Media Analysis

Jewish settlers set fire to Dawabsheh family home for a second time

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Dawabsheh family survives second settler arson attack
MEMO 11 May — Photo: A Palestinian girl stands in her living room after it was set alight by Jewish settlers in the West Bank on 11 May 2018 [Nedal Eshtayah/Anadolu Agency] — Jewish settlers set fire to a house belonging to the Dawabsheh family in the village of Duma near the occupied West Bank city of Nablus early this morning, according to eyewitness. “A group of settlers attacked my home at dawn today, breaking a window and throwing a Molotov cocktail inside before fleeing the scene,” Yasser Dawabsheh said. “We were lucky that I was able to hear them when they attacked, so I was able to evacuate all my family,” he said. “Fire crews reacted quickly and put out the fire before the whole house burnt down,” he added. Police are reportedly investigating the incident.
In July of 2015, Israeli settlers torched the Dawabsheh family home in an attack that claimed the lives of Saad and Riham Dawabsheh and their 18-month-old baby Ali.  Their eldest son, Ahmed, 6, survived the attack, but suffered severe burns that have affected his mobility.  The attack sparked international outrage, with the family accusing Israel of dragging its feet in prosecuting the suspects, despite admissions by Israeli officials that they knew who was responsible.


Health Ministry:  ‘Army kills one Palestinian, injures 448, in Gaza’
IMEMC 11 May — Updated: The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed that Israeli soldiers killed, Friday, one Palestinian, and injured 448, including seven who suffered very serious wounds, in the Gaza Strip. The Health Ministry said the soldiers killed Jaber Salem Abu Mustafa, 40, after shooting him with a live round in the chest, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. It added that, among the 448 wounded Palestinians, 112 were shot with live fire, including seven in serious conditions, and four who were directly shot with gas bombs. Sixty-six of the wounded Palestinians were moved to hospitals in several parts of the coastal region. One of them is a child, 16, who was shot with a live bullet that penetrated both of his legs while trying to place a Palestinian flag on the border fence. At least one of the wounded Palestinians is a medic who was shot while rushing to provide treatment to injured protesters. It is worth mentioning that many protesters managed to remove a section of the border fence, east of Gaza Strip, before the soldiers started firing at them, while many Palestinian hurled stones. Some protesters flew burning kites across the border fence, causing fires, before Israeli firefighters rushed to extinguish them. Fire also broke out in an Israeli colony near the border area when an Israeli colonialist settler tried to fly a burning kite into the Palestinian side.

UN OCHA – Humanitarian snapshot: mass casualties in the context of demonstrations in the Gaza Strip
Infographic 9 May from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

MEMO’s Gaza correspondent shot by Israeli sniper
MEMO 11 May — Palestinian journalist and MEMO correspondent in Gaza, Motasem Dalloul, has been hospitalised after being shot by Israeli sniper fire today while covering The Great March of Return near Gaza’s eastern border.  Last month, Palestinian journalists Yasser Murtaja and Ahmed Abu-Hussein were shot dead by Israeli snipers while covering the events near the Gaza-Israel border despite wearing protective vests clearly marked “PRESS”. Several other journalists have also been wounded since the protests began.

Increasing number of foreign journalists enter Gaza
MEMO 9 May — Head of the Palestinian Government Information Office in Gaza Salama Marouf said yesterday that there had been a “notable” increase in the number of foreign journalists visiting Gaza since the start of the Great March of Return, Quds Press reported. Marouf told the news site that scores of foreign journalists entered Gaza, with numbers expected to rise ahead of the culmination of protests on Nakba Day on 15 May.  Border officials in Gaza said on average four journalists enter the enclave everyday with an increase in numbers on Thursdays in preparation for larger demonstrations held on Friday.

In Pictures — Gaza rallies: How women shape the Great March of Return movement
Al Jazeera 11 May by Hosam Salem — For the seventh Friday in a row, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have taken part in popular protests calling for their right of return to the homes from which they were expelled from in 1948 … As documented in this series of photographs, Palestinian women have been at the forefront of the Gaza protests, taking on many roles as demonstrators, medical volunteers and cooks.

Video: Right-wing Israelis filmed trying to send flaming kite to Gaza, starting fire in Israel
Haaretz 11 May by Almog Ben Zikri –Three right-wing activists were arrested in Israel on Friday after attempting to send an incendiary kite into the Gaza Strip. The kite was believed to have fallen inside Israeli territory, where it started a small conflagration. One of the suspects, Ran Karmi Buzaglo, claimed that he had been attempting to make a “humorous video.” The fire was quickly extinguished and the three men were taken into police custody for questioning … Karmi Buzaglo recently mocked the use of incendiary kites by protesting Palestinians. “The best minds of IMI [Systems, an Israeli weapons manufacturer] are developing a laser beam that will intercept kites,” he wrote on Twitter. “The development will be operational in 2025 and will cost nearly a billion dollars. Meanwhile, the possibility is being considered of putting a bullet in the head of every terrorist who flies a kite bomb.”….

