Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Settlers uproot 100 olive trees in West Bank village
BETHLEHEM (PNN) 1 Feb — A group of extremist settlers uprooted more than 100 olive trees from the village of Yasuf, east of Salfit, on Wednesday morning. Ghassan Daghlas, who is responsible for the settlement file in the northern West Bank, said that settlers from the settlement of “Rahalim” uprooted 100 olive trees from the Yasuf lands in the Asharat area south of the village. He added that the trees belonged to Mohammed Saleh Jazi from the village, located near the Za‘tara checkpoint. Settlement researcher Khalid Maali said that the settlement of Rahalim is the 25 th settlement in the Salfit governorate. It was recently established and is the center of the governorates of Ramallah, Nablus and Salfit.
Israeli soldiers kill a Palestinian child near Ramallah
IMEMC/Agencies 30 Jan — Updated: Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday afternoon, the al-Mughayyir Palestinian village, northeast of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and shot a Palestinian child with a live round in the head from a close range, causing a serious injury, before he was rushed to a local hospital where he died from his wounds. Medial sources at Ramallah Governmental Hospital said the child, Laith Haitham Abu Na‘im, 16, was rushed to surgery, and succumbed to his serious wounds a few hours later. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers shot the child from very close range, striking him with a live round in the head. The child was shot after dozens of soldiers invaded the village, and attacked Palestinian protesters with gas bombs, rubber-coated bullets, concussion grenades and live rounds. The Israeli army claimed that approximately 30 Palestinians hurled stones and burnt tires when the soldiers “entered” the town, and alleged that the soldiers “did not use live ammunition in dispersing the protesters.” The army added that it was “launching an investigation into the circumstances which lead to the child’s death,” and alleged that “some protesters hurled Molotov cocktails at the soldiers.”….
Thousands attend funeral of slain Palestinian child in Ramallah district village
IMEMC/Agencies 31 Jan — Thousands of Palestinians, Wednesday afternoon, attended the funeral procession of a slain Palestinian teenager in al-Mughayyir village, north of Ramallah. Thousands of mourners attended the funeral procession of Laith Abu Naim, aged 16, who succumbed to his critical wounds after being shot by Israeli forces with a live round in the head during a violent confrontation in al-Mughayyir a day earlier. The funeral procession set off from the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah, making its way to al-Mughayyir, where he was laid to his rest in the local cemetery. Mourners raised Palestinian flags and shouted slogans condemning the Israeli occupation, and threatening to avenge the killing. Among the mourners were Governor of Ramallah Laila Ghannam, member of Fatah Central Committee Abbas Zaki and several representatives of the various security forces and political factions. Violence erupted between local youth and Israeli forces shortly before the funeral arrived to the village, according to WAFA. Israeli troops reportedly fired tear gas canisters at the youths. No injuries or detentions were reported, however.
Israeli army surrounds a home near Jenin, sets off explosives
IMEMC 3 Feb — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Saturday at dawn, al-Kafeer town, southeast of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and surrounded a home where a Palestinian who is believed behind death of an Israeli colonialist settler last month was alleged to be hiding. Media sources in Jenin said a large military force, including 22 military vehicles and 2 armored bulldozers, invaded the town and surround the home of Walid Ershaid, and started using loudspeakers demanding Ahmad Jarrar to surrender. The Israeli military said they thought Jarrar was hiding out in the house. It should be noted that on January 18th, Israeli soldiers executed the cousin of Ahmad Jarrar after mistaking him for Ahmad. The sources added that the soldiers imposed a strict siege on the entire area, and completely blockaded the main Tubas-Jenin road. Sounds of explosions could be heard in and around the surrounded home and its vicinity. Media sources in Jenin said the troops eventually withdrew without finding Jarrar.
Furthermore, the soldiers invaded Burqin and ‘Aqaba town, near Jenin, after isolating them, and abducted Ibrahim Obeidi, Nader Masad, Mubarak Jarrar and Mostafa Antar Jarrar. The soldiers invaded and ransacked dozens of homes in Burqin at around 4:00 in the morning, and used K9 units during the search, while interrogating scores of residents.
Armed colonist settler shoots a Palestinian near Ramallah
IMEMC 2 Feb — Palestinian medical sources have reported, on Thursday at night, that an armed colonist settler shot a young man, northwest of Ramallah city, in central West Bank. The sources said that Mohammad Kamal Misfir, 25, was shot in his left foot, and was moved to Palestine Medical Complex. The Palestinian was shot near Rawabi Junction, and was heading to his home in Nubani Farms village.
Israeli colonist settlers attack farmers in Beit Ummar
IMEMC 3 Feb –A group of extremist Israeli colonists attacked, Saturday, many Palestinian farmers on their own lands in Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency has reported that the assailants, including a security guard of Karmie Tzur illegal colony, which was built on private Palestinian lands, hurled stones at the farmers, while shouting and cussing at them. The attackers forced the Palestinians out of their lands, and threatened to kill them, while Israeli soldiers stood nearby without intervening. Among the Palestinians who were attacked by the colonists was Ibrahim Sabarna and his family.
Updated: Army injures eleven Palestinians in al-Biereh
IMEMC 2 Feb — Israeli soldiers shot, Friday, eleven Palestinians with live rounds, and rubber-coated steel bullets, at the northern entrance of al-Biereh city, in the Ramallah and al-Biereh governorate, in the central West Bank. The soldiers attacked dozens of Palestinians who were marching against the ongoing Israeli occupation and its colonialist policies, in addition to the illegal U.S. recognition of occupied Jerusalem as the unified capital of Israel, in direct violation of International Law and all related United Nations and Security Council resolutions. Medical sources said the soldiers fired many live rounds, wounding seven Palestinians, and added that the army injured four others with rubber-coated steel bullets. The soldiers also fired many gas bombs and concussion grenades, causing many to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. Many local youths burnt tires, and hurled stones at the invading army jeeps. Furthermore, the soldiers assaulted many journalists, and forced them out of the area, to prevent them from documenting the unfolding events.
