Israel intercepts Palestinian boats trying to break siege
Middle East Eye 29 May by Hind Khoudary — Aboard a boat off the Gaza City shore – Two vessels carrying 17 student activists and Palestinians injured during the recent Great March of Return protests attempted to break Israel’s siege on the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, before the Israeli military intervened.
Israeli security forces arrested the passengers from one of the two boats running the blockade and escorted the vessel 12 miles away from the Gaza coast to the Israeli side. It was not immediately clear what happened to the second boat.
The attempt to break the siege comes as tensions run especially high in the Gaza Strip, with Israeli warplanes pounding targets in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory in response to mortar fire…
Flotilla carrying Gaza wounded set for bid to break Israeli siege
Al Jazeera 28 May by Arwa Ibrahim — Two boats aim to defy the Israeli blockade as thousands of Palestinians wounded by the Israeli snipers in recent protests struggle for help — Two boats are set to sail from the Gaza Strip in a bid to break an Israeli-imposed 11-year siege which has prevented medical supplies from getting into the coastal enclave and patients from leaving. Scheduled to set off on Tuesday morning, the vessels will attempt to carry a group of approximately 30 people, including protesters wounded in weeks-long demonstrations along the Gaza Strip fence with Israel … Ahmed Abu Ratiba, a member of the flotilla’s organising committee, said the sailing of the boats “is part of our efforts to peacefully resist and break the siege on Gaza. “It is also a continuation of the demonstrations for the right of return of Palestinians,” he added. Salah Abdul-Ati, one of the organisers in Gaza, told reporters on Sunday that the “trip will carry the hopes and dreams of the Palestinian people for freedom”. Abul-Ati appealed to the international community to pressure Israel into lifting the blockade and on international NGOs to provide protection for the flotilla. The names of the participants have been kept from the media to ensure their protection against potential Israeli aggression, Abu Ratiba told Al Jazeera. “Everyone on board will be a civilian,” said Adham Abu Salima, also a member of the organising committee. Among those on board will be people wounded by Israeli forces during the recent protests, others suffering from long-term conditions, including cancer patients, as well as students with university places.
Organisers said they feared Israel, which bans fishing beyond six nautical miles (11 kilometres) off the coast and regularly fires at boats that exceed that limit, will try to stop the boats from leaving Gaza – as it has done in the past. According to Abu Ratiba, Israeli forces have, over the past three weeks, attacked two boats which the committee had intended to use for the initiative. “We planned to set two boats off but they were both targeted and destroyed by Israel. Now, we have small boats with quite a limited capacity,” he said. The bid on Tuesday will coincide with the eighth anniversary of an Israeli attack on the Turkish Mavi Marmara flotilla, in which nine Turkish activists were killed when the Israeli navy attacked the vessel in international waters. A 10th activist died nearly four years later, succumbing to injuries sustained during the raid….
Seriously injured Palestinian succumbs to his wounds
IMEMC 26 May — The Palestinian Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip has reported that a Palestinian man died on Saturday at dawn from serious wounds he suffered after Israeli soldiers shot him with live fire, several days ago [14 May]. The Ministry identified the slain Palestinian as Hussein Salem Abu ‘Oweida, 41, and added that he was shot by the army hundreds of meters away from the border fence, east of Gaza city. The Palestinian became paralyzed after an Israeli army bullet struck him in his spine, before he was moved to the Shifa Medical Center in Gaza City, but died from his wounds and serious complications.
In a video message [below] before his death, Hussein said that he was just selling ice cream and refreshment near the protest tent, hundreds of meters away from the “border fence”, to provide for his children in the besieged and imprisoned coastal region. He also voiced an appeal to President Mahmoud Abbas, and various officials, to help him out, and provide him with medical treatment. “I call on the entire world, and President Mahmoud Abbas, to have mercy on me; I want to walk again” he said, “Am here at the Shifa hospital, I am paralyzed man. I pray for help, pleading for help – calling on them to see my difficult condition… and nothing more.”
Updated: Israeli strikes raise death toll to three Palestinians
IMEMC 27 May — A Palestinian who was critically injured on Sunday, during a predawn Israeli strike on several locations to the south of the Gaza Strip, died of his serious wounds, bringing the total number of Palestinians who were killed by Israeli army today to three. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Palestinian Health Ministry, has confirmed that the Palestinian, Naseem Marwan al-‘Amour, 20, from Rafah, has died from his serious wounds. He added that the young man suffered very serious wounds, and was rushed to surgery at the European Hospital in Gaza, but later succumbed to his wounds at the Intensive Care Unit.
Israeli forces stationed along the barbed-wire fence that separates between Gaza and Israel fired at least two missiles targeting a location between the cities of Rafah and Khan Younis, killing two Palestinians, identified as Hussein Samir al-‘Amour, 22, and Abdul-Halim Abdul-Karim an-Naqa, 29. The site was completely destroyed. The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad, said the three are member of the group.
The Israeli army further shelled, with at least two missiles, a location to the east of Deir al-Balah city, in central Gaza, causing heavy damage to the site. No injuries were reported among Palestinians living near the targeted site.
In related news, the soldiers shot, on Sunday evening, three young Palestinian men near the fence east of the Zeitoun neighborhood, southeast of Gaza city. They were rushed to the Shifa Hospital, suffering moderate wounds.
