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Israeli forces arrest 14-year old Palestinian burn victim in hospital

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Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Details of arresting the child Asad Al-Din Abulhawa from inside Al-Maqased Hospital
Silwanic 22 Mar — Israeli occupation forces arrested 14-year-old Asad Al-Din Ibrahim Abulhawa from Al-Maqased Hospital in the village of Al-Tur, despite having severe burns in his back. Wadi Hilweh Information Center’s lawyer, Khaldoun Nijem, said that the Israeli forces arrested the boy Asad Al-Din after storming Al-Maqased hospital and trying to kidnap him and prevent his treatment, under the pretext of “throwing a Molotov cocktail at the soldiers and trying to start a fire” during clashes in the village. The lawyer explained that the child suffered severe burns in his back indicating that he was hit by a Molotov cocktail and did not attempt to throw it as the soldiers claim. Lawyer Nijem added that the Israeli occupation forces stormed the emergency room at Al-Maqased Hospital and detained the wounded boy in a special room to prevent his treatment. Upon the arrival of the lawyer Nijem, he confirmed the child’s right to receive necessary treatment, and blamed the soldiers for any health deterioration due to procrastination. Lawyer Nijem said that the soldiers tried to arrest the boy Abulhawa and transfer him in a police car, despite his injury. After the refusal, the Israeli ambulance “Magen David Adom” was called to the hospital to transport him. When the lawyer asked the Israeli ambulance crew to sign a paper taking full responsibility of the child’s health, especially since his father refused to transfer him to any other hospital, the crew refused — Silwanic reports that Israeli authorities defied the family and took Asad Al-Din to Hadassah Hospital.

VIDEO: Attacks against Palestinians increase by 50 percent in 2018
Al Jazeera 24 Mar — As attacks on Palestinians increase, Israel’s state comptroller has criticised Israeli police for failing to investigate crimes committed against Palestinians — There’s been an increase in attacks by Israelis from illegal settlements against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since the start of the year, according to the UN. Palestinians in Zone B of the West Bank, where Israel maintains authority over security matters, say that Israeli forces do not protect them from settler attacks, and, when they file complaints, they rarely lead to indictment or conviction. Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid spoke to Palestinian victims about the daily struggle to protect themselves.

Palestinian farmer in Hebron attacked by Israeli settlers for second time in March
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 25 Mar — A group of Israeli settlers assaulted a Palestinian farmer in the village of al-Tiwani in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Sunday. According to local sources, settlers from illegal Havat Maon settlement assaulted Jumaa Mousa Rabai, 45, while he was grazing sheep. Rabai sustained minor fractures and bruises across his body as a result of the assault, and was transferred to the Abu al-Hasan al-Qasim hospital in Yatta for treatment. Earlier this month, Rabai was attacked by the same settlers, and told Ma‘an that they broke his car and threw rocks at his home during a raid on the village in which the settlers attempted to set fire to the local mosque.

Israeli settlers attack farmers near Qalqilia
QALQILYA (WAFA) 25 Mar – Extremist Israeli settlers attacked on Sunday Palestinian farmers while they were farming their lands in the village of Immatin, to the east of Qalqilya in the occupied West Bank, local sources said. Head of village council, Haithan Sawan, told WAFA that settlers from illegal Gilad settlement attacked the farmers while they were working in their agricultural lands, injuring an elderly identified as Yousef Mahmoud Barri, 63, and causing him bruises in the head. He was moved to hospital for medical treatment.

Three years after Palestinian teen’s killing, a father vows to continue his fight for justice
Newsweek 25 Mar by Jack Moore — Siam Nuwara remembers the phone call on May 15, 2014, that would change his life forever. It was the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the caller told him that an Israeli soldier had shot his 17-year-old son. His legs gave way. “Please catch me,” he told his brother as he collapsed to the floor. By the time Nuwara reached the government hospital in Ramallah, his son, Nadeem, was in surgery.  Minutes later, as friends and relatives gathered in the waiting room tried to usher him away, he glanced through a window into the operating room. His son, covered in a bloodied white blanket, was dead. Nadeem had been participating in a protest to commemorate the Nakba, or “disaster” in Arabic —the anniversary of the 1948 foundation of Israel and the beginning of the Palestinian refugee problem—when he was killed. Video footage showed that Nadeem was unarmed and appeared to pose no threat. Almost four years later, closure remains elusive for Siam. When Nadeem was killed, the 46-year-old ran three successful hair salons in Ramallah —all of which he has since sold in order to focus on his campaign for justice. In 2016, he founded the Accountability for Violence Against Children (AVAC) to provide advice and psychological support to Palestinian children who are victims of Israeli violence. “After Nadeem was murdered, I lost everything. I lost my job, I lost my business,” he says. “I pursued justice for my son,” Nuwara said. He remains determined to continue his battle for justice for his son. Nuwara  says he may one day take Nadeem’s case to the International Criminal Court (ICC) … Both CNN footage and local CCTV footage released by human rights organization Defence for Children International (DCI) on May 15, 2014,  showed an Israeli soldier, Ben Deri, firing toward Nadeem at distance as he walked in their direction in the West Bank village of Beitunia. He collapsed before fellow protesters carried him away. Mohammad Abu Daher, 22, was also killed by Israeli troops at the same protest. But in Israel, they support Ben Deri. The unit commander is being represented by a lawyer from the Honenu legal rights group, which defends right-wing extremists….

In Israeli court, a woman confronts Palestinian who stabbed her
LOD, Israel (Reuters) 25 Mar by Dan Williams — An Israeli woman faced off in court on Sunday with a Palestinian who had confessed to stabbing her, in a case that suggested the swirl of political and personal motives that can drive such attacks. Malek Saada, a 20-year-old from the occupied West Bank, was working illegally as a baker in Lod, a mixed Jewish-Arab town south of Tel Aviv, when, a year ago, he ambushed Revital Danino outside her home, moderately wounding her before fleeing. Captured by Israeli police, court papers showed, Saada confessed to the attack and said he had “purified himself” in advance at a mosque and targeted Danino because she was wearing religious Jewish garb. “(The attack) was definitely nationalistic in nature,” Saada’s lawyer, Alaa Tellawi, told Reuters, reiterating what he described as his client’s position from the outset. Testifying at the opening of Saada’s trial, Danino, a 45-year-old school principal, raised another possible factor in the attack: drink. “When he was close to me, he had a smell of alcohol, but his behaviour was very decisive,” she told the three judges, as Saada sat slumped in the dock, watching impassively … Saada did not address the court. Tellawi said his client did not dispute the events described in the indictment, but the lawyer also suggested that while Saada had a political motive, personal emotions linked to his conservative Muslim background also came into play. “This is a young man who, while in Lod, drank alcohol, behaviour that his father learned about. When he asked his father to arrange for him to marry the woman he loved, his father refused,” Tellawi told Reuters….