Egypt to open Rafah crossing with Gaza for 4 days
CAIRO (WAFA) 11 May – Egyptian authorities decided on Friday to open the Rafah border crossing, on Egypt-Gaza border, for four days exceptionally starting from next Saturday, according to the Palestinian embassy in Cairo.

Army shoots a Palestinian in the head with a gas bomb
IMEMC 9 May — Israeli soldiers shot, Wednesday, a young Palestinian man with a gas bomb which struck him directly in the head, east of Khuza‘a town, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Media sources in Gaza said the soldiers advanced dozens of meters into Palestinian lands east of Khuza‘a, and fired live rounds and high-velocity  gas bombs at Palestinian protesters. The Quds News Agency said the soldiers shot a young man with a gas bomb, directly striking him in the head, causing a moderate injury, before medics rushed him to the European Hospital.
In related news, the soldiers bulldozed Palestinian lands in the area, and installed sand hills, in addition to adding more barbed-wire fences near the border, east of Khuza‘a.

Israeli naval forces open fire on Gaza fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 May —  Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen as they were sailing off the coast of Rafah City, in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning,according to local sources. Locals told Ma’an that Israeli naval boats opened fire towards several Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Rafah. No injuries were reported. The fishermen said they were forced to head back to shore afterwards “in fear for their lives. No injuries were reported. The fishermen said they were forced to head back to shore afterwards “in fear for their lives.”

Failing Gaza health system after 10-year blockade barely handling 2,000+ live fire injuries
B’Tselem 10 May — Since 30 March 2018, Gazans have protested along the fence with Israel every Friday, with anywhere between thousands and tens of thousands of people participating. At least 39 people have been killed by live fire shot by Israel security forces and, according to Palestinian Ministry of Health statistics, some 8,000 people have been wounded, more than 2,100 of them from live rounds. According to the media, Gaza doctors report particularly serious injuries, mostly to the lower extremities, which “include an extreme level of destruction to bones and soft tissue, and large exit wounds that can be the size of a fist”. According to Palestinian Ministry of Health Data, as of 30 April 2018, Gaza doctors had performed 24 amputations on wounded individuals, 19 of them of lower limbs. Even an advanced, functioning healthcare system would have had difficulties handling such a large number of casualties in such a short period of time. All the more so for Gaza’s healthcare system, which has been in a state of collapse for years, mostly since the Israeli blockade began more than a decade ago. Israeli restrictions apply to replacing broken equipment, importing advanced medical equipment and drugs, travel by physicians for professional training outside Gaza and more. In addition, Gaza’s intermittent power supply, largely Israel’s doing with the High Court’s seal of approval, also disrupts the work of hospitals.  In these conditions, it is impossible to provide the wounded with adequate care. According to figures released by the World Health Organization (WHO), as of 28 April 2018, 75 drugs and 190 types of disposable medical equipment were immediately needed. Doctors are also in short supply. In the entire Gaza Strip, with its population of two million, there are only ten vascular surgeons, which means it is impossible to provide immediate care for all the wounded in the weekly mass casualty incidents….

Red Cross calls on Israel to respect Gaza medical crews
IMEMC/Agencies 8 May — Head of International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) sub-delegation in Gaza, Gilan Devorn, has called on Israeli occupation authorities to respect and ensure the unimpeded functioning of medical services for the wounded and sick. In a statement on Saturday, Devorn expressed his deep regret over an incident in which a medic from the Red Crescent was wounded by Israeli fire while performing his work in the north of the Gaza Strip. “Today, a medic at the Palestinian Red Crescent Society was shot while he was evacuating a wounded man in the border area. We look into the circumstances surrounding the incident, but the medic was clearly visible, wearing the Palestinian Red Crescent vest standing near the ambulance. Such incidents must stop,” he said, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency. “With the increasing violence, ensuring that medical services for wounded and sick are unimpeded is extremely important. The PRCS has worked courageously and tirelessly to fulfill its humanitarian mission,” he added.

VIDEO: Gaza love story: When Hadeel met Mo‘ath
Al Jazeera 10 May by Stefanie Dekker — How two volunteer medics met and fell in love while treating injured Palestinians during the weekly protests along Israel’s fence with Gaza.

