President Donald Trump that recognising the holy city as Israel’s capital would inflame Muslim and Christian feelings. The decision would have “dangerous repercussions on the stability and security of the region”, King Abdullah said, according to a statement released by the royal palace. On the face of it, Trump’s move is deeply humiliating for Abdullah since it was his father, the late King Hussein, who lost Jerusalem to Israel in the 1967 war. Abdullah is now a mere spectator as the US deals him and his family yet another blow … The status of Jerusalem has historically been, and continues to be, a sensitive issue in the conflict, with Palestinians wanting East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state and Israelis insisting that the city cannot be divided. It is also an issue that has long-standing ties to Jordan and the country’s ruling Hashemite family.
Lost kingdom – Jerusalem, which is home to the third holiest site in Islam, al-Aqsa Mosque, became especially important for the Hashemites after they lost control over the holy sites of Mecca and Medina in modern-day Saudi Arabia. The Hashemites, as the rulers of Hejaz from 1916, oversaw the holy sites until they were pushed out by the Saudis in 1925. Abdullah’s great-great-grandfather, Sharif Hussein bin Ali, who was once the sharif of Mecca and also served as the former Hashemite king of Hejaz, was buried in the al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard in the 1930s. Today, under a 2013 agreement signed between Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, Abdullah is the custodian of the Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. The Royal Hashemite Court, which comprises the king and Jordanian political and judicial bodies, pays the salaries of workers at the Muslim holy places….
Theresa May criticises Donald Trump’s ‘unhelpful’ decision on Israeli capital
BT 7 Dec — Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described Mr Trump’s move as “reckless” — Theresa May has criticised Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, describing it as unhelpful for the peace process in the region. The Prime Minister said she disagrees with the president’s decision and reiterated Britain’s position that the city should be the shared capital of Israel and Palestine in a negotiated two-state solution … In a statement, the PM said: “We disagree with the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital before a final status agreement. “We believe it is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region. The British Embassy to Israel is based in Tel Aviv and we have no plans to move it. Our position on the status of Jerusalem is clear and long-standing: it should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states. In line with relevant Security Council Resolutions, we regard East Jerusalem as part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
Mr Corbyn tweeted: “Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, including occupied Palestinian territory, is a reckless threat to peace. “The British Government must condemn this dangerous act and work for a just and viable settlement of the conflict.”
Exclusive: US asks Israel to restrain response to Jerusalem move – document
WASHINGTON (Reuters) 6 Dec by Arshad Mohammed — The United States is asking Israel to temper its response to the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as its capital because Washington expects a backlash and is weighing the potential threat to U.S. facilities and people, according to a State Department document seen by Reuters on Wednesday. “While I recognize that you will publicly welcome this news, I ask that you restrain your official response,” the document dated Dec. 6 said in talking points for diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to convey to Israeli officials. “We expect there to be resistance to this news in the Middle East and around the world. We are still judging the impact this decision will have on U.S. facilities and personnel overseas,” the document said. A second State Department document seen by Reuters, which was also dated Dec. 6, said the agency had formed an internal task force “to track worldwide developments” following the U.S. decision on Jerusalem….
Push by evangelicals helped set stage for Trump decision on Jerusalem
WASHINGTON (Reuters) 6 Dec by James Oliphant, John Whitesides — An intense and sustained push by U.S. evangelicals helped drive President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and eventually relocate the U.S. embassy there, activists said on Wednesday. While Trump had long pledged to move the embassy, the Republican president’s conservative Christian advisers repeatedly pressed the case in regular meetings at the White House, the conservative activists said. “I have no doubt that evangelicals played a meaningful role in this decision,” said Johnnie Moore, a California pastor who serves as a spokesman for a council of leading evangelicals that advises the White House. “I don’t believe it would have happened without them.” The White House did not respond to requests for comment. Many U.S. evangelicals have expressed strong solidarity with conservatives in Israel and feel a connection rooted in the Bible to the Jewish state. Conservative Christians have long argued that formally recognizing Jerusalem, home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions, was long overdue following a 1995 congressional mandate to move the embassy from Tel Aviv. In Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, they found their most sympathetic audience….
House passes measure to limit aid to Palestinians over martyr payments
WASHINGTON (Reuters) 5 Dec by Patricia Zengerle — The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to sharply reduce the annual $300 million in U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority unless it take steps to stop making what lawmakers described as payments that reward violent crime. The House backed by voice vote the Taylor Force Act, named after a 29-year-old American military veteran fatally stabbed by a Palestinian while visiting Israel last year. The measure is intended to stop the Palestinians from paying stipends, referred to as “martyr payments,” to the families of militants killed or imprisoned by Israeli authorities. The payments can reach $3,500 per month. “This perverse ‘pay-to-slay’ system uses a sliding scale. The longer the jail sentence, the greater the reward. The highest payments go to those serving life sentences – to those who prove most brutal,” Republican Representative Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said before the vote. Force’s attacker was killed by Israeli police, and his killer’s family receives such a monthly payment. To become law, the measure must also be passed by the U.S. Senate and signed by President Donald Trump. Similar legislation has been passed by two Senate committees, but there was no immediate word on when the Senate might take up the bill. Its passage reflected strong pro-Israel sentiment in Washington
Graffiti in the West Bank: Are foreign artists really serving the Palestinian cause?
