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Gaza hospital closes due to power cuts

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Hospital in Gaza freezes services after fuel runs out
[with photos] Times of Israel 29 Jan by Dov Lieber  — A hospital in the northern Gaza Strip suspended its services on Monday due to a lack of fuel, the hospital and a spokesperson for the Hamas-run health ministry said. “All health services provided at Beit Hanoun hospital were suspended due to power cuts and the lack of fuel for the hospital’s backup generators,” the hospital wrote in a statement posted to its official Facebook page.  Ashraf al-Qidre, a spokesperson for Gaza’s health ministry, said that many patients in the Beit Hanoun hospital were transferred to other hospitals that are still working. The Palestinian Authority recently agreed to end cuts on electricity payments for Gaza, with the Strip now supposed to get six hours of power at a time, followed by 12 hours without … The Beit Hanoun Hosptial is the only health facility in the northern section of the Strip where pediatric and ear, nose and throat surgery is available, Qidre wrote.

Gaza’s sick, newborns fall victim to power outages
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 25 Jan by Hamza Saftawi — Palestinians are still waiting to realize benefits from the reconciliation between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the Fatah-led government in the West Bank. They’ve been waiting since October, and some Gaza residents are quickly running out of time. Unemployment rates remain high in the Gaza Strip, sewer networks are deteriorating and power cuts have become crippling under a decade-long blockade by Israel. Deadly house fires have occurred repeatedly as citizens resort to using candles to light their homes. And that’s not the only lethal consequence of the power cuts. Fawzi Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shandaghli has been desperately trying to cope with the power crisis to save his life. Shandaghli is suffering from kidney failure and has to make daily visits to Shifa Hospital in Gaza for treatment with a dialysis machine, which requires electricity to run. Patients without generators can’t be treated at home during power outages, so they rush to hospitals to get in line, even in the middle of the night, each waiting for a turn to be treated before the electricity goes off. “Many patients have died waiting for their turn to arrive,” Shandaghli explained to Al-Monitor. “I don’t know when my turn [to die] will come. An average of one patient dies every two days.”….


Palestinian wounded at age 6 by Israeli missile fired on Gaza in Operative Protective Edge dies three years later
B’Tselem 19 Jan — “On 6 December 2017, in the early hours of the morning, I was with Muhammad in the surgical ward at the European Hospital. At 2:00 A.M., he stopped breathing. Even though I knew how badly he was doing, and that he wouldn’t last much longer, it was hard to accept his death. I loved him so much.”  This is how Saleh Abu Hadaf, 40, described the death of his nine-year-old son, Muhammad, who was wounded in an Israeli missile attack during Operation Protective Edge, in Gaza on 8 August 2014 … On 8 August 2014, when a ceasefire was in effect, the parents and their children returned home to pick up some items that had survived the bombing. In the afternoon, while they were at the entrance to the ruins of their home, the military fired two missiles that landed near it … Saleh and Nisrin Abu Hadaf and four of their children were injured and taken to hospital in Khan Yunis. Muhammad, who was 6 at the time, was wounded in the abdomen and spine. While the doctors operated on him, he had to be resuscitated and suffered lack of oxygen to the brain. He was transferred to the European Hospital in Rafah, where he remained for 15 days. During that time, it was found that his legs had been paralyzed. Muhammad flew to Turkey with his aunt for further treatment….

Palestinian 5-month-old girl dies due to Gaza siege
AhluBayt 27 Jan — A 5-month-old Palestinian baby girl died on Friday in a blaze that flared in her family’s home in al-Sabra neighborhood in Gaza city. The Palestinian Civil Defense said that the home of Jamil Dughmush caught on fire resulting in the death of his little baby Jumana.  The fire was caused by torching a candle in one of the rooms in the house in light of electricity cut off. The people of Gaza have to use candles for illumination since there is no electricity due to the ongoing Gaza siege which has been imposed on the coastal enclave for 11 years.

9 Palestinians injured in clashes on Gaza-Israel border
GAZA CITY (Anadolu) 26 Jan by Mohamed Majed and Ali Semerci — At least nine Palestinians were injured by Israeli army gunfire on Friday amid clashes that erupted on the Gaza Strip’s eastern border with Israel, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The injured Palestinians sustained gunshot wounds to the feet and legs during clashes that broke out near the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, the ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qadra said in statement. None of them suffered life-threatening injuries, he added. Earlier on Friday, dozens of Palestinian youths marched toward Gaza’s fraught border with Israel, where they hurled stones at Israeli troops stationed on the other side. According to an Anadolu Agency correspondent at the scene, Israeli troops responded to the protesters with teargas, rubber bullets and live ammunition. The Palestinian territories have remained tense since Dec. 6, when U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, drawing condemnation from across the Arab and Muslim world. Since then, at least 19 Palestinians have been martyred — and thousands more injured — in fierce clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.

Gazans farm along border for first time since 2006
GAZA CITY (AFP) 29 Jan — A group of Gazans were allowed to farm their land near the border with Israel for the first time since 2006 yesterday after a deal agreed with Israeli authorities. The deal, brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross, saw around a dozen farmers set foot on land they had not been able to access since Israel began imposing punitive measures on the Palestinian enclave more than a decade ago to isolate the strip’s leaders Hamas. It was part of a wider ICRC project that aims to see around 280 farmers return to their land between 100 and 300 metres (yards) from Israel’s border fence. Some parts of that territory still have to be cleared of munitions from conflicts between Israel and the Palestinians. Farmer Anwar Dababi was scattering wheat on the ground near the border close to Rafah in southern Gaza, the first time he had accessed that part of his land since 2006. “If I came here I was putting my life in danger, for example from being shot or a missile.  There was no possibility of entering the place with the children to enjoy it,” he said.  Guislain Defurne, head of the ICRC in Gaza, said the return was the result of lengthy negotiations. “We helped farmers access to their land,” he said. “Forty-five % of the agricultural land in Gaza is in the border areas so it makes a lot of sense.” …  Farmer Anwar Adbari, 43, said that while he was happy to be back, he had fears the measures could only be temporary.  “We are sowing (the fields) with the help of the ICRC, but next time we don’t know if we will be able to harvest them.”


Gaza throws away 182 tonnes of rotten food amidst electricity crisis
MEMO 25 Jan — A monitoring committee in Gaza’s southern city, Khan Younis, has destroyed 182 tonnes of rotting food, including frozen beef and juice, reported. Principal of the General Health Department Said Al-Astal said that the food was seized in several shops across the city and then destroyed. Food marketer Ahmed Shahwan, who distributes locally manufactured food products, said that the food went off because there is not enough electricity to refrigerate it. Gaza currently has only four hours of electricity per day. Israel has restored the supply of electricity to Gaza it severed in June but one of the Strip’s two turbines which power the sole electricity plant in Gaza has shut down due to lack of fuel.

