Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian dies while in Israeli custody, hours after his detention
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 22 Feb – A 33-year-old Palestinian identified as Yasin Omar Saradeeh from Jericho was pronounced dead shortly after Israeli forces detained him on Thursday morning apparently following clashes in Jericho, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). The Israeli army informed Saradeeh’s family of his death while in detention, claiming he suffered convulsions after inhaling tear gas fired by the Israeli army during confrontations. Saradeeh’s family and witnesses said Israeli forces severely beat him after detaining him and that he was in a good health before his arrest and did not suffer from any health problem. Issa Qaraqe, head of the Palestinian Authority’s Detainees Commission, told Voice of Palestine that Saradeeh apparently died from severe beating to the head, describing the incident as “a crime, execution and premeditated murder at the hands of occupation forces, which reflect the level of brutality and terrorism of the soldiers.” He said an autopsy will be carried on Saradeeh; one in Israel’s Abu Kabir Forensic Institute, which will be attended by a Palestinian pathologist following Israel’s agreement to his participation, and the second at a Palestinian hospital after Israel returns his body to his family.
The PPS said 213 Palestinians, including Saradeeh, were killed by Israel after their arrest since the 1967 occupation. It said 75 died as a result of premeditated murder, 7 were shot dead while in detention, 59 from medical negligence and 72 from torture.
Palestinian laid to rest in West Bank as Israel returns body after 5 months
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — The family of Nimr al-Jamal, 37, finally laid him to rest on Saturday, after Israeli authorities had been holding his body for nearly five months. Al-Jamal was killed on September 26th after he carried out a shooting attack in an illegal Israeli settlement that left two security guards and a border police officer dead. His body was returned to his family on Friday night in the village of Beit Surik in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem. His family’s home had been punitively demolished by Israeli forces in November. The funeral procession set off from the Palestine Medical Center in Ramallah where al-Jamal’s body was wrapped in the Palestinian flag. He was then carried on shoulders towards his hometown where his family and hundreds of locals said their final goodbyes before burying him in the town’s cemetery.
Al-Jamal was one of 84 Palestinians to have been killed by Israelis in 2017, according to Ma‘an documentation. [96 according to Israel-Palestine Timeline 2017 deaths] Earlier this month the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC) reported that the Israeli government was currently holding the bodies of 19 slain Palestinians killed in the past two years, along with 260 bodies of those killed since 1967….
Video: Palestinians march in the funeral of slain teen killed 10 days ago
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — Hundreds of Palestinian mourners marched on Saturday in the funeral of Hamzeh Youssef Zamaareh, 19, in the town of Halhul, north of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank. Zamaareh was killed by Israeli forces ten days ago [7 Feb] after Israeli forces claimed he lightly injured a security guard in a stabbing attack in the Hebron-area settlement of Karmei Tzur. His body was returned to his family late Friday. Residents of Halhul participated in a general strike in mourning for Zamaareh upon calls by the national and Islamic factions in the town….
Palestinian man critically injured by Israelis readmitted to hospital
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 19 Feb -– A Palestinian youth who was severely beaten by Israelis last Wednesday in Jerusalem’s old city was readmitted to hospital on Monday due to severe deterioration in his health, according to family members. Mustafa al-Mughrabi, 20, was severely beaten last Wednesday by a group of Israelis and left unconscious and in critical condition. According to the Mughrabi family, Mustafa’s health suffered a setback late Sunday night, which necessitated his readmission to hospital. They said he has been complaining of fatigue, drowsiness and painful bruises throughout his body since the incident. In spite of the assault against him, Israeli police summoned Mughrabi for questioning on Saturday night and released him on condition of house arrest after being charged with “assaulting” Israelis until the court hearing scheduled for Monday. Two youths who provided Mughrabi with first aid at the time of the attack were also scheduled to appear before Israeli court on Monday. Osama al-Halhouli and Mohammed Awad were expelled to Haifa in northern Israel for five days.
Israeli soldiers shoot a Palestinian in Jerusalem
IMEMC 21 Feb — Several Israeli army jeeps invaded, on Tuesday evening, the town of al-‘Isawiya, in the center of occupied East Jerusalem, and shot a young man with a rubber-coated steel bullet. Mohammad Abu al-Hummus, a member of the Follow-Up Committee in al-‘Isawiya, told the Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) that the soldiers invaded the town, and randomly fired gas bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets, wounding a young man, identified as Mustafa Amer Mustafa, 28, while (he was) standing in front of his restaurant. The young man lost consciousness, and was rushed to a local clinic, before he was moved to a hospital in occupied Jerusalem. Abu al-Hummus added that the soldiers stopped the ambulance while leaving the town, and took the ID card of the wounded Palestinian.
Israeli soldiers invade village near Ramallah, shoot a child
IMEMC 19 Feb — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday evening, the al-Janiya village, northwest of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and attacked Palestinian protestors before shooting a child who was on his home’s balcony. Medical sources said the child was shot with a live round in his thigh as he was standing on the balcony of his home. They added that the child’s home is not even close to the area where the army attacked protesters and fired many live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs at them, but one of the soldier’s bullets struck him from a distance. The wounded child, only thirteen years of age, received the urgently needed treatment and was moved to a hospital in Ramallah.