EqualTimes 4 Dec by Chloé Demoulin — The scene is surreal. A pair of young tourists lean a ladder against the separation wall in Bethlehem, in the West Bank. They take it in turns to climb a few metres up to spray paint a stencil of a bear’s paw print that they have cut out themselves. When they’ve finished, they ask the Palestinian woman who sold them the material to take a photo of their work. They are all smiles. “Consciously they are definitely pro-Palestinian. But unconsciously it is a way of leaving their mark and perhaps of feeling less guilty about the suffering of the Palestinians,” comments Ayed Arafah, a Palestinian artist based in Bethlehem. “They were smiling because they had fun painting the wall. They said they hoped that one day, maybe, a bear would destroy it,” says the Palestinian woman who took the couple’s photo. She manages the shop opposite, an annex of the Walled Off Hotel, a hotel created in front of the wall in Bethlehem by the British artist Banksy … Ever since work on building the wall began in 2002, this symbol of Israeli occupation has become a space for expression. Many anonymous artists, or foreign artists like Banksy, have left their own messages or artwork on the wall, some political, some trivial. … Now commonplace, the phenomenon has in fact been imposed on Palestinians without them encouraging it. “In our view, the wall should have stayed as it was, it should not be turned into a painting that’s nice to look at,” says Jamal Juma, coordinator of the Palestinian Stop the Wall Campaign, which campaigns against the separation wall and the colonisation of the West Bank. “But we can’t stop people expressing themselves,” explains the Palestinian activist. “To tell the truth, the graffiti brings so much business that we can’t really oppose them,” adds Ayed Arafah. Nonetheless, some Palestinians accuse professional artists such as Lushsux of taking advantage of the situation for personal ends. In Bethlehem, several of the graffiti artist’s works have recently been painted over in red, with Arabic wording that says, “Palestine is not your drawing board”….
Looted from Beirut 35 years ago, now on display in Tel Aviv
+972mag 4 Dec by Rami Younis — ‘Looted and Hidden’ digs through the archive of films taken by the Israeli army in 1982, and shines light on more property stolen by Israel: the history of Palestinian cinema — Rare images from the archive of Palestinian films and photographs, documenting decades of Palestinian history from before 1948 and after the Nakba, are finally seeing the light of day in a new film by Rona Sela — curator, researcher of visual history and culture, and lecturer at Tel Aviv University. Nearly all of the images from the archive were confiscated when the Israeli army raided the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s offices in Beirut in 1982, taking documents and photographed material. The materials have now been unsealed by Israel’s Military Censor and are now accessible to the public in the Israeli army’s archives.
Infant mortality rate among Palestinians in Israel three times higher than Jewish citizens’
MEMO 5 Dec — The infant mortality rate among Palestinian citizens of Israel is nearly three times higher than among Jewish citizens, official figures have revealed. A Health Ministry report, “The National Challenge of Reducing Inequality in the Health System”, states that while Israel’s overall infant mortality rate in 2016 stood at 3.1 deaths per 1,000 births, “the rate among Arabs was nearly three times higher than among Jews — 6.2 to 2.2, respectively”. In Tel Aviv municipality, for example, which includes Jaffa, “the infant mortality rate among Arabs averaged 8.2 deaths per 1,000 births, more than four times higher than the two deaths per 1,000 births among Jewish babies in the city.” The average infant mortality rate in 2015 among countries in the OECD was 3.9 deaths per 1,000 births.
The Health Ministry report also included data on the overall mortality rate, with Jewish settlers in the West Bank enjoying the lowest mortality rate among Israeli citizens. The life expectancy of Palestinian citizens stands at 81.4 years for women, and 77.2 years for men. For Jewish citizens, life expectancy stands at 84.7 years for women and 81.5 years for men. Moshe Bar Siman Tov, the director-general of the Health Ministry, said the report showed the need for Israel to better address health inequality, which he said stemmed largely from “socioeconomic gaps whose origin is outside the health system.”
‘Fauda’ creator takes fans behind the scenes of hit drama
Times of Israel 4 Dec by Jessica Steinberg — “Fauda” creator Avi Issacharoff charmed, chatted and offered sneak peeks of the second season of his hit TV drama to a full house Sunday night at The Times of Israel Presents “Fauda Behind the Scenes” at Jerusalem’s Beit Avi Chai cultural center. During the hour-and-a-half-long conversation led by Times of Israel social media editor Sarah Tuttle-Singer, Issacharoff told stories from his nearly two decades of working as a journalist in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, how the show first got started, the unprecedented global response to the show now available on Netflix, and to what extent the intense drama mimics real life. “Fauda,” about an undercover Israeli unit that operates in the West Bank, is named for the Arabic word for chaos, often used by IDF soldiers to describe their time serving in the West Bank and Gaza, and by Palestinians to depict their daily lives. The region was much more unstable and chaotic in the 1990s and early 2000s, when Issacharoff began reporting for Israeli newspapers, he said. Issacharoff recalled several stories that inspired “Fauda” storylines, including being in the West Bank city of Nablus to interview a known Palestinian terrorist, only to have two different men claim to be him … “Fauda” has enjoyed unparalleled success internationally for an Israeli TV show, prompting Netflix to commit to the second season, as well as two other show ideas that Issacharoff and Raz are working on. There are other facets to the show’s success, said Issacharoff, describing Israeli fans who only want selfies with the Palestinian actors, and the official Hamas website which linked to the first season of the show.