Gaza traders toil for living amid worsening economic recession
RAMALLAH (Xinhua) 28 Jan — Palestinian fruits trader Jaber Al-Shanti in Gaza city sufficed with the minimum shipments of import from Israel due to what he says the “severe worsening of the economic recession.” Al-Shanti told Xinhua that the quantities of his imports have been reduced by more than 60 percent compared to the first half of last year due to weak sales. “Until the first half of 2017, I used to import 60 to 70 tons a day of fruits and vegetables shipments and delivering them easily to the local markets,” Al-Shanti said. “Nowadays, we import less than 80 tons a week and find difficulty to distribute,” he added. “Beside fruits and vegetables, the weak purchasing power has also reached to an unprecedented level,” he sighed. Local officials and economists believe that imports into the key commercial crossing with Israel have fallen sharply in recent months. Kerem Shalom is one of the Gaza’s few lifelines to the outer world and the principal entry point for humanitarian aid….

Why Gaza merchants are forgiving debt
NUSEIRAT CAMP, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 25 Jan by Huda Baroud — Three hundred young men distributed 600 food packages to poor families in the five governorates of the Gaza Strip on Jan. 19 as part of “Sameh, Toujar” (Forgive and You Shall Receive), a campaign that started Jan. 1. The campaign launched when a group of activists decided to encourage merchants to drop the debt of Gaza residents unable to pay their bills due to the tough economic situation. Salary cuts and the Israeli blockade, ongoing for 11 years, have made life in Gaza difficult. Campaign spokesman Wael Abu Mohsen, an independent journalist, told Al-Monitor, “The campaign started out unorganized, when Osama Abu Dalal, a 32-year-old owner of a shoe shop in the Gaza Strip, decided to scratch people’s debts during a conversation with a bunch of young social activists about helping the poor. We proposed that he post news about forgiving the debts on Facebook under the hashtag #Sameh_toujar — the campaign slogan.” “Abu Dalal slashed around $30,000, and we were surprised after the hashtag came out to see lots of traders join the campaign. Many of them publicly forgave citizens their debts. Some merchants called us on the numbers we shared as the organizers of the campaign. They told of their participation on the condition of anonymity, hoping God would reward them.” Abu Mohsen thinks the merchants’ sense of social responsibility and their voluntary participation in the campaign are the main reasons behind its success….

How innovators aim to solve Gaza’s environmental problems
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 28 Jan by Huda Baroud — Palestinians showcased their innovative ideas for recycling, reclaiming water, extracting natural gas and making organic fertilizer at a Jan. 15 exhibition organized by the Palestinian Environmental Quality Authority with the support of the European Union. The exhibition, which highlights ideas for alternative energy and recycling projects in agriculture, housing, transportation and water, is one out of three expositions organized by the Environmental Quality Authority in Jenin and Hebron provinces and the Gaza Strip. Ahmad Halas, the general coordinator of the environmental exhibition, told Al-Monitor, “The three exhibitions were part of the EU-funded SwitchMed program implemented by the United Nations Environment Program. This is a project of great magnitude that includes several countries of the Mediterranean. It resulted from the Barcelona Declaration, which aims to protect the Mediterranean Sea from pollution. Palestine and 22 other Mediterranean countries have implemented the plan in an effort to push the countries of the region to benefit from resources and recycled material. The objective is for this to become a trend to be used in production and to diminish pollution.” . Engineers Rana al-Ghossein, Fidaa al-Shanti and Haya al-Ghalayini created a device that increases humidity in the air in order to generate water droplets. The droplets, which do not have trace minerals that are good for people’s health, are mixed with regular water. The device can generate a liter of drinking water per hour….

Israel to supply electricity to Gaza sewage treatment facility
Ynet 28 Jan by Matan Tzuri — Israel’s Water Authority signed an agreement with the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company last week to supply the strip with electricity to operate a sewage treatment facility. In the first stage of the agreement, some three megawatts of electricity will be supplied to the facility in the northern Gaza Strip, while six additional megawatts will be supplied in the second stage.  Nine high capacity generators were brought into the strip for the facility. The project cost some $75 million and was funded by the World Bank and several donor countries.  The sewage treatment facility, which is expected to become fully operational within two months, will treat some 36,000 cubic meters of sewage a day, serving some 300,000 Gazans. It will also provide reused water for agriculture in the strip.  Israel will also supply 1.5 megawatts of power to the Khan Yunis desalination plant in southern Gaza, which was funded by the European Union to the tune of over $40 million. At present, the plant provides 6,000 cubic meters of water a day to 500,000 Gazans, while in three months the water supply is expected to increase to 20,000 cubic meters a day. “Israel has cross-interests in the Gaza Strip,” said Alon Shoster, the head of the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council. “On the one hand, we want the immediate return of the soldiers’ remains and the Israeli citizens being held in Gaza. At the same time, we want to encourage Hamas to normalize its ties and cooperate with the Palestinian Authority. That is an Israeli interest.” In addition, preventing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza “is a clear Israeli interest on the security, diplomatic and moral levels,” he added….,7340,L-5077162,00.html

Gaza official blames annual 1,881 fewer marriages, 3,255 divorces on Israel
Jewish Press 28 Jan by David Israel — The Gaza Strip’s head of the Supreme Council of Forensic Judiciary, of the Sharia Supreme Council, and of the Higher Sharia Court, Dr. Hassan al-Jojo, told a Sunday press conference at the Ministry of Information that the strip witnessed 3,255 divorces in 2017, and in 2016 3,368 divorces. The number of marriages in 2017 was 17,367, compared with 19,248 in 2016, a drop of 1,881. The city of Gaza has had the largest share of divorces in 2017, compared with other parts of the strip, al-Jojo said. Al-Jojo described the negative figures as being dangerous to society, pinning them on insanity due to poverty and unemployment, which made young people reluctant to marry. He called on Gaza’s government to work to solve the problems of local youth by providing work, housing and the other prerequisites for a decent life. He then explained the underlying reason for the drop in marriages and rise in divorces: “The siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and the difficult economic situation suffered by the sector has caused a major increase in social and family disintegration, which contributed to the increase in divorces compared to marriages.”….

After three weeks in jail, Israel releases Palesinian fisherman
GAZA (PIC) 30 Jan — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) on Monday evening released a Palestinian fisherman after detaining him for three weeks, with no guilt, as he was working off the northern coast of the impoverished Gaza Strip. According to the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) in Gaza, fisherman Mu’men al-Numan, had been kidnapped on January 9 along with five others, but he was kept in detention while his friends were released soon later at the time. Numan entered Gaza through the Beit Hanoun border crossing (Erez).

Gaza police block women from attending football match
PALESTINE (AFP) 28 Jan — Police blocked dozens of women from attending a football match Sunday in the Gaza Strip, in what activists said they hoped would have been the first such permission under Hamas’s rule. Authorities in the Palestinian enclave run by Islamist movement Hamas told the women they had orders not to allow them into the stadium at Nuseirat refugee camp south of Gaza City. Some of the women instead watched the match between Al-Nuseirat and Al-Jalaa by standing outside the fence, an AFP journalist reported. “We came here to encourage the team and youths in Nuseirat and watch the game, but we were surprised by the presence of Hamas security guards who closed the gates in our faces and did not allow  us to go inside to cheer,” Ayat Othman, one of the women who tried to attend, told AFP. Female relatives of players have previously been allowed to attend matches in Gaza, but Sunday’s match would have marked the first time under Hamas women could have attended on a large-scale basis, according to organisers. They were to be seated separately from men in the stadium. The plan was an initiative of a project to improve sports clubs in Nuseirat … Farid Abu Yusuf, head of Al-Nuseirat football club, earlier said he hoped women would be allowed to attend the match. “We have no problem (with women attending) without mingling, with a section for women and a section for men,” he said. “The players asked for their mothers, sisters and wives to attend and it evolved after that, and all women want to attend.” Hamas enforces Islamic law in the blockaded enclave, with alcohol banned and attempts to curb the mingling of the sexes in public places….