Arab bus driver attacked by Kiryat Arba settlers
Ynet 19 Feb by Hassan Shaalan — An Egged Ta’avura bus driver was attacked early Sunday morning while driving a bus from Jerusalem to Kiryat Arba. Saleh Abu Jamal, 26, from Jabel Mukaber in east Jerusalem, suffered a head injury and was taken to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in the capital for treatment. “In his complaint, the driver said that around 5am, while driving an Egged night bus from Jerusalem to Kiryat Arba, several drunken youths began urging him to get to the settlement (faster). He explained that the weather conditions did not allow that, and they then started swearing at him and hit him in the face,” police said. “At the entrance to Kiryat Arba, (Abu Jamal) stopped the bus and was able to call the police center and report it after another passenger came to his aid and separated between him and the attackers. As a result of the assault, he was lightly bruised in his head and was taken to receive medical treatment. Police forces that arrived at the scene detained for questioning two youths (aged 19 and 21) residents of Kiryat Arba on suspicion of attacking the driver,” police added …
Abu Jamal claimed he did not tell the police his attackers were drunk. “I don’t know why the police made such a claim. They were acting normally, not under the influence of alcohol. In my opinion, this is a racist act. The swearing and the threatening I experienced point to a racist act,” he asserted. “Now I’m afraid to go back to work on the same line. This time I was lightly wounded, but next time it could end in disaster,” Abu Jamal concluded … Egged Ta’avura, a subsidiary of Egged, said, “This serious incident is another case in a long line of intolerable incidents in which bus drivers were attacked. We consider any use of violence against drivers to be very grave.
Settlers attack Palestinian shepherd, slaughter sheep
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Feb — Jewish Israeli settlers attacked and slaughtered, on Wednesday, 10 sheep belonging to a Palestinian herder in the Nablus area village of Einabus, according to a local official. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in the north of the West Bank, told WAFA that settlers from Yitzhar attacked the herder and slaughtered his sheep while they were herding i[grazing] in the open fields near his village. Settlers regularly chase herders in the open West Bank fields, and often either seize or slaughter their livestock, which is often the main source of income to the Palestinian families. [Photos here ]
One night’s detentions:
Israeli forces detain 17 Palestinians across West Bank, East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Feb — Israeli forces carried detained at least 17 Palestinians during overnight raids between Sunday and Monday across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to local sources. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces detained three Palestinians from the northern West Bank city of Qalqiliya, identifying them as Mahmoud Badir, Suhaib Abu Hamed and Anas al-Aqraa. In Nablus city, also in the northern West Bank, Israeli forces detained two Palestinians identified as Muhammad Abu Zuhra and Nasser al-Assi. In the Nablus-area village of Beita, Israeli forces also detained two Palestinians, identified as Alaa Sabri Farhat and Mustafa Khader. In the central West bank district of Jerusalem, Israeli forces detained one Palestinian, identified as Muhammad Saadeh from the town of al-Ram. Meanwhile in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, Israeli forces detained five Palestinians, according to the Silwan-based Wadi Hilweh Information Center. The center reported that Israeli forces detained two minors aged 14, another 17 years of age, a fourth 18 and the fifth 20. The five were identified as Musallam Odeh, Ahmad al-Zeidani, Muhammad Sarhan, Udayy Ghaith and Ahmad Ghaith….
Palestine: One of most dangerous places for children
15 Feb — One of the most dangerous places in the world for children is the occupied West Bank, where, in the last year, 14 Palestinian children have been killed and almost 1,000 others injured by Israeli forces in confrontations — Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith reports from Ramallah: It’s hard to concentrate in class when a chunk of your skull has been blown away by a rubber-coated bullet. Mohammed Tamami was shot in December by an Israeli soldier during protests in the occupied West Bank. He’s 15 years old. “Before the injury, I used to understand things when I read,” he said. “But now I don’t. I forget, a lot.” ….
Israelis who kill Palestinians receive government stipends
MEMO 20 Feb — The PLO’s Committee for Prisoners and Freed Prisoners revealed on Monday that the Israeli authorities pay stipends to Jewish settlers indicted of crimes against Palestinians, Quds Press has reported. Israel has complained frequently about payments to the families of Palestinian prisoners by the Palestinian Authority, claiming that they “encourage terrorism”. As an example of the Israeli payments, the rights group mentioned the case of Israeli settler Yoram Skolnik, who shot dead Musa Abu Sabha while he was lying with his face on the ground and his hands tied behind his back in March 1993. The killing took place near the illegal settlement of Susia in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, and the killer has been receiving a monthly salary in addition to his national insurance payments. Furthermore, Skolnik also received financial assistance from the government to start a business after he was released from prison, the Committee pointed out. It noted that the Israeli authorities reduced his sentence from life to just eight years.
Israel’s official and popular support for criminals and appeals for their release from prison are part of the “rising racism, fascism and encouragement of extremism against the Palestinians,” the Committee claimed. Ninety-nine per cent of Israeli Jews who were imprisoned after killing Palestinians were released and received legal and social support, as well as full protection by successive Israeli governments, it added.
Palestinian victim sues Dutch supplier of Israeli attack dogs
EI 15 Feb by Adri Nieuwhof — A Palestinian from the occupied West Bank is suing the Dutch company that supplied the dogs Israeli soldiers used to attack him when he was a child. For more than 20 years, Four Winds K9, a company based near the city of Nijmegen, has annually provided the Israeli army with dozens of dogs trained to attack civilians. The military dogs “are intentionally used by Israeli occupying forces to terrorize and bite Palestinian civilians, especially during protests and night house raids,” according to Shawan Jabarin, director of the human rights group Al-Haq … Hamzeh Abu Hashem, a Palestinian victim of two Dutch attack dogs, filed a civil lawsuit against Four Winds K9 and its directors in the Netherlands last December. On 23 December 2014, Abu Hashem, then 16, was attacked by two Israeli army dogs and suffered serious injuries. There had been confrontations between Israeli occupation forces and residents of Abu Hashem’s village of Beit Ommar in an area where Palestinian youths frequently protested the seizure of the village’s land for the nearby settlement of Karmei Tzur. According to a brief by Liesbeth Zegveld and Lisa Komp, attorneys with human rights law firm Prakken d’Oliveira who are representing Abu Hashem, Israeli soldiers arrived with two canines and unleashed them on the youths. The dogs chased Abu Hashem and grabbed him in a yard between two houses. In an attack caught on video, the dogs bit him multiple times in his legs, arms and shoulder. “These camera images show that Israeli soldiers initially stood by taunting Hamzeh while watching the dogs bite him and hearing him scream in agony,” the brief states. The video is at the top of this article.
