Commentary: At 31, my first glimpse of life outside Gaza / Abier Almasri
Reuters 16 Mar — I was born and grew up in Gaza. My father was a soccer coach for many years and his stories about his travels to other countries always made me want to travel too. But Israel imposed a land, air and sea blockade on Gaza in 2007 and has kept Gaza mostly closed ever since. So I never made it out until now, at age 31, I was allowed to leave – for just a little while … The prospect of leaving the 25-by-7-mile territory for the first time in my life made me so anxious I could not sleep the night before my scheduled departure. It didn’t help knowing I would have to travel without my laptop, any food, or even shampoo and toothpaste, because Israeli authorities forbid Palestinians leaving Gaza from carrying any of these items. I also knew from talking to fellow Gaza residents who had missed out on scholarship opportunities or were prevented from obtaining necessary medical care that Israel could always bar me from leaving at the last moment without offering any reason at all … Though, as the crow flies, the distance between my home in the Gaza Strip and Jordan’s capital is less than 100 miles, the trip took us 12 hours. I arrived in Amman at 6 p.m., exhausted but happy. I got into a taxi, and opened the window. I felt like a prisoner released on bail, thrilled just to breathe unpolluted air and to see open space, so much light and no darkness. I walked Amman’s streets, filming myself in videos talking about how it feels to breathe freedom for the first time, so I could bring these feelings with me when I returned home. I got my U.S. visa and flew to New York a week later … Friends and family back home keep asking, “How’s life outside Gaza?” I can’t answer. How to tell people who live on four to six hours of electricity daily that high-rise buildings in New York leave their lights on 24 hours a day, simply because it looks nice? How it feels to live without generator noises, the deafening roar of Israeli military drones at night, or the constant fear of imminent conflict? Or that you can hop on a bus, train or plane on a whim, without needing a permit, and travel across the world? ….
UPDATE: Israeli forces injure 20 Palestinians at Gaza border clashes
GAZA (WAFA) 16 Mar – At least 20 Palestinian protesters were injured by Israeli forces’ gunfire during clashes at many locations along the eastern and northern border of the Gaza Strip on Friday, according to local sources. Israeli army opened gunfire at protesters to the east of Khan Younes, in southern Gaza Strip, injuring four of them with live bullets. The protesters were demonstrating to mark 100 days since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The injured were moved to nearby hospitals for medical treatment. Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers stationed at borderline watchtowers opened gunfire at protesters who were gathering near Nahal Oz military base, at the Gaza-Israel border to the east of Gaza city, injuring seven of them with live bullets. The injured were moved to nearby Shifa hospital for medical treatment. Four protesters were also injured during concurrent clashes with Israeli army to the east of Jabalia town, in northern Gaza Strip. A fifth protester was hit and injured by an Israeli teargas canister in his head during the same clashes. In the meantime, one protester was injured during clashes with Israeli forces near Beit Hanoun border crossing, north of Gaza.
One wounded in Israeli military attack on Gaza following roadside bomb
IMEMC 17 Mar — The Israeli military reported, Saturday, that their troops stationed at the Gaza border fired a number of tank shells into an area east of Gaza City, injuring one Palestinian. The attack followed the explosion of an improvised device near the border. No Israelis were wounded by the improvised explosive device, which went off near the border between Gaza and Israel, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. The tank shells targeted an area that Israel suspected of being a training ground for Hamas fighters. WAFA correspondents said Israeli artillery fired four missiles into an agricultural area east of Gaza, injuring one local citizen and causing damage to the site.
Earlier on Saturday, Israeli soldiers opened fire at several Palestinian farmers, and shepherds, east Gaza, and in the al-Fakhari area, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the besieged coastal region. Meanwhile, Israeli navy ships fired dozens of live rounds and fishing boats, in the Sudaniyya Sea area, northwest of Gaza city.
The incident Saturday follows another on Thursday in which Israeli forces dropped five bombs on Palestinian observation towers and structures after two improvised explosive devices exploded near some Israeli soldiers on patrol along the border with Gaza.
According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, the Palestinian who was wounded on Saturday was taken to al-Shifa Hospital, in Gaza City. He has not been identified.
Israeli bombing of Gaza leaves property damaged
GAZA (WAFA) 18 Mar – Israeli warplanes bombed two locations in the Gaza city on Sunday morning for the second time in less than 10 hours, causing damage to property at the sites bombed, according to local sources. WAFA correspondent said Israeli F16 fighter jets bombed with 10 missiles an agricultural land in Zaytoun neighborhood and another location near Shuhadaa junction in the city, causing damage to the two sites. There were no reports of human casualties.