Senior Hamas official dies after allegedly shooting himself in the head
JPost 30 Jan by Adam Rasgon — Senior Hamas official Imad al-Alami died on Tuesday, some three weeks after he allegedly shot himself in the head, the Hamas-linked al-Rai reported. He was 62. Alami, who was also known as Abu Hamam, was regarded as a hard-liner and a supporter of Hamas’s ties with Iran. The senior Hamas official died of his gunshot wound at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where he was treated in intensive care for the past three weeks, the report said.  On January 9, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Alami shot himself in the head “while examining his personal weapon in his home.” Hamas run Interior Ministry Spokesman Iyad Bozm added that Alami “mistakenly” opened fire on himself. Alami, a civil engineer by training, had been a Hamas member since the late 1980s and was the first Hamas representative in Tehran. In 2012, he returned to Gaza after spending a number of years outside of the Palestinian territories. The following year, Alami was elected as deputy Hamas chief in Gaza, a position that he held until early 2017.

Tamimi family [see also the articles about them in the previous newslist]

How Israel created a Palestinian heroine
Al-Monitor 26 Jan by Shlomi Eldar — Thirty-nine days have passed since Nariman Tamimi uploaded a video documenting her daughter Ahed and a relative slapping Israeli soldiers in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on Dec. 18. The footage went viral on social networks and was broadcast by TV stations around the world. The video’s life span was expected to be short, like that of many other videos in the past. The soldiers who were hit did not allow themselves to be dragged into provocative countermeasures, so the event remained a small news item even though the incident was well-covered … Then certain Knesset members and the more chauvinistic flank of the right wing entered the picture, replacing the restraint and prudence of the soldiers with a different spirit. Their statements twisted the level-headedness and restraint of the soldiers into “spinelessness.” Education Minister Naftali Bennett remarked, “The pictures are harsh,” and argued that the young Palestinian girls involved “should finish their lives in prison.” … When Ahed Tamimi was brought before a judge in the military court in Ofer for continued detention, she kept her back straight and her head up. The soldiers and police surrounding her served as staging. Foreign journalists in the courtroom gave a high-five to the girl from Nabi Saleh whose face then adorned news sites the world over for many days. A picture of Ahed’s proud face as she looked at the judges led the BBC to report that the girl is viewed as a heroine by the Palestinians. The Atlantic did a story on Ahed under the headline “A symbol of the Palestinian resistance for the internet age.” CNN asked if Tamimi was a Palestinian heroine or dedicated troublemaker. Ahed became a Palestinian symbol who turned the spotlight on the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and on the military court system it operates there. Now there is no way that Israel can emerge from this affair with the upper hand … All that remains is to watch with amazement the ineptness of politicians trying to detract from Ahed Tamimi’s legitimacy, but all the while producing the opposite result. After the mistakes made in the criminal, legal, media and cultural spheres, diplomacy’s turn came to jump on the bandwagon. Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to Washington and the current deputy minister, who is “responsible for diplomacy” in the prime minister’s office, told Haaretz that he wanted to hold a discussion in the Knesset on the issue of whether the Tamimis are a “real” Palestinian family or if they are professional actors….

Senior Israeli official mocked for bizarre claim detained Palestinian teen is a paid actor
Intercept 25 Jan by Robert Mackey — Michael Oren, Israel’s senior official in charge of diplomacy, was roundly mocked on Thursday for admitting that he had opened a formal investigation of a family of Palestinian activists based on an internet conspiracy theory, which claims that they are not a real family but a troupe of actors paid to pretend that the occupation of their land in the West Bank upsets them. Oren’s strange admission to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz came in response to a wave of negative publicity for the Jewish state following the arrest last month of a 16-year-old Palestinian girl, Ahed Tamimi, who was filmed by her mother slapping an Israeli soldier outside their home in the village of Nabi Saleh. The arrest of the young activist prompted international outrage and led to somewhat frantic efforts at damage control from Israelis seeking to discredit this sympathetic face of unarmed Palestinian resistance to Israeli military rule. Asked to explain what led him to open a classified investigation of the conspiracy theory that the Tamimi family is “not genuine, and was specially put together for propaganda” purposes, Oren told Haaretz that he suspected that “members of the family were chosen for their appearance,” an apparent reference to the fact that Ahed and her younger brother Mohammed are blond and fair-skinned. He also found their clothing suspicious, calling their jeans and T-shirts “a real costume. American dress in every respect, not Palestinian, with backward baseball caps. Even Europeans don’t wear backward baseball caps.” “It was all prepared. It’s what’s known as Pallywood,” he added, referring to an American blogger’s conspiracy theory that all video documenting incidents in which Israeli soldiers are caught on video abusing Palestinians is staged fiction. Oren, who was born and raised in the United States, also told Haaretz that he and his staff had nicknamed the Tamimi family “the Brady Bunch,” after the 1970s sitcom, because, he said, “that wasn’t a real family; they were actors.”
He was not asked to explain if Ahed Tamimi’s 15-year-old cousin Mohammed, who was shot in the head with a rubber bullet by a member of the Israeli security forces shortly before she slapped the soldier, and required emergency surgery in which part of his skull was temporarily removed, was also acting….

Satire: Is Michael Oren a ‘real’ person?
+972 mag 24 Jan by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — The alleged former ambassador has made numerous statements and claims recently that cast serious doubts on the veracity of his existence as a real person – most recently, news that he initiated a parliamentary inquiry into whether Ahed Tamimi’s family is ‘real.’ (Satire) — For the past two years, +972 Magazine has been conducting a secret investigation into whether Michael Oren, Israel’s alleged former ambassador to the United States, is “a real person” or just an actor playing a character invented by Israel’s hasbara agencies. The investigation did not reach any unequivocal conclusions. The investigation looked into border-line fantastical actions and statements by Alleged Ambassador Oren, including but not limited to: penning opeds suggesting that Barack Obama’s Mideast policies can be explained by his daddy issues; boastfully interfering in the reporting of one of America’s most respected television news magazines; arguing that Israel was a LGBTQ haven two decades before homosexuality was even legalized in the country; comparing the status of disenfranchised Palestinians living under foreign military rule in the West Bank to Americans who live in Washington DC; endorsing the extra-judicial killing of Palestinians suspected of violent crimes; and most recently, reportedly initiating a parliamentary inquiry into whether the family of Ahed Tamimi is “real.” “The final assessment was that Oren ‘apparently is a real person, but slowly, characteristics and bits of crazy that fit the profile [the hasbara machine] sought were ‘annexed’ to him,” +972’s chief investigator said. Nevertheless, she added, “there was no unequivocal conclusion on the matter.” The investigator also said she looked into whether “Oren was chosen for his appearance” – grey-haired, blue-eyed and light-skinned. “Also clothing. A real costume. Israeli dress in every respect, not American, with an unbuttoned shirt. Even Floridians don’t wear their collars like that,” she said. “It was all contrived. It’s what’s known as Hasbarollywood.”….

