Media Analysis

In Gaza, over 40,000 arrested for debts in 2017

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Debt lands hundreds of Gazans in jail as economy tanks
GAZA CITY (AFP) 8 Mar — Sameh al-Madhoun’s eyes fill with tears as he recalls his fall from successful businessman to prisoner in a Hamas jail in Gaza. Once the owner of a flourishing car dealership, he is one of more than 40,000 Gazans charged in the last year with failing to keep up debt payments as the economy in the Palestinian enclave collapses. Madhoun, a 40-year-old father of four, has sold most of his possessions, including his house and some of his cars, in a bid to pay back the $3 million debt that dragged his business into bankruptcy. “I have paid off half of it until now. I don’t know how I will pay off the rest,” he told AFP from his jail cell. “I don’t own anything else now except these debts.” A decade-long blockade by Egypt and Israel — which Israel maintains in order to prevent Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers from importing weaponry — and a dispute between Hamas and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority have brought the coastal territory’s economy to its knees. Some 42,500 people were arrested in the past year for failing to pay debtors, according to Hamas police. At least 600 are currently in jail on similar charges. Madhoun has been detained since September, but is allowed to leave two days a week to see his young children and search for the money to pay back his debtors. AFP met him both in prison, after being granted access by Hamas, and during one of his leave days at his former company — now just a few cars gathering dust….

Israeli court delays release of body of Gaza fisherman killed by navy forces
Haaretz 8 Mar by Yaniv Kubovich — Judge orders state to hold up transfer of body until petition by family whose son’s body is held in Gaza is heard — The High Court of Justice issued an order Thursday that the state not return the body of an 18-year-old Palestinian who was killed by Israeli forces last week. Justice Neal Hendel ordered the handover of his remains be held up until a petition is heard on the subject. Ismail Salah Abu Rialeh was shot dead when Israeli navy forces fired on a boat off the north Gaza coast. The army says the boat had sailed beyond the permissible fishing zone. The Navy force called on the three Gazan fishermen on the boat to halt, then fired into the air, then fired toward the boat. The petition was filed by the Goldin family, who son Lt. Hadar Goldin is one of two fallen Israeli soldiers in the 2014 Gaza war whose bodies Hamas is thought to be still holding. In mid-December the court ruled that the state may not hold onto bodies of terrorists for negotiating purposes, since there is no specific, explicit legal basis permitting the state to do so. The state could enact a law that would comply with Israeli and international law, the court ruled. Later that month the security cabinet urged the High Court to revisit its ruling. Israel has the prerogative of holding onto bodies, the cabinet ministers stated, adding that the principles set forth in the majority opinion of the justices are unacceptable.

Israeli navy abducts 10 fishermen in Rafah
IMEMC 12 Mar — Israeli navy ships attacked, on Monday morning, many Palestinian fishing boats near the shore of Rafah, in the southern part of the besieged Gaza Strip, abducted ten fishermen and confiscated their boats. Fishermen who witnessed the Israeli assault said the navy fired dozens of live rounds at the fishing boats, while sailing less than four nautical miles from the Rafah shore. They added that the navy abducted ten fishermen after forcing them to undress and swim towards the navy ships, before moving them to Ashdod port, along with three confiscated boats. The abducted fishermen have been identified as Adel Motawe‘, Ahmad Ziad Bardaweel, Mohammad Farahat ‘Ashour, Ala Ibrahim Miqdad, Mohammad No‘man Miqdad, Mohmmad Ibrahim Miqdad, ‘Adel Ibrahim Miqdad, Amin Sa‘adi Jom‘a and Ahmad Mohammad Tabasha.

Under-siege Gazans have relied on secret tunnels for survival; now even that lifeline is drying up
GAZA CITY (Arab News) 10 Mar by Hazem Balousha — Haitham has spent the past eight years smuggling Marlboro cigarettes from Egypt into Gaza through the elaborate network of underground tunnels that helped keep the Palestinian economy afloat in the face of Israel’s crushing blockade. When business was at its peak, he employed 25 staff and rarely had time to rest. Now, with his tunnel shut down and the siege tightening its grip, he spends most of his days trying to think of another source of work.  “We collected thousands of dollars in a short period of time,” he told Arab News. “In the past, smuggling goods through the tunnels was the most lucrative business.” … Khalil Abu Rajab, 70, has spent most of his life working in the clothing trade, a job he inherited from his father. Unable to make ends meet, he is now thinking of closing his business. Sitting on a wooden chair outside his shop as he waved to passers-by, he told Arab News the economic situation was worse than it had ever been.
“I have lived through various periods, from the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip to the period of Palestinian Authority control and the Hamas takeover, but I have not seen a period like this in which I cannot meet my financial obligations,” he said.

No way out: Women trapped in Gaza away from their homes and partners
B’Tselem 8 Mar — Imagine paying a visit to relatives in another country and getting stuck there, away from your partner or children, for months and even years. Far from your home and life, without knowing how long it will be until you can go back. That is the daily reality of hundreds of women who are trapped in the Gaza Strip. Their lives are on hold and they have no idea when, if at all, they can be reunited with their loved ones …  The unemployment rate in Gaza is one of the highest in the world, and some 80% of residents rely on humanitarian aid. One group that suffers especially from these circumstances is women who remain trapped in Gaza, away from their partners and sometimes without their children as well. These women, who are not residents of Gaza, have no work and no source of income. They have no choice but to stay with relatives, most of whom live in poverty themselves …
Hanin al-Jakhbir, 26, married and mother of a two-year-old girl: Al-Jakhbir was born in Rafah and in 2015 married an Egyptian national she had met through relatives. On 28 January 2017, two years after she got married and moved to Egypt, she returned to Gaza with her then nine-month-old daughter Lana to visit her parents, whom she hadn’t seen since the wedding, and to get a Palestinian birth certificate issued for Lana. Al-Jakhbir intended to stay in Gaza for a month, but has been unable to leave for more than a year now. In a testimony she gave on 23 January 2018, she related the following: “… In February and March, Rafah Crossing opened for only three or four days at a time, and that wasn’t enough for all the people who registered to leave. At the crossing, I was told that our names weren’t on the travellers’ list. Then the crossing stayed closed for three months straight, and being far from my husband really began to take a toll on me mentally. My daughter also suffered without her father. He kept in touch with us regularly, asked how we were and told me how hard it was for him to be alone. Now, Lana has started calling her grandfather “Baba” because she doesn’t know her father any more. Her grandfather and uncles hug here, but she doesn’t really know what it’s like to have her father’s embrace. I don’t know what my daughter and I did wrong, and what will happen to us if the crossing doesn’t open….”