Israeli soldiers abduct a Palestinian journalist
IMEMC 25 Mar — Israeli soldiers stationed at the al-Karama Border Terminal between Jordan and Palestine abducted, on Thursday, a Palestinian journalist working for Palestine TV, while he was heading back home after receiving a journalism award in Egypt. The journalist, Bakr Abdul-Haq, was returning to Palestine from Cairo, after receiving a journalism award for his reports and accomplishments. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate strongly denounced the abduction of Abdul-Haq, who was moved to the al-Maskobiyya interrogation facility, in occupied Jerusalem, without any explanation, or charges. It added that Israel is currently holding captive thirty journalists, in direct violation of International Law and various international and humanitarian resolutions …His family was not informed about his abduction, and started looking for him, and asking various legal and human rights groups, to later find out that he was abducted by Israel at the border terminal. Prior to returning to Palestine, the journalist wrote a post on his Facebook page stating that he received the award in Cairo, and expressing his gratitude and pleasure in meeting many dedicated professional journalists from several parts of the Arab world.

Army abducts seven Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 25 Mar — Israeli soldiers abducted, late on Saturday at night and on Sunday at dawn, seven Palestinians from several parts of the occupied West Bank, and later released three of them. The army also installed many roadblocks. Media sources in Bethlehem, in the West Bank, said the soldiers invaded the city, and abducted Mo‘tasem Mohammad al-‘Arouj, 21, after storming his family’s home and ransacking it. The soldiers also invaded homes in Surif town, west of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and abducted two Palestinians, identified as Ahmad Taha al-Hoor and Mohammad Sameeh Ghneimat. The soldiers also invaded many neighborhoods in Doura town, south of Hebron, especially the eastern part, before breaking into a blacksmith workshop and searching it. On Saturday at night, the soldiers stopped a Palestinian car at the northern entrance of Madama village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and abducted four young men, who were in the vehicle. The soldiers interrogated the Palestinians for more than four hours, and later released three of them and took one, identified as Dia’ Fares Qadous, to an unknown destination.

Israeli soldiers abduct 19 Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 26 Mar — Israeli soldiers carried out, on Monday at dawn, massive invasions and violent searches of homes in several parts of the occupied West Bank, and abducted at least nineteen Palestinians, including children. In occupied Jerusalem, the soldiers abducted eleven Palestinians, including a couple and their two children. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said dozens of soldiers invaded al-‘Isawiya town, in the center of the city, broke into and ransacked many homes and abducted Bassel Mahmoud, his wife Amna Mahmoud, in addition to their sons Mo’men and Ma’moun. It added that the soldiers also abducted Haitham Shadi ‘Obeid, his brother Hussein, in addition to Mohammad Ahmad ‘Atiya and Daoud Yousef ‘Atiya. Furthermore, the soldiers invaded ‘Anata town, northeast of Jerusalem, also searched many homes and abducted a child, identified as Ahmad Akram al-Yassini, in addition to ‘Odai Raed al-Jamzawi and Waleed Wajeeh al-Jamzawi.
In Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, the soldiers also invaded and ransacked homes, and abducted Ehab No’man Rajabi. Two children, identified as Mohammad Nabil al-Qeeq, 16, and Ayham Wa’el ‘Ajarma, 16, were taken prisoner from their homes in the al-‘Arroub refugee camp, north of Hebron….

Al-Aqsa / Temple Mount

Jerusalem police authorize Passover sacrifice at foot of Temple Mount
Haaretz 26 Mar by Nir Hasson — Activists who practice the annual sacrifice get closer to the site of the Second Temple every year, and long for the day when authorities will let them slaughter at the center of the site — Israeli police in Jerusalem green-lighted a religious ceremony which involves the slaughter of a Passover lamb only “tens of meters” from the site where the Second Temple once stood. Temple Mount activists carried out the sacrifice for more than ten years now, but never before had the ceremony taken place so close to the Temple Mount. In 2015 a ceremony was held in a schoolyard in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of west Jerusalem, about four kilometers from the Temple Mount. In 2016, the ceremony took place on the Mount of Olives, about 1.5 kilometers from the Temple Mount. Last year it was held in the plaza of the Hurva Synagogue in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter, some 400 meters from the Mount. On Monday, the ceremony is scheduled to take place at the entrance to the Davidson Center, also known as “Jerusalem Archaeological Park” which is located next to the Western Wall tens of meters from the site of the original temple. Last Sukkot, police approved holding the “water libation ceremony” at the Davidson park, but the event attracted a limited audience. This time, the Passover sacrifice is expected to draw hundreds in attendance. The high point will be the slaughtering of a goat, whose blood will be shed by priests at the foot of an altar and its flesh burned … While the tradition of holding a Passover sacrifice as close as possible to the Temple Mount has been organized underground for years, promoters now enjoy the support of religious and political personalities. These include Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Aryeh Stern, as well as prominent rabbis Yaakov Meidan, Dov Lior, Shmuel Eliyahu, Israel Ariel and Uri Sherki….

Prisoners / Court actions

Palestinian mother sentenced to 10 years
IMEMC/Agencies 25 Mar — The Israeli central court at Salah Eddin Street, in Jerusalem, sentenced a woman from the Silwan neighborhood, in occupied East Jerusalem, to 10 years imprisonment, and ordered her to pay a fine of 5,000 shekels ($1,400), according to local WAFA sources. Amani al-Hashim, a mother of two children, was detained in December of 2016, after she allegedly attempted to ram her car into Israeli soldiers at Qalandia checkpoint, on Ramallah-Jerusalem road. She is currently being held in the Israeli prison of HaSharon.

Several Palestinian detainees face rapidly deteriorating health conditions
IMEMC 25 Mar — The Palestinian Detainees’ Committee reported, Sunday, that a number of detainees at Asqalan Israeli prison are facing seriously deteriorating health conditions and are being denied basic medical treatment. Karim Ajwa, a lawyer with the Committee, stated that detainee Ali Barghouthi, 45, from Aboud village west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, is suffering from severe chest pain, arrhythmia and frequent loss of consciousness. He added that Barghouthi, who was taken prisoner thirteen years ago, and was sentenced to a life term and forty years imprisonment, is not receiving his medications, and is not even sent for medical checkups … Furthermore, detainee Amir Abu Raddaha, from the al-Am‘ari refugee camp, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, is facing several problems with his legs, especially the knees, and he requires treatment by a specialized orthopedist, which the Israeli prison authorities refuse to provide.

