’54 Palestinians die’ as Israel refuses medical permits
Al Jazeera 13 Feb by Farah Najjar — Israel was responsible for at least 54 Palestinian deaths last year as it rejected hundreds of medical permit requests it received from Gaza residents seeking treatment outside the besieged strip, rights groups have said. In a joint statement on Tuesday, the Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), and Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI), highlighted the immediate need for Israel to end its decade-long siege of the Gaza Strip. In 2017, Israeli authorities approved fewer than half the medical permit requests it received, which were tied to appointments and treatment sessions in hospitals across the occupied territories and Israel – the lowest level since 2008. More than 25,000 permit requests were submitted to Israeli authorities. Of those, 719 were refused, often under the pretext of security. Another 11,281 applications are still pending approval – meaning thousands of people are in a state of jeopardy. Samir Zaqout, Al Mezan director, told Al Jazeera that there is no “real rational reason” why patients in need of urgent medical assistance are denied hospital access …
Hani, father of seven-year-old cancer patient Ruba, said his daughter was recently denied a medical permit for the first time in seven years. “She’s not the only one,” said Hani, who chose to conceal his last name for fear of reprisal. “I had a daughter who died when she was just seven months old,” he told Al Jazeera. “She suffered from the same cancer, and we lost her six years ago. “I don’t want to lose another daughter.” … Hani said the family had received permits before on some 300 occasions and was not given a reason for the latest refusal. “I don’t even understand why, there were no reasons given to me this time, and I utilised every contact I had … nothing is more important to me than my children’s wellbeing. “Who else do we turn to?”….
Gaza hospitals postpone 200 surgeries as workers strike after months without pay
Haaretz 13 Feb by Jack Khoury — Some 200 operations planned for Sunday and Monday in hospitals in the Gaza Strip have been postponed due to medical waste piling up as maintenance staff was on strike, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. The cleaning and maintenance staff at Gaza’s hospitals went on strike Sunday until further notice to protest the nonpayment of wages. The 830 people involved work via manpower contractors, but the Health Ministry in Ramallah has failed to pay its share of their salaries for four months. The ministry accuses Hamas of failing to hand over full control over the Strip, a charge Hamas denies. The manpower contractors supply cleaning services to 13 hospitals as well as dozens of clinics and medical centers in the Gaza Strip. The Gaza medical system is also badly short of medication and diesel fuel to operate generators that power its hospitals during blackouts. Palestinian health officials warned that the cleaners’ strike could have grave consequences as garbage piles up at hospitals, including medical waste. Ashraf al-Qudra, a spokesman for the Palestinian Health Ministry, said surgery would have to be postponed because of the cleaners’ strike. The cleaning services cost about 940,000 shekels ($267,000) a month, Qudra said….
Al Mezan: 10 Gaza fishermen detained, 5 injured since beginning of 2018
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Feb — Since the beginning of 2018, Israeli occupation forces have opened fire on Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip 36 times, detaining 10, injuring 5 and seizing 3 fishing boats, Al Mezan Center For Human Rights said Sunday, in a statement. In their report, the center pointed out systematic Israeli violations on Gazans which are contributing to the deterioration of living conditions and to the spread of poverty in the coastal enclave. Systematic propensity to repeatedly shoot, kill and injure fishermen, and continue with arbitrary detention, take possession of and destroy fishermen’s tools come in the framework of Israel’s economic blockade of the Strip, as well as systematic violations to the international humanitarian code of conduct, the center added….
Report: Israeli attacks on Gaza fishermen cause death, injuries, and property damage [in 2017]
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Feb — The Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) issued this week its annual report for 2017 detailing Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the besieged Gaza Strip. UAWC in Gaza issued a detailed report about Israeli naval violations and attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip during 2017, highlighting that “these attacks deny fishermen from practicing their fishing work and accessing their livelihood resources.” The report states that Israeli forces carried out shooting operations and chased down the fishermen hundreds of times, even while inside the designated fishing zone, “causing dozens of casualties as well as destroying and confiscating boats and fishing gears.” In 2017, two Palestinian fishermen were killed as a result of Israeli attacks. UAWC identified them as Muhammad Ahmad Al-Hessi, 33, and Mohammad Majid Baker, 25. Twenty-one fishermen were injured by live and rubber-coated steel bullets, while 39 fishermen were “arrested in harsh conditions, humiliation and irrespective the human dignity, transferring them to detention and interrogation centers in Ashdod seaport,” the report said. Additionally, three boats were completely damaged, six were partially damaged, 13 boats confiscated, and tens of fishing nets and gear were damaged and/or confiscated by Israeli naval forces. The report also highlighted the fact that as part of Israel’s blockade off the coastal enclave since 2007, Palestinian fishermen have been required to work within a limited “designated fishing zone.” The exact limits of the zone are decided by the Israeli authorities and have historically fluctuated….
Euro-Med warns of distressing humanitarian situation of Palestinians trapped at Gaza-Egypt crossing
GENEVA (WAFA) 13 Feb — The distressing situation of Palestinians stuck on both sides of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt and inside Cairo airport following the Egyptian authorities’ decision to close the crossing for passengers traveling in and out of Gaza constitutes a tragedy to many of stranded patients and students, the Euro-Mediterranean (Euro-Med) Human Rights Monitor warned on Tuesday. It said that following opening of the crossing for three days last week after about 50 days of closure, travel was abruptly suspended due to Egyptian military campaign in the Sinai, which led to holding hundreds of passengers returning to the Gaza Strip at Cairo airport, as well as on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing. More than 400 Palestinians found themselves held in closed halls at Cairo Airport after the sudden closure of the crossing and the airport security informed them to return to the countries they flew from. The passengers appealed to the Egyptian authorities and the Palestinian embassy in Cairo to hasten their return back to the Gaza Strip or find a solution to end their suffering at the unbearable cells and rooms at Cairo airport.
