Court actions / Prisoners
Longest-serving Palestinian prisoner marks 36 years in Israeli custody
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Karim Younis, the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner in Israeli custody, marked his 36th year in Israeli prison on Saturday. Younis, a Palestinian citizen of Israel from the Palestinian town of ‘Ar‘ara in Israel, was arrested by Israeli authorities on January 6, 1983, according to the official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency. Younis, who was a university student at the time of his arrest, was sentenced in 1983 to life in Israeli prison for allegedly carrying out an attack on an Israeli soldier in the occupied Golan Heights as part of the Fatah resistance movement in 1980. However, his sentence was later reduced to 40 years in Israeli prison. While Yunis was among some 20 imprisoned Palestinian citizens of Israel who were expected to be released as part of the Oslo peace accords in the 1990s, Israeli authorities have yet to release them. Younis has written two books while in prison — one in 1990 titled “The political reality in Israel,” and the other in 1993 titled “The ideological conflict and the settlement.”
Yesh Din faults Israeli authorities for response to crimes against Palestinians
AP 7 Jan — An Israeli rights group said Sunday authorities only bring indictments in about one in 10 ideologically motivated attacks by Israelis against Palestinians in the West Bank. In an annual report, Yesh Din says it has monitored 225 investigation files since 2014. Of the 185 files processed, it says just 21 have resulted in indictments—an 11.4 percent rate. Though the figures mark an increase over previous years, the group says its findings still show that Israel “fails to fulfil its duty to guarantee the safety of the Palestinian public in the occupied territories.” As a result, it says Palestinians have been increasingly refraining from turning to police.
Israel Prisons Service confiscates 2000 books used by Palestinian prisoners
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 8 Jan – The Israel Prisons Service (IPS) confiscated more than 2000 books and research papers used by Palestinian prisoners in Hadarim prison under the pretext they include “security material,” the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said on Monday. A PPS attorney who visited prisoners at Hadarim told him that the IPS seized the books in an attempt to obstruct prisoners from pursuing a university education while serving time in prison. Hadarim, where 120 prisoners are held, is the only Israeli prison where Palestinian inmates are permitted to continue higher education and to do research with help from prisoners who have a university degree.
Palestinian Nour Tamimi released on bail
Al Jazeera 5 Jan — Nour Tamimi, a 20-year-old Palestinian charged with assaulting an Israeli soldier after the release of a viral video of the incident last month, has been released on bail. Nour and her cousin, prominent 16-year-old activist Ahed Tamimi, were filmed slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank. The video of the December 15 confrontation outside the Tamimi’s home in the village of Nabi Saleh was widely shared on social media. A few days later, the two cousins, along with Ahed’s mother, were arrested by Israeli forces. On Friday, Nour’s father, Najm Tamimi, told AFP news agency that an Israeli military court had rejected the prosecution’s appeal against his daughter’s release, allowing her to return home after posting a bail of 5,000 shekels ($1,450). The 21-year-old, who studies journalism at Al Quds University, will have to sign in at an Israeli police station every Friday at noon. She was charged on Sunday with aggravated assault and disturbing soldiers from carrying out their duties. Court proceedings against her are set to begin on February 12. Ahed Tamimi, meanwhile, remains in custody along with her mother, Nariman….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
OCHA: Trump’s Jerusalem recognition resulted in 56% of 2017 injuries
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 5 Jan – The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Friday said injuries in protests and clashes since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel constituted about 56 per cent of all injuries during 2017. In a report covering the period between December 19 and January 1, OCHA said since the beginning of the protests, 14 Palestinians were killed and 4,549 were injured by Israeli forces; 56 per cent of all injuries during 2017. In the Gaza Strip, three Palestinian civilians were killed by Israeli forces in clashes in the above mentioned protests, and 280 were injured; another two civilians died of wounds sustained in similar incidents during the previous reporting period. It said on 3 January, a 17-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and killed by Israeli forces in clashes that erupted during a demonstration in Deir Nidham village, near Ramallah. Mus‘ab Tamimi is the first Palestinian teen to be killed in 2018.
Israel police: We killed more than 200 Palestinians since end of 2015
MEMO 8 Jan — Israeli occupation police said that it killed 201 Palestinians between September 2015 and 7 January 2018, Quds Press reported yesterday. According to the news site, Israeli police claimed that the Palestinians had carried out attacks against Israeli targets. They said that this is half the number of the Palestinians who carried attacks against Israeli targets – the total number of claimed attacks was 411. “Israeli police neutralised the Palestinians by opening fire at them until they died,” Quds Press reported Israeli police saying. Meanwhile, it said that the Israeli news website Wallah had reported that this data did not include field executions carried out by the Israeli occupation forces. Though Israeli occupation forces claim to have only killed Palestinians who “posed a threat to them”, images have leaked of soldiers planting weapons next to the lifeless bodies of Palestinians.
Israel demands compensation from family of Palestinian crushed to death under army jeep
IMEMC 9 Jan — The Israeli army filed a lawsuit against the family, and the entire town, of a Palestinian who was crushed to death under a military jeep which flipped over him, after the army invaded Kafr Malek village, east of Ramallah, in central West Bank, in mid-June 2014. The military is demanding the family of Abdullah Ghanayem (Ghneimat), and his entire town, pay 95.260 Israeli Shekels, in compensation for damages caused to the military jeep. Ghanayem was crushed by an Israeli military jeep, on June 14, 2015, after the soldiers invaded Kafr Malek. He remained under the jeep for three hours, and bled to death, after the soldiers prevented medics and rescue teams from helping him. Now, the Israeli authorities are demanding his family, and his entire village, to pay 95.260 Shekels in compensation, for damages caused to the military jeep.
Israeli forces detain two Palestinians, shoot another in West Bank raids
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 5 Jan – Israeli forces Friday detained at least two Palestinians and shot another during multiple overnight raids across the West Bank, said security sources and a Jerusalem-based watchdog. Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian during a raid into Qaddura refugee camp, east of Ramallah. Palestinian security sources said Israeli forces opened fire at a Palestinian passerby on the way leading to Ramallah Medical Complex, moderately injuring him with a live round in the thigh. The casualty was initially treated by locals before medics arrived to the scene and rushed him to the hospital. The camp residents said the situation was calm and no clashes were taking place when the soldiers raided the camp and shot the Palestinian.