Love knows no confines
NABLUS (WAFA) 25 Mar – Through her contact with Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails – through her work in Addameer organization, Somoud Sa‘adat knew Asem, a political prisoner in Israeli jails. Through letters, she loved him although she did not see him even once. She loved his steadfastness, struggle, ideas, and his optimism, she said. Somoud is a Palestinian activist who currently works as a researcher in Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. The daughter of imprisoned Ahmad Saadat, the Secretary-General of Palestinian Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) who is serving a 30-year sentence in the Israeli prisons, Somoud has grown up in a revolutionary and nationalist home. Her fiancé, Asem Alkabi, from Balata refugee camp, is serving an 18-year sentence and will be released in three years. The engagement ceremony and procedures were initially held on March 23 and will continue during April … Somoud has been denied visitation to her father by Israeli prison authorities ever since he was arrested. The only time she was allowed to visit him was in 2015, nine years after he had been in jail. But because the father’s opinion was important to her engagement decision, Samoud had to consult him before she took the decision to engage to Asem, especially since her father and Asem spent one year together in 2011 in Hadarim prison. Although Asem is now in Rimon prison and Saadat is in the Negev prison, they were able to communicate to get father’s approval and consent to the engagement of her daughter, Somoud. The meeting between the families of Somoud and Asem took place in Ramallah after the father was consulted. The two got engaged last Friday. Somoud wishes that she would be allowed to meet her father and her fiancé….

What justice looks like for those who kill Palestinians
+972blog 22 Mar by Yael Marom — Ahed Tamimi was sentenced to eight months in prison for slapping a soldier. Col. Israel Shomer, who shot a Palestinian teenager in the back three times didn’t sit a single day behind bars — …Ahed’s eight-month sentence comes at a curious moment. All it takes is for a Palestinian teenager to humiliate an Israeli soldier in order for the entire system to be enlisted to ensure that she and her family go to jail. And yet, it is unheard of for a soldier to be put on trial for shoving or cursing a Palestinian. So let’s take the comparison further — to killing. Just this week, the IDF Parole Board decided to cut Elor Azaria’s sentence by a third, after it had already been previously commuted by the IDF chief of staff. By the time he is released, he will have served a total of nine months behind bars. Azaria did not slap anyone, but he did shoot and kill Abedel Fattah Sharif, a Palestinian who was shot and wounded on the ground, posing no threat to anyone, after attacking soldiers with a knife just minutes earlier in Hebron’s Tel Rumeida neighborhood. Had a B’Tselem volunteer not been at the scene to capture the incident on film, Azaria would have been lauded as a hero who “neutralized a terrorist.” Or what about the case of Amir Awad, a Palestinian teenager who was shot in the back by two IDF soldiers during a protest in the West Bank village of Budrus in 2013? The soldiers fired eight bullets into Awad’s back, killing the 16-year-old boy as he was trying to flee. Two soldiers were put on trial for reckless and negligent use of a firearm, following a faulty investigation, yet their attorneys did not agree to a plea bargain of three months community service. During a hearing held last week, the attorneys presented military data to the court showing that in the last seven years, out of 114 cases in which soldiers had shot and killed Palestinians, only four indictments were filed. Now the prosecution is considering withdrawing their indictments altogether….

Opinion: You bet it’s apartheid / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 26 Mar — With Ahed Tamimi’s sentence to jail, the truth has come out about Israel — They might not have intended it – this is too big for them, and perhaps even too big for their arrogance, but they are the initiators of the regime, or at least its harbingers. They studied law and went to work (“to serve”) in the military courts. They were promoted and became military judges. That’s what they call the clerk-officers who work for the moral army as judges of the occupied in the occupied territories. They work in a military unit with a biblical name: the “Judea Military Court,” and they decide people’s fate. No doubt they’re certain they’re working in a legal system, like they were taught at university. There are, after all, prosecutors and defense attorneys in it. There’s even a translator. Most of the work attracts no attention. In Israel, who cares what happens in the prefabs at the Ofer military base? They have sent thousands of people to an aggregate tens of thousands of years of imprisonment, and almost never exonerated anyone; at their workplace, there’s no such thing. They have also approved hundreds of detentions without hearings, even though there is no such thing in a country of law. Day after day, it’s just another day at the office. And then Ahed Tamimi came to them. Almost 2 million people around the world signed a petition calling for her release. And the forces of Israeli military justice just kept at it, clerks devoted to the system. Now they must be thanked. This time they exposed to the world the naked truth: They are working for an apartheid system. They are its harbingers. They are its formulators. They are its contractors, small cogs in a big machine, but reflective of reality…
The BDS movement should congratulate the officers who lifted all doubt from those who still had any doubts. The legal system that has one law for Jews and another for Palestinians, without apology, without whitewashing, should be appreciated for its honesty. A legal system that sentenced a soldier who shot a wounded man [dead] to only one more month than its sentence for a teenage girl who slapped a soldier – this is a system that openly admits it considers slapping the occupier equal to the murder of a person under occupation….

Restriction of movement

In Pictures: Palestine Marathon puts spotlight on right of movement
BETHLEHEM, Palestine (Al Jazeera) 23 Mar by Anne Paq — Thousands of people have taken part in the Palestine Marathon, an annual event in the Bethlehem area of West Bank. Like in previous years, the marathon on Friday – the event’s sixth edition – attracted people from all over the West Bank and Jerusalem, as well as abroad. For many foreigners, the event represents an opportunity to visit Palestine for the first time and witness the conditions Palestinians are living in … The website of the event states that its objective is “to focus the lens on the basic right to move freely in Palestine”. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there are more than 500 obstacles – checkpoints, roadblocks, earth mounds, etc – across West Bank roads which restrict Palestinian vehicular movement. These also restrict the movement of marathon participants. In order to complete the 42km race, participants have to complete two loops of the same route to avoid encountering  Israeli military checkpoints or settlements. Some use the event to highlight the violation of human rights by carrying signs in solidarity with Palestinians. The marathon is also a way to promote tourism in Palestine, and there are many activities organised around the event. Some 7,000 people registered to take part in this year’s marathon, which was won by Ukrainian Yuri Vladigier.