Little food or blankets for Palestinian detainees at Etzion
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Feb — Palestinian prisoners held in Israel’s Etzion Prison have been given only one very small meal and one blanket, each, during the cold winter months, a report revealed on Tuesday. According to the PLO’s Committee of Prisoners and Freed Prisoners, the meal consists of a small cup of yogurt and a small piece of bread every day, noting that this policy started three days before the report was published. Detainees are also only given one blanket, which is insufficient protection from the winter temperatures, it added. Mattresses and blankets are often wet because rainwater leaks into the cells, and many are rotting, Days of Palestine further reports. Prisoners also said they have been assaulted and tortured during their arrest and interrogation. Occupation forces searched their homes and used police dogs to scare members of their families during their arrest, the report added….
Without their posing any threat to soldiers’ life, Israeli forces kill two Palestinian children and wound 2 others in southern Gaza Strip
PCHR-Gaza 18 Feb — In a new war crime and without any justification or reason endangering soldiers’ life, on Saturday afternoon, 17 February 2018, Israeli forces killed two Palestinian children and wounded 2 others after the Israeli forces fired artillery shells at them near the border fence with Israel in al-Shokah village, east of Rafah City. Investigations conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) emphasize that the shelling violates the principle of distinction and military necessity, and use of force was unjustifiable, socially that the two killed children and the other wounded were only unarmed civilians who did not carry out any act that would endanger the life of Israeli soldiers.
According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 1:30 on Saturday, 17 February 2018, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence with Israeli near al-Shokah village, east of Rafah City, fired around 10 artillery shells and opened fire at 4 Palestinian children, who were 30 to 50 meters away from the fence intending to sneak into Israel to work there, according to the testimony of one of the two wounded children. Shrapnel of artillery shells and live bullets hit the four children in various parts of their bodies. Two of them were immediately transferred to Abu Yousif Annajar Hospital in Rafah City as they ran to the west until the medical staffs evacuated them. The doctors described their condition as moderate while the medical crews could not reach the two other children as it was very late and increasingly dangerous.
At approximately 06:15 on Sunday, 18 February 2018, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulance crews managed to access the area and transfer the bodies of the two children, namely Salem Mohammed Soliman Sabbah (17) and ‘Abdullah Ayman Salim Irmeilat (15). As it turned out, they bled to death after being hit with shrapnel throughout their bodies. The PRCS crews said that they evacuated two wounded children yesterday afternoon and could not find the two other children. However, in the morning, they could evacuate their bodies that were 30 to 50 meters away from the border fence with Israel….
Another account of the above event:
Deaths: Salem Mohammad Sabbah
IPT 17 Feb 2018 — Salem Mohammad Sabbah, 17, was killed by Israeli soldiers who fired missiles and artillery shells in al-Shokah village, east of the city of Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Salem was walking in the village with a group of teens when an Israeli military jet dropped a bomb, and then fired artillery shells from tanks stationed at the border, killing Mohammad and his friend ‘Abdullah Ayman Salim Irmeilat, 15, and wounding two other children … The PCHR said the children hit by the artillery shells were all teens under the age of 18, none of whom was associated in any way with any fighting group …
Salem Mahmoud Abu Safra, 16, survived the airstrike, and was injured in the leg. He told the WAFA News Agency, “We were studying together for school. But then the lights went out. There was no electricity for us to continue our studying. We began walking in the neighborhood near Rafah. We thought the area where we were walking was safe, and had no idea that Israel would be targeting us. Why would they target us?” He was hit by shrapnel in his leg, he said that he had to crawl away to get under cover. Finally an ambulance arrived a number of hours later, and took him to the Abu Yousef An-Najjar Hospital. He was then moved to the Gaza European Hospital, which is where he received word that two of his friends were killed in the airstrike.
Funerals held for Palestinian teenagers killed by Israel
18 Feb — Funerals have been held for two Palestinian teenagers [Salem Sabbah and ‘Abdullah Irmeilat/?Abu Sheikha] shot and killed by Israeli forces in Gaza. Their deaths have added to the tension on the Gaza-Israeli border, following an explosion that injured four Israeli soldiers on Saturday. Israel blames Hamas for the attack and has carried out a series of ground and air attacks on 18 Hamas targets in southern Gaza. Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett reports from Gaza.
Palestinian dies from wounds suffered in Gaza last Friday
IMEMC 21 Feb — Medical sources have confirmed that a Palestinian teen, 19 years of age, died on Wednesday morning from serious wounds he suffered last Friday [16 Feb], when Israeli soldiers opened fire at Palestinian protesters east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza. The Palestinian, Ahmad Mohammad Abed-Rabbo Abu Hilo, 19, from the al-Boreij refugee camp, was shot by Israeli soldiers last Friday, and remained in a critical condition until he succumbed to his injuries, on Wednesday morning. After his injury, Palestinian medics moved him to the Al-Aqsa Hospital, in Deir al-Balah, and later transferred him to the Shifa Hospital, due to the seriousness of his condition. On the same day, the soldiers shot twenty-three Palestinians, including some who were shot with live rounds, after the army, stationed across the border fence, attacked protesters, who marched in several parts of the Gaza Strip.