Opinion: How much idiocy can Israeli society take? / Carolina Landsmann
Haaretz 26 Jan — In the sea of stupidity into which Israeli society is slowly sinking, the response of Ahed Tamimi’s father to the secret discussion in the Knesset initiated two years ago by Deputy Minister Michael Oren was like a life preserver of wisdom. “How did such a fool get to be your ambassador to the United States?” Bassem Tamimi asked with mock concern. “How does the State of Israel allow such a thing?” Good question. Out of respect for Oren, it’s best not to go into details. The entire discussion is ridiculous and it would be embarrassing to disclose the details. In his defense, it must be said that he’s not alone. In retrospect, it seems obvious that in a place where the Palestinian people is denied, the Palestinian family is also denied. Life in Israel has become a kind of intellectual torture: Everyone talks nonsense and it’s impossible to disconnect.…

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Army abducts three Palestinians, injures a child, in Jerusalem
IMEMC 28 Jan — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Sunday at dawn, three Palestinians and injured a child, during extensive and violent searches of homes, in the town of al-‘Isawiya, in occupied East Jerusalem, after the army isolated it since Saturday evening. Media sources in Jerusalem said the soldiers surrounded and isolated the town, on Saturday evening, before many armored military vehicles invaded it, and initiated extensive searches of homes and property.  The sources added that dozens of residents protested the invasion near many roadblocks, installed by the army in their town, despite the heavy rain and the cold, and said that the constant invasions are illegal acts of collective punishment. During the violent invasion of homes, the soldiers abducted Mohammad Mahmoud Salah, after assaulting him and his entire family, leading to various cuts and bruises, in addition to causing property damage. The soldiers also abducted Mohammad Abu al-Hummus, a member of the local Follow-Up Committee, in addition to Yousef Froukh.
Furthermore, the soldiers assaulted a child, identified as Saifeddin Mohannad ‘Obeid, only nine years of age, causing various injuries, including fractures in his left hand, before he was rushed to a local hospital.

Army injures dozens of Palestinians in Jericho
IMEMC 27 Jan — Israeli soldiers injured, Friday, dozens of Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs, at the main entrance of Jericho city, northwest of the Dead Sea in the occupied West Bank, after the army attacked Palestinian protesters. Media sources in Jericho said the soldiers used excessive force against the nonviolent protesters, who marched against the ongoing occupation, while carrying Palestinian flags and chanting for the liberation of Palestine, and its occupied capital, Jerusalem. Many Palestinians then hurled stones at the soldiers, who responded with more fire, the sources added. The Palestinian Red Crescent said the soldiers shot eighteen Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets and caused twenty-six others to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation.

Israeli soldiers shoot a Palestinian in the face near Ramallah
IMEMC 28 Jan — Several Israeli army vehicles invaded, on Sunday at dawn, Beit Rima village, northwest of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, searched and ransacked many homes, and shot one Palestinian in the face. Media sources in Ramallah said the soldiers broke into many homes in the village, and violently searched them, causing damage. They added that the soldiers also summoned several young men for interrogation, after invading their homes. In addition, medical sources said the soldiers also shot a young man with a rubber-coated steel bullet, causing a moderate injury, while many Palestinians suffered the effects of teargas inhalation.

Israeli settlers torch Palestinian car, spray racist anti-Arab graffiti in East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Israeli settlers reportedly spray-painted racist anti-Arab graffiti on Palestinian property and torched a Palestinian-owned vehicle overnight between Thursday and Friday in occupied East Jerusalem, according to official Palestinian-Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency. Wafa reported that Israeli settlers raided the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Safafa overnight and spray-painted graffiti in Hebrew saying “Death to the Arabs” and “Price Tag” before setting a vehicle on fire.
Many Palestinian activists and rights groups have accused Israel of fostering a “culture of impunity” for Israelis committing violent acts against Palestinians … In March 2017, Israeli NGO Yesh Din revealed that Israeli authorities served indictments in only 8.2 percent of cases of Israeli settlers committing anti-Palestinian crimes in the occupied West Bank in the past three years.

Israeli army raids Hebron school
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Jan — Israeli forces, on Sunday, raided a primary school in the city of Hebron, according to security sources. Sources told WAFA that soldiers raided al-Ibrahimiya primary boys school, in the Old City in Hebron, and searched the rooms after evicting the students, under the pretext of searching for a ‘wanted’ student. The Israeli army regularly carries out attacks with the deliberate and reckless use of force against schools and educational facilities across the West Bank, in a serious violation of international law and students’ right to pursue education in a safe environment.
The Israeli army also raided, on Sunday morning, the town of Beit Ummar, to the north of Hebron, ransacking two houses and stealing jewelry belonging to a local Palestinian’s wife.

Israeli soldiers abduct two Palestinians near Ramallah, search homes in Tulkarem and Hebron
IMEMC 28 Jan — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Sunday at dawn, two Palestinians from their homes in Silwad town, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah. The army also invaded many areas in Tulkarem and Hebron, searched homes and stole gold. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said many army jeeps invaded Silwad town, east of Ramallah, before the soldiers broke into homes and searched them, and abducted two Palestinians, identified as No’man Saleh Hamed and Mohammad Abdul-Majid Hamdan. The soldiers also interrogated many Palestinians, especially young men, while inspecting their ID cards.
In addition, dozens of soldiers invaded Khallet at-Tawil area, and the main road between the towns of ‘Allar and ‘Atteel, north of the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, and isolated it before initiating an extensive search campaign …
In related news, the soldiers invaded at least two homes in Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and conducted violent searches, before stealing gold from one home. Local activist Mohammad Awad said the soldiers invaded Mothallath al-‘Ein area, in Beit Ummar, before breaking into the homes of Ahmad Rashid Sabarna and Yousef Ahmad Sabarna, and stole a gold necklace, a gold chain and a ring, owned by Ahmad’s wife, Lobna Nabil Abu ‘Ayyash.

Explosives found on West Bank road north of Tulkarm
TULKARM (WAFA) 27 Jan — Several explosives were found Friday night on a road north of the West Bank city of Tulkarm that prompted closure of the road, according to the Palestinian police. Police spokesman Loai Irzeeqat said that police found a number of suspicious objects on the Allar-Attil road and that after examining them by bomb experts, they turned out to be highly explosive devices that can pose danger to life of people. The road was immediately closed to traffic. He said the explosives were buried on the side of the road, explaining that the bomb squad was working on dismantling them. Reports quoted the Allar municipality saying that the same road where the bombs were found was asphalted one month ago. However, residents later said that a section of the road has been damaged. Heavy rain that fell on the northern West Bank on Thursday and Friday apparently unveiled the bombs, which were detected by residents who informed the municipality and police. It was not clear where the bombs have come from.