Feature: Gaza’s 90-year-old woman sells leftover bread to earn a living
GAZA (Xinhua) 8 Mar — Khadija Hijjo, a 90-year-old Palestinian woman in the besieged Palestinian enclave of Gaza Strip, is always proud of herself as she earns a living by selling leftover bread to fight extreme poverty. “I’m very proud that I rely on myself at this age to earn my own living,” Hijjo told Xinhua. The lady lives in her tiny run-down home in the overcrowded Shati refugee camp of Gaza city, where poverty and deprivation are trademarks for the residents. Despite their own struggle in life, the refugee camp’s residents extend a hand to Hijjo to help her make a living with their very limited resources. The residents collect their leftover bread pitas everyday for the old lady, who then dries them up before selling them to livestock owners. Every day, Hijjo hangs the leftover pitas on the ropes in her room, and break them into small pieces after they become dry. “I later put the bread in bags and sell it to shepherds or owners of livestock farms … This helps me get money to survive,” Hijjo said with a proud smile. Hijjo has been living alone for 20 years. Her husband passed away 30 years ago, and her four daughters are now all married … Years ago, Hijjo was a sewing woman, but as time went by, her age and deteriorating health condition failed her in her job … Despite the extreme poverty, smile never disappears from Hijjo’s wrinkled face, which tells the stories of the years of hardship she has been through. “I always urge young girls and women to take responsibility and never think negatively,” she said….

Sinai operation jams mobile phone signal in Gaza
Al Jazeera 7 Mar — Egyptian official: ‘We want to stop terrorists from communicating.’ — Israel and Egypt have been working to halt disruptions to mobile phone service after Egyptian jamming against fighters in the Sinai caused outages in Israel and the Gaza Strip, Israeli officials said. Under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt has quietly cooperated with Israel on security in the Sinai, a desert peninsula demilitarized as part of their US-sponsored 1979 peace treaty. The jamming appeared to catch Israel by surprise, however, prompting what its communications minister said were talks across the border to resolve what he called a “crisis” on Wednesday … According to Israeli officials, Egyptian forces began jamming a range of mobile phone frequencies in Sinai since February 21, disrupting reception in the neighbouring Gaza strip and in Israel. Earlier in February, Egypt launched a major military operation in Sinai against ISIL-linked fighters. “We’ve never seen anything this intensive or protracted. Even the Palestinians have been coming to us, appealing to make it stop,” one Israeli official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Phones had been disrupted as far away as Jerusalem and northern Israel, depending on weather, the official said. Several Palestinian residents of Gaza, close to the Egyptian border, told Reuters they had been experiencing problems with phone service. A source at one of the two Palestinian mobile phone companies said its services were disrupted for a day in the past week in southern Gaza but that the problem had been resolved….

Women journalists in Gaza share their experiences and challenges
IMEMC/Agencies 10 Mar — Women journalists in Gaza are stressing the urgent need to ensure protection for Palestinian women journalists, and to take further measures to seek redress and rehabilitation for those who face psychological and social assaults. They are also addressing the need to expose all Israeli violations against Palestinian journalists to the international community. Moreover, they are recommending the formation of a pressure force on decision makers to reform all current laws which hinder their journalistic activities with all the social challenges. Such recommendations emerged recently, during a meeting organized in Gaza by MADA-The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day, as part of a series of activities organized by the MADA Center in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The meeting was organized in cooperation with the Representative Office of Finland in Ramallah, to legally empower and raise awareness of Palestinian women journalists, especially in light of the doubled violations they are subjected to….

Gazans to start 46-day protest on Land Day
Al Jazeera 7 Mar — Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are planning a six-week-long tent city protest near the Israeli border, starting on March 30, demanding that Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to their homes in Israel, organizers said on Wednesday. Such a demonstration, envisaging families camped out along the border area, could present a dilemma for the Israeli military that enforces a “no-go” zone for Palestinians on land adjacent to Israel’s frontier fence. Palestinian protesters along the Gaza border are frequently confronted by Israeli soldiers with tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition. Ahmed Abu Ayesh, a spokesman for a coordinating committee, said plans were for hundreds or thousands of people, including entire families, to live in tents erected “at the nearest, safe point from the border”. The United Nations, Abu Ayesh said, would be notified of the rally. A statement issued by the organizing committee urged Palestinians in Gaza to take part in this “national project that endorses peaceful resistance as a new way to win our rights, foremost the right of return” of refugees to what is now Israel.
–46-day protest– The protest is set to begin on March 30, the annual “Land Day” commemorating the six Arab citizens of Israel who were killed by Israeli forces during demonstrations in 1976 over land confiscations. It will end, the organizers said, on May 15, the day Palestinians call the “Nakba” or “catastrophe”, marking the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians by the creation of Israel in 1948. Organizers said the protest is supported by several Palestinian political parties. The parties, the organizers added, would have no formal presence at the venue, where portable toilets and food would be supplied…
–Right of return–
The Palestinians’ right of return has been a cornerstone of their demands for any settlement of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinians’ demand that about five million of their compatriots be granted the right to return to lands and homes in Israel that they or their kin lost….

Landmark report on IDF Gaza war crimes allegations due out on Wednesday
JPost 8 Mar by Yonah Jeremy Bob — The report is more than three years in the making and many parties globally, including the International Criminal Court, which is itself examining the same issues, have been awaiting its results — State Comptroller Joseph Shapira announced on Thursday that his bombshell report shedding light on to what extent the IDF complied with international law during the 2014 Gaza war will finally be issued on Wednesday. It is expected to point out new details regarding the Hannibal Protocol incident – in which the most Palestinian civilians were killed – regarding which the IDF still has not issued its legal conclusions. The report is also expected to give the first formal evaluation regarding the competence of Israel’s new legal procedures for investigating its own soldiers for alleged war crimes. These procedures were initiated following a February 2013 quasi-governmental report recommending changes, so the State Comptroller’s Report on 2014’s Operation Protective Edge will be the first take on whether the IDF’s changes were sufficient.

Footage shows soldiers watched while Israeli citizen crossed into Gaza
JPost 8 Mar by Tamara Zieve — Newly released IDF footage shows that Israeli soldiers tried to stop Avraham “Avera” Mengistu from crossing the border into Gaza, but one of those present at the time said the video given to the family by the army had been tampered with to edit out the soldiers. Mengistu, a young Ethiopian-Israeli from Ashkelon who suffers from mental illness, has been missing for three-and-a-half years. It is thought that Hamas has held him in captivity since he scaled the border fence into the Palestinian enclave through Zikim Beach on September 7, 2014. Officials had said that soldiers only arrived on the scene after Mengistu was already in Gaza, but footage aired Wednesday night on Keshet’s investigative journalism program Uvda showed otherwise. Former Givati Brigade soldier Eran Shimoni, one of three soldiers who present at the time, related in an interview on the program how they shouted at Mengistu and fired warning shots to try to stop him from crossing the fence….

