Media Analysis

Israeli Supreme Court supports military’s use of live fire on Gaza protesters

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Israeli top court ‘gives green light’ to use of live fire in Gaza
Al Jazeera 26 May — Israel’s Supreme Court has unanimously rejected two petitions brought by human rights groups demanding Israel’s army to stop using snipers and live ammunition against unarmed Palestinian protests in the Gaza Strip. The panel of three justices on Thursday sided with the Israeli military, which argued that the protesters constituted a real danger to Israeli soldiers and citizens. Israel maintains its forces use of live fire is in line with both domestic and international law, arguing the demonstrations are part of the country’s conflict with Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip. The court’s ruling gave Israel “a green light to its continued use of snipers and live fire against Palestinian protesters,”  Adalah-The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, which filed one of the petitions, said in a statement on Friday. “The Israeli Supreme Court completely ignored the broad factual basis presented to it by the petitioners, which includes multiple testimonies of wounded and reports of international organisations involved in documenting the killing and wounding of unarmed protesters in Gaza.” The human rights groups said the court “refused to watch video clips documenting Israeli shootings of demonstrators and, rather than actually examining the case, fully accepted the claims presented to it by the state.  “The extreme nature of the ruling is also highlighted by the striking absence of any mention of the casualty figures that had been presented to the court”….


Two Palestinians die from serious wounds in Gaza
IMEMC 25 May — The Palestinian Health Ministry has reported, Thursday, that two Palestinians who were shot and seriously injured by Israeli army fire in the Gaza Strip have succumbed to their serious wounds. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, said a young man identified as Ahmad Ali Qattoush, 23, died at the Shifa Medical Center in Gaza, from serious wounds he suffered several days ago [May 14th], after Israeli soldiers shot him with a live round in the head, east of the al-Boreij refugee camp in Central Gaza. It is worth mentioning that Ahmad has two other brothers, identified as Rami and Ibrahim, who were also killed by Israeli army fire in previous years. Ahmad is from Nusseirat city, in Deir al-Balah, in Central Gaza Strip.
Dr. al-Qedra added that another Palestinian, identified as Mohannad Bakr Abu Tahoun, 21, died from serious wounds he suffered after an Israeli soldier shot him with a live round in the head on May 14th. Abu Tahoun, from Zawaida area in Gaza city, was moved to a hospital in Gaza before he was transferred, Wednesday, to the Al-Ahli Palestinian hospital in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, where he succumbed to his wounds on Thursday evening.

Body of Palestinian martyr denied entry into Gaza
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 25 May — The Israeli occupation authorities on Friday prevented the entry of the body of the Palestinian martyr Muhannad Abu Tahoun into the Gaza Strip to be buried after he died Thursday at al-Ahli Hospital in al-Khalil. Abu Tahoun’s body was taken to Tarqumiyah crossing in the morning in preparation for its transfer to Gaza, his hometown, but the body was detained at the crossing for several hours before it was returned to al-Ahli Hospital. Abu Tahoun was shot in the head while he was taking part in the Great Return March in Gaza a few days go, and he remained in a coma until he died on Thursday, a day after he was transferred to a Palestinian hospital in al-Khalil in an attempt to save his life.

Updated: ‘115 injured by Israeli gunfire on Gaza border; Palestinian succumbs to earlier wounds’
IMEMC/Agencies 26 May –The Palestinian Health Ministry said the soldiers injured 115 Palestinians, including seven children and four women, after the army attacked the protesters with live fire and gas bombs, across the border area in the eastern parts of the coastal region. Thousands of Palestinians participated in the protests, which started after evening prayers in various mosques of the coastal region, before they boarded buses that took them to protest tents, hundreds of meters away from the border fence. Media sources said Palestinian protesters, using slingshots, managed to down an Israeli military drone, east of Abu Safiyya area, in northern Gaza.
Also on Friday, the Health Ministry said a young man, identified as Yasser Sami Habib, 24, succumbed to wounds sustained from Israeli army gunfire during the protests on May 14. Habib suffered a very serious injury before he was rushed to a hospital in Gaza, and was later transferred to Sr. Joseph Hospital in occupied Jerusalem, where he succumbed to his wounds.

Gaza tear gas baby left off official death count
AFP 25 May — A baby who died near the Gaza border was not included in a Gaza health ministry list of Palestinians killed by the Israel army, after a dispute over how she died. The ministry and family members originally said 8-month-old Leila al-Ghandour had died after inhaling tear gas along the border during a day of clashes in which at least 61 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire. The Israeli army disputed the claim, calling it “fake news” by Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the coastal enclave. The army claimed she had a pre-existing medical condition, citing an unnamed doctor with access to her file. A full list of those the ministry called “martyrs,” published this week for the first time, did not include Ghandour. The health ministry has said a full review of her death was underway. Ashraf al-Qudra, a spokesman for the ministry, said her name would not be included until the review was completed, without giving a time frame. “Her name was not included in earlier lists either,” Qudra told AFP, though no exhaustive list had previously been made public. “The investigation will determine (whether she had a pre-existing condition) and if the inhaled gas contributed to her death.”
At least 61 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire on May 14th when thousands of Palestinians protested as the US officially moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to the ministry’s figures. At least 114 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip since mass demonstrations broke out on March 30th, it said. This was several lower than previous tolls compiled by AFP on the basis of the ministry’s reports. The ministry’s list does not include those whose bodies were not recovered by Palestinian medics. The Israeli army is believed to have kept the bodies of several people shot near or along the border.

22 Gazans transferred to Jordan for medical treatment
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 May — Twenty-two wounded Palestinians from Gaza were transferred to Jordan on Tuesday to receive medical treatment in Jordanian hospitals. Israeli media said the medical transfer was made upon the request of Jordan’s King Abdullah in coordination with the Israeli officials. The wounded were transferred through the Erez Crossing in northern Gaza with the help of Jordanian ambulances, and left through the Israeli-controlled Allenby Crossing in the occupied West Bank during the early hours of Wednesday morning.


Video: Gazans burn Israeli soldiers’ watchtower
22 May Haitham Khatib — from Al Jazeera? — Gazan youths go beyond the border fence and burn a watchtower from which Israeli soldiers had shot at people.