Israeli soldiers injure eight Palestinians in Gaza
IMEMC 23 Mar — Israeli soldiers shot, Friday, eight young Palestinian men, including one who suffered a serious injury, after the army attacked protesters along the border fence, in several parts of the besieged coastal region. Spokesperson of the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, said the soldiers shot a young man, 18 years of age, with a live round in the face, north of Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza. He added that the young man was rushed to Beit Hanoun hospital, and was later moved to the Indonesian hospital, in Jabalia, in northern Gaza, due to the seriousness of his condition. Dr. Al-Qedra also said that another young man was shot in the face near Nahal Oz military base across the border fence, east of the Sheja‘eyya neighborhood, east of Gaza city. Furthermore, the soldiers shot and moderately injured a young man with a live round in the leg, east of Gaza city, before he was rushed to the Shifa medical center. Another Palestinian, 25, was moderately injured with a live round, east of Khan Younis, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. Four more Palestinians were also shot with live rounds in their legs, and suffered moderate wounds, east of al-Boreij, in central Gaza. Many Palestinians suffered the severe effects of teargas inhalation in several parts of the coastal region and received the needed treatment by local medics.

PPCS: Three Gazan passengers kidnapped by Israeli in less than a week
GAZA (PIC) 24 Mar — he Palestinian Prisoner Center for Studies (PPCS) said that the Israeli occupation authority stepped up the arrest of Palestinian passengers at Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, north of the Gaza Strip. In a statement, spokesman for the center Riyad al-Ashqar accused Israel’s security authorities of using Beit Hanoun crossing as a trap to kidnap Gaza citizens and patients, exploiting their need to travel to the occupied territories for commercial or medical purposes. Ashqar said that his center documented the arrest of three Palestinian citizens from Gaza at this crossing in less than one week. The three detainees are Mohamed Katkat, 44, Iyad Ba‘lousa, 42, and Hasan Shamiya, 30. The arrest of those citizens raised the number of detainees kidnapped at the crossing since the beginning of the current year to five citizens.

Egypt opens Gaza border for two days
GAZA CITY (AFP) 23 Mar — Egypt opened its largely sealed border with the Gaza Strip on Friday for two days, Palestinian authorities said. In just the third such opening this year, the crossing between the Palestinian enclave and Egypt’s Sinai region will be open Friday and Saturday for humanitarian cases, the Palestinian embassy in Cairo said. The Rafah crossing is the only exit for Gaza residents except into Israel, but Egypt has largely sealed it in recent years, citing security threats.  Egyptian authorities have a poor relationship with Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas, whom they have accused of supporting attacks inside Egypt. Both of the two previous border openings this year were cut short due to the security situation in Sinai. The Egyptian army and police forces are engaged in a fierce conflict with armed Islamists, especially in the North Sinai governorate where an Egyptian affiliate of the Islamic State is active. Hundreds have been killed on both sides….

Israeli airstrikes target 3 Hamas sites in southern Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Mar — Israeli air forces conducted three airstrikes in the southern Gaza Strip early Sunday morning before dawn, according to official sources. Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for the Hamas movement in Gaza, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces targeted three sites northwest of Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip, causing property damages. The sites belonged to the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas movement. Barhoum said the strikes were intended to “terrorize civilians.” No injuries were reported after the strikes.
Meanwhile, Israeli media reported that the strikes were conducted in response to four Palestinians who had entered Israel from the Gaza Strip and attempted to torch heavy engineering equipment that was being used for the construction of an underground separation barrier between Gaza and Israel.

Four Palestinians attempted to sabotage IDF heavy equipment
[with video and photos] Ynet 25 Mar by Yoav Zitun & Elior Levy — Four Palestinians entered Israel from the Gaza Strip near Kibbutz Kissufim and attempted to torch heavy engineering equipment used for the construction of the underground anti-tunnel barrier.  An IDF force approached them and the four fled back to the Gaza Strip. There were no casualties and only minor damage was caused to the heavy equipment. A preliminary investigation revealed that the four arrived at an engineering complex near the border, where large IDF heavy equipment used to build the new subterranean Gaza barrier are kept. They then tried to set the tools on fire with gasoline tanks they brought with them, fleeing when they saw an IDF patrol team headed their way. The footage of the incident shows the Palestinians were able to infiltrate dozens of meters into Israel and enter the engineering complex, which was unguarded since no construction work is done on Shabbat. It is possible, however, that the four didn’t know the place would be unguarded and merely took the risk. The IDF sees this amateurish and brazen attempt as mostly a symbolic one, meant to inflame the tensions in the area ahead of the large protest organized by Hamas, which is set to take place at the border this coming Friday. Nevertheless, the IDF still sees this incident as severe compared to other past Palestinian infiltrations …  The IDF’s Gaza Division will be reinforced as part of the preparations for the mass protests….,7340,L-5194126,00.html

Hamas launches large-scale military exercise in Gaza
[with photos, video] Ynet 25 Mar by Elior Levy — Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, launched a large-scale military exercise in the Gaza Strip on Sunday morning. The exercise, which is set to end Monday morning, incorporates several replicas of the Israeli-made Merkava tanks to simulate IDF forces. Eyewitnesses in Gaza said Hamas launched at least one rocket into the sea as part of the exercise. Tensions have been on the rise on the Gaza border ahead of a Hamas-organized Great March of Return, which will see Palestinians in the strip marching en masse toward the border with Israel starting this Friday, Land Day, with protests expected to continue until May 15, Nakba Day. Ahead of the march, the Palestinians claim the IDF scattered flyers into the Gaza Strip warning them to keep at least a 300 meter distance from the border fence … The IDF denied that it was behind the flyers.  Also on Sunday morning, tractors began flattening the ground near the border fence on the Gazan side to prepare the area for a city of tents the Palestinians plan to erect there to house the protesters who arrive for the march. The tractors also created mounds of dirt to protect participants from Israeli fire. The IDF’s Gaza Division is also making preparations for the march, including reinforcing the obstacles on the border with pyramids of barbed-wire. The army also plans to use advanced measures against rioters….,7340,L-5195724,00.html