Palestinian dies from serious wounds suffered in Gaza
IMEMC 28 May — The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza has reported, Monday, that a young man died from serious wounds he suffered several days earlier, after Israeli soldiers shot him, during the ongoing Great Return March, in northern Gaza. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry, said the Palestinian has been identified as Nasser ِAref Abdul-Rauf al-‘Ereini [or al-Arini], 28. Dr. al-Qedra added that the Palestinian suffered, on May 14th, very serious wounds by Israeli army fire, on Palestinian lands, east of Jabalia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian was rushed to the Indonesian hospital in Beit Lahia, also in northern Gaza, where he succumbed to his serious wounds.
Gazan killed, another injured in Israeli artillery attack
GAZA (PIC) 28 May — A Palestinian was killed and another injured on Monday evening when Israeli tanks opened fire at three resistance posts in Beit Lahia town in the northern Gaza Strip. Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman for Gaza’s Ministry of Health, said that Mohammed al-Radei‘, 25, was killed while another young man suffered different wounds in the attack. A security source told the PIC reporter that Israeli tanks stationed behind the border fence in northern Gaza fired several shells at three posts belonging to the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas movement. The Qassam Brigades in a statement mourned Mohammed al-Radei‘ and said that he is one of their fighters, stressing that the martyr’s blood will not go in vain.
In a related context, the Hebrew website “0404” reported that the Israeli army on Monday arrested two of three Palestinians who attempted to sneak into the 1948 occupied Palestinian territories from northern Gaza. The website claimed that a shooting attack was launched against Israeli forces as the third Palestinian was withdrawing from the area, adding that the Israeli tanks at the border responded by opening fire at nearby Hamas posts…
With the death of al-Radei‘, the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza by the Israeli occupation forces since the start of the Great Return March protests has increased to 127. So far about 13,000 Palestinians have been injured, over 300 of whom are in critical conditions.
Four Palestinians cross Gaza fence, turn back under Israeli army fire
Haaretz 26 May by Yaniv Kubovich & Jack Khoury — Four Palestinians crossed the Gaza border fence into Israel on Saturday and threw a firebomb before fleeing back to Gaza under Israeli fire, the IDF spokesperson said. According to the Israeli army, the four were in Israel for about a minute and left a tent that read “The March of Return. Returning to the land of Palestine.”
Heavy gunfire from Gaza hits Israeli town; none hurt, damage caused
Haaretz 28 May by Almog Ben Zikri et al.– Israel shells Gaza after 2 Palestinians breach border, one said killed; IDF says shots fired at troops while chasing the two, who crossed into Israel to carry out an attack — Heavy gunfire from Gaza hit the southern Israeli town of Sderot on Monday, causing damage to local structures and cars. No one was hurt in the incident. The shooting attack comes as Israel braces for a possible response from the Islamic Jihad for the killing of three of its operatives on Sunday. The Israeli military said it fired shells at an outpost in the northern Gaza Strip earlier Monday after Israeli forces arrested two Palestinians for breaching the border and crossing into Israel from Gaza. Shots were fired toward Israeli forces while chasing the two, who, according to the Israel Defense Forces, were found to be carrying knives, flammable material and tools to cut the border fence. The IDF added that the two entered Israel with the aim of carrying out an attack.
Barrage of 28 mortars fired from Gaza to Israel; kindergarten’s yard hit
Haaretz 29 May by Amos Harel et al. — IDF: Most shells intercepted by Iron Dome defense system ; Several hits reported in southern Israeli communities; Hamas evacuates bases in anticipation of Israeli retaliation — A barrage of 28 mortar shells was fired from Gaza toward Israel Tuesday morning, the Israel Defense Forces said. Most of the mortars were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, but several hits were reported in southern Israel, including in the yard of a kindergarten. According to reports in Gaza, Hamas and other Palestinian factions are evacuating headquarters and bases in anticipation of an Israeli response. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman is currently convening with the IDF’s chief of staff and other top defense officials at the ministry’s headquarters. Earlier reports said the IDF attacked eastern Gaza with artillery fire. Rocket sirens were heard around 7 A.M. in several southern Israeli communities, including Eshkol, Shaar Hanegev and Sdot Negev. Residents in the vicinity reported sounds of explosions. About an hour later, a second round of rocket sirens was heard again in Eshkol. A third round of sirens was heard around 9:30 A.M. in the kibbutzim of Nirim and Ein Hashlosha. The Eshkol Regional Council, an Israeli community near the border, said one of the shells from Gaza fell in the yard of a kindergarten. No injuries were reported. The IDF noted the fact that the rockets were fired at communities as children made their way to schools. According to the IDF, the firing was carried out by Islamic Jihad and was approved by Hamas.
This was the first such incident since a new wave of mass Palestinian protests began in Gaza on March 30 … Since March 30, Hamas has refrained from launching rockets and has prohibited other organizations in the Strip from carrying out revenge attacks so as not to harm the narrative of a popular Palestinian struggle against Israeli snipers. In the past two days, however, three Islamic Jihad members and a Hamas activist were killed in Israeli strikes, and the IDF expected the Gaza-based group to retaliate with rocket fire….
This Yukoner is joining a fleet of people en route to Gaza
CBC News (Canada) 25 May by Ron Rousseau — A Yukoner is part of a team travelling to the Gaza Strip to raise awareness of the struggles Palestinians face there. Ron Rousseau of Carcross will join a fleet travelling from Scandinavia to Gaza over the next few months. “I am honoured to be asked and humbled because of the opportunity,” said Rousseau. The mission is run by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, an international organization that aims to challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Rousseau was contacted by the group Canadian Boat to Gaza, which works in connection with the coalition. Rousseau is president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers for Whitehorse and the vice-president representing Indigenous workers at the Canadian Labour Congress. He facilitates Indigenous courses with these groups and is an outspoken advocate for Indigenous people in Canada.