DCIP: Israeli live fire on the Gaza Strip border injures four teenagers
DCIP 17 Feb — Israeli forces injured four Palestinian teenagers over the past two weeks with live ammunition during protests along the Gaza Strip border. Israeli forces in the northern Gaza Strip shot and injured three teenagers, 16-year-old Akram al-Sharafi and 17-year-old Khalil Abu Habal on February 9, and 17-year-old Arkan Saad on February 2. Also on February 2, Israeli forces shot Thaer al-Astal, 15, in the back in the southern Gaza Strip, according to Defense for Children International – Palestine documentation. “Israeli forces, including those stationed behind a border fence or inside watchtowers, are employing live ammunition against children, frequently and routinely,” said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCIP. “Often, the circumstances are such that other means could have been used, sparing children bodily harm and long term injuries.”
Akram told DCIP that Israeli forces stationed in a watchtower near the Gaza Strip’s northern border opened fire toward him when he was throwing stones. A bullet passed through his right thigh. The injury left an 8-10 cm (3-4 inch) opening and caused serious damage to his femur, arteries, and nerves before exiting through his left thigh. Akram is undergoing extensive medical treatment in Shifa hospital.
In a separate incident, Khalil was running away from the border during clashes east of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip when he was shot in the right thigh by forces stationed across the border. He was hospitalized for five days for a bone fracture.
One week earlier, on February 2, Arkan was participating in clashes near the Israel-Gaza Strip border east of Jabalia, when he was shot with live ammunition. “I bent over to pick up a stone from the ground when I heard the sound of one live bullet,” Arkan told DCIP. “I felt something under my left armpit between my back and my chest. It felt as hot as boiling oil.” Arkan lost consciousness and was transferred to Indonesian hospital, where doctors removed three pieces of shrapnel from his body. X-rays showed three additional pieces of shrapnel settled near Arkan’s lung and heart.
On the same day, Thaer told DCIP he went to the border area to throw stones near an Israeli military base east of his Khan Younis-area hometown, in the southern Gaza Strip. Around 5 p.m., he was running away from the border when he slipped and fell. “When I rose, I looked toward the border and saw a soldier on top of a truck pointing his gun in my direction. I heard the sound of one live bullet and I fell to the ground,” Thaer said. The bullet entered Thaer’s left lower back and exited his upper left thigh. Doctors told DCIP the injury fractured his left hip and caused nerve damage that may result in permanent paralysis. Thaer currently has no function in his left leg.
DCIP has documented a total of 10 cases of Palestinian children injured by live ammunition at the hands of Israeli forces along the Gaza Strip border with Israel between January 1 and February 14.
4 soldiers wounded near Gaza border as explosive device is set off
Ynet 17 Feb by Matan Tzuri et al. — Two soldiers were seriously wounded and two others moderately and lightly wounded Saturday afternoon when an explosive device was set off near an IDF patrol around the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip, opposite the Ein HaShlosha kibbutz. The IDF retaliated with tank fire at an observation post in the southern strip seemingly operated by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Emergency services flooded the scene and the wounded were airlifted to the Soroka University Medical Center in Be’er Sheva. Their families were notified … Palestinian sources reported the Israeli Air Force attacked several targets in the Gaza Strip in retaliation, some of which were Hamas outposts. The attacks seemed to mostly target the outposts and rocket launch nooks and armament storages. No Palestinian Islamic jihad assets were targeted … The explosive device was affixed to a Palestinian flag and appeared to have been placed near the fence under the cover of Friday’s demonstrations nearby. Golani and Combat Engineering forces were inspecting several suspicions locations in the vicinity when the explosion occurred … This marked the most serious such incident since the conclusion of Operative Protective Edge in 2014….
Israel continues airstrike campaign across Gaza, blames all violence on Hamas
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Feb — Israeli air forces conducted airstrikes on agricultural lands east of Rafah City in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday at dawn. According to locals, Israeli warplanes conducted 10 airstrikes causing significant damages to the land. No injuries were reported. Israeli media reported that the airstrikes were in response to rocket fire from southern Gaza. Israeli news website Ynet said that a rocket fired from Gaza had exploded in southern Israel. Meanwhile, the Israeli army released a statement confirming the strikes, saying that “Hamas is responsible for everything that happens in the Gaza Strip, above and below ground,” the statement read. “The army will continue to act to ensure security for the citizens of Israel using all means at its disposal.”
Gaza fishermen targeted in Sudaneya Sea
IMEMC/Agencies 20 Feb — The Israeli navy opened fire, on Tuesday morning, at Palestinian fishing boats in the Sudaneya Sea, northwest of Gaza City. Israeli gunboats opened heavy fire towards the fishermen, according to Al Ray. No injuries or damages were reported. However, the men were forced to get out of the sea, for fear of being shot.
Thousands of Gazans rush to border as Egypt opens crossing
The Guardian 21 Feb by Hazem Balousha in Rafah, and Oliver Holmes in Jerusalem — Egypt opened its border with Gaza on Wednesday, providing rare passage for thousands stuck in the coastal enclave who have lived under blockade for more than a decade. Thousands of Palestinians – some sitting since dawn next to suitcases packed in the hope that Egypt will allow them in – gathered at a stadium before being sorted on to buses. They raised their identification papers as their names were called out from a list. Khalil Qeshta, 45, said medical treatment in Gaza had not helped his son, who has been suffering for months from a debilitating stomach condition causing him to vomit blood. “I’ll go to Egypt at my own expense,” he said. “My son is five-years-old and he’s been sick for more than two years. We tried all the ways and means in Gaza, but there is no treatment. This is the third time I have tried to travel. I hope to be one of the lucky ones today.” ….