Israeli army arrests Gazan for attempting to cross border fence
GAZA (PIC) 11 Mar — The Israeli occupation army on Sunday morning announced arresting a Palestinian youth who allegedly attempted to cross the border fence north of the Gaza Strip. Mivzak website claimed that the Palestinian was armed with a knife and a homemade bomb and was planning to carry out an attack in the place. The Hebrew website pointed out that the detainee was later taken for interrogation at the Shin Bet.

Gaza perimeter agriculture in peril due to water reservoir contamination
Ynet 7 Mar by Matan Tzuri — With Gaza’s sewage treatment facility still nonoperational and Israel having to bear the load of its wastewater, Israeli wastewater reservoirs in strip’s perimeter are paying a toll, as their water becomes so contaminated it can no longer be used for irrigation—hurting the region’s farmers.,7340,L-5148179,00.html

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Israeli army kills a young man with special needs in Hebron
[with video from hospital] IMEMC 9 Mar — Israeli soldiers shot and killed, on Friday evening, a young Palestinian man who was deaf and could not speak, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Palestinian medical sources said the young man, identified as Mohammad Zein al-Ja‘bari, aged 24, was shot by the soldiers with a live round in his chest, in the Bab az-Zawiya area, in the center of Hebron city. They added that the young man suffered very serious wounds and was rushed to a local hospital, but died from his wounds despite all efforts to save his life. It is worth mentioning that the young man could not speak or hear. He was shot after the soldiers resorted to the excessive use of force against Palestinian protesters, firing live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs. He was a married father of one child, only four years of age. The Israeli army claimed that the soldiers shot the Palestinian while he was allegedly “throwing a Molotov cocktail at them,” and added that it is “investigating the incident.”

Israeli soldiers kill a young Palestinian man in Nablus
IMEMC 10 Mar — Israeli soldiers killed, on Saturday evening, a young Palestinian man in the eastern area of ‘Orif village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Medical sources at Rafidia Hospital in Nablus said the Palestinian, identified as Ameer Omar Shehada, 22, was rushed to surgery after suffering a gunshot injury in his chest, but died from his serious wounds. The fatal shooting took place after a group of extremist Israeli colonizers invaded the village, before the locals intercepted them, and clashed with them. Shortly afterwards, dozens of soldiers invaded the town to secure the withdrawal of the Israeli colonizers, and started firing live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades at the Palestinians, while many of them hurled stones at the soldiers. One child, 14 years of age, was shot with a live round in his thigh, while many Palestinians suffered the effects of teargas inhalation….

Palestinian hospitalized after Israeli soldiers assaulted him near Bethlehem
IMEMC 10 Mar — A young Palestinian man was rushed, on Friday evening, to Beit Jala governmental hospital, after Israeli soldiers repeatedly assaulted him, and struck him with their rifles and batons. The young man, identified as Jihad Zawahra, suffered moderate wounds, when a group of soldiers assaulted him after stopping him near the junction of Efrat illegal colony, which was built on private Palestinian lands owned by residents of several villages, south of Bethlehem. His brother, Jawad, said the soldiers attacked Jihad with their rifles, and batons, repeatedly striking him on several parts of his body. The young man, from the al-Ma‘sara village, southwest of Bethlehem, suffered fractures and bruises in the lower back and abdomen and is currently in a moderate condition. It is worth mentioning that this is the second time Jihad is subject to an assault by the soldiers.

Two Palestinians injured in Hezma; Israeli soldiers completely isolate the town
IMEMC 12 Mar — A large military force invaded, on Sunday evening, the town of Hezma [or Hizma], east of occupied East Jerusalem, and completely isolated it from its surrounding area, in addition to forcing all stores to close. The soldiers also assaulted and injured one Palestinian teen, while a colonialist settler rammed another with his car, causing serious injuries. The invasion into the town was carried out by more than twenty armored military jeeps and vehicles, before the soldiers started firing gas bombs, and sprayed many homes and property with waste-water mixed with chemicals. The soldiers also forced shut all stores and shops in the town, in addition to targeting many Palestinians with gas bombs at a junction leading to the town. Furthermore, many soldiers assaulted Hani al-Hilo, 17 years of age, causing fractures, cuts and bruises to various parts of his body, before he was rushed to Ramallah Governmental Hospital. Another Palestinian, identified as Roshdi Yasser al-Khatib, 16, was seriously injured after an Israeli colonialist settler rammed him with his car, and fled the scene. Many Palestinians then started throwing stones at military vehicles and settlers’ cars, while the military fired live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades.

Palestinian boy loses his sight after IDF troops shoot him in the eye
Haaretz 9 Mar by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Paramedics told Mohammed’s mom he was shot in the eye by IDF troops during a demonstration. She felt relieved. At least he’s alive — Ambassadors Garden. The northern entrance to El Bireh, a city abutting Ramallah in the West BankIt’s quiet here now, but things were tempestuous a month ago, on Friday, February 9, one of the recent “days of rage” in the West Bank. A few dozen children and adolescents made their way to the road that day, throwing stones at the IDF soldiers positioned opposite them. The 20 or so soldiers who were scattered on the hills around the road opened fire in order to push the children back toward the playground. All sorts of ammunition were used: live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and of course tear-gas grenades. The youngsters retreated to Ambassadors Garden, the soldiers hot on their heels. Two soldiers stood on the crushed fence near the pink bathrooms, and opened fire. It was about 2 P.M. Fourteen-year-old Mohammed Nubani was standing in the sandy area next to the swings, about 20 meters away from the soldiers. Suddenly he felt a powerful blow to the face. Blood spurted from one eye. He pressed his hand against his eye, trying to quell the searing pain; blackness swirled around him and he grew dizzy but somehow managed to stay on his feet. He had no idea what was happening. Nor did he see the soldier who had fired the bullet coated in black rubber that smashed into his eye socket and lodged there … The bullet struck Mohammed’s optic nerve and probably destroyed it. This week he was examined by a British eye specialist who works in a clinic in Anabta, next to Tul Karm; he too could offer them no hope….

Israeli settler rams car into Palestinian youth, runs away
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 11 Mar — An Israeli settler driving at high speed hit a Palestinian boy afternoon Sunday and fled the scene. According to local sources, an Israeli settler who was driving at high speed rammed his car into a Palestinian youth and fled right away, leaving the boy bleeding on the ground. Israeli forces said a probe was launched to investigate the hit-and-run incident.
The youngster, aged 17, sustained injuries in his head and was evacuated by local medics to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah, his family said. Another Palestinian young man sustained wounds after dozens of Israelis residing in Yitzhar illegal settlement assaulted Palestinian lands in Nablus’s southern town of Madama and uprooted olive trees. Heavily armed Israeli patrols showed up in the area and targeted the Palestinian locals with heavy spates of bullet fire and teargas canisters. A young man reportedly sustained injuries in his feet after Israeli settlers beat him using an iron bar. He was transferred to Rafidia Hospital for treatment.