–Connections between Gaza and Canada– For Rousseau, there are connections between what’s happening in the Gaza Strip and what’s happened in Canada. “[I’m] excited to go see what’s going on and to be able to speak about what’s going on — both inside of Gaza, but also here in Canada for the Indigenous people,” he said. “I think the Indigenous people of Palestine and the Indigenous people of Canada is a very similar history.” Rousseau points to access to safe drinking water as one issue shared by Palestinians and many First Nations in Canada. He also said the pass system previously in place on Canadian reserves is similar to the current blockade around Gaza. “They are inside a land jail,” said Rousseau.
Israel begins construction of sea barrier off Gaza coast
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 28 May — The Israeli government began construction of marine barrier off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday, which it says will be used to prevent the movement of the Hamas military wing out of the besieged coastal enclave and into Israeli territory. Israeli news website Ynet reported that the naval barrier, which is being headed by the Ministry of Defense, is designed to prevent potential “infiltration of a Hamas terror cell” into Israel from Gaza. The multi-million dollar project is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. According to Ynet, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu applauded the barrier as being one-of-a-kind and “an additional setback for Hamas, which has lost another strategic capability that it has invested massive amounts in developing.” Israeli news daily Haaretz reported that the barrier will consist of three layers: an underwater level, topped by a layer of stone and an above-water barbed wire fence. The entire barricade itself will be surrounded by another fortified fence. The barrier will reportedly span 37 miles, and is expected to cost approximately 3 billion shekels ($833 million), with each kilometer of the underground part of the barrier costing an estimated 41.5 million shekels ($11.5 million). The costs of constructing the aboveground fence were reported to be at 1.5 million shekels ($416,000) per kilometer….
Palestinian medics struggle to provide healthcare amid attacks
Al Jazeera 28 May by Mersiha Gadzo — As paramedic Mazen Jabreel Hasna set out towards the field east of Gaza City with his medical team for the Friday demonstration, he had a sinking feeling it would be another bloody day for the unarmed Palestinian demonstrators. Hasna and his team were in a heightened state of alert, taking into consideration the high number of casualties during demonstrations in the weeks prior. As he got ready on April 27, he tried to stay positive by reciting verses of mercy from the Quran for extra protection. His gut feeling, however, turned out be an accurate predictor of the day’s events – only this time it was Hasna among the gravely wounded. In the moments before he was shot, Hasna noticed a woman 30 metres away, struggling to break free from the barbed wire she was stuck on. The woman was hysterical, trying to reach her wounded son but unable to move, also having been tear-gassed. As Hasna was rushing towards the woman, he suddenly fell to the ground – he had been shot with a pulverising “butterfly” bullet that exploded through his right leg and settled into his left. Years of experience working as a paramedic in hostile environments couldn’t prevent the incident. Wearing a neon green vest and a surgical mask and with no smoke to obscure the view for Israeli snipers, he said Israeli forces deliberately targeted him as a paramedic. “It’s like art for them. The Israeli sniper knows very well what kind of injury you’re going to have before he shoots you. So if he wants you to live, he can [let you live]. If he wants to amputate you, he will,” Hasna told Al Jazeera from his home, sitting in a wheelchair surrounded by his seven children….
[as often, innocent animals are collateral damage from human beings’ inability to get along with each other]
Drone footage shows Israeli nature reserve devastated by Gaza flaming kites
[with photos] Times of Israel 28 May — Drone footage released Monday showed how hundreds of acres of one of the most scenic areas of southern Israel have been reduced to burned, blackened wasteland by firebomb-laden kites flown across the border by Palestinians. By the end of winter, the Be’eri Crater Nature Reserve is normally blanketed with green grass interspersed with red anemones. The park’s trees, grass and ground are home to many species of wildlife. However, hundreds of kites carrying flaming material have been flown across the border by Gazan Palestinians in the past few weeks, and photos show the entire area has been reduced to blackened stubble. On Sunday alone a further 50 acres of the nature reserve were consumed by fire started by the kites. Rafi Bavian, security officer of the Sdot Negev Regional Council, said that the plants would eventually grow back, but he mourned the destruction of wildlife. “We are sure that time will do its part, the rain will return and the flowering will begin again,” he told Ynet news site. “But to see the crater area burned like this, and to think of all the animals burned to death is heartbreaking.”….
Along the Gaza border, they shoot medics (too), don’t they? / Amira Hass
Haaretz 28 May — An ambulance a minute, 1,300 people shot in a day: Gaza’s Shifa Hospital faces crises that would swamp the world’s best hospitals — Any healthcare system in the West would collapse if it had to treat as many gunshot wounds in a single day as there were in the Gaza Strip on May 14, say international medical figures. Yet Gaza’s medical system, which for years has been on the brink of collapse as a result of the Israeli blockade and Palestinian internecine conflict, coped amazingly well with the challenge. In Israel, the events of May 14 are already history. In the Strip, their bloody consequences will shape the lives of thousands of families for years to come. It was the number of people injured by gunfire, more than the high body count, that was so shocking: Nearly half of the more than 2,770 people who sought emergency care had gunshot wounds. “It was clear that the soldiers are shooting above all in order to injure and maim demonstrators.” That was the conclusion I heard from my interlocutors, some well experienced in bloody international conflicts. The aim was to hurt rather than to kill, to leave as many young people as possible with permanent disabilities.