Euro-Med said it received several statements from a number of stranded Palestinians at Cairo airport saying that security personnel at the airport were holding about 100 people, mostly patients, students and children, in one room, without providing them with food, drink or sleeping blankets. Most of them now cannot afford to buy food … According to the Euro-Med, another 200 people, mostly patients, children and elderly, were trapped only a kilometer away from the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing while military confrontation with militants and ambushes are only a few kilometers away from them….
Opinion: Lieberman is right, there’s no crisis in Gaza — this is disaster / Amira Hass
Haaretz 12 Feb — In the disagreement between the military chief of staff and the defense minister over whether there is a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, the defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, is right. There is no crisis. A crisis involves a breaking point of some kind that goes beyond what is routine, striking like a meteor. That’s not the situation in Gaza, where there is a constant and foreseen deterioration. Any given point in the decline is a humanitarian disaster. The preceding paragraph and each sentence that follows could be the subject of an entire article, but I don’t have the time. In the “Don’t Say You Didn’t Know” column, pressing issues are piling up, and in the north there is a danger of war. So we’ll stick to the main points.
Every few months an international or Palestinian organization warns that Gaza is on the verge of collapse. They’re not lying. The warnings scratch up a little emergency aid that doesn’t deal with the causes, and only slows the rate of deterioration. It’s safe to assume that a few shipments of medicine as well as funds for emergency fuel are now on their way. The Palestinians of Gaza have become a community of beggars. It’s a disgrace. And the disgrace is not theirs …
This should be said over and over again: The regular cycle of near-collapse will only be halted when freedom of movement for people and goods is restored. Let them work, including in Israel, as before. They will earn an honest living, they will market and export goods, the Palestinian treasury won’t have to collect handouts from the world, and people will want to come home to Gaza because no one will prevent them from leaving.
Gaza’s women stand up to Trump and Israel
EI 5 Feb by Sarah Algherbawi — Randa Harara is adamant that she will stand up to Israel’s forces of occupation again – once she has made a recovery. On 11 December, Randa – aged 21 – was shot by a sniper hiding at Nahal Oz, a military checkpoint separating Gaza from Israel. She was taking part in a protest against the announcement by Donald Trump, the US president, that he recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “My injury will not prevent me from taking part in further clashes [with Israel],” said Randa, who was wounded in the left leg. “This is our duty towards Jerusalem.” An accountancy student at Al-Azhar University and a campaigner with the Progressive Student Action Front in Gaza, Randa knows that the cost of confronting Israel can be high. “But that doesn’t mean that women should be absent from the battlefield – especially when it comes to the issue of Jerusalem.” Randa has the backing of her family …
It would be wrong to claim that people in Gaza are generally enthusiastic about the idea of women and girls confronting the Israeli military. I asked a sample of 26 people – equally divided between men and women – their views on female participation in such confrontations. Around 80 percent of respondents were opposed to women taking such direct action. “These women are mothers, wives, daughters and sisters,” one person responded. “We don’t want to lose more people for nothing.” Others pointed to the conservative and patriarchal nature of society in Gaza….
Israeli surveillance drone downed over Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 11 Feb — An Israeli surveillance drone flying over the northern Gaza Strip was hacked and downed by a resistance group in the coastal region. A Palestinian security source in Gaza told the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Media Center, that “the resistance managed to remotely control the drone, and downed it, in northern Gaza.” The sources added that this is not the first incident of its kind in the last few years.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian shot while others teargassed in Nablus
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Feb — A Palestinian, Tuesday, was shot and injured with live ammunition while three others suffocated during confrontations which broke out with Israeli forces in the town of Salem, east of Nablus, said medical sources. Ahmad Jibril, Head of the Palestinian Red Crescent emergency department, told WAFA that an unidentified Palestinian was injured with a live bullet in the thigh, whereas three others suffocated after inhaling tear gas fired at the town locals by Israeli soldiers during the clashes.
Protest marks 30 years since Intifada settler murder
OCCUPIED PALESTINE 10 Feb by ISM, Ramallah Team — Yesterday in Kfar Qaddum Israeli armed forces fired live ammunition at peaceful protesters, luckily without injuries. The 8th of February marked 30 years since Kfar Qaddum’s first march during the Intifada, when villager Abed al Baset Jumal was murdered by masked settlers. Locals gathered today in honor of Baset Jumal as well as in protest of a road blockage that inhibits access to their village; this road has been closed to locals since 2003. The soldiers also fired several rounds of rubber coated steel bullets, teargas and sound bombs. The march started after the Friday prayer, with the local Boy Scout group accompanying protesters with drums up the main road. Israeli soldiers had positioned themselves on the hill between Kfar Qaddum and the illegal settlement of Kadumim, and before any confrontations started with the protesting youth, the soldiers started to fire live ammunition. Throughout the protest the military fired tear gas, sound bombs and rubber coated steel bullets, but as one of the protesters noted, “live ammunition hasn’t been used in this way for six years – fired so much, without any reason and directly at the protesters.” …
On February 8th 1988, a bus with settlers approached the protest in the east of the village. The settlers were dressed in kufiyyehs, speaking Arabic, and told the villagers they were on their side. When Abed approached to bid them welcome, one of them pulled a gun and killed him with two bullets – one in the head and one in the neck. The protesters also commemorated this yesterday …
The settler violence is ongoing to present day. About three days ago, settlers from the illegal settlement of Kadumim threw rocks at a farmer north of the village injuring him in the head. He is recovering in the hospital with six stitches.