Israeli settlers attack village near Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 10 Mar – Dozens of Israeli Jewish settlers Saturday attacked the village of al-Tuwwaneh, in Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, according to local sources. Rateb Jabour, coordinator of the anti-settlements popular committee in southern Hebron, told WAFA that a group of settlers from the illegal Israeli settlements of Ma’on and Havat Ma’on attacked the village under Israeli army protection and threw stones at the defenseless Palestinians. He said residents got into a brawl with the settlers and Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and stun grenades at the village residents causing several cases of suffocation due to inhaling gas. Jabour said the settlers uprooted 18 olive trees in the village and broke the glass of two vehicles as well as causing damage to the car body.

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian farmers in West Bank
NABLUS (WAFA) 8 Mar – Israeli Jewish settlers attacked on Thursday Palestinian farmers while they were ploughing their land in the village of al-Sawiyeh, south of Nablus, according to a local official. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in northern West Bank district, said settlers from the illegal settlement of Rahalim, built on al-Sawiyeh land, attacked the farmers and prevented them from ploughing their land. The settlers also destroyed 40 fully grown olive trees owned by the Salman family.

Israeli colonizers attack Palestinian children in Silwan
IMEMC 11 Mar — On Saturday evening, a group of Israeli colonizers illegally living in colonies in Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied East Jerusalem, attacked many Palestinian children in Batn al-Hawa neighborhood. Eyewitnesses said the assailants attacked many children near an illegal colonialist outpost in the town. The children were playing when the colonialists assaulted them, before many residents rushed to their aid, leading to clashes. Israeli soldiers then rushed to the area and started firing gas bombs and concussion grenades at the Palestinians and their homes. The army also summoned for interrogation Zoheir Rajabi, who represents the Palestinians in the neighborhood. In is worth mentioning that Silwan town, especially Batn al-Hawa neighborhood, is subject to constant attempts by heavily funded colonialist organizations to control its building and increase the settler population. The groups managed to occupy and control several buildings, and turned them into colonies, an issue which placed further hardships and obstacles to the Palestinians

Israeli police ban marathon in Jerusalem, arrest two
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 9 Mar – Israeli police on Friday prevented Palestinian activists from organizing a marathon in Jerusalem that was to coincide with another marathon by Israeli settlers, according to local sources. Police also arrested activist Mohammad Abul-Hummus, one of the organizers of the marathon, after assaulting him and confiscating his vehicle, in addition to confiscating Palestine flags at the scene. The police also arrested another Palestinian identified as Fadi Mutawir who was at the scene of the marathon, which was supposed to take place outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on Friday afternoon. The marathon was supposed to take place in response to another marathon by Israeli settlers under the auspices of the Israeli municipality of occupied Jerusalem.

Birzeit student union president Omar Kiswani arrested on campus
[with video] Al Jazeera 8 Mar by Mersiha Gadzo — Israeli undercover forces arrested Omar Kiswani, president of student union at Birzeit University, for second time — Israeli forces have arrested Omar Kiswani, president of the student council at Birzeit University, near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday. Online video footage showed six men dressed in civilian clothing pinning Kiswani to the ground, kicking and beating him while a few of them fired gunshots on campus. According to Birzeit University, the group attacked Kiswani, 24, in front of the student council building. Another armed Israeli unit had detained the university’s guards in a room and “proceeded to use their firearms against the students while providing cover for the kidnapping operation”. “They were carrying guns inside their bags, they disguised as students and started shooting in broad daylight,” said Sondos Hamad, coordinator of the Right to Education campaign. “They took him to the western gate of the university where Israeli military forces were waiting for him with their jeeps. We don’t know where he is now.”… This is the second time Kiswani has been arrested. Previously, he spent a year in an Israeli jail due to his participation in a Hamas-affiliated group on campus. According to the Right to Education campaign, arrests of Palestinian students on campus in the occupied West Bank are common. “We believe his arrest has to do with his status as student president,” Hamad said. “They tried to arrest him last week as well but he ran away,” he added. Hamad explained that a similar scenario occurred at the beginning of 2017 when two students were arrested at the campus gate by Israeli soldiers disguised as civilians. There are currently more than 60 students from Birzeit University imprisoned in Israeli jails …  Students at Birzeit University told Al Jazeera that affiliation with any political bloc, whether it is Fatah or Hamas, is prohibited by Israeli military orders….

Israeli soldiers abduct 10 Palestinians in Jerusalem
IMEMC 12 Mar — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Monday at dawn, ten Palestinians during massive and violent searches of homes, in many parts of occupied Jerusalem, and moved them to several detention and interrogation facilities. In Silwan town, in the center of Jerusalem, the soldiers abducted Ayyoub Abu ‘Assab, Hafeth Dirbas, Mohammad Nimir Dirbas, Ayyoub al-Hindi, Saleh Na‘im Moheisin and Mahmoud Gharib. Furthermore, the soldiers invaded homes in the Salam area, near Shu‘fat refugee camp in Jerusalem, and abducted Adnan Aramin and Mohammad Zeidan. In ‘Anata nearby town, the soldiers abducted Amin Fathi Hamdan, while Tareq Kayyala was taken prisoner from Shu‘fat refuge camp. Media sources in Jerusalem said the violent searches of homes led to excessive damage and caused anxiety attacks among many children.

Opinion: IDF soldiers play ‘Fauda’ at a Palestinian university to entertain Israel / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 11 Mar — Omar Kiswani – arrested by Israeli forces in a raid on a Palestinian university in what seemed like a scene taken from Fauda – is yet another political detainee — … The action series “Fauda” is now portraying soldiers who go undercover as Palestinians, while the real undercover soldiers are sitting at their bases, not to mention at home. On an especially good day they go out on daring missions over enemy lines; they blend into stone-throwing demonstrations by schoolchildren and stop two kids with slingshots. “Fauda” is a success. This is the way Israelis like to see the Jewish heroes and the Arabs. Sometimes you just need a little “Fauda” in your life. Why not do “Fauda” at a university? In real life, the forces set out at dawn. The Border Police counterterrorism unit was armed with cameras to broadcast footage on the TV news. The destination: Birzeit University in Ramallah, “the Hamas wasp’s nest.” The target: the office of student union chief Omar Kiswani, an “arch-terrorist,” as the field coordinator in the Shin Bet security service probably told his subcontractors in the counterterrorism unit, heroes when facing off against students. The mission was quickly completed. A great success. The Temple Mount is in our hands and now so is Kiswani. The student leader was dragged violently at gunpoint down the walks of the manicured and modern Birzeit campus, before the amazed eyes of the students. In the war on terror, you know, anything goes. Even breaking the unwritten rule that military and police forces don’t enter campuses, as ridiculous as it is to still mention this. The next day, classes weren’t held at Birzeit, which was immersed in shock and justified anger at the people who had done this. No Israeli university let out a peep, of course … How wretched is a regime that abducts a student leader from his campus and how tyrannical. But the real wretchedness is the response by Israeli society and especially academia. Just another pleasant evening of action TV.