Flaming kites set settler farmlands alight near Gaza border
GAZA (PIC) 25 May — Massive fires erupted on Friday in five sites in the 1948 occupied Palestinian territories by flaming kites and balloons launched from the Gaza Strip.Local sources reported that two fires flared up in the afternoon in settler farmlands east of Beit Hanoun town and al-Bureij refugee camp in the northern and central Gaza Strip respectively. Other fires were caused later by kites sent from Khan Younis and al-Maghazi refugee camp burning dozens of dunums of land. Thousands of Palestinians marched along Gaza’s eastern border fence to participate in the protests of the ninth Friday of the Great Return March. Since the start of the Great Return March in the Gaza Strip, dozens of flaming kites have been launched toward settler farmlands near the border fence causing heavy losses. Flaming kites are one of the tools used by Palestinian youths to confuse the Israeli snipers stationed at the border fence to shoot peaceful protesters.

2 Palestinians from Gaza charged with flying incendiary kites into Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 May — Two Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were indicted on Monday by an Israeli court on charges related to flying incendiary kites into Israeli territory during the weeks-long “Great March of Return” protests in the besieged coastal enclave. Israeli news website Ynet reported that Ahmed Amawi, 26, and Moataz Abu Eid, 20, were charged with “attempted incitement to murder, activity in a terror organization, arson as an act of terror, attempted arson as an act of terror, and armed infiltration, among others.” The two were arrested in late April when they crossed into Israel, allegedly with the intention of setting fire to a grove and Israeli military vehicles, Ynet said. They were arrested by Israeli forces stationed along the border. According to Ynet, Amawi and Abu Eid participated in five Friday “Great March of Return” during which they allegedly assembled some 30 kites that protesters fixes flammable materials to before sending them over the Israeli border fence around Gaza and into Israeli territory. The indictment reportedly accused Amawi of flying two incendiary kites into Israeli territory in April, both of which allegedly crashed into a field and sparked a fire. “Amawi did so knowing the kites could set fire to structures or vegetation and thus cause severe harm to people, and even death,” Ynet quoted the indictment as saying. The indictment went on to accuse Amawi and Abu Eid of acting out of “religious, nationalistic, political or ideological motive.”

Israeli airstrikes target Gaza seaport and alleged Hamas tunnel site
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 May — Israeli forces carried out airstrikes targeting Gaza City’s seaport and an alleged Hamas military site in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning. Locals told Ma‘an that explosions were heard three times across Gaza City as Israeli planes targeted the seaport. Witnesses said that the airstrikes targeted two boats. Teams of the Gaza Civil Defense forces rushed to put out the fire that erupted after the airstrike. The Gaza Ministry of Health said that no injuries were reported.
An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the airstrikes to Ma‘an, saying that an underground tunnel and naval targets that belonged to Hamas were targeted in the strike, which happened around 4 a.m. The spokesperson said “the strikes were carried out in response to ongoing attempts to dispatch drones and kites for the purpose of setting Israeli territories on fire.”  “The strikes were in response to events that took place on Monday morning, during which a number of terrorists infiltrated Israeli territory and set a military post on fire,” the spokesperson added.

Israeli navy abducts two sibling fishermen in Gaza, confiscates a boat
IMEMC 24 May — Israeli navy ships attacked, on Thursday morning, several Palestinian fishing boats, and opened fire at them in the Sudaniyya Sea, northwest of Gaza city, before abducting two sibling fishermen. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency said the soldiers used automatic fire against several Palestinian fishing boats, in Gaza territorial waters close to the shore, causing damage. WAFA added that the soldiers also abducted two fishermen, identified as Rassem Ishaq Zayed and his brother Mohammad, and confiscated a fishing boat.

Gaza Freedom Flotilla boat boarded and searched by German coast guard
If Americans Knew 23 May — from Freedom Flotilla Coalition: Just before noon local time (May 23,2018), the Freedom Flotilla vessel Al Awda (The Return) was boarded by the German Coast Guard, at the orders of the German Ministry of Interior. They collected all the passports on board, wrote down everyone’s personal data, searched the vessel thoroughly, asked for detailed information about ports of call along the way to Gaza, and inquired about the whereabouts of the Swedish sailing boats traveling with us in parallel. The Scandinavian crew on this ship are all veterans of earlier Freedom Flotillas and attested that they have previously been harassed by other Coast Guards from European countries. Of course, our vessel is in international waters and we are doing nothing illegal – and this is by no means standard procedure.  The massive German Coast Guard ship had been tailing Al Awda all morning, and finally sent a rubber dinghy with a crew of four to check it out. We are within an hour-and-a-half of Kiel, having arrived early, and are moving slowly so that the sailboats can catch up with us and we can all arrive in unison at Kiel harbour. Reporting from the high seas off the coast of northern Germany. The vessels: Al Awda (The Return) Hurriya (Freedom), Falestine (Palestine) Mairead (for Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire) The boats are scheduled to arrive in Kiel from Copenhagen on Wednesday May 23 and will be in port until Friday morning May 25. A reception is expected at 6PM. The boats will visit European ports on their way to challenge the illegal Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza in late July….

4277 Palestinians travel through Rafah crossing
GAZA (PIC) 26 May — Some 4,277 people have traveled through Rafah crossing over the past ten days since the crossing was opened on May 12, 2018, a report by the government’s Information Office in the besieged Gaza Strip revealed on Friday. On average, 388 passengers were able to travel through Rafah crossing. However, the Egyptian authorities banned 490 Palestinians from travel via the same crossing, the report pointed out. Only 33 out of 13,000 people who required medical treatment were allowed to travel to Egypt, while 30 others headed to Jordan via the Israeli-controlled Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing. Some 330 aid trucks entered Gaza Strip from Rafah crossing from the beginning of May until last Tuesday with aid worth nearly $199,000, the official document revealed, including food parcels, medicines and supplies.

Video: Who are the Palestinians traveling through Rafah crossing?
Mondoweiss 25 May by Yumna Patel, Akram Al-Wa’ra & Nidal Wuheid —  Last week, Egyptian President Abd al-Fatah al-Sisi announced the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Gaza for the entire month of Ramadan, which he said was “in order to ensure the easing of the burdens on the brothers in the Gaza Strip.” …  We spoke to several Palestinians — students going abroad to study or in search of jobs, people traveling to reunite with families, and injured protesters seeking treatment in Jordan — as they waited for their chance to leave Gaza.

