Square near US embassy in Jerusalem to be named for Trump
JPost 8 May by Hagay Hacohen — Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced his intention to formally name the square near the US embassy site the “United States Square in honor of President Donald Trump,” the Jerusalem Press Office released on Tuesday. An official event with American dignitaries will be held in the future to celebrate the naming. “This is the way in which Jerusalem returns love to the president and residents of the United States who stand by the state of Israel,” said the mayor. “President Trump decided to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people, stand on the side of historical truth and do the right thing.” Located at the junction of David Flusser Street and Kfar Etzion Street, the square was formally green lighted to get a new name a year ago by the naming committee of Jerusalem.
US Embassy road signs installed in Jerusalem al-Quds ahead of opening
PressTV 7 May — US Embassy road signs have been installed in Jerusalem al-Quds ahead the upcoming mission’s opening based on President Donald Trump’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital — The black-and-white signs, written in English, Hebrew and Arabic, were installed along roads heading to a US consulate building in the city’s southern regions. The consulate is set to be remodeled as the embassy when it formally opens on May 14. “This is not a dream. It is reality. I am proud and moved to have hung this morning the first new signs that were prepared for the US Embassy,” said Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Monday. “This (embassy) move is not only illegal but will also thwart the achievement of a just and lasting peace between two sovereign and democratic states on the 1967 borders, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security,” said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in a statement released on Monday. The Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now also slammed the move, stressing that it sabotages any opportunity for peace.
US denies report it wants Israeli withdrawal from 4 Jerusalem areas as part of solution plan
Albawaba 5 May — The U.S. administration will ask Israel to withdraw from four Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, which will likely become the capital of a future Palestinian state, according to an Israeli press report — Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post reported Friday that U.S. officials had informed Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman about the plan during the latter’s visit to Washington last week. “The transfer of control over the neighborhoods — Jebl Mukabar, Isawiya, Shuafat and Abu Dis — was presented to Lieberman as just one piece of the larger peace plan the administration has been working on over the last year,” the newspaper reported. “Israel, the [U.S.] officials indicated, would be expected to accept the plan once it is presented despite the potentially painful concessions,” it added, without naming the U.S. “officials” in question. Publicly, however, U.S. officials have denied the report, telling the Jerusalem Post: “President Donald Trump’s plan has not yet been completed but has entered its final stages of development.”….
After Paraguay news, Abbas urges Latin American leaders: Don’t move embassies to Jerusalem
DPA 8 May — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appealed to Latin American countries late on Monday not to move their embassies to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, describing East Jerusalem as “the capital of the Palestinian state.” Speaking during a visit to the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, Abbas said most countries respect the status of East Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said his government was a “friend” of “Arab peoples” and that it supported “the cause of a free, independent and peaceful Palestine.” Abbas’s comments came shortly after Israel announced earlier Monday that Paraguay will open an embassy in Jerusalem later this month. The South American country is the third to announce a move to the contested city, after the U.S. and Guatemala….
Outcry as UAE, Bahrain send cycling teams to race in Israel
Al Jazeera 6 May — The Palestinian Olympic Committee (POC) has blasted Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for sending two cycling teams to participate in the 101st Giro d’Italia cycling competition, which kicked off on Friday in Jerusalem. For the first time in its history, a competitive leg of the world-famous race was held this year outside of Europe. After starting in Jerusalem, the 21-day race continued over the weekend from Haifa to Tel Aviv and from Be’er Sheva to Eilat in the south. The event, which features 176 cyclists from 22 teams, is now set to continue in Italy where it will conclude in the capital, Rome. However, the decision to kick off the event in Jerusalem was met with widespread condemnation from Palestinian officials and activists who accused organisers of “whitewashing Israel’s ongoing crimes”. In a statement on Sunday, the POC also urged the UAE and Bahrain national committees to withdraw their participants from an event it described as “a disgrace to anyone who stands behind it or participates in it” … Activists created a website outlining Giro d’Italia’s route that passed by ruins of historic Palestine, where more than 500 Palestinian villages and towns were ethnically cleansed during or following the Nakba, when Israel was created in 1948. “Israel is reportedly paying 10m euro ($11.9m) to host the Giro as part of its propaganda efforts, mimicking those of the apartheid regime in South Africa, to use sports to hide, or sportswash, its decades-long military occupation and apartheid system imposed on the Palestinian people,” reads a statement from the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) website….
Palestinian embassy denies involvement in scholar’s assassination
Palestine Chronicle 7 May — The Palestinian embassy in Malaysia denied allegations that members of its intelligence service were involved in the assassination of Palestinian scholar Fadi al-Batsh in Kuala Lumpur last month. Al-Batsh, 35, was shot by two assailants as he was heading to a mosque for dawn prayers in the Setapak district of the capital, police said. In a press statement released on Sunday, the embassy blamed “suspicious entities” who “forged a letter” using the ambassador’s name and sending it to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Palestinian activists had previously shared a letter on social media, written by Palestinian Ambassador to Malaysia, Anwar al-Agha to Abbas. The letter detailed the alleged interactions of Ahmad Buheis, the head of the Palestinian intelligence branch in Malaysia, with an adviser to the head of PA intelligence in Ramallah, General Bahaa Baalousha. Baalousha had allegedly asked Buheis back in February to gather information on al-Batsh, who was a member of Hamas, such as his address, the type of car he owned and places he frequented….
