Media Analysis

West Bank village Bil’in marks 13th anniversary of nonviolent resistance against the Wall

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VIDEO: Bil‘in marks 13th anniversary of nonviolent resistance against the Wall, colonies
IMEMC 2 Mar — Video by Haitham Khatib — On Friday, dozens of Palestinians, accompanied by Israeli and international peace activists, marched in Bil‘in village, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, marking the 13th anniversary of ongoing popular nonviolent resistance against the illegal Israeli Annexation Wall and colonies, before the soldiers resorted to the excessive use of force, injured five, and dragged and abducted an international peace activist. Many Palestinians from various areas of the occupied West Bank, including heads and members of local councils, senior political leaders, in addition to current and former ambassadors, also participated in the nonviolent procession … Some protesters dressed like native Americans, representing the displacement and massacres against the indigenous population, and others dressed like Avatar characters, while many children carried balloons with pictures of Palestinians who were killed by the army during nonviolent processions, and those who were abducted and imprisoned, including ‘Ahed Tamimi and Monther Amira, before the balloons were released to fly freely in the air. They also chanted for national unity, the liberation of Palestinian, including its occupied capital, Jerusalem, in addition to calling for the release of all political prisoners. Upon reaching the gate of the annexation wall, some protesters wrote graffiti, while others started banging at the gate with stones and raised Palestinian flags. The soldiers filmed the nonviolent protesters and resorted to the excessive use of force against them, before firing live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs, and concussion grenades, and attacked many of them. The Popular Committee against the Annexation Wall and Colonies in Bil‘in said the soldiers shot five Palestinians, including cameraman Issam Rimawi, who was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his arm. One Palestinian was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his shoulder, while resident Bassam Yassin, was shot with a gas bomb in his leg, in addition to Adeeb Abu Rahma, who was shot with a gas bomb in the head, and dozens of others suffered the effects of teargas inhalation.

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Palestinian youth shot, critically injured during Israeli raid on refugee camp
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 28 Feb — A Palestinian youth was critically injured with two live bullets, one in the chest and another in the shoulder, during clashes that erupted with Israeli forces in the al-Am‘ari refugee camp in the central West Bank district of Ramallah. Medical sources told Ma‘an that the youth’s injury was critical, noting that he was transferred to the Palestine Medical Center in Ramallah for treatment and immediately sent to surgery. The identity of the youth remained unknown. Israeli forces had raided the refugee camp on Wednesday morning before dawn, causing clashes to erupt between youths of the camp and Israeli forces that heavily opened live fire, according to locals.Israeli soldiers also fired tear gas and sound bombs in the area as youth threw stones at the armed forces.

Israeli border policeman filmed throwing tear gas at Palestinian couple holding infant
[with VIDEO] Haaretz 3 Mar by Yotam Berger & Jack Khoury — An Israeli Border Police officer was filmed Friday throwing a tear gas grenade at a Palestinian couple carrying an infant in the West Bank village of Burin. The grenade was thrown as the two were fleeing their home with their backs to the officers near an area where a violent demonstration was taking place, according to Israeli Security Forces. The video, taken by a “Yesh Din” activist, shows the mother, the father and the infant leaving the house and trying to flee the area. A Border Policeman then throws a tear gas grenade at them, although they do not seem to pose a threat. The officers seem to be walking at a leisurely pace, some with their rifles already down. According to Palestinians, there were protests Friday morning around Burin after several Israelis from nearby settlements attempted to enter the village. Border Police forces arrived and attempted to disperse the demonstrations … Border Police say the video shows a “partial and edited” portrayal of the events. They add that during the violent riots that erupted, and were allegedly edited out, dozens of protestors were throwing rocks at the officers near and around the house … Border Police added that the Palestinian fled with his back to the officers and so it was impossible to see he was carrying a baby. “Such a run is characteristic of rioters hurling stones at officers whilst risking their lives and trying to escape in attempt to avoid arrest at any cost. It’s needless to say that had the officers noticed the baby, they certainly would have acted accordingly.’

New video footage from killing of Yassin a-Saradih in Jericho reveals that soldiers beat and abused him as he lay wounded, and did not offer him the necessary medical aid
B’Tselem 28 Feb Open-Fire Policy — On the night of 22 February 2018, at approximately 1:00 A.M., about twenty Israeli soldiers entered the city center of Jericho in the West Bank. According to the military, they were on a mission to carry out arrests in the city. Some fifteen minutes later, several soldiers entered a home and searched it, while others waited at the entrance to the alley where the house was located. The soldiers’ presence led to clashes in which Palestinians threw stones at the soldiers. At some point, Yassin a-Saradih (35) ran with an iron bar attached to a car wheel rim towards the soldiers who were standing at the entrance to the alley, in an attempt to attack them. In video footage captured by security cameras of nearby stores, a-Saradih is seen running towards the soldiers with the bar. A soldier then shoots him in the lower body at point blank range. After the shooting, three other soldiers emerge from the alley and all four forcefully kick a-Saradih, who is lying on the ground. The soldiers are seen beating him with their rifles and dragging him into the alley. There, they continue to drag him along face down and then lean over him, shine flashlights on him, kick him lightly and move him with their feet. After about ten minutes, during which time they offer the wounded man no medical assistance, one of the soldiers fires a tear-gas canister at the entrance to the alley. The soldiers are then seen dragging a-Saradih into the alley, out of the cameras’ range, apparently to avoid the tear gas that drifted their way … The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit changed its version of the event several times. In its first response, the unit stated that a-Saradih had attacked the soldiers, armed with a knife, and had attempted to grab their weapons, and that during his arrest he had sustained an injury and received first aid. In a second announcement issued later that day, the unit stated only that he had tried to attack the force, which “responded with gunfire, confronted the terrorist from close range and managed to stop him”, and that a knife had later been found on a-Saradih’s body. The next day, the military claimed that he had apparently died from tear gas inhalation. According to the autopsy results published that day by the media, a-Saradih was shot with live ammunition in the abdomen and may have died of blood loss. Nevertheless, the military continued to claim that the paramedics who treated him saw no sign of bullet entry….

First, Israeli troops shot a Palestinian armed with a chunk of metal. Then, they beat him to death
Haaretz 1 Mar by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Yasin al-Saradih’s doomsday weapon is now lying in the yard of his home on Dmitry Medvedev Street in Jericho, draped with Palestinian and Fatah flags. It is the rim of a car wheel with a pipe coming up from its center. Altogether, 25 kilos of iron, which the proprietor of the bicycle store on Moskobiya Street in the center of town usually puts outside on the street to hold a parking place for his clients. Saradih, who was 36 years old, hoisted the device onto his shoulders and ran toward the Israel Defense Forces soldiers who had invaded his city in the middle of the night, between Wednesday and Thursday last week. Soldiers raid Jericho, the most tranquil town in the occupied territories, almost every night on a pretext of “carrying out arrests.” The same pattern was repeated last week: A few dozen soldiers from the religiously observant Lavi Battalion had entered the city center – perhaps to demonstrate a presence, perhaps to maintain operational vigilance, perhaps to haze local residents or maybe as part of their training. As far as is known, they didn’t arrest anyone. They only killed Saradih, the first fatality inflicted here by the IDF in almost 15 years …
The footage from the security camera that documented the events on Moskobiya Street does not make for easy watching. Saradih is seen running along the street, the tire rim on his shoulders. A soldier steps out of an alley and shoots him from point-blank range. Saradih collapses immediately after the shot, and then soldiers swarm around him, and beat and kick him all over his body. This one kicks him, another rams him with his rifle butt – they’re venting their anger, the soldiers from Lavi, the battalion that ostensibly stands for morality and lofty values. Then they drag Saradih into the alley, like a carcass in the market. One of them continues kicking him in the head. A lynching, there’s no other word for it. Finally the soldiers are seen putting him in a military vehicle. It’s not clear how long he lay there without being given any medical aid. He may have bled to death in the vehicle …
Three palm trees grace the tiled courtyard of the one-story house where the bereaved family is now sitting in a circle, on plastic chairs. Their grief at the loss of Yasin is compounded by the fact that Israel has to date refused to return the body. No one can explain what prompted Yasin to hoist the tire rim onto his shoulders and run toward the soldiers. He had never been arrested. A promising soccer player on the local Al-Hilal team, his career was cut short by two incidents in which he was shot in the leg by Israeli soldiers, once in 2000 and again in 2004….