Israeli soldiers abduct 54 Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 30 Jan — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Tuesday at dawn, fifty-four Palestinians from several parts of the occupied West Bank, including 33 in Jerusalem, after invading their homes and violently searching them, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported. In occupied Jerusalem, the soldiers abducted 33 Palestinians, including several children, during extensive and violent searches of homes in al-‘Issawiya town … The soldiers also abducted Mohammad Khaled Tari and Midhat Mahmoud al-Jamal, after invading and searching his home in Beit Surik village, northwest of Jerusalem. The PPS office in Bethlehem said the soldiers abducted Abdul-Karim Ayyad, 56, Eyas Ahmad Farahin, 21, Yousef Mohammad ‘Adawi, 31, from Deheishe refugee camp, south of the city. It added that the soldiers abducted Ahmad Qassem Sheikh, 54, from Marah Rabah village, south of Bethlehem. In addition, the soldiers invaded Doha town, west of Bethlehem, and violently searched the home of a lawyer and the head the Independent Commission for Human Rights in southern West Bank, Farid al-Atrash…
In Jenin, in northern West Bank, the soldiers invaded homes in the city, and Jenin refugee camp, and ransacked them before abducting six Palestinians, identified as Ibrahim Jabr, Farhan Yassin Sa’adi, Ahmad Abu Zeina, Lutfi Mohammad Abu an-Nasr, Jom’a Abu Jabal, and Samar Mo’tasem Sa’id. It is worth mentioning that Lufti has a physical disability after the soldiers previously shot him….
Prisoners / Court actions
Trial delayed for Palestinian teen in viral ‘slap video’
JERUSALEM (AFP) 30 Jan — The start of a military trial for a Palestinian teenager charged after a viral video showed her hitting two Israeli soldiers has been delayed until February 6, her lawyer said Tuesday. The trial of Ahed Tamimi, 16, had been due to begin on Wednesday. Her mother Nariman will also go on trial on February 6, their lawyer Gaby Lasky told AFP. The Israeli military confirmed the date had been changed to February 6, adding it was postponed at Lasky’s request. Both Ahed Tamimi and her mother have been ordered to be held in custody throughout their trial. Tamimi’s cousin Nour Tamimi, 20, has also been charged in connection with the case, but was freed on bail on January 5. Her next court appearance has been set for February 12, Lasky said. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has criticized Israeli authorities’ actions in the case, while the European Union has expressed concern over Israel’s detention of minors, including Ahed Tamimi. Ahed Tamimi has been hailed as a hero by Palestinians who see her as bravely standing up to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. She has been charged with 12 counts including assault and could face a lengthy jail term if convicted….
Israel releases Palestinian lawmaker who has spent nearly 32 years behind bars
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 1 Feb — Israeli forces released Palestinian lawmaker Muhammad Abu Tir after he was held in Israeli prison for six months under administrative detention — Israel’s widely condemned policy of internment without charge or trial. Abu Tir was detained on August 4, 2017 after Israeli forces raided his house in the town of al-Bireh in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. He had been released from Israeli prison two months prior to his latest detention in August. Abu Tair has spent an estimated total of 32 years behind Israeli bars. The Hamas-affiliated lawmaker moved to al-Bireh after being exiled from his home in occupied East Jerusalem in 2010, along with fellow imprisoned parliamentarian Ahmad Attun, Palestinian Legislative Committee (PLC) member Muhammad Tutah, and former PA Jerusalem minister Khalid Abu Arafeh. The four were forced out of Jerusalem after the Israeli Interior Ministry had been threatening to deport Hamas-affiliated lawmakers from the city — under the pretext of disloyalty to the Israeli state — since Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections in 2006….
In a major free speech victory, a federal court strikes down a law that punishes supporters of Israel boycott
The Intercept 31 Jan by Glenn Greenwald — A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that a Kansas law designed to punish people who boycott Israel is an unconstitutional denial of free speech. The ruling is a significant victory for free speech rights because the global campaign to criminalize, or otherwise legally outlaw, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement has been spreading rapidly in numerous political and academic centers in the U.S. This judicial decision definitively declares those efforts — when they manifest in the U.S. — to be a direct infringement of basic First Amendment rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The enjoined law, enacted last year by the Kansas legislature, requires all state contractors — as a prerequisite to receiving any paid work from the state — “to certify that they are not engaged in a boycott of Israel.”….
BDS movement for Palestinian rights nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
OSLO, Norway (IPS) 2 Feb by Bjørnar Moxnes — As a member of the Norwegian parliament, I proudly use my authority as an elected official to nominate the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights for the Nobel Peace Prize. Nominating the BDS movement for this recognition is perfectly in line with the principles I and my party hold very dear. Like the BDS movement, we are fully committed to stopping an ascendant, racist and right-wing politics sweeping too much of our world, and securing freedom, justice and equality for all people. Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement and the American Civil Rights movement, the grassroots, Palestinian-led BDS movement is a peaceful, global human rights movement that urges the use of economic and cultural boycotts to end Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights and international law…..
Israelis sue New Zealanders over Lorde boycott
JERUSALEM (AP) 31 Jan by Tia Goldenberg — An Israeli legal rights group said Wednesday it is suing two New Zealanders for allegedly convincing the pop singer Lorde to cancel her performance in Israel in what appears to be the first lawsuit filed under a contentious Israeli anti-boycott law. The 2011 law opens the door to civil lawsuits against anyone calling for a boycott against Israel, including of lands it has occupied, if that call could knowingly lead to a boycott. The law, which is part of Israel’s fight against a global movement calling for boycotts against the Jewish state, allows for courts to impose damages against defendants. Critics said the law would stifle free expression. The two New Zealanders, Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab, penned an open letter to Lorde last year in which they urged her to “take a stand” and “join the artistic boycott of Israel.” ….