The preparations at the 10 triage and trauma stabilization stations were impressive. Each of the stations erected near the protest sites was staffed by paramedics and volunteer medical students. Within six minutes, on average, they managed to examine each patient, to determine the type of injury, to stabilize the patient and decide who needed to be treated in a hospital. Beginning at around noon, one ambulance arrived at Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital every minute. The sirens didn’t stop wailing. Each ambulance carried four or five people with injuries. Twelve operating rooms worked nonstop. The first to be treated were people with injuries to blood vessels. Hundreds of people with less critical injuries waited in the hospital corridors for their turn, groaning and dizzy. The only pain relievers available were meant for bad headaches at most, not gunshot wounds….
How Israel is using Hamas to crack down on Palestinian demonstrators
Al-Monitor 27 May by Asmaa al-Ghoul — Hamas leader Salah al-Bardawil’s comments May 16 on Baladna TV sparked much controversy within the Gaza Strip. Bardawil said, “In the last round [of the Great Return marches], 62 people were martyred, 50 of them belonged to Hamas.” Many believe that such statements give Israel justification for its use of violence against demonstrators along the Gaza fence … Political analyst Saleh al-Naami, who is close to Hamas, wrote on his Facebook page May 16 that Israel has rejoiced over Bardawil’s remarks, adding, “Bardawil meant that the [victims] are civilians belonging to Hamas-affiliated families.” Hamas’ behavior, which is presenting itself as the spiritual father of the return marches, has sparked discontent among many Gazans after Bardawil’s remarks went viral in international media. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video May 17, “Bardawil’s remarks prove that Israel is targeting terrorists.”….
Fatah exits Great Return March, Hamas won’t stop
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 24 May by Ahmad Abu Amer — Fatah unexpectedly announced last week it was ending its participation in the Great Return March early, calling the actions of its rival faction Hamas during the protests “degenerate.” Meanwhile, other Palestinian factions participating under the name of the Coordination Committee of the Great Return March announced the protests will continue until June 5, marking the anniversary of Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem in 1967. In its May 16 statement, Fatah demanded the various Palestinian factions, including Hamas, form a committee to assess the march and address mistakes that occurred. Fatah gave no specific examples of such mistakes … “Fatah ended its participation in the protests because many other Palestinian factions, especially Hamas, began to use the protests for purposes other than those set in the beginning. Hamas is seeking to take advantage of the march to try to break the siege on Gaza, instead of focusing on the right of return,” Fatah leader Yahya Rabah told Al-Monitor. “What Hamas is doing is a degenerate and unpatriotic act and we won’t keep silent on its mistakes in the protests,” he added, stressing that dozens of Fatah members have been killed and hundreds wounded since the protests began March 30….
Compromise is possible on Palestinian right of return
Al-Monitor 24 May by Akiva Eldar — … The recent Palestinian protests along Gaza’s border with Israel, dubbed the “Great March of Return,” focused public attention once more on the seemingly intractable problem of the Palestinians uprooted by Israel’s founding in 1948. No plan purporting to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and definitely not one Trump has hailed as the “ultimate deal,” can ignore the volatile issue. Other core divisions between the sides, such as the status of Jerusalem and of Israeli settlements, future borders and security arrangements can perhaps be bridged. The Palestinian demand of the right of return, however, is a non-starter — a red rag even for most of Israel’s leftist Zionist Camp. Recent scenes of tens of thousands of Palestinians storming the Gaza fence clutching Palestinian flags appear to have confirmed the political right’s flagship argument that giving up the territories Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War would not resolve the conflict …
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also said in a 2012 interview on Israel’s Channel 2 that despite being a refugee from the Galilee town of Safed, he does not expect to return there. “Palestine now for me is the ’67 borders — alongside the state of Israel,” he said. Three comprehensive polls conducted in the first half of 2003 among 4,500 families living in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza indicate that most refugees favor Abbas’ position. Only 10% want to return to Israel, compared with 72% who would rather live in a Palestinian state or receive monetary compensation. The results were met with harsh criticism by radical Palestinian factions opposed to any compromise on the right of return. They even threatened the head of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, Khalil Shikaki, with violence …
The youngest refugees from 1948 celebrated their 70th birthdays this year. Their children, grandchildren, even great-grandchildren are languishing in refugee camps and handing down from generation to generation the keys to their homes in Galilee villages — homes in which three generations of Israelis have already been born. To surmount the barrier of the right of return, Israel must recognize the rights of the “original” refugees who wish to return to their villages. At the same time, it should work to establish an international fund that would pay the refugees and their descendants compensation for the property they left behind. Even the impact of taking in these “original” refugees on Israel’s demographic balance, meaning the ratio of Jewish to Arab citizens of Israel, would be negligible compared to the repercussions of continued Israeli rule over the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
No Palestinian leader past or present could ever afford to cede his people’s right of return. No Israeli leader can ever afford to grant the Palestinians their right of return. However, within these two red lines there is plenty of room to maneuver for leaders willing to seek creative solutions to the bloody conflict rather than reasons to perpetuate it.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian woman in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 28 May — Israeli border police shot and injured a Palestinian woman in occupied East Jerusalem’s Shu‘fat neighborhood on Sunday night. Witnesses told Ma‘an that the woman [Khawla Sbeih], whose identity remained unknown, sustained injuries after being shot in the leg by Israeli border police officers near the light rail station in Shu‘fat. Israeli news website Ynet reported that the soldiers said “their suspicion was aroused after the woman started slowly approaching them, who was wearing a Burqa, which they feared may be concealing a weapon or an explosive device.” “After the woman failed to heed their calls to stop, the security forces opened fire, aiming at her legs,” Ynet said. In a video [below] recorded of the shooting, the Israeli soldiers can be seen pointing their weapons at the woman while yelling at her before shooting her a single time, causing her to fall to the ground. Ynet added that after Israeli forces found no weapons on the woman, and that an investigation was being opened into the shooting. Local sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces sealed the entire area following the shooting, preventing people from approaching the girl, while additional forces deployed heavily around the scene.