Fatah official says no to resignation of Central Committee member Nasser Qudwa
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 7 May – Following reports that Fatah Central Committee member and former Palestinian permanent observer to the United Nations, Nasser Qudwa, has resigned, a senior Fatah official said on Sunday that Fatah movement will not accept the resignation. Jibril Rjoub, also a Central Committee member, told Palestine TV that Qudwa is an important member of the movement and “we demand that he stays in it.” He said that Qudwa “is a central figure in Fatah and has experience in political and diplomatic fields, which is the reason why we demand that he stays part of the movement and return to fulfill his duties in it.”
Palestinian news group growing internationally
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 4 May by Ahmad Melhem — The Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), which opened an office in Beirut recently, plans to add reporters and facilities globally and is upgrading existing offices. Company officials say the expansion, its biggest ever, will help convey the plight of the Palestinian people around the world. The Beirut office is equipped with the latest technology for 24-hour media coverage and a team of journalists and technicians, PBC said. The April 16 opening is but one of many steps PBC is taking to grow the company, which is also forming partnerships and cooperation agreements with media outlets in other countries. In November, PBC opened an office in Cairo, and it plans to open one in the Syrian capital of Damascus this year, Samah Nassar, head of the firm’s foreign offices, told Al-Monitor. The company also envisages expanding its office in the Jordanian capital of Amman, which opened in January 2016….
Israeli police teach schoolchildren how to shoot Palestinians
EI2 May by Ali Abunimah — Israeli police planned to teach children how to shoot at Palestinians as part of a training exercise in a school. The incident in the Menashe Regional Council, near Haifa in northern present-day Israel, was brought to light in recent days when Palestinian citizens of Israel took photos of what was happening. Jamal Zahalka, a member of the Israeli parliament from the Joint Arab List, is demanding an investigation into the training sponsored by the Israeli police and the education ministry, which he said “prepares students psychologically to kill Arabs.” One photo shows a person – most of their body blurred with a black marker – using a paintball gun to fire at cutouts of men and women wearing checkered kuffiyeh headscarves that are associated with Palestinians. Zahalka made his demand in a letter to public security minister Gilad Erdan, according to the publication Arab48. The activity in Menashe Regional Council is part of widespread training of children by police in Israeli schools, according to Arab48. In 2011, the newspaper Haaretz reported on how a group of Israeli high school students from Herzliya took part in a simulated shooting attack at a military base “in which the targets were figures decked out with the Arab kuffiyeh headdress.” ….
Israel to vote Monday on bill slashing PA funding over terror payments
i24NEWS/AFP 6 May — Israel’s Parliament (Knesset) will vote Monday on the first reading of the law “offsetting salaries of terrorists” drafted by the Ministry of Defense and under the guidance of its head minister Avigdor Liberman, which would reduce annual funding to the Palestinian Authority by more than NIS 1 billion. “I call on all Knesset members to join us, vote for the law and put an end to this absurd theater, and every shekel transferred to the murderers will be deducted from the PA’s tax revenues,” Liberman said. The bill, green-lighted by a Knesset committee in March, cuts funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) directly proportional to the amount of funds that it pays out to the so-called “families of the martyrs”– those who have committed terror attacks against Israelis. The families, who are left without the attackers’ contribution to the household after he or she is killed or imprisoned, are eligible to a stipend from the PA to compensate what they see as a “sacrifice for the national cause”. Israel, however, has long criticized the policy which they say encourages Palestinians to commit violence against Israelis. Since the Oslo agreement, Israel is responsible for a large part of Palestinian tax collection, notably duties for goods imported and exported from Palestinian territories. Such funds are normally collected by Israel and then transferred to the PA, but if the new law is approved in a final plenary reading then a percentage would be withheld and instead transferred to a special fund for the compensation of terror victims….
Ashrawi describes as theft an Israeli law aimed at withholding prisoners’ funds
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 8 May – Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member and lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi strongly condemned on Monday the passing by the Israel parliament of the first reading of a draft law that would allow the Israeli Defense Ministry to control the funds allocated to Palestinian prisoners and their families from custom revenues transferred to the Palestinian government by Israel, describing the law as outright theft. “The proposed legislation is nothing short of outright theft. Under military occupation, we are unable to control our borders and crossing points. The Israeli occupying power is obliged to collect customs on behalf of the Palestinian government. However, it does so while deducting a 3% charge of the total amount. This makes the military occupation a very profitable economic venture for Israel,” said Ashrawi in a statement….
Israeli embassy in Cairo to host belated Independence Day celebration
Ynet 6 May by Itamar Eichner — After years of maintaining low profile, embassy to host major event at Ritz Carlton, inviting Egyptian officials, journalists, businessmen, cultural figures; opponents of normalization try unsuccessfully to have event canceled; Egyptian weekly responds by publishing anti-Semitic cartoon: ‘Israel celebrating 70 years since Nakba.’ … A diplomatic drama has been brewing behind the scenes lately, however, as many Egyptians are not pleased at such steps of normalization between the two countries. After invitations were sent out, senior Egyptian officials tried to have the event canceled and even notified the Israeli embassy of their intentions. The official reasoning given was security considerations, but the belief is that they feared the reaction of the Egyptian street….