Egypt shuts down Rafah crossing hours after opening it, confusion caused
CAIRO (WAFA) 22 Feb — Egypt announced on Wednesday night the sudden closure of the Rafah crossing with Gaza, only hours after opening it and after it was supposed to stay open for four days, according to the Palestinian embassy in Cairo. It said in a statement that the Egyptian authorities informed it in an unexpected move that the crossing is going to be closed without giving any reason for this sudden decision. The embassy announced on Tuesday evening that the Rafah crossing will be open for four days, starting Wednesday. This gave hope to thousands of Palestinians stranded at Cairo airport and at both sides of the Rafah crossing to be able to travel to and from the Gaza Strip. However, the new announcement caused big confusion among the stranded Palestinians. The embassy said that Ambassador Diab al-Louh has formed a crisis management team to follow up on the issue and safety of the stranded Palestinians, especially those travelling through the Sinai desert from Cairo to the Gaza border. He urged Palestinians not to travel at night due to the dangers involved from the presence of armed groups in the Sinai. The same scenario occurred two weeks ago when Egypt announced the opening of the crossing for four days, but closed it all of a sudden on the first day….
Egypt halts deliveries of diesel into Gaza
Ynet 16 Feb by Elior Levy — Egypt stopped allowing diesel shipments to enter the Gaza Strip Wednesday, causing the strip’s power station to cease operations. As a result, residents have been limited to three hours of electricity a day. A meeting was thus called by Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in light of the dire situation, attended by the United Nations (UN) Envoy to the Mideast Nickolay Mladenov and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Major General Yoav Mordechai. Palestinians and the UN Envoy expressed their concern for the people of Gaza specifically in the matters of energy and health, with severe shortages of medications and medical instruments. Mladenov asked the PA representatives to ease the situation by removing the sanctions they imposed on Gaza due to the ongoing feud between the two Palestinian factions. Hamdallah asked the Israeli delegation to allow the movement of Palestinians between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel urged that a solution be found for its citizens and bodies of IDF soldiers being held in Gaza….
Cash-strapped Gaza Strip to cut public services by 50%
GAZA CITY, Palestine (Anadolu) 21 Feb by Nour Abu Aisha — Basic services across the blockaded Gaza Strip will be reduced by roughly 50 percent due to funding shortfalls, the Union of Gaza Municipalities announced Wednesday. At a press conference in Gaza City, the head of the non-governmental body, Nizar Hijazi, said the move was aimed at heading off the “total collapse” of the strip’s services sector. Hijazi attributed the move to a lack of funding and chronic electricity shortages that have led to the steady decline of economic and living conditions across the besieged coastal enclave.
According to Hijazi, Gaza’s municipal authorities have been forced to close Gaza’s public beach due to plans to pump untreated sewage directly into the sea. “We have no choice,” he said. “We don’t have enough fuel to operate sewage-treatment plants.” “Fuel shortages will also negatively impact the delivery of water to people’s homes,” added Hijazi, who went on to warn of a “looming environmental disaster that could affect the lives of everyone in Gaza”.
Yousef hails $9m Qatar aid package to besieged Gaza
MEMO 20 Feb — Head of the Popular International Committee to Support Gaza Essam Yousef yesterday hailed Qatar’s assistance to Gaza’s residents in response to their calls for aid. The donations announced by the Qatari Ambassador Mohamed Al-Emadi, which included medicines and fuel for hospitals, aid for university students and poor families in Gaza were in response to the needs of Gazans. In a press conference held at Al-Shifa Hospital, the main medical facility in the Gaza Strip, Al-Emadi along with UN officials announced the different kinds of the Qatari assistance which total $9 million. Yousef thanked Qatar and appreciated its continuous efforts to help the Palestinian people, who have been under strict Israeli siege for 11 years, noting that this assistance reflects the “humanitarian and moral responsibilities” of the Qatari “brothers” towards the Palestinians.
Gaza: We have not received a penny from PA since reconciliation
MEMO 20 Feb — Gaza’s Ministry of Education said yesterday that it has not received any funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) government since the signing of the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas in October last year. Undersecretary of the Ministry Ziad Thabet said that the PA government has not paid a single penny to the Ministry of Education in Gaza since then. In statements to Quds Press Thabet denied allegations by the PA Minister of Education and Higher Education Sabri Saidam that $27 million had been paid to the ministry’s employees in Gaza after being collected from students and school canteens. Thabet pointed out that Gaza’s Ministry of Finance is only able to pay a small part of the Ministry of Education’s financial allocations which is never enough. He continued to say that this negatively affects the educational process. The Palestinian official asked the Ramallah-based PA government to secure the necessary operational budget for Gaza’s Ministry of Education so that it can perform its tasks to the fullest extent possible. Gaza ministries suspended work for several hours yesterday in protest at the PA government’s failure to assume its responsibilities toward the Palestinian people in Gaza.
UN: Food aid to Palestinian refugees will end soon
22 Feb — UNRWA is missing millions of dollars from its budget after the US cut funding to the agency. Now, it cannot guarantee food distribution for the rest of the year — The head of the UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza warns that it cannot guarantee food distribution beyond the end of June. The agency is blaming major funding cuts by the United States for this situation. There are growing concerns about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza and its potential to prompt conflict with Israel. Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett reports from Gaza.