Tensions on Gaza border: Hamas drill falsely triggers Israeli missile defense system
[with videos] Haaretz 26 Mar by Almog Ben Zikri et al. — Israel’s Iron dome missile defense system was activated several times late Sunday evening as a result of light artillery fire from a drill carried out by Hamas’ military arm in the Gaza Strip. Multiple rocket sirens sounded in southern Israeli communities near the Gaza border, including in the city of Ashkelon. Local residents said they heard several explosions, followed by reports of airplanes flying overhead. The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military arm, carried out a large-scale drill throughout the coastal enclave Sunday. Websites identified with Hamas said the drill simulated an overall frontal clash between Qassam Brigades units and the Israeli military, emphasizing that the drill practiced lines of defense, not attack. In Gaza it was described as the first time since Hamas’ establishment that such an exercise is announced in advance, with warnings stating ahead of the exercise that throughout the Gaza Strip there would be sounds of explosions and use of live fire.  Pictures that circulated in Gaza showed armed militants stationed all across the Strip, including in cities. In areas closer to the border fence, Hamas practiced a scenario in which Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers infiltrate Gaza; such a case was illustrated through usage of tank models and live fire. As part of the drill, militants also fired rockets toward the Mediterranean Sea.  A Hamas operative told Haaretz that despite the fact that the exercise was scheduled in advance, it is noteworthy that it is being held against the backdrop of the ever-worsening crisis in the Strip as well as provocation by Salafists and Israelis in the area. “The message is very clear to everyone,” he said. “Anyone who might try to challenge the brigades should bear in mind that we are very strong and Israel ought to understand that not every military adventure would be a walk in the park.” The Palestinian factions in the Strip called for marches to the border fence with Israel on Friday, when Israeli Arabs also mark Land Day….

Analysis: Israel gears up for large-scale clashes along Gaza border on Land Day / Amos Harel
Haaretz 25 Mar — Even if the army gets through Passover Seder unscathed, tension in the territories is expected to ratchet up gradually in April and May.  Israel’s defense establishment will be focused on the Gaza Strip this week, where mass protests backed by the Hamas government are planned for Friday along the border with Israel. The Palestinians are planning on establishing six to eight big tent camps, housing thousands of people, mostly women and children along the border but some 700 meters from the fence. Friday is Land Day: The intention is for thousands of Palestinians to remain near the fence until Nakba Day, in mid-May. The overall intention is to protest nonviolently, but there are to be weekly demonstrations near the fence on Friday, culminating in a huge march on Nakba Day. Israel is preparing for large-scale protests that could turn violent, with attempts to cross the border fence and to perpetrate terror attacks (like the recent detonations of explosive devices along the fence). Israel’s military has proved it can deal with marches and demonstrations well when it has time to prepare. Matters get out of hand — as they did on Nakba Day 2011, along the Syrian border in the Golan Heights — only when the army is surprised. This time, the army seems to be getting ready … Eisenkot has ordered commanders to try as much as possible to avoid civilian deaths, but the mission they were given is to prevent a mass crossing of the border fence, which could end with dozens, if not hundreds, of injured Palestinians….

Israeli bulldozers level lands in southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Mar — Several Israeli military vehicles entered into the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday morning, and razed lands along the border with Israel. Local sources told Ma‘an that five military bulldozers razed lands east of Khan Younis near the border fence, while a drone flew overhead. Israeli military incursions inside the besieged Gaza Strip and near the “buffer zone,” which lies on both land and sea sides of Gaza, have long been a near-daily occurrence.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Israeli monitor: Settlements grew under Trump presidency
JERUSALEM (AP) 25 Mar by Josef Federman — West Bank settlement construction surged during the first year of the Trump presidency, an Israeli monitoring group said Sunday, releasing data that added to Palestinian mistrust of the American administration. Peace Now said that Israel began construction of 2,783 settlement homes in 2017. That was about 17 percent higher than the annual average since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office in 2009. It said that 78 percent of the new homes were in outlying settlements that would likely have to be evacuated if a Palestinian state is established. And 234 units, or 8 percent, were in tiny outposts that are not even authorized by Israel, it said … While a string of Republican and Democratic presidents have opposed settlement construction, Trump has taken a softer line. He has asked Israel to show restraint at times, but avoided the strong condemnations voiced by his predecessors. His Mideast peace team, led by his son in law Jared Kushner, is dominated by people with close ties to the settlement movement. Peace Now said its data is collected through aerial surveys and inspections by monitors on the ground. In its report, Peace Now stopped short of blaming the jump in construction exclusively on White House policies … “The steady pace of construction and building deep in the West Bank attest to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s steadfast abetting of the settlement enterprise,” the report said….

EU releases report on demolitions and confiscations of EU funded structures in Palestine
EUneighbours 22 Mar — …From September 2017 to February 2018 over 165 Palestinian owned structures were impacted by demolition, seizure, sealing off, or eviction throughout the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem. Almost 40% of the incidents took place in East Jerusalem. This brings the total number of affected structures in the West Bank including East Jerusalem in 2017 to 423, resulting in the displacement of over 600 Palestinians including 360 children. Of the structures (such as classrooms and residential structures) targeted over the 6 month reporting period, 22 structures were funded by the EU or EU Member States (EUMS) for a value of nearly 60,920 €. This brings the number of EU funded structures targeted in 2017 to 80, constituting 19% of all Palestinian owned structures targeted by the Israeli Authorities, compared to 17% in 2016. Of particular concern is the demolition of EU donor funded structures serving as classrooms during the reporting period, as several were also targeted in the last reporting period. Presently, a total of 44 Palestinian schools have been identified as being at risk of full or partial demolition due to outstanding orders, potentially affecting close to 5,000 students. Half of these schools have been provided with some form of assistance from the EU. Plans to evict specific communities continued, including communities in the Jordan Valley, Bedouins in Khan al Ahmar, east of Jerusalem, and Susya in the South Hebron Hills. In general, development in Area C and East Jerusalem is tightly restricted by the Israeli authorities through means such as limiting or refusing permits for construction of buildings and structures.

Bedouin home demolitions in Israel double in 2017
Haaretz 26 Mar by Almog Ben Zikri — The number of illegal structures demolished last year in Bedouin communities nearly doubled over 2016, with over 70 percent of them dismantled by the owners themselves under threat of heavy financial penalties. According to the Public Security Ministry, in 2017 there were 2,220 structures demolished overall, compared to 1,158 in 2016. Police see the rise in owner-demolitions as a positive trend, because it prevents confrontations between the police and the Bedouin community, which the police prefer to avoid. The events at Umm al-Hiran last January that ended with the death of a policeman and a resident caused tensions with the Bedouin that police must still deal with. The Bedouin, meanwhile, say that there is “behind the scenes” pressure, along with overt threats from the authorities, including the police, that lead people to demolish the structures themselves. Khaled al-Ja‘ar, a resident of Rahat, built a small home on the family plot in 2015 for his son, who was getting married, to live in until his own home in Rahat was built. After the illegal structure was discovered, law enforcement began trying to persuade him to demolish it himself….