Report shows 40% increase in Israeli defense exports
Ynet 6 May — A major air defense deal with India propped up defense exports to $9.2 billion in 2017; 31% of sales were missiles and missile defense systems, drone sales down; Asia-Pacific nations lead buyers — …The ministry’s report listed the following sales percentages: missile and aerial defense systems amounted to 31%, radar and aerial defense systems accounted for 17%, upgrades and avionics for 14%, ammunition and weapon stations for 9%, communications systems also for 9%, observation and optics for 8%, intelligence and cyber systems for 5%, services and miscellaneous for 3%, UAVs for 2% and marine systems and satellite and space for 1% each. As for a geographic breakdown, 58% of exports headed to Asia-Pacific nations, 21% to Europe, 14% to North America, 5% to Africa and to 2% Latin America….
Israeli forces open fire at Gazan youths near border, killing 2
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 May — Two Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday, after they reportedly attempted to cut through portions of Israel’s border fence along the eastern besieged coastal enclave. Spokesperson of the Gaza Ministry of Health, Ashraf al-Qidra, confirmed that a Palestinian was pronounced dead on arrival at the European Hospital, alongside another who was critically injured. The second Palestinian was pronounced dead shortly after. They were identified as Bahaa Abd al-Rahman Qudeih, 23, and Muhammad Khalid Abu Rida, 20. According to Ma‘an documentation, the two are the latest casualties in some 53 Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli since the “Great March of Return” protests began on March 30.
Hamas claims 6 gunmen were killed by exploding Israeli spy system, vows revenge
Times of Israel 6 May — The military wing of Hamas on Sunday said an explosion that killed six of its men was caused by an Israeli espionage device that self-destructed after being discovered. The large explosion that rocked the central Gaza Strip Saturday night had initially been blamed in Palestinian media reports on a so-called “work accident.” The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas terror group, said the explosion had been triggered when a “technological espionage system” planted by Israel was opened … The comments from Hamas came as thousands of people turned out in Gaza Sunday for funerals for those killed. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry identified the six dead as Taher Essam Shahin, 29, Wissam Ahmed, 37, Musa Ibrahim Salman, 30, Mahmoud Walid, 34, Mahmoud Mohammed al-Touashi, 27, and Mahmoud Saeed Hilmi al-Qshahawi, 27 … The IDF said on Saturday it was unaware of the cause of the explosion and had no connection to the incident.
Palestinians claim men killed in Gaza blast were senior Hamas militants who thwarted Israeli intel plan
Haaretz 6 May by Jack Khoury — Arab media reports an increase in security operations in the Strip amid heightened concerns that Hamas officials will be targeted — Hamas’ military wing, the Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades, claimed Sunday that the men killed in the blast in the Gaza Strip on Saturday had thwarted an Israeli intelligence plan. “The dead deciphered a complex mechanism to protect the Palestinian people,” Hamas’ armed wing said. A Palestinian source in the Gaza Strip told Haaretz on Sunday morning that of the six men killed in an explosion in central Gaza on Saturday, the vast majority were part of the communications unit of Hamas’ military wing. Most of the men killed, the source added, had senior roles in the unit. Hamas security establishment staff prohibited media outlets in the Strip to publish details about yesterday’s explosion. The Ashraq Al-Awsat daily newspaper based in London reported Sunday morning that Hamas has increased security measurements to protect its most senior members, with Ismail Haniyeh at their helm. Hamas security mechanisms fear assassination attempts, and the security measurements to safeguard Western as well as Arab diplomatic delegations in the Strip have been increased as well….
Gaza patient dies after Israel refuses to allow him treatment
IMEMC 6 May — Palestinian medical sources have reported that a patient died, Saturday, after the Israeli authorities refused to allow him to leave the Gaza Strip for treatment. The National Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza issued a statement revealing that Mohammad Jihad Debabeche, 41, suffered from cancer and urgently needed treatment in Israeli hospitals, but the army refused to allow him to leave the coastal region. The Palestinian, from Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza city, is the brother of Bassel Jihad Debabeche, who was killed along with nine other Palestinians, on December 27, 2008, when the Israeli army fired missiles into Palestinian security headquarters in Gaza….
Israeli soldiers injure three Palestinians in Gaza
IMEMC 8 May — Israeli soldiers shot, on Monday evening, three young Palestinian men with live fire, east of Gaza city. Medical sources said the soldiers opened fire at Palestinian protesters on their lands, wounding three, before they were moved to the makeshift hospital, east of Gaza city. Also on Monday evening, Israeli military vehicles invaded Palestinian lands in the same area, and installed barbed-wire fences, to replace the ones which were removed by Palestinian protesters in recent weeks during the ongoing “Great Return March” in the coastal region.