In Gaza, border opening brings relief and anxiety
RAFAH BORDER CROSSING, Gaza Strip (AP) 26 May by Fares Akram — Just after daybreak, Hamed al-Shaer came down the narrow stairway of his family’s home in southern Gaza pulling a black suitcase and said goodbye to his mother. They hugged at the gate and he kissed her hands in a show of devotion as she struggled to control her emotions. “Emigration is better,” she said of his plan to return to Saudi Arabia where he has lived for the past 13 years, most recently working as a driver. But by nightfall he was back, despondent after his third failed attempt this week to exit the blockaded Gaza Strip through the congested Rafah border crossing. Egypt has opened Rafah for the duration of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, temporarily easing a border blockade of Gaza that it has enforced, along with Israel, for the past 11 years. But thousands of people hoping to travel are on a waiting list, a backlog created by long periods of closures, and Egyptian border officials are processing them at an excruciatingly slow pace. Al-Shaer, whose name was near the top of the list of those cleared for travel, was getting increasingly desperate. If he didn’t get out by early June, his Saudi residency permit would expire. “I was shocked,” al-Shaer said, adding that he had considered not returning to his mother’s home after his latest failed attempt, “because I don’t want to make another round of hard farewells.” Despite his anxiety-filled ordeal, al-Shaer, 34, considers himself lucky. Most Gaza residents can’t travel at all under the strict blockade imposed after the Islamic militant Hamas group seized the territory in 2007….,-border-opening-brings-relief-and-anxiety

Emergency appeal launched by overwhelmed Anglican hospital in Gaza City
Anglican News 22 May — The Anglican Diocese in Jerusalem has launched an emergency appeal for funds to support its al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City. The Anglican-run hospital has been overwhelmed by the number of casualties sustained during protests across the Gaza strip this month. “Our Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza had been literally working around the clock to serve the wounded from the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip ever since the United States formally opened its Embassy in Jerusalem on 14 May 14,” Archbishop Suheil Dawani, the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem and Primate of the Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, said. “The wounded coming to our hospital have no money, but no one is ever turned away. Most of the men, women, and children who are treated at [the hospital] have been injured from live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas intoxication. “I appeal to all our friends around the world to give generously to this humanitarian crisis, as we, the Church, the hands of Jesus in this place, respond to this tragedy in love and compassion to the wounded.”….

Opinion: It’s time to help the children of Gaza / Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish
The Star (Toronto, Canada) — I once had eight children. On Jan. 16, 2009, three of my daughters and a niece were killed when an Israeli tank shell hit my old house in Gaza. I wrote a book about that day and how, ever since, I have tried not to hate, but to use love and peace as the way to heal myself and, as best I can, the deep, historic, and often lethal divide that still exists between Palestinians and Israelis. It’s hard. But I try every day, as a doctor and father, to honour the beloved memory of my lost daughters and niece by building bridges, not walls.  Last Monday, May 14, was the birthday of one of my surviving daughters. Her name is Raffa. But Raffa and I could not celebrate. We could not celebrate because, as the world knows, my brothers and sisters in Gaza were being shot and killed. Many more were injured badly. It was a massacre. Watching the horror unfold, I could once again hear the cries of wounded and dying Palestinian children, women and men who marched together peacefully to defend their freedom and humanity. Gaza is bleeding once more, just as it did in 2014 when Israel invaded. When the killing was over, more than 500 Palestinian children were dead and thousands more were maimed. By now, I was in Canada. At the time, I asked my fellow Canadians to help me help the scarred children of Gaza. The humanitarian initiative was called Heal 100 Kids. Many Canadians agreed to help. Doctors, nurses, hospitals and important politicians also agreed to help. One of those politicians was Justin Trudeau. Back then, he went on Twitter and urged his fellow Canadians to support Heal 100 Kids. He “applauded” the Ontario government for its “commitment” to the plan to arrange for safe passage of damaged Palestinian children to come to Canada to mend and eventually to return to Gaza better, and hopefully, happier. But Trudeau was not prime minister….

We can’t stay silent as Trudeau offers empty words on Gaza bloodshed
HuffPost 25 May — After weeks of callous indifference, the Canadian Liberal government has finally broken its silence on the ongoing bloodshed in Gaza. In a statement last Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote: “Canada deplores and is gravely concerned by the violence in the Gaza Strip that has led to a tragic loss of life and injured countless people.” He goes on to express his outrage that Canadian Doctor Tarek Loubani was among the injured, calling for “an immediate independent investigation  to thoroughly examine the facts on the ground — including any incitement, violence and the excessive use of force.”
…  However, in what has been described as “the swiftest and most cowardly flip-flops in Canadian political history,” a mere two days after stating that it favoured an inquiry into the violence in Gaza, Canada voiced its opposition to the independent investigation into the Gaza massacre at the United Nations Human Rights Commission. The reason? The UNHRC resolution calling for the investigation “prejudges the outcome of such an investigation,” is “one-sided and does not advance the prospects for a peaceful, negotiated settlement” between Israelis and Palestinians, and “singles out Israel without reference to other actors.”….

Gaza crisis: early warning indicators – April 2018
UN OCHA Infographic 25 May — The Gaza Strip faces an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, caused by over 10 years of Israeli blockade, alongside an internal Palestinian divide, which worsened in 2017, and restrictions imposed by the Egyptian authorities on Rafah Crossing. These developments have triggered further deterioration in the humanitarian situation, impacting the availability of essential services and eroding the livelihoods of Gaza’s two million residents. The following indicators were identified by the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) to monitor the evolution of the crisis, trigger humanitarian action and prevent further deterioration.

How are Palestinians celebrating Ramadan? In Gaza, it is as if it ‘has not yet come’
Newsweek 21 May by Tom O’Connor — Palestinians in Gaza are celebrating one of the holiest occasions in Islam just days after they suffered through their bloodiest day in years amid more than six weeks of ongoing protests against Israel and the U.S. The coastal Palestinian enclave of Gaza is almost entirely Muslim and believers officially began observing the holiday on Thursday, when the young crescent moon finally appeared after initially being forecast for Tuesday or Wednesday. The roughly month-long holiday requires Muslims to fast during the day and arrives just as protests surrounding two controversial events amassed a total of some 62 dead and thousands more injured, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. Nearly twice that many have died since the protests began in late March … Ayman Jamal Mghamis, an activist who founded local hip-hop group the “Palestinian Rapperz,” said the situation has become “tragic.” “The markets are empty, as if Ramadan has not yet come. As every year, there is no joy and there is no hope,” Mghamis told Newsweek. “Many families today are below the poverty line and cannot find a loaf of bread to break their fast for Ramadan. The situation today is more difficult than can be described simply by words.”…

Al-Haq calls on the authorities in the Gaza Strip to release Samah Abu Ghayyad
23 May — Al-Haq is following with great concern the case of Samah Ibrahim Muhammad Abu Ghayyad, arrested by the internal security apparatus in the Gaza Strip on 9 May 2018, and who has been detained since. Al-Haq calls on the authorities in the Gaza Strip to comply with the applicable constitutional and legal safe guards, and to respect and fulfil Samah Abu Ghayyad’s fundamental rights as enshrined in international human rights treaties to which the State of Palestine has acceded and which are applicable to the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), including the occupied Gaza Strip, regardless of the grounds and reasons for her detention. According to information available to Al-Haq, Samah has been detained since 9 May 2018, when officers from the internal security apparatus asked her husband to accompany them to her workplace, from where they proceeded to arrest Samah, confiscate her cell phone and computer, without providing any warrant for her arrest or informing her of the charges against her. Samah, a mother of six whose youngest child Watan is one year old, is the administrative director of the Women’s Programme Center in Nusseirat refugee camp in Gaza’s Central Governorate, which is overseen by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). As stated by her husband in an affidavit given to Al-Haq, Samah is a community activist and Fatah leader in Gaza’s Central Governorate….