Protests and other acts of  resistance

Israeli soldiers injure and abduct many Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza Strip
IMEMC 9 Mar — Israeli soldiers resorted, Friday, to the excessive use of force against protesters across the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, and injured and abducted many protesters, as the weekly processions continue for the 14th consecutive week against the illegal U.S. recognition of occupied Jerusalem as the unified capital of Israel. One Palestinian suffered a life-threatening injury in Hebron. The soldiers assaulted the protesters with clubs and batons, in addition to firing dozens of live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades. Medical sources said many Palestinians were shot with live fire,  rubber-coated steel bullets, and dozens suffered the effects of teargas inhalation.
In Hebron, in southern West Bank, the soldiers shot and seriously injured a young Palestinian man in Bab az-Zawiya area, in the center of the city. The young man was shot with a live round in the chest, before he was rushed to Alia governmental hospital.
In occupied Jerusalem, the Israeli police and soldiers abducted two young Palestinian men, and confiscated the car of one of them for  organizing a Palestinian Marathon to counter the Marathon the City Council is holding for Israeli colonizers and internationals. In Ramallah governorate, in central West Bank, the soldiers shot two Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets and caused dozens to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation in the al-Mazra‘a al-Gharbiyya village, northwest of the city.
The Palestinians marched towards lands (4000 Dunams) the army intends to illegally confiscate to pave a new road linking the illegal colonies of Telmon, Halamish and Ateret with each other. The soldiers also targeted many journalists and medics with gas bombs, causing some to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. In Salfit, in central West Bank, the soldiers shot two Palestinians with live fire, and injured several others with gas bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets …
Nonviolent protests were also held in Bil‘in and Ni‘lin villages, west of Ramallah, in addition to Deir Nitham and Nabi Saleh, north of the city….

How Palestinian women led successful non-violent resistance
RAMALLAH, Occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 8 Mar by Mersiha Gadzo — …The greatest predictor of a movement’s decision to adopt non-violence is its ideology regarding the role of women. When a movement includes gender equality in its discourse, it dramatically increases the chances it will adopt non-violence and the likelihood it will succeed. Two Palestinian women shared with Al Jazeera their stories of how they led successful non-violent protests against the Israeli occupation during the First and Second Intifada….

Video: From BDS to the Tamimis, Palestinians defend their rights
The Real News 10 Mar — The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah says US-backed Israeli efforts to criminalize the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement and to silence protesters like the Tamimi family are backfiring as Palestinians and their allies fight back.

Jerusalemites perform Friday prayers outdoors to protest Israel’s policies
JERUSALEM 9 Mar – For the sixth consecutive Friday, thousands of Palestinian worshipers from al-‘Issawiya neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem performed Friday prayers in the open in protest about the unjust policies of the Israeli authorities in the city.
Worshipers gathered at the main entrance to the neighborhood and performed Friday prayers there in protest about the Israeli occupation’s unjust policies, on top of which are the continuing home demolitions, heavy and unreasonable taxation, raids and searches of homes, and almost daily arrests of Palestinians from the neighborhood. Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, head of the Supreme Islamic Council in Jerusalem, led the Friday sermon and prayers and called on the worshipers for more steadfastness and unity in the face of the unjust Israeli practices.

Prisoners / Court actions

Palestinian prisoner who was held after his release freed by court
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 8 Mar – An Israeli court Thursday ordered release with a condition of a Palestinian prisoner after he was re-arrested before walking out of prison on Wednesday, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). The Israeli security service arrested Mamoun Farhat, from East Jerusalem, on the day he was going to be released from Naqab desert prison in the south of the country after serving a five-year prison sentence for throwing a Molotov cocktail at Israeli forces in Jerusalem. PPS attorney Mufeed al-Hajj said the Israel court, which looked into Farhat’s re-arrest case, decided to set him free on condition he does not take part in an rally or demonstration for 180 days. Hajj said after Farhat’s re-arrest that Israel has been employing the policy or re-arresting prisoners on their release day to deprive their families and friends from celebrating their release. The court condition will make it very difficult, if not impossible, for Farhat’s family and friends to hold street celebration for his release because the event would be looked at as demonstration or rally and would risk his re-arrest for violating his release condition.

Israeli policeman charged with assaulting Palestinian minor to elicit false confession
Haaretz 12 Mar by Josh Breiner — A police detective has been charged with beating a Palestinian minor to get him to confess to throwing rocks at cars driven by Israelis. Despite the seriousness of the offense, the Justice Ministry’s department for the investigation of police officers charged the detective with a lesser assault crime. The incident came to light when a voice recording of the interview-under-duress was found in the police case files given to the suspect’s lawyer. In the recording, detective Yehuda Gigi can allegedly be heard beating the Palestinian, who was around 17 years old. The recording was presumably accidental. The lawyers of the boy and a cousin who was arrested with him raised the matter of the assault after listening to the recording, resulting in the complaint to the ministry’s unit for investigations of police. According to the charge sheet filed in Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court in January, in November 2016 Mohammed Shakir of Salfit, a Palestinian town adjacent to the settlement of Ariel, was arrested on suspicion of throwing rocks. The investigation file indicates that Shakir and a cousin decided to throw rocks after quarreling with their parents. “We wanted to be caught by the army to get attention from our parents,” they told detectives, adding that they acted out of boredom. The teens walked along Route 5 near the Ariel intersection at night and began throwing rocks at passing cars. Military security cameras recorded the two throwing stones. Afterward they sat down, in what they later said was part of their plan to be arrested by the army … “The security cameras showed that they didn’t throw rocks at cars and even stopped throwing when cars passed. They didn’t mean to hurt anyone. When [Shakir] told [Gigi] he didn’t intend to hurt anyone, the detective tried to get a different answer out of him using violence,” relates Majdulin Agbaria, a lawyer who represented Shakir and his cousin….


Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Judaization

Israel passes law to strip residency of Jerusalem’s Palestinians
Al Jazeera 7 Mar — The Israeli parliament has passed a law that allows the minister of interior to revoke the residency rights of any Palestinian in Jerusalem on grounds of a “breach of loyalty” to Israel. The bill, ratified on Wednesday, will also apply in cases where residency status was obtained on the basis of false information, and in cases where “an individual committed a criminal act” in the view of the interior ministry. Under the new measure, Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, leader of the ultra-Orthodox political party Shas, will be able to strip the residency documents of any Palestinian whom he deems a threat.  Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), described the law as “an extremely racist piece of legislation …
–‘Security of Israeli citizens’–  Despite Israel’s claims that occupied East Jerusalem is part of its “eternal, undivided” capital, the Palestinians who are born and live there do not hold Israeli citizenship, unlike their Jewish counterparts. Palestinians in the city are given “permanent residency” ID cards and temporary Jordanian passports that are only used for travel purposes. They are essentially stateless, stuck in legal limbo – they are not citizens of Israel, nor are they citizens of Jordan or Palestine. The new bill will only worsen the difficult conditions for the 420,000 Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem, who are treated as foreign immigrants by the state. Any Palestinian who has lived outside of Jerusalem for a certain period of time, whether in a foreign country or even in the occupied West Bank, is at risk of losing their right to live there. Since 1967, Israel has revoked the status of at least 14,000 Palestinians. In a statement on his Twitter page, Deri, the interior minister, said this law would allow him to protect the “security of Israeli citizens”.  Deri, who was, in the past, convicted of bribery, fraud and “breach of trust”, said the law would “be used against permanent residents who plan to carry out attacks against Israeli citizens”.
–Illegal under international law– Adalah, a Palestinian rights group in Israel, said the law is illegal under international humanitarian law. “East Jerusalem is considered occupied territory under international humanitarian law (IHL) – like all other areas of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – and its Palestinian residents are a protected civilian population. It is therefore illegal under IHL to impose upon them an obligation of loyalty to the occupying power, let alone to deny them the permanent residency status on this basis,” a statement by the group said. In a recent report, Human Rights Watch said such residency revocations, which force Palestinians out of Jerusalem, “could amount to war crimes” under the treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC)….

Israeli judiciary orders eviction of Jerusalem property for settlers
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 11 Mar – The Israeli judiciary has ordered the eviction of the Saeed Odeh family from the building where they live in Batn al-Hawa neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, according to Wadi Hilweh Information Center. The center said members of the right-wing Jewish group Ateret Cohanim handed the judicial order on Sunday to the family of deceased Saeed Odeh asking them to leave the building, for allegedly being constructed on a plot which has been the property of Jewish individuals since 1889. Yaqoub Rajabi, who represents the citizens of Batn al-Hawa, dismissed the Israeli narrative saying the land plot belongs to Odeh family who purchased it during the 1970s. He said the family were also able to obtain construction permits from the Israeli authorities about 20 years ago. The building includes eight apartments with a total population of 50 persons, most of them children … Rajabi expressed fear that the new eviction order could be the start of new eviction notices in the Batn al-Hawa neighborhood.

Palestinian farmer forced to leave his land for not having permit from settlement
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 10 Mar – The Israeli army forced a Palestinian farmer on Saturday to leave his land in the town of al-Khader, south of Bethlehem, claiming he did not have permission to be on his land, according to a local activist. Ahmad Salah, member of the anti-settlement committee in al-Khader, told WAFA that the army held Mousa Issa, 60, for a while and then ordered him to leave his land because he did not coordinate being on his land with the security at the illegal settlement of Efrat.  Issa was told that he needs to get permission from the settlement guards first if he wants to be on his land.

Israeli officials prevent Umm al Fahm from naming streets after Palestinian leaders
AIC News 5 Mar — Of the 301 street names selected by the Umm al-Fahm municipality, the Israeli Interior Ministry has stalled the approval of 60. All of the street names that have not been approved, Adalah: the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel reports, bear the names of Palestinian leaders, such as Mahmoud Darwish, Yasser Arafat, and Umm al-Fahm’s former mayors. Attorney for Adalah Sawsan Zaher emphasizes that under Israeli law, the Interior Minister has no authority to prevent a municipality from naming streets as it wishes. Israeli municipalities are required by law only to notify the Ministry of new street names.
Member of Knesset Yousef Jabareen (Joint List), who is also a resident of the city, explains: “The right to a residential address is a citizen’s basic right and it is inconceivable that in the 21st century in a city of 60,000 residents such as Umm al-Fahm, there are no street names or house numbers. The naming of streets is not strictly a technical matter, but rather allows the commemoration of cultural identity and national narrative. The Interior Ministry’s red tape is part of the ongoing denial of our unique identity as a national homeland minority. Adalah and Jabareen sent a letter to Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit demanding the approval of the list of street names submitted by Umm al-Fahm. Umm al-Fahem, with a population of 60,000, is one of the largest Palestinian cities within Israel’s 1948 borders.

Foreign ministry: Settlers’ measures in Ibrahimi Mosque a serious and unprecedented escalation
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 9 Mar – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Friday slammed Israeli settlers’ erection of tents in the yards of al-Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron as a serious and unprecedented escalation aimed at Judaizing the Ibrahimi Mosque and its surroundings and the Old City of Hebron. The ministry in a statement condemned in the strongest terms settlers’ erection of tents in the yards of al-Ibrahimi mosque, stressing that such measures come as part of the occupation’s measures aimed at committing the largest forced displacement of Palestinians from the Old City of Hebron. The ministry held the Israeli government, headed by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, fully and directly responsible for the continued attacks on Palestinian Muslim and Christian holy sites, slamming the latest settlers’ measures in al-Ibrahimi mosque as a flagrant violation of international law, international humanitarian law, Geneva conventions, and signed agreements….

Israeli forces raid Palestinian cemetery, attack graves in O. J’lem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 12 Mar — Israeli police forces stormed Monday morning al-Mujahidin cemetery in occupied Jerusalem and vandalized the graves of Palestinian martyrs, the PIC field reporter said. Several Palestinian gravestones at the cemetery were found desecrated early today, according to our reporter. Earlier Sunday, an Israeli police officer was seen filming a number of graves at the cemetery belonging to the martyrs Abdul Malik Abu Kharoub, Thaer Abu Ghazala, Baha’ Alian, Mohammed Abu Khalaf, Abdul Mohsen Hassouna and Mohammed Jamal Al Kalouti. The attack came as part of Israeli attempts to prevent any sort of glorifying resistance fighters.

Israeli forces seize equipment during road construction near Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 11 Mar – Israeli forces Sunday seized equipment and machines used to open an agricultural road in the town of Qabalan, to the south of the city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, according to local sources. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, told WAFA that soldiers seized a bulldozer and a truck while they were working to open a road in Qabalan. He said Israeli forces have clamped down on local Palestinian residents in favor of Israeli Jewish settlers in neighboring illegal settlements.