New report by Gisha: 10 years 10 judgments — how Israel’s courts sanctioned the closure of Gaza
11 Feb — A new report by Gisha, 10 Years |10 Judgments, presents analysis of ten central judgments concerning the rights of Gaza residents handed down by the Israeli court system in the decade since Israel tightened its closure on the Strip. — The compilation of judgments paints a bleak picture: The courts affirm the state’s position almost blindly; avoid discussion of the necessary balance between Israel’s national security needs and the fundamental rights of Gaza residents, while persistently disregarding international law and the legal framework it provides for the protection of their human rights. In so doing, the courts have sanctioned severe violations of Palestinians’ rights, primarily, the right to freedom of movement….
Video: First female-led TV station launched in Gaza
20 Feb — The new Taif TV is focused on content for women, from issues of empowerment to lighter matters — A female-led television station has officially launched in Gaza. Some have already criticised the new undertaking, objecting to the appearance of the volunteer female presenters and to the topics they will discuss. Taif TV’s debut came just days after Hamas authorities tried to block the station from broadcasting, saying it did not have the correct license. Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett reports from Gaza.
Book Review: Finkelstein on Gaza: Who or what has a right to exist?
MintPressNews 21 Feb by Judith Deutsch — Gaza: An Inquest into its Martyrdom (Verso, 2018), is an extraordinary book. It is also a difficult book to read. In his preface, Norman Finkelstein writes that this work “has been a painstaking, fastidious undertaking born of a visceral detestation of falsehood, in particular when it is put in the service of power and human life hangs in the balance.” He writes that “Gaza is about a Big Lie composed of a thousand, often seemingly abstruse and arcane, little lies. The objective of this book is to refute that Big Lie by exposing each of the little lies.” His meticulous inquest into Israel’s atrocities and the moral depravity within humanitarian institutions demands answers about who or what has a right to exist. The book primarily investigates the official reports about Operation Cast Lead (2008-09), the Mavi Marmara (2010), and Operation Protective Edge (2014). Finkelstein attributes these assaults in part to Israel’s intention to prove its deterrence capacity after its defeat by Hezbollah in 2006. A pattern emerges of Israel’s surreptitious provocations that conceal its own aggression, use of disproportionate military force and targeting of civilians, specious legality, and lies that exonerate Israel and permit ever-increasing brutality….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Judaization
Israeli settler leader says outposts grew rapidly in 2017
JERUSALEM (AP) 19 Feb by Josef Federman — The number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank grew at nearly twice the rate of Israel’s overall population last year, a settler leader said Monday, predicting that settlement growth would surge even more in the coming years thanks in part to the Trump presidency. Yaakov Katz said President Trump, backed by a Mideast team dominated by settler supporters, has created a friendly new atmosphere conducive to settlement growth after eight contentious years with the Obama White House. ‘‘This is the first time, after years, that we are surrounded by people who really like us, love us, and they are not trying to be objective,’’ Katz said. ‘‘We have to thank God he sent Trump to be president of the United States.’’ Katz is founder of ‘‘West Bank Jewish Population Stats,’’ a report sponsored by ‘‘Bet El Institutions,’’ a prominent settler organization that has ties to Trump’s closest Mideast advisers. He said the figures are based on official data from the Israeli Interior Ministry not yet available to the public….
Israel demolishes EU-funded house in East Jerusalem
MEMO 21 Feb — Israeli bulldozers demolished yesterday a Palestinian house funded by the EU in the Jabal Al-Baba neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, Quds Press has reported. Representative of the Bedouin Gathering Atalla Al-Jahalin said that the bulldozers demolished the one-story house under the pretext of having no building license. Speaking to Quds Press, Al-Jahalin said that the house was owned by Hani Abu-Eweeda and a 13-member family lived inside it. He noted that the house, whose residents became displaced, was demolished without prior notice by the Israeli authorities.
Israel’s anti-athan bill allows police to storm mosques
MEMO 21 Feb — Israeli MKs and minister have been working to introduce a new copy of what is known as the “Muezzin Bill” to give power to police to break into mosques to silence the Muslim call to prayer, Quds Press reported yesterday. According to Israeli news website 0404, the new copy of the bill, which had preliminary Knesset approval in March 2017, is planned to be proposed to parliament soon. The website said that a committee consisting of Interior Minister Gilad Erdan, Environment Minister Zeev Elkin and other MKs, including Moti Yogev who initiated the bill, have already laid down the terms of the new copy. According to the Israeli website, the new amendments give additional power to Israel Police that enables officers to break into mosques in Israel and Jerusalem, confiscate loudspeakers and impose fines up to 10,000 shekels ($2,860) on those said to be violating the law. The Israeli government began measures to approve the bill in November 2016 and it passed a first reading the Knesset in March 2017.
Palestinians living in Israel, both Muslims and Christians, criticised the move as another step towards Judaising Jerusalem, eradicating the Arabic history of Palestine and supressing religious freedoms. “It is an aggression on the Islamic rituals,” Sheikh Sulieman Satel, Imam of Al-Nuzha Mosque in Yaffa, said. “The real aim of this racist bill is not an attempt to reduce noise, but to silence the Muslim call to prayer… because those behind it hate Islam.”