Four injured as Israeli army attacks rallies south of Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 9 Feb – At least four Palestinians were injured [Friday] by Israeli fire during clashes with Israeli forces at Huwwara checkpoint, to the south of Nablus, and in the nearby villages of Beita and Madama, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC). Forces used live fire to disperse Palestinian teenagers who were protesting at Huwwara checkpoint against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, injuring two of them. Israeli army also used live fire to disperse Palestinian protesters at the entrance to the village of Beita, nearby, injuring one of them. A fourth Palestinian teenager was also injured by shrapnel of a stun grenade which was shot by Israeli soldiers to suppress similar clashes in the village of Madama, to the southwest of Nablus. The four who were injured were moved to hospital for medical treatment. Several other protesters also suffocated when the forces used teargas to disperse them at Huwwara checkpoint and in Madama and Burin.
Israeli colonizers attack Palestinian homes near Nablus
IMEMC 14 Feb — A group of extremist Israeli colonizers attacked, on Wednesday at dawn, two Palestinian homes in ‘Asira al-Qibliyya town, southeast of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, causing damage. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors colonialist activities in the northern West Bank, said the Israeli assailants came from illegal colonies and outposts, built on Palestinian lands, In Nablus. He added that the attack was carried out by more than thirty Israeli colonizers, who targeted two homes, owned by Ahmad Daoud and Jawad Abdul-Ra’ouf. The attacks caused property damage but did not lead to any injuries among the Palestinians.
Israeli colonists attack a Palestinian man in northern plains
IMEMC 14 Feb — Several extremist Israeli colonists attacked, Tuesday, a Palestinian man in Um al-Firan area, in the West Bank’s Jordan Valley, causing various cuts and bruises. Hamza Zubeidat, the coordinator of the Development Work in the Jordan Valley, said the Israeli assailants surrounded and assaulted Bassam Zubeidat, 39, causing various cuts and bruises. The Palestinian was with his family when the colonists attacked him, and was rushed to a local clinic.
‘Death to Arabs’ graffiti sprayed on cars in West Bank village
Haaretz 13 Feb by Yotam Berger — Five vehicles in the Palestinian town of Jit in the northern West Bank were vandalized late Monday night. Residents said the cars were spray painted with racist graffiti. The West Bank district police and Israel Defense Forces soldiers came to Jit on Tuesday morning to investigate the incident. So far, no witnesses to the vandalism have come forward. They wrote: “Death to Arabs” and “Transfer Now,” said Zacharia Sadeh, a resident of the town who works for the Rabbis for Human Rights organization. “It was at the entrance [to the town], 200 meters from the entrance and also on the other side [of Jit]… Now we are waiting for the [police’s forensic crime investigators],” said Sadeh. One of the graffiti mentioned Yitzhak Gabbay, likely referring to the youth who was sentenced to three years in prison for the arson of a Hebrew-Arabic bilingual school in Jerusalem in late 2015. He was released from prison on Friday and it seems the graffiti is in celebration of his release.
Israeli soldiers attacked after mistakenly entering West Bank city of Jenin
i24NEWS 12 Feb — Two Israeli soldiers were attacked on Monday by Palestinian residents after they mistakenly drove a military vehicle into the Palestinian city of Jenin in the northern West Bank, the military reported. The soldiers, a male and a female, were attacked by rocks by Palestinians when accidentally entering the city and a rifle belonging to one was stolen amid the incident. The army said the forces were currently searching the area for the snatched weapon. Palestinian security forces assisted in the rescue of the soldiers, who were then taken to the hospital for treatment with light wounds. An image purporting to show the female victim circulating on social media depicts her with a bloodied face and an apparently more severe injury. The IDF confirmed that the vehicle was extracted from the city through coordination between the Civil Administration, a body that acts as liaison between military units and the Palestinians, according to the Times of Israel. The military is currently investigating the incident as it was not clear how the soldiers, which appear to be from a non-combat unit given markings on their car, accidentally entered into the Palestinian city.
Updated: Israeli soldiers abduct twelve Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 11 Feb — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Sunday at dawn, twelve Palestinians, including one woman, from their homes, in several parts of the occupied West Bank. Media sources in occupied Jerusalem said the soldiers invaded and ransacked a home in the at-Tour neighborhood (Mount Of Olives), overlooking the Old City, and abducted a former political prisoner, identified as Jamal Za‘tari, before moving him to an interrogation facility.
In addition, the Nablus office of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said dozens of soldiers invaded Rafidia neighborhood and the Northern Mountain area, in the city, before breaking into many residential buildings, and homes, and violently searched them. It said the soldiers abducted Mohammad Mreish, and his wife, Woroud Abdul-Hakim ‘Aasai, 36, in addition to Ali Salhab, and added that the soldiers also abducted Mohammad al-‘Aassi and ‘Odai al-‘Aassi, from the northern Mountain.
The soldiers also invaded and searched homes in ‘Anabta town, east of the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, and abducted Abdul-Karim Sa’id Barakat, and former political prisoner Soheib Bilal Anwar, after violently searching their homes.
Furthermore, the Bethlehem office of the PPS said many soldiers invaded Hindaza area, east of the city, before searching homes, and abducted Hussein Atef ‘Obeyyat, the son of Atef, who was assassinated by the army in 2002.
In Ramallah governorate, in central West Bank, the soldiers abducted three Palestinians, identified as Obaida Zaki Abu Salim, 18, Qaiss Sa’id Wahdan, 18, Waleed Hamza Ballout, 16.