Weeks after holding body of slain teenage fisherman, Israel returns body for burial
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Mar — Thousands of Palestinians marched in the funeral of the slain Palestinian fisherman, Ismail Abu Riyala, 18, in the al-Shati refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Thursday. The funeral march set off from the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza city, where Abu Riyala’s body was sent on Wednesday by Israeli authorities, who had been holding his body for weeks. Mourners waved Palestinian flags and chanted national slogans, condemning Israel’s killing of the teen. Abu Riyala was killed by Israeli forces on February 25 while fishing off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip. Reyala was sailing with Mahmoud Adel Abu Reyala, who was injured with a bullet to the chest, and Ahed Abu Ali, who were released hours after their arrest. Reuters quoted the Israeli army spokeswoman as saying that a Palestinian vessel was shot at “after it had deviated from the designated fishing zone” in the northern Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, the Gaza fishermen’s union said Abu Reyala’s boat was targeted as it was making its way back to shore, and that the fishermen did not violate the limits of the fishing zone.
Israeli army invades Palestinian lands in Khan Younis
IMEMC 18 Mar — After firing at least eleven missiles overnight into Palestinian lands east of Gaza city, several Israeli army vehicles and tanks invaded, on Monday morning, agricultural lands in Abasan village, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the coastal region. Media sources said the Israeli tanks, and armored bulldozers, came from a military base, across the border fence near al-Farahin area, and invaded the lands before leveling and bulldozing various sections, close to fence.
Israeli military destroys Gaza tunnel, underground military complex
JERUSALEM (CNN) 18 Mar by Oren Liebermann — The Israeli military destroyed a Hamas tunnel in southern Gaza on Sunday morning and struck an underground “military complex” in central Gaza, Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said. According to Conricus, Hamas was trying to reconnect an old tunnel, destroyed in July 2014, to a new section of tunnel in southern Gaza. Conricus added that Israel has been monitoring the digging using new detection technology for the last few weeks. “What Hamas was trying to do was build kind of a detour — a new tunnel that would link up with a new part that they thought would be usable,” Conricus said. The tunnel was destroyed from within Israeli territory, but not with explosives. Conricus said that it was filled with a “certain compound” that would render the tunnel useless. The military would not provide further information on what was used to make the tunnel useless. This marks the fourth Gaza tunnel Israel has destroyed since late-October. The third tunnel, destroyed in mid-January, was a mile-long tunnel dug under Israel that stretched from Gaza to Egypt.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman commented on the tunnel, saying, “I suggest Hamas invests their money in the welfare of the residents of Gaza, because they won’t have any more tunnels by the end of the year.” In a separate incident over the weekend, the Israeli air force struck what the IDF termed an “underground military complex” in central Gaza….
Qatari cell provider closed in Gaza over terror probe
PressTV 17 Mar –The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has ordered the closure of a Qatari cell provider in the Gaza Strip after the state prosecutor said the company failed to cooperate in a probe linked to a recent assassination attempt against Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Hamas police spokesman Ayman Batniji said Saturday that offices of Wataniya Mobile, the largest company providing telecommunication services in Gaza, was shut down after the firm, which is a subsidiary of Qatar’s Ooredoo, “refused” to cooperate in the inquiry launched after the explosion that targeted Hamdallah’s convoy earlier this week. Six bodyguards of Hamdallah were injured while the Palestinian premier emerged unscathed in the roadside bomb attack in Beit Hanoun. Later reports in Gazan media suggested a second bomb, which apparently contained a Wataniya SIM card, had failed to detonate. Wataniya would not comment on the decision to close down its offices. The company’s mobile telephone service in Gaza was not affected yet. Hamas authorities have blamed the attack on Hamdallah on those seeking to sabotage a recent reconciliation between the group and the Palestinian Authority (PA), which is based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank….
20 moving photos reveal the secret lives of women growing up in Gaza
Business Insider 15 Mar by Harrison Jacobs — Photojournalist Monique Jaques first visited the Gaza Strip to document Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, one of the many conflagrations between Israel and Hamas, which controls Gaza. While there, she was struck by the dissonance between what she saw on the ground in the blockaded territory versus what was shown and reported in the media. “Every image I saw was extremely violent and only had men in them. You never saw a woman and, if you did, she would most likely be covered head to toe,” Jaques told Business Insider. “That image wasn’t matching up with the image I saw and the people I met.” That dissonance, and a budding friendship with her Palestinian translator, convinced her that there was a deep, untold story in the contested area. She knew that she had to tell the story of daily life of Palestinians, and women in particular, after the fighting stopped. Over the course of five years, Jaques returned again and again to speak with Palestinian women in Gaza and document their lives. Her commitment to telling their story allowed her to capture “stolen moments” and show a side of life in the territory rarely seen….