Meanwhile, Israeli police assaulted three Palestinians after stopping their vehicle in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
According to Wadi Hilweh Information Center, police stopped three young Palestinians in the Silwan neighborhood of al-Ein, forced them out of their vehicle, strip searched them and inspected their identity cards. They afterwards physically assaulted the young men, beating them up and striking them with their rifle butts, before detaining one of them. Police reportedly fired concussion bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets at a group of al-Ein residents who attempted to secure the detainees’ release.
Israeli soldiers shoot a Palestinian near Birzeit University
IMEMC 9 Jan — Israeli soldiers shot, Monday, a young Palestinian man, after the army assaulted protesters near the western entrance of Birzeit University, in Birzeit, north of Ramallah in central West Bank. Medical sources said the young man was shot with a live round in his abdomen, and was rushed to a local hospital, while several others received the needed treatment for the effects of teargas inhalation. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers attacked the protesters with gas bombs, concussion grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets. Furthermore, the soldiers invaded al-Mazra‘a al-Gharbiyya village, near Birzeit University, and fired many gas bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets, in addition to installing a military roadblock.
Soldiers abduct a child near Nablus
IMEMC 7 Jan — Israeli soldiers abducted, Sunday, a Palestinian child [teen], after beating him up, in Salem village, east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that the soldiers invaded the village, and attacked Palestinian protesters, marching in their village, before abducting the child. The PPS said the soldiers repeatedly assaulted Madhi Hamed Eshteyya, 16, causing various cuts and bruises, and abducted him.
Israeli soldiers abduct two Palestinians in Hebron and Jerusalem
IMEMC 7 Jan — Israeli soldiers abducted, earlier Sunday, two Palestinians in Hebron and Jerusalem, after the soldiers invaded and searched many homes, and interrogated several Palestinians. In Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, the soldiers invaded the al-‘Arroub refugee camp, abducted Safi Ayman at-Teety, 22, and took him to an unknown destination. The soldiers also invaded the family home of Khaled Jawabra, who was killed by the army on November 26, 2015, and violently searched the property. In addition, the soldiers invaded many homes in Hebron city, including the home of detainee Nidal Shehada, stormed homes in Yatta town, south of Hebron, and summoned Mohannad Mousa for interrogation in Etzion military base and security center, north of Hebron. In occupied Jerusalem, a Palestinian teen, identified as Adham Ja‘abees, 18, turned himself in to the army to serve a ten-month imprisonment sentence. Ja‘abees, from Jabal al-Mokabber neighborhood, southeast of Jerusalem, was under house arrest, and will be serving his term in Ramla prison.
Israeli forces detain 23 Palestinians in West Bank, Jerusalem
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 8 Jan – Israeli forces detained on Monday at least 23 Palestinians during raids across the occupied West Bank and in East Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). It said Israeli forces detained nine Palestinians from the Bethlehem area, seven from East Jerusalem, including a lawyer, two from Jenin, two others from Ramallah, and one each from Nablus, a 16-year-old minor, Hebron and Qalqilia.
Molotov cocktails thrown at Israeli settler bus near Hebron
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — Palestinian youths reportedly threw Molotov cocktails at an Israeli settler bus near the al-Fuwwar refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron late Thursday night. Hebrew-language media reported that damages were done to the bus after being hit with two Molotov cocktails, however no injuries were reported. Since the occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967, between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis have moved into Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, in violation of international law.
Palestinians breach apartheid wall twice in two weeks
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Jan — A group of young men and women, on Sunday night, opened up a gap in the Israeli separation wall in Abu Dis, East Jerusalem, local sources reported. A group of activist youth managed to breach the wall for at least the second time in two weeks. According to PNN sources, clashes broke out between occupation forces and dozens of youth, after the activists broke through the wall. Palestinian youth threw stones and empty bottles at Israeli forces who fired live ammunition and tear gas and tear towards the citizens. Ten days ago, a group of young Palestinians also dug a hole through the wall in the same area of Jerusalem, leading to the outbreak of clashes in the area, as well.
WAFA: Israel committed 382 violations against journalists in 2017
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 8 Jan – The Palestine News and Information Agency, WAFA, has documented 382 violations by Israeli forces against journalists and media institutions in the occupied Palestinian territories during 2017. It said in its annual report on Israeli violations against journalists, released on Monday, that these Israeli violations included use of live fire, rubber-coated bullets and teargas canisters against journalists, in addition to physical beating and arrest. The report said 213 journalists were injured by live fire or rubber-coated rounds, suffocated by teargas or beaten by Israeli forces during the year. It said 142 journalists were either arrested or targeted by Israeli gun fire but were not injured, while 27 Israeli assaults on media institutions were documented. “Although journalists wear vests with visible signs indicating their work during confrontations…, the occupation forces do not care about this and they target them directly in order to prevent the truth about [Israel’s] barbaric crimes from being known,” the report said.
Israel implements a deliberate policy to terrorise Palestinian children
MEE 4 Jan by Kamel Hawwash — At the start of the second intifada in 2000, an iconic image emerged of Muhammad al-Durra, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, as he was being shielded from Israeli fire by his father who begged the soldiers to stop shooting. The bullets, however, continued and al-Durra died from the wounds he sustained. Almost a month later, another image of a Palestinian child, caught in the conflict, went viral. Fares Odeh, 14, was caught on camera fearlessly throwing stones at an Israeli tank in the Gaza Strip. Odeh was killed by Israeli forces on 8 November that same year.
Sheer hatred — On Wednesday, the Israeli army killed Mus‘ab Firas al-Tamimi, 17, from the village of Deir Nitham, in the West Bank, making him the first Palestinian to be shot dead by Israeli forces in 2018.