Israel lobby group spreads hoaxes to whitewash Gaza massacre
EI Lobby Watch 23 May by David Cronin — Burying the truth is accorded a high priority when states commit atrocities. On 30 January 1972, the British Army shot dead 13 unarmed demonstrators during a civil rights march in Derry. Edward Heath, then prime minister, was determined that the ensuing inquiry into Bloody Sunday – as the massacre became known – would be a whitewash. “It had to be remembered that in Northern Ireland, we were fighting not only a military war but a propaganda war,” Heath told a judge tasked with “investigating” what happened.
It was a bloody Monday in Gaza last week. Dozens of unarmed demonstrators were shot dead. And – like the British authorities more than 40 years ago – Israel’s supporters launched the latest salvo in their propaganda war. Europe Israel Public Affairs – a Brussels-based lobby group – alleged that Hamas had manipulated the media coverage of the killings. Journalists had been lured into “the sinister world of Hamas,” the group suggested. The “sinister world” was, according to Europe-Israel Public Affairs’ latest newsletter, one “where 62 innocents turn out to be overwhelmingly terrorists” and where photographs and videos are “doctored.”….

The Rachel Corrie Gaza Sport Initiative kicks off
GAZA (WAFA) 26 May — The 2018 Rachel Corrie Gaza Sport Initiative kicked off with the Rachel Corrie Ramadan Football Tournament for Young Men last week and the Juniors tournament scheduled to kick off this weekend, according to a press release. Both are scheduled to conclude on June 4. This year’s theme is the Right of Return, in honor of the Great March of Return protests that have captivated the world’s attention this spring. Participating teams are named for towns and villages of historical Palestine as a point of convergence between Rachel Corrie as a human rights defender and the Gaza refugees’ legacy in resisting injustice, said the press release from the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice.
In an inspiring yet sobering moment during the opening ceremony for the Young Men’s tournament, Palestinian cyclist Alaa al-Dali, who lost his right leg after being shot by an Israeli sniper while protesting near the Gaza border fence on March 30, opened the games by kicking a soccer ball while supporting himself on crutches. Organizers on the ground commented, “Alaa today represents all the injured athletes who participated in The Great Return March, and will be a living symbol for all crimes which the Israeli Army commits towards the Palestinian talented athletes.”

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Palestinian child dies from serious wounds he suffered eight days ago
IMEMC 23 May — The Palestinian Health Ministry has reported, on Wednesday evening, that a child died from serious wounds he suffered, eight days earlier, after Israeli soldiers shot him at the northern entrance of al-Biereh city, in central West Bank. The Ministry said the child, Akram Odai Abu Khalil, 15, was shot with a live round in his abdomen, and was rushed to Palestine Medical Complex, in Ramallah, before he was moved to the Najah Hospital, in the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The child, from Ein Sinya village, north of Ramallah, remained in a coma, in a very serious condition, until he succumbed to his wounds. [Akram was critically injured while participating in a protest against the U.S. moving its Embassy to Jerusalem on Monday May 14th, 2018.] The Ministry stated that his death brings the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli army fire since the beginning of the Great Return March on Palestinian Land Day, on March 30, 2018, to 118 including 14 children.

Israeli soldier critically wounded during raid on Ramallah-area refugee camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 May — An Israeli soldier was critically wounded early Thursday during predawn military raids in the occupied West Bank, according to a statement from the Israeli army. An Israeli military spokesperson said that during detention raids, the Israeli soldier sustained serious injuries resulting from a large rock that was thrown at him and hit his head. The incident took place during a raid in the al-‘Amari refugee camp in the central West Bank city of Ramallah. The soldier was left unconscious and was immediately transported to the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem. Israeli military search and arrest operations are a nightly occurrence in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Due to the typically violent nature of the raids, particularly in refugee camps, confrontations often break out between the armed Israeli soldiers and Palestinian youth who respond with stone throwing.

Soldiers injure three Palestinians in Nablus, abduct one in Ramallah
IMEMC 24 May — Several Israeli army jeeps invaded, on Thursday at dawn, the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and shot two Palestinians, in addition to wounding a third young man after ramming him with one of their jeeps. The soldiers also abducted a Palestinian in Ramallah, in central West Bank.
Media sources in Nablus said the soldiers invaded the eastern part of the city, and fired live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs at Palestinians, who protested the attack. They added that the soldiers rammed with their jeep a young man, identified as Lu’ay Nassar Abu Aisha, 20, from Balata refugee camp, causing a fracture in his left leg, in addition to numerous cuts and bruises. The soldiers also shot Mohammad Waleed Kalbouna, 19, and Zeid Sawafta, 19, with rubber-coated steel bullets in their heads. Local medics rushed to the area, and moved the three wounded Palestinians to Rafidia Hospital, for treatment…
Furthermore, several Israeli army jeeps invaded ‘Azzoun town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, abducted four Palestinians, and caused many to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. In related news, the soldiers abducted four Palestinians, from their homes in Nablus and Hebron, in the northern and southern parts of the occupied West Bank, and invaded stores near Bethlehem before examining surveillance recordings.

