Other news, opinion
US withdraws from ‘cesspool’ UN rights body
AFP 10 June — The United States withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, condemning the “hypocrisy” of its members and its alleged “unrelenting bias” against Israel. The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, came to Washington to announce the decision alongside President Donald Trump’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Both insisted the United States would remain a leading champion of human rights but, for many, the decision will reflect Trump’s general hostility to the world body and to multilateral diplomacy in general. The announcement came after the top UN human rights official criticized Washington for separating migrant children from their parents who are seeking asylum after crossing into the country from Mexico. But Haley and Pompeo stressed the decision had been made after a long year of efforts to shame the council into reform and to remove member states that themselves commit abuses. “These reforms were needed in order to make the council a serious advocate for human rights,” Haley said. “For too long, the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers, and a cesspool of political bias. Regrettably, it is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded.”….
Abbas agrees to end death penalty, but Hamas objects
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 18 June by Ahmad Abu Amer — Palestine is joining 102 countries that have abolished the death penalty and 33 others that have suspended it. On June 6, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed documents to accede to seven international conventions and treaties, including one on abolition of the death penalty. Abbas instructed Foreign Minister Riad Malki to handle the procedures to implement these conventions. Abbas signed the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted by the UN in 1989, aimed at abolishing the death penalty and stipulating, “No one within the jurisdiction of a state party to the present protocol shall be executed,” and “each state party shall take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty within its jurisdiction.” Public Prosecutor Ahmed Barak told Al-Monitor that current Palestinian Basic Law allows for the death penalty but requires that it be implemented with the approval of the Palestinian Authority (PA) president. The PA in the West Bank currently applies the Jordanian Penal Code No. 16 of 1960, many articles of which stipulate the death penalty, while the Gaza Strip abides by the British Mandatory Penal Code No. 74 of 1936, which also provides for the death penalty. The new protocol will go into effect in three months. Barak added that authorities will take the necessary legal and legislative measures to amend Palestinian laws to align with the protocol … The proposed death penalty ban faces obstacles in the Palestinian territories where the PA lacks control, specifically in the Gaza Strip. Ahmed Abu Halabiya, who represents Hamas on the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in Gaza, has rejected the protocol because, he told Al-Monitor, it violates laws the PA had passed since it was founded. Abu Halabiya said the proposal doesn’t serve Palestinian society’s best interest because the death penalty protects society….
Vying for minds in East Jerusalem schools
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 19 June by Aziza Nofal — The Israeli and Palestinian governments both want to infuse East Jerusalem schools with money in what many see as a tug of war for curriculum control. Palestinian Education Ministry spokesman Sadiq al-Khadour told Al-Monitor that in late May, the cabinet in Ramallah approved $30 million to support and improve the level of education in East Jerusalem. The National Plan for the Support of Education is designed to counter Israel’s efforts to impose its curriculum and undermine the use of the Arab language in Palestinian schools, Khadour said. Israel recently announced it will allocate 2 billion shekels (roughly $560,000), most of it for introducing the Israeli curriculum in East Jerusalem educational institutions. The plan Khadour outlined includes bringing Palestinian kindergartens up to par with Israeli ones, reducing school fees, supporting the staff of schools that are affiliated with the Jerusalem Directorate by offering them bonuses, maintaining and adding classrooms to private schools and teaching the Palestinian curriculum. There will also be efforts to purchase new buildings for schools as well as tablet computers for 5,500 students. Students in schools in the Old City section of Jerusalem who are currently in their final year and who graduate will receive full scholarships to Palestinian universities, and graduating students outside the Old City are being offered scholarships to fund 50% of their higher education.
Despite these positive steps, many Jerusalemites believe the plan won’t be enough to resolve the problems of education in East Jerusalem. The system there is complex, and schools are affiliated with or directed by various parties. Some schools are directed by the Jerusalem municipality, and others by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The city also has private schools, some of them nonprofit. Students often can’t afford all their expenses at private for-profit schools, and Israel offers financial aid — which, again, some critics say is just a way to control the curriculum. Some semi-private schools are licensed by the Jerusalem municipality and fund 60% of students’ expenses. The public schools are affiliated with the Palestinian Authority and operate under the umbrella of the Islamic Endowments Directorate….