Israeli forces detain 5 Palestinians, seize weapons in West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Jan — Israeli forces detained five Palestinians from the occupied West Bank during pre-dawn raids on Friday, according to Hebrew-language media. Reports said that Israeli forces carried out raids in the Jenin district of the northern West Bank, in the al-Yamoun, Arraba, and Bir al-Basha villages, in addition to houses on the road connecting Qabatiya and the Misliya village in southwestern Jenin, and the Jenin refugee camp. Israeli forces reportedly detained two Palestinians from the Jenin district. They were identified as Muhammad Fawwaz Zakarneh and former prisoner Haitham Sayyaj.
Meanwhile in Nablus, also in the northern West Bank, Israeli forces detained a Palestinian youth identified as Wael Muhammad Obeidallah from the ‘Awarta town.
In the southern West Bank city of Hebron, Israeli forces detained two Palestinians identified as Rajab Raji and Hamzeh Ghaith. Forces also reportedly seized two weapons during the raid in Hebron.

Israeli forces detain 20 Palestinians from the West Bank, 33 from Jerusalem
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 30 Jan – Israeli forces detained on Tuesday 20 Palestinians from several areas in the occupied West Bank during wide-scale raid-and-search operations, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), in addition to 33 from occupied East Jerusalem. It said in a statement that Israeli soldiers detained six people from the Jenin district, three from Nablus, four from Bethlehem district and three from Ramallah. The statement also said that two people from Tulkarm were detained and two from Beit Surik, a village northwest of Jerusalem. The PPS said that in addition to the 20 from the West Bank, Israel detained as well 33 from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya, the majority were minors ranging in age between 15 and 17 years.

Prisoners / Court actions

Palestinian teens Abdul Khalik Burnat and Mohammed Tamimi brought before Israeli military court
Samidoun 29 Jan — Abdul-Khalik Burnat, 17, the son of Palestinian activist Iyad Burnat, was brought before the Ofer Israeli military court on 28 January 2018. Iyad Burnat posted on Facebook describing Abdul-Khalik’s hearing and the experience of attending the court. “I attended the ‘hearing’ today, fifty days after my son’s abduction, and it was a long day of deliberate humiliations and insults. My wife and I went through several gates and numerous humiliating body searches, and then we arrived at a yard where the detainees’ families wait to attend their children’s ‘hearings’. After two hours of waiting, we entered the ‘court’, and what a court it is! A court filled with soldiers wearing military uniforms and a child in a cage, his feet in chains, wearing a brown uniform and a broad smile. A smile that says, I am strong! A smile to greet his mother and father in an atmosphere filled with animosity and hatred. One of the soldiers told us to sit in an area reserved for families of the detainees and not to speak,” Burnat wrote….
Also on 28 January, Mohammed Bilal Tamimi, 19, was brought before the military court after 17 days of interrogation. Mohammed is one of the cousins of Ahed Tamimi who has been targeted for arrest and interrogation as part of the ongoing collective punishment directed against the family. Manal Tamimi, the teen’s mother, said on Facebook that the military court judge did not yet rule on whether his interrogation should be extended as requested by the Shabak, the notorious Israeli intelligence service, and that a ruling would be made within the coming days. “Mohammed looks very tired, his face turned to yellow and he lost around 7 kilos or more of his weight, he don’t have enough food or sleep during the past 17 days and he went through so many interrogation sessions days and nights , despite this he is still very strong and they couldn’t break him,” Tamimi wrote about her son.

Restriction of movement

Jordan seeks to ease travel burden on Palestinian Jerusalemites
Al-Monitor 29 Jan by Daoud Kuttab — Conflicts often have unintended consequences. The attention that US President Donald Trump has brought to Jerusalem has raised the city’s profile in Palestine and the world, shedding light on the many problems facing the city and its Palestinian population. Jerusalem’s 330,000 Arab residents received a small gift this week in the form of a change in Jordanian policy that will make life a little bit easier. In an interview on a television show dedicated to Jerusalem, Fawaz Shahwan, head of the Civil Affairs Department at the Interior Ministry, said Jerusalemites will soon be able to process personal documents without having to travel to Jordan to do so. Palestinians registered as residents in Jerusalem are stateless. They are neither citizens of Palestine, Israel or Jordan, but are allowed to carry Jordanian travel documents. In the past, Palestinians in Jerusalem needing to renew a travel document or file a birth or marriage certificate had to travel across the King Hussein Bridge to Jordanian Interior Ministry offices in Amman. Israeli-issued permits to exit across the bridge (NIS 230) and an exit tax (NIS 180) amount to about $120 per person. The fee for a passport is itself 200 Jordanian dinars ($282). On Jordanian state television Jan. 22, Shahwan said of the change in Jordanian policy, “As part of King Abdullah’s interest in Jerusalem’s holy places and the people of Jerusalem, these services are being made to help strengthen the steadfastness of the people of Jerusalem in their city.” Talal Abu Afifeh, a resident of Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp and head of the Jerusalem Intellectuals Forum, told Al-Monitor, “The passport issue being renewed in Jerusalem is a good thing. We have been asking the Jordanians for this service for years, and it is a welcomed move to help strengthen our people’s steadfastness.” Jordanian officials plan to open offices in Jerusalem as part of the Jordanian Waqf….

Metal gate erected at entrance to West Bank villages
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Jan — The Israeli army set up a metal gate at the entrance to the village of Nabi Elias, east of Qalqilia, in the northern West Bank, according to a local source. Ma‘zouz Qaddoumi, from the municipality of Jayyous, a town adjacent to Nabi Elias, told WAFA that the metal gate was placed under a bridge on the road that connects Jayyous and Nabi Elias. The army can close the gate at any time and block traffic on that road. Qaddoumi said that the military had prevented the municipality from paving that road, which is vital to several villages, as it connects them together and with other West Bank cities. The military has put up metal gates at the entrance to almost every Palestinian village and town in the West Bank, using it to punish people collectively, by blocking the movement of cars and sometimes of the people trying to cross them.

15 million Palestinian crossings into Israel in 2017
JPost 24 Jan by Anna Ahronheim — Defense Ministry notes increase of 15% in crossings from Gaza, West Bank — An increase of two million Palestinians crossed into Israel from the Gaza Strip and West Bank in 2017, the Defense Ministry reported on Wednesday. According to the ministry, Palestinians entered Israel 15 million times through various crossings from Gaza and the West Bank in 2017, an increase from the 13 million in 2016. On average, over 60,000 people per day entered Israel for work, medical treatment, humanitarian assistance or commerce.  While it wasn’t clear if the major increase came from Gaza or the West Bank, a report released last week by the NGO Gisha – The Legal Center for Freedom of Movement – said that the past year saw the least legal movement of Palestinians in and out of the Gaza Strip since Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. According to the report, the number of exits by Palestinians via the Erez crossing in 2017 dropped by 51% compared to 2016. It showed that the monthly average in 2017 was only 5,963 exits, compared to a monthly average of 12,150 in 2016 and 14,276 in 2015. It also showed that the average monthly number of exits in 2014 was 6,270….