Israeli forces provoke and fire tear gas and stun grenades at schoolchildren
[with photos] OCCUPIED PALESTINE (ISM, al-Khalil Team) 28 Feb — This morning, armed Israeli Border Police entered Salaymeh neighborhood in Al Khalil/Hebron. They advanced towards the schools and shot one tear gas canister and one stun grenade at school children at 7:45 am. This happened after a single border police provoked the children by kneeling down and pointing her weapon directly at them. International activists also witnessed two bag checks performed on minors, boys no older than 13, an action completely illegal according to international law. Also this morning, Israeli forces also fired two tear gas canisters from a rooftop beside the Ziad Al Jaber school in the Jaber neighborhood at school children. As a result many children suffered from tear gas inhalation and one child was hospitalized. The teachers rushed to children’s aid, while Israeli forces also prevented a psychology teacher from entering the school …  Tear gas was also fired at school children in the Queitun neighborhood this morning. Today was a busy day for the Israeli armed forces. Palestinians approach this weekend’s jewish celebration of Purim with caution. [It’s] only Wednesday and tension and violence seems to be escalating before and after school hours.

Army prevents student from reaching school near Nablus
IMEMC 28 Feb — Israeli soldiers prevented, on Wednesday morning, many Palestinian schoolchildren from the al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, from reaching their school in a nearby village. Media sources said dozens of soldiers closed junctions leading to the village, and prevented the students from reaching their school in the as-Sawiya nearby village. The sources added that the soldiers have been repeatedly invading the school, and in numerous incidents, attempted to abduct students and attacked many.

Jewish settlers hold provocative celebration in heart of West Bank city
HEBRON (WAFA) 1 Mar – Hundreds of fanatic Jewish settlers celebrated Purim holiday in a march in the heart of the southern West Bank city of Hebron provoking residents who were forced to remain indoors, according to local sources. The settlers walked around the old town of Hebron, where they are concentrated, banging drums and shouting anti-Palestinian slogans. The army cordoned off the area to prevent any contact between the settlers and the Palestinian residents of those areas, who were ordered to stay off the streets where the settlers were walking.

Israel arrests 90-year-old Palestinian
MEMO 1 Mar — Israeli occupation forces arrested 90-year-old Palestinian Ali Al-Wahsh yesterday morning, Quds Press reported. Large number of Israeli occupation forces raided Al-Khader neighbourhood in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, broke into houses, searched them and damaged their furniture before arresting Al-Wahsh. Zakaria, one of Al-Wahsh’s sons, described the Israeli occupation’s raid, which lasted four hours, as “violent and barbaric”. “We have never thought that the Israeli occupation wanted to arrest the old man, who is the chief of Al-Ta‘amra clan which existed in the West Bank and Jordan and one of the renowned tribal judges in Bethlehem.” Al-Wahsh has been arrested on numerous occasions by occupation forces, most recently in 1992. He has 120 children and grandchildren, Quds Press reported. During the arrest campaign, the Israeli occupation confiscated his personal pistol, which is licensed by the Palestinian Authority. Al-Wahsh is being locked up in Gush Etzion detention centre in the south of Bethlehem and will appear in court today. Commenting on the arrest, Hussein Abed-Rabbu, spokesman of the PLO Commission of Prisoners and Freed Prisoners, said: “Arresting Al-Wahsh proves that the Israeli occupation does not care about common values and is targeting the Palestinian social system.” Israeli occupation forces arrested 20 other Palestinians along with Al-Wahsh.

Palestinian teenage girl detained at Bethlehem-area checkpoint
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 Mar — Israeli forces detained an 18-year-old Palestinian girl for allegedly attempting to stab soldiers at Checkpoint 300 in northern Bethlehem city on Thursday, in the southern occupied West Bank. Israeli media reported that soldiers at the checkpoint detained a Palestinian teenage girl who was “carrying a knife and attempted to attack soldiers.” The girl was reportedly taken in for questioning. Though her identity remained unknown, the girl was reported to be a resident of Bethlehem city.

PPS: ‘Israeli soldiers abduct 21 Palestinians in West Bank’
IMEMC 28 Feb — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Wednesday at dawn, twenty-one Palestinians from their homes, after invading and ransacking them, in several parts of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported. The soldiers also interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards, and violently searched their homes, before abducting 21, including children and an elderly man. Following is a list of the Palestinians taken from Hebron, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Tulkarem, Nablus, and Jericho:….

A ‘system of control’: Child detention in the occupied West Bank
[with VIDEO] Al Jazeera 27 Feb by Tala Kaddoura — At the end of 2017, during widespread protests against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, two Palestinian teenagers had run-ins with Israeli soldiers that went viral. Fawzi al-Junaidi was pictured blindfolded and surrounded by over 20 Israeli soldiers, his arms locked behind him as he was dragged away.
The 16-year-old spent three weeks in detention and was released on bail, bruised and with a dislocated shoulder. Ahed Tamimi was also 16 when she was arrested at her home in the middle of the night by Israeli troops in riot gear. She turned 17 in an Israel detention facility, where she’s been held since December 19. While Fawzi and Ahed have become symbols of Palestinian resistance, they’re also minors navigating a military detention system that’s been repeatedly accused of systematic abuse.
The pair is not alone. The Israeli army arrested 1,467 Palestinian minors in 2017, according to local prisoner support and human rights group Addameer. Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) says between 500 and 700 Palestinian children are prosecuted in Israeli military courts every year.
So, how does the system work? –Arrests– The West Bank, except for East Jerusalem, has been under Israeli military law since 1967. Palestinians living in the West Bank are subject to this law, while Israeli citizens living in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank fall under Israeli civilian law instead. Under military law, minors as young as 12 can be arrested, most for stone-throwing, which the Israeli army considers a “security offence”. The offence can get up to 20 years in prison, depending on the minor’s age. Many of the accused are arrested in night raids by armed Israeli soldiers and held in detention pending prosecution in military courts … The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs documented around 336 night raids by the Israeli army in January 2018 alone. “It’s a method to terrorise the youth and to make sure that system of control is asserted on people at a young age,” says Addameer’s Dawoud Yusef. In testimonies collected by DCIP, minors reported the uses of handcuffs and blindfolds, as well as physical and verbal abuse during their arrest and transport….

Prisoners / Court actions

Israel renews detention of Palestinian prisoner on day of scheduled release
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 28 Feb — Israeli authorities renewed the administrative detention order of Palestinian prisoner Tawfiq Ahmad al-Shalabi, 23, on Wednesday, the day he was set to be released. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement that al-Shalabi, from the Jenin refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank, was detained in October 2016 and sentenced to nine-and-a-half months in prison before he was transferred to administrative detention. His detention was then renewed for another two months-and-a-half after his original sentence was over. He is currently being held in the Negev jail. Israel uses administrative detention almost exclusively against Palestinians.

Israel renews administrative detention of Palestinian woman journalist, 45 others
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Mar — Israeli authorities on Thursday issued 46 administrative detention orders against Palestinian detainees, including a female journalist, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS attorney Mahmoud Halabi said on Thursday that Israeli authorities issued a four-month administrative detention order against Palestinian journalist Bushra Taweel. Taweel, a resident of the central occupied West Bank city of al-Bireh, is a former prisoner. She was re-detained in November 2017 and sentenced to six months of administrative detention, before having her detention renewed this week. According to PPS, among the Palestinians who were issued administrative detention orders on Thursday, 10 of them are former prisoners who were re-detained. Israel uses administrative detention almost exclusively against Palestinians. The widely condemned Israeli policy allows for a detainee to be sentenced for up to six-month renewable intervals based on undisclosed evidence….

Israeli soldier who killed wounded Palestinian could soon be out on parole
[with VIDEO] MEMO 2 Mar — Elor Azaria, the Israeli soldier who killed a wounded Palestinian in Hebron, may be released on parole as early as 14 March, Israeli media reported. According to a report broadcast yesterday by Israel’s Channel 20, prison officials have recommended that the convicted soldier be paroled, citing his good behaviour over the past seven months. Azaria was convicted by an Israeli military court of manslaughter, after he was captured on video shooting Hebron resident Abdel Fattah Al-Sharif in the head in March 2016. In a sentence condemned for its leniency, Azaria was sentenced to 18 months in prison, and this was subsequently reduced to just 14 months. At the time, it was reported that Azaria could ultimately get a third of his sentence off for good behaviour, and thus be released on 30 March 2018. Now, according to Channel 20, prison officials are claiming that Azaria is eligible for parole even earlier, also revealing that he was “permitted to take vacation leaves [from prison] every 28 days” from his “very first month” in jail. The army parole board will meet on 14 March, and could decide to immediately release the soldier.