A Palestinian vineyard annihilated with chainsaws, with a chilling message in Hebrew
Haaretz 24 May by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — The grapes are shriveled. The vineyard is dead. Reduced to a large, dried-out, yellowing stain in the heart of the verdant region along Highway 60 where the road runs past the town of Halhoul, north of Hebron. The “yellow wind” that David Grossman wrote about 30 years ago is a dying vineyard here. Two plots of land, with hundreds of vines that were slashed, their stems and shoots sawed off – and within a week everything here had withered and died. This is a particularly horrible sight because all the damage was wrought by the hand of man. A wicked, loathsome hand that hates not only Arabs but despises the land itself. In fact, we can assume that it wasn’t just one individual who raided and destroyed this vineyard late Tuesday night last week [15 May]. To saw off that many plants in such a short time requires a few pairs of nasty hands. And someone also had to smear the threatening words in Hebrew on a rock: “We will reach everywhere.” All before first light illuminated the dark deed. When dawn broke, the owner of the vineyard, Dr. Haitham Jahshan, a hematologist, arrived and couldn’t believe his eyes. His vines had been ravaged. First he saw one sawed trunk, then another and another – a sea of butchered vines, whose grapes were grown to be eaten, not for wine – until the full scale of the calamity hit home. For his part, Musa Abu Hashhash, a field researcher for the B’Tselem human rights organization, says he’s never seen an act of so-called agricultural crime on this scale….

Palestinian and Israeli settler fields set ablaze in Hebron district
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 May — Fire was set to a wheat field and hate slogans in Hebrew were graffitied on the walls of a home in the Palestinian village of al-Deirat before dawn on Wednesday in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. The Times of Israel reported that the field belong to Ahmad Amara, who told the news website that he was eating ahead of the upcoming day of fasting when he saw the fire… Meanwhile, in the illegal Israeli settlement of Kfar Etzion, also in the Hebron district, fire was set to a cherry orchard before dawn on Wednesday. According to the Times of Israel, settlers from Kfar Etzion accused Palestinians from the nearby village of Beit Ummar of setting the fires days ahead of an annual cherry festival hosted by the settler Gush Etzion Regional Council.

Israeli parliament proposes bill to ban photographing or recording soldiers on duty
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 May — The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, convened on Thursday to discuss a law that would prohibit the photographing or documenting od Israeli soldiers while on duty. According to Israeli media, the bill was proposed with the support of right-wing Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Entitled “Prohibition against Photocopying and Documenting IDF Soldiers,” the bill sets severe penalties for those who violate the law. “Anyone who filmed, photographed, and/or recorded soldiers in the course of their duties, with the intention of undermining the spirit of IDF soldiers and residents of Israel, shall be liable to five years imprisonment. Anyone intending to harm state security will be sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment,” the bill stated. The bill would also prohibit the distribution of photo or video content on social networks or in the media. The bill’s initiator, MK Robert Ilatov, claimed that the bill was “in response to harassment by left-wing operatives of Israeli soldiers while dispersing violent demonstrations by Hamas on the Gaza Strip border.” “For many years the State of Israel has witnessed a worrying phenomenon of documentation of Israeli soldiers. This is done through video, stills, and audio recordings by anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian organizations such as B’Tselem, Machsom Watch Women, Breaking the Silence, and various BDS organizations,” the bill’s explanatory notes state.  “It’s time to put an end to this absurdity….

Army abducts a Palestinian after his release from prison
IMEMC 25 May — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Thursday evening, a Palestinian political prisoner from Sur Baher village south of occupied East Jerusalem, shortly after his release from prison after serving a prison sentence of 7.5 years. The Detainees’ Parents Committee in Jerusalem said the detainee, Mousa Hamada, 48, was released earlier Thursday from the Negev Desert detention camp, after sending 7.5 years in detention. It added that the soldiers abducted Hamada shortly after his release and moved him to the al-Maskobiyya detention and interrogation facility, in Jerusalem, without providing a justification for his arrest.

Israeli forces detain 5 Palestinians in overnight West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 May — Israeli forces detained five Palestinians during predawn raids [Wed] across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS said that two Palestinians were detained from the southern West Bank district of Hebron. They were identified as Muhannad Ibrahim Zamaare, 22, and Munther Al-Sharawne, 33. In the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, Israeli forces detained one Palestinian. He was identified as Muhammad Haitham Daamse. In East Jerusalem, PPS identified one detainee as Bashar Rubin Abu Shamsie. In the northern West Bank city of Nablus, Israeli forces detained one Palestinian identified as Nashaat Al-Jebali. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that four Palestinians were detained overnight.
Israeli military detention raids in the Palestinian cities, villages, and refugee camps are a near-nightly occurrence. According to UN documentation, between April 24 and May 7, Israeli forces conducted 127 search and arrest operations and arrested 151 Palestinians in the West Bank.

Prisoners / Court actions

Hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner transferred to Negev jail
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 25 May — Israeli authorities transferred a hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner from solitary confinement in the Ashkelon jail to the Negev jail on Thursday morning. The Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said in a statement that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) transferred Ibaa Omar al-Barghouthi, 40, a resident of the central occupied West Bank village of Kobar, in the Ramallah district. Al-Barghouthi has been on a hunger strike against the renewal of his administrative detention. He has been held in administrative detention since August 2nd, 2017.According to the committee, al-Barghouthi has stopped drinking water and refused taking any vitamins. He is also boycotting Israeli prison clinics and is refusing to take medical tests. The committee added that al-Barghouthi’s health has deteriorated and” his body has become scrawny as he also suffers from severe exhaustion, muscle and bone pains, insomnia and severe bloody vomiting.” Al-Barghouthi’s eyesight has also suffered, according to the committee.

Human Rights Watch director’s deportation overturned
IMEMC/Agencies 25 May — Israel and Palestine Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Omar Shakir, was given leave to remain in the country, yesterday, after the Jerusalem District Court blocked his deportation order. Two weeks ago, Israel’s Ministry of Interior had ordered Shakir to leave Israel or be forcibly expelled on 24th May. The reason for this decision had been Shakir’s alleged support of the BDS campaign; he denied these claims and insists he has instead been targeted for his criticism of the Israeli government. According to the PNN, yesterday’s last-minute reversal allows Shakir to stay until 2ndJuly, when a court hearing is scheduled to determine whether he can work long-term in the region. The Ministry of Interior’s order was frozen by Jerusalem District Court on the grounds that it had been based on ‘old facts’.

Israeli left-wing activist to be charged with breaking Oslo accord for informing on Palestinian land sales
Haaretz 24 May by Nir Hasson — Israel informed left-wing activist Ezra Nawi Thursday it will indict him for assisting the Palestinian Authority against a Palestinian land broker who attempted to sell West Bank lands to Jewish settlers in the southern Hebron hills. Nawi was notified he will be indicted on the grounds of violating one clause of the Oslo Accords enactment law. The clause prohibits Israeli citizens from working for or with Palestinian security forces. The investigation was launched following a report on the Israeli show “Uvda” which showed materials obtained by a right-wing activist who infiltrated the Israeli-Palestinian group Taayush and documented Nawi. In the footage, Nawi, who is unaware of being recorded, is heard telling of four Palestinian landowners who contacted him, thinking he was also involved in the land trade. “I give their photos and their phone numbers immediately to the [Palestinian] Preventive Security Force,” Nawi says in the recording….