Video shows Palestinians from Gaza cut border fence, enter Israeli territory
Haaretz 5 May by Jack Khoury & Yaniv Kubovich — A video released by Al-Jazeera on Friday shows Palestinians cutting through the security fence at the Gaza Strip border and entering Israeli territory. In the video, several Palestinians are seen approaching the fence and shouting, with one shouting “God is with us, we are crossing the fence.” The young man goes on to encourage the others to damage the fence and cross through it. The Israel Defense Forces said Friday that it had thwarted two attempts by protesters to damage the fence and cross into Israeli territory. The protesters turned back after troops arrived, the army said. Attempts by Palestinians in Gaza to cross into Israeli territory continued on Saturday, the IDF spokesman said. Six Palestinians were wounded, including one seriously, by IDF live fire in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, the Gaza Health Ministry said.
Israeli air force fires a missile into northern Gaza
IMEMC 6 May — The Israeli Air Force fired, on Sunday at dawn, at least one missile into an area north of Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, causing damage. The missile caused damage to the targeted site, believed to be run by the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, causing damage to it, a few surrounding homes and property, and led to anxiety attacks among many children. In a statement, the Israeli army said it targeted the Hamas position in response to incendiary kites, set by Palestinian protesters into lands across the border fence.
Incendiary balloons from Gaza cause damage to Israeli fields
Ynet 7 May by Matan Tzuri & Elior Levy — Helium-filled balloons flown from the strip land in wheat field near Kibbutz Mefalsim and in Be’eri Forest; with harvest time fast approaching, the damages to the fields are estimated at hundreds of thousands of shekels Several incendiary balloons flown from the Gaza Strip on Monday afternoon caused fires in seven different locations on the Israeli side of the border. No one was hurt, but great damage was caused … Firefighting teams and KKL foresters were working to put out the fires. The incendiary balloons, like incendiary kites, are affixed with an already-lit Molotov cocktail. The westerly winds push the balloons, which are filled with helium gas, towards Israel. After a short while in the air, the fire from the Molotov cocktail causes the balloon to explode in midair, with the incendiary contraption dropping to the ground. The IDF has been working on a solution to thwart these contraptions by intercepting them using drones before they can land in Israel and cause damage. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon visited the Gaza border area on Sunday, announcing the State of Israel will compensate farmers whose fields were damaged by the incendiary kites and balloons.
VIDEO: Palestinian takes down Israeli drone with stone
IMEMC/Agencies 7 May — Palestinian protesters near the Gaza border managed to bring down an Israeli drone with a stone and a slingshot, a video posted online recently revealed. Footage by Press TV shows Palestinians hurling stones at an Israeli drone with a slingshot. A heavy cloud of grey smoke can be seen, while sirens are heard in the background. One of the demonstrators is eventually successful, prompting the protesters to erupt in celebration. The incident happened on Friday, according to Days of Palestine. There has been no reaction from Israel, although Tel Aviv has been using drones to monitor Palestinians and fire tear gas on protesters.
Health Ministry sends $3 million in medical convoy to Gaza
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 7 May — The Health Ministry Monday sent a medical aid convoy worth $3 million to Gaza, announced Health Minister Jawad Awwad. Awwad said that the ministry dispatched 20 truckloads of medical supplies from its warehouses in the West Bank city of Nablus to the besieged Gaza Strip following the instructions of President Mahmoud Abbas and Premier Rami Hamdallah. The medical aid convoy is expected to reach its destination within two days. This came as Gaza suffers from a serious shortage of medicines due to the large number of injuries sustained during the Great March of Return protests along the eastern border of Gaza.
Wounded in the Gaza Strip
Physicians for Human Rights 1 May — In recent weeks, tens of thousands of Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip have demonstrated in several locations along the border fence. The demonstrations claimed the life of forty Palestinians, and 5,511 were injured, at least 138 severely. Out of this total, 1,704 were injured in their lower limbs, 21 of them lost a limb, and more in danger of losing one. Despite the large number of injured and the severity of their injuries, and although the Gaza health system lacks the means and expertise to avoid amputations, only twenty of the injured, mostly children and journalists, asked for a permit to leave Gaza for medical treatment outside. Israel approved only nine of those applications. Even when the injured did leave the Gaza Strip for treatment, the time it took from the moment of their injury until their arrival at an advanced medical treatment foiled the efforts to avoid amputation, and even risked their lives. Inside the Gaza Strip, it was decided not to transfer injured demonstrators, including those at life risk, to treatment outside. This decision was made probably because the injured and their families feared they would be arrested by the Israeli security forces, as had happened in several cases in the past….