Israeli court extends detention of Palestinian woman shot in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 28 May — An Israeli court in Jerusalem ruled on Monday to extend the detention of a Palestinian woman who was shot and injured by Israeli border police officers on Sunday night. Khawla Sbeih, 43, was shot by Israeli forces near the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shu‘fat on Sunday. Israeli media reported at the time that the soldiers shot Sbeih, who was wearing a full head and face veil, for acting suspiciously. Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) lawyer Mufid al-Hajj said that the court held the session on Monday without the presence of Sbeih, who is being treated at the Shaare Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem for a gunshot wound to her leg. The court extended her detention until Sunday, June 3rd.
Israeli forces raid West Bank camp in search for soldier’s killer; 13 Palestinians said wounded
Haaretz 28 May by Yaniv Kubovich & Jack Khoury — Clashes broke out on Monday morning in a West Bank refugee camp as Israeli forces sought a suspect in the killing of a soldier, with the Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah saying 13 people were lightly wounded. Residents of the al-Am‘ari camp, located in the Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate, threw stones at Israeli troops who are searching for the suspect. Israeli forces used riot dispersal measures in response.
The incident [occurred] after Staff Sgt. Ronen Lubarsky, a 20-year-old soldier from the Israeli military’s elite Duvdevan unit, was laid to rest on Saturday night. He died on Saturday from injuries sustained during a raid at the refugee camp, during which Palestinians dropped a heavy stone slab on his head from the third floor of a building. The military said the raid, which targeted members of a cell involved in recent terrorist attacks and shootings against Israelis, took place after intelligence information indicated the wanted men intended on carrying out another attack soon.
Israeli soldiers abduct two siblings, attack their mother, in Jenin
IMEMC 29 May — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday evening, Jilqamous village, east of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, abducted two siblings and attacked their mother. Media sources said the soldiers invaded the village before storming the home of Fakhri Mahmoud al-Qarm, and violently searching it, causing damage. They added that the soldiers abducted Fakhri’s two sons, Maher and Bassel, and assaulted his wife, causing various cuts and bruises, while ransacking the property. The army cuffed and blindfolded the two siblings and took them to an unknown destination.
Army abducts two Palestinians, including a woman, in Hebron
IMEMC 29 May — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, several areas in the southern West Bank governorate of Hebron, searched homes and abducted two Palestinians, including a woman who is also a former political prisoner. Media sources in Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, said the soldiers abducted Fida’ Mohammad Ekhlayyel, 23, from her family’s home in the town. The former political prisoner, who was held for six months and is currently a university student, was abducted after the soldiers smashed the main doors of her family’s property and broke into it. The soldiers also fired gas bombs and concussion grenades at many youngsters, who protested the invasion and hurled stones at the armored military jeeps.
In addition, the soldiers invaded the ath-Thaheriyya town, southwest of Hebron city, searched many homes, and abducted Mohammad Khalil Makhazra. The army installed many roadblocks at the northern and southern entrances of Hebron, in addition to Sa‘ir and Halhoul towns, before stopping and searching dozens of cars, and inspected the ID cards of the Palestinians.
Israeli soldiers abduct six Palestinians in Qalquilia, Salfit, and Bethlehem
IMEMC 29 May — The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers abducted, on Tuesday at dawn, six young Palestinian men from their homes in the West Bank governorates of Qalqilia, Salfit and Bethlehem, and injured a recovering patient after assaulting him in his home. The PPS office in Qalqilia, in northern West Bank, said the soldiers invaded ‘Azzoun town, east of the city, and abducted Aseed Sweidan and Tareq Sweidan. It added that the invaded was carried out by a large military force, and targeted many neighborhoods, especially Sweidan area, before the soldiers violently stormed and searched dozens of homes. The soldiers also assaulted a recovering patient, a young man identified as Zakariya Sweidan, in his home causing him to lose consciousness.
In Jenin, in northern West Bank, the soldiers invaded the home of a physically disabled man, identified as Adnan Hamarsha, who was abducted by the army earlier this month and received an Administrative Detention order, holding him captive without charges or trial. The soldiers violently searched the property, and conducted body searches of the family while interrogating them. It is worth mentioning that Hamarsha has two imprisoned sons, identified as Omar and Anas….
Israeli forces detain 28 Palestinians in East Jerusalem, West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 May — Israeli forces detained 28 Palestinians during predawn raids in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem on Monday, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS reported that Israeli forces detained 15 Palestinians from the central West Bank city of Ramallah, the adjacent town of al-Bireh, and the al-‘Amari refugee camp, where 13 Palestinians were injured during a violent raid …
In the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, Israeli forces detained three Palestinians, including two former prisoners, Hossam Abu Dayya and Saleh al-Harimi, who were recently released after spending 18 years in Israeli prisons, according to PPS. The third Palestinian was identified as Wajdi Nayef Jaradat.
Three Palestinian teenagers were also detained in the northern West Bank district of Tulkarem, and were identified by PPS as Abd al-Razeq Munther Sharqieh, 18, Laith Maaruf Neaman, 19, and Hmlar Salah Aatili, 18.