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Palestinian school under imminent threat of demolition by Israel
AMMAN (WAFA) 30 Jan — A Palestinian primary school built with European donor funding is facing the threat of demolition by Israeli authorities in the coming days after the Israeli High Court dismissed a petition to safeguard it, aid agencies Action Against Hunger, Norwegian Refugee Council and Save the Children warned on Tuesday. The school is the only one serving the Bedouin community of Al Muntar, on the periphery of East Jerusalem in Area C of the West Bank, which has already suffered displacement and destruction of property in the past. The school risks being demolished from 1st February onwards, when an injunction protecting it from demolition expires. Currently, 33 pupils aged 5-11 attend the primary school but it was meant to be expanded to receive over 70 pupils this year. This latest demolition threat comes as new figures gathered by aid agencies reveal there are 61 schools in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, that have pending demolition or stop work orders from the Israeli authorities. If the Al Muntar school is demolished, many of the children may be forced to drop out of education altogether, with the only other schools several kilometers away and only accessible by foot or donkey, past an Israeli settlement….

Soldiers demolish two under-construction residential buildings in Beit Jala
IMEMC 29 Jan — Israeli soldiers demolished, on Monday morning, two under-construction residential buildings in Be’er ‘Owna area, in Beit Jala city, in the West Bank governorate of Bethlehem, after surrounding and isolating the area. Hasan Breijiyya, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Colonies, said a large military force invaded the area, and demolished the two residential buildings, under the pretext of being constructed without a permit from the Israeli side. He added that each building had three stories, and that the buildings and their lands, are owned by Walid Zreina and Issa Awad.  Breijiyya denounced the demolitions, and said that many Palestinian homes and buildings are in that area, which is repeatedly targeted by the military, as the Jerusalem City Council is trying to confiscate and annex it, for the illegal construction and expansion of its colonies.

New data: 435,708 Israeli settlers live in occupied West Bank
MEMO 22 Jan — New Israeli statistics have shown that the number of Jewish settlers living in the occupied West Bank reached 435,708 living in 150 illegal settlements at the start of 2018, Israeli media reported on Sunday. This number did not include the settlers living in occupied East Jerusalem, the Israeli Interior Ministry’s Population Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) said. The annual population growth among settlers was 3.4 per cent, with their number increasing by 14,299. It pointed out that the growth rate decreased compared to that in 2016 when the number of settlers increased by 15,765 or 3.9 per cent. According to the data, the annual growth of settlers during the last decade, between 2007 and 2017, was 4.6 per cent –15,000 settlers a year. Despite last year’s decrease, The Times of Israel said, the growth of the population number in the settlement remained higher than that in Israel, which was 2 per cent annually. The Times of Israel noted that the data showed an increasing number of settlers in the settlement inhabited by religious settlers, where the population growth was 12 per cent in 2017.
Yesha Council, the settlement leadership body in the occupied West Bank, attributed the decline in the growth of the settlers’ population to the slowdown of building in settlements. “The media reports constantly talk about the approved housing units, but the reality is completely different,” Yesha said in a statement reported by The Times of Israel. Yesha called for “serious government action to remove the barriers to construction and increase the supply of settlement units.”

Justice Minister pushes ministers to apply bills to West Bank
JPost 21 Jan by Lahav Harkov — For the first time ever, all of the government bills on Sunday’s agenda of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation explained how and whether they apply to the West Bank, as demanded by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. Laws do not automatically extend to the West Bank and usually require a military order for them to apply because the IDF governs the area. Shaked and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, along with many others on the Right, have generally seen this as a form of discrimination against some Israeli citizens based on where they live. The Left, however, considers moves to change the situation as a form of settlement annexation. Shaked asked ministers to include in their bills whether they would apply via a military order or directly, in accordance with instructions from Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit. “The 450,000 residents of Judea and Samaria deserve the same rights and have the same obligations just like other Israeli citizens,” Shaked stated. “The Attorney-General’s recent instruction requires every government bill to include its ramifications on Judea and Samaria. “As chairwoman of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, I will insist that government bills be brought to a discussion only if it mentions what is needed. We are fixing a 50-year-old injustice,” she added. The Justice Minister’s move is part of a general emphasis in the coalition in recent weeks on applying Israeli law to the West Bank. The Knesset House Committee directed Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon to tell all committee legal advisers to discuss the matter when legislating … Former justice minister MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) accused Shaked of “continuing creeping annexation on the way to an apartheid state.”  “The difference isn’t that Israeli laws apply to Israeli citizens in Judea and Samaria. They also applied to them before – but now it’s in the law. Legal annexation will hurt all of Israel’s claims in international bodies and courts and will lead to either annexation with equal rights and an Arab majority in Israel, or to an apartheid state. Either situation is anti-Zionist,” Livni argued.

Israel’s settlement expansion causes floods in Palestinian village
QALQILYA (PIC) 30 Jan — Many residents of the Palestinian village of Wadi Fukin were unable to sleep last Friday night for fear of being flooded by rainwater channeled from a nearby settlement towards their homes, according to Haaretz newspaper,  As on every rainy day this winter, the villagers dug ditches and built mud and stone barricades, as they sought to hold back the strong currents of water streaming into the village and threatening to flood their homes. The floods in Wadi Fukin are a recent man-made phenomenon and caused by the expansion of the illegal settlement of Tzur Hadassah, which is located above the village. Construction activities at the settlement turned natural areas that would absorb rainwater and slow their flow into asphalt and concrete, which funnel the water quickly down the mountain towards the village. “Another problem, no less serious, is that the water is no longer sinking into the ground to feed the Wadi Fukin springs, which residents use for irrigation throughout the year. The residents report a sharp decline in the springs’ water flow,” the newspaper said. Persisting in ignoring the expansion’s consequences for the Palestinian village, Israel’s Jerusalem regional planning commission will discuss soon the Tzur Hadassah master plan, which calls for tripling the community’s size….

A paradise for split personalities and free trade
JPost 29 Jan by Franziska Knupper — Residents in the town of Barta‘a in northern Israel and Samaria (West Bank) live in a constant identity crisis between the security barrier and the Green Line — Lydia Aisenberg greets the man across the street. She’s known him for decades. Every day he stands on the corner selling eggs – both merchant and his produce boiling in the afternoon sun. “In Israel, it is actually not allowed to sell eggs at a street stall, but he is on the other side of the roundabout. On the other side of the border – on Palestinian soil,” the activist and mother of five explains. Aisenberg is wearing a black T-shirt with Arabic letters and a necklace with the Star of David. A native of Wales and veteran member of Kibbutz Mishmar Ha’emek, she works for Givat Haviva, one of the oldest NGOs promoting Arab-Jewish dialogue. She has been coming to Barta‘a, the divided village, for a long time. Here, she points out, the absurdity of the Middle East conflict is particularly evident. “Barta‘a is like a Monty Python sketch,” she says. The 10,000 inhabitants of the town live in Wadi Ara, amid green meadows. The Mediterranean Sea is just a stone’s throw away, and the Green Line is drawn right through the middle of the town. Inhabitants of Barta‘a travel from one country to another every day – for work, for family visits, a dentist appointment. Green ink separates families, neighbors, business associates, and the historical mistake still awaits resolution. “Everyone here belongs to one clan: the Kabhas,” explains Sallah Kabha. The 47-year-old has a restaurant just behind the eastern entrance, making him Palestinian. Two of his brothers married women from the western part of the city, making them Israelis. Some 6,000 Kabhas are officially Palestinians; 4,000 are Israelis. Green or blue identity card, white or yellow license plate notwithstanding – a landmark on the dusty roundabout announces the division. The “barrier-ditch” lies forgotten, full of trash….