Hamas in message to Israel: Willing to negotiate long-term truce
Haaretz 7 May by Amos Harel — Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip have recently conveyed messages to Israel indicating their willingness to negotiate a long term cease-fire in the enclave. These messages were passed through different channels on several occasions over the last few months. Hamas wants to tie the cease-fire to an easing of the siege on Gaza, permission to embark on large-scale infrastructure projects and a prisoner and body exchange deal. As far as is known, Israel has not responded clearly to the messages. Reports presented to senior defense establishment officials and the political echelons say that tensions in Gaza will remain high even after the massive Nakba Day demonstration Hamas has planned for May 15, when Palestinians mark the expulsion of Arabs from their homes during the 1947-49 Israeli War of Independence. According to intelligence assessments, Hamas is still in dire and unprecedented strategic distress and is currently more open to discussing options it rejected in the past. The Hamas leadership is engaged in a lively debate regarding the negotiation of a cease-fire and the exchange of prisoners and bodies. The daily Israel Hayom reported two weeks ago that Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ leader in Gaza, is in favor, while the overall Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh is opposed … The Israel Defense Forces is getting ready for continued confrontation around the border fence this coming Friday and even more so next Tuesday on Nakba Day….
Photos: Teenager establishes Gaza’s largest cactus nursery
MEMO 7 May by Mohammed Asad — The founder of the project Sabara (cactus) is Afaf Massoud, a first-year interior design student at Al-Aqsa University. She started the project eight months ago after finishing high school in order to bear the cost of her higher academic studies. Afaf, 18, established the cactus nursery on her family’s farm in the Jabalia area in the northern Gaza Strip. This project has since become one of the largest nurseries that produce cactus. Afaf relied on the experience of her father, an agricultural engineer, who helped her establish this nursery and guided her toward the success of this project. Afaf launched this project having only ten cacti, some of which she nurtured herself. The number has increased to around 400 to 500 cacti. Now, she owns about 40 species, planted in the garden of their house and taking advantage of all the available space in the house. She put some of her plants on the balcony and others on the roof of the house….
Gaza’s budding modeling sector struggles against tradition
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 6 May by Rasha Abou Jalal — Despite Gazan society’s negative reaction toward fashion models, Reham al-Kahlout, one of the pioneers in this profession, firmly advocates a modeling career to her peers. Kahlout, a 19-year-old model from Gaza City, started working as a fashion model about a year ago. Despite her reluctance to venture into the field because of the negative social outlook, her family encouraged her to go for it, believing it to be a unique experience. “When I walk in the streets, I get negative and sometimes abusive comments, but I do not care about that. I have my family’s support,” she told Al-Monitor, adding that one has to have courage, the ability to shrug off negative comments and a supportive family. Gaza held its first fashion show in April 2016 at a beachfront hotel in the presence of local media outlets. Young women modeled traditional costumes during the show to shed light on Palestinian heritage. And while these young women were criticized on social networking sites, the criticism they received was not too harsh because their costumes were conservative….
Paintings depicting the ‘fall of love’ at the border
Palestine Chronicla 7 May by Najlaa Eskafi — “Love fell down at the entrance of the besieged city. We stand at the gates, and pray on the holy soils. Perhaps – we will take back a sniff of its sand.” These are the words of the 26-year-old artist, Belal Khaled, on his painting of the martyred child Mohammed Ayyoub who was killed with a sniper’s bullet on the fourth Friday of the Great March of Return. “It is the dearest work to my heart because I was so moved by that child. The boy was wearing beautiful clothes that he must have chosen carefully. He had a heart with two letters drawn on his trousers that reveal his untold love story. He sat from a distance watching everything and doing nothing. He did not even throw a stone, but that did not prevent an Israeli bullet from ending his life in the most brutal way. That is why I wanted to immortalize this painful image in a painting,” Belal said. Although he has been living in Turkey for a short while now, Belal Khaled tries to be part of the Great March of Return somehow. As the distance will not allow him to record the events with his camera, like he did during the three wars waged by Israel on the Gaza Strip, he chooses to do it with his brush….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Report: 128 Israeli violations of Palestinian holy sites in April
MEMO 7 May — An official Palestinian report issued on Sunday showed that the Israeli occupation forces and settlers carried out 128 violations and aggressions on Palestinian holy sites in the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem, during April. The report, which was issued by the Palestinian Ministry of Endowment, recorded 33 Israeli violations and aggressions on Al-Aqsa Mosque, including deportations of worshipers or guards, desecration by settlers and aggression on the property. In addition, the report highlighted the Israeli assaults on Al-Youssefiyeh Cemetery and on Bab al-Rahmah Cemetery [Jerusalem], noting that the purpose was to expand nearby Jewish buildings. Meanwhile, the report revealed that the Israeli occupation banned the adhan [call to prayer] 58 times in Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron during the same month, noting that it was the first time that the Friday call for prayer had ever been banned. Israel also closed the Islamic holy site in the Palestinian West Bank city of Hebron for two days during the Jewish holidays and raised Israeli flags on its walls, in addition to desecrating the site and launching of fireworks. In Bethlehem, the illegal Israeli Jewish settlers raided the area of the three Solomonic Pools while under heavy military police protection and performed Talmudic rituals. In Nablus, the report revealed a series of “bloody” attacks on mosques, noting that the Jewish settlers set one mosque on fire and spray-painted racist slogans at several other mosques, calling for the killing or expulsion of Palestinians. The report also stated that the Israeli authorities issued a stop-work order for one of the mosques in Hebron. It added that the Jewish settlers attempted to set fire to the Al-Latwani Mosque in the city.