In East Jerusalem, PPS said that seven Palestinians were detained from several neighborhoods in the city, including a woman, Khawla Sabeeh, who was detained after Israeli forces shot and injured her on Sunday night. According to PPS, she is being held at the Shaari Tzedek hospital. The other detainees from Jerusalem were identified as Issa Meteb, Mohamed Hagej, and Said al-Ajlouni, Qusay Dari, Yousef Issa Mustafa, and Atta Ezz Derbas.
Israeli court bans deporting of Jerusalem woman whose son stabbed border policeman
Haaretz 28 May by Amira Hass — A Justice Ministry tribunal ruled last week that a Palestinian woman from the West Bank who lives in Jerusalem cannot have her residency permit revoked, despite the fact that her son was involved in a stabbing attack two years ago. In its decision, the appellate tribunal, which deals with residency and immigration issues, overturned a previous decision by the Interior Ministry, and declared that annulment of the woman’s permit cannot be used as a means of punishment. The woman’s son, Mustafa Khatib, carried a stabbing attack on a Border Police officer in October 12, 2015 outside Jerusalem’s Old City. Khatib, who was 17 at the time, was shot and killed during the incident. The police officer was lightly wounded. The review tribunal, headed by Judge Elad Azar, explained that the woman’s residency should not be rescinded because she does not represent a security risk herself and did not know of her son’s intentions to carry out the attack … The appellate tribunal ordered the Interior Ministry to renew the woman’s residency permit within 45 days and to pay 7,000 shekels ($1,960) to cover her court costs. The government has 45 days to appeal the tribunal’s decision to the Jerusalem District Court….
Palestinians risk losing Jerusalem ID over loyalty law
RAMALLAH, Occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 26 May by Jaclyn Ashly — “Exile is like death,” Ahmad Attoun, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), told Al Jazeera. “I can’t explain my relationship to Jerusalem. It is part of my soul.” “Jerusalem is now just a few metres away from me, but I can’t enter. There are no words to describe the pain we are feeling,” he said. Attoun, along with PLC members Mohammad Totah, Mohammad Abu Teir and former Palestinian minister Khaled Abu Arafeh, were forcibly deported from occupied East Jerusalem in 2011 after Israel’s interior minister revoked their Jerusalem residencies over allegations of “breaching loyalty” to the Israeli state. Attoun’s deportation from the city put his life in disarray. He only sees his family on weekends when they travel to Ramallah, where he now resides. His eight-year-old daughter has never experienced living with her father. “I wish I could see her just once in her school uniform when she comes home,” Attoun said, noting that his family has continued to reside in Jerusalem despite his expulsion. “Despite the suffering, in my heart I know we are right. In the natural order, I must return to Jerusalem.” On April 29, Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri upheld the deportation of the four parliamentarians, after Israel’s parliament passed a law in March granting the interior minister full power to revoke the Jerusalem residencies of Palestinians over allegations of “breaching allegiance” or “loyalty” to the Israeli state….
Erdan: Hamas prisoners to be barred from watching FIFA World Cup
JPost 27 May by Tamar Ben-Ozer — Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan instructed Chief Prison Commissioner Ofra Klinger to prevent Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails from watching the upcoming FIFA World Cup in June. The strategic meeting was also attended by the legal bodies relevant to the issue, who then collectively decided to look into the possibility of changing existing regulations in order to prevent all prisoners from watching certain television channels. “I do not intend to allow Hamas terrorists to watch the World Cup while the bodies of our soldiers are held in Gaza together with our kidnapped civilians,” Erdan stated. The bodies of Israeli soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul are currently held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In addition, Israeli civilians Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed are believed to be captive in the Gaza Strip after having crossed the border from Israel … The minister’s directive was made in order to “increase the pressure on Hamas prisoners,” and in coordination with Yaron Bloom, Israel’s Coordinator of POWs and MIAs. In response to Erdan’s decision, Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern said that “this decision and other means of pressure are the only way to get the bodies of our soldiers back from Gaza.” …
This most recent decision by Erdan follows a series of moves he has made in recent years to try and pressure Hamas. These include discontinuing visitation rights for families of Hamas prisoners, not returning terrorists’ bodies and reducing prisoners’ conditions to the minimum required by international law.
Palestinian refugees – Lebanon
One family, three women, 70 years in exile
BEIRUT (Al Jazeera) 27 May by Farah Najjar — The collective story of being a female Palestinian refugee in Lebanon as seen through the lives of a family of women — On a June morning in 1982, Leila Balqees joined her amputee father to watch the news on TV, as he did every day. For Leila, who was 17 and engaged at the time, that day had started out just like any other in Burj Barajneh, a cramped Palestinian refugee camp on the southern edge of Lebanon’s capital, Beirut. It soon turned into a nightmare. “The strikes started coming, left right and centre on the entire camp,” recalls Leila, now 56. On that day, Israel launched a fierce aerial and ground assault, claiming it was to push Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) fighters away from its northern borders….
Palestinian president Abbas leaves hospital after eight-day stay
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) 28 May — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was released from hospital on Monday after an eight-day stay and treatment for what officials said was a lung infection. “Thank God I am leaving the hospital in good health and I will return to work tomorrow,” the 82-year-old leader, dressed in a suit and smiling, told reporters before walking out of the hospital in the city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. Abbas, who is a heavy smoker, was admitted on May 20 for what doctors had initially said were medical tests following ear surgery. Officials later said he was being treated for pneumonia.