Settlers evacuate disputed Hebron building after squatting for 8 months
Times of Israel 22 Mar by Jacob Magid — A group of settlers who have been illegally squatting in a disputed Hebron building for the past eight months evacuated the premises on Thursday, the IDF confirmed. An army spokesman described the evacuation of Beit Hamachpela as “peaceful,” with the residents agreeing to clear the building adjacent to the Tomb of the Patriarchs holy site despite their vehement opposition to the order. The IDF’s new head of Central Command Nadav Padan also signed an order Monday morning declaring the area surrounding the building a closed military zone, banning further civilian entry. The residents are expected to continue their legal battle for ownership of the building in the coming months. On March 12, the High Court of Justice ruled that the apartment complex had to be cleared of the 15 Israeli families, who were unable to prove that purchase of the structure. Agreeing with the state’s position on the matter, which had been submitted last October, the High Court stated that nothing had changed since the building was last evacuated in 2012. Then, too, residents failed to fully prove the purchase of the building before they took it over. Breaking the Silence, a left-wing organization of military veterans who carry out regular tours through Hebron to highlight what they call the mistreatment  of Palestinians in the flashpoint city, called the evacuation “appropriate” in a Monday statement. “Still, this is just only a drop of water in the sea of illegal invasions that we guarded as soldiers… For 50 years, settlers have been establishing facts on the ground and we are being sent to guard them at the expense of the Palestinians,” the NGO added….

Amona evacuees to move into first new West Bank settlement in 25 years
Times of Israel 25 Mar by Jacob Magid — First 25 families to enter their homes in an official ceremony in Amichai on Monday, 14 months after illegal outpost was razed; remaining 17 families to arrive after Passover — Fourteen months after the illegal outpost of Amona was razed, its evacuees announced Sunday that they will be moving into their new homes in Amichai, the first newly constructed West Bank settlement in over 25 years. Since February 2017, the outpost’s 42 families have been living in a dormitory in nearby Ofra. While many have been slowly moving their belongings to the new Amichai settlement for the past several weeks, an official ceremony will be held on Monday marking the move-in day of the first 25 families … In the months following the residents’ move, construction of permanent homes is expected to begin, with the settlement’s master plan allowing for the construction of 102 houses. However, additional legal hurdles remain for roughly a third of those homes as Palestinians have petitioned the High Court claiming that the land on which the houses would be built belongs to them….

Officials: Sewage waste from Israeli settlements destroys Palestinian environment, crops
QALQILYA (WAFA) 24 Mar — Israeli settlements in the Qalqilya district, northwest of the West Bank, are the main cause of environmental pollution, which results mainly from wastewater and sewage that flows from these settlements into Palestinian agricultural land nearby. This has destroyed crops and diffused diseases and epidemics in the area. Palestinians officials say the illegal settlement of Sha’arei Tikva, established in 1981 on the land of Azzun Atma village, south of Qalqilya, is considered the main cause of environmental pollution in the area. Sewage from the settlement flows into the agricultural lands of the villages of Beit Amin and ‘Azzun ‘Atma, causing damage to agricultural land. Sewage also floods from the settlement into the rich underground water reserves in the area. Sewage also floods from Alfei Menashe settlement through a closed pipeline into the sewage pumping station at Eyal kibbutz inside Israel, passing through the nearby village of Hable, to the south of Qalqilya. However, wastewater leaks from the pipeline into the village and nearby Qalqilya city, creates a lake of wastewater that is destructive to environment and health….

Religious intolerance

Newspapers review: Israeli police assault in Jerusalem focus of dailies
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 26 Mar — The Israeli police assault on Palestinian Christians taking part in the Palm Sunday procession in East Jerusalem hit the front page headlines in Palestinian dailies on Monday. The dailies report that scout groups marched in the Old City of Jerusalem as Christians celebrated Palm Sunday. Al-Quds and al-Ayyam printed a photo showing Israeli police confiscating a large Palestinian flag from Palestinian Christians taking part in the procession on the Mount of Olives amid pushing and shoving. Al-Ayyam added that Israeli police detained two Palestinian Christians for waving flags of Palestine. According to the dailies, the Palestinian government condemned police assault on Palestinian Christians.

Jewish shrine in West Bank defaced with swastikas
Times of Israel 25 Mar by Michael Bachner — A Jewish holy site in the West Bank was found defaced with swastikas on Sunday morning, prompting local settler authorities to condemn it as “one of the most severe and blatant incidents of vandalism” of Jewish shrines. Graffiti messages were also found at a site which according to tradition contains the tomb of Caleb, son of Jephunneh, one of the 12 spies mentioned in the biblical Book of Numbers who were sent to report on the land of Canaan. It is located in the Palestinian village of Kifl Haris, northwest of the Ariel settlement. The perpetrators were “probably Palestinian,” according to a statement by Minhelet Kever Yosef, a Jewish organization that administers holy sites in the northern West Bank region of Samaria. Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council, called for “wall-to-wall” condemnation of the incident and said it proved the Palestinian Authority was “unable and unwilling” to protect Jewish holy sites. “I expect a serious investigation of the matter, just like when Muslim or Christian holy sites are defaced,” Dagan said….

Palestinian culture

Rim Banna, Palestinian singer, dies at 51 of breast cancer
Al Jazeera 24 Mar — Rim Banna, a leading Palestinian singer, songwriter, and composer, has died after battling breast cancer for almost nine years. The 51-year-old died in her hometown of Nazareth, and is survived by her mother, brother, and three children … Banna is the daughter of a well-known Palestinian poet, Zouhaira Sabbagh, who wrote on her Facebook page, “she [Rim Banna] departed and left behind her bright smile.” … The artist, who was diagnosed in 2009, lost the ability to sing two years ago and said she was stepping down but would continue to compose and create music. Banna has performed the world over with patriotic music that called for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. She would often appear wearing traditionally embroidered gowns and a keffiyeh, a symbol of Palestinian independence, over her shoulders.

Palestinian film festival seeks to challenge Israel’s cultural erasure
+972mag 23 Mar by Rami Younis — For the next six days, film lovers will flock to the north for the third annual Haifa Independent Film Festival, which will include both Palestinian films, as well as movies from across the Arab world. Lina Mansour, one of the festival’s organizers, said Thursday night during a press conference in Haifa’s Khashba Theater that the goal of the festival, like in previous years, is “to develop the Palestinian film scene, and to open doors to the Arab world. This year the festival has grown and become well known — directors from the Arab world have asked us to screen their films, instead of waiting for us to ask them.” “We are facing a colonial occupation regime that tries to strip us of our culture,” adds organizer Rana Asli. “It is important that we have the choice of what culture we consume. And it is even more important that it comes from us — the people whose culture is being erased — with no governmental, political, or party-based constraints.”….