These Gaza students designed a school where they could feel safe
Fast Company 15 Mar by Adele Peters — When plans began to rebuild a school in Gaza that was destroyed by Israeli bombs in 2014, the foundation funding the new school decided to involve some extra designers: the students. “Instead of rebuilding what we thought the community wanted in their school, we asked them to tell us,” says Farooq Burney, executive director of Al Fakhoora, a program of the Education Above All Foundation that works to promote the right to education in conflict zones. “We let the community, and particularly the children who will use it every day, influence what we built.” … In workshops, the students offered suggestions for the new school. “Crucially, and sadly reflective of the ongoing conflict in Gaza, one of the most important things that the children of this community wanted was a building where they felt safe,” says Burney. To help achieve that, they built a school that was blast-pressure resistant, shatter-proof, and can serve as an emergency shelter. While schools in the area might typically have outdoor paths between classrooms, this one does not. “The children in Gaza are terrified of the sound of airplanes and drones -– for them, this means danger and attack,” he says. “They were very clear that they wanted to feel safe at school because, for many of them, they do not feel safe at home.” By making it possible to move between classrooms without going in the open air, the architects eliminated one common reason why children are afraid to come to school….
Animators with passion bring humor to digital content in Gaza
GAZA STRIP (Al-Monitor) 14 Mar by Ahmed Sammak — Amid economic difficulties, high rates of unemployment and a general sense of pessimism in Gaza, three young Gazans have created a startup digital content company to help tackle Palestinian problems with a sense of humor and optimism. A shared sense of humor and a passion for cartoons and animation led three young men in Gaza City to found “Barem,” a short-lived satirical magazine. In colloquial Arabic, “barem” means “to talk about specific issues.” “Barem,” launched in 2014, was one of the first major projects of the Hawas Group for Creative Content, a startup founded by Ahmed al-Aloul, Hamza Ahmed and Yehya Jabr in December 2012. The company’s initial focus was on animation and comics that touched on everyday life in Gaza. “Hawas” translates to “obsession,” and it reflects the passion the three men have for their work … After Barem folded, the three creative young men decided to turn to business, with a goal of working on projects to benefit Palestinian society. “After the magazine shut down in 2015, we decided to produce traditional commercial content online and in papers,” Aloul said. To that end, Hawas won a contract from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in 2015 to develop “Life Skills,” a book aimed at primary and secondary school students attending UNRWA schools … Jabr, Hawas’ producer and designer, said, “We aim to shed light on the daily Palestinian issues in a creative and artistic manner, away from politics. We created a character [for an ad] about saving water for the local company Siksik. We also produced an animation clip titled ‘Against Terrorism’ for the Muslim Youth League.” In 2017, Hawas also developed “Stop Violence Against Women,” an animated strip, for the Community Media Center in partnership with the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian killed by police in Jerusalem following fatal stabbing of Israeli
IMEMC/Agencies 18 Mar — A Palestinian man, 28-year-old Abed al-Rahman Bani Fadel, was fatally shot by Israeli police in the Old City of Jerusalem, after he allegedly stabbed and killed an Israeli security guard. The Israeli security guard, Adiel Coleman, from the illegal Israeli settlement Kochav Hashachar, was critically wounded Saturday afternoon when he was stabbed in the chest, and died later that evening in the hospital. The alleged stabber was identified by Israeli sources as 28-year-old Abed al-Rahman Bani Fadel, from the West Bank village of ‘Aqraba, who was shot and killed at the scene. The incident took place on Haggay St., near the entrance to the Haram al-Sharif and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, holy sites for Muslims worldwide. Initial reports from Israel’s Channel 10 television stated that Turkish identity papers were found on the body of the alleged assailant. But the Israeli military later changed that report, saying that Fadel , a Palestinian from the West Bank, was the attacker in the stabbing … Israeli police blocked all gates leading to the Old City of Jerusalem, along with roads and streets adjacent to the historic walls of Jerusalem, and blocked Qalandia and Jaba‘a checkpoints in the aftermath of the alleged attack, amid high tension and heavy deployment of troops near Jerusalem’s walls and inside the Old City of Jerusalem.
Palestinian ramming attack kills 2 Israeli soldiers in West Bank: military
JENIN, West Bank (Reuters) 16 Mar by Ali Samudi — A Palestinian motorist rammed and killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded two others in the occupied West Bank on Friday, the Israeli military said. The army said the driver was a “terrorist” who ran over soldiers who were securing routes near the Jewish settlement of Mevo Dotan, west of the Palestinian town of Jenin. Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said on Twitter that an “officer and soldier were killed and two soldiers were injured in a car-ramming attack,” and that the attack was “deliberate”. The motorist was detained, treated in an Israeli hospital for injuries and was being questioned, the military said. Israel’s Shin Bet security agency identified him as Alaa Rateb Al-Latif Kabha [or Qabaha] from the village of Barta‘a, near Jenin, adding: “The working assumption is that this was a terrorist attack.” It said that Kabha had previously been jailed for security offences and had been released in April 2017. Palestinian media reports said he was 26. Israeli military authorities in the West Bank swiftly announced the “immediate and broad suspension” of all permits for the family of the Palestinian driver. A military spokesman said these included 71 employment permits and 26 trade permits.