Abbas, who was also hospitalised for medical checks during a trip to address the U.N. Security Council in February, became president after the death in 2004 of Yasser Arafat. The Western-backed president pursued U.S.-led peace talks with Israel but these broke down in 2014 and his democratic mandate expired eight years ago. There has been no presidential election since 2005 and the term of office is only five years. His authority is essentially limited to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, with the Islamist group Hamas in control of the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian journalists condemn Israeli bill criminalizing photographing of soldiers
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 May — The Palestinian Journalist Syndicate (PCJ) released a statement on Saturday condemning the proposal of a new bill in the Israeli Knesset that would criminalize the photographing or recording of Israeli soldiers while on duty. The bill was proposed on Thursday with the support of right-wing Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and if passed, those found in violation of the law could face a prison sentence of up to five years. The PCJ called the proposed bill “racist,” saying that it “severely attacks the profession of the press and legitimizes the criminal practices committed by the Israeli occupation army against the Palestinian people.” The group said the law would “grant legitimacy to the Israeli occupation to commit more crimes,” and is an attempt by the Israeli government to “escape punishment and international justice.” “The core of the law is to mislead justice and provide a formal cover for further crimes,” the group said.
Israel pushes US to recognize Golan Heights sovereignty
Al-Monitor 28 May by Ben Caspit — There is cautious optimism in Jerusalem over the chances that the Trump administration will agree to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Apart from Minister of Intelligence Yisrael Katz, who insinuates as much in recent interviews, no Israeli source is willing to risk a public guess. Still, several senior political sources have told Al-Monitor that there is a good chance it will happen. One senior Cabinet member said on condition of anonymity, “We have presented this option to the Americans on all levels, including during a conversation between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump. This is a one of a kind historic opportunity, which we will not have again.” A senior diplomatic source in Jerusalem confirmed on condition of anonymity, “It’s on the table, both for the Americans and for us. It is Israel’s supreme strategic interest right now, and what is remarkable about it is that the move comes with almost no price attached.”….
Gaza and Iran deal top EU foreign ministers meeting
Euronews 28 May by Damon Embling — Gaza and the ailing Iran nuclear deal have been topping a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. Outside the EU Council building, campaigners placed 4,500 pairs of empty shoes as a reminder of the loss of lives in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the last decade. Ministers agreed immediate action was needed to prevent further deaths in Gaza and that humanitarian access needed to be guaranteed. “The tensions in Gaza happen in a context of lack of a peace process and in the context of developments in Jerusalem and we still are all committed, all the 28, to consider Jerusalem the future capital of the two states,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters.
Croatia rejects extradition of suspect in Hamas engineer killing
Al Jazeera 28 May — Croatia top court blocks extradition of a Bosnian man accused of killing Hamas member Mohammed al-Zawari in Tunisia — Croatia’s top court on Monday blocked the extradition of a Bosnian man to Tunisia over the alleged murder of an aerospace engineer, who the Palestinian group Hamas said was one of its members. Mohammed al-Zawari, 49, was killed in a hail of bullets at the wheel of his car outside his house in the city of Sfax, 270km southeast of Tunis, in December 2016. “The Supreme court accepted the appeal of the suspect… and rejected the request for extradition from the Republic of Tunisia,” the court said in a statement … Leaders from both Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah group accused the Israeli spy agency Mossad of assassinating al-Zawari. Last November, during a press conference in Beirut, Hamas claimed Mossad agents, carrying Bosnian passports, were responsible for his murder….
Palestine urges Argentina to cancel football match in Jerusalem
Al Jazeera 28 May — The friendly fixture between Israel and Argentina is set to be played in Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium on June 9 — The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) has urged Argentina to cancel a friendly football match against Israel, scheduled to be played in Jerusalem next month. In letters sent on Monday to the Argentine Football Association, the South American Football Confederation and football’s world governing body FIFA on Monday, PFA President Jibril Rajoub protested the choice of venue. Rajoub accused Israel of “politicising sport” by hosting the June 9 friendly at the Teddy Stadium, which sits on land once home to a Palestinian village before it was destroyed by Israeli forces in 1948 during the creation of the state of Israel. “Israel, the occupying power, has … [acted] in contravention of universal values and norms governing the principles of sport,” Rajoub said, adding that the match would cost Argentina its sporting and moral reputation. “They are also misleading the Argentine public by promoting the city as ‘the united Jerusalem’ for the Jewish people.”….
Witness from the East: a film by Ayed Nabaa
Al Jazeera World 23 May — While working on a kibbutz in 1967, a Japanese journalist discovers the hidden remains of a Palestinian village — When Japanese journalist Ryuichi Hirokawa went to Israel in 1967 to work on a kibbutz, he was fascinated by the idea of a farming community based on socialist principles. He wanted to work there and study Hebrew. But two weeks after his arrival, the 1967 Arab-Israeli war erupted. “I thought Israel was right in this war because the Palestinians and Arabs wanted to destroy Israel,” says Hirokawa. But one day, he stumbled across rubble covered with cacti and scattered rocks that later proved to be the remains of the village of Daliyat al-Rawha – a village that had disappeared from the map. “I asked people in the kibbutz [about the village], but they didn’t answer me,” Hirokawa recalls. Hirokawa investigated what had happened to the village and, checking an old English map, next to the names of former Palestinian villages he found the word ‘destroyed’. “I was shocked. I thought I was working in a farm belonging to the kibbutz. But I realised I was working in a place where people once had a life … I thought there must be people in this country who, like us, would say the war was wrong, the lands shouldn’t be seized and must be returned.” Hirokawa says his investigation taught him about the Nakba and changed his perception of the founding of Israel and the Palestinian cause. After his return to Japan, and throughout his career as a journalist, Hirokawa continued to document the plight of Palestinians, including their expulsion to Lebanon….