In landslide vote, Denmark approves exclusion of settlements from agreements with Israel
Haaretz 26 Jan by Noa Landau — The Danish parliament voted this week to exclude Jewish settlements in the West Bank from bilateral agreements with Israel. In addition, it was decided that government guidelines against investing in projects over the Green Line by both public and private bodies would be strengthened. The resolution passed by a majority of 81-22, with all parties in the Danish parliament voting in favor, except for the far-right Danish People’s Party. The move saw Denmark adopt UN Resolution 2334, wherein settlements are defined as a violation of international law, and a distinction is made between Israel within the Green Line, and Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The same view is held by the European Union in all multilateral agreements with Israel.

Other news

Abbas calls on countries to refrain from opening missions in Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Jan — Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, on Sunday, met with African leaders in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, where he addressed the 30th Assembly of African Heads of State and Government. In his speech, Abbas called on the international community not to open diplomatic missions in Jerusalem, after Trump declared the city the capital of Israel and announced he will move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Abbas also urged nations in the world to refrain from recognizing Jerusalem as Israeli capital. The PA president’s speech included praise for Africans with regard to solidarity with the Palestinian people’s cause and struggle to ensure their self-determination and their right to establish the state of Palestine. Abbas also gave salute to Nelson Mandela, the late liberation icon, on his 100th year of birth.

Video: Trump threatens to cut Palestinian aid in Davos
26 Jan — US President Donald Trump is threatening to withhold millions of dollars in aid to Palestine unless they pursue peace with Israel. Trump made the comments at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he also reaffirmed his commitment to recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. His statements were condemned by the Palestinian leadership and have renewed debate about whether the US can fairly mediate future peace negotiations. Al Jazeera’s James Bays reports from Davos.

Video: Thousands protest against planned UNRWA cuts
29 Jan –Thousands of union workers from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees are protesting in Gaza against planned budget cuts. They are concerned that the budget cuts will mean cutting services and ending contracts for thousands of UNRWA’s workers in the region. It follows the US decision to cut millions of dollars worth of funding to the aid agency. Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan reports from Gaza …

Video: Palestinians hold demonstration outside UNRWA headquarters in Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Jan — The Palestinian youth movement on Monday organized a protest in front of UNRWA headquarters in Bethlehem and closed down the office, in response to the cuts of the agency’s services following U.S. administration decision to cut aid to the Palestinians. Mohammed Abu Srour, a youth activist, said that the movement’s main demands were for the UN to set a specific budget from the General Assembly to the Palestinians, and activate the role of UNCCP which is responsible for protecting Palestinian refugees and their rights. “We have eight demands that we made in a statement for UNRWA regarding its cuts. The most important being the emergency program that supports many families, which was suspended after Trump’s decision to cut aid, an escalation which Palestinian refugees believe could harm their interests  as a means of pressure. The movement held the UN responsible for the cuts, demanding it to revive its services to the Palestinian refugees, mainly patient referrals to the medical clinics, and schools.

Israeli defense officials warn politicians Trump’s cuts to Palestinians could harm Israel’s security
Haaretz 28 Jan by Yaniv Kubovich — Israeli military officials warned senior Israeli politicians last week that a humanitarian crisis, triggered by the possible collapse of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees could lead to a civilian uprising against the army along the length of the Israeli-Gaza border … Israeli officials also fear Trump’s comments regarding a possible end to what he characterized as the hundreds of millions of dollars that Washington gives the Palestinian Authority could signal a reduction in U.S. contributions to the PA’s security forces, which could do significant damage to these agencies’ cooperation with the Israeli army and with Israel’s Shin Bet security service….

US still considering closure of Washington PLO office
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Jan — Israeli Channel 2, on Thursday, said that the U.S. is considering closing down the PLO offices in Washington as a sanction for refusal, by the Palestinian Authority(PA), to return to negotiations with Israel. The PA, following U.S. president Donald Trump declaration of Jerusalem the capital of Israel, announced halt of the Israeli-Palestinian talks, saying that the U.S. is no longer qualified to lead the “peace process”. In response, the U.S. threatened to cut aid for Palestinians and to close PLO offices in Washington, and sending of the PLO envoy back to Ramallah … The U.S. has already once threatened to shut down the PLO mission in New York. Back in November, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a letter to the Palestinian leadership warning that the delegation might be shut down as a result of Abbas’s call on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Israel and prosecute Israelis. Later, however, State Department officials said that it was decided to keep the delegation open for at least 90 days, and, at the end of that period, Trump could announce that he is prolonging its activity if it is vital for supporting “meaningful” Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Video: West Bank Palestinians burn Trump, Pence in effigy
AFP 28 Jan (43 seconds) — Palestinians hang a burning puppet bearing the portrait of US President Donald Trump, during a mock trial for him and Vice President Mike Pence in the Aida refugee camp in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Jordan king calls for Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem
yAMMAN, Jordan (AP) 28 Jan by Karin Laub — Jordan’s king affirmed his support Sunday for establishing a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem, highlighting his differences with the Trump administration on a central issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Abdullah II spoke at the start of a meeting with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who also expressed concern about President Donald Trump’s recognition last month of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “I think there are very good reasons to question the theory that unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would contribute to the consolidation of peace in the Middle East,” Steinmeier was quoted as telling the Jordanian daily Al-Ghad in an interview published Sunday. One of the pillars of Germany’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “is the need to preserve the status of holy sites and to negotiate the final status of Jerusalem within the framework of the two-state solution,” Steinmeier, a former foreign minister, told Al-Ghad. Jordan’s monarch serves as custodian of a major Muslim shrine in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem and the kingdom’s Hashemite dynasty derives much of its political legitimacy from its special role in Jerusalem. Jordan is also home to a large Palestinian population….

West Bank former mayor, Ghassan al-Shakaa, dead at age 74
NABLUS, West Bank (AP) 25 Jan — Ghassan al-Shakaa, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization and former mayor of the West Bank city of Nablus, has died at age 74. His son Walid says his father died on Thursday of pneumonia. He also suffered from kidney problems and prostate cancer. Al-Shakaa served as mayor of Nablus, the West Bank’s second-largest city, from 1994-2004 and from 2012-2015. He also served on the PLO Executive Committee. In 1996, he was elected to the Palestinian parliament as a candidate for Fatah, the movement headed by President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas said al-Shakaa “spent his life in the struggle and the service of his people, and in defense of its rights.” Al-Shakaa, a lawyer, was arrested by Israel in 1981 and served 15 months in prison for Fatah membership.