Photos: Watermelon harvest in southern Gaza Strip
Xinhua 8 May — Farmers collect watermelon from their fields in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, on May 8, 2018. (Xinhua/Yasser Qudih)

Qatar pledges $13.7m for Gaza projects
MEMO 8 May —  Qatar will donate 50 million Qatari riyals ($13.7 million) to the Gaza Strip, Head of the Gulf state’s Committee for Rebuilding Gaza Mohammed Al-Emadi announced yesterday. Al-Emadi said that his country is trying to complete the deficit caused by the Palestinian Authority’s lack of payment of salaries in the besieged Gaza Strip. He did not give more details about how his country is working to treat the deficit of the PA salaries, but stressed that this is happening because the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan, is due to begin. The announcement was made in a press conference during a brief visit to the Gaza Strip. Al-Emadi arrived in Gaza following a trip to the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah where he met PA Prime Minister Rami Hamadallah … He noted that this grant is to be paid urgently for the different humanitarian sectors, mainly the healthcare, education, housing and food assistance. Al-Emadi also noted that Qatar offered a $9 million grant to Gaza two months ago after international calls to save the besieged enclave….

Violence / Detentions —  West Bank / Jerusalem

Young man dies from wounds suffered two days ago
IMEMC 11 May — Palestinian medical sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, has reported that a young man died, Friday, from serious wounds he suffered on May 9th, after being rammed by an Israeli colony’s bus. The sources said the Palestinian, Hani Fayez al-‘Adarba, 23, was struck by the speeding Israeli bus on settlement road #35, which links to Tarqoumia terminal and road #60, near Halhoul, north of Hebron city. He suffered various serious fractures and internal injuries, and was moved to an Israeli hospital where he died from his wounds.


Army injures four Palestinians near Ramallah
IMEMC 12 May — Israeli soldiers injured, Friday, four young Palestinian men at the northern entrance of al-Biereh city, in the Ramallah and al-Biereh governorate in central West Bank. The soldiers attacked dozens of Palestinian protesters who marched at the northern entrance of the town, and fired live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs at them. Medical sources said the soldiers shot a young man with two live rounds in his legs, before he was rushed to Ramallah governmental hospital. They added that three Palestinians were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, and scores suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, especially since the soldiers fired a barrage of gas bombs into a large area.

Return march in Bethlehem crushed
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 10 May – Israeli soldiers Thursday crushed a march in Bethlehem marking 70 years since the Palestinian uprooting from their homes and land, the Nakba, and protesting the opening of a US embassy in Jerusalem. Palestinians marched from Bethlehem city center to a hill overlooking the illegal Israeli settlement of Har Homa, built on Beit Sahour land north of Bethlehem, demanding their right to return to their homes they were forced out from in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war that led to the creation of Israel and the start of the Palestinian refugee issue. The protesters also yelled slogans against the opening of a US embassy in Jerusalem slated for May 14, the day the Palestinians lament as Nakba Day. Soldiers stationed at the settlement fired tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades at the protesters, forcing them to disperse and causing several suffocation cases but no injuries.

Israeli police assault Palestinians trying to prevent desecration  of cemetery
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 9 May – Israeli police assaulted on Wednesday Palestinians who were trying to prevent staff from the Israeli Nature Authority from desecrating a Muslim cemetery located at the bottom of Jerusalem’s Old City wall outside the closed Golden Gate (Bab al-Rahmeh), one of the gates to al-Aqsa Mosque compound, according to WAFA correspondent. He said the nature authority staff attempted, under police protection, to put up a fence that would enclose part of the cemetery adjacent to the wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound where graves are located, prompting officials in charge of the cemetery and families of Palestinians buried there, mainly from Silwan neighborhood, to confront the Israelis and try to stop the takeover of the cemetery ground. Police used force to remove the Palestinians from the cemetery while assaulting them, bruising Mustafa Abu Zahra, an elderly man who heads the committee responsible for the Muslim cemeteries in Jerusalem. The Israeli Nature Authority started work at the cemetery last week, digging and removing graves in order to build a park at the site. The cemetery has been there for centuries and has graves of important Muslim leaders.

The latest: Israel army says car rams into West Bank soldier
GAZA CITY (AP) 11 May — 7:45 p.m. Israel’s military says an assailant has rammed his vehicle into a soldier in the West Bank, causing light injuries. It says in a statement that forces are searching for the driver who fled the scene. Palestinians have used cars as weapons in recent years, and the incident came amid heightened tensions between the two groups driven by protests in Gaza where Israeli troops have killed dozens of Palestinians.