Israel’s military courts ‘humiliating charade’ for Palestinians
NABI SALEH, Occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 26 Feb by Jacklynn Ashly — Ahed Tamimi’s case has highlighted the dual legal systems Israel imposes in the occupied West Bank — Across from the home of imprisoned Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi in Nabi Saleh, the red-tiled roofs of Israel’s illegal Halamish settlement dot the adjacent hilltop. Residents of Halamish, along with some 600,000 other Israelis, reside in the occupied West Bank in violation of international law. Despite living on occupied Palestinian territory, settlers are subject to Israeli civil law, while Palestinians to Israeli military law.  A person’s nationality and ethnicity determines which set of laws applies to whom in the West Bank, rights groups have noted. Tamimi’s case has made headlines worldwide and has shined a spotlight on these inequalities, which many scholars and analysts have characterised as tantamount to apartheid …
‘Humiliating charade’ Saad Nimr, a Palestinian professor of cultural studies at Birzeit University in Ramallah, tells Al Jazeera that Israel’s court system is far from an “impartial process”.  In most cases, the convictions and sentencing have nothing to do with the actual allegations, but are instead dictated by Israeli secret service recommendations. “You have a trial where the judge and the prosecuting attorney are all Israeli army officials,” he explains. As a result of Israel’s more than half-century occupation of the West Bank, “the officials deciding your fate are essentially your enemies,” said Nimr. Palestinians face a more than 99 percent conviction rate in Israel’s military courts.
Israel alternates between using its military and domestic legal systems to suit its political objectives, Ilan Pappe, a left-wing Israeli academic, tells Al Jazeera. Under international law, Israel is permitted to use military courts in territories that it occupies. In the context of Israel’s occupation, however, the purpose of the courts is to “create a facade and legitimise what they [Israelis] are doing,” said Pappe … The courts are a “humiliating charade”, Pappe said. They are set up to create the illusion that Palestinians have the right to a trial and can defend themselves, he says. “But, really, it’s a sinister process that has absolutely no meaning apart from being a bureaucratic self-justification for the system to do what it wants to do.”….


Gaza girl awaiting surgery reunited with her mother in West Bank
Al Jazeera 1 Mar by Linah Alsaafin — After battling kidney failure for nearly the entirety of her short life, Inam al-Attar, 12, from the Gaza Strip finally obtained a medical permit issued by Israeli authorities to undergo surgery in one of Ramallah’s hospitals in the occupied West Bank. Yet the experience was marred by heartbreak as she was forced to make the trip beginning from the Israeli Erez checkpoint, north of Gaza, without her parents by her side. Usually, a medical patient from the Gaza Strip is granted at least one guardian to accompany him or her to medically referred hospitals in the West Bank, Jerusalem or Israel. Inam had counted on her mother Salwa being with her every step of the way. “The Israelis did not give us a reason for refusing to give me a permit to go with her,” Salwa al-Attar told Al Jazeera. “The entire family tried to convince me and my daughter that we had no choice but to let her go by herself, but I was too distraught to allow it at first. Inam needs round the clock care and did not want to go without me.” On Monday, Salwa accompanied her daughter on the short trip from their home in Beit Lahia to Erez checkpoint, also known as the Beit Hanoun crossing. Israeli soldiers allowed Inam to pass through, but said her mother had to turn back because she did not have a permit to cross. “We were both inconsolable,” Salwa said. “Inam reached Ramallah’s Medical Complex after an hour and a half and kept crying for me.”
Inam’s story spread like wildfire. Local media converged at the complex and in response to the questions fielded by the crowd of journalists around her, the little girl broke down. “I want my mother!” she cried. “I don’t want anything else, I just want my mother to be with me.” The governor of Ramallah, Laila Ghannam, was among those who received Inam on Monday…
-Reunited in Ramallah— After Inam’s arrival in Ramallah, she refused to take medical tests without her mother by her side. The Palestinian civil coordination office liaised with the Israeli side and on Wednesday, Salwa was permitted to cross through Erez checkpoint. “I was shocked,” Salwa said. “I received a phone call from the coordination office and they told me I had 10 minutes to get to Erez before it would close.” Salwa said along with her brother Khalid and Inam, they spent most of the time at the medical complex. The date for the surgery has not yet been set, as they have to wait two weeks for the results of the medical tests that Inam and her uncle took….

Opinion: A Gazan fisherman’s prayer / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 1 Mar — Have the Israeli navy personnel given a thought about Ismail Abu Riala since they shot and killed him – an unarmed fisherman, a teenager for eternity – in cold blood? — I find myself thinking about Ismail Abu Riala. I never met him. No Haaretz reader ever met him. I doubt if anyone in Israel ever heard his name. I am examining his picture: a boyish face, an embarrassed smile, a stylish haircut, a fishing net or sail in the background. I am prevented from presenting his full life story because Israel has closed the Gaza Strip to Israeli journalists for over 11 years. I don’t know much about his life or death, and still I permit myself to write about him and his character. It is neither hard to imagine the life of an 18-year-old fisherman in Gaza, nor hard to imagine his death. Navy personnel fired at his boat and killed him on Sunday. They aimed and fired at the target, like they were trained to do. He of course didn’t endanger them for a moment, for how could a forlorn Gazan fisherman in a rickety boat endanger the lives of armed sailors equipped with sophisticated ships? The Israeli army explained away the killing by saying the fisherman passed the boundary of the authorized fishing zone off Gaza. Israel permits Gazans to fish up to six miles from the coast. Thus Israel maintains the control it yielded in Gaza years ago, the occupation that is not an occupation. If someone strays too far from the coast, his fate is sealed …  The sea is Gaza’s last refuge, the sole source of income for many. Fisherman are always poor in song, in literature and in mythology. They are even poorer in Gaza. One hot summer night, in times gone by, I went sailing with Gazan fishermen. We returned at first light, and ate an unforgettable meal made from their catch. Abu Riala also went out in his haska – that’s what they call fishing boats in Gaza – into the not-so-open sea. They shot him after he crossed the permitted boundary. Did they warn him? Did he hear? We will never know. They say they shot first in the air, like they always say. According to B’tselem data for last year, naval forces arrested 35 fishermen, injured 10 and killed one….

UAWC demands Israel return body of slain Palestinian fisherman
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 Feb — The Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) put out a call on Tuesday to international organizations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) demanding that Israel return the body of a teenage Palestinian fisherman to his family in Gaza. 18-year-old Ismail Saleh Abu Reyala was shot and killed by israeli forces on Sunday while sailing off the northern coast of the Gaza Strip. Reyala was sailing with Mahmoud Adel Abu Reyala, who was injured with a bullet to the chest, and Ahed Abu Ali, when their boat came under fire after it allegedly “deviated from the designated fishing zone,” according to the Israeli army. The boat was seized by Israeli forces, and the two men were released after hours of detention, while Reyala’s body was kept by authorities. “It is the fundamental right of the fisherman’s family and his relatives to know the fate of their son,” the group said, adding “it is their basic right to receive his body and bury him.”

Israel will not return body of murdered fisherman to hide its crime, father says
[photos] MEMO 28 Feb — … On Sunday, the Israeli occupation navy shot dead the Palestinian fisherman Ismail Abu-Riyaleh, 18, and wounded two of his relatives, who were aboard of the fishing boat. The Israeli navy captured Abu-Riyaleh’s body. His father, Saleh, accused the Israeli occupation authorities of “committing a crime” against his son. “Continuous blocking of the body of my son means that the Israeli occupation carried out three crimes against him: murder and cold-blooded killing, blocking the body and trying to hide the proof of its crime,” the father said. He called for local and international rights groups to put pressure on the Israeli occupation to release the body of his son “before it is placed in the number cemeteries, where bodies of hundreds of Palestinian martyrs are hidden.” Coordinator of the committee that documents Israel violations against Gaza fishermen, Zakaria Baker, confirmed that the Israeli occupation blocks the return of bodies “in order to hide its crime”. In this case it is because Ismail “was shot from a very close distance”. He also said: “The Israeli occupation authorities do not want the crime to get large media coverage in case of handing over the body.”