Book: How Yasser Arafat evaded Israeli assassination attempts for years … and Mossad nearly blew up a plane carrying 30 injured children by mistake in their hunt for the Palestinian leader
MailOnline 26 Jan by Julian Robinson — Israeli security forces nearly blew up a plane carrying 30 injured children by mistake during a decades-long attempt to assassinate Yasser Arafat, it has been claimed. Fighter pilots are said to have asked permission to bring down a flight over the Mediterranean on October 23, 1982, believing that the late Palestinian leader was on board. But the mission was called off as it emerged that the aircraft was carrying wounded Palestinian youngsters on their way from Athens to receive medical treatment in Egypt – and that they were accompanied by Arafat’s lookalike younger brother. The claims have been made in a book which alleges that former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon ordered the military to shoot down civilian airliners while he was minister of defence in the hope of killing Arafat. In an article in the New York Times, adapted from the book, journalist Ronen Bergman said that in just nine weeks between November 1982 and 1983, fighter jets were scrambled ‘at least five times’ to blow up commercial planes. But on each occasion, the raids were called off shortly after takeoff … In his book, Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations, Bergman says there were other plans to kill Arafat….

Why the West Bank had to fight for faster cell service
Bloomberg 26 Jan by Mohammad Mustafa — As the rest of the world prepares for the fifth generation of mobile communications technology, the West Bank finally has third-generation cell service. Starting this week, Palestinians in the West Bank can purchase 3G mobile service through one of two domestic providers. At a time when the fourth generation of mobile technology is available in even the most remote parts of the world – from the peak of Mount Everest to the islands of the South China Sea – Israeli restrictions have until this week forced Palestinians to settle for outdated second-generation technology. And their economy reflects it. Local startups, such as Rocab, a Ramallah-based ride-hailing app, have struggled on Palestine’s 2G network, which isn’t fast enough for GPS services. Without real-time data, Palestinian health-care and municipal service providers cannot anticipate consumer needs, leaving patients without protection and families without water and gas. And, despite this week’s upgrade in the West Bank, Gaza still only has 2G service. Without proper technology at home, many Palestinians have turned to Israeli providers, whose 4G reception reaches Palestine in fits and starts through towers built in illegal settlements constructed by Israel in the West Bank. Israeli providers have siphoned off nearly 30 percent of the Palestinian customer base. This market capture has had a devastating impact on the telecommunications industry – to the tune of over $1 billion – stripping the Palestinian Authority of vital tax revenues and royalties … This week’s launch is a welcome step toward unleashing Palestine’s mobile industry. But it also reveals a deeper problem. Israel restricts the development of vital industries in Palestine and then exploits a Palestinian market which has no other option than to purchase costly Israeli services and products….

New Palestinian metropolis offers economic route around occupation
Al-Monitor 23 Jan by Akiva Eldar — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shed no tears when he heard Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announce that he was ending relations with President Donald Trump. The peace that could threaten his seat is as unlikely as ever. At worst, a few European countries will recognize a Palestinian state. But even if all of Europe, Asia and Africa recognized Palestine, not a single Israeli outpost in the occupied West Bank would be dismantled. The power of the US veto at the UN Security Council will save us, Netanyahu believes. Trump’s ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said in an interview last week that the Palestinian decision to oust the United States from the Israeli-Palestinian peace process proves that they don’t even want peace. In a worst-case scenario, the Palestinian Authority would suspend its security cooperation with Israel, resulting in a third intifada. But why would the Palestinians believe that another violent uprising would succeed when the two previous ones failed?
In light of the receding diplomatic option for Israeli-Palestinian peace and the uselessness of a military option, more and more Palestinians are concluding that they are doomed to live forever under occupation. But the newly built Palestinian West Bank town of Rawabi on the outskirts of Ramallah presents them with a third option: a Palestinian declaration of economic independence. Palestinian-American businessman Bashar Masri, who created this ambitious project flourishing in the center of the West Bank, has proven that such an idea is feasible … Masri told The Guardian’s correspondent Harriet Sherwood, who visited his city in May 2016, that Rawabi “sends a message to the international community” that the Palestinians are not “what they are led to believe, a bunch of terrorists. We are ready to build our state. Here is the proof.”

Palestinian artist turns olive leaves into silver jewels
Al-Monitor 28 Jan by Alaa ElBurai — Palestinian artist Nadia Abu Ghattas has been turning olive leaves into silver-plated rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings since 2005. For her, the olive tree is a symbol of the Palestinians’ resilience and their attachment to the land. Just like olive trees, the Palestinian people can survive under difficult conditions … While designing jewelry, Abu Ghattas thought about doing something related to the olive tree, which she sees as a symbol of the city of Bethlehem. She started working on designs based on the shape of the olive leaf. Then she started using leaves from the trees that surround her home. Asked about the stages of jewelry making, Abu Ghattas said, “There are more than 15 stages that olive leaves go through before turning into silver jewelry. First, the olive leaves are picked and cleaned in a basin for 10 minutes. Then they are wrapped in [a special mix of] plasticine and put in the oven at a high temperature for 10-20 minutes. Afterward, the leaves are cast with the silver.”….

Lebanon says Israel behind car bomb targeting Hamas official
BEIRUT (AFP) 27 Jan — Lebanese authorities on Friday said Israel was involved in a car bomb blast that targeted an official of the Palestinian movement Hamas in southern Lebanon earlier this month. Mohammad Hamdan was wounded when a bomb placed in his car detonated in the southern port city of Sidon on January 14. Hamdan did not appear to have a public or political role in Hamas, but according to a Palestinian security source, he was a member of the organisation’s security structure. On Friday, the press office of Lebanese Interior Minister Nouhad Mashnuq said one of the perpetrators had been coordinating with Israel. In a statement distributed to reporters, it said investigators were able to arrest “one of the main perpetrators of the crime, who confessed to being tasked by Israeli intelligence”. The statement did not specify the suspect’s nationality, but said investigators seized “very advanced communications mechanisms from his home, and correspondence between him and his handlers.” Hamas also accused Israel of involvement in the attack against Hamdan….

Philippines to deport Hamas ‘rocket scientist’
AFP 24 Jan — The Philippines said Monday it would deport an elderly Iraqi man described as a scientist for Hamas and accused of helping the Palestinian terror group lob missiles at Israel. Iraq tipped off the Philippines about the presence of Taja Mohammad Al Jabori, who was arrested on Sunday, national police chief Ronald Dela Rosa told reporters. However, the arrest was due to visa problems rather than any evidence of militant activity, the police chief emphasized …  “He admitted being a member of Hamas. He’s a chemist and he has been responsible for improving the rocket technology of Hamas in firing their missiles from their area towards the other side, for Israel.” The suspect will be deported to Iraq. The police chief said it was the first time Philippine authorities had dealt with an alleged member of Hamas, a group labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel …  Dela Rosa said it was unclear at present why the alleged Hamas chemist had travelled to the Philippines. Police said he arrived last year as Philippine troops battled militants loyal to the Islamic State group for control of the southern city of Marawi. Al Jabori had however mostly stayed in Manila and nearby provinces and told police he had no intention of committing any terror act in the Philippines, the police chief said.,7340,L-5075582,00.html (listserv)