Israeli forces raid Jenin hometown of alleged attacker for third day
JENIN (WAFA) 18 Mar – For the third day in a row, Israeli forces raided the village of Barta‘a, southwest of Jenin in the West Bank, in response to an alleged car-ramming attack in which Alaa Qabaha, a resident of the village, ran over and killed two Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint near the village, local sources said. Israeli forces raided several homes in Barta‘a after smashing their doors, ransacked them, and interrogated residents. The soldiers also damaged several vehicles parking outside the homes. During the raids, the soldiers assaulted and beat up a young man identified as Mahmoud Jawdat Qabah. He sustained an injury in his head as a result of the assault. This came in response to an alleged car-ramming attack that took place two days ago at Dothan military checkpoint, about 6 kilometers east of the village. The alleged attack left two Israeli soldiers killed and two others critically injured. Qabaha was immediately shot and injured by soldiers who were manning the checkpoint. He is now in Israeli custody. His family told WAFA that Israeli authorities withdrew the work permits that enable the family members to enter Israel for work, and that Israeli forces detained his brother Isam Qabaha.
Israel arrests Arab for murder of settler rabbi
AFP 18 Mar — An Arab Israeli suspected of having stabbed to death a rabbi near a settlement in the occupied West Bank last month has been arrested, Israeli authorities said on Sunday. Abed Hakim Assi, born in 1998, is believed to have stabbed to death Itamar Ben Gal, 29, near the settlement of Ariel on February 5 before going into hiding in the northern West Bank. Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security agency announced the overnight arrest in a statement. Palestinians who were with Mr Assi during his arrest were also taken for questioning, the statement said. Ben Gal, of the Har Bracha settlement, was seen in a video waiting for a bus while a man Israeli authorities identified as Mr Assi crosses the road and stabs him in the chest. Mr Assi’s mother is an Arab Israeli and his father a Palestinian from the West Bank, the Shin Bet said. According to media reports, he was living in Tel Aviv prior to the attack and had a background of drug abuse and social problems.
Israeli forces detain Palestinian shepherd after physically assaulting him
HEBRON (WAFA) 18 Mar – Israeli forces Sunday physically assaulted a young Palestinian shepherd while he was grazing his livestock in an area to the east of Hebron’s Yatta town, in the southern West Bank, said a local activist. The popular committee coordinator in Yatta, Rateb al-Jabour, told WAFA Israeli forces beat up an 18-year-old shepherd while he was grazing his livestock in Khallet al-Adra, an area to the east of Yatta, before detaining him. He was identified as ‘Issa al-Shawaheen.
Army fires gas bombs at a school near Bethlehem
IMEMC 19 Mar — Israeli soldiers attacked, on Monday morning, many schoolchildren with gas bombs, in a secondary school in Teqoua‘ town, east of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Media sources said the soldiers fired at least ten gas bombs into the school, an issue that forced the administration to close all its outer gates, to prevent the army from invading it. They added that the soldiers had no reason for attacking the school, and that the army is constantly deployed around the school, in addition to conducting repeated provocative acts by the soldiers. The school’s administration said the military’s constant presence in front of the school is causing more tension, endangering the lives of the students and threatening the flow of the educational process. The soldiers constantly provoke the students, and search them, in addition to installing roadblocks near the school.
Several protesters injured as Israeli army quells West Bank protests
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 16 Mar – Several protesters were injured on Friday when Israeli forces quelled a number of protests across the occupied West Bank marking 100 days since US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In Ramallah district, Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel rounds at protesters who were rallying at the northern entrance to al-Bireh city, injuring one of them. The forces also used teargas to disperse them, causing many cases of suffocation from teargas inhalation. Clashes also erupted in the village of Budrus, to the west of Ramallah, during which Israeli forces injured two protesters with rubber-coated steel rounds. Meanwhile, Israeli army fired teargas canisters at protesters in the nearby village of Ni‘lin, causing many cases of suffocation by teargas inhalation.
In Nablus district, clashes erupted between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters in the village of Lubban e-Sharqiya. The forces fired rubber-coated steel rounds at the protesters, injuring one of them.
In Qalqilia district, dozens of protesters suffocated from teargas inhalation during clashes with Israeli army in the village of Kafr Qaddum.
Similar clashes also erupted in many areas of the occupied West Bank and along the eastern border of the Gaza Strip
Injuries in clashes with Israeli army in Abu Dis
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 16 Mar – Several Palestinian protesters were injured by rubber-coated steel rounds while others suffocated from teargas inhalation during clashes with Israeli forces in the town of Abu Dis, to the east of Jerusalem, on Friday evening, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC). PRC said 19 Palestinians were either injured by rubber-coated steel rounds or suffocated from teargas inhalation during the clashes outside the Jerusalem University campus in the town.