Palestinians in Gaza injured as Israeli forces attack 13th ‘Friday of Rage’ rallies
GAZA (WAFA) 2 Mar – At least 15 Palestinians were injured during clashes that broke out in multiple locations along Gaza borders as Israeli forces attacked protesters who rallied on the 13th ‘Friday of Rage’ against US recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, said sources. Israeli forces stationed in military watchtowers to the east of Gaza city fired live ammunition and tear gas canisters toward protesters who approached the border fence with Israel, shooting and injuring a youth. Similar clashes took place along the borders to the east of the town of Jabalia, northern Gaza Strip, during which forces opened live fire at protester, shooting and injuring at least four people.  Seven other Palestinians sustained live bullet wounds during clashes that were witnessed to the east of Khan Younis city, southern Strip. A youth was reportedly shot and injured by live ammunition as forces attacked protesters to the east of al-Bureij refugee camp, in central Gaza. A Palestinian was also struck with a live bullet in the foot during clashes that erupted near Beit Hanoun crossing in the northern Strip. All cases were transferred to hospital for medical treatment, where their conditions were described as moderate.

Man shot, injured by Israeli gunfire at Gaza border
GAZA, March 3, 2018 (WAFA) – A 59-year-old Gaza farmer was shot and injured by Israeli forces’ gunfire east of Khan Younis  on Saturday, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. The farmer, who was not identified, was transferred to hospital with a bullet wound to the back. He was described in moderate condition. Israel has imposed a 300-meter buffer zone inside the Gaza Strip along their common borders preventing Palestinians from reaching their lands near the border fence. It regularly opens fire at anyone who enters that buffer zone.

Palestinian injured as Egyptian shell hits southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 1 Mar — One Palestinian was injured after an Egyptian shell hit lands in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, allegedly by mistake. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that a Palestinian was lightly injured when passing nearby an abandoned house in Rafah City as the mortar shell hit the house. Locals added that explosions are heard on a near-constant basis in Rafah city as fighting continues between the Egyptian army and so-called Islamic State militants in the Sinai Peninsula….

Netanyahu: Zero tolerance for rockets – ‘they get hit immediately’
Times of Israel 27 Feb — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday he believed in a policy of “zero” tolerance for rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip and Syria, no matter how sporadic … “There’s no tolerance for spillover, no ‘drip-drip’ [of rockets] — they get hit immediately” in response to attacks, he said. “That hasn’t always been the policy, but this policy is proving itself.” ‘Drizzle’ is a term often used in Israel to describe the infrequent rocket attacks that have been the norm along the Gaza frontier in the years since the Israeli pullout, even during times of relative peace … Last week, Netanyahu credited Israel’s policy of targeting Hamas sites in the Gaza Strip in response to any aggression coming from the territory with preventing additional attacks. “It doesn’t matter who did it. It matters who didn’t stop it,” Netanyahu said, referring to Gaza’s Hamas rulers. Since the 2014 Gaza war, Hamas has largely prevented other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip from carrying out attacks, leading to one of the quietest periods between Israel and the coastal enclave since the 1967 Six Day War, according to Israeli statistics on terror attacks. “This isn’t about [Hamas] loving us, but about loving itself,” Netanyahu said.

Hamas arrests top global jihad man in Gaza
Haaretz 4 Mar by Avi Issacharoff — Hamas security forces in Gaza arrested the purported leader of a global jihad militant group earlier this week, Haaretz learned yesterday. Hisham Saidani, leader of the Tawhid al-Jihad, a group associated with Al-Qaida and other global jihad elements, was arrested at home at the central Gaza refugee camp of al-Maazi after spending 18 months on Hamas wanted list. The arrest, which sources said was conducted peacefully and without resistance, followed repeated attempts to nab Saidani, whose group has been operating in the region for several years. Tawhid al-Jihad has been linked to 2004 attacks against tourist destinations in the Sinai, as well as carrying out attacks on hotels in the Egyptian peninsula that killed 19 people. The group had recently widened its Gaza support base. Following the arrest, Hamas security upped its alertness level fearing Saidanis men would attempt to avenge his arrest by attacking or kidnapping one of the Gaza Strips Hamas leaders. Hamas security has been targeting the global jihad network in Gaza for some time now, last month arresting Mahmoud Taleb, another central figure in the Strip associated with the global jihad movement.

Gaza: Israeli army defuses bomb near barrier
TEL AVIV (ANSAmed) 1 Mar — The Israeli army has announced that it defused an explosive device hidden inside a Palestinian flag placed near a defensive barrier in the southern part of Gaza. According to a military spokesman, the bomb was placed there two and a half weeks ago, during a Palestinian demonstration in front of the barrier, close to a similar device that exploded a week ago, wounding four Israeli soldiers.

Women’s Taif TV blocked in Gaza two hours before launch
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 2 Mar by Tamam Mohsen — The Palestinian Ministry of Information in the Gaza Strip blocked Feb. 18 the launch of Taif TV, which would serve as a platform dedicated to women’s affairs in Gaza. While the media office of the ministry said in a Feb. 18 statement on its official website that the channel had not obtained the necessary licenses, the channel’s director, Mona Okal, told the BBC that the crisis was “fabricated” and “aimed at entangling the channel in a political impasse.” The ministry’s media office continued in its statement that Taif TV was repeatedly contacted to submit the necessary documents and settle the legal status of the channel, and had been notified that a radio station has the same name. In its statement, the ministry stressed its respect for freedom of opinion and expression, and said, “We regret the TV channel’s failure to comply with the legal principles currently in force.
The Taif TV administration said in a statement Feb. 18 on its official Facebook page, “We regret the allegations made by the media office of the Ministry of Information in Gaza and confirm that our legal status is sound and does not contradict the provisions of the publications law. We have even obtained the necessary license from the Ministry of Interior in Gaza to hold the inauguration ceremony.” … Although the channel was blocked and its inauguration event was banned, it is currently operational on social media platforms … Fatima Ashour, a lawyer and human rights activist, told Al-Monitor that preventing the launch of the TV channel raises concerns about freedom of the press and respect for women’s rights in Gaza, and said the step “hits two birds with one stone.” She said the rationale behind the decision is probably the content broadcast by the channel. “But it was more appropriate for the media office to say that the channel had not obtained the required licenses than to say that it opposed the content broadcast by the channel,” she said….

Gold market in Gaza falling apart
GAZA (WAFA) 28 Feb by Rima Sweisi — The gold market in Gaza, known as “Caesarea,” is devoid of shoppers except of the few who came to sell a piece of gold to use the money to pay for something more urgent that would help them through these difficult times. “The situation in Gaza is bad,” said  Abu Khatab Daghmash, director-general of the gold traders that is part of Justice Ministry. “Gold is a luxury, not a necessity,” he said, attributing the deterioration in the gold market to mainly inability of Arabs in Israel to enter Gaza as was the case in the past, which resulted in a 50% decline in the gold business. In addition, he said, newlyweds are unable these days to buy a large quantity of gold as dowry to their brides. He said that when a man used to give his bride between 200 to 300 grams of gold as dowry [in case of future widowhood or divorce], now he can afford only between 50 and 60 grams in the best case scenario. Daghmash explained that the damage to the gold market activity as a result of the previous factors has reached 90% and the least loss for a gold trader in the last five years has reached 70%. “This is why the central gold market in Gaza looks like a soccer field empty of crowds,” he said … Some traders leave the Gaza Strip to the West Bank twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays at the rate of seven people each time to sell their gold stocks and get liquidity in return to bring it into Gaza. If it wasn’t for this, things would have completely deteriorated.” Daghmash said that the price of gold is now 26 Jordanian dinars (app. $36) per gram. However, it sells at a much higher price in the West Bank where demand is more than in Gaza. He said 28 kilograms of gold leave Gaza every week to the West Bank.