UN lists 206 companies with business ties to Israeli settlements in West Bank
The Independent 1 Feb by Stephanie Nebehay — The United Nations (UN) human rights office has said it has identified 206 companies so far doing business linked to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, where it said violations against Palestinians are “pervasive and devastating”. Israel fears that companies listed on any UN “blacklist” could be targeted for boycotts or divestment aimed at stepping up pressure over its settlements, which most countries and the world body view as illegal. “Businesses play a central role in furthering the establishment, maintenance and expansion of Israeli settlements,” the UN report said. “In doing so, they are contributing to Israel’s confiscation of land, facilitate the transfer of its population into the Occupied Palestinian Territory and are involved in the exploitation of Palestine’s natural resources,” it said. The majority of the companies, or 143, are domiciled in Israel or the settlements, followed by 22 in the United States, it said. The remainder are based in 19 other countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, France and Britain….
Haley says UN anti-settlement report is a ‘waste of time’
IMEMC/Agencies 1 Feb — The US Ambassador to the United Nations, on Wednesday, slammed a UN report on 206 companies tied to Israeli settlements as “a waste of time and resources that showed an “anti-Israeli obsession”. The office of the UN high commissioner for human rights released the report, which did not name the companies, but could pave the way to a “blacklist” of businesses that Israeli officials fear would be targeted for an international boycott. “This whole issue is outside the bounds of the High Commissioner for Human Rights office’s mandate and is a waste of time and resources,” Haley said in a statement.
Qassam fighter killed in tunnel accident
IMEMC 31 Jan — The Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas movement, has reported that one of its fighters died, Wednesday, in a siege-busting tunnel, in the Gaza Strip. The Brigades said that Mahmoud Abdul-Hai Safadi, 32, from the Daraj neighborhood, in Gaza city, was killed in an accident while working in one of the border tunnels. It did not provide further information about the accident that led to his death….
Army injures fifteen Palestinians in Gaza, including two with life-threatening wounds
IMEMC 3 Feb — Israeli soldiers shot, on Friday evening, fifteen Palestinians with live rounds, including two suffered life-threatening wounds, after the army attacked protesters on Palestinian lands close the border fence, in the northern and eastern parts of the Gaza Strip. The soldiers, stationed on military towers and in tanks near and around Nahal OZ army base, east of Gaza city, fired dozens of live rounds at the protesters, wounding five young men in their legs, and causing two others to suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation. The wounded Palestinians were moved to the Shifa Medical Center, west of Gaza, suffering moderate-but-stable wounds, while the rest received treatment from the effects of teargas inhalation at the scene.
In addition, the soldiers fired many live rounds and gas bombs at Palestinian protesters near the border fence, east of Jabalia and north of Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, wounding eight Palestinians. One of the wounded Palestinians suffered a serious injury after the soldiers shot him in his eye, and another suffered a moderate wound from a gunshot injury to his abdomen, while dozens suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, before medics rushed them to the Indonesian Hospital, in Beit Lahia. The soldiers also shot two other Palestinians with live fire, including one who suffered a serious injury in the pelvis area, while the other was shot in the leg, before they were rushed to Nasser Hospital and the European Hospital.
Slow death for Gaza cancer patients cut off from care
EI 31 Jan by Tamara Aburamadan — News that Augusta Victoria Hospital would no longer receive new patients has been extremely worrying for Khalil Abdullah. The 21-year-old cancer patient from Jabaliya in the occupied Gaza Strip is the sole breadwinner for a family of six. A painter and decorator, Abdullah had to stop working when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and underwent surgery. “My father left us when I was very young,” Abdullah told The Electronic Intifada. “Now my sisters and mother depend on me. I need to find treatment.” The only hospital in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that can provide the kind of care Abdullah needs is Augusta Victoria, in East Jerusalem, part of the occupied West Bank. But in late October, the hospital stopped receiving patients from the West Bank beyond East Jerusalem, as well as from Gaza, informing those with previous referrals not to try to make their way to Jerusalem. Hospital administrators told the Palestinian Center for Human Rights that the decision had been made after the Palestinian Authority health ministry in the West Bank failed to pay monies owed to the private hospital…
–A race against time– At her house in Gaza’s Beach refugee camp, Narjiss al-Hasani, 47, who has breast cancer, is also running out of time. “Five months have passed and only one is left to get treatment,” the mother of two told The Electronic Intifada. Al-Hasani, a social studies teacher at a school administered by the United Nations in Beach camp, was diagnosed with cancer in January 2016, and had a mastectomy as well as eight chemotherapy sessions at a hospital in Gaza. Now she needs radiotherapy, which means treatment at Augusta Victoria … Since ending her chemotherapy, al-Hasani has applied three times for a travel permit. Each time the answer came back: “Pending Security Check.” ….