Palestinians arrested as 6000 settlers storm Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus
MEMO 11 May –Two Palestinians were arrested this morning after they tried to confront Jewish settlers who were storming an Islamic site in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus. Some 6,000 Jewish settlers, including ministers, military officials and members of the Knesset stormed the Tomb of Yusuf (Joseph’s Tomb), east of Nablus, in the early hours of this morning. Large numbers of Israeli occupation forces raided the area and closed it off to Palestinians ahead of the arrival of the settlers. Buses carrying the settlers then arrived in the area accompanied by military vehicles. The settlers were marking the anniversary of the prophet’s death. Following the incursion, violent clashes broke out between Israeli soldiers and a group of Palestinian youths who tried to confront the Jewish incursion by closing the roads leading to the Islamic site. Israeli occupation forces responded by firing rubber coated steel bullets and gas and sound bombs. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) reported that a Palestinian youth was wounded with live bullets and seven others with rubber coated steel bullets, as well as 30 cases of tear gas inhalation as a result. Hebrew new site 0404 reported that amongst the intruders was Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel, Member of the Knesset Moti Yogev, and the Chairman of the settlements in the northern West Bank, in addition to military leaders. Settlers regularly storm the Islamic site under military protection, stopping Muslims from accessing the area and stifling their movement.

Army injures 61 Palestinians in Nablus
IMEMC 11 May — Israeli soldiers injured, on Friday at dawn, 61 Palestinians, including two with live fire, in the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Medical sources said the soldiers shot two young men with live fire, fourteen with rubber-coated steel bullets and caused 45 others to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. The attack came after dozens of Palestinians protested in the city when many army jeeps and buses loaded with colonialist settlers invaded the city and headed towards “Joseph’s Tomb.” The soldiers resorted to the excessive use of force against the protesters, and fire live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades. The site of Joseph’s Tomb is contentious; Palestinians believe the site to be the funerary monument to Sheikh Yousef Dweikat, a local religious figure, while Israeli settlers believe it to belong to the biblical patriarch, Joseph, revered by Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Ahed Tamimi’s brother detained in overnight raid on Nabi Saleh
Mondoweiss 10 May by Jaclynn Ashly — In the early morning on Thursday, around 5 a.m., Bassem Tamimi, the father of imprisoned teen activist Ahed Tamimi, abruptly woke up upon hearing sounds of footsteps around his home. He immediately knew it was Israeli soldiers, who often enter the village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank during early morning hours to arrest its sleeping residents. “I heard the soldiers slamming on the door and shouting,” Bassem told Mondoweiss. When he opened the door, five soldiers rushed into the house. “They were very aggressive and angry,” he said. “They were shouting and demanded to see my ID.” Five more soldiers also entered his home, one of whom was an Israeli army commander, according to Bassem. Their target was Bassem’s 21-year-old son Waed, who was sleeping at the time. Five soldiers entered his room and pulled him out of his bed. He was only allowed to put his shoes and jacket on, before being dragged out of the house and handcuffed, Bassem said. Bassem attempted to film the incident, but one of the soldiers took his phone from him and deleted the footage. Bassem’s two other sons Mohammad, 14, and Salem, 12, woke up during the incident. Before leaving, the army commander turned to Mohammad and told him: “Next time I will come for you,” according to Bassem’s recollection. Waed is now being held at Israel’s Ofer detention center near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank and is undergoing interrogations with Israeli authorities, Bassem said …
Meanwhile, after Waed’s arrest, Bassem’s home has become quieter. With his wife, daughter and son in Israeli custody, just Bassem and his sons Mohammad and Salem are left.  “It’s not easy for me knowing that my son, daughter and wife are in the hands of my enemy,” Bassem told Mondoweiss. “Each time the soldiers raid my home, I remember when Ahed and Nariman would stand in front of them and try to protect the children.” For Bassem, each raid, arrest, court session, or prison sentence reminds him of the many other family members and village residents that have experienced the same ordeal, including himself. “It’s like the same image happening again and again, except with different loved ones,” he said. “But this is occupation,” he added. “And we cannot keep silent under occupation. As long as this occupation continues, our duty will always be to resist.”

Palestinian brothers and mother detained by Israeli forces in predawn raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 May — Israeli forces detained at least 15 Palestinians during predawn search and detention raids on Wednesday in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to local sources. In the northern West Bank, Israeli forces raided the Nablus-area village of Asira al-Shamaliya, and detained two Palestinians identified as former prisoner Muhammad Omar al-Shuli and Badr Hamadneh. Four Palestinians were detained from the district of Qalqiliya, including two brothers and their mother. In the Qalqiliya-area town of ‘Azzun, Muhannad Farouq Abu Haniyeh was detained by Israeli forces. Meanwhile in Qalqiliya city, brothers Mahmoud and Qassi Nael Mwafi and their mother were detained by Israeli forces. In the Salfit district, Ali Maher al-Qadi and Muhammad Mufid Zeidan were detained from the Deir Istiya village.  In the ‘Issawiya town of occupied East Jerusalem, Muhammad Zakariya Elayyan, Saleh Abu Assab, Qusai Dari, Ahmad Saad Mustafa, Muhammad Thaer Mahmoud, Ali Amjad Attiyeh and Anas Ali Dirbas were detained.