In related news, the soldiers invaded and searched many homes in the towns of Yatta, Sammoa‘, Halhoul and ath-Thaheriyya, and summoned many Palestinians for interrogation in Etzion military base and security center, north of Hebron. Some of the Palestinians who were summoned for interrogation, after the soldiers searched their homes, have been identified as Khaled Jibreen Shehada, Mahmoud Rawashda, Abdul-Hakim Daghamin and Ayman al-Battat.
On Saturday evening, the soldiers invaded the al-‘Arqa village, southwest of Jenin, and installed a military roadblock at its main entrance, before stopping and searching dozens of cars, and interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards. Dozens of soldiers were also deployed in mountains surrounding the village and conducted extensive searches.
Israeli soldiers abduct twelve Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 13 Feb — The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers carried out, on Tuesday at dawn, military invasions and violent searches of homes, in several parts of the occupied West Bank, and abducted thirteen Palestinians. Dozens of soldiers invaded Nour Shams refugee camp, east of Tulkarem in northern West Bank, and abducted four former political prisoners ’Ala Ahmad Abu Qaseedo, 28, Nihad Yousef Abu Harb, 28, and Mahfouth Nathmi Aisha, 33. It is worth mentioning that Khalifa was imprisoned for twelve years, Abu Qaseedo for six years, Abu Harb for five years, and ‘Aisha for thirteen years.
In Jenin, in northern West Bank, the soldiers searched a few homes and abducted Antar Abdul-Fattah Zeid.
The soldiers also invaded homes in Qalandia refugee camp, north of occupied Jerusalem, and abducted Ahmad Odah Yacoub, Mohammad Mteir, and Jasser Mohammad Abed-Rabbo.
In Ramallah, in central West Bank, the soldiers abducted Fadi Hammad, from his home in Silwad town, north of the city, in addition to Majdi al-‘Arabid, 24.
In addition, the soldiers abducted two young women,in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, reportedly for wearing military uniforms and carrying the pistol.
In related news, the soldiers installed electronic gates at the main entrances of Madama, Tal and Burin town, near Nablus, in northern West Bank.
The soldiers also invaded homes in Teqoua‘ town and ‘Aida refugee camp, in Bethlehem, and in Ethna town, near Hebron.
Army abducts 28 Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 14 Feb — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Wednesday at dawn, 28 Palestinians from their homes, in several parts of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has confirmed. The PPS said the soldiers stormed and violently searched dozens of homes, across the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, and interrogated many Palestinians before abducting 28. The abducted Palestinians have been identified as: 1. Dia’ Shawahna, former political prisoner from Kafr Thulth – Qalqilia. 2. ‘Ala Abu ar-Ron, Jenin….
Israeli forces shut down event honoring Palestinian teachers in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — Israeli forces on Saturday prevented a celebration from taking place for retired Palestinian teachers in occupied East Jerusalem, declaring the al-Shabbat al-Muslimat school a closed zone. The event was organized by the Palestinian Directorate of Education, with the Palestinian Minister of Education, Sabri Saidam, and several ministry officials set to attend. Local sources told Ma‘an that Israeli police forces stopped Saidam on his way to the school and prevented him from reaching the area. Israeli forces raided the school and forced teachers to leave before handing the principal of the school an order signed by the Israeli Minister of Internal Security to end the celebration. Saidam released a statement condemning the prevention of the celebration, saying that it was part of Israel’s continuous targeting of Palestinian education in occupied East Jerusalem.
Fatah official booted from Palestinian mourning tent
Al Jazeera 10 Feb by Patrick Strickland — A senior member of Fatah, the party ruling the occupied West Bank, has been expelled from the mourning tent for a Palestinian slain by Israeli forces. A video posted on social media shows Azzam al-Ahmad being kicked out of Friday’s mourning procession in Jordan’s capital, Amman, by relatives of Ahmad [Nasr] Jarrar, a 22-year-old who was killed last week by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank after a month-long manhunt. The relatives accused al-Ahmad of complicity in Jarrar’s death, citing the ongoing security coordination of the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority (PA) with Israel. Attendees interrupted the speech of al-Ahmed, a member of Fatah’s central committee, and demanded he left the mourning tent, the video shows … Jarrar allegedly killed Israeli settler Raziel Shevah in a drive-by shooting near a Jewish-only settlement adjacent to Nablus, a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, on January 9. On Tuesday, Israeli forces surrounded a building where Jarrar was hiding in Yamoun, situated in the Jenin area of the West Bank, and opened fire when he allegedly exited the building holding a firearm. The anger over the PA’s role in Jarrar’s death highlights ongoing discontent among Palestinians over their government’s reported role in security coordination with Israel, said Diana Buttu, a policy fellow at Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network.
Prisoners / Court actions
Short video: Palestinian children speak of beatings in Israeli detention
13 Feb — The Defence for Children International (DCI) is concerned that Israeli military arrests are not only violent, but that children often lack proper legal representation during the court process, and that the impact of detention lasts well into adulthood. Fawzi al-Junaidi, the 16-year-old Palestinian boy whose arrest while blindfolded by a group of Israeli soldiers in occupied Hebron was captured in a photo that went viral, spoke to Al Jazeera about how he was treated in Israeli custody. Meanwhile, Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi, who was charged with assaulting an Israeli soldier, is due back in an Israeli military court on Tuesday. But she is not the only child detained by the Israeli military. Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan reports from Hebron.
Imprisoned Palestinian mother Rusaila Shamasneh launches hunger strike against isolation of 14-year-old daughter Sarah
Samidoun 14 Feb — Mother and daughter Rusaila Shamasneh and 14-year-old Sarah Shamasneh were brought before the Ofer Israeli occupation military court on Tuesday, 13 February. The two were seized from their home in Qatana, northwest of Jerusalem, on 31 January. The Shamasnehs are the mother and sister of Mohammed Shamasneh, who was killed by Israeli occupation forces in 2016 after he participated in a stabbing operation against an armed occupation soldier in Jerusalem and attempted to grab the soldier’s weapon.