Palestinians wary of Israeli survey at Gaza border crossing
Al-Monitor 30 Jan by Adnan Abu Amer — On Jan. 2, the Israeli army started asking Palestinians leaving the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing to fill out a survey in Arabic, Haaretz reported Jan. 12. Apart from the reconciliation process and the electricity crisis, the 17-question survey deals with the economic and security situation in Gaza and asks Palestinians who they think would govern Gaza three years from now. A Palestinian who traveled through the Erez crossing Jan. 13 told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “The Israeli intelligence handed me a survey as soon as I approached the Erez crossing. They were normal questions, but I felt that providing accurate answers would give the Israelis an idea about the situation in Gaza. While some questions were political, others tackled the security situation in Gaza and what may cause it to deteriorate. Palestinians are not being forced to fill out the survey, but they are complying nonetheless for fear of not being allowed to travel.” A report by the Gaza Post, however, said Israel is forcing Palestinians in Gaza to give up information to travel through the Erez crossing…
Islam Shahwan, a professor of security sciences at Al-Awda University College in Gaza, told Al-Monitor that while the survey is “dangerous,” nevertheless “some Palestinians are filling it out candidly and overlooking its security dimensions. There are trick questions that allow the Israeli intelligence to know in detail what is going on in Gaza. This makes me assume that an Israeli team of security and economic experts was behind this survey to give Israel’s decision-making circles key answers to sensitive questions related to armed action, the deterioration of the security situation and the successor to Hamas in Gaza. It is as if Palestinians are being pushed to express their displeasure with Hamas and eventually revolt against it.”…
Also, Israel published on the website of Shabak, the Israeli Security Agency, a form in Arabic for Palestinians in Gaza to fill out and inform it of any tunnels, kidnappers and armed activities they might know of. It includes a telephone number to report such cases and offers a financial reward for such information….
Israeli airstrikes target sites in northern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 2 Feb — Israeli forces carried out airstrikes targeting several sites in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday before dawn. Locals told Ma‘an that the strikes hit targets near the al-Nada Towers in northeastern Beit Lahiya. No injuries were reported. The Israeli army had reported earlier that rockets coming from the Gaza Strip had landed in an Israeli town outside around Gaza. Israeli forces have conducted several airstrikes in the Gaza Strip since December, resulting in the death of four Palestinian fighters.
Israeli navy opens fire at Gaza fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — Israeli naval boats opened fire at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Palestinian fishermen were forced to sail their boats back to shore after they came under fire. No injuries were reported in either of the locations.
Seven additional healthcare centers in Gaza closed
IMEMC/Agencies 1 Feb — The Gaza Strip is heading towards an even greater humanitarian crisis as seven more healthcare centers closed their doors on Thursday, due to the ever-tightening 11-year-old Israeli siege. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, fuel ran out in seven more healthcare centers, in different areas across the small coastal enclave. “This problem, which is a result of the Israeli siege, happened due to the lack of fuel needed to operate electricity generators,” a statement from the ministry said, according to Days of Palestine. Earlier this week, the ministry announced that Beit Hanoun Children’s Hospital, in the north of Gaza, had closed its doors due to the lack of fuel. Spokesman of the Ministry in Gaza Ashraf al-Qidra said: “There is no horizon for solving this crisis with the Israeli occupation authorities or the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank.”
Seven killed in Gaza explosion after family dispute
MEE/Agencies 2 Feb — At least seven Palestinians died in an explosion in Gaza City on Thursday, in what officials said was an intentional act after a family quarrel. “Seven people including children died and around 30 others were injured in an explosion at a home” in Gaza City, a spokesman for the health ministry said. A police statement said a family member deliberately set a gas canister on fire during a quarrel, leading to the explosion. It said police were investigating the circumstances of the incident. Eyewitnesses said the explosion caused serious damage to the two-storey building. According to the Israeli outlet i24 News, the house’s dilapidated structure amplified the impact of the explosion and contributed to the large number of casualties.
Palestinian Water Authority announces plans for desalination plant in Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — Palestinian Water Authority official Mazen Ghuneim announced that the Water Authority has received tender and design documents for the works of the central desalination plant in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. Minister Ghuneim told Ma‘an that this step comes to complete the plans of the Water Authority to deal with the “disastrous water situation in the Gaza Strip”, noting that these six tenders are one of the components of the program of the central desalination plant for the Gaza Strip, which amounts to more than 600 million dollars. Minister Ghuneim pointed out that this project faces great difficulty in the financing process “due to difficulties and challenges on the ground, the most important of which is the Israeli occupation” and guaranteeing the introduction of the necessary materials into the Gaza Strip in addition to the problem of electricity….
Palestinian triplets named in protest of Trump’s Jerusalem move
AFP 2 Feb — Palestinians have reacted to Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital with street protests, but one couple has come up with an idea of their own, in the naming of their triplets. Nidal and Islam al-Saiqli from Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip decided to name the three children Jerusalem, Capital and Palestine. Palestinians also see the disputed city as their capital, and Trump’s Dec. 6 recognition broke with decades of international policy that the issue should be resolved through negotiations. The three babies — boys Jerusalem and Palestine, and girl Capital — were born in December, two weeks after the Trump decision. “Thank God, I had triplets so we were able to name them in response to Trump’s decision,” said mother Islam, 25. “There is no value to the Trump decision. Jerusalem is our eternal capital,” her husband Nidal, 30, said To illustrate the names, the couple arranges the three tiny sleeping children on a bed with their birth certificates on their stomachs.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization / Settlements
Israel deports 14-year-old girl to Gaza – without telling her parents
+972 mag 31 Jan by Edo Konrad — Israeli authorities deported a 14-year-old epileptic Palestinian girl from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip earlier this month, without notifying her parents, and despite the fact that she has never lived there a day in her life. Ghada, who was born in Ramallah where she has lived much of her life, was arrested by Israeli Border Police officers on January 13 for being in Jerusalem without a military permit. She was traveling back to her home in a-Ram, just northeast of Jerusalem where she lives with her mother and siblings, from her aunt’s home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya. Her father, though originally from the Gaza Strip, currently lives in the West Bank as well, her mother told Israeli human rights group HaMoked, which is representing the family. When Ghada was born, Israeli authorities listed her address as Gaza for an unknown reason. Following her arrest, Ghada was interrogated by Israeli police and taken to a remand hearing at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court two days later, during which her parents were not present. Police requested the court extend her detention, but citing her age Judge Eitan Cohen ordered her released. Her family paid NIS 1,500 bail.