Israeli gov’t committee approves draft law criminalizing filming IDF soldiers
i24NEWS 17 June — An Israeli government committee on Sunday approved a controversial draft law that criminalizes filming IDF soldiers while engaged in certain activities, including clashes with Palestinians. The bill, sponsored by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s secular right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party, was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, which determines whether proposed legislation will be backed by the coalition government and advanced for a required three readings in parliament before being passed into law. The bill sets forth penalties of up to five years in prison on anyone caught filming or publishing footage of military activities with the purpose of harming “soldiers’ spirit”. Aggravating circumstances, such as publishing such footage with the intention of “harming state security”, doubles the sentence to up to 10 years in prison. But the legislation in its current form faces opposition from Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit who, according to Haaretz, considers it problematic from a constitutional standpoint. A senior coalition lawmaker told Haaretz that an agreement has been struck in which the bill will be significantly adjusted to meet constitutional standards following its first reading in parliament. The updated version of the bill, which has yet to be agreed upon, will outlaw interfering with IDF soldiers carrying out operational duties but will not impose a full ban on all filming and documentation, setting a penalty of up to three years in prison for preventing a soldier from fulfilling their duties. “For many years the Israel has witnessed a worrisome phenomenon in which IDF soldiers are being documented via video, stills photography and audio recordings by anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian groups such as B’Tselem, the women of Machsom Watch, Breaking the Silence and various BDS groups,” explanatory notes to the bill say, referencing leading left-wing rights groups. “In many instances, these organizations spend entire days near IDF soldiers waiting with bated breath for some action they can document in a biased way in order to slander the IDF. Such documentation generally interferes with ongoing and operational IDF duties, sometimes accompanied by hurling accusations and insults in their faces,” the notes continue. The controversial bill was proposed on April 12, days after video emerged of an IDF soldier cheering after shooting a seemingly unarmed Palestinian along the Gaza border fence….
Opinion: We won’t stop filming, we won’t stop writing / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 17 June — We will violate this law proudly. We have an obligation to violate this law, like any law with a black flag waving over it. We will not stop documenting. We will not stop photographing. We will not stop writing – with all our might. Human rights organizations will do the same too and like them, we hope, Palestinian eyewitnesses, who will of course be punished more than anyone. According to the proposed law passed Sunday by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation [but also called for some of the wording to be changed], individuals documenting the actions of Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the West Bank may be sent to jail for as much as five years, under certain circumstances. A nice initiative, MK Robert Ilatov, democrat from the well-known freedom party Yisrael Beiteinu. Your bill proves just how much the IDF has something to hide, what it has to be embarrassed about, what there is to cover up, to the point where even the camera and pen have become its enemies. Ilatov against the terrorism of the cameras and Israel against the truth. At a time when the Israel Police are outfitting its officers with body cameras, which have proved themselves when it comes to reducing police violence, according to the force, Israel is trying to remove the cameras from the occupied territories, the real arena of its disgrace – so the truth will not be exposed and the injustice will be minimized. Without cameras, the Elor Azaria affair would not have existed; without cameras there will be many more Azarias….