While many people know of the imprisonment of Nariman and Ahed Tamimi, they are not the only mother-daughter pair held in Israeli jails. Rusaila, 48, and her daughter are being held isolated from one another under interrogation. Reports have indicated that Rusaila has launched a hunger strike against her forced separation from her daughter and is now on her 10th day of open hunger strike. Both mother and daughter are held in HaSharon prison.
Rusaila Shamasneh is being accused in the military courts of firing a gun into the air during the funeral of her son in 2016 and “assaulting” a soldier during her arrest after her daughter, Sarah, was reportedly pushed and hit by the invading forces attacking the family home. The Shamasneh’s lawyer, Ismail al-Tawil, emphasized that the so-called charges are two years old; at the time, Sarah was only 12. Al-Tawil also noted that Sarah was hospitalized due to her injuries from the soldiers’ attack, and that Rusaila was bruised and injured as well.
Ahed Tamimi remains in Israeli prison as ‘trial’ adjourned
[includes short video of her entering court] EI 13 Feb by Ali Abunimah — More than two dozen prominent US Black artists and public figures are speaking out in support of Ahed Tamimi, as the teenager’s trial began in an Israeli military court. On Tuesday, Ahed was brought before the Ofer military court in the occupied West Bank. Amid the presence of many journalists and diplomats, the military judge ordered the session to be held behind closed doors, claiming this was for Ahed’s own good. Only Ahed’s family and lawyers were allowed to stay. Bassem Tamimi, Ahed’s father, posted a video on his Facebook page after the hearing which shows him calling out to his daughter in the military court, “stay strong.” According to Bassem’s post, the military prosecutor read out the charges against his daughter. He says her lawyer responded by saying that the court was illegitimate, part of a racist system and had nothing to do with justice. Bassem said Ahed’s next appearance was set for 11 March, while Ahed’s mother Nariman and cousin Nour will be brought before the military tribunal on 6 March. Ahed and her mother are being held by Israel for the duration of the military court proceeding. Scornful of the judge’s decision to expel journalists and diplomats, Bassem called it an effort by a “fascist” state to cover up the “farce and racism of its courts and laws.”….
Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick portrays Ahed Tamimi as a superhero
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Feb — Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick painted an image of Palestinian imprisoned teen Ahed Tamimi in which he portrayed her as a superhero. Tamimi is seen holding the Palestinian flag in the painting entitled “There is a Real Wonder Woman,” in a reference to “The Wonder Woman,” an heroic female comic character. Fitzpatrick, who is famous for drawing the iconic 1968 poster of Che Guevara, said he was amazed by Tamimi’s bravery when he first learned of her two years ago…
Another Hollywood star joins Dream Defenders for Ahed Tamimi’s release (VIDEO)
Palestine Chronicle14 Feb — Actor Jesse Williams, who plays Dr. Jackson Avery in the popular TV show Grey’s Anatomy, has joined other prominent actors, artists, authors, sports people and icons in backing a call by Dream Defenders for the release of the Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi … Others to have signed the call include actresses Rosario Dawson from “Seven Pounds” and Lisa Gay Hamilton from “The Practice”; Lethal Weapon’s Danny Glover, former Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave band member Tom Morello; American Football sport-star Michael Bennett; hip-hop artists Vic Mensa and Talib Kweli; as well as Professors Cornel West and Angela Davis. The group drafted and signed on to the following statement, calling for the release of Ahed Tamimi and standing with the Palestinian Freedom Struggle: ….
Closures / Restriction of movement
Israeli army blocks entrances to three towns in Salfit
SALFIT (WAFA) 13 Feb – Israeli forces Tuesday blocked the entrances leading to three towns in the West Bank district of Salfit, said local sources. Sources told WAFA Israeli forces sealed off the entrances to the towns of Kufl Haris, Deir Istiya, and Haris to the north of Salfit. Forces further erected a military checkpoint on the road connecting between the towns of Haris and Kufl Haris. Forces reportedly raided a gas station in Deir Istiya town, however, no arrests were made.
In a collective punishment step, Israel closes roads to Jerusalem-area towns
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 12 Feb – In a step seen as collective punishment due to stone-throwing incidents against Israeli forces and settlers, the Israeli authorities closed late Sunday roads to the Jerusalem-area town of Hezma and ‘Issawiyeh neighborhood. ‘Issawiyeh has been feeling the crunch of road closures for a while, disrupting life and movement of students to their schools. Residents have protested the Israeli punitive measures in their neighborhood, which the Israeli police said came as a result of youths throwing stones at its forces.
In Hezma, to the east of the city but outside its borders, the army first blocked two main entrances with cement cubes and then placed a huge metal gate to block its main entrance. According to the town’s mayor, Samar Deifallah, the army has been conducting nightly raids of homes as well as detaining people, mainly the young ones. She said the army carries out all these measures against her town claiming that youths throw stones at passing Israeli vehicles. Deifallah said the town has 8000 residents who are suffering due to the collective Israeli punishment. Seven people from Hezma are serving between one to seven years in Israeli prison for resisting the occupation.