Closures / Restriction of movement

Israeli army closes down town northeast of Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 10 May – Israeli army forces Thursday blocked off the entrances to the town of Hizma, northeast of the occupied city of Jerusalem. Local sources said that Israeli forces used cement cubes to block off the entrances. The reasons behind the sudden closure remain unclear.

No Jerusalem permits for Palestinians in Gaza this Ramadan, says Israel military
MEMO 8 May — Israeli occupation authorities announced yesterday that there would be no travel permits for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during Ramadan this year.  According to the Times of Israel, the Israeli military said it had approved “a series of civilian measures for the holiday period” in the occupied West Bank, a reference to a loosening of routine movement restrictions. Such a step typically takes place every Ramadan. The Times of Israel added that “the measures will allow Palestinians in the West Bank to see family members in Israel”, to “travel abroad from Ben Gurion Airport”, and to visit Al-Aqsa Mosque.   However, the Israeli news site continued, “these will not apply to Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip” despite the fact that “in previous years, residents of the coastal enclave were given some special dispensations for Ramadan — normally in the form of permits to visit Jerusalem”. The Israeli occupation authorities decided not to grant these permits following a “situational assessment”, an Israeli military spokesperson said according to the Times of Israel.

Israel grants Palestinian cancer patient only one visit to family in Gaza
Haaretz 10 May by Amira Hass — The State of Israel has decided to allow Sa‘adah Hassouneh, 65, who suffers from cancer, to visit her family in the Gaza Strip – once.  She was allowed the trip after proving that her mother’s health prevents her from moving about. Hassouneh has not seen her mother or most of her family members for over a decade, and asked to visit them after discovering that she herself had contracted cancer.  The Gaza coordination and liaison administration told her that she did not meet the criteria enabling Israelis to enter the Strip. (Those criteria include being the spouse of a Gaza resident, or visiting first-degree relatives who are very sick or getting married.) They advised that her family members could apply to leave the Strip to visit her …  On Tuesday the prosecution announced, in a letter by Tehila Roth, that after reading the document, because of the state of Hassouna’s health and that of her mother, they decided as an exception that she could go visit Gaza on a one-time basis. “The decision lies entirely in the unique humanitarian circumstances of this case,” Roth wrote. “It does not bear consequences on other cases, certainly not on [the state’s] policy in general regarding Israelis visiting the Gaza Strip.”

Court actions

A victim is the suspect at the trial of soldiers who killed him
+972 May 9 May by Joshua Leifer — In Israeli courts, the rare trial of a soldier who killed a Palestinian invariably becomes a trial of the Palestinian they killed. Tuesday morning in the Ramle Magistrate’s Court, where two former Israeli soldiers are on trial for killing 16-year-old Samir Awad, was no exception. Samir was not mentioned once by name during the nearly four-hour cross-examination of one of the two soldiers on trial. The judge and defense lawyers reflexively referred to Samir as “the suspect” — as if the dead boy was being charged with a crime instead of the soldiers who shot him. “It is as if nobody died,” remarked one of the Israeli activists who had come to support Ahmad, Samir’s father. Samir Awad was shot in the back eight times by soldiers who had been lying in ambush near a hole in Israel’s separation barrier. Samir was not armed. He did not pose a threat to anyone. He was running away at the time he was shot.  For shooting and killing Samir, A. and B., the two former soldiers whose names are under gag order, are charged with “reckless and negligent use of a firearm.” … The defense is arguing that prosecuting the two soldiers for illegally killing Samir would constitute “selective enforcement” of the law. To prove their point, they are demanding that the state reveal statistical data regarding criminal investigations and prosecutions of other soldiers who have killed Palestinians, as well as the case materials themselves.  Israeli authorities do not want to provide those files, on which the outcome of the case might depend….