Amid smoldering e-waste in the West Bank, activists fight for reform
Undark 18 June by Shira Rubin — Last November, I was standing in the backyard of a home in the West Bank looking at the fire-blackened pit where a pile of electronic waste had been burned — a lucrative but illegal industry in the region. My guides were an unlikely pair: Sarah Awawdeh, a 36-year-old mother of six in a colorful hijab and clunky, high-heeled boots, who heads a grassroots movement to minimize the health hazards of burning e-waste; and her colleague Yaakov Garb, a researcher at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University who has been examining the practice and impacts of crude e-waste dismantling in the Palestinian Territories for decades. Awawdeh and Garb were showing me the plot of scorched earth where Palestinian men routinely use butane torches and other makeshift tools to dismantle refrigerators, air conditioning units, computers, cables, and other remnants of electronic debris ready for burning. Burning is a crude and prohibited means for extracting copper and other resalable metals embedded in trashed appliances, and over the past two decades, it has become a boom industry in this otherwise stagnant Palestinian region, where Israeli military occupation challenges virtually all forms of development. As we toured one of the many sooty areas, Awawdeh and Garb spotted thick, black plumes of smoke a mile away, indicating an active burn … In under 10 minutes we were at the burn site, just outside the West Bank village of Beit Awwa, and Garb, along with the driver and another member of the frontline response team began shoving the charred, spaghetti-like strands of copper — melted-down, marketable metals from the electric cables found in everything from telephones to switches to lights — into the back of the truck. The municipality would price the copper at thousands of shekels (at least several hundred dollars), but the burner, who later turned out to be a disabled man on the brink of financial ruin, was nowhere in sight. Such exercises are meant to create a teaching moment, promoting safer, more sustainable alternatives to e-waste burning for the 600,000 people living in the Hebron region of the Palestinian West Bank. The Beit Awwa mayor returned the metals to the disabled man, fined him 1,000 shekels (nearly $300), and had him sign a document saying that in the future, he would bring his cables to the local grinding facility rather than burn them….
Netanyahu meets King Abdullah in Jordan for rare talks
AMMAN (AFP) 18 June — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah II held rare talks in Jordan on Monday focused on the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process and on the Jerusalem issue. Jordan and Egypt are the only Arab countries to have peace treaties with Israel, and Monday’s visit was Netanyahu’s first to the kingdom since 2014. The king stressed “the need to advance in the efforts to find a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of a two-state solution”, the Jordanian royal court said, referring to the creation of a Palestinian state. “The only way to achieve peace and stability in the region” is a solution to “allow the creation of a Palestinian state on the lines of June 1967 with east Jerusalem as the capital, which would live in peace and security alongside Israel,” he was quoted as saying … “Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s commitment to maintaining the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem,” he added. Under the status quo agreement, only Muslims are allowed to pray at the Al-Aqsa/Temple Mount site, while Jews may visit but not pray — instead worshipping at the Western Wall. Israel and Jordan signed a treaty ending 46 years of aggression in 1994 that recognises the kingdom’s “historic role” in the management of holy Muslim sites in Jerusalem….
UN envoy: Palestinian refugees ‘weeks away’ from major cuts
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 19 June by Edith M. Lederer — The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees is “weeks away from painful cuts” to its emergency assistance for Gaza and refugees elsewhere because of an unprecedented gap in its budget of more than $250 million, the U.N. Mideast envoy said Tuesday. Nikolay Mladenov told the Security Council that in Gaza, “this would include a deferral of salaries to some of its workforce in July and the start of suspending core operations in August.” The Trump administration announced in January it was withholding $65 million of a planned $125 million funding installment for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. It released $60 million so UNRWA wouldn’t shut down, but made clear that additional U.S. donations would be contingent on major reforms at the agency. Agency spokesman Christopher Gunness has said the actual cut was around $300 million because the U.S. led the agency to believe it would provide $365 million in 2018. He said UNRWA went into 2018 with a $146 million shortfall that ballooned to $446 million without the anticipated U.S. funds. A dozen countries announced pledges of nearly $100 million in new funding for UNRWA at an emergency donor conference in Rome in March. But facing the worst funding crisis in its 68-year history, Mladenov said UNRWA still has “an unprecedented shortfall of over $250 million.” He announced that another pledging conference will be held Monday at U.N. headquarters in New York.