Palestinians from Israel help in cleaning up ancient Jerusalem cemetery, Aqsa Mosque
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 5 May – Hundreds of Palestinians from inside Israel arrived in Jerusalem on Saturday to help in cleaning up the ancient Bab al-Rahmeh Muslim cemetery bordering Jerusalem’s Old City and the yards of Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to officials. They said Palestinians of all ages tool part in the cleaning process. The campaign to clean the cemetery came after the Israeli authorities began plans to take parts of the Muslim cemetery in order to turn it into a park, which led to the uncovering of graves and exposure of skeletons of dead Palestinians. This step provoked families of Palestinians buried there, mainly from the nearby Silwan neighborhood, who got into an altercation with Israeli police and members of the Israel nature authority over the past few days in an attempt to stop Israeli violation of the sanctity of the cemetery.
Work at Al-Aqsa Mosque also precedes the holy fast month of Ramadan, which is expected to commence in 10 days. Thousands of Muslims usually attend prayers at the Mosque during Ramadan and their numbers exceed what the closed-in buildings can handle forcing many to pray outdoors in the open yards. The work at the Mosque compound included putting up shades and canvas covers all over the yards to protect worshippers from the hot summer sunlight.
Israeli court orders eviction of Jerusalem home for settlers
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 5 May – The Jewish right-wing organization Ateret Cohanim handed on Saturday a judicial notice to Jawad Abu Sneneh, a Palestinian citizen of occupied Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, ordering him to leave his home for allegedly belonging to Israeli settlers, according to Wadi Hilweh Information Center. WHIC said members of Ateret Cohanim raided Abu Sneneh’s home and handed his family a judicial notice ordering them to leave the home before June 25 and to pay a fine of $5300 as a rental fee for “renting” the house from its alleged Israeli owners for three years. Abu Sneneh’s home is an apartment which shelters his 11-member family. It is located in a five-storey building, most of which has been taken over by Jewish settlers since 2015. Since September 2015, a total of 70 Palestinian families have received eviction notices from Ateret Cohanim, according to local sources. Ateret Cohanim is a settler group which aims to create a Jewish majority in East Jerusalem at the expense of Palestinians. It has made relentless attempts to control landmark properties in the holy city, including Islamic and church property.
Families demolish own homes to avoid high fines in Jerusalem
IMEMC 7 May — Several families from Qalandia town, north of occupied East Jerusalem, started demolishing sections of their own homes to avoid excessively high fines and costs, imposed by the Israeli City Council. The families previously received orders demanding them to demolish their homes, or face high fines and penalties should the City Council and the military demolish their properties for being built without permits. The families received verbal warnings regarding the demolition of their homes on April 24th, and today were ordered to complete the destruction of their property within 72 hours, or face higher penalties. It is worth mentioning that the families still face potential fines, after the High Court rules on cases filed against them for what the army claims “illegal constructions.” Two years ago, the army demolished eleven homes in the area, and under the same allegations, while Israel is currently planning to demolish residential towers and a mosque in the al-Matar neighborhood.
Israeli Supreme Court to rule on demolition of West Bank village
The National 5 May by Ben Lynfield — A school built of mud and tyres is the target of an Israeli demolition order –– In this tiny West Bank Bedouin village of Khan Al Ahmar, teachers were working hard Wednesday to keep pupils’ minds focused on their studies – and not the impending demolition of their homes. In the coming week, the Israeli Supreme Court is expected to rule on the fate of the village, situated east of Jerusalem along the main highway to the Dead Sea between the expanding settlements of Maale Adumim and Kfar Adumim. The latter’s spacious homes are perched on a hilltop overlooking the corrugated metal and wood shanties here that are home to 35 families of the Jahalin tribe. Khan Al Ahmar is one of 12 Bedouin settlements in the area, with a total population of about 1400 residents, that are threatened by demolition, in what critics say is a campaign to clear this strategic area of Bedouin encampments to bolster Israel’s ambitions for permanent control and to facilitate expansion of nearby settlements. The Israeli state says Khan Al Ahmar must be leveled because its structures were built without permits on state land. In fact, these permits are nearly impossible to obtain in the part of the West Bank known as area C that is under full Israeli control. According to government plans, the Bedouin are to be relocated to land near a refuse dump in Abu Dis, a West Bank suburb of East Jerusalem….
Settlers install caravans in Jordan Valley
JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA) 5 May – Israeli settlers installed caravans on Saturday in al-Farsiya area in the northern Jordan Valley region in the occupied West Bank, according to local sources. Aref Daraghmeh, a local rights activist, told WAFA that settlers installed caravans at agricultural lands outside illegal Rotem and Shadmot settlements in the Jordan Valley, which he said could be a prelude to establish a new settlement outpost.
Israeli army orders Palestinian families out of their homes for military drills
TUBAS (WAFA) 8 May – The Israeli army ordered five Palestinian families to leave their homes in Hamsa al-Foqa in the northern Jordan Valley because the Israel military intends to carry out exercises in that area, a local activist said on Tuesday. Aref Daraghmeh, a rights activist, said five families have been ordered to stay away from their homes so Israeli military can carry out its exercises in the area. Israeli forces notified the families to leave their homes on April 24, May 1 and May 8 from six in the morning till two in the afternoon. Rights groups said that the military drills are actually intended to drive Palestinians out of their homes and out of the occupied Jordan Valley as a whole, which Israel hopes to one day annex and house it with Jewish settlers.