Rights group: Israel has arrested 500 Palestinians over Facebook posts
MEMO 9 May — Palestinian Prisoners’ Centre (PPC) said yesterday that Israel had arrested 500 Palestinians, including women and children, as a result of their social media posts, Al-Resalah newspaper reported. PPC spokesman Riyadh Al-Ashqar said that the Israeli occupation began arresting Palestinians because of their social media posts following the start of the Jerusalem Intifada claiming such uploads incite terror against Israel. Israel is using its recently formed “Cyber Unit” to monitor Palestinian social media posts, the centre said. This unit, Al-Ashqar said, classifies any post that glorifies Palestinian martyrs, discloses Israeli crimes, supports resistance or mentions the words and phrases including “martyr” and “intifada” as “incitement of terror”. In recent years, Al-Ashqar said, Israeli occupation courts have issued hundreds of sentences against Palestinians on the ground of incitement on social media. The sentences ranged between months and years in prison, house arrests or bans from using social media platforms and mobile phones. The terms were handed down to men, women and children.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Israel settlement to use drone for Palestinian surveillance
MEMO 8 May — The illegal Israeli settlement of Efrat has become the first to use drone technology to observe Palestinians in the surrounding area, according to the Jerusalem Post. The $37,000 unmanned aerial device was paid for by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) and is the first time settlers have been given such high grade equipment to monitor Palestinians. A demonstration of the technology on Sunday showed how a small black drone could even observe Palestinians in the night with the use of thermal cameras. The settlement council claims that the drone is needed to protect residents from Palestinian resistance attacks, after an alleged stabbing incident this year left one person with minor injuries. “We are going to have this drone in our own yard in case we do have any other terrorists who want to come into Efrat. We will be able to raise the drone into the air, freeze the situation, get a good visual picture and direct the army and police forces to exactly where the terrorists are hiding,” Council Head Oded Revivi said. However, it is more a regular occurrence that Palestinians are harassed and assaulted by settlers and Israeli soldiers, as well as being already disadvantaged due to the presence of the settlement.

Israel confiscates privately owned Palestinian land in occupied Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 10 May – The Israeli authorities Thursday confiscated privately owned Palestinian land in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya, claiming the confiscation was for public use purposes, according to local sources. Witnesses told WAFA that staff from the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem accompanied by Israeli police handed the Palestinian owner of the land a notice informing him of the decision to seize his land because it will be used for “public use.”

Israeli forces prevent farmer from building around land near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 9 May – Israeli forces Wednesday prevented a Palestinian from Nahhalin village, west of the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, from building a wall around his plot of land, according to a local source. Mayor of Nahhalin Hany Fonoun said that Israeli forces raided the northern part of the town and verbally informed Mahmoud Shakarneh that he was not allowed to build the wall around his plot of land. They did not hand him a written stop-construction notice though. Fonoun added that area is being clearly targeted, noting that Israeli forces have been preventing the residents from engaging in any construction endeavor as well as developing and planting their farmlands around the town without written orders. Forces have also been frequently seizing tools and equipment and putting [stopping?] the installation of irrigation pipelines.

Israel settlers flood Palestinian farmland with sewage
MEMO 9 May — Israeli Jewish settlers flooded Palestinian farmland with sewage in Beit Amer neighbourhood on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Hebron, the Safa news agency reported yesterday. Activist Yousef Abu-Maria told Safa that the settlers from the illegal Jewish-only settlement of Etzion channeled wastewater onto the Palestinian farmlands. The activists also said that the wastewater flooded more than 10 dunams (0.01 square kilometres) of farmland planted with fruitful trees owned by a number of Palestinian farmers. More farmlands are expected to be affected if the wastewater is not channeled elsewhere, he added.

Ultra-Orthodox population grows in Israeli settlements
AFP 9 May — In the streets of the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit, most men wear the traditional black suits of the ultra-Orthodox, a familiar sight in the strictly religious Jewish neighborhoods of nearby Jerusalem. The ultra-Orthodox make up a growing percentage of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank, a sign of the rapidly expanding population of strictly religious Jews as Israel approaches the 70th anniversary of its founding on May 14. With more than 56,000 residents, Beitar Illit is one of the most populated settlements in the West Bank, the Palestinian territory under Israeli occupation for more than half a century.  Most residents are ultra-Orthodox and strictly observe Jewish law in all aspects of daily life. Men dress in black suits while women wear long dresses and cover their heads. There are no movie theaters, and traffic comes to a halt for 24 hours from Friday evening to mark Shabbat, the weekly day of rest. During the week, young children are easy to spot, reflecting ultra-Orthodox preferences for large families. Beitar Illit, established in the 1980s on the land of a former Palestinian village, is different from most settlements in the West Bank, which tend to be more secular and politically right-wing. Along with Modiin Illit, another West Bank settlement with 70,000 mainly ultra-Orthodox residents, it illustrates a key demographic change taking place in Israel and its settlements. While the ultra-Orthodox make up around 10 percent of the population among all Israelis, they now count for a third of those in the West Bank….