Farmers denied access to their land following Israeli closure of gates
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 12 Feb — Israeli forces closed on Monday metal gates leading to agricultural lands owned by Palestinians in al-Khader, to the south of Bethlehem, local activist said. Anti-wall, anti-settlements committee coordinator in al-Khader, Ahmad Salah, told WAFA that Israeli forces closed the metal gate erected 10 days ago, blocking farmers’ access to large area of agricultural lands. He said this step was taken following attempts by the Israeli army few days earlier to remove 17 settler homes built on privately-owned Palestinian land in the same area.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel to confiscate lands in the West Bank for settlement expansion
QALQILYA (WAFA) 13 Feb – The Israeli military authority informed Palestinian landowners in the town of ‘Azzon (‘Azzun), to the east of Qalqilya in the north of the West Bank, of its intention to confiscate 52 dunums of their land located near the illegal settlement of Alfei Menashe, the landowners said on Tuesday. They told WAFA that the confiscation orders said it was intended to modify the zoning map for the settlement, which includes seizing agricultural Palestinian land that will be used to build new houses for the settlers. Hasan Shbeita, who monitors settlement activities in ‘Azzon, said that the municipality contacted Palestinian officials to inform them of this new Israeli decision in order follow it up at the legal level. The farmers possess land deeds that prove their ownership of the targeted land, he said.
Palestinian villagers’ last-ditch plea as Israeli bulldozers prepare to move in
HEBRON (PNN) 12 Feb — Despite outrage from British MPs and renowned international academics, the village of Susiya in the South Hebron Hills of the occupied West Bank is bracing itself for the bulldozers, after Israel’s High Court gave an initial green light to the government (1st February 2018). Israel wants to demolish 20 buildings, equal to one fifth of the entire village, including a health clinic funded by the Italian government which cares for around 500 people from Susiya and surrounding communities. The Israeli High Court has just announced that demolition can proceed without delay for 7 of the buildings housing 42 residents, half of them children. The villagers’ lawyers, Haqel, welcomed what they see as a tentative push-back against the demolition process but point out that ‘the terror of demolition’ looms large over the village, with the remaining 13 scheduled buildings still under threat.
Nasser Nawajaa from the Village Council said the timing of the demolition – in the middle of winter – could not be more devastating. Those made homeless are expected to face freezing rains and harsh winds in the coming weeks. In 2012, Susiya villagers commissioned a master plan in the hope of putting their lives on a more stable footing. Israeli authorities, however, rejected the plan, effectively blocking any new construction of houses or essential infrastructure, including running water and electricity. As a result, adults, children and the elderly house themselves as best they can, often in tents, forbidden from making substantial repairs to their ailing homes — homes located, as Nawajaa stressed, on land that belongs to the Palestinians. Activists point out that the plan to demolish Susiya is a part of an extensive campaign across the West Bank and East Jerusalem….
Army demolishes two commercial structures in Jerusalem
IMEMC 13 Feb — Israeli soldiers and members of the City Council in occupied Jerusalem, demolished two commercial structures, in the al-‘Isawiya town, and also cut and uprooted trees. Mohammad Abu al-Hummus, a member of the Follow-Up Committee in al-‘Isawiya, said the soldiers surrounded the town before invading it, and bulldozed the two structures. He added that the two structures were used as small restaurants, proving pizza, cold and warm drinks; one of them was built ten years ago, and one since about two years. Both were built in the yard of the local mosque. During the destruction of property, the Israeli bulldozers cut and uprooted several trees. Abu al-Hummus stated that the ongoing illegal Israeli demolitions of homes and property are part of Israel’s collective punishment policies, and the attempt to remove the indigenous Palestinians.
He also said that the soldiers invaded the town, Monday, and fired many live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs at Palestinian protesters. Some of the bullets struck many homes in the town, causing damage and anxiety attacks among many residents, mainly the children. It is worth mentioning that the army have been carrying out daily invasions into the town, and completely isolates it every night.
Illegal settlers install new outpost near Nablus
IMEMC 12 Feb — A group of extremist Israeli colonialist settlers installed, Monday, a new outpost on Palestinian lands, south of Beita village, southeast of the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Fuad Ma’ali, the head of Beita Local Council, said the colonialists installed four mobile homes on four dunams of Palestinian lands owned by a local Palestinian, identified as Mousa Abdul-Mo‘ti, and even hooked them up to electricity and placed floodlights around them. The settlers also brought bulldozers, and initiated infrastructure work to supply their new illegal outpost with running water.
Palestinian refugees – Lebanon
Shababeek: Opening the window to Palestinian refugees
Palestine Chronicle 13 Feb by Ramzy Baroud — Following the signing of the Oslo agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993, Palestinian refugees vanished off the radar. The most pressing of all issues pertaining to the decades-long struggle and suffering of Palestinians became the least relevant, most marginalized. No Palestinian refugee community was hit as hard as the hundreds of thousands of refugees languishing in Lebanon. They were already political marginalized and impoverished, especially after the PLO was forced out of Lebanon during the Israeli invasion of 1982. But the Oslo agreement, 11 years later, made their population even more invisible … The refugees remain at the heart of the Palestinian fight for freedom and rights, and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon remain the most powerful example of the grave injustice that has afflicted the Palestinian people for the last 70 years.
Now, the refugees in Lebanon are trying to tell their story, in their own way. In fact, no one is more qualified to carry out such an urgent task but those who have lived, experienced and fought against misery, despair and neglect. These empowered voices are now joining forces through Shababeek, a new digital platform that tells the daily story of the refugees through the voices of Palestinian youth from the various refugee camps in Lebanon … Launched in mid-January of this year, Shababeek – meaning ‘windows’ in Arabic – will open a badly needed space for youth to express themselves and connect with other refugee communities, in fact the world at large … Even before its official launch, those behind Shababeek have already developed a vision for a future beyond the initial launch phase. It includes making the website a solid online media training forum in all of Lebanon, but also outside. Following the Arabic website launch, English and French websites are also to be launched (at a later stage depending on funding) to reach a wider audience and to press the story of the refugees on world consciousness….