Colonialist settlers write racist graffiti, attempt to invade homes, near Jerusalem
IMEMC 19 Mar — A group of fanatic Israeli colonizers invaded, on Monday at dawn, the town of Hizma, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem, and wrote racist graffiti on cars and walls, in addition to puncturing tires of many cars, and attempted to break into homes. Samar Salah, the head of Hizma Municipality, said the Israeli assailants attempted to invade three homes owned by members of Askar family. She added that the colonizers were stopped by the residents, and were unable to invade the properties, and instead slashed tires of four parked cars, and wrote racist graffiti on some cars and walls. It is worth mentioning that the attacked homes and cars are in an area that has been isolated from the rest of town by the illegal Israeli Annexation Wall. In related news, dozens of soldiers invaded the town, and abducted five Palestinians, including a child, only ten years of age.
one night’s abductions:
Israeli soldiers abduct nineteen Palestinians in West Bank
IMEMC 18 Mar — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Sunday at dawn, nineteen Palestinians, including children, in several parts of the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Media sources in Jerusalem said the soldiers invaded and ransacked many homes in the al-‘Issawiya town, in the city, and abducted four children, identified as Mohammad Yousef Obeid, Mohammad Ibrahim Obeid, Haroun Mohammad Mheisin and Mohammad Tawfiq Mheisin. The soldiers also invaded Jayyous town, northeast of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, searched homes and abducted Kamel Mohammad Khatib, 16. In Nablus, in northern West Bank, the soldiers invaded a residential building in the Northern Mountain area, and searched many apartments before abducting six Palestinians, identified as ‘Abdul-Hakim ‘Aassi, Odai Khalfa, Mo’men Khalfa, Ma‘an Khalfa, Mahmoud Khalfa and Firas Sayeh. The Israeli army believes that Abdul-Hakim is behind the fatal stabbing attack, which was carried out on February 05, 2018, outside an entrance to ‘Ariel’ settlement in the central part of the West Bank, leading to the death of Itamar Ben Gal, 29. In Jenin, in northern West Bank, the soldiers invaded Burqin town, searched homes and abducted Emad Shalameesh. Furthermore, the soldiers invaded Beit Sahour city, east of Bethlehem, and abducted Mousa Yacoub, 30, from Breid‘’a area, after storming his home, and illegally confiscated cash during searches of homes. In Ramallah, in central West Bank, the soldiers abducted Mohammad Ata Abu Alia, Jihad Abu Alia, Qussai Abu Ali, from the al-Mughayyir town, and Ziad Shehda Dar Khalil, from the al-Jalazoun refugee camp. In Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, the soldiers invaded the Ramadin town, south of the city, searched several homes and abducted Mahmoud Sa’id Azazma, in addition to Hamza Amjad at-Teet. The soldiers also invaded Yatta town, south of Hebron, searched homes and interrogated several Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards. In addition, the soldiers invaded many homes in Biddya town, west of Salfit city, in central West Bank.
How to be a Palestinian supermom
Al Jazeera shorts 17 Aug 2017 [several months old but still relevant] — It’s not easy being a Palestinian mother. You must be ready to protest, get arrested, be injured and have difficult conversations with your children. We followed Manal Tamimi from Nabi Saleh to learn what it takes.
Detainees minister warns of deteriorating health of veteran prisoners
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 17 Mar – Minister of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, Issa Qaraqe, warned on Saturday about the deteriorating health and physiological being of veteran Palestinian political detainees who have spent more than 20 years in Israeli jails. Speaking during an event for the prisoners’ families in Ramallah city in the West Bank, Qaraqe said most of these prisoners have been suffering various diseases as a result of their prolonged detention and the absence of any prospects for their release. He said 48 prisoners have spent more than 20 years in Israeli jails, of whom 25 prisoners have been arrested for more than 25 years, and 12 prisoners have been arrested for more than 30 years. Qaraqe stressed the importance of highlighting the issue of the veterans prisoners and prioritizing the issue in any future negotiations….
Punitive house demolitions and permit revocations
Israeli forces measure home of slain Palestinian in preparation for demolition
NABLUS (Ma’an) 19 Mar — Israeli forces raided the northern occupied West Bank village of ‘Aqraba in the Nablus district before dawn on Monday, where they took measurements of the home of a slain Palestinian, seemingly in preparation for the punitive demolition of the home. Local activist in ‘Aqraba Youssif Deiriyeh told Ma‘an that Israeli forces on Monday raided the home of 28-year-old Abd al-Rahman Bani Fadel, who was shot and killed on Sunday evening after he stabbed and killed an Israeli settler in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli forces took measurements and pictures of Fadel’s home, seemingly in preparation for an impending punitive demolition of the father of three’s home. Deiriyeh added that Israeli forces also interrogated several of Fadel’s family members.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fast-tracked punitive home demolitions in an effort to “deter” attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals since a wave of unrest peaked in the occupied Palestinian territory in late 2015. The move came despite past recommendations by an Israeli military committee that the practice did not deter attacks. B’Tselem has condemned the practice of punitive home demolitions and work permit confiscations as “court-sanctioned revenge” carried out on family members who have not committed crimes, amounting to collective punishment.