Israeli cruelty, and what Palestinians view as sheer hatred for their children, was epitomised by the killing in 2004 of 13-year-old Iman Darweesh Al Hams. She was shot by Israeli army soldiers from an observation post in what Israel claimed was a “no-man” zone near the Philadelphi Route in Rafah. As if that was not enough, the Israeli army commander of the soldiers fired the entire magazine of his automatic rifle into Hams’s body. A year later, that commander during trial expressed no regret over his actions and said he would have “done the same even if the girl was a three-year-old”. He was cleared of all major charges. According to the Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCIP), 595 children were killed during the second intifada, during which the above killings took place….
Senior Sephardic rabbi opposes death penalty for Palestinians
MEMO 8 Jan — A senior Sephardic rabbi in Israel announced on Saturday his opposition to the proposed law stipulating the death penalty for Palestinians, Arab48 has reported. Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef made his comment during his weekly sermon on Saturday, even though on several other occasions he has called for Palestinians to be killed. His stance has embarrassed the extremist right-wing Shas party due to their close links. It has also pushed another ultra-orthodox Jewish bloc in the Knesset to put off its vote on the law until further discussions with its rabbis in order to avoid further embarrassment. “How much will we benefit from this,” Yosef asked. “All of the security personnel are saying that there is not much gained from this. We need to use judgment,” Yosef said. “Putting someone to death is in the hands of the Lord. From handing down a death sentence to carrying it out, there will be a fuss in the world – Spain, France. It’s not related to right wing or left wing. What is the gain from this?” Last Wednesday, the Knesset backed a death penalty bill in a close preliminary vote. Another three rounds of voting are required for the bill to pass, according to Haaretz.
Restriction of movement
Israeli forces shut down entrance to Nablus-area villages
NABLUS (WAFA) 8 Jan – Israeli forces closed with earth piles on Monday the entrance to the village of Usarin, to the south of Nablus, according to Palestinian security sources. Closing the road prevented movement of cars in and out of the village forcing commuters to search for other longer roads to leave or enter the village. Meanwhile, Israeli army closed the metal gate set up at the main road leading to the Nablus-area village of ‘Awarta, also preventing residents from using that road and forcing them to search for other routes to and out of the village.
Life in West Bank villages where the Israeli military ruined the access roads
Haaretz 7 Jan by Amira Hass — Like everyone, the people of the Masafer Yatta villages south of Hebron hope for rain. But at the same time they fear the rain and the storm and especially its effect on simple daily activities like going to work, school, buying food, selling lambs and visiting family. On December 26, huge military earth movers showed up, accompanied by soldiers, and destroyed the dirt roads connecting six villages in this area to each other and to the district town of Yatta. The previous month the army blocked a few of the roads with earth mounds, which the residents managed to dismantle. About two weeks ago the army dug wide, deep ditches in two of the roads, rendering them impassable, and rolled gigantic rocks onto a third. These are obstacles the inhabitants were unable to remove. As a result, the price of donkeys rose, say the inhabitants of the cut-off villages – Jinba, Halawa, Markaz, Majaz, Fakhit and Battan. The destruction and blockage of the access roads was done by signed order of army Central Command chief Maj. Gen. Roni Numa. The IDF Spokesman’s Office wrote in answer to a query from Haaretz: “All the blockages are situated on roads that were broken through illegally.” …
The road from the village of Twaneh eastward to Fakhit has been rent by two deep ditches. On one side is a deep wadi, or valley, and on the other, a mountainside. Four-wheel-drive vehicles make their way on the slope, risking life and limb, because the vehicle can roll into the ditches. In the rain the drive is even more dangerous. The teachers in the three other schools in Masafer Yatta who take this road get out near the ditches and continue about three kilometers on foot. Everyone has families, obligations, lives of their own. The difficulties reaching work might force them to quit. There are five clinics in the villages. The doctor and nurse who come to each clinic once a week encounter the same obstacles and difficulties. Parents of little children and pregnant women are afraid of the bad road to the doctor’s office and the hospital….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization / Settlements
Intelligence thwarts plans of land sale to Israel
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 8 Jan – The Palestinian General Intelligence in Qalqilya, in the north of the occupied West Bank, said on Monday that it was able to foil a plan to sell land to Israelis and to arrest those involved in the deal. It revealed on its website that four people, including a lawyer, were arrested after they were suspected of getting involved in attempts to sell land to Israelis, noting that the lands are located in Jerusalem, Qalqilya, Nablus, Tulkarm and inside Israel. One of those involved in the foiled sale who fled to Israel and a land broker from inside Israel worked together to pass the deal estimated to worth over $11 million. The suspects were arrested and all procedures and power of attorney documents that they were about to prepare were stopped, preventing a plot to sell thousands of dunums of Palestinian land to Israel, said the intelligence. The suspects and the case were referred to the public prosecutor for further legal actions. Sale of land to Israelis is illegal in Palestine because it allows illegal Israeli settlers to take control of Palestinian land in an area the Palestinians want to one day build their future state on.
Peace Now: Israel to approve more than 1,329 illegal settlement units
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — The Israeli Civil Administration’s High Planning Committee is expected to approve the promotion of at least 1,329 housing units in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, according to settlement watchdog Peace Now. In a statement released on Friday, Peace Now said that the committee published its agenda, and is expected to approve the new settlement units next Wednesday, January 10. According to the group, two-thirds of the 1,329 units (883 housing units) “will be located in isolated settlements that Israel would probably have to evacuate under any two-state agreement.” Peace Now said that a total of 361 housing units will receive approval for validation, while another 986 will be approved for deposit. Among the plans to be approved are the expansion of the Alon settlement by 289 housing units, nearly doubling its size. Alon is located some kilometers northeast of mega-settlement Maale Adumim in the central West Bank Jerusalem district….