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Israeli court approves razing West Bank Bedouin village
JERUSALEM (AFP) 25 May — Israel’s supreme court has ruled in favour of demolishing a Palestinian Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank, despite a campaign by European governments to save it. Campaigners said the hearing had been the final appeal open to the village of Khan al-Ahmar, located close to several Israeli settlements east of Jerusalem. It was unclear when the demolition of the village, home to about 180 residents, would take place. In its ruling on Thursday, the court said it found “no reason to intervene in the decision of the minister of defence to implement the demolition orders issued against the illegal structures in Khan al-Ahmar”. The residents would be relocated elsewhere, it added, in a move critics say amounts to forcible transfer. The court ruled that the village was built without the relevant building permits. Such permits are nearly impossible to obtain for Palestinians in Israeli-controlled areas of the West Bank. “This verdict takes away the absolute minimal protection the Bedouin communities received until recently from the court,” Shlomo Lecker, the lawyer representing the village, said in a statement. “By any standard of international humanitarian law, the verdict is an approval by the Israeli court of a crime against humanity.”….

Israel defense chief plans 2,500 new West Bank settler homes
JERUSALEM (AP) 24 May by Ilan Ben Zion — Israel’s defense minister said Thursday he will seek approval next week to fast-track construction of 2,500 new West Bank settlement homes in 2018, an announcement likely to further ratchet up tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. Avigdor Lieberman’s office said in a statement that he aimed to fulfill a commitment to expand construction in the West Bank settlements, including some remote outposts and the Jewish settler enclave in the West Bank city of Hebron. Besides the 2,500, Lieberman said he will advance another 1,400 units that are in preliminary planning stages. “In the coming months, we will bring for approval thousands more housing units,” Lieberman said, according to the statement.
The announcement came two days after Palestinians urged the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, to open an investigation into Israeli policies in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, including settlement construction, accusing Israel of systematic crimes, including apartheid in the occupied territories. The request includes the recent round of bloodshed in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli fire killed over 100 Palestinians during mass protests along the Gaza border … Peace Now responded to Lieberman’s announcement, calling it a “scandal” and saying on Twitter that the “messianic right-wing government has distorted priorities, and this morning is proud to approve thousands of new housing units over the Green Line, and gives an incentive to continued creeping annexation.” Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi condemned Lieberman’s announcement as “Israeli colonialism, expansionism and lawlessness” and called on the ICC to launch an investigation….,500-new-West-Bank-settler-homes

76 members of Congress write to Netanyahu over Israel demolitions
MEMO 23 May — Seventy-six Members of Congress have co-signed a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging him to end the demolitions and evictions of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. According to J Street, a Washington DC-based liberal Zionist pressure group, “the letter notes that the destruction and displacement of these communities pose a serious threat to the human rights of Palestinians, to the prospects for a two-state solution and to Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.” “This is the latest sign that US lawmakers are increasingly concerned by the alarming consequences of the Israeli government’s policies in the West Bank,” said Dylan Williams, J Street’s Vice President of Government Affairs …  The letter also “cites over 300 rabbis, organised by J Street and other American Jewish groups, who wrote to Netanyahu in January opposing demolitions”.

Restriction of movement

Israeli police prevent Palestinians from sitting at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate courtyard
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 22 May – To prevent Palestinians from sitting on the steps outside Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate courtyard, Israeli police Tuesday placed iron barriers on the stone stairs deeming them inaccessible to visitors of the Old City, according to WAFA correspondent. He said police left only a small corridor outlined by iron barriers for people to walk through to get into the Old City. Dozens of Palestinians occasionally sit at Damascus Gate after they finish the special Ramadan night prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque, known as “taraweeh” prayers, where around 50,000 Muslims normally attend the prayers every night. According to the correspondent, the police did not want the Palestinians to have a good time sitting on hot summer nights at the entrance to Damascus Gate and therefore blocked it with metal barriers leaving them only a walking space into the Old City….

Opinion: I saw firsthand how West Bank Palestinians are treated like prisoners. Who will fix this? / Maneka Sinha
USA Today 25 May — Palestinians are forced to live with severe constraints on every aspect of life. As an American, I wasn’t subjected to any of that when I visited — One spring day in 2015, I was driving with Palestinian colleagues on a dusty road in the West Bank when I looked up to see an Israeli soldier pointing an assault rifle at our windshield. We pulled over fast. “Where are you going?” It came out defensively, but my answer was true: We were just going to work. One look at my passport, though, and he let us go. I don’t think he was expecting an American. Three years ago, I was living in Ramallah, training public defenders in the West Bank. Seeing my colleagues stopped and questioned like truant children caught out during school hours was common. It was always degrading; occasionally, it was terrifying …  Israel and the United States blame Hamas for last week’s violence, but Hamas doesn’t govern the West Bank. Who do they blame for the oppressive conditions there? I saw those conditions firsthand. The West Bank is not the open-air prison that Gaza is often described as, but Palestinians there are still treated like prisoners. They are denied freedom to enter and leave and are forced to live with severe constraints on every aspect of life. Travel is especially miserable. I drove for hours up and down the West Bank with the office’s interpreter to work with budding defenders in three fledgling offices. It would have been quicker to drive straight through Jerusalem from Ramallah to the office in Hebron, but my colleagues are not allowed to enter Jerusalem. So we added miles by driving around it, forced to stop and explain ourselves at checkpoints along the way … Israel also controls access to essential resources like water. When I arrived, I didn’t know what Jewish settlements looked like. During one drive, my interpreter pointed to specks of black on top of Palestinian homes in the distance. Homes in settlements don’t have black tanks on their rooftops, she explained. But Palestinians often store extra water in cisterns; they are worried about when access will be denied next. For years, Israel banned 3G connectivity in the West Bank. (It is still banned in Gaza.) 2G services are too slow for GPS, which made driving near impossible. Without Waze or Google Maps, I once got hopelessly lost driving outside of Ramallah. After I gave up in frustration, a young man came over to help, but I couldn’t understand his directions through the language barrier. So he hopped in the passenger’s seat and directed me with gestures, turn by turn.  Why does this matter? Because time to find a solution is running out: ….