Israeli forces raid village of driver who killed two soldiers
Al Jazeera 17 Mar — Israel suspends work permits of at least 100 members of Palestinian family as retaliation for suspected car-ramming — The Israeli army has raided the Palestinian village of Barta‘a, arresting the brother of a man who has been accused of carrying out a car-ramming attack that killed two Israeli soldiers. The incident on Friday happened amid protests in the occupied West Bank against the US plans to move its embassy to Jerusalem. Alaa Rattab-a-Latif Kabha [Qabaha], the suspected driver of the car, was reportedly captured by Israeli security forces and lightly injured, after he had fled the scene of the suspected attack. “They raided the village at around 7pm (17:00 GMT) on Friday, questioning Alaa’s entire family and tampering with their belongings in their home,” Ghassan Kabha, the village leader and a relative of the suspect, told Al Jazeera. “They [Israeli forces] returned at 3am and raided another 30 homes in the village, leaving a series of threats to various members of our 8,000-member community,” he said. Israeli forces have also suspended work permits of at least 100 members of the Kabha family as retaliation for the suspected attack that also injured two people, local media reported. The suspension could amount to the cancellation of approximately 67 work and 26 commerce permits, the Israeli military said, in response to the incident that took place near the illegal Israeli settlement of Mevo Dotan, west of the occupied West Bank city of Jenin. At least 50,000 Palestinians in the occupied territories have resorted to working in Israel as low-skilled workers, due to the dire economic conditions they face. The 26-year-old driver’s relative described the incident as an “accident”….
Israel plans collective punishment against village of alleged Palestinian attacker
IMEMC 18 Mar — The Israeli army announced Saturday that it plans to recommend that the Israeli government split the village of Barta‘a in two, after a vehicular collision on Friday that resulted in the deaths of two Israeli soldiers. Palestinian family members of the alleged attacker contend that it was a car accident, not an attack. But despite the confusion about Friday’s incident, the Israeli army appears ready to use it as an excuse to move the Israeli Annexation Wall into the middle of the village of Barta‘a in order to exclude Palestinian residents of the village from Israel. The driver of the vehicle that struck and killed the Israeli soldiers, Ala’ Rateb Abdul-Latif Qabha, is from the village of Barta‘a, which is located on the Israeli side of the Annexation Wall. But after the deaths of the two soldiers, the Israeli military is recommending moving the Wall to split the village in two, with the eastern half inside the West Bank, and the west half inside of Israel. Qabha was wounded in the vehicular collision, but instead of being taken to the hospital, he was abducted by the Israeli military and taken to a military base for interrogation. He will likely be charged in an Israeli military court for ‘terrorism’ because the two soldiers died in the collision….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israeli forces attack family’s residential tent in Jordan Valley, detain daughter
JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA) 18 Mar – Israeli forces Sunday raided a residential tent belonging to al-Bsharat family in the northern Jordan Valley, and slashed it with knives before detaining the daughter, said a local activist. Mutaz Bsharat, who monitors settlement activity in the Tubas district, said a military force raided and wreaked havoc into the tent, and slashed it with their knives before detaining 21-year-old Manal Abdel-Rahman Bsharat. She was led to an unknown destination.
Palestinian demolishes his home to avoid excessive fines in Jerusalem
IMEMC 18 Mar –The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic), in occupied Jerusalem, has reported that a Palestinian citizen of the town had to demolish his own home, Saturday, to avoid excessively high fines by the City Council, under the pretext of being built without a permit. Silwanic stated that the city council informed the home’s owner, Ishaq Shweiki, that he would have to pay up to $17.000, in addition to other high fees, unless he demolishes his own home. The Palestinian chose to demolish the property because he wanted to avoid the high fines, but mostly to avoid the demolition of his entire building, which was constructed more than 100 years ago, especially since the home the city ordered him to demolish was later built on the second floor. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency said Shweiki was given 30 days to implement the decision to demolish the property under the pretext of building without permission. WAFA added that the second floor, only 50 square meters, was added to the building six years ago to accommodate the needs of his growing family. Palestinians in Jerusalem largely have no other options but to build without a permit, especially since construction permits are extremely difficult, and nearly impossible to obtain, in addition to costing in many cases more than the construction itself.
Israel has accelerated its annexation of the West Bank from a slow creep to a run / Jonathan Cook
The National (UAE) 18 Mar — Seemingly unrelated events all point to a tectonic shift in which Israel has begun preparing the ground to annex the occupied Palestinian territories. Last week, during an address to students in New York, Israel’s education minister Naftali Bennett publicly disavowed even the notion of a Palestinian state. “We are done with that,” he said. “They have a Palestinian state in Gaza.” Later in Washington, Mr Bennett, who leads Israel’s settler movement, said Israel would manage the fallout from annexing the West Bank, just as it had with its annexation of the Syrian Golan in 1980. International opposition would dissipate, he said. “After two months it fades away and 20 years later and 40 years later, [the territory is] still ours.” Back home, Israel has proven such words are not hollow. The parliament passed a law last month that brings three academic institutions, including Ariel University, all located in illegal West Bank settlements, under the authority of Israel’s Higher Education Council. Until now, they were overseen by a military body. The move marks a symbolic and legal sea change. Israel has effectively expanded its civilian sovereignty into the West Bank. It is a covert but tangible first step towards annexation … Additional bills extending Israeli law to the settlements are in the pipeline. In fact, far right justice minister Ayelet Shaked has insisted that those drafting new legislation indicate how it can also be applied in the West Bank. According to Peace Now, she and Israeli law chiefs are devising new pretexts to seize Palestinian territory. She has called the separation between Israel and the occupied territories required by international law “an injustice that has lasted 50 years” … The government is already working on legislation to bring some West Bank settlements under Jerusalem municipal control – annexation via the back door. This month officials gave themselves additional powers to expel Palestinians from Jerusalem for “disloyalty”. Yousef Jabareen, a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament, warned that Israel had accelerated its annexation programme from “creeping to running”. Notably, Mr Netanyahu has said the government’s plans are being co-ordinated with the Trump administration. It was a statement he later retracted under pressure. But all evidence suggests that Washington is fully on board, so long as annexation is done by stealth….