Palestinians in Kufr ‘Aqab: ‘We live here just to wait’
KUFR ‘AQAB, occupied East Jerusalem (Al Jazeera) 7 Jan by Jaclynn Ashly — Construction never ends in Kufr Aqab. Cranes and bulldozers are perpetually growling, sifting through concrete and dirt to make room for thousands of Palestinians moving into this densely populated Jerusalem neighbourhood. Kufr ‘Aqab and Shuafat refugee camp – consisting of eight neighbourhoods that house at least 140,000 Palestinians – have been cut off from the rest of Jerusalem by Israel’s separation wall. While these areas are governed by Israel, they are located on the West Bank side of Israel’s wall, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice more than a decade ago. Kufr ‘Aqab and Shuafat refugee camp are neglected by the Jerusalem municipality, but beyond the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Police are absent and municipal services are limited.
“All of these people are living here solely to keep their Jerusalem IDs,” Moien Odeh, a Jerusalem-based legal expert, told Al Jazeera, gesturing to a sea of high-rise buildings in Kufr ‘Aqab. The lack of available land means that these homes are built higher and higher to accommodate an exploding population, estimated to be about 65,000. Most Palestinians here are escaping a housing crisis and soaring prices in Jerusalem, while couples with mixed IDs – Jerusalem and West Bank – are forced to live in the area simply to stay together.
Piles of rubbish cover roadsides in Kufr ‘Aqab and overflow from dumpsters, growing larger each day as residents wait for the municipality’s infrequent rubbish collection services. Munir Zaghayer, who heads Kufr ‘Aqab’s neighbourhood committee, remembers when Kufr ‘Aqab was a scenic and upscale Jerusalem neighbourhood. “We used to have a beautiful life here,” he said. Zaghayer moved to Kufr ‘Aqab from Jerusalem’s Old City in 1962. Before the wall was built, the population in Kufr Aqab did not exceed 12,000, he said. However, when Israel constructed the separation wall, the neighbourhood started transforming. Israel had implemented policies more than a half-century ago that would determine Kufr Aqab’s fate….
Palestinians protest visit of Greek Orthodox patriarch accused of selling land to Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Palestinian Christians from around the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Israel came out in harsh opposition on Saturday to a visit by Greek Orthodox Church Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, to the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem. Theophilos III, along with several other religious and political figures, was visiting Bethlehem as part of celebrations for Greek Orthodox Christmas Eve. Despite an intense presence of Palestinian security forces who attempted to open roads near Bethlehem’s Manger Square for the patriarch’s car, angry citizens swarmed around his procession, holding signs, Palestinian flags, and chanting slogans against Theophilus III. People threw stones and smashed windows of the car the patriarch was riding in as they demanded he be stripped of his titles and be removed from the church.
Theophilos III is accused of orchestrating the sale of more than 500 dunams (123.5 acres) of Palestinian land belonging to the Arab Orthodox Church in Jerusalem to Israeli entrepreneurs belonging to Zionist and settler groups. The protest was not the first of its kind in Bethlehem — visits by Theophilus III to the biblical town have been boycotted in the past. On Saturday, heads of the municipalities of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour boycotted the reception, along with several religious organizations affiliated with the Greek Orthodox Church. The church has been accused numerous times over the years of selling its leasing rights over land in Jerusalem to Jewish Israeli investors, with Israeli financial newspaper Calcalist revealing late last month that the Orthodox Patriarchate had sold the rights to 500 dunams in August 2016 for 114 million shekels ($32 million), a move to be effective in 2050, when the Jewish National Fund’s lease of the land is set to expire. Detractors have accused the patriarchate of contributing to Israeli plans to “Judaize” Jerusalem by selling or leasing off large amounts of land to Israeli authorities and businesspeople, betraying the church’s responsibility to protect Palestinian lands that were handed under its care during the Ottoman period…. http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=779730
Israeli naval forces arrest 2 fishermen and confiscate fishing boat in northern Gaza Strip
PCHR 9 Jan — On Monday, 08 January 2018, Israeli gunboats chased and opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats. Israeli naval forces then arrested 2 fishermen and confiscated a fishing boat manned by them. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) monitored the escalation of Israeli attacks against fishermen in the Gaza Sea, in addition to the continuous shooting and shelling against them since 06:00 on Monday morning, despite sailing within the allowed fishing areas. According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 12:00 on Monday, 08 January 2018, Israeli gunboats stationed off al-Waha Resort shore, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles. The Israeli gunboats then surrounded a fishing boat belonging to Mohamed Omar al-Najjar. The fishing boat was manned by Jehad Suhail Murad (25) and Mostafa Mohamed Murad (18), both of them are from al-Shati’ refugee camp in Gaza City. The Israeli naval soldiers then forced them to take off their clothes, jump into the water and swim towards the Israeli gunboat. The fishermen were then arrested, while the boat was confiscated.
Israeli soldiers carry out a limited invasion in Khan Younis
IMEMC 8 Jan — Israeli soldiers carried out, on Monday morning, a limited invasion into Palestinian lands, near the border fence, in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses said several armored vehicles, including bulldozers, carried out the limited invasion into the Palestinian lands. They added that the vehicles invaded the lands through Sofa gate, near the military base, across the border fence, and fired several live rounds, in addition to smoke bombs.
Israel restores power to Gaza after Palestinians promise to pay the bills
Euronews 8 Jan — Israel has started work to fully restore electricity supplies to Gaza. The country stopped supplying the power in June after the Palestinian Authority said it would no longer pay for the electricity in an effort to pressurise Hamas to give up control of Gaza. As a consequence homes, schools, factories and hospitals were left with only three to four hours of electricity per day. Many people had to use candles or resort to generators to keep the lights on and the refrigerators working. The decision to restore the power came after a request last week from the Palestinians, who said they would resume payments even though Hamas has not relinquished control of the region. A spokesman from Gaza’s electric distribution company said work to switch the lost power back on started on Sunday and was due to be completed on Monday. Even with the restoration the residents of Gaza will only have around six hours of electricity per day. The area’s infrastructure is severely inadequate and can only provide around half of 4-500 megawatts of power required.