Feature: Medicine shortage, Israeli blockade prompt cancer 2nd leading cause of death in Gaza
GAZA (Xinhua) 1 Mar — Ibtisam Atteyeh, a 32-year-old mother, sat sleepless with sadness close to the bed of her 8-year-old son Fadi, who has been treated in al-Rantisi Cancer Hospital in northern Gaza City for two months, to make sure that he is still breathing. Fadi has been suffering from a severe brain cancer, completely unconscious together with another 60 cancer patients. Most of the patients in the hospital are children, all having cannulas inserted into their arms getting chemotherapy and other medications. As the world marks Cancer Day on Feb. 4 to raise awareness of cancer and encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment, the Palestinian Health Ministry said cancer has become the second leading cause of death in the Palestinian territories.
“Cancer has rapidly spread into Fadi’s brain and damaged his neural network and this has caused complete immovability,” Atteyeh told Xinhua, adding that “there is no cure. We die a thousand times a day looking at the condition of our cancer-stricken children.”
The Palestinian Health Ministry said in an emailed statement that in the past 17 years, cancer cases climbed from 1,273 in 2000 to 3,950 in 2017, adding that “14 percent of the deaths in Palestine were because of cancer, the second after heart disease which reached 30.6 percent.” The health ministry statement said that the rate of breast cancer rose to 15.3 percent, as the top kind of cancers that women were infected in the Palestinian territories in 2000-2017, followed by the colon cancer, blood cancer and lung cancer….

Interactive: UN-assisted Emergency Fuel Programme in Gaza
ReliefWeb 2 Mar – interactive from UN OCHA — Reliable and affordable energy supply is crucial for the delivery of basic services such as health, water, sewage and education. However, in the Gaza Strip, home to almost 2 million Palestinians, a chronic electricity deficit has for more than a decade disrupted the delivery of such services. To allow for the maintenance of a minimum level of critical services, humanitarian agencies provide donor-funded emergency fuel to the most vital, life-saving health, water and sanitation facilities. The emergency fuel program is currently facing a severe funding crisis threatening its continuity. Available funds can cover less than 40 per cent of the bare minimum required to maintain the deliveries during 2018. OCHA’s new interactive charts are available here

Graduates of Gaza universities demand jobs, degree recognition
Gaza City (Al-Monitor) 28 Feb by Hana Salah — A number of university graduates protested in front of the Ministry of Labor in Gaza Feb. 18, preventing Labor Minister Mamoun Abu Shahla from entering the building. They were demanding solutions to the unemployment crisis. On Jan. 28, unemployed university graduates formed a committee to promote their rights to employment in the public sector. Committee spokesman Shadi al-Naqla told Al-Monitor that the ongoing Palestinian division and failure to achieve true reconciliation, in addition to the Israeli blockade, are making the already poor economic situation even worse. Naqla added, “We are not seeking temporary employment opportunities. We are demanding radical solutions to this problem, such as supporting small projects, financing for projects and permanent jobs in vital sectors.” On Jan. 22, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights published a study on unemployment in Gaza. The study indicated that political changes in the Gaza Strip contributed to increasing unemployment rates, which hit a staggering 46.6% in 2017, exceeding 60% among the youth, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics
… The Ministry of Labor’s temporary employment program gives university graduates the opportunity work in the public sector for three months with a monthly salary of 1,000 shekels ($288) for graduates with a bachelor’s degree and 900 shekels ($259) for those with a high school diploma. The program, which was scaled down drastically two years ago, has employed 186,573 graduates between 2007 and 2017, currently placing workers only on projects funded by international nongovernmental organizations. Over the last 10 years, more than a quarter of a million university graduates, some of them with master’s and doctoral degrees, applied for the program…
Unemployment is not the only problem facing thousands of young people in Gaza. Around 25,000 students and university graduates hold uncertified degrees, disqualifying them to enter the labor market because the Ministry of Education with the government of consensus refused to recognize the accreditation of their universities under the former Hamas government in Gaza….

Gaza’s first ‘child friendly school’ opens to students
MEMO 1 Mar — Gaza got its first ever “child friendly school” yesterday on the ruins of Jamal Abdul Nasser School which was completely destroyed during Israel’s 2014 bombardment of the besieged enclave. Serving 800 pupils, the new school was built by a Qatari education foundation and UN bodies with design input from children and the local community. The school was opened by Al Fakhoora, a programme of the Qatari funded initiative, Education Above All (EAA) Foundation.  It was completed in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). Donors of the project are confident that Jamal Abdul Nasser School can now also serve as an emergency shelter for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) during times of conflict. In its press release, the EAA said that the new building is designed to be “environmentally friendly, child-centred and fully accessible for all students. Renewable energy is provided by solar panels, the design incorporates a double wall system, double-glazed, shatter-proof windows, and thermal insulation in the ceiling and floor.” There are a number of distinctive additions to the school’s multi-purpose halls. “Features of the multipurpose buildings include: flexible learning spaces, an extensive library, IT facilities, breakout spaces, a multi-purpose sports facility and an on-site health facility, providing crucial psychosocial support and child protection services,” said EAA….

Yesh Atid MK vows to create 3000 jobs in Gaza
JPost 28 Feb by Gil Hoffman — MK Haim Jelin, who lives at Kibbutz Nahal Oz in the Gaza periphery, has decided to help his neighbors. Through Spanish Ambassador Manuel Gomez-Acebo, Jelin has approached a Spanish textile corporation and urged it to expand a textile factory in Gaza that currently employs 300 people. Jelin said he is convinced that the negotiations will lead to the creation of more than 3,000 jobs in the Strip … “Every Gazan who has work supports his extended family. The goal is to create as many workplaces as possible, as part of a long-term plan for Gaza’s future.” Jelin turned to textiles because at its peak, the industry employed close to 6,000 people in the Gaza Strip, and related fields supporting the industry employed thousands more. He said he was aware of the numbers, because when, as head of the Eshkol Regional Council, he was in charge of the Karni crossing near Nahal Oz, he facilitated 450 trucks hauling textiles entering Israel from the Gaza Strip. The plan is coordinated with Gazan business owners, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, and the coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj.- Gen. Yoav Mordechai. Jelin revealed that President Reuven Rivlin has been instrumental in advancing the plan with top Spanish leaders. “The time has come to restore life to Gaza’s textile industry,” Jelin said. “If there are epidemics in Gaza, it will be Israel’s problem, so we need their economy to develop.”

Who profits from keeping Gaza on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe? / Shir Hever
+972 blog 2 Mar — Keeping Gaza on the verge of collapse keeps international humanitarian aid money flowing to exactly where it benefits Israeli interests —  In their book “The One State Condition,” Ariella Azoulay and Adi Ophir attempt to answer the question, what interest does Israel have in keeping Gaza on the verge of collapse? Their answer remains valid even after fifteen years: keeping the Palestinians perpetually on the brink is proof of Israel’s conclusive victory. The Palestinians cannot take their lives as given, for Israel can take their lives at any time. This is the basis of Israel’s relation of clear relation of dominance over the Palestinians.
But while this answer is true, it is not sufficient. There is also an economic answer.  As long as Gaza remains on the brink of collapse, international donors keep the flow of humanitarian aid money going. If the crisis were ended and the siege lifted, it is safe to assume that that the international donors would change the type of aid they provide and return to focus on the development of the Gazan economy (as they did from 1994–2000, until the outbreak of the Second Intifada). This type of aid would likely compete with certain branches of Israeli companies and therefore threaten the Israeli economy. Keeping Gaza on the verge of collapse keeps international humanitarian aid money flowing exactly to where it benefits Israeli interests…
In a study I conducted for the Palestinian organization Aid Watch in 2015, I observed the correlation between international aid, on the one hand, and the trade deficit in goods and services between the Palestinian and Israeli economies, on the other. The data for the study was from 2000-2013. I found that some 78 percent of aid to the Palestinians found its way to the Israeli economy. This is a rough estimate, to be sure….

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

Palestinian Authority battling Israel over school curriculum in East Jerusalem
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 28 Feb – The Palestinian Authority is facing a vicious war from Israel over textbooks in occupied East Jerusalem’s Palestinian schools, according to Deputy Minister of Education Basri Saleh. He told the official Voice of Palestine radio on Wednesday that Israel is doing its best to change the Palestinian curriculum and to prevent students from learning about their history and culture. Israel recently introduced new textbooks at East Jerusalem schools after omitting from them pages related to the Palestinian national struggle and history. It also refuses to financially support schools that refuse to use its textbooks instead of the Palestinian Authority’s books that have been taught in schools for many years. Saleh said in addition to the war over the textbooks, Israel also prevents rehabilitation of schools in the East Jerusalem, mainly in the Old City, to prevent the Palestinian students from getting education in a proper and healthy environment. He said his ministry is working with parent-teacher associations in the city to confront all these Israeli plans, in addition to resorting to international institutions to put pressure on Israel to stop these violations against the educational process in the city. Parent-teacher associations in East Jerusalem have also rejected the Israeli-issued textbooks and said they will provide students and schools with the Palestinian textbooks to prevent any distortions in the learning process of their children.