This was not Ghada’s first arrest for not having the right Israeli army-issued permit. Unlike those previous instances, however, this time the authorities deported her to a place she had never been, where she had only distant relatives whom she had never met, and without notifying her parents of where she was. According to HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual, Ghada was woken up by prison guards at 5:00 a.m. on January 15 and told that she was going to be released at the Israeli army’s Qalandiya checkpoint, which is just a few minutes’ drive from her hometown. Instead, after hours of travel, Israel Prison Service officers dropped her off — after dark — at the Erez Crossing, the only passenger terminal connecting Israel to Gaza. According to Ghada, a representative of the Palestinian Authority on the Gaza side of the crossing noticed she was visibly distressed and took her to his home, where she stayed with his family overnight. The next day, the PA official helped Ghada get in touch with her mother to let her know what had happened. She is currently staying with her father’s relatives, whom she had never met. [UPDATE: She had to remain in Gaza until Thursday evening, Feb 1, when she was finally brought back to her home. ]
Israeli lawmakers debate ‘construction terror’ by Palestinians in West Bank
Haaretz 29 Jan by Amira Hass — Moti Yogev of the right-wing Habayit Hayehudi party has praised the implementation of demolition orders against Palestinian structures built without permits — MK Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) has called Palestinian construction in Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank “construction terror,” echoing settler activists who say the area must be defended against a “takeover” by Palestinians. “Our goal is to protect state lands, consistent with decisions by the state not letting their status be determined by construction terror guided by the Palestinian Authority with the intervention of international elements such as the European Union,” Yogev said. He was speaking to the subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that deals with civilian and security matters in the West Bank. Yogev, a member of Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi party, heads the panel. Some of the construction in question is funded by the European Union and is carried out without the approval of Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank. Yogev called for a “legislative solution” that would block Palestinians’ recourse to petitioning the High Court of Justice against demolition orders. A summary of the subcommittee’s discussion has been published on the Knesset website. At the meeting, Yogev praised both the Civil Administration and Meir Deutsch, a representative of the pro-settler group Regavim, for ensuring that the law would be enforced, namely the implementation of demolition orders against Palestinian structures built without permits….
Netanyahu inaugurates new road in West Bank: ‘A festive day for Samaria’
Haaretz 30 Jan by Noa Landau — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened a new section of a highway in the West Bank on Tuesday. Among those present at the inauguration was Samaria Regional Council Head Yossi Dagan. “Returning to our homeland – that’s what we’re doing here, in the heart of the Land of Israel … This is a festive day. It’s a festive day for Samaria, a festive day for the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said at the ceremony for the new stretch of Highway 55, that goes around the Palestinian village Nabi Elias. Netanyahu promised to continue the development of infrastructures in the West Bank. “This bypass is part of an array that we’re building across Judea and Samaria. We’re connecting the country from north to south and east to west with network of roads, trains and tunnels – not terror tunnels, but life tunnels.” ….
Netanyahu inaugurates new Jews-only road in occupied West Bank
MEMO 31 Jan — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Transportation Minister Israel Katz inaugurated a new road on Tuesday that connects illegal settlements east of the occupied West Bank city of Qalqiliya, Israeli media reported. The road, which was given the name of Nabi Elias, is for use by Jews only. “We place a special emphasis on advancing the planning and execution of strategic transportation projects in Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank],” said Katz. He noted that this road is part of the current Israeli government’s efforts to promote transportation between settlements as well as the security and safety of Jewish settlers. He omitted the fact that the settlers and their settlements are illegal under international law….
At least 61 schools in the West Bank and East Jerusalem at risk as attacks on education rise
ReliefWeb 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 of Justice dismissed a petition to safeguard it, aid agencies Action Against Hunger, Norwegian Refugee Council and Save the Children warned today. 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….
Israeli settlers set up new mobile caravans in Jordan Valley settlement
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — Israeli settlers on Tuesday set up new mobile caravans, one of which is reportedly to be used as a school, in the illegal settlement of Brosh Habikat in the Tubas district of the northeastern occupied West Bank, according to official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency. Wafa reported that Israeli settlers, who live illegally in the West Bank in contravention of international law, installed new housing units in the settlement. One of the caravans will be allegedly be used as a school for about 30 settler students, Wafa added. Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law ….
Israeli court orders demolition of seven buildings near Hebron
IMEMC 2 Feb — An Israeli court ordered, Thursday, the demolition of seven Palestinian residential buildings in Susiya village, south of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. The court was looking into petitions filed by Palestinians living in the targeted homes, and said that the “Civil Administration Office,” which is run by the military in the occupied West Bank, has the green light to demolish seven homes inhabited by 42 Palestinians; half of them are children, and some of the older residents suffer from chronic conditions. The army also wanted to demolish the local clinic, but the court decided to delay the issue until the end of this July, to give the residents some time to find an alternate clinic. The military was demanding the demolition of twenty buildings, but the court approved the destruction of seven. The court said that “the army must consider humanitarian issues when enforcing construction and planning laws,” in the occupied West Bank. The remaining buildings are subject to further deliberations, and are still threatened with demolition, pending a court ruling in appeals, which include construction plans presented by the villagers. The court will be looking into these maps and plans on July 5th, 2018, but the army is unilaterally planning to demolish them. The villagers face the constant threat of losing their homes in Susiya, while the military already demolished many homes and structures, in addition to the local mosque….
Israel demolishes Palestinian home in Nablus-area village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 1 Feb — Israeli forces demolished an under-construction Palestinian home in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Thursday. Member of the People’s Party’s politburo Nasr Abu Jeish told Ma‘an that Israeli military vehicles and a bulldozer raided the town of Beit Dajan on Thursday morning and began demolishing a house belonging to Riya Hussein Ali Raja. Israeli forces allegedly claimed the 100 square-meter house was being constructed with difficult-to-obtain Israeli-issued building permits.