Racism / Discrimination

Bedouin workers claim they face discrimination in Sderot school
Ynet 8 Mar by Matan Tzuri — Contractor who hires female Bedouin cleaners complains they face racism, school insists it simply wants cleaning after classes while parents voice unease at ‘fear children feel when a woman all covered up enters the school.’ — A contractor who hires out female Bedouin cleaners to a school in the southern city of Sderot has slammed what he describes as consistently discriminatory and humiliating treatment that has been shown by parents of the students …  “I drop cleaners off in Sderot every day at two schools and the treatment is humiliating. They removed a worker from the school yesterday and forced her to wait for a full hour in the sun until the children had gone,” he claimed.“Their problem, and everyone knows it, is that they don’t want to see an Arab woman. They tell stories in order to cover up their racism. I’ve been living with this every day since I started working in Sderot.” According to the contractor, his conclusions are not based on mere conjecture. “Everyone has complained to my face, ‘we don’t want Arab women, we don’t want Arab women.’ They are legal and organized cleaning workers. They simply don’t want to accept anyone different,” he argued. “They’ve been working for me for seven years, they worked in other schools and there was no problem. But in the religious school in Sderot they simply got rid of her. She left there crying. I had to beg her to return to work.”,7340,L-5150369,00.html

East Jerusalem residents decry Population Authority waiting times
Ynet 10 Mar by hassan Shaalan — Residents of the eastern portion of the capital are forced to wait for six or more months to receive appointments at the Wadi al-Joz offices of the Population Authority; ‘It’s abuse, there’s no protection from sun or rain,’ resident complains; Authority says steps ‘under review’ to correct situation … Congestion at the offices is so enormous, moreover, that dozens of people arrive in the wee hours of the morning to receive an optimal place in line. “We wait outside the building for hours and sometimes go home without ever having received service,” one resident said. “There’s no cover to protect those waiting from the sun, rains or cold.” Said Salim, a resident of the Mount of Olives, said, “I’m an Israeli citizen and am not able to issue a passport for my wife, my children and myself. If I have one issued at Ben Gurion Airport it’ll cost a fortune. I can’t book an appointment either and no one answers the phones. Why this disrespect? We can’t even take out a new I.D. card. They’re abusing us.”….,7340,L-5154747,00.html

Footage shows Population Authority security guard swearing at Jerusalem resident
[with video] Ynet 11 Mar by Hassan Shaalan — A security guard at the Immigration and Population Authority’s east Jerusalem office was filmed screaming and swearing at an east Jerusalem resident. The video, taken several days ago, joins accounts by many locals decrying conditions in the Authority’s east Jerusalem branch, forcing them to wait several months for an audience and stand outside without protection from the elements.  The security guard working at the Authority’s offices in the Wadi al-Joz neighborhood of east Jerusalem was filmed saying, “Give me your I.D., I’ll f*** you up.” The outburst purportedly came after the man filmed long lines at the office with his cell phone, in order to illustrate what he described as the suffering experienced by those waiting to receive service there. The security guard demanded he stop filming, but he countered by saying, “There’s no law forbidding documentation of suffering at public institutions.” The security guard is then said to have sworn at him and threatened him … The Immigration and Population Authority offered comment, saying, “Security guards working at the Authority’s offices nationwide are constantly briefed to treat the public with sensitivity and dignity and indeed do so every day, for long hours. We regret the incident deeply and will certainly examine the circumstances leading up to it.”,7340,L-5157164,00.html

Palestinian refugees

UNRWA mobilizes efforts to maintain services
IMEMC/Agencies 11 Mar — The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is mobilizing efforts to raise funds needed to maintain its services offered to Palestine refugees. Adnan abu-Hasna, spokesman of the UNRWA, said on Saturday that the international organization is preparing to hold an international conference in Rome next Thursday, to discuss its crisis. Due to a severe lack of funds, the UNRWA has suspended a number of its basic assistance programs, adding more pain to the wounds of Palestinian refugees. The ongoing shortage of funds, according to Abu-Hasna, is the worst financial crisis that UNRWA has ever experienced since 1949, when it was first established. “We invited all the donors and members of advisory committee to this important and decisive conference which will discuss the UNRWA’s financial crisis,” Abu-Hasna said. The conference is one of the UNRWA’s activities aimed to raise funds to cover the accumulating financial requirements after the decision of the US administration to dramatically reduce its contributions to the humanitarian agency by $65m.


WA court dismisses seven-year lawsuit over boycott of Israeli goods
OLYMPIA, WA (CCR) 9 Mar — Today, a Washington State court ended a seven-year litigation battle against former volunteer board members of the Olympia Food Co-op over their decision to boycott Israeli goods. The lawsuit was first filed in 2011 by five co-op members seeking to block the co-op’s boycott and to collect monetary damages against the board members. Two of the five members pulled out of the case, and none of the defendants originally named in the case remains a board member of the co-op. The court granted the motion for summary judgment from the former board members, who were represented by Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel, finding the plaintiffs had no standing to bring a case because they failed to show the co-op was injured. “We are pleased that the court has dismissed this meritless lawsuit.  It is a relief and a vindication for our clients, and a victory for everyone who supports the right to boycott,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Deputy Legal Director Maria LaHood, who argued today … Lawyers say the lawsuit is part of a broad and growing pattern of suppressing activism in support of Palestinian rights, a phenomenon that CCR and Palestine Legal have documented and called the “Palestine Exception” to free speech. CCR and Palestine Legal report the widespread use of administrative disciplinary actions, harassment, firings, legislative attacks, false accusations of terrorism and antisemitism, and baseless legal complaints. Between 2014 and 2016, Palestine Legal responded to 650 such incidents of suppression targeting speech supportive of Palestinian rights….

Other news

Palestinian parliament to convene for rare session next month, PLO official says
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) 7 Mar — The Palestinian parliament will convene next month for a rare session and discuss U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a U.S. policy change that outraged Palestinians, an official said on Wednesday. The 700-member body last met in 2009, in what was termed an emergency session, to replace six of the 18 members of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the largest party in the parliament … [PLO official Wasel Abu] Youssef said members of parliament from the Palestinian territories and in exile would also elect members to the Executive Committee and the PLO’s Central Council to replace several who have died and others, whom political sources said Abbas wants replaced. The PNC last held a regular session in 1996, in the presence of then-U.S. President Bill Clinton. At that meeting, the parliament voted in favor of amending clauses in the PLO’s charter that advocated Israel’s destruction. A Palestinian general election has not been held since 2006, a national ballot won by the Hamas Islamist movement….