Israel’s Supreme Court agrees to delay demolition of outpost homes until June
MEMO 28 Feb — Israel’s Supreme Court has agreed to the state’s request to delay the demolition of 15 homes in the illegal settlement outpost of Netiv Ha’avot, located in the southern occupied West Bank. The court extended the deadline by three months, until 15 June, in order to allow for the construction of temporary housing for the residents. The court did, however, reject another state request, namely that in the case of six of the 15 buildings, to only demolish those parts of the structures which cross into privately-owned Palestinian land. In today’s ruling, the court highlighted how the homes in question were not just built on privately owned Palestinian land, but were also “constructed without permits and after stop-work and demolition orders were handed down to the residents the moment they began building them”. Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he welcomed the court’s ruling, as “it will enable us to complete the dialogue with the residents and reach an agreed solution”, said the Times of Israel. On Sunday, the paper noted, the Israeli cabinet “approved a proposal to begin the process of legalizing Netiv Ha’avot”, a decision which does not cover the 15 homes slated for demolition. However, the settlers “intend to utilise the legalisation of the remainder of the outpost, where over 20 other families live, to advance the construction of 350 more homes, thereby significantly expanding the neighbourhood.” In addition, the Israeli government also approved a sum of 53 million shekels ($15.2 million) to cover both temporary accommodation for the evicted settlers, as well as compensation for their illegally-built homes.

NGO: Israel recognizes outpost after 15 years of settlers’ harassment of Palestinians
MEMO 28 Feb — Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem has slammed the government’s recognition of illegal settlement outpost Gilad Farm, after years of de-facto land seizure and harassment of local Palestinians. On 31 January, “the Israeli government approved the establishment of what it described as a ‘new community’ on part of the land seized by force by the settlers at Gilad Farm”, said B’Tselem. “The settlers have lived on the outpost for many years with the authorities’ support, albeit without official approval,” the NGO added. Gilad Farm outpost was established in April 2002, around one kilometre from Kedumim settlement. According to B’Tselem, “it forms part of a ring of settlements that chokes the city of Nablus, restricting Palestinian movement in the area”. In the beginning, settlers erected four structures “on private land belonging to residents of the village of Far‘ata”. After initially attempting to demolish these structures, by July 2003, Israeli occupation authorities desisted from any further demolition attempts … “In full view of the security forces,” the NGO explained, “the outpost expanded and now spans some 450 dunams [0.45 square kilometres] of farmland and pastureland under the private ownership of Palestinians from the villages of Far‘ata, Tal and Jit.” There are now 75 buildings on site, mostly residential. B’Tselem noted that “the settlers’ presence on the site and their seizure of land from the villages have been accompanied from the outset by violence against local Palestinians”, yet “the Israeli legal system has consistently refrained from taking any action against Israeli assailants from Gilad Farm.”

Tanks on your doorstep: Israeli military training part of daily life in northern Jordan Valley
B’Tselem 2 Mar — Facing Expulsion — Israel increased the frequency of training exercises in the area beginning November 2017. Since then, training has taken place near 11 Palestinian communities and three Palestinian villages in the northern Jordan Valley, which are home to some 7,500 residents. The military has been conducting the exercises closer to residents’ houses than before, and using more armored vehicles. Over the last few months, B’Tselem has documented military exercises involving infantry and tank deployment, mortar shelling and use of live ammunition on cultivated farmland, pastureland and near homes. While the training is underway, the military blocks access roads to the communities with large concrete blocks. In recent years, the military notified residents ahead of field exercises in their area and demanded that they evacuate and take their livestock with them. This practice was burdensome, disruptive and dangerous for the residents.
Yet since November 2017, even this minimal precaution has been abandoned, and the military has been training in close proximity to residents’ homes without warning, putting their lives at risk. Over these months, B’Tselem has documented at least six military exercises that took place near residential areas, two of them right between homes in the community. For example, on 12 December, armored forces and infantry trained in between homes in the village of ‘Ein al-Bida. On 27 December, soldiers were observed at a distance of some 200 meters from homes in the village of al-‘Aqabah and on farmland south of it, and later that day, just several meters away from the local school at the village of Tayasir. On 5 February 2018, the military held training exercises near Khirbet al-Farisiyah, which included the firing of multiple mortar shells about 100 meters away from residents’ homes, causing damage to groves …
One of the dangers associated with military training near Palestinian communities is unexploded ordnance left behind. At least three Palestinians have been killed, and five have been injured since 2014 when unexploded ammunition detonated. In testimonies given to B’Tselem field researcher ‘Aref Daraghmeh, Palestinian shepherds from the northern Jordan Valley expressed their deep concern over potential injury from unexploded ordnance when they take their livestock out to pasture following a military field exercise.
The training is part of Israel’s longstanding policy aimed at driving Palestinian communities out of the area. Instead of openly loading residents onto trucks and removing them, Israel is going to great lengths to create impossible living conditions that will, eventually, push them to leave the area, seemingly of their own accord…
B’Tselem field researcher ‘Aref Daraghmeh collected testimonies from residents of the area:  Ruqayah Daraghmeh, a 28-year-old farmer from Ahmir (a Palestinian community that is part of al-Farisiyah) described how the military training terrifies residents in a testimony she gave on 12 February 2018:…

Israel justice minister urges annexation of most of West Bank
MEMO 28 Feb — Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has used an interview in the Washington Post to renew her call for the annexation of the majority of the occupied West Bank. In an interview published yesterday, Shaked replied, “Yes, definitely”, when asked whether she believes “it is time to apply Israeli sovereignty to the [occupied] Palestinian territories”. “The Palestinian Authority rules Area A, Area B has joint security coordination with Israel, but in Area C, there are half a million Israelis and 100,000 Palestinians,” she added. “I think we should apply Israeli law [to] that area and give full Israeli citizenship, with all its rights, to the Palestinians there.” … Pressed by the interviewer how she envisages such a plan working, Shaked said that “Israeli law will be applied in Area C, and Areas A and B will be part of a confederation, with Jordan and Gaza”. “I think any solution today needs to be part of a regional solution. It is not only Israel’s problem,” she continued, before clarifying that under her “confederation” proposal, “Area A, B [of the West Bank] and Gaza become part of Jordan.” Shaked suggested that support for annexation is likely to rise over the coming years….

Feature: New Israeli wall isolates Palestinian family in West Bank
RAMALLAH (Xinhua) 2 Mar — Palestinian Hossam Hamid and his families are feeling squeezed, as their home in the central West Bank city of al-Beira near Ramallah is sandwiched between a concrete wall erected by the Israeli authorities and a Jewish settlement. The family can no longer enjoy a sip of hot coffee in the morning at the home garden which once boasted a natural landscape, because of the recently erected six-meter-high wall. Located at the Jalazon refugee camp, Hamid’s home lies between Bet El Israeli settlement and the new 700-meter long wall Israel started to build in November. The Israeli authorities have been accelerating the construction of the concrete barrier, especially after the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December, a move that has not only caused a surge in confrontations between Palestinian protestors and Israeli forces, but also jarred on the nerves of millions of Muslims across the globe. Israel says the wall is meant to protect the settlers of Bet El from possible Palestinian attacks. “It is a new illegal and unjustified violation against us,” Hamid told Xinhua angrily. “It is the Israelis who attack us, not the opposite.” Hamid said his family has owned the home since 1978, years before the creation of the Israeli settlement. “Life started to worsen after the settlement was founded,” he lamented, looking helplessly. Since the Israelis built the settlement, the family has been unable to do any construction works in their garden or expand their home which houses 22 people. “We are now trapped between the wall and the settlement,” Hamid said. During the construction of the wall, the Israeli forces prevented Hamid’s family from moving in or out of their home, keeping a hole in the home’s wall as the only entrance for them….

Israeli soldiers demolish gas stations in Hizma
IMEMC 1 Mar — Israeli soldiers demolished, on Wednesday morning, gas stations, walls and agricultural structures, in Hizma town, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem. Media sources in Hizma said dozens of soldiers invaded the town, and demolished many walls, agricultural structures, and gas station, under the pretext of being built without permits. It is worth mentioning that the town has been under strict Israeli siege since more than a month, as part of illegal collective measures imposed by the military, and is subject to constant invasions.