Palestinian refugees – Lebanon
A Palestinian seat in Lebanon’s parliament?
BEIRUT (Al Jazeera) 19 Mar by Asma Ajroudi — How a mock political campaign spread confusion and awareness ahead of Lebanon’s parliamentary elections — At first glance, she could be easily mistaken for any other conventional politician running for the upcoming parliamentary elections in Lebanon. In the poster that launched her campaign, Manal Kortam followed the playbook of political imagery to a T; dressed in a sharp dark blazer and flashing a wide, confident smile, Kortam stands, arms crossed, with a Lebanese flag in the background. The text reads: “Manal Kortam. Palestinian seat. Third district.”
A country of roughly six million people, Lebanon has hosted a sizeable population of Palestinians for decades, who now number an estimated 175,000, according to a recent government poll. Legally categorised as refugees, Palestinians, even those who were born in Lebanon, are neither eligible to vote nor to hold public office. Wading into the frenzy of Lebanese political campaigning, Kortam, a Palestinian-Lebanese activist, decided to launch a mock campaign for a non-existent Palestinian seat in the parliamentary elections in May. Grounded in social media and employing the slogan “Mawjoudin” or “We Exist,” Kortam hopes her campaign will highlight the plight of three generations of Palestinian families residing in Lebanon, most of whom live under difficult conditions. A 2016 study by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the American University of Beirut (AUB) found that almost two-thirds of the Palestinian population lives in poverty. More than 63 percent of Palestinians live in camps with “decaying infrastructure, a dearth of recreational spaces, insufficient access to roads, deteriorated water and sewage treatment systems, contaminated water, and jerry-rigged electrical wires,” according to the study…
Palestinians mark 100th day since Trump ‘Nakba’ move
PressTV 19 Mar — Thousands of Palestinian refugees hold a protest rally in southern Lebanon to mark the hundredth day since the US president recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel. The rally was held Sunday in the city of Sidon which hosts Ain al-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, Lebanese paper The Daily Star reported. US President Donald Trump recognized Israel’s claim to the city last December, and set in motion a decades-long frozen plan to relocate the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied holy city. … Addressing the Sunday rally, Hamas political leader in Lebanon Ahmad Abd al-Hadi said Trump’s decision had become a “weak point” of the US foreign policy. “We believe that Lebanon’s position is to support the right of return” for Palestinian refugees, he said. He also slammed recent remarks by Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil who proposed some Palestinian refugees lose their refugee status. Under the plan, the Palestinians who stay outside the Lebanese territory for long or obtain foreign citizenship should be stripped of the status in order to “ease the financial burden” on UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.
Fifteen years since her death, Rachel Corrie is not forgotten
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Mar — Friday, 15 years ago, 23-year-old American peace activist Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer that was preparing to demolish a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip. Corrie has since become an icon of global solidarity with the people of Palestine. Born on April 10, 1979 in Olympia, Washington, Corrie dedicated her life to defending Palestinian rights. In 2003, she went to the Gaza Strip as a member of the International Solidarity Movement. She was known for her love of peace and for defending Palestinian rights, frequently broadcasting photo essays exposing Israeli rights violations in the occupied territories. On March 16, 2003 in the Gaza Strip’s southern city of Rafah, Corrie stood before an Israeli bulldozer in hopes of stopping it from demolishing the home of a local Palestinian family. Corrie believed that her foreign features and blonde hair would deter the bulldozer — but she was wrong. She was crushed to death when the bulldozer driver ran her over repeatedly, according to witnesses. The people of Gaza received news of her murder with grief and horror, describing her as a “martyr” and staging a massive funeral for the American activist. Since then, the name Rachel Corrie has become synonymous with the Palestinian cause. It was chosen as the name for an Irish aid ship that set out for Gaza in 2010, while her story has been told in several documentary films portraying Palestinian suffering. Her family later filed a lawsuit against the Israeli authorities for their daughter’s death. But an Israeli court acquitted the bulldozer driver in a controversial 2013 verdict — a decision denounced by rights groups. In a letter sent to her family from Gaza shortly before her murder, Corrie described the Palestinian suffering she witnessed. “No amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing and word-of-mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here,” she wrote. “You just can’t imagine it unless you see it.”