Photos: Orthodox Christians mark Epiphany in the Church of St. Pervarius in Gaza
MEMO 6 Jan Photos by Mohammed Asad
Conjoined Gaza twins separated in ‘successful’ Saudi surgery
RIYADH (AFP) 9 Jan — Conjoined twin girls born in the blockaded Palestinian enclave of the Gaza Strip were separated in “successful” surgery in Riyadh Monday, the state-run Saudi Press Agency said in a statement. Dr Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabiah, who headed the team that operated on Farah and Haneen at the King Abdullah Specialist Children’s Hospital, “affirmed the success of the separation surgery,” SPA said. The operation began on Monday morning, and involved nine stages of anaesthesia and the separation of multiple organs, including the liver, as well as restoring organs in Haneen. The news comes months after a doctor and family member of the twins pleaded from Gaza that they be allowed to go abroad for the complex surgery. Allam Abu Hamda, head of the neonatal unit at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, told AFP in October the girls were born joined at the stomach and pelvis and that the complicated condition could not be dealt with in the enclave … Conjoined twins who share key organs have a low chance of survival. Farah and Haneen, whose condition Abu Hamda said was stable, have one shared leg but separate hearts and lungs….
Gazan student in Algeria flown to Israel to donate kidney to teen brother
JPost 7 Jan by Judy Siegel-Itzkovich — A 20-year-old college student from Gaza, who is studying in Algiers, arrived at the Rambam Medical Center via Jordan to donate a lifesaving kidney to his 13-year-old brother. His family was reunited at the Haifa hospital’s pediatric nephrology department, and the surgery was successful. The boy, K., had been admitted to Israel several times for treatment at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. During the course of his childhood, he underwent several operations, including one to remove a dysfunctional kidney. However, in recent years, his condition continued to deteriorate, and he reached Rambam in May of last year, when his kidney function was estimated at less than 20%. The mother, who has six children, had to decide whether the boy would start kidney dialysis or try to get a donor kidney from a relative. She wanted to donate a kidney but was found unsuitable, as was her 24-year-old son. The next brother, M., studying in Algeria, which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, was found to be a match and he consented to the procedure … At the beginning of November, after a number of dialysis treatments, the two brothers underwent their operations, which were successfully led by Prof. Aharon Hoffman, the director of Rambam’s vascular surgery department and colleagues. The boy shows excellent signs of recovery, but he and his family can’t return to Gaza now because he needs medical care twice weekly, said Dr. Israel Eisenstein, the head of Rambam’s pediatric kidney transplant service. “If he had been an Israeli child who could be treated as an outpatient, he could have been discharged long ago,” said Eisenstein….
Keen Islamic prayer activists bring a new dawn to Gaza
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 5 Jan by Fared Akram — In recent weeks, Gaza residents have been jolted awake in the dead of night to a raucous mixture of Quranic phrases, Islamic supplications and prayers delivered by loudspeakers to their doorsteps. The “Grand Fajr Campaign” is the work of fervent religious activists, many affiliated with the ruling Hamas militant movement, seeking to spread the message of Islam in an already deeply conservative society. But not everyone is ready to listen. The Fajr, or “Dawn,” campaign has set off a heated debate over whether it is appropriate to force religion on the masses. One leading religious scholar has even warned that it is un-Islamic to “annoy” people. Devout Muslims pray five times a day, and activists say they want to make sure that people catch the first and most important of the prayers at their local mosques. After beginning in several Gaza City neighborhoods, the campaign has spread to areas across the Gaza Strip. The organizers, mostly mosque committees reporting to the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Religious Affairs, say they want to see the mosques as full at dawn as at the noon prayer on Friday, the highlight of the Islamic week. Ahmed Hammad, a volunteer in Gaza City’s Tel al-Hawa neighborhood, said it is paying off, increasing the “rows” of worshippers at the local mosque. “It used to be a row or half a row of worshippers. But today after the campaign, the number has grown to three rows,” he said … “The Fajr prayer is important to raise the morale and spirits in this state of strangulation and constraints,” said Abu Aziz al-Waheidi, who oversees the campaign in 22 mosques in Tal al-Hawa … Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ supreme leader, has endorsed the effort, with his office distributing pictures showing him and other Hamas officials surrounded by dozens of worshippers after praying at a mosque in the Shati’ refugee camp, where he lives.
Gaza playground teaches visitors to repurpose household waste
DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 5 Jan by Joumana Imad — Very few Palestinians could have imagined that old tires, wooden electric poles or other discarded household items could be used to make a children’s playground — until the creation of Hakoura Park. The 2,000-square-meter (21,500-square-foot) park is the first and only one made of recycled materials in the Gaza Strip. It was established by NAWA for Culture and Arts Association in Deir al-Balah, a city 14 kilometers (9 miles) south of Gaza City, in early July 2016. The park opened to visitors in December, welcoming the city’s children and parents, schools and educational institutions free of charge. The park’s facilities are made of old household items and factory waste: seats are made of old painted tires, benches and swings are made of recycled wood and old minibuses were painted in bright colors to make a playroom and a library. Plastic bottles and fabrics donated by local residents were used to create toys and dolls. Salem Ghanam, the park’s manager, told Al-Monitor, “We wanted to spread the culture of recycling and show that we can repurpose domestic waste. We decided that this could be a good opportunity to raise awareness among [the park’s visitors] on how to turn the items we discard into something that could benefit society and be less harmful to the environment.”….
Rights group likens Israel’s ‘BDS blacklist’ to South Africa’s apartheid regime
HAIFA (WAFA) 8 Jan – Israel’s “BDS blacklist” of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and members who will be banned from entering the country which was released on Sunday was strongly condemned by rights organizations and likened to the defunct apartheid regime in South Africa. Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan announced the list of 22 NGOs from Europe, the United States, South America, and Africa whose employees and/or members are banned from entering Israel due to their alleged support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign. With this move, the Israeli government aims to further stifle the global movement against the occupation.