First Palestinian museum in US to open in Connecticut
NEW HAVEN (WAFA) 25 Mar – For the first time ever, a museum displaying the history, art and culture of the Palestinian people is expected to open within a few days in Woodbridge, an outskirt of New Haven in Connecticut, being the first of its kind in the Americas. Faisal Saleh, executive director of Palestine Museum US, told reporters that he believes the museum will offer a fuller and more intricate picture of the Palestinian land and people than Americans see in mainstream media. “The mission of the museum is to preserve Palestinian history and celebrate the artistic achievement of Palestinians in the US and Palestine and tell the Palestinian story through art and literature and other forms of artistic expression,” Saleh said in a statement. “The history will be presented through photographs and art,” Saleh said. “It will not take any political posture and political position on issues… It will be quite independent and will not be influenced by any political organizations.”….

Other news

Abbas says Hamas will bear consequences of Gaza security control
RAMALLAH (AA) 23 Mar — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged Hamas on Thursday to hand over power in Gaza to the national unity government, or bear the consequences. “I reiterate that Hamas must hand over everything to the national unity government… Hamas will bear the consequences for thwarting the Egyptian efforts,” Abbas said. Abbas’ remarks came at a joint press conference with visiting Bulgarian President Rumen Radev in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Thursday. Egypt has been brokering a reconciliation deal under which the Palestinian Authority would again assume administrative and security control in Gaza. The Palestinian president expressed his intention to take national, legal and financial measures against the Gaza Strip, blaming Hamas for the assassination attempt of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and PA’s intelligence chief Majid Faraj despite the movement’s denial of involvement in the attack on their convoy. Munir al-Jaghoub, who heads Fatah’s information department at the Office of Mobilization and Organization, said that Hamas should choose between reconciliation and its continued hijacking of Gaza and its consequences….

PA applies for membership of eight international treaties
i24NEWS 25 Mar — The Palestinian Authority has applied for membership to eight international treaties, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the International Convention against Apartheid in Sports, Israel’s Channel 2 reported on Saturday. The unilateral move by the PA comes in the wake of five resolutions against Israel adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Friday. … The latest report by Israel’s Channel 2 is just the latest in a series of applications submitted by the PA since 2012 where “The State of Palestine” was granted non-member observer State status at the UN. In April 2014 the PA applied for 15 international treaties including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Fourth Geneva Convention and the United Nations Convention against Corruption, in response to Israel’s procrastination to release Palestinian prisoners during that period. Then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon allowed the Palestinians to join 10 agreements sponsored by the organization. In December last year, PA President Mahmoud Abbas revealed his intentions to apply to join 22 international treaties, including 18 of the United Nations, in protest against the decision of US President Donald Trump, to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Pro-Abbas Palestinians launch support campaign
Times of Israel 24 Mar by Khaled Abu Toameh — Supporters of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas launched an online campaign to voice support for him in his standoff with the US administration and Hamas. The campaign, which carries the Arabic name “Fawadnak” (We Authorized You), was launched Thursday by a group called The Big National Campaign to Support President Mahmoud Abbas. Organizers of the campaign, the first of its kind since Abbas’s election in 2005, said that more than one million people “interacted” with it in the first 48 hours through various social media platforms. The organizers said that they see the campaign as a “referendum” on Abbas’s policies towards Hamas and the US administration … As part of the campaign, Palestinians are urged to sign a document reaffirming their allegiance to Abbas and support for his effort to “thwart” the Trump plan, achieve Palestinian unity, and end the dispute split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Abbas’s critics and political foes, meanwhile, launched a counter campaign under the title “Rafadnak” (We Rejected You). They accused Abbas of “destroying the Palestinian cause” and “collaboration” with Israel. They also held him responsible for the continued “humanitarian” crisis in the Gaza Strip….

IDF demands ‘excessive’ transparency from rights groups
Al-Monitor 23 Mar by Shlomi Eldar — The civil administration in the West Bank has increased the information it requires from peace groups that organize face-to-face encounters between Palestinians and Israelis, and some activists say the new demands go much too far — Recently, the Civil Administration in the West Bank sent a warning to human rights groups in Israel, demanding that they follow its latest instructions to the letter when requesting exit permits for Palestinians from the occupied territories to participate in joint activities involving Palestinians and Israelis. The groups have been ordered to provide detailed information about the Palestinians for whom they request permits to enter Israel, as well as information on the sources of the groups’ funding, the training of their activists and the selection criteria for the positions they fill in the territories. They are also expected to provide details about their organizations, including the phone numbers of their members. The groups were also ordered to provide detailed information about the workshops they conduct, the content of their encounters, speakers and any other information that could help the Civil Administration and Shin Bet to assess their requests in depth. These demands come in addition to the routine security checks already conducted by Shin Bet … The new procedures are a response to a violent incident last year, after an 18-year-old resident of Nablus stabbed four Israelis in Tel Aviv in April 2017. All of his victims suffered light wounds. He came to Tel Aviv as part of a tour organized by various Israeli human rights organizations for Palestinians from the West Bank. According to members of the groups, they accepted these new procedures initially because of the attack. But now, these rules have been made even tougher. The groups claim these restrictions threaten to shut down their activities to promote understanding and peace between Jews and Arabs….

Israel’s trick to bypass ‘chametz’ ban for Passover
Al Jazeera 24 Mar — Only the non-Jew can possess bread during the week of Passover — Israel is to sell all of its leavened bread, as well as cakes, biscuits, noodles, and even beer to an Arab, but the Jewish state will not go hungry, nor would the food be delivered to Israeli-blockaded Gaza; the sale is just a religious trick to get around the rules of Torah. For the Passover Feast, the Jewish state makes the sale because, during the Passover, Jews may not possess any food containing fermented grains. So, for about 20 years, the state of Israel has been temporarily selling to Hussein Jabar its prohibited food items, in an annual ritual … Each year, the 53-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel assumes an important task for the Israeli state: During the period of the Feast of the Passover, he symbolically purchases all leavened bread, as well as cakes, biscuits, noodles and even beer – all on behalf of the Jewish religion. “If I can help them, then why not?” says Jabar, who is from the village of Abu Gosh, near Jerusalem. “For 10 days, I become a millionaire,” adds the Muslim believer with a laugh….