Death does not stop voice of this Palestinian singer
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 25 May by Ahmad Melhem — Death has not stopped Rim Banna, known as Palestine’s “Voice of Revolution,” from singing her songs of resistance in a posthumous album that was released last month, just as thousands of Palestinians marked the 70th anniversary of the Nakba with “Great Return March” protests. Norwegian production company Kirkelig Kulturverksted (KKV) released “Sawt al-Moukawama” (“Voice of Resistance”) a month after Banna, a singer and activist known for her modern interpretation of traditional Palestinian songs, died of breast cancer March 24 at the age of 51. The album, which uses new technology to recreate and boost Banna’s fading voice, consists of 15 songs — 14 written by her and one by Lebanese poet Zahi Wehbe. Work on the album began after damage to Banna’s vocal cords caused her voice to change a few years ago. In January, in one of her last statements to the press, Banna said she wanted her album to be “daring and special” rather than dark and sad. “It is a creative act of resistance facing all forms of injustice and occupation,” she was quoted as saying by the Jana news portal. Banna, born and raised in the city of Nazareth, was often called “White Gazelle,” a nickname her mother, poet Zuhaira Sabbagh, gave her. Sabbagh announced her daughter’s death on her Facebook page: “My White Gazelle is gone. But her smile still lights up her beautiful face to make the anguish of separation a bit bearable.”….
Hundreds of students, parents sign letter in support of Beacon School Gaza tribute
The Forward 25 May by Ben Fractenberg — Hundreds of current and former students and parents signed a letter in support of a controversial moment of silence at Manhattan’s elite Beacon School for Palestinians killed during Gaza protests. The letter, which had gained about 200 signatures according to one organizer with a child in the ninth grade, came more than a week after the tribute was announced over the school’s PA system on May 15, angering some students and parents who felt it supported terrorism. But a large group of the educational community, which has a high percentage of Jews, pushed back, saying the silence was in line with the elite school’s ethos of confronting difficult issues. “As individuals affiliated with Beacon, we were very proud to learn that a moment of silence was held at the school for Palestinians killed in Gaza last week while protesting for their rights,” the letter read. “We are so glad that students who attend Beacon are actively learning to engage with the world around them and honor each person’s humanity. Thank you for fostering an atmosphere at the school that encourages students to develop a commitment to justice.” But other students, parents and organizations said they found the announcement deeply offensive. The Zionist Organization of American penned a May 25 letter to the district’s superintendent saying they were “shocked and outraged” by the moment of silence….
A Jewish prayer gathering for Gaza victims makes British Jews lose their cool
JTA 26 May by Cnaan Liphshiz — Group reciting mourning benediction for Palestinians killed by IDF in border clashes leads to uncharacteristically toxic debate within Jewish community — Martin Hizer was driving his taxi through London when he learned that a group of Jews were publicly gathering to recite the mourning prayer for Palestinians killed in Gaza. “Frankly, I was fuming,” Hizer, who is Jewish, said in an interview on YouTube for a pro-Israel channel. The video shows him confronting the 50 Jewish protesters in Parliament Square on May 16 as they said kaddish for the 61 Palestinians killed that week in clashes with Israeli troops. “Fifty of them were identified as Hamas operatives,” he booms, pointing his finger at a male protester. “And you f***ing pricks, you’re saying kaddish for them?! They would’ve f***ing killed you if you were there!” Hizer’s tirade was brief. But his response was part of an unusually toxic debate that featured online shaming, insults and threats directed by Jews against Jews — uncharacteristic for British Jewry. The comment section of a YouTube video of the event features an outpouring of hatred and incitement to violence toward the young men and women who attended … Hundreds of comments, some apparently breaking laws against threats and incitement to violence, were directed at organizers and participants of the event and left-leaning organizations — including Zionist ones — with whom some of the people in attendance were affiliated. Nina Morris Evans, an Oxford student who attended the Kaddish for Gaza event, said no one who came anticipated the backlash. “It’s upsetting, especially people who send me rude private messages on Facebook,” she said. The author of one message called her a “disgrace to her heritage.” Another wrote: “This is who you are. A feeble excuse, self-loathing, weak, traitorous.”….
The British Jewish community won’t silence our solidarity with Gaza
+972 Blog 25 May by Rob Abrams — A group of mostly young British Jews took a large step forward in shifting the British Jewish community’s debate on Israel and the occupation this past week. Around 50 British Jews, shocked by the scale of death in Gaza, after Israeli snipers shot dead 60 Palestinians in a single day, gathered in Parliament Square in central London to name the dead and recite the kaddish, the Jewish mourner’s prayer. Although this certainly wasn’t the first time we have spoken out against the violence unleashed on Gaza, this time felt notably different. Standing among us weren’t just the usual suspects from various left-wing Jewish groups such as the Jewish Socialist Group or Jewdas.. There were community leaders; youth movement counselors, rabbis, and young people engaged in their synagogues and communities. This is reflective of a massive groundswell of change that has taken place within the community in recent years. Many British Jews, old and young alike, are struggling to see the values they hold reflected in an Israeli government that has long turned its back on them. Among my peers in the community, it is now relatively rare to find anyone not critical in some way of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people. This makes sense. You can only spend so long teaching Jewish children biblical teachings of pursuing justice before they start asking why some in our community seem to interpret this as “justice for some.”….