Ancient markets of Occupied Jerusalem struggle to survive
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 6 May — One of the most prominent landmarks of the Old City of Occupied Jerusalem is its souks (markets), which are an integral part of its Arab identity, and they are distinguished by their boutiques and magnificent architecture. These bazaars are considered the backbone of the city’s economy. These markets acquired their names from the types of merchandise sold in them or were named after famous people, places or landmarks. They are connected with each other by a large network of intersecting roads, yards and passages. However, the old souks of Jerusalem are struggling to exist in light of Israel’s hectic efforts to Judaize the holy city and steal its identity.
–Souk al-Hosur– One of these markets is Souk al-Hosur and it was given this name because merchants there were in the past active in the sale of handicrafts made of palm fronds and straw, like mats and baskets. Nowadays, visitors can no longer find such things in this market. Souk al-Hosur is one of the smallest bazaars in the Old City of Jerusalem with only 13 stores, and some of them are closed or used for storage purposes because of arbitrary Israeli measures like heavy taxes. The other stores sell tourist products and souvenirs. Khaled al-Khatib, one of the storeowners in the market, told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that in the past, merchants used to sell mats and products made of palm fronds and straw that were brought from Nablus and Gaza, but such commercial activity in the market subsided and vanished after Israel built a wall around Jerusalem….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli soldiers abduct two Palestinians after colonialist settlers assault them in Jerusalem
IMEMC 6 May — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Saturday at night, two young Palestinian men from the African Neighborhood, in occupied East Jerusalem, after a group of extremist Israeli colonialist settlers attacked them. Media sources in Jerusalem said the colonialist settlers attacked the two Palestinians, identified as Nasri al-Farrawi and Ali al-Farrawi, while they were participating in decorating their neighborhood and al-Wad Street leading to the al-Aqsa Mosque, in preparation for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. They added that Israeli soldiers arrived at the scene and abducted the two Palestinians instead of removing the assailants. The two Palestinians were cuffed and blindfolded before being moved to an interrogation facility in the occupied city.
Army injures several Palestinians, including a medic, in Al-Biereh
IMEMC 5 May — Israeli soldiers inured, Friday, several Palestinians, including a medic, after the army attacked protesters near the northern entrance of al-Biereh city, in the Ramallah and al-Biereh Governorate, in central West Bank. The soldiers, stationed at the permanent roadblock near Beit El colony military and security center, fired rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades at dozens of protesters, who marched in the area. Medical sources said many Palestinians suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, while a medic was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his leg.
Israeli soldiers injure one Palestinian near Qalqilia
IMEMC 5 May — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly procession against the occupation and colonies in Kufur Qaddoum town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, wounding one Palestinian with a rubber-coated steel bullet. The Popular Committee in Kufur Qaddoum said the procession started in the afternoon, when the locals and international peace activists marched while chanting against the ongoing Israeli occupation and military escalation. It added that the protesters also chanted against the illegal decision of U.S. President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the unified capital of Israel, and his decision to move the embassy to the occupied city, in direct violation of International Law and numerous United Nations resolutions. The protesters marched towards the town’s main road, which was blockaded by the army fifteen years ago to enable east access for illegal colonizers, driving to and from Kedumim illegal colony, built on private Palestinian lands. The army instantly started firing gas bombs, concussion grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets at the protesters, wounding one in his arm, and causing many to suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation….
Soldiers abduct a young Palestinian woman in Jerusalem
IMEMC 5 May — (Update: The army released Aya Abu Naab, on Saturday evening, after issuing an order preventing her from enter Al-Aqsa Mosque, for one ?month.) Israeli soldiers abducted, Saturday, a young Palestinian woman, near the Al-Aqsa, in occupied Jerusalem. The soldiers stopped the young woman, identified as Aya Abu Naab, 19, from Bab Hotta neighborhood, adjacent to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in the Old City, and abducted her. The young woman was cuffed before she was taken to a nearby interrogation facility. It is worth mentioning that Aya has been detained by the army three times over the last several years, and received various orders preventing her from entering the holy site. She was [once?] placed on a “blacklist” preventing her from entering Al-Aqsa for life, for protesting ongoing invasions by soldiers and colonialist settlers, and their provocative tours, in the holy site. Following her first abduction in 2016, she was interrogated and beaten by the soldiers, and received an order preventing her from entering Al-Aqsa for 15 days.
Army abducts a teen near Jenin
IMEMC 5 May — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Saturday at dawn, the al-Yamoun town, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, injured a Palestinian teen, and summoned a young man from Ramallah for interrogation. Media sources in Jenin said many army jeeps invaded al-Yamoun, searched several homes and abducted a Palestinian teen, a high-school senior, identified as Yazan Ibrahim Abu Obeid. Furthermore, the soldiers invaded Silwad town, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and summoned Mohammad Abdul-Nasser for interrogation. The army also fired live rounds, rubber-coated bullets and gas bombs at many youngsters who protested the invasion into Silwad, in addition to Nablus, in northern West Bank.