Brazilian singer Gilberto Gil cancels Israel concert
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 23 May – Brazilian singer and songwriter Gilberto Gil has cancelled a performance that was scheduled in Israel for the summer, citing “general sentiment of apprehension.” The legendary Grammy and Latin Grammy Award winner, once Brazil’s Culture Minister and now considered one of Latin America’s prominent and influential musicians, was supposed to perform in the city of Tel Aviv on July 4, but he cancelled the performance in what seems to be a response to Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians in the past few weeks. Gil sent a letter to the concert’s producers addressing the cancellation, and said: “The general sentiment of all is one of apprehension as Israel is going through this sensitive moment.” Although he didn’t mention Gaza or Palestinians, the “sensitive moment” is most likely a reference to the recent Israeli army massacre in the Gaza Strip, which left 63 Palestinians dead, including children, during a protest on May 14….

In legislative upset, Missouri anti-BDS bill fails
JEFFERSON CITY, MO (IMEMC/Agencies) 25 May — A five-month grassroots campaign led by human rights groups and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri celebrated a win on Friday, May 18, 2018, when the Missouri legislative session ended, failing to pass legislation that would have denied state contracts worth over $10,000 to businesses and organizations boycotting Israel over its subjugation and dispossession of the Palestinian people. The legislation was widely predicted to pass, enjoying widespread support by right-wing Missouri legislators with House Bill 2179 sponsored by GOP Speaker of the House Todd Richardson; and Senate Bill (SB) 849 co-sponsored by Majority Floor Leader, Republican Sen. Mike Kehoe, and Democratic Sen. Jill Schupp. Disgraced Gov. Eric Greitens helped prompt the legislative push, following his November trip to Israel, where he met with officials keen to punish supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights….

Israel calls on EU to end funding to pro-boycott groups
JERUSALEM (AP) 26 May by Tia Goldenburg — Israel called on the European Union on Friday to halt funding to more than a dozen European and Palestinian non-governmental organizations that it says promote boycotts against Israel, saying the financial support violates the EU’s stated policy that it opposes boycotts against the Jewish state. Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry published a report with a list of groups that it says receive EU funding and call for boycotts against Israel. It said some of the groups had links to militant groups while receiving EU money. The report was the latest salvo by Israel in its fight against a global movement calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions over of its treatment of the Palestinians. The movement, known as BDS, has urged businesses, artists and universities to sever ties with Israel and it includes thousands of volunteers around the world. Supporters of the movement say the tactics are a nonviolent way to promote the Palestinian cause. Israel says the campaign goes beyond fighting its occupation of territory Palestinians claim for their state and often masks a more far-reaching aim to delegitimize or destroy the Jewish state … EU officials said the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, received the report from Israel along with a letter requesting a reply and that it’s now under consideration. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not allowed to talk to the media….

Other news

Government denounces new Israeli military law affecting Area C of the West Bank
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 24 May – The Palestinian Government strongly condemned on Thursday a new Israeli military order affecting the so-called Area C, which amounts to more than 60 percent of the total area of the occupied West Bank and which is under full Israeli military and administrative control. “This illegal development would generate more crimes against Palestinian rights of access to a safe and stable living environment and would worsen the already dire conditions of 393,000 Palestinian citizens,” the government said in a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office. On May 9, the Israeli military published military order 1797 with the main objective of expediting Israel’s unlawful demolitions of Palestinian infrastructure in Area C. The new order further expands the authority of the Israeli army’s so-called “civil administration” to unilaterally target and demolish Palestinian structures within 96 hours, irrespective of the status of the underlying land or the issuing of building permits. The Palestinian government said that it consistently strives to support Palestinian citizens residing in the so-called “Area C”, which includes supporting their resilience and protection from Israeli violations. However, it said, “it is important to mention that Palestinians living under a belligerent military occupation are, under the international humanitarian law, a ‘protected population’, which obligates the occupying power to protect the occupied population. Israel has not merely neglected its duties as an occupying power, but rather has proactively and willfully done the opposite, flagrantly violating the inalienable rights of the occupied Palestinian population.”….

Palestinian officials slam US ambassador for receiving doctored photo of Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 May — Palestinian officials are condemning the “despicable actions” of the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who was photographed on Tuesday receiving a poster depicting an aerial image of occupied East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock have been erased and replaced by a simulation of the Jewish Third Temple. The photo shows a smiling Friedman — who is a vocal supporter of Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise — posing next to the poster during a visit to the Israeli city of Bnei Brak. The photo of Friedman sparked widespread controversy, forcing the US Embassy in Israel to issue a statement claiming that Friedman “was not aware of the image thrust in front of him when the photo was taken. He was deeply disappointed that anyone would take advantage of his visit to Bnei Brak to create controversy.” ….

State of Palestine accedes to the Chemical Weapons Convention
THE HAGUE (WAFA) 23 May — The State of Palestine deposited on May 17 its instrument of accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the depositary of the Convention, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a statement on Wednesday. The Convention will enter into force for the State of Palestine on 16 June 2018, making it number 193 State Party. Omar Awadallah, in charge of the United Nations file at the Foreign Ministry, said President Mahmoud Abbas has signed the accession papers to the CWC, along with Palestine’s accession to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on May 14. He said the accession of Palestine to international conventions and organizations aims at “strengthening the status of the State of Palestine” and “to engage and work with the international community, especially on important issues such as the spread of chemical weapons due to their threat to peace.”….

Palestine submits application for accession to UNCTAD
GENEVA (WAFA) 24 May – Ibrahim Khreisheh, Palestine’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva, submitted on Thursday the request for Palestine’s accession to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)….

US mulls UN funding cuts over Palestinians
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) 25 May — The U.S. is considering whether to cut funding to two U.N. agencies and the chemical weapons watchdog after the Palestinians joined the organizations, a U.S. official said Wednesday. In a move aimed at boosting their international profile, the Palestinians have joined the U.N. trade development organization UNCTAD, industrial development agency UNIDO and the Chemical Weapons Convention, which is upheld by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. U.S. legislation bars funding for U.N. agencies or affiliates that grant membership to Palestine, which has the status of a nonmember observer state at the United Nations. “It has been the consistent position of the United States that efforts by the Palestinians to join international organizations are premature and counterproductive,” a U.S. official said….