Hassan Jabareen, general director of Adalah–The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel condemned the Israeli government’s ban, saying it “arbitrarily places draconian s on foreign visitors” and “restricts the ability of Israeli citizens and Palestinian residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) to exercise their rights of association for the purposes of family unification, for employment, and for cultural and political exchange.” Jabareen said in a statement that the “ban is an overt violation of the constitutional rights of Israeli citizens and the rights guaranteed to Palestinian residents of the OPT under international humanitarian and human rights law. This move is reminiscent of South Africa’s apartheid regime which also prepared blacklists in order to punish people and prevent the entry of those opposed to its racist policies.” The Entry to Israel Law (Amendment No. 27) (Denying a Visa and Residency Permit for Advocates of Boycotting Israel), prevents foreign nationals or non-residents who have publicly expressed support for the BDS campaign from entering Israel. The list of banned organizations now banned by Israel includes: [list follows]
Over 100 artists sign pledge in support of Lorde’s Israel decision
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 6 Jan – More than 100 actors, musicians, writers and directors have signed a pledge of support of New Zealand pop singer Lorde after she was criticized for cancelling a concert in Israel. The pledge, which was published as an open letter in the Guardian on Friday, was signed by well-known artists including Mark Ruffalo, Peter Gabriel, Roger Waters, Viggo Mortensen, Tom Morello, John Cusack, Julie Christie, Shepard Fairey, Eve Ensler, Angela Davis, Talib Kweli, and James Schamus.
Lorde has been making headlines since canceling a show scheduled for June in Tel Aviv, heeding calls by activists in the boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) movement. The letter of support came in response to a full-page ad featured in the Washington Post that attacked Lorde for her decision. The ad was sponsored by the Word Values Network, an organization run by Shmuley Boteach, a supporter of US President Donald Trump whose main donors include right-wing settlement funder Sheldon Adelson….
Netanyahu tiptoes around US threat to cut off Palestinian aid
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 7 Jan by Jeffrey Heller — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu trod carefully on Sunday around a threatened U.S. aid cut to Palestinians, stopping short of backing a funding halt as he repeated calls for a U.N. agency that helps Palestinian refugees to be dismantled. Netanyahu’s public comments appeared to reflect a desire to show support for a major ally, but also concern that choking off funds would deepen Palestinian hardship and could put Israel and militants on a course for war … On Friday, in a report denied by a State Department official, the Axios news site said Washington had frozen $125 million in funding for UNRWA. The U.N. agency, founded in 1949 to aid Palestinian refugees, is a main provider of educational and health services in the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu said UNRWA was “an organization that perpetuates the Palestinian problem.” “It also enshrines the narrative of the so-called ‘right of return’. Therefore, UNRWA should pass from the world,” he told a weekly cabinet meeting … Praising Trump’s “critical approach” on the aid issue, Netanyahu steered clear of advocating a suspension of funding for the Palestinians. He said U.N. money for them should be transferred gradually to its global refugee agency UNHCR “with clear criteria for supporting genuine refugees and not fictitious ones, as is happening today under UNRWA.” Chris Gunness, an UNRWA spokesman, said the refugee crisis was being perpetuated by “failure of the parties to deal with the issue…” “UNRWA is mandated by the General Assembly to continue with its services until a just and lasting solution is found for the Palestine refugees,” Gunness said in a statement….
Netanyahu calls for closure of UN Palestinian refugee agency
MEE/Agencies 7 Jan — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called for the closure of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, days after US President Donald Trump threatened to cut Palestinian aid. Israel has long viewed the UN agency, known as UNRWA, as biased against it, an allegation the agency strongly denies, saying it is only providing necessary services to Palestinians. Israeli officials also criticise the agency’s method of classifying refugees, with descendants also eligible to register. “UNRWA is an organisation that perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem,” Netanyahu said at the beginning of his weekly cabinet meeting. He said that while millions of other refugees around the world were cared for by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Palestinians have their own body which also treats “great-grandchildren of refugees – who aren’t refugees”. “This absurd situation must be ended,” Netanyahu said. In June, Netanyahu said he had raised the issue with Washington’s UN envoy, Nikki Haley. On Wednesday, Trump threatened to cut aid worth more than $300m annually to the Palestinians in a bid to force them to negotiate. The United States has long provided the Palestinian Authority with much-needed budgetary support and security assistance, as well as an additional $304m for UN programmes in the West Bank and Gaza. On Friday, a report on Israeli Channel 10 television said the US had frozen a payment due to UNRWA, but a spokesman for the UN organisation said on Saturday that they “have not been informed directly of a formal decision either way by the US administration”… Many analysts, including Israelis, warn that closing the agency without an effective replacement could lead to further poverty and perhaps violence. “While UNRWA is far from perfect, the Israeli defence establishment, and the Israeli government as a whole, have over the years come to the understanding that all the alternatives are worse for Israel,” Peter Lerner, a former spokesman for the Israeli military, wrote in an opinion piece in Haaretz newspaper last week. “In an extreme situation, the administration of those refugees could fall on Israel’s shoulders.”
Haley said clashing with State, Defense over slashing UNRWA funds
Times of Israel 6 Jan — US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is clashing with representatives of the State and Defense Departments as well as the intelligence community over her push to cut funding for the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency, Foreign Policy magazine reported over the weekend. According to the report, an aide to Haley faced pushback from representatives of the departments and agencies during a National Security Council meeting Friday. As no consensus was reached on the matter, a decision on whether to release the aid was reportedly pushed off … The report also said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, despite opposing cuts to UNRWA, has rejected a request from the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration to release the funding as internal deliberations continue. On Friday, senior US officials denied reports that $125 million in aid to the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency had been frozen. “Contrary to reports that we have halted funding to UNRWA, the decision is under review,” a State Department official told The Times of Israel. “There are still deliberations taking place, and we have missed no deadline.”….
Government urges continued financial aid to UNRWA
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 8 Jan – The Palestinian government called on Monday on the United Nations General Assembly and international community to continue to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to help it continue with the mission it was created for until the Palestinian refugees are able to return to their homes they were forced out from in 1948. Government spokesman Yousef al-Mahmoud condemned calls by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for dismantling UNRWA as a way to end the Palestinian refugee issue. Netanyahu said on Sunday that UNRWA’s existence “perpetuates the problem of the Palestinian refugees,” claiming that the Palestinian right of return aims at eliminating Israel. Mahmoud expressed surprise at Netanyahu’s claim that the Palestinian right of return aims at eliminating Israel, describing it as incitement. “No one can imagine that Netanyahu’s incitement against UNRWA could reach such a level,” he said, adding that “Netanyahu would not have said this if it wasn’t for the recent American statements regarding Washington’s intention to end its contribution to UNRWA.”….