Cut off by Israeli wall, Palestinian family declares ‘republic’
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 31 Jan — The logic of an Israeli wall north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank appears clear — on one side Palestinians, on the other the Israeli settlement of Beit El. But look carefully and you will see a small gap in part of it leading into a courtyard where the Palestinian Jumaa family live. The newly built part of the wall which stretches along the road next to the settlement has left the 25 members of the extended family on the opposite side to the rest of the Palestinian town of El-Bireh. They are, they say, partially cut off from the outside world, sometimes having to cross through an Israeli checkpoint just to buy milk and bread. “The wall separated us from the people and from Palestinians. I feel I am inside the settlement, even though I am Palestinian,” said Hossam Jumaa, 54 and a father of eight. “Now we live alone.” At the house, the children of the three families play in the shadow of the six-meter wall, while their vegetable plots run toward the barrier. The family said they were informed three years ago by Israeli authorities that they would extend the wall along the road, leaving them on the other side. But they say construction increased after US President Donald Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which led to widespread protests and the Palestinian government freezing ties with the US administration….
Palestinian refugees / UNRWA
In Lebanese camp for Palestinian refugees, fears after aid cut
BEIRUT (Reuters) – In Burj al-Barajneh camp, Amira Nassar fears for the future after the United States cut aid to the U.N. agency that helps her and many others among the estimated 170,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Sitting in an old people’s center, talk turns to the impact on their healthcare. “Services used to be very good in the beginning … They gave us medication and hospital admissions,” says the 63-year-old. “But now with this donor funding cut for the Palestinians, our situation in the camps is very bad.” Barred from taking up most jobs in Lebanon, the refugees depend on the United Nations Refugee Works Association (UNRWA) for basic services … News of Trump’s speech at the World Economic Forum in the snowy Swiss resort of Davos spread quickly through the dusty lanes of Burj al-Barajneh in the southern suburbs of Beirut. UNRWA is already facing a financial crisis and in Lebanon has had to adjust to the arrival of 30,000 more Palestinian refugees fleeing camps in war-torn Syria. “It’s extremely tough to be a Palestinian refugee this day. For one thing, there is no prospect of political solution any time soon and the living conditions are tough,” said Claudio Cordone, head of UNRWA in Lebanon. “Anything that takes away any support that we are giving them would have a major serious impact on the day to day life,” he added when asked about the impact of the aid cut.
Arab League head says US aid cut for UN agency puts stability at risk
CAIRO (Reuters)1 Feb — Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Thursday that a cut in U.S. funding for a U.N. agency that helps Palestinian refugees will put the stability and security of the region at risk. The United States, by far the largest contributor to UNRWA, announced on Jan. 16 that Washington would withhold $65 million of $125 million it had planned for the agency this year. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from U.N. member states. U.S. President Donald Trump has questioned the value of such funding, and the State Department said the agency needed to make unspecified reforms. “It is no secret that this trend poses a threat to the refugee issue … as well as the negative consequences that will not only affect the receiving countries of refugees, but also the stability and security of the region,” Aboul Gheit said at an Arab League meeting. More than half of the two million people in Gaza are dependent on support from UNRWA and other humanitarian agencies. Palestinians say the funding decision could deepen hardship in the Gaza Strip, where the unemployment rate is 46 percent….
UN Palestinian aid agency gets cash injection after Trump cuts
GENEVA (Reuters) 30 Jan by Stephanie Nebelay — Almost a dozen countries have agreed to advance their annual contributions to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees to help it plug a major shortfall after a partial cut-off of U.S. funding, its chief said on Tuesday. The move by the Trump administration appears linked to a United Nations vote rejecting Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, said Pierre Kraehenbuehl, head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The United States said this month it would withhold $65 million of $125 million it had planned to send to UNRWA, which runs schools and clinics for 5.3 million Palestinians across the Middle East, including in Gaza and the West Bank. “It is very clear that the decision by the United States was not related to our performance,” Kraehenbuehl told a news briefing, citing his “very good meetings” with senior U.S. officials in Washington in November …
Eleven countries have agreed to advance their donations to finance UNRWA programs in coming months, Kraehenbuehl said after meeting donor representatives, adding: “There a sense of coming together.” Seven countries – Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany and Russia – had already transferred early funds while four – Belgium, Kuwait, the Netherlands and Ireland – had pledged to do so soon, he said. Kraehenbuehl launched an appeal for some $800 million to provide aid to Palestinian refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the Palestinian territories this year….
UNRWA launches $800 million emergency appeal for Syria, West Bank, Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Jan — The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN Agency tasked with providing assistance to Palestinian refugees, has launched an emergency appeal for Syria, the occupied West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. UNRWA released a statement on Tuesday saying that the agency’s Commissioner General, Pierre Krahenbuhl, was launching an $800 million appeal for its emergency program — $400 million for Syria and $400 million for the West Bank and Gaza. The appeal, which Krahenbuhl launched during a press conference in Geneva on Tuesday, will also cover some 50,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria who have been displaced to Lebanon and Jordan as a result of the years-long armed conflict in the country. A week ago, in response to an unprecedented financial crisis, UNRWA launched the global fundraising campaign #DignityIsPriceless. At Tuesday’s launch event in Geneva, Krahenbuhl, explained that the majority of Palestinian refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory and Syria “rely on UNRWA to provide aid which is literally life-saving, including food, water, shelter and medical assistance….