Solidarity / BDS / Lobby
Life after the army: Israel’s conscientious objectors
Al Jazeera 12 Feb by Alasdair Soussi — When Adam Maor was released from prison after refusing to serve in the Israeli army as a conscientious objector, he left his native land for an eight-year stay in Europe. “I really felt a need to get away for a while,” said the 34-year old, who served 21 months in various forms of incarceration between the winter of 2002 and September 2004. “I started my studies in Geneva, Switzerland – and I also lived some time in Paris, before returning home to Israel.” Maor was part of a publicised group of five “refuseniks” who defied Israel’s compulsory military service laws and refused to serve as a stand against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Back in November 2003 – two years before Israel “disengaged” from Gaza – Al Jazeera reported: “The Israeli organisation, Courage to Refuse, claims that there are 1,000 Israelis who are refusing military duty for one reason or another, and a further 562 have pledged not to sign up.”…. [includes video of COs discussing how they came to refuse to serve]
Walk to Palestine: Activist to walk 5,000 kilometers
Al Jazeera 10 Feb — A 25-year-old Swedish activist has commenced a treacherous walk from Sweden to Palestine, to raise awareness about human rights violations in the occupied territories. Benjamin Ladraa says he was so moved by a three-week trip to Palestine last April that he decided to “tell the world about the situation in Palestine”. “I was shocked by what I saw there, seeing all the walls, soldiers walking along the streets carrying M-60 machine guns. I heard stories about 300 children in prisons, rapes in homes. “After three weeks, I returned and wanted to do something to raise awareness about human rights violations in Palestine,” said Ladraa, who was born to Jewish parents. After giving up his studies and work, he set out on his 5,000km journey from Gothenburg, Sweden to Palestine on August 8, last year. Ladraa is always on the move, carrying the Palestinian flag on his back and a keffiyeh, a symbol of Palestinian independence, over his shoulder.
Massachusetts activists defeat ‘deceptive’ anti-BDS measure
EI 13 Feb by Nora Barrows-Friedman — Activists in Massachusetts successfully pressured state lawmakers to stop a bill on 8 February that would have classified the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign for Palestinian rights as “discrimination.” The bill requires anyone who enters into a contract with the state worth more than $10,000 to pledge that they will not refuse to do business with any person based on the person’s “race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, gender identity or sexual orientation.” It has no chance of being passed this session as a key committee declined to advance it. The campaign to defeat it was successful, Elsa Auerbach of Jewish Voice for Peace – Boston told The Electronic Intifada, “after the legislators understood that the framing of the bill was deceptive and posed a threat to the constitutionally protected right to free speech.” The bill was endorsed by by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Boston, a communal organization that has an active Israel lobby wing….
Why does Virgin find ‘Palestinian couscous’ offensive?
EI 10 Feb by Gawan Mac Greigair — Virgin Atlantic has removed the word “Palestinian” from the description of a dish on its in-flight menu, following complaints from Israel-supporting customers. The airline acknowledged that the dish was a Palestinian recipe, but simultaneously apologized for “offense caused” by its use of the word. The dish was offered on the airline’s menu for economy class passengers in late 2017 and was described as “Palestinian couscous salad.” One customer giving the name Dani Williams took to social media to accuse the company of being “terrorist sympathizers” for using the descriptor. In a tweet, Williams posted a photograph of the menu and wrote: “last time you get my money.” Other pro-Israel social media users responded to the in-flight meal by claiming couscous was not Palestinian. One tweet suggested that the dish should be called “Jewish salad.” A photograph of the menu was also posted on the Facebook page of a group called the Israel Advocacy Movement. An accompanying comment read: “I thought this was an Israeli salad.” David Garnelas, the man who made the comment, also accused Richard Branson, Virgin Atlantic’s founder, of “showing his true colors,” adding that “Israelis must boycott Virgin and Israel must ask for an explanation.” Since these complaints were made, Virgin Atlantic has renamed the dish “couscous salad,” with the word “Palestinian” deleted … The decision by Virgin Atlantic is the latest episode in a pattern of attempts by Israel and its supporters to either erase – or appropriate as “Israeli” – Palestinian cuisine and culture.
US denies alleged West Bank settlement annexation plan
Al Jazeera 13 Feb — The US has dismissed reported discussions between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Washington officials over plans to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. “Reports that the United States discussed with Israel an annexation plan for the West Bank are false,” said White House spokesman Josh Raffel, late on Monday. “The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal.” Raffel added the “focus remains squarely” on US President Donald Trump‘s “Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative”. The Israeli prime minister was quoted as telling a meeting of Likud legislators: “On the subject of applying sovereignty, I can say that I have been talking to the Americans about it for some time.” Netanyahu was referring to applying Israeli law to the settlements, which are currently under the jurisdiction of Israel’s military. Netanyahu’s office later sought to clarify what was discussed, saying in a statement the prime minister “updated the Americans on the initiatives being raised in the Knesset”. On Sunday, Netanyahu blocked a bill to annex settlements that was proposed by right-wing Likud lawmakers.