UNRWA: Our mandate comes from the UN General Assembly
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 8 Jan – The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said on Monday that its mandate comes only from the United Nations General Assembly, which created it in 1950 following the Palestinians’ dispersion from their homeland with Israel’s creation by a UN resolution in 1947. UNRWA’s response came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for cutting aid to UNRWA until it ceases to exist. “UNRWA is an organization that perpetuates the problem of the Palestinian refugees. It also perpetuates the narrative of the so-called ‘right of return’ with the aim of eliminating the State of Israel, and therefore UNRWA must disappear,” Netanyahu said on Sunday. UNRWA spokesman Sami Mushasha said in a statement that “what perpetuates the problem of Palestinian refugees is failure of the parties to deal with this issue, which should be resolved by the parties to conflict through peace negotiations based on UN resolutions and international law as well as active involvement from the international community.” The UN called in its General Assembly resolution 194, passed on December 11,1948, for the return or compensation of more than 700,000 Palestinians who were forced out of their homes and land by the armed Israeli groups. Mushasha said UNRWA, which began operations on 1 May 1950, funded by contributions from UN member states and whose services encompass education, health care, social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, “has a mandate to continue with its mission until there is a just and lasting solution to the Palestine refugees issue.” … UNRWA, which is suffering from a budget shortage, is appealing for $400 million in aid to meet humanitarian demands by Palestinian refugees, whose number has reached over 5 million since 1948, particularly in conflict areas such as Gaza and Syria.
Hundreds in New York City protest to free Ahed Tamimi and Palestinian prisoners
[with photos] Samidoun 6 Jan — Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in New York’s Grand Central Station following a blizzard in the city on Friday, 5 January to demand freedom for imprisoned Palestinian teen activist Ahed Tamimi, 16, and her fellow Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Organized by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and CODEPINK: Women for Peace with the active participation of dozens of New York-based Palestine and social justice organizations, participants carried signs, banners and flags supporting Ahed and fellow Palestinian prisoners. “This rally showed the broad unity Ahed has inspired here, with every organization in solidarity with Palestine standing together to support her and demand her freedom,” said Joe Catron of Samidoun. “Her detention is a crucial test for all supporters of the Palestinian national and prisoners’ movement. Israel’s attacks on Nabi Saleh, the Tamimi family and Palestinian children are atrocities we must continue to confront.” … Samidoun organizers in New York worked with CODEPINK and other organizations to build a coalition and outreach to other organizations, especially following the successful NY4Palestine rally on 22 December in support of Ahed and fellow Palestinian prisoners. The rally was joined by an exceptionally broad number of groups in New York City with 32 endorsing groups, including Al-Awda NY, NYC Students for Justice in Palestine, Labor for Palestine, Decolonize this Place, Jewish Voice for Peace, the National Lawyers Guild, International Action Center, ANSWER, BAYAN USA, the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, Black4Palestine and many more …
There were a few isolated counter-protesters from the extreme-right, racist Jewish Defense League, which held Israeli flags and a sign calling to “Jail Ahed.” Their miniscule presence did nothing to detract from the power of the mobilization throughout the station. At one point in the rally, participants collectively read out facts about Ahed, the Tamimis, Nabi Saleh and the escalating attacks on Palestinians by the Israeli occupation following Trump’s Jerusalem delegation from a series of placards. The concept was inspired by NYC Shut it Down, a Black Lives Matter organization that protests every Monday evening in Grand Central and other locations against police killings. NYC Shut it Down activists worked together with John and Lydia of Samidoun to organize this part of the action …
The New York protest was one of a number of protests taking place over the weekend and in the coming days in solidarity with Ahed Tamimi and the Palestinian people, including actions in Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, London, Los Angeles, Dallas, Bratislava, Saint-Etienne, Sydney, Dublin, Madrid, Toulouse, Washington, DC, Johannesburg, Arlington and elsewhere.
Case against Palestinian teen spotlights her activist family
NABI SALEH, West Bank (AP) 9 Jan — Israel’s hard-charging prosecution of a 16-year-old Palestinian girl who slapped and kicked two Israeli soldiers has trained a spotlight on her activist family and its role in what Palestinians call “popular resistance,” the near-weekly protests against Israeli occupation staged in several West Bank villages. The case of Ahed Tamimi has come to embody rival, grievance-filled Palestinian and Israeli narratives at a time of overwhelming mutual distrust about the other side’s intentions and skepticism about chances of ending the long-running conflict. Many Palestinians have embraced the teen as a symbol of a new generation standing up to Israeli rule. In Israel, she is seen either as a naive youth manipulated by her elders, a serial trouble-maker or a threat to Israel’s image and military deterrence. The December incident that catapulted her into the headlines came 10 days after President Donald Trump’s recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — a decision seen as siding with Israel on the most sensitive issue in the conflict. Trump’s move triggered Palestinian protests, including in Nabi Saleh, a village of about 600 members of the Tamimi clan. Since 2009, villagers have protested the seizure of some of their land and a spring for a nearby Israeli settlement, with demonstrations often ending in clashes between Palestinian stone-throwers and Israeli soldiers firing tear gas, rubber bullets or live rounds. On Dec. 15, the army said villagers were throwing stones at Israeli soldiers and a nearby road used by Israelis. Ahed’s mother, Nariman, captured events live on Facebook, including soldiers firing stun grenades. At one point, Ahed and her 20-year-old cousin, Nour Tamimi, approached an Israeli captain and a first sergeant at the edge of the family’s walled front yard. Ahed yelled at them to leave, then started pushing and kicking the soldiers, who casually fended off the blows….