Israel installs homes at first new settlement since 1991
AFP 21 Feb — Israel began Wednesday to install houses at its first new settlement in more than 25 years, AFP journalists at the scene said. A number of prefabricated mobile homes were delivered to the site [on the lands of Jalud village, according to PNN] that will become Amichai, the first new settlement sanctioned by the Israeli government since 1991. A number of settlements built without permits from the government have been retroactively legalized in that time, while existing settlements have expanded exponentially. Amichai is located not far from the Shilo settlement in the northern West Bank. All settlement construction is considered illegal under international law but Israel distinguishes between those it sanctions and those it doesn’t. The settlement is being built for the roughly 40 families that were evicted from Amona, a community built without Israeli permits that was demolished in February 2017. The demolition came as Israel’s Supreme Court concluded it was built on private Palestinian land but was heavily criticized by many members of Israel’s right-wing government. “It’s a special day for us to see a new village built in Israel,” Israel Ganz, vice-president of the Binyamin Regional Council which manages settlements in this part of the West Bank, told AFP. The Amona evacuees said in a statement that they were “beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.” They have been residing temporarily in a dormitory in the nearby settlement of Ofra since the evacuation. Settlers consider the West Bank as part of Israel. He said the families were expected to move in in about a month where construction of permanent homes is expected to begin. According to the Times of Israel, the master plan for the settlement indicates the building of 102 houses. “To see 40 families here is a first step but we dream of seeing hundreds of families on these hills,” he added, pointing to the surrounding area.
Israeli soldiers order Palestinian family to halt approved rooftop construction
Al-Khalil/Hebron 18 Feb by ISM, Khalil Team — Last weekend, the Sharabati family that lives on Shuada street in Al Khalil were hard at work constructing a metal frame for a roof covering on top of their house which is overlooked by an illegal settlement. Settlers arrived at a gate adjacent to the Sharabati rooftop and began swearing in Arabic, banging on the gate and trying to provoke a response. Palestinians and ISMers ignored this apparent harassment and continued on with the work before breaking for lunch. Shortly thereafter, 12 soldiers including 3 commanders arrived and ordered the Palestinians to halt construction, as they did not have proper permission even though the Sharabati family does have the necessary paperwork. After one hour of talking on their radios and taking pictures of the project and the family, the soldiers confiscated the power tools, equipment and generator leaving the rooftop in disarray. The Sharabati family have previously tried to make alterations to their roof and faced the same difficulties. Head of the family, Mufid Sharabati, was assaulted five years ago by many soldiers, which resulted in hospitalization and metal plates in his back. Regardless of having proper paperwork authorizing rooftop construction, the family remained powerless at the word of a few angry settlers and actions of soldiers today. Now they have lost the right to construct on their private property as well as 10,000 NIS worth of equipment.
Israeli forces raze Palestinian lands in Jenin, reportedly for construction of separation wall
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Feb — Israeli forces on Wednesday razed lands in the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin as well as the southern West Bank district of Hebron, according to official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency. Wafa reported that Israeli forces raided the Jenin-area village of Thahr al-Malehto and razed nearly 50 dunums (12 acres) of land, consisting of dozens of olive trees, allegedly in order to build a section of Israel’s separation wall around the illegal Israeli settlement of Shaked. Wafa said that Palestinian residents of the village have been “left with no road to lead to their lands from the northern side of the village,” adding that once the sections of the wall is completed, it will “eat up” more than 1000 dunums (247 acres) of lands belonging to residents from Jenin-area towns such as Yaabad and Nazlat al-Sheikh Zaid.
Meanwhile in Hebron, Israeli bulldozers reportedly razed six dunums (1.5 acres) of agricultural lands in the village of al-Baqaa in the eastern Hebron district. The lands are reportedly located near a road that leads to the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba.
Palestinian leader calls for peace conference by mid-2018
AP 21 Feb by Edith M. Lederer — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ruled out the United States as a broker for peace with Israel on Tuesday, calling for an international peace conference by mid-2018 with the key goals of full U.N. membership for the state of Palestine and a timeframe for a two-state solution. Abbas spoke as the Trump administration’s two key Mideast negotiators who are working on a U.S. peace proposal — the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and special representative Jason Greenblatt — sat in the Security Council chamber listening. But he left without speaking to them or listening to U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley say that “the United States stands ready to work with the Palestinian leadership,” and the two envoys are “ready to talk.” … Abbas presented the Palestinians’ “peace plan” to the council. It calls for mutual recognition by the states of Israel and Palestine based on 1967 borders, and formation of “an international multilateral mechanism” to assist the two parties in resolving all final status issues and implementing them “within a set time frame.” He said the peace conference should include the Israelis and Palestinians, the five permanent Security Council members and key regional and international governments, noting that 74 countries attended a Mideast peace conference in Paris in January 2017….
PA security forces raid West Bank houses
MEMO 17 Feb — Palestinian Authority (PA) security services this week raided tens of Palestinian houses, harassed women and arrested men, including relatives of Palestinian MPs, Quds Net reported. In Hebron, south of the occupied West Bank, the PA security services stormed the home of Nidaa Dweek, daughter of Speaker of Palestinian Parliament Aziz Dweek. Nidaa wrote on Facebook: “Just now, forces of the Palestinian intelligence agency have left our house. They searched the house and left much havoc behind. They confiscated my daughter’s PC and camera and my son’s mobile and wallet, which includes his ID, University ID and NIS240.” She also said that they confiscated books, documents, reports and papers related to her PhD. All the residents in the house were beaten, according to Quds Net. Palestinian sources confirmed Nidaa’s report about the raid and said that the PA forces also raided the homes of Fatemah Seder, Sumayya Sultan, Hayat al-Rajabi and Sonia al-Hamouri. The sources added that the PA forces searched and damaged property inside the houses and confiscated contents. Elsewhere, the PA security forces raided the house of Abdel-Rahman Bader in Hebron and arrested him. Abdel-Rahman is the son of the Palestinian MP Maher Bader, who is currently being held in Israeli detention….