House Democrats urge Trump to back aid for Palestinian refugees
EI 11 Feb by Michael F. Brown — Two members of the US House of Representatives, Peter Welch of Vermont and David Price of North Carolina, sent a letter Thursday to Donald Trump expressing concern over the president’s freeze on “vital US contributions” to UNRWA, the UN agency that provides basic humanitarian services to more than five million Palestinian refugees in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The letter additionally backs “bilateral assistance” to the Palestinians, though in fact funds given to the Palestinian Authority are used disproportionately on internal suppression in collaboration with Israel. Even protests against Israeli occupation and Israel’s deadly assaults on Gaza are frequently deemed unacceptable by the PA. Welch and Price were joined by 100 other Democrats in the House. There was not a single Republican signer in the group. More than half of all 193 Democrats in the House co-signed the letter, though only nine out of 21 – two fifths – of Democrats on the important foreign affairs committee added their names. Eliot Engel, the ranking minority member on the committee and a staunch pro-Israel Democrat, did not join. The Democratic Party mustered an even lower percentage of signers from the Middle East and North Africa subcommittee. Just three out of nine Democrats there signed the letter and ranking member Ted Deutch of Florida was not one of them. Democrats representing the party on foreign policy matters are too often PEP – progressive except on Palestine – or outright conservative when it comes to service on relevant committees. Another notable absence is House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi … The letter itself is a mixed bag. Humanitarian support to ensure that the health, food, and education needs of Palestinian refugees are met is crucial. Further aid to prop up a corrupt and non-democratic PA that is suppressing its own population is clearly far more problematic. Democrats, including those who did not sign, are anxious to ensure that the PA continues its cooperation with Israel – which helps maintain a status quo of military occupation that has deprived millions of people of their basic rights for decades….
Abbas turns to Moscow in search for new Mideast mediator
AMMAN, Jordan 13 Feb by Daoud Kuttab — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has stepped up his recently launched diplomatic offensive on future peace negotiations, including by emphasizing the need for Moscow to reassert a balancing role in the Middle East conflict. On Feb. 10 in Ramallah, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed four agreements totaling $41 million and expressed support for a two-state solution, and 24 hours later, Abbas arrived in Moscow for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin. On Feb. 13, a senior Omani official, Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, arrived for the first time in Ramallah for a visit. Abbas’ Russian trip is remarkable in that it reflects a major shift in Palestinian diplomatic efforts aimed at dislodging the United States as the sole sponsor of the peace process. The Palestinian ambassador to Russia, Abdel Hafiz Nofal, had told Maan TV on Feb. 11 that Abbas is seeking a new sponsor for peace. “We want a sponsor that is serious about the peace process after the United States has failed over 25 years,” Nofal said. “We believe that Russia is ready to play this role.” Nofal added that the Palestinians want Russia, China and the European Union to have a bigger role in the new international order. Russian media reported on Feb. 11 that Putin had canceled a trip to Sochi to meet with Abbas….
Abbas seeks India’s support in future Israeli-Palestinian talks
11 Feb by Bernard Smith — Narendra Modi has wrapped up the first official visit by an Indian prime minister to the Palestinian territories. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Modi that he needs New Delhi’s support during future talks with Israel. Abbas’s government is seeking new allies after US President Donald Trump caused an uproar by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith reports from Ramallah.
MADA reports 117 violations of Palestinian media freedoms since December
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) released a report on Saturday saying that between December 2017 and the end of January 2018, the group recorded 117 violations against Palestinian media freedoms at the hands of Israeli forces. MADA reported that there was a decrease in violations against media freedoms was recorded in January compared to December 2017, during which 89 violations by Israeli forces were reported against journalists (84 of which were assaults) during their coverage of protests against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In January, MADA recorded a total of 31 violations against media freedoms in Palestine, mostly by Israel, as 28 violations were committed by Israeli forces while three violations were committed by Palestinian forces. Despite recording a decrease between December 2017 and January 2018, MADA said that violations for January were high compared to January 2017.
In January 2018, out of the 28 violations committed by Israeli forces, “one of the main violations reported was assaulting Reuters’ photojournalist in Jerusalem with a baton on the head causing a huge wound and a concussion,” MADA said….
How a farm is working for peace on the West Bank-Jordan border
SBS 12 Feb by Kate Bettes — Instead of gifting roses this Valentine’s Day, Mohammed Atiyeh wants locals to exchange khubaizeh – a native plant – to bring different factions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict together and perhaps create lasting peace — The Children of the Valley Farm in Jordan’s south Shuneh is dwarfed by rising slopes. To one side of the valley is the West Bank. To the east – the rising Jordanian mountains. The farm is less than 5 kilometres from the border with Israel and is close to Jericho in the West Bank. It’s an area with a long, sometimes bloody history, including the 1967 Six Day War between Israeli, Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Mohammad Atiyeh, who says he’s originally from Jericho – one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world – owns and runs the farm. He grows crops of dates, figs, citrus and khubaizeh [blue mallow] – a leafy green plant that grows widely in Jordan. Mohammed says he wants to promote the native khubaizeh to the local community, and with the help of the World Food Programme he founded the Khubaizeh Festival two years ago. It’s held on February 14 – a date Mohammed has chosen for a reason – he hopes that instead of buying expensive roses, “people can adapt the habit of giving each other khubaizeh on Valentine’s Day.”….
Ayelet Shaked: Israel must safeguard Jewish majority
Al Jazeera 13 Feb — Israel must safeguard a Jewish majority even at the expense of human rights, the country’s justice minister has said in a speech defending a bill that would legally define Israel as the “national home of the Jewish people” for the first time. Ayelet Shaked said on Monday that Israel must maintain both a Jewish majority and democracy, but stressed that keeping the state’s Jewish character may come “at the price” of human rights violations. “There is place to maintain a Jewish majority even at the price of violation of rights,” Shaked told a conference in Tel Aviv on Monday, Israeli media reported. In her speech, Shaked, a member of the far-right Jewish Home party, defended the so-called Jewish Nation-State Bill, which would constitutionally define Israel as the national home of the Jewish people for the first time. “There are places where the character of the State of Israel as a Jewish state must be maintained, and this sometimes comes at the expense of equality,” Shaked said, as reported by Israel’s Haaretz newspaper.