Erekat says no negotiations before annulling the US decision on Jerusalem
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 9 Jan — The Palestinians will not agree to resume negotiations with Israel before the United States annuls its decision recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said on Tuesday. He told the official Voice of Palestine radio that US talk about deals to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict or calls for negotiations or talks are unacceptable to the Palestinian leadership unless the decision to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is rescinded. “The Palestinian leadership will not accept any offers for negotiations unless the American decision on Jerusalem is annulled,” Erekat said … He added that the current US administration wants to impose dictates on the Palestinian leadership by adopting the Israeli position in order to liquidate the Palestinian cause by demanding the dismantling of UNRWA, cutting aid, starving refugees and closing schools. He stressed that the Palestinian leadership does not want to clash with the US administration, but Trump is the one who created the clash, stressing that “our peace will not be at any price.”
Jerusalem should be shared capital, UK’s Johnson tells Palestinian foreign minister
LONDON (Reuters) 8 Jan — Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of Israeli and Palestinian states, British foreign minister Boris Johnson told his Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Malki on Monday, a statement from Britain’s foreign office said. “I reiterated the UK’s commitment to supporting the Palestinian people and the two-state solution, the urgent need for renewed peace negotiations, and the UK’s clear and longstanding position on the status of Jerusalem,” Johnson said. “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.”
Egypt denies tacit acceptance of US Jerusalem move
MEMO 7 Jan — Egypt on Sunday denied a US media report claiming that it has given a “tacit” acceptance of President Donald Trump’s decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The New York Times said Saturday Cairo allegedly instructed talk show hosts to persuade viewers to accept the US move. [See Tapes reveal Egyptian leaders’ tacit acceptance of Jerusalem move.] The daily claimed that an Egyptian intelligence officer had placed phone calls to the hosts of several influential talk shows that instead of condemning the US decision, they should persuade the audience to accept it. It cited the officer’s suggestion that Palestinians should content themselves with the dreary West Bank town that currently houses the Palestinian Authority, Ramallah. In a statement, the state-run State Information Service (SIS) said the NY Times report was a “mere allegation”. It said people cited by the US daily were not either TV hosts or had stopped appearing on television even before Trump’s Jerusalem move. SIS said Egypt’s position on Jerusalem “was translated in stances and measures taken at the UN and other international organizations despite US threats of aid cut.” Egypt submitted a UN Security Council resolution demanding a reversal of Trump’s move on Jerusalem, but the resolution was vetoed by Washington.
Palestinians seek full UN membership
MEMO 8 Jan — The Palestinian Authority is trying to upgrade its status at the United Nations from observer state to full state member, a Palestinian official said yesterday. A member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Ahmad Majdalani, told the Anadolu Agency that the Palestinian Authority is holding consultations with members of the UN Security Council to secure a vote for a draft resolution to grant Palestine full state membership. “The proposal will be submitted after completing consultations to secure sufficient support to submit the project, although we are aware that the US will veto it,” he added. Should America use its veto to block the move, Majdalani said “there is a second draft resolution in the Security Council, followed by a third and a fourth, until they are tired of us.” To secure full state membership at the international organisation, the Palestinians need support from nine of the UN Security Council’s 15 members, provided that none of the five permanent member states use the power of veto.
Orthodox churches complete arrival at Bethlehem for Christmas celebration
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 6 Jan – Orthodox churches celebrating Christmas according to the Eastern calendar completed on Saturday their arrival at the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem marking the start of Christmas celebrations. The Syrian Orthodox Patriarchal Vicar of the Holy Land and Jordan, Archbishop Mar Swerios Malki Murad, was the first to arrive in Bethlehem, followed by the Coptic Orthodox Archbishop Anba Antonius, then the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III [but see protest against him in article under Land Theft above] and last the procession of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Theophilos, head of the largest orthodox community in Palestine, headed a procession that started from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem’s Old City and arrived at Bethlehem’s Manger Square where he was received by Palestinian officials, including the governor of Bethlehem Jibrin Bakri and Minister of Tourism Rola Mayaya among others. Theophilos will lead the Midnight Mass at the Church of Nativity, which will be attended by President Mahmoud Abbas.
The orthodox churches mark Christmas Day on January 7, and the Armenian Orthodox Church is the last to celebrate Christmas in the Holy Land with the Christmas Eve procession from Jerusalem to Bethlehem on January 18 and Christmas Day on January 19.
Custos of Holy Land marks baptism of Christ at Jordan River
JERICHO, (WAFA) 7 Jan – The Custos of the Holy Land, Francesco Patton of the Latin Church, Sunday led the procession that commemorated what the denomination refers to as the baptism of Jesus Christ at the Jordan River, on the Palestine-Jordan border.
The procession was received by local government figures, including Governor of Jericho Mjaed al-Fetyani, Mayor of Jericho Salem Ghrouf, head of the Jericho intelligence department Belal Hloub, as well as representatives of police and security services and Muslim clerks. Al-Fetyani welcomed the procession on behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas and said the Palestinian people, Muslims and Christians, are determined to free themselves from the Israeli occupation and establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. This celebration, which takes place every January 7, is as important for pilgrims and foreigners living in the Holy Land as for the local Christians.
Careem car ride service announces launch of operations in Gaza and Nablus
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 8 Jan – Careem, the region’s leading ride-hailing service in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region, Turkey and Pakistan, has announced the launch of its services in the cities of Gaza and Nablus. Hundreds of Captains enrolled in the Careem platform to be able to provide modern transportation services in the cities of Gaza and Nablus. The fleet in Gaza includes licensed private cars by the authorities and Careem will be operating with taxis in Nablus. The strategy of the company in both cities will help provide state of the art transportation services while also improving the taxi industry … With an expected rise of over 5000 Captains in Palestine within the next three years, Careem aims to present tremendous opportunities for all eligible youth and taxi drivers in Nablus and Gaza in joining the Careem fleet, which is already comprised of more than 500,000 Captains in the broader Middle East and North Africa, including Turkey and Pakistan … Careem had previously operated in Ramallah, but was later stopped by the Ministry of Transportation for not obtaining an operating license and after taxi companies complained that it was taking business from them.