Other news

International efforts being made to prevent Gaza escalation ahead of US embassy move
Ynet 9 May by Elior Levy — The Palestinian March of Return campaign is expected to climax next Monday when the United States inaugurates and completes the process of moving its embassy to Jerusalem. Expecting violence, international brokers are lobbying Hamas to organize a mass rally near the Gaza border with Israel, but position its members along the border line to prevent a spontaneous effort to breach the fence by the masses; an action that is likely to trigger a deadly Israeli response.  It is not yet clear what Hamas is being offered in return, as their support of such a breach has already been made clear.  Tens of thousands of Palestinians are expected to participate in next week’s protests at several locations along the Gaza border. Hamas is hoping for more than 100,000 people to show up.  If the fence is indeed breached by the massive crowds, there can be an exceptionally large number of casualties that can even spiral into a military conflict, which both seem to be trying to avoid.  A  Palestinian source said that the Qatari Ambassador to the Gaza Strip Mohammad Amadi, who is in charge of aid to rebuild Gaza on behalf of the Emir of Qatar and maintains good communication lines with Israeli officials, recently entered the strip. UN Envoy to the Middle East Nikolay Mladenov also visited Gaza and met with Hamas leadership officials recently.  The Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar confirmed Wednesday that international negotiators approached Hamas before the start of the March of Return campaign in March in an effort to stop it from proceeding.  “We said that Gaza is like a starved tiger, they tried to humiliate and destroy it for 11 years,” Sinwar said. He refrained from revealing what Hamas’s response was to the request….,7340,L-5255968,00.html

Security in Jerusalem bolstered ahead of volatile week
Times of Israel 11 May —  Security in Jerusalem has been bolstered ahead of a politically tense week that will see the US move its embassy to the capital, Israel celebrate 51 years of the city’s reunification and the culmination of over six weeks of protests along the Gaza border, when Palestinians mourn the “catastrophe” of the creation of the Jewish state. “Moving the embassy is a matter of both national and international importance, and police have been preparing accordingly in recent months,” a police official told the Ynet news site. The official said thousands of uniformed police and Border Police officers will be deployed throughout Jerusalem starting Sunday. He said the officers will secure the perimeter of the US embassy during the Monday opening, assist in securing the visiting American officials and help direct traffic…
On Sunday, thousands of Israelis are expected to take part in the annual Jerusalem Day parade celebrating 51 years since the reunification of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War. The march — in which primarily religious teenagers march through the Old City decked in white and blue, the colors of the Israeli flag — has raised tensions over its route through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter. In previous years, the march has sparked sporadic incidents of violence between Israeli revelers and local Palestinian residents.
Israel is also girding for possible violence during Nakba Day protests on Tuesday, a national day of Palestinian mourning marking the “catastrophe” of Israel’s founding, commemorated every year on May 15.  [and Ramadan starts at sunset on the same day]

US ambassador gives first glimpse of new embassy in Jerusalem
Times of Israel/Agencies 12 May — US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Friday gave a first glimpse of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, showing off workers erecting the official seal on the building and preparing for the opening ceremony. “We are so excited,”  Friedman said in a video posted on the embassy’s Facebook page. “We have the official seal of the United States embassy. We have the dedication plaque. They are covered right now, but on Monday they are going to be unveiled.” The video showed constructions workers setting up scaffolding and busy installing the huge seal. Friedman said the ceremony on Monday would be a “beautiful, inspirational event.” ….

Palestinians call for mass protests against US embassy opening in Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 May — Palestinian activists and officials across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have called for coordinated demonstrations against the scheduled relocation of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. The official ceremony will be held on Monday, May 14 in the Jerusalem district of Arnona, and coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian people’s Nakba, or “catastrophe,” which marks the creation of Israel in which 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their land.
The Higher Follow-Up Committee for the Arab Community, which represents Palestinian citizens of Israel, said it has coordinated with national and religious groups in occupied East Jerusalem to hold a demonstration on the day of the opening, under the motto: “Jerusalem is an Arab Islamic and Christian city”, and “No to moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.” Head of the committee Mohammad Barake said: “We have decided to hold the demonstration at the same location and time to raise our voice against US policy that supports Israeli occupation and settlements in a desperate American-Israeli effort to kill all chances for the creation of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.” “We will stress that this American aggression and drawing other poor nations to follow the US suit, as well as reports about the so-called ‘deal of the century’, which is being drawn by Zionist settlers in the White House, will not work” he concluded. There have also been calls for demonstrations in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, and other cities across the West Bank to mark the day of the Nakba, as well as the relocation of the US embassy.

Israel said to thwart EU condemnation of American embassy move
Times of Israel 11 May — Israel, aided by several European nations, on Friday thwarted plans for a European Union statement condemning the relocation of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Channel 10 news reported. European diplomats and Israeli officials said the statement, initiated by France, sought to present a unified European front against Washington’s move. But objections by Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania helped Jerusalem stop the statement. According to the report, the draft resolution stated that Jerusalem should be the capital of two states — Israel and Palestine; that the status of Jerusalem should only be resolved as part of peace negotiations; and that EU nations will not follow the US in moving their missions to the holy city.