US reportedly to continue aiding UNRWA if school books changed
IMEMC/Agencies 31 Jan — The US administration has proposed that the UNRWA changes its school textbooks in order to continue to receive US donations, Jordanian newspaper Al-Ghad reported, on Tuesday. The newspaper said that the US proposed two amendments to the textbooks, which include the abolition of all references to the right of return and issue of refugees in general, as well having no mention of Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. Al-Ghad said that the other proposed condition, which would guarantee the continuation of US aid to the UN body only in occupied Palestinian territories and Jordan, is to stop commemorating occasions such as Nakba Day and the Balfour Declaration. Meanwhile, the UNRWA’s Chief of Communications, Sami Msha‘sha‘, said that the US had conditioned the continuation of aid to the organization after carrying out the “amendments”, and said it would only fund UNRWA’s operations in Jordan and the occupied territories. He reiterated that the UNRWA is suffering from an “unprecedented” budget crisis, but stressed that it would continue offering its services to Palestinian refugees in besieged Gaza, the occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
Other news and opinion
No talks with US until Jerusalem move reversed: Palestinian official
RAMALLAH (AFP) 31 Jan — The Palestinians’ top negotiator said on Tuesday there could be no discussions with US President Donald Trump’s administration until his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is reversed. Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Palestinians’ longtime chief negotiator, told AFP in an interview the decision was”part of a new American era of moving from negotiation to dictation”. Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital set off protests among Palestinians, who consider the city to be their capital as well. Erekat’s comments come with rhetoric further sharpening between Trump’s White House and the Palestinians, who have said the United States can no longer mediate in the Middle East conflict and boycotted a recent visit by US Vice President Mike Pence….
Angered by Trump, Palestinians disrupt business seminar US helped organize
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (Reuters) 30 Jan by Mustafa Abu Ganeyeh — Palestinians protesting against U.S. President Donald Trump’s policy on Jerusalem halted a U.S.-coordinated Palestinian marketing workshop in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, damaging an American diplomatic vehicle as it sped away. Protesters threw tomatoes at the sports utility vehicle, which had U.S. consular license plates. They also kicked one of its doors and ripped the plastic casing off a side mirror as it drove off under Palestinian police escort from the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce. Samir Hazboun, the chamber’s director, told Reuters that a digital marketing workshop, which the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem helped to organize, was under way when about five protesters barged in. “We hosted an American expert on this issue. Some people who have been trying to express their point of view and protest (against) the American decision regarding Jerusalem and the political situation … interrupted the workshop and we stopped the workshop,” Hazboun said. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s office condemned the attack in a statement saying it “reaffirms its absolute rejection of such behavior, which contradicts Palestinian manners and norms.” ….
VIDEO: Palestinian activists in Bethlehem drum out US delegation from Chamber of Commerce and Industry
IMEMC/Agencies 30 Jan — A group of Palestinian activists expelled an American delegation visiting the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce and Industry, on Tuesday. The activists carried banners representing the American and Israeli racist administrations, after they entered a hall where a meeting was held with Palestinian businessmen as part of the cooperation between the Chamber of Commerce and the US consulate in Jerusalem. They expelled the US delegation which was inside the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce and Industry and closed the office of the Chamber. The secretary of the Fateh movement in Aida Camp said, according to the PNN, that the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce and Industry, headed by Mr. Samir Hazboun, received a delegation from the US State Department at the headquarters of the chamber, which is contrary to the national resolution that called for not receiving the Americans, after US president Donald Trump declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. He also said: “Any American who doesn’t stand with the Palestinian people is not welcome here.”….
VIDEO: Dabke at UN
BDS South Africa 1 Feb — The Palestinian representative played a song on his mobile phone & [several people] danced at the UN as a response to Nikki Haley announcing that the U.S. will be cutting aid to Palestinians unless they recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Abbas to address UN Security Council on Feb. 20 amid US tensions
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) 1 Feb by Michelle Nichols – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will address the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 20 during the body’s monthly meeting on the Middle East amid tensions over the United States decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Since President Donald Trump broke from decades of United States policy with his Dec. 6 announcement on Jerusalem, Abbas has said he will ask the council to grant full U.N. membership to the Palestinians and will only accept an internationally-backed panel to broker any peace talks with Israel. “This will be a good thing for members of the Security Council to listen to the president himself,” said Kuwait’s U.N. Ambassador Mansour Ayyad Al-Otaibi, president of the council for February. “No council members rejected this proposal.” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the Security Council last week that Abbas lacked “the courage and the will to seek peace.” ….
EU urges US not to go it alone with Mideast peace efforts
BRUSSELS (AP) 31 Jan by Lorne Cook — The European Union on Wednesday urged the U.S. to not go it alone in any effort to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians, warning that doing so would end in failure. “Any framework for negotiations must be multilateral and must involve all players — all partners — that are essential to this process. A process without one or the other would simply not work, would simply not be realistic,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said. “Nothing without the United States, nothing with the United States alone,” Mogherini told reporters in Brussels. Her comments came at an emergency meeting of an international committee coordinating Palestinian development aid and political efforts. Government ministers from Israel and Egypt, as well as the Palestinian prime minister and a U.S. senior official attended the talks. The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting was the first of its kind since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital …
As the meeting began, the EU announced a new funding package of 42.5 million euros ($53 million) to help the Palestinians build their new state. It includes substantial support in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians hope to make their future capital….
EU allocates €14 million for Palestinian projects in occupied East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Feb — The European Union (EU) has reportedly allocated over €14 million ($17,399,060) to support Palestinian projects in occupied East Jerusalem. Official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency reported that the EU Commission has allocated over €14 million to support unspecified in East Jerusalem, a 40 percent increase from the previous amount. The projects, according to Wafa, are intended to preserve “the Palestinian existence and identity in the holy city.”