Palestinian refugees

UNRWA services reductions start to bite
MEMO 2 Mar — The head of the World People’s Assembly in Support of Gaza, Dr. Essam Yousef, warned against continued reduction of the services of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), considering that its catastrophic consequences will affect all aspects of the Palestinian refugees’ lives. In a press statement, Yousef explained that the impact of UNRWA’s reduction of its services has started to impact key sectors of the lives of Palestinians who live in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, especially in the health and education sectors. He pointed out that camps’ residents are worried about what is coming after the reduction of the number of services in the camp schools in Lebanon, such as teachers’ retirement, and stopping the number of others who are working within the daily wage system, in addition to the gradual reduction in the quantities of fuel supplied to schools, as well as closing schools and merging them with others, and stopping any new book purchase for students for the current academic year.
He added, ”The refugees’ health matters are not less serious, as they have recently started suffering, during the recent period, from the cancellation of specialized contracts for a number of clinics, such as clinics of patients with heart, eye, diabetes and glands diseases, in addition to the abolition of natural deliveries, and reduction of the amounts of money of health support for patients. Adding to that, daily workers and employees are being fired without finding alternatives.”….

Gaza: UNRWA workers, school students rally against US funding cut
AhlulBayt News Agency 28 Feb –Thousands of UNRWA employees and school students participated in a massive rally held on Tuesday in Khan Younis, in the south of Gaza, to protest the recent US decision to shrink its financial support for the refugee agency. Amir al-Mis’haal, head of the union of the UNRWA Arab employees in Gaza, said in press remarks that this protest was the second event that was held to condemn the US reduction of funding for the UNRWA. “This rally has taken place to send a message to the whole world that these students present here today and others in all areas of the agency’s work are entitled to receive their education freely and with dignity like the rest of the world’s children,” Mis’haal stated. He stressed that the US step towards UNRWA would affect the educational, health and social services it provides for millions of Palestinian refugees in all areas of its operations. He also called on the US administration to revoke its decision in this regard and maintain its international role for the regional security and stability.

Al-Quds University’s Bard College starts online classes for refugees
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 3 Mar — Students from Al-Quds Bard College (AQB), an Abu-Dis-based program of partnership between Al-Quds University (AQU) and Bard College, are partaking in the new educational endeavor of blended learning, an Al-Quds University press release said on Saturday. AQB students study with their professors in Abu Dis classrooms while connecting to a mirror classroom in Jordan where refugee students are taking the same course. Last week, AQB students and their professors traveled to Jordan to intensively work face-to-face with their peers on course content and group projects. AQB is offering two interdisciplinary courses in this blended format to Amman-based refugees. Taught by two professors, each team takes one course in Computer Science and Human Rights, and another in Literature and History. These courses are part of a pilot project launched by Bard College in New York. The project is funded by the Open Society Foundation which grants refugee students college credits upon completing the courses. A third course is offered at Bard College Berlin to Germany-based refugee students. This new initiative offers AQB students a rare opportunity to engage with peers who have undergone the life-changing experience of displacement, said the press statement….

Other news

Premier calls on Hamas to allow government to be in charge in Gaza
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 3 Mar – Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah renewed on Saturday his call on Hamas to allow the Palestinian government to have actual control on the ground in the Gaza Strip, which Hamas has been running for over 10 years, in order to consolidate the intra-Palestinian national reconciliation. “I reiterate my call on Hamas for the actual empowerment of the government in the Gaza Strip,” he said during a visit to the Tulkarm town of Anabta in the north of the West Bank. “These are not conditions, but requirements toward achieving national reconciliation. President Mahmoud Abbas and the government are ready to assume all responsibility toward the Gaza Strip the minute the government is in charge,” he said. Hamdallah said the executive branch and government are committed to reconciliation and unity, which he said was why the government agreed to include 20,000 Hamas employees in its 2018 budget in order to do away with the last obstacle facing national reconciliation. He said the government should have full financial control in Gaza through collecting revenues and full control over the crossings. The police and civil defense should also be allowed to enforce law and order while the judiciary should be allowed to do its work and all pre-2007 employees, when the Palestinian Authority ordered all its employees in Gaza not to cooperate with Hamas after its takeover of the Gaza Strip, should be allowed to return to their work places.

PLO to send 3,000 West Bank policemen to Gaza
MEMO 27 Feb — The committee formed to follow up the latest decisions of the PLO’s Central Council has recommended the despatch of 3,000 policemen from the occupied West Bank to the Gaza Strip, reported on Monday. Wasel Abu Yousef, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said that the officers would run the police stations in the Gaza Strip. He noted that members of the Presidential Guard would be sent to Gaza soon to run the border crossings. Hamas and Fatah reached a reconciliation deal, brokered by Egypt, in October last year. According to the deal, 3,000 Palestinian Authority policemen who have just sat at home in Gaza since 2007 should have gone back to work, but this has not happened.

PA employees in Gaza go on strike
MEMO 27 Feb — Palestinian Authority employees in the Gaza Strip went on strike on Monday, paralysing all ministries, government offices, schools and hospitals, Quds Press has reported. The Syndicate [Union] of Palestinian Employees in Gaza organised the strike which, it said, aimed to send a message to the government in Ramallah led by Rami Hamdallah. According to the Syndicate, Hamdallah’s PA has been ignoring the rights of those employees who were recruited after June 2007. That’s when Hamas ended a year of security chaos and swept Fatah, which refused to recognise the Islamic Resistance Movement’s victory in the free and fair 2006 elections, out of Gaza. Last October, Egypt brokered a reconciliation deal between Hamas, which has been running Gaza, and Fatah, which has been running the Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank. The terms of the agreement stipulated that the Ramallah-based PA must pay the salaries of Gaza employees and Hamas must hand over control of government offices in Gaza, including access to tax revenues. Hamas duly handed the offices over to the PA without delay, but the authority refused to recognise the Gaza employees and did not pay their salaries. Furthermore, the PA in Ramallah has been refusing to lift its punitive measures imposed on the Palestinians in Gaza. In response, Hamas withheld part of the tax revenues and the fees for government services in the territory and made small payments to the employees.

Israel suspends taxation legislation for Jerusalem’s churches
Al Jazeera 27 Feb – The Church of the Holy Sepulchre has announced it will reopen its doors after Israel decided to suspend legislation regarding collecting taxes from churches and their properties in Jerusalem. Following international pressure and rising protests from Palestinian Christians, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the formation of a committee to discuss the imposition of the property tax, or arnona, on Jerusalem’s churches. The decision came following a meeting between Netanyahu and the Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barakat, and after one of the holiest sites in Christianity, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, closed its doors on Sunday in protest against the proposed legislation. The committee will be headed by Tzachi Hanegbi, the Israeli minister of regional cooperation.
Al Jazeera’s correspondent Walid al-Omari, reporting from the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, said that tax procedures on churches and their properties would be frozen under the new arrangement. “Accounts belonging to churches and monasteries will be cancelled,” he said. “Furthermore, a new law proposed by Israeli right-wing politicians that will allow Israeli authorities to confiscate properties of the churches if they do not pay taxes, will be suspended.” Israeli-controlled Jerusalem municipality said that the churches owed $53m in commercial back taxes. However, the three Christian denominations have countered that this was a plan to “weaken the Christian presence in Jerusalem”. “The systematic campaign of abuse against Churches and Christians reaches now its peak as a discriminatory and racist bill that targets solely the properties of the Christian community,” they said in a statement on Sunday. “These actions breach existing agreements and international obligations, which guarantee the rights and privileges of the Churches.” The statement was signed by the Roman Catholic, Armenian and Greek Orthodox church leaders … Hana Amira, the head of the Supreme Presidential Committee for Church Affairs, told Palestinian government news agency Wafa that the stance of the heads of the churches, as well as the closure of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, had foiled the Israeli plan temporarily….

Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulchre reopens: ‘This is a victory’
Al Jazeera 28 Feb — The doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem were officially reopened early morning on Wednesday after being shut for three days in protest of Israeli policies. Adeeb Joudeh, the custodian of the keys, said that the church was reopened to the public at 4am local time (02:00 GMT). “This is a victory. We’re celebrating. Easter is coming and so there were hundreds of visitors who had to pray outside the church for three days,” Joudeh told Al Jazeera.  “There’s a general feeling of happiness now that prayers inside the church have resumed – it was a beautiful sight to see,” he added. The church, situated in the Old City – which falls in occupied East Jerusalem, is one of the holiest in Christianity. It is believed by many Christians to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial and is a major pilgrimage site, drawing millions of tourists annually. But on Sunday, leaders from the Roman Catholic, Armenian and Greek Orthodox churches announced they would be closing the church doors in protest of what they described as “discriminatory” Israeli policy aimed at weakening Christian presence in Jerusalem. The last and only other time the church doors were shut was in 1990 – for 48 hours – in protest of Jewish settlers who had occupied a building in the Christian quarter near the church.
WATCH: Holding the Key: Inside Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Palestinian village starts general strike over Jerusalem Municipality negligence
MEMO 2 Mar — The Um Tuba schools from the village of Um Tuba, near Jerusalem, have started a general strike in protest against the Israeli Jerusalem Municipality’s neglect of students’ safety. The head of the Parents’ Committee in Um Tuba, Ashraf Abu Teir, told Quds Press that the village schools have started a general strike in response to the municipality’s failure to respond to their demands to provide safety measures for the village’s students who study in buildings rented by the municipality which lack safety requirements. Abu Teir said nearly 1,500 students in the village schools are at risk because of the lack of road safety, pedestrian crossings, traffic lights and safety barriers which led to many accidents. The Israeli Jerusalem Municipality has recently contacted the schools principals to arrange for a meeting.

Israel proposes bill to bar Palestinians from petitioning High Court
MEMO 26 Feb — The Israeli government will support a bill barring Palestinians from petitioning the High Court of Justice, a Knesset committee announced yesterday according to Haaretz. A new bill, put forward by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the pro-settlement Jewish Home party, would see the cases of West Bank residents redirected to the Jerusalem District Court. Such cases would include building and planning permits, entry and exit requests, and would also serve as the appeals court for those sentenced by Israeli military courts. The move has been justified as an attempt to reduce the High Court’s case load; however High Court justices are known to be critical of Israel’s settlement policies, and have often expressed their disapproval of the government delaying the evacuation of illegal outposts in the occupied territories, in an attempt to legalise them. Last month, Shaked advocated for the move stating that the Jerusalem District Court would assess the facts of cases brought by Palestinians, rather than “making do only with the offhanded claims of ownership [by Palestinians] that are not backed up by evidence.”

Israel bans patients bringing non-kosher bread into hospitals during Passover
MEMO 1 Mar — A legal rights centre is set to challenge an Israeli government ban that prevents Palestinian citizens “from bringing leavened bread products into hospitals during the Jewish holiday of Passover”. Adalah – The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel “filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court on 27 February 2018 against the Health Ministry’s ban on bringing leavened bread products into hospitals or eating bread in hospitals for the duration of the holiday.” This policy, the organisation explains, “has been enforced in hospitals nationwide over the past several years”, and compels all individuals to “undergo strict searches at hospital entrances”. Any leavened bread products found “are confiscated or destroyed”. There have also been instances where “individuals who refused to hand over their bread products to security guards were prevented from entering hospitals and visiting admitted family members”. In the petition, Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher wrote that “there is no law in the State of Israel that prevents citizens from bringing leavened foods into hospitals and there is no law in the State of Israel that prevents them from bringing non-kosher food for their hospitalised relatives to eat.”….

Palestinians call for closure of US mission in Palestine
MEMO 1 Mar — Scores of Palestinians demonstrated yesterday calling the US’ security, political, cultural and economic offices in Palestine to be closed down in protest against President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The protest was held outside America House in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, where demonstrators waved flags that condemned that US policy towards the Palestinian issue. They called for the expulsion of American diplomats as well as the closure of the US mission. Slamming Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, the protesters chanted “Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Palestine” and “the US is the occupation’s [Israel] partner in the aggression.” On the sidelines of the demonstration, the Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative, Mustafa Barghouthi, told the Anadolu Agency that the continued operation of the mission is “unacceptable after its stance towards Jerusalem”. “We reject any American peace solution or proposal. The US is a partner in the occupation of our country,” Barghouthi stressed. “We call for the expulsion of all the American government workers from our homeland,” Barghouthi said. America House was established in Ramallah in 2010 and is affiliated with the US Consulate General in Jerusalem. According to the US mission’s official Facebook page, it aims to “spread American culture” across the occupied territory.

EU not planning to recognize Palestinian state
IMEMC/Agencies 1 Mar — A European Union official, yesterday, denied that the bloc had decided to recognize an independent Palestinian state, saying that the conditions for such a decision have not been met. The European Commission’s Information and Communication Officer in Jerusalem, Shadi Othman, told Quds Press that the decision to recognize the State of Palestine is a “sovereign decision” taken by each of the bloc’s member states separately, and in accordance with their own policies. “There are no discussions of a new European position on recognizing a Palestinian state.” However, he added that there are “separate” consultations between the Palestinian Authority and a number of European countries to convince them to recognize the Palestinian state. “But,” Othman said, “the issue of recognizing the Palestinian state was not discussed at any EU joint meeting.” He reiterated, according to Days of Palestine, that the European Union’s position is “united” with regards to rejecting the US  recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, adding that “the bloc’s countries will not transfer their embassies to Jerusalem”….

Ashrawi welcomes Prince William as first British royal to visit Palestine since 1948
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 2 Mar — Palestinian officials welcomed the announcement that Britain’s Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, will visit the occupied Palestinian territory in the summer, in what will be the first state visit by a British royal to the region since 1948. Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi released a statement saying “on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee and the Palestinian people, we welcome His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge on his scheduled visit to Palestine this summer.”  “Prince William, who accepted an invitation from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, will be a welcome guest, not just of the leadership but of the Palestinian people who will provide him with the opportunity to share their stories first-hand and connect on a human level,” the statement said. Ashrawi added that the trip “will also serve to enhance diplomatic and cultural relations between Prince William and the people of Palestine.” Israeli media meanwhile reported that Prince William’s trip — during which he will also visit Israel and Jordan — “won’t be political,” quoting the British Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey.

Jewish settlers sue Palestinians for $114m
MEMO 28 Feb — A Jewish settler and her family, backed by an extremist Israeli law centre, are suing Palestinian bodies for compensation worth 400 million shekels ($114m), Quds Press reported on Tuesday. Tamar Fogel, who lives in the illegal settlement of Itamar in the occupied West Bank, submitted a joint claim along with her brothers and 19 members of her family to the Jerusalem district court on Monday. The extremist Shurat Hadin-Israel Law Centre filed the claim on behalf of the Fogel family. According to Ynet News website, the PLO, the Palestinian Authority and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine are listed as respondents in the case. The claim is that two Palestinians, Hakim Awwad, 18, and Amjad Awwad, 19, who were accused of killing members of the Fogel family in the settlement in 2011, receive salaries from the Palestinian Authority while they are in prison in Israel. The PA is known to pay stipends to support prisoners’ families while breadwinners are behind bars. PA President Mahmoud Abbas and the then Prime Minister Salam Fayyad both condemned the killing in separate statements released at the time. The Israeli government, meanwhile, recently approved a law to deduct the payments made to Palestinian prisoners (and those who have been freed) from the taxes collected by Israeli customs authorities on behalf of the PA.

Pro-Israel MPs urge UK to cut funding for PA
MEMO 2 Mar — Pro-Israel politicians in Westminster are urging the UK government to cut aid for the Palestinian Authority (PA) by 14 per cent, as part of their ongoing campaign against so called “incitement”. Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) has written to Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May asking her to ensure that British support to the PA is reduced as a punishment for continued Palestinian support for prisoners in Israeli jails and their families. In their letter to the Prime Minister, LFI chair Joan Ryan, and fellow LFI stalwart Ian Austin, claim that the UK government’s strictly ringfenced funding to the PA “effectively frees up other money” to be used as support for prisoners. LFI claims that the PA spends seven per cent of its budget on payments to Palestinian prisoners and the families of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces. “Until these payments stop,” the two MPs wrote, the UK should cut its aid to the PA by 14 per cent. The MPs also revealed that they have asked 20 separate questions about the matter in Parliament. (listserv) (various headlines, but byline always ‘Kate’)