A Tribute: ‘I am here because I care’
ISM Press Release 16 Mar — “I am here because I care.” – Rachel Corrie – A tribute! Rachel Corrie served with ISM – International Solidarity Movement — in Gaza in 2003 where she was crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer while protecting the home of a Palestinian doctor. She was 23 years old. Today is the 15th anniversary of her death.
Interview with Rachel in Gaza:
See also live footage of Rachel’s death (content may disturb): In the live footage the Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer driver’s radio transmission graphically illustrates the dehumanising reality of the military occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the siege of Gaza: “I think the object got hit….” “Yes, I saw him I think he is dead.” Rachel’s death was tragic and brought the world’s attention to the suffering and deaths of thousands of Palestinians. Please don’t think that the situation in the West Bank and Gaza are any different today. The ethnic cleansing of Palestine continues every day….
How an Israeli mayor is keeping Arabs from his utopian community to uphold its ‘Zionist-Jewish nature’
Haaretz 18 Mar by Noa Shpigel & Jack Khoury — The mayor of a town in northern Israel announced that he was suspending future sales of building lots in the community after around half of the winning bids in the most recent phase were from Israeli Arabs. In a message to residents issued Friday, Kfar Vradim Mayor Sivan Yechieli said he was “responsible for preserving the secular-Jewish-Zionist nature of Kfar Vradim,” adding that he planned to “ask the relevant government bodies to create solutions allowing for the maintenance of demographic balances.” The controversy erupted when a resident of the community, real estate broker Nati Sheinfeld, reported the results of the sale on Facebook and called on the community to “wake up.” … A similar move by Arab residents into Jewish communities has occurred elsewhere in Israel, in Upper Nazareth, for example, to which residents of the Arab city of Nazareth have moved, now representing 20 percent of Upper Nazareth’s residents. In the Jewish city of Afula two years ago, there was an outcry when all of the successful bidders on lots in a new neighborhood were Arab.
Book review: The Green Line by Rola Ghanem
Palestine Chronicle 14 Mar by Wasan Abu-Baker — Dr. Rola Ghanem is a Palestinian novelist from the city of Tulkarem. She tells the story of her father through this novel which resembles the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation and reveals the struggle of generations. In the novel, she highlights the importance of education and speaks about the suffering of Palestinian women under occupation. When Dr. Ghanem remarks about the works of other Palestinian artists, she says that despite the tragic circumstances that Palestinians have experienced on the hands of the Israeli occupation, creativity is always born from the womb of suffering. In the ‘Green Line’, she writes about a 13-year-old Palestinian boy named Abdullah from Baka Al-Gharbiya in the Palestinian Triangle (a collection of Arab villages within Israel), abducted from his home town after the Nakba of 1948 and forced to join the Jordanian army. He eventually settles in Tulkarem in the West Bank and starts a family. He is a remarkable figure who was conscious and strong enough to survive. He is not able to return home because it is inside the Green Line and a part of Israel, and this is the constant division of the Palestinian people where they are so close yet still so far away from their home….
Zoabi excluded from Knesset
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Mar — The Ethics Committee of the Israeli parliament of the Knesset decided to exclude Arab MK Haneen Zoabi from the Knesset for a week, after she described the Israeli soldiers as “murderers”. Zoabi said, according to Al Ray, that her description of Israeli soldiers is a kind of freedom of expression and no one has the right to close mouths because of views they do not like to hear. It is noteworthy that Oren Hazan, the Israeli MK, is the one who filed the complaint against the MK Zoabi.
Israel bans 2 Irish activists from entering West Bank
Agency report 18 Mar — Israel banned two pro-Palestine Irish activists from entering the occupied West Bank on Friday, claiming that they planned to harass occupation forces. When the activists arrived at Ben Gurion Airport along with 25 colleagues, they underwent the usual litany of security checks. According to Haaretz, the whole group of activists was accused of planning to harass the Israeli occupation forces through their participation in pro-Palestine activities. Nevertheless, all were allowed to enter occupied Palestine apart from the two with the record of being banned. Quds Press pointed out that, based solely on media reports, the number of foreign activists who have been prevented from entering the occupied Palestinian territories by Israel has increased nine-fold in the past five years.
French consulate employee suspected of smuggling arms to Palestinians: Israel
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 19 Mar — Israel said on Monday it had arrested a French citizen, an employee of France’s consulate in Jerusalem, on suspicion of smuggling weapons to Palestinians. In a statement, the Shin Bet security service said Romain Franck used a consulate vehicle to elude Israeli security checks and move a total of 70 pistols and two assault rifles across the Gaza-Israel border and on to the occupied West Bank on at least five occasions. A spokesman for the French Embassy in Tel Aviv described the suspect as “a member of the consulate-general in Jerusalem” and said France was taking the case seriously and cooperating with Israeli authorities. …