Palestinians reject US invitation to Gaza ‘stakeholder’ summit
Al Jazeera 10 Mar — The Palestinian Authority (PA) has rejected an invitation by the White House to attend a Gaza “stakeholders” summit next week, a senior official of the self-government body said. Ahmad Majdalani told the Voice of Palestine radio on Friday that the PA would not attend the meeting, saying that the issue in Gaza was “political par excellence”. “The United States is well aware that the real cause of the tragedy of the Gaza Strip is the unjust Israeli siege. What is needed is a political solution to this issue, not a humanitarian,” he said. Jason Greenblatt, an assistant to President Donald Trump, said that the meeting on March 13 will be a brainstorming session devoted to solving the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and to improving life in the besieged enclave. “In response to the burgeoning humanitarian situation in Gaza, key countries and stakeholders are preparing to act: There was a meeting in Cairo on Thursday, and there will be a brainstorming session at the White House next week to find real solutions to the problems that Hamas has caused,” Greenblatt wrote on Thursday in an op-ed in The Washington Post.

Trump envoy blames Hamas for Gaza ‘disaster’, whitewashes Israel blockade
MEMO 9 Mar — Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, has attacked Hamas in an op-ed in the Washington Post, and announced that the White House will soon be “brainstorming” for solutions to the situation in the occupied Gaza Strip. According to Greenblatt, “in response to the burgeoning humanitarian situation in Gaza, key countries and stakeholders are preparing to act”, placing the blame for the “humanitarian disaster” entirely on “Hamas’ exploitation of the Palestinians of Gaza”. The envoy referenced a recent meeting in Cairo, and revealed “there will be a brainstorming session at the White House next week to find real solutions to the problems that Hamas has caused”. The “Gaza conference” in Washington will, Greenblatt said, “focus on ideas for how to develop, over time, a viable economy in Gaza”, taking into account “Egypt’s and Israel’s security concerns”….

Video: Israel lobby doesn’t want Al Jazeera to spill its secrets
The Real News 10 Mar — Qatar is under pressure to bury an undercover Al Jazeera documentary that exposes the Israel Lobby in the US. Asa Winstanley of the Electronic Intifada says the film’s key revelations include the close cooperation between the neocon Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the Israeli government.

New tax plan set to increase Palestinians’ burdens
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 8 Mar by Rasha Abou Jalal — In an attempt to compensate for threats of US aid cuts, the Palestinian Authority is revamping its tax system to expand the tax liability of citizens, which could have a catastrophic impact on Palestinians — The Palestinian Cabinet announced Feb. 27 in a statement it released after the end of its weekly video conference session in Ramallah and Gaza City new tax measures to increase local revenues. The statement noted that the 2018 budget amounts to $5.8 billion, with revenues of about $4 billion and foreign funding of $775 million. The increase in expenses will exceed the increase in revenues by 11%. As per the statement, these measures aim at curbing the 2018 budgetary deficit that accounts for $1 billion and at facing the dwindling foreign subsidies that the Palestinian Authority (PA) relies on to cover the deficit. Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said during budgetary deliberations with businessmen and representatives of civil society associations in Ramallah Feb. 19 that foreign subsidies for the Palestinian budget dropped by 70%, compared to 2010. The government’s statement mentioned that the tax measures include “developing the tax system through tax liability by widening the base of taxpayers, attracting new taxpayers and limiting tax evasion.” ….

Video: Highly educated Palestinian women struggle to find jobs
10 Mar — Although they are among the most educated in the region, unemployment is high for Palestinian women under the Israeli occupation — Women in Palestine are largely more educated than men. Thirteen percent hold university degrees, compared to nine percent of the male population. But despite their high level of education, many women struggle to find job opportunities. Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett reports from the occupied West Bank.

Haim Hanegbi Bajayo, the Palestinian Hebronite Jew
AIC 2 Mar by Ahmad Jaradat — A native of the Jewish community of Hebron and founder of Matzpen, Haim Hanegbi Bajayo passes away on March 2nd, 2018 — The Palestinian and Hebronite Jew, as he liked to say. The man who formed a committee of Hebronite Jews after 1967 to stand against the settlement project and settlers in Hebron. The man who in 1967 published a strong statement to the Hebron municipality, asking it to take full sponsorship of Jewish properties and homes in the city, emphasizing that the Hebronite Jews would not return to their homes until the Palestinian refugees return to their land and cities and homes. The man who wished his body could be buried in Hebron. The man who met most Palestinian leaders, including Arafat. The man who said I am against the Zionists, who fought not only in solidarity with the Palestinians, but as a leftist against this state and its nature. The man known by the Palestinians in Hebron as Haim Bajayo, who is respected there as a true fighter for justice. The man who said Hebron is in my heart. Years ago Haim and I walked the streets of Hebron. I asked why he looked so sad and he said for two reasons. One, I am seeing the settlers occupying my home. And two, I am remembering my life here. He said to me, I am Palestinian. My nationality is Palestinian. The settlers occupied my home like the rest of the Palestinians. Because of this I fight the occupation. Haim Hanegbi, Haim Bajayo passes away today. This is a sad moment.

WATCH: Tourism to the West Bank and the persistence of hope
Israeli Social TV 6 Mar — Millions of tourists come to the West Bank every year, but Israel decides who can visit, and only a small fraction of the tourists ever stay in Palestinian hotels and guesthouses or use Palestinian guides. We visit a Palestinian guesthouse in Sebastia and hear how the owner, Ahmad, manages to remain optimistic.

Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel receives 50,000 visitors by its first anniversary
IMEMC/Agencies 11 Mar — The Walled Off Hotel, located next to the Israeli apartheid wall with the “worst view in the world”  has just celebrated its first anniversary with over 50,000 visitors. The hotel, designed by the British graffiti artist Banksy, contains visual artworks about the occupation and apartheid, and has brought international attention since it overlooks an Israeli military tower and checkpoint south of Bethlehem. According to the PNN, the celebration included a second collective exhibition of the works of 20 senior Palestinian artists in the homeland and abroad, under the title “Beit Byout,” and was sponsored by the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, headed by minister Rula Maay‘a. The first collective exhibition lasted for one year, where most of the exhibited paintings were sold. In addition, there is an individual exhibition that is changed every two months to give artists the opportunity to participate and show their art to the world. The ceremony was attended foreign consuls, foreign and local officials, and international visitors. At the beginning of the ceremony, Hotel Manager, Wissam Salsa’ welcomed the guests, noting that Bethlehem has become a destinations for internationals, with the hotel being one of the leading places to visit in the city, since it  reflects the reality in Palestine and raises awareness of the Palestinian cause on an international level…. (listserv)