Israeli soldiers abduct 20 Palestinians in West Bank
IMEMC 8 May — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Tuesday at dawn, at least twenty Palestinians from their homes in several parts of the occupied West Bank, including former political prisoners and one child, in addition to confiscating one car and cash. Media sources in Nablus, in northern West Bank, said the soldiers invaded Askar al-Jadeed refugee camp, east of the city, and abducted Rami Abu Hdeib, after invading and searching his home. The soldiers also confiscated a jeep owned by a former political prisoner, identified as Ahmad Nabhan Saqer, in Askar Al-Qadim refugee camp, northeast of Nablus, just one day after his release from prison. Also, the soldiers invaded Deir al-Hatab refugee camp, east of Nablus, and abducted a young man, identified as Salah Omran. In Jenin, in northern West Bank, the soldiers invaded Jenin refugee camp, searched homes and abducted Ehab Abu al-Haija and Hamza Abu al-Haija, in addition to invading and searching many areas in Burqin Valley. The soldiers also injured a young man, identified as Qussai Rabe‘a Mer‘ey, after shooting him with a concussion grenade, before he was rushed to Khalil Suleiman Governmental Hospital, and caused many others to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. In Qalqilia, also in northern West Bank, the soldiers invaded al-Mintar area and ‘Azzoun town, east of the city, and opened fire at Palestinian protesters. The army also abducted a child, identified as Majd Anaya Hussein, only thirteen years of age, from ‘Azzoun, and took him to an unknown destination … In Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, the soldiers invaded the home of former political prisoner, Fayez Misk, ransacked the property and fired a concussion grenade inside his home, wounding one family member, before illegally confiscating cash….
Army abducts three children in Jerusalem
IMEMC 7 May — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Sunday evening, three Palestinian children from the al-‘Isawiya town, in occupied East Jerusalem, and took them to Salaheddin Police Station in the city. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) said the soldiers abducted Yousef Khalil Mustafa, 15, Tareq Firas Mustafa, 16, and Ahmad Abdul-Rauf Mahmoud, 16. The Israeli army claimed that three children “were involved in hurling Molotov cocktails at a military roadblock near Maale Adumim colony.” Silwanic added that the soldiers also invaded Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and tried to remove a large sign congratulating the residents of the approaching holy Muslim Month of Ramadan, but the locals prevented them from confiscating it.
Israel soldiers abduct 16 Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 7 May — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Monday at dawn, at least sixteen Palestinians from their homes, after the army invaded and searched them, in several parts of the occupied West Bank. The Israeli invasions targeted dozens of communities in the West Bank governorates of Hebron, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Salfit, Jenin and Nablus, before the soldiers conducted violent searches of homes and interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards. The army also installed many roadblocks, searched dozens of cars and investigated the ID cards of scores of Palestinians.
In addition, the soldiers invaded the ar-Ras al-Ahmar area, southeast of Tubas in northeastern West Bank, and handed military warrants targeting five Bedouin families, ordering them to remove their tents and sheds by the end of this month. The soldiers also ordered the Palestinians to remove a water line, providing them and their livestock with the needed water, by the end of the month. The army claims the tents, and the pipeline, were not licensed by “Civil Administration Office” run by the military in the occupied West Bank.
The invasion was carried out shortly after the soldiers detained the head of Khirbit ar-Ras al-Ahmar Local Council, and confiscated his car.
Israeli soldier who cold-bloodedly murdered Palestinian to be released
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 7 May — [UPDATE: He was released Tuesday] The Israeli soldier Elor Azria who killed the Palestinian anti-occupation protester Abdul Fatah al-Sharif is likely to be released from an Israeli military prison on Thursday. According to the Hebrew-speaking Israel Hayom daily, the release decision has seen the day after Azaria served his sentence, which has been cut by a third by an Israeli military parole board. Azaria is expected to be released ahead of his release date after he submitted an appeal to attend his brother’s wedding on Wednesday. His family said hundreds are expected to attend a ceremony to be held in the next few days to celebrate Azaria’s release. Azaria was convicted of manslaughter after he fatally shot the seriously wounded Palestinian youth Abdul Fattah al-Sharif as appears in live footage taken from the murder scene and circulated on social media networks.
Palestinian refugees – Syria
Palestinians to partner with Damascus on refugee camp reconstruction
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 7 May by Ahmad Melhem — Palestinian eyes are on the Yarmouk refugee camp just south of Damascus, where the Syrian regime and its supporting Palestinian factions, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, are fighting Islamic State (IS) militants. On May 2, the Syrian army was able to deploy troops around the area, which was previously controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra. In April 2015, IS had control of 90% of the camp after fighting with Aknaf Bait al-Maqdis and gunmen from various factions. The Palestinians hope for a quick end to the military operations in the camp, with IS’ defeat and the liberation of the camp. This will allow the reconstruction process to begin and the displaced to return. To that end, Palestinians seem to be betting on good relations between the PLO and the Syrian government….