Islamic Bloc wins Birzeit student council elections with 24 seats
BIRZEIT (WAFA) 9 May — Al Wafaa’ Islamic Bloc won 24 seats out of 51 in the Birzeit University Students Council elections with a total of 3784 votes. Competing bloc Martyr Yasser Arafat won 23 seats with 3615 votes, while the Democratic Progressive Student Pole won 4 seats with 705 votes and the Students’ Unity bloc won zero seats with only 96 votes. Head of the Elections Preparatory Committee and Dean of Student Affairs Mohammad Al-Ahmad said  the voting rate this year is 74.60%.  The number of null votes is 113 and empty votes is 81. The total number of votes cast was 8200. Birzeit University president, Abdullatif Abuhijleh, congratulated the students on holding free and transparent council elections.

The 2018 Palestine International Book Fair: a cultural gathering
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 8 May by Khaled Tayeh – With the participation of some 500 publishing houses from as far as Venezuela in the western part of the hemisphere to Japan in the eastern part, and going through Russia and many other countries in between, the 11th Palestine International Book Fair opened its doors on May 3 at the Palestinian National Library in Ramallah. Held every two years, the Palestine International Book Fair normally attracts numerous publishing houses, book dealers and authors, either directly or through representatives, from all around the world. The purpose: to encourage the public’s interest in books and reading, according to officials. The fair also offers the public many interesting, refreshing and energizing cultural events, such as book signing sessions, seminars, music, poetry reading, among others … The book fair focused mainly on two main themes: Jerusalem, being the capital of Palestine, and marking 70 years for the Palestinian Nakba, the catastrophe that led to the forceful displacement and dispersion of the Palestinian people from their homeland when it became Israel.

HRW: Israel attempting to shut down human rights  record criticism
Al Jazeera 9 May — A prominent human rights group accused Israel on Wednesday of attempting to “shut down criticism” of its rights record after its local director was ordered to leave the country within 14 days.  Israel’s interior ministry opted not to sign off on a work permit renewal of Omar Shakir – Human Rights Watch’s Israel and Palestine director – on May 7 over his alleged support for the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.  Israel’s interior ministry opted not to sign off on a work permit renewal of Omar Shakir – Human Rights Watch’s Israel and Palestine director – on May 7 over his alleged support for the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Both HRW and Shakir deny having any part in the movement.  …  Iain Levine from Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Tuesday the move was an attempt to “muzzle” the non-governmental organisation.  “This is not about Shakir but rather about muzzling Human Rights Watch and shutting down criticism of Israel’s rights record,” Levine said.  “Compiling dossiers on and deporting human rights defenders is a page out of the Russian or Egyptian security services’ playbook.”….

UK silence on Israel’s detention of Palestinian children
AL Jazeera 9 May by Ben White — Despite acknowledging ill-treatment of Palestinian kids, UK voted against a UN resolution on Israel’s accountability — In 2012, a report by a UK government-sponsored delegation of lawyers to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories found Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children in military detention to be in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Six years on, however, and Israel has made only modest changes; according to government minister Alistair Burt, speaking in the Houses of Parliament earlier this year, Israel has implemented just one of 43 specific recommendations made by the lawyers …  There are currently some 300 Palestinian children in Israeli jails with Israel “the only country in the world that systematically prosecutes between 500 and 700 children in military courts each year”. About half of child detainees are held outside the occupied territories in violation of international law … According to Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem, however, changes made in recent years by Israeli authorities are “useful for propaganda” but “have not improved the protection of minors’ rights”. In a new report published in March, the NGO said the juvenile court “changed nothing of substance”.

Charity headed by US envoy to Israel gave money to far-right Jewish group
WASHINGTON (JTA) 11 May by Ron Kampeas —  David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, was president of a non-profit that donated money to a far-right Jewish group once designated as a terrorist organization by the US State Department. American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva Center donated 48,000 shekels — about $12,000 — to Komemiyut in 2013, when Friedman was president of the non-profit, according to a report by the Democratic Bloc, an Israeli NGO that tracks funding for right-wing groups. Komemiyut in its current iteration was established in 2006, a year after Israel’s government evacuated settlements from the Gaza Strip, to prevent any further evacuations of settlements. Its current CEO, Mussa Cohen, on Friday told JTA that the group is the same group that in the 1990s was affiliated with the Kach movement, founded by the extremist rabbi, Meir Kahane. The State Department has since 1997 designated Kach as a terrorist group. In a 1999 posting, the State Department listed aliases for Kach, including Komemiyut. The current State Department listing of designated terrorist groups does not include aliases; however, Kach remains listed, and under delisted groups, there is no listing for Komemiyut.,.. (listserv)