German minister warns Israel it faces growing frustration in Europe
TEL AVIV (Reuters) 31 Jan — German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned Israel on Wednesday that it faced growing frustration in Europe amid concern for the future of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict … “With regard to the Palestinians and the Iran question the Americans are taking your side more clearly than ever before. But is this really only a good thing?” Gabriel said in Tel Aviv. Citing past successes of U.S. diplomacy in the region, he asked: “Can the Americans still play such a role if they take sides so openly? Will others try to step into their shoes?” In a thinly veiled threat about cutting off aid, he said some members of Israel’s cabinet were “explicitly against the two-state solution” but that such a solution “has always been the foundation of our engagement for Israeli-Palestinian peace and for the large amount of funding” from Germany and Europe. “These – at best mixed – signals do not go unnoticed in Europe, where there is clearly growing frustration with Israel’s actions,” he told an Israeli security conference. Gabriel cited disagreements even within his own Social Democratic Party about what some see as “unfair” treatment of the Palestinians….
Israel vows to retain West Bank control in any peace deal
JERUSALEM 1 Feb — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said Israel will retain security control over the Palestinians as part of any future peace deal, deepening Palestinian fears that Israel and the Trump administration are colluding on a proposal that will fall far short of their dreams of independence. Netanyahu’s statement exposed a deepening rift that has emerged between the US and Israel on one hand, and the Palestinians and the Europeans on the other, ahead of an expected peace push by the Trump administration. Those disagreements could complicate things for the US team … [Netanyahu] said Israel’s “first condition” would be to control security west of the Jordan River, an area that includes all of the West Bank, the heartland of the Palestinians’ hoped-for state. “Whether or not it is defined as a state when we have the military control is another matter,” he said. “I’d rather not discuss labels, but substance.” That suggests Israel would prefer something most observers would more likely define as autonomy than independence — an arrangement that would have few if any equivalents in the world….
Commentary: To make peace in the Middle East, focus first on water
Reuters (2 Feb) by Gidon Bromberg, Nada Majdalani, Munqeth Mehyar — For the past 20 years, Israelis and Palestinians alike have approached peace negotiations with the flawed assumption that, in order to reach an agreement, all core issues must be solved simultaneously. As the conflict continues to claim victims on both sides, it’s important to point out that when President Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, was looking for an early success in the new administration’s peace efforts, he found it – in water. For Palestinian communities that suffer water shortages and require Israeli approval to increase pumping of shared natural water resources, an agreement to increase water sales from Israel to the Palestinian Authority by 50 percent annually will dramatically improve lives and livelihoods without creating water shortages on the Israeli side. This work to mediate peace through Israeli-Palestinian water sharing should be commended and continued. To ensure that the United States does not undercut its own efforts, the Trump administration must reevaluate some of its Middle East policies from a water security perspective. For example, the draft Taylor Force Act, which prohibits American aid to the West Bank and Gaza, does not exempt water programs. How might cuts to U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) funding impact a water crisis in Gaza that is already severe? Any further reduction in Palestinian access to water could destabilize the region….
US puts Hamas chief Haniya on terror blacklist
WASHINGTON (AFP) 1 Feb – The United States on Wednesday (Jan 31) put the head of Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, Ismail Haniya, on its terror blacklist and slapped sanctions on him – a move sure to raise tensions, after Washington recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The 55-year-old Haniya, who was named head of Hamas in May 2017, represents the more pragmatic wing of the movement, which said the US move would not deter the group’s “resistance”. Haniya has close links with Hamas’ military wing and has been a proponent of armed struggle, including against civilians,” the State Department said in a statement. “He has reportedly been involved in terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens. Hamas has been responsible for an estimated 17 American lives killed in terrorist attacks.” Haniya is now on the US Treasury sanctions blacklist, which freezes any US-based assets he may have and bans any US person or company from doing business with him. Hamas – which has controlled the Gaza Strip for more than a decade – had already been on the US terror blacklist since 1997 …
Haniya replaced Khaled Meshaal, who now lives in Doha in exile, atop the Hamas movement. Unlike Meshaal, Haniya will remain in the Gaza Strip. Also known as Abu Abed, Haniya was born in Gaza’s Shati refugee camp in January 1963 to parents who fled when Israel was created in 1948. Hamas has frequently highlighted his modest background as a counterpoint to officials within president Mahmud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority, who have been accused of being corrupt and too easily compliant with Israel or the United States….
Palestinian-American brings #MeToo campaign to West Bank
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 3 Feb by Karin Laub — A young Palestinian-American is the driving force behind a nascent #MeToo movement in this patriarchal corner of the world, selling T-shirts, hoodies and denim jackets with the slogan “Not Your Habibti (darling)” as a retort for catcalls and writing down women’s complaints from her perch in a West Bank square. Yasmeen Mjalli wants to encourage Palestinian society to confront sexual harassment, a largely taboo subject. “What I am doing is to start a conversation that people are really afraid to have,” said Mjalli as she put her merchandise on hangers in a clothing store. The 21-year-old has faced backlash from conservatives and from some activists who say fighting Israel’s occupation is the priority for Palestinians. Her parents, who grew up in a Palestinian farming town, immigrated to the United States and returned to the West Bank five years ago, weren’t pleased, either … Mjalli and other activists say that starting a conversation about sexual harassment doesn’t mean copying the #MeToo movement in the United States, where victims are speaking out in growing numbers. Cultural differences require a different approach….
Jerusalem seeks end to tax breaks on church-owned properties
AFP 2 Feb — Jerusalem’s city council has launched a fresh bid to end what it says are huge property tax exemptions wrongly given to church-owned properties in the city. A council letter seen Friday by AFP said international agreements only exempt places of worship, but for years churches have been excused charges on their huge commercial property portfolios. Municipality Director General Amnon Merhav wrote that debts on 887 properties stood at 657,180,520 shekels (over $190 million), without specifying the timeframe that covered … The Israel Hayom newspaper reported Friday that the religious institution with the biggest tax bill was the Roman Catholic Church, owing nearly NIS 12 million. It was followed by the Anglicans, Armenians and Greek Orthodox. The Vatican owns the imposing Notre Dame of Jerusalem hotel, restaurant and conference complex facing the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City….