Prince William’s trip to Israel, West Bank is history in the making: All the details
USA Today 24 May by Maria Puente — Having just wound up a historic royal wedding, Britain is sending future king Prince William on a historic trip to Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories next month, Kensington Palace said Thursday, laying out some details of the much-anticipated visit. The Duke of Cambridge, the second in line to the throne, will visit Amman and Jerash in Jordan, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in Israel, and Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, between June 24 and 28, a palace statement said. It’s likely security will be heavy over the five days of the visit. It will be the first official royal visit to Israel and what the British government calls the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” since 1948, when Britain’s 25-year control of the region (known as the British Mandate) ended on the eve of Israel’s independence …  Israelis have long considered it a snub that so far Britain and the royals have refused, especially when they have paid official visits to Israel’s Arab neighbors, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar … But decisions about where royals go on official visits are made by the government of the day, not by Her Majesty. In 2015, the Telegraph reported that until there is a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians it was unlikely any royals would be turning up in Jerusalem. That has now changed. William is making the visit at the request of the British government and has been welcomed by the Jordanian, Israeli, and Palestinian authorities. “This is an historic visit, the first of its kind, and he will be welcomed here with great affection,” tweeted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in March …  Palestinian leaders also issued welcoming statements….

Israel threatens Abbas over Gaza staff cuts
MEMO 25 May — Israel has threatened the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas saying it will withhold tax revenues it collects on behalf of the PA if he does not resume paying the salaries of staff in the Gaza Strip. Israeli TV channel Kan revealed on Wednesday that the Israeli government conveyed a clear and firm message to Abbas stating that through his latest punitive measures he is seeking to ignite a confrontation between Israel and the Gaza Strip. According to the channel, the Israeli government told Abbas that It is not him “who decides whether there will be a new confrontation between us and the Gaza Strip; and certainly you are not the one who sets the timing”, adding that Israel fears that Abbas’s punitive measures against the Gaza Strip will create a new confrontation in the south.  It noted that international parties have appealed to Abbas and warned him against the continuation of imposing punitive measures against Gaza.

Over 76,800 students start general high school matriculation exams
RAMALLAH, May 26, 2018 (WAFA) – A total of 76811 students started on Saturday the high school general matriculation exams known as Injaz (formerly Tawjihi) in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, according to the Ministry of Education. It said a total of 45,056 students are in the West Bank and 31,755 students are in the Gaza Strip. In addition to sitting for the exam at home, Palestinian students in Qatar, Romania and Bulgaria can also take the exam in halls set up especially for Palestinians in those countries. The exams allow the students who pass to enter colleges at home or abroad. The usual pass/fail rate is around 60/40 percent. Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who registered and studied for the Injaz exams are also expected to sit for the exam but at a different time and in only some prisons.

With EU support, West Bank center launched project for heritage preservation
ANABTA (WAFA) 24 May – With support from the European Union (EU), the Women’s House Development Center in the northern West Bank town of Anabta launched its “Preservation of Cultural Heritage from extinction” project, according to an EU press release. In Palestinian rural areas, people use particular songs for each occasion. Unfortunately, these songs are threatened to disappear because of the lack of any recordings or knowledge among the young generation. However, these songs constitute an important part of culture and civilization for Palestinians. The idea behind the “Preservation of Cultural Heritage from extinction” project is to try to recover and preserve those old traditional songs from Palestine with the support of the European Union, said the press release…..

Palestinian musical group Sabreen releases new video Waadtani (You Promised Me)
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 23 May – Sabreen Association for Artistic Development just released a song and video titled “Waadtani”, which translates to “You Promised Me”, from the heart of East Jerusalem. Said Murad, the founder of Sabreen Association, wrote and composed the song and video. Murad is considered a pioneer in the Palestinian music scene. The video includes Palestinian artists and institutions based in East Jerusalem. “The goal of the video is to focus on the Palestinian individual living in the city,” Murad says, “and to remind the world that there are human beings living in East Jerusalem who are musicians, writers, artists, normal people who want to make a difference. Away from the big picture of politics and the media, the ones who suffer from the consequences are those people living in Jerusalem.” The chorus of the song is a traditional Arabic expression which translates to, “You promised me an earring, so I pierced my ear. And awaiting your promise the months kept passing.” Murad explains his motivation in writing the song this way: “The song is a metaphor for how the world gets riled up about the situation and countries promise to help, but in the end nothing happens. If anything the situation is only becoming worse as the city deteriorates.” Several cultural Palestinian institutions appear in the video including Al-Hakawati Theater, Sanabel Theater, Pyalara, and the Palestinian Art Court – Al Hoash, as well as other prominent Palestinian artists and personalities….

Singer Fairuz releases a new song about Palestine
RAMALLAH (WAFA)23 May  – Legendary Lebanese singer Fairuz has released a new song dedicated to Palestine and Jerusalem following the Israeli attacks on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip recently. The song, titled ‘Eela Mata Ya Rabb?’ (How Long, Lord?, was produced and directed by Fairuz’s daughter, Lebanese director and writer Reema Rahbany, who published the video of the song on her mother’s social media pages. In the video, Fairuz appeared to be in a church, wearing a black and gold outfit while covering her hair with a veil and standing in front of a picture of a suffering Jesus Christ, singing smoothly as pictures of intense clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces are on display. Both the song and the video were well-received by Fairuz’s fans and Arab listeners, who welcomed her comeback to singing songs about the Palestinian cause … She’s precisely famous in Palestine thanks to her album “Al-Quds Fil Bal” (Jerusalem In My Heart), which was released in 1967 and included well-known songs about Jerusalem and Palestine such as “Zahrat El Mada‘in” (Flower of the Cities) and “El Qods El Atiqa” (Old Jerusalem).

‘My culture is not your tote bag!’ People are accusing Anthropologie of cultural appropriation after the retailer released a $148 bag that looks like a Palestinian keffiyeh scarf
Daily Mail 24 May by Aoibhinn McBride — Twitter users have accused Anthropologie of cultural appropriation after the retailer released a tote bag that bears a striking resemblance to the pattern on a Palestinian keffiyeh scarf. Twitter user @Saressaa  sparked the debate when she tweeted: ‘Did @Anthropologie really put handles on a keffiyeh??? And then proceeded to call it an ‘En Shalla Tapestry Tote’ for $148??????….So if y’all are profiting off of Palestinian labor/resistance, are you donating any $$ back to people getting their bodies blown apart in Gaza? Houses demolished in the West Bank?’ She added: ‘The description on the site says it’s perfect for a ‘beach adventure’ when we know the critical symbolism behind it. $148 for what? I respect the craft of each brand bc a lot goes into it but not when innocent people’s blood is just background noise. ‘There are literally old Palestinian men who struggle to sell 7attas for some money in their own occupied land so this just doesn’t seem right at all to me.’ (listserv)

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That’s what a Nazi court would do too.

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