Israel edges closer to legalising deducting prisoners’ salaries from PA taxes
MEMO 19 Feb — Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation yesterday approved a bill which allows occupation forces to deduct the salaries of Palestinian prisoners, freed prisoners and martyrs’ families from taxes collected on behalf of Palestinian Authority (PA), Arab48 reported. According to the bill, the money would instead be reallocated to finance projects that arrest and detain Palestinians deemed suspicious and improve civil infrastructure for settlers. Proposed by the Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the bill is to be discussed one more time before being proposed at the Knesset. Sources said that the Israeli Ministry of Finance rejects deducting the salaries from the PA tax money as well as the transfer of the funds to help settlers. Following the approval, Lieberman wrote on Twitter that “soon” the funds will be used to “compensate victims” in reference to illegal settlers living on occupied Palestinian territories.
Israeli intelligence foils alleged assassination attempt against Lieberman
MEMO 19 Feb — Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency claimed on Sunday that it has arrested a group of Palestinians accused of planning to assassinate Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Israeli media have reported. The accused are said to be affiliated to Islamic Jihad, said Shin Bet. No details of the date and time of the proposed assassination were provided by the agency. According to Quds Press, reports on Israeli television claimed that the group also planned to carry out attacks against Israel’s illegal settlements and military targets near Bethlehem. The leader of the group, it claimed, is Awad Mahmoud Awad Asakra, 25, from the occupied West Bank city. Shin Bet claims that the group planned to plant improvised explosive devices along the route taken by Lieberman when he leaves the illegal settlement of Nikodim, which is built near occupied Bethlehem. Read: Lieberman calls for assassination of Hamas leaders in Gaza
Erekat: Lieberman is the real president of Palestine
MEMO 20 Feb — Senior Palestinian Liberation Organisation official Saeb Erekat has expressed pessimism as to the likelihood of a two-state solution and the negotiation efforts of the Palestinian Authority (PA), according to the Arab news agency Assabeel. “I think that the real president of the Palestinian people is the [Israeli] Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, and the Palestinian prime minister is the coordinator [of Government Affairs in the Occupied Territories], Poly Mordechai,” Erekat said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2. “Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] cannot move from Ramallah without permission from Mordechai and Lieberman.” Erekat was similarly doubtful at the proposed two-state solution as the answer to the conflict stating: “The Palestinian street began to refuse this idea because it sees it as unrealistic in light of the growing settlements.” Erekat, 62, has served as chief negotiator since 1996, having acted as a Palestinian delegate in numerous international conferences including the landmark Oslo Accords of 1993. The PA has come under heavy criticism in recent months over its detention of critics of its policies and its continued security coordination with Israeli forces….
South Africa to cut diplomatic ties with Israel
MEMO 20 Feb –The South African government is intending to cut diplomatic ties with Israel in protest of its treatment of the Palestinian people, the country’s Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor announced yesterday. Pandor informed parliamentarians of the government’s resolution during a ten-hour joint debate on South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) that he delivered last week. “The majority party has agreed, that government must cut diplomatic ties with Israel, given the absence of genuine initiatives by Israel to secure lasting peace and a viable two-state solution that includes full freedom and democracy for the Palestinian people,” she said. The comments were made in response to opposition leader Kenneth Meshoe, who had argued that it was disappointing that national and provincial authorities in South Africa had refused help from Israeli companies to address the country’s current water crisis. However, the proposal was applauded by parliamentarians and Pandor, who is expected to be appointed vice president in Ramaphosa’s new Cabinet, was given a standing ovation as she left the podium. The government’s decision was further confirmed on the South African Parliament’s official Twitter account….
Honda sponsors motor race in Israeli settlement
EI 16 Feb by Ali Abunimah — Activists in Japan are calling on Honda to pull its sponsorship of a motorcycle meetup in an Israeli settlement scheduled for later this month. Palestinians are warning Honda it could face boycott calls. The Japanese motor giant is seemingly bucking the trend of global brands staying away from the toxic association with Israel’s colonies that are illegal under international law. On 23-24 February Honda Israel is teaming up with Israel’s sports ministry to sponsor a Moto GP showcase at the Petzael settlement race track in the occupied West Bank … The Petzael race track was recently completed just north of the Petzael settlement in the northern Jordan Valley. The BNC’s Juma’ noted that “communities there live under constant threat of forced displacement and are denied access to land and water while next door Israeli settlements continue to flourish.” As +972 Magazine reported a year ago, the track was being built “partially inside an IDF [Israeli army] live firing zone in the occupied West Bank – a designation Israeli military authorities often use to displace local Palestinian populations.”….
Campaign targets Facebook over attacks on Palestinian content
MEMO 20 Feb — Activists will launch a social media campaign against Facebook for its deliberate targeting of pages which support Palestinian rights. Social media users will use the hashtag #FBfightsPalestine to draw attention to their campaign. Coordinator of Sada Social Centre, Iyad Rifai, said the campaign is scheduled to begin tomorrow evening will be the first step against Facebook’s latest actions. He explained that the campaign aims to educate people about Facebook’s recent treatment of Palestinian content and the extent of its violations. “We are planning to take further steps, if Facebook does not clearly clarify its policies with regards to dealing with the Palestinian content,” Rifai added. He stressed that the group is mulling taking legal action against Facebook through international institutions concerned with freedom of opinion and expression, as well as institutions concerned with freedoms on social media. Last year, 200 violations were monitored by Facebook against Palestinians including the closure and blocking of Palestinian pages and accounts and the deletion of photographs and postings.