UK rips into Israel over Palestinian teen Tamimi: ‘Conviction is emblematic of the conflict’
Reuters/Haaretz 23 Mar –The British Foreign office has weighed in on the plea deal reached between the Israeli army and Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi, saying the conviction and sentence were “emblematic of how the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict is blighting lives of a new generation.”They also called on Israel to improve its treatment of Palestinian minors in Israeli military prisons, urging local authorities to do more to “safeguard vulnerable people in its care.” … Ahed Tamimi’s case has been conducted behind closed doors. The military court rejected a request that she made this week to hold proceedings in public.  Nur Tamimi said she and Ahed slapped the soldiers in part because they had invaded Ahed’s yard on December 15, the day they were filmed – but the main reason was that they had just read on Facebook that a cousin, Mohammed Tamimi, had suffered an apparently fatal head injury from an Israeli soldier’s bullet. He actually survived the shooting….

White House letters to Palestinians show continued outreach from peace team
WASHINGTON (JPost) 23 Mar by Michael Wilner — Senior Trump administration officials reached out to the Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Palestinian General Intelligence director Majid Faraj in letters last week after assassination attempts in Gaza nearly took both their lives. The letters, written by Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Jason Greenblatt, his special representative for international negotiations, mark some of the first known direct communications between White House officials and PA leadership since the president’s decision in December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  Kushner and Greenblatt wrote to Hamdallah and Faraj that the attack on them “underscores that only the Palestinian Authority, in cooperation with regional and international partners, can provide Gaza with a freer, more prosperous future in which Gazans can fully utilize their potential. Gaza needs responsible and responsive governance – not militant and extremist groups that seek conflict and are profoundly unfit to govern.”  The letters were obtained by The Jerusalem Post, alongside one sent by Greenblatt to the family of Lt. Hadar Goldin, an IDF officer slain in the Gaza Strip during the 2014 war. That letter expressed the administration’s commitment to pressure Hamas to return Israelis held in the strip as part of its larger Gaza reconstruction effort.

US steps up threat to quit UN rights body as 5 new anti-Israel resolutions pass
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) 23 Mar — The United States warned Friday that it was losing patience and again threatened to quit the UN Human Rights Council after the Geneva-based body adopted five resolutions condemning Israel. US Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement that the council was “grossly biased against Israel,” noting that it had adopted only three resolutions separately targeting North Korea, Iran and Syria … “Our patience is not unlimited. Today’s actions make clear that the organization lacks the credibility needed to be a true advocate for human rights,” she said. Haley has over the past year repeatedly warned that the United States was ready to walk away from the 47-member body established in 2006 to promote and protect human rights worldwide….

UK condemns UN Human Rights Council’s dedicated Israel agenda
The JC 25 Mar by Ben Welch — The UK government has attacked the UN Human Rights Council’s agenda on Israel’s actions in the West Bank, saying “little has changed” since its condemnation of bias against the Jewish state last year. The UK delegation voted against two of five resolutions on Israel raised at the 37th session of the Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Friday. The first was a motion calling for the withdrawal from the Golan Heights and the second called for an embargo on arms sales to Israel. But UK diplomats supported a resolution urging a return to pre-1967 borders of the state of Israel, and one on human rights. Each of the four resolutions, and one calling for the halt of settlement activity, were passed by the 47-member body. They were presented by the countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation under Item 7, which requires a report on Israeli actions in the West Bank each time the panel meets. Israel is the only country that has a dedicated agenda item at the council, a mechanism that the United States and the UK have criticised….

US Congress approves $4 billion in tax aid to Israel, cuts aid to Palestine
IMEMC/Agencies 24 Mar — AIPAC President Mort Fridman has sent supporters an email announcing the approval, by US Congress, of almost $4 billion of US tax money to Israel, while cutting aid to Palestinians widows, orphans, Days of Palestine reports. “Our work together just made a difference for Israel’s security and for its future,” wrote Fridman, according to If Americans Knew Blog. “Early this morning, the United States Congress passed major pro-Israel legislation as part of its Omnibus Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2018. “This legislation includes many critical initiatives that will bolster Israel’s security, including:
$3.1 billion for U.S. security assistance to Israel, to help our ally defend herself and protect her citizens. [See this]
$705.8 million for missile defense programs, representing $105 million more than last year’s funding level. [See this]
$47.5 million for joint anti-tunneling technologies, a $5 million increase from last year. [More info on US aid to Israel]
“The bill was also the vehicle for Congress to pass the Taylor Force Act, critical legislation that cuts funding to the Palestinian Authority if it continues paying terrorists or their families.” ….

Israeli PM lauds US law to curb Palestinian aid
JERUSALEM (AP) 25 Mar — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is praising the U.S. government for passing a law that suspends some financial aid to the Palestinians over the stipends paid to families of Palestinians killed or jailed in fighting with Israel. The Taylor Force Act, named after an American killed in Israel by a Palestinian in 2016, was folded into a $1.3 trillion spending bill signed by President Donald Trump. On Sunday, Netanyahu called the law a “powerful signal by the U.S. that changes the rules” by cutting “hundreds of millions of dollars for the Palestinian Authority that they invest in encouraging terrorism.” The Palestinians say the families are victims of violence. Palestinian official Nabil Abu Rdeneh condemned the law, saying it doesn’t “allow for the creation of an atmosphere conducive to peace.”

Trump pick Bolton a ‘friend’ of Israel, reviled by Palestinians
AFP 23 Mar — Israeli ministers on Friday hailed US President Donald Trump’s choice of hardliner John Bolton as his new national security advisor, a pick denounced by a senior Palestinian official … In contrast the Palestinians reacted angrily, with Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, slamming Trump’s pick. “This man has a long history of hostility to Palestinians, dating to when he was at the United Nations, where he was protecting Israeli immunity,” Ashrawi told AFP, referring to US vetoes of UN resolutions targeting Israel. With Bolton’s appointment, she said, the Trump administration “has joined with extremist Zionists, fundamentalist Christians and white racists.” “All this will lead to a devastating reality for Palestine and the region.” – ‘Three-state’ solution – Bolton was known as a sharp-tongued and controversial UN ambassador during George W. Bush’s administration who virulently defended Israel. In 2009 he wrote in The Washington Post that the idea of a two-state solution to the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict was “stillborn” and suggested giving the Palestinian territories to Egypt and Jordan. “We should look to a ‘three-state’ approach, where Gaza is returned to Egyptian control and the West Bank in some configuration reverts to Jordanian sovereignty,” he said at the time…. (listserv)


American; political science major, M.A.; former ISM volunteer in the West Bank

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