Amid Trump’s Mideast push, abandoned building reminds Palestinians of past failures
ABU DIS, West Bank (NBC News) 16 June by F. Brinley Bruton & Lawahez Jabari — Pigeons inhabit the main hall of what should have been a Palestinian parliament. Their dried excrement cakes semicircular platforms where politicians would have sat and debated. Green and red electrical tubes dangle from the ceilings like tentacles. Tough weeds choke the driveway leading to the building’s entrance and mounds of ruined desk chairs sit in piles in the underground parking lot. Nearby, a cat bursts from the bowels of a mouldering armchair. This shell, in the Jerusalem suburb of Abu Dis, was built after the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords had raised hopes that Palestinians would soon have an independent state alongside Israel. Then in 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had pursued negotiations with the Palestinians, was assassinated by a Jewish extremist opposed to the plan. Subsequent talks floundered, violence flared and work on the building ground to a halt. Today, the hulking monument to dashed dreams has gained renewed significance amid rumors that Abu Dis will be the Palestinian capital envisioned in President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” aimed at ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict … The New York Times has reported that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has presented the idea of Abu Dis as a capital to Palestinian leadership, who rejected it out of hand. This would mean giving up on a capital in Jerusalem, something few Palestinians admit they would even consider. This has long been one of the main sticking points between Israel and the Palestinians. One of the driving forces behind the old legislative building laughed off the idea that Abu Dis could be a Palestinian capital, and the unfinished parliament its seat of government . “Do you have money to buy it?” joked Ahmed Qurei, the chief Palestinian negotiator of the Oslo Accords and an Abu Dis native. “A building is not a capital,” he said, while sitting under a picture of the Dome of the Rock, the Muslim shrine on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount that is a potent symbol of national identity. The whole point of placing it in Abu Dis was that it was part of Jerusalem, not that it replaced the city, he said. Qurei then recalled that the walk to school in Jerusalem when he was a child took less than an hour. But nowadays Abu Dis is a largely walled-off island….
US seeking to separate Gaza, West Bank: Palestine leader
Anadolu Agency 18 June — The Palestinian presidency on Monday said the U.S. was seeking to permanently separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank on the pretext of “humanitarian” intervention, going on to stress its total rejection of a backchannel U.S. peace plan known as the “Deal of the Century”. “The Palestinian people and leadership will not recognize the legitimacy of any U.S. or Israeli plan that involves separating the Gaza Strip from the West Bank under the guise of ‘humanitarian assistance’,” presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in a Monday statement. “These schemes,” the statement added, “aim to undermine the Palestinian national project by transforming the Gaza situation into a strictly humanitarian issue”. Israeli daily Haaretz quoted unnamed sources as saying that the U.S. administration was trying to convince the oil-rich Gulf States to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in economic projects in the blockaded Gaza Strip and in Egypt’s northern Sinai Peninsula. According to the newspaper, details of the U.S. peace plan will likely be unveiled this week by Jared Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump’s advisor and son-in-law, and Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s advisor on Israel….
Israeli soldiers kill one Palestinian in Gaza
IMEMC 18 June — Israeli soldiers killed, Monday at noon, a young Palestinian man near the Great Return Camp, east of Gaza city. Medical sources in Gaza said the Palestinian was rushed to the Shifa Medical Center in Gaza city before he was admitted to surgery after suffering severe injuries, but later succumbed to his wounds. The young man, identified as Sabri Ahmad Abu Khader, 24, was shot after the soldiers fired live rounds targeting protesters east of Gaza city. ٍٍSabri was a newlywed young man, who got married only five months ago. He was shot near Karni Crossing, east of Gaza city. [AP: The Israeli military said in a statement that five Palestinian militants were wounded while attempting “to sabotage a security infrastructure” along the border in the northern Gaza Strip.]
In related news, the Israeli army claimed that its soldiers observed two Palestinians “who tried to breach the border fence,” and added that they carried explosives, which detonated while they were running back to Gaza, apparently wounding them.
Palestinian child dies from serious wounds suffered in Gaza
IMEMC 19 June — Palestinian medical sources have reported that a child died, Monday, from serious wounds he suffered after Israeli soldiers shot him several days earlier in Gaza. The child, Zakariya Hussein Bashbash, 13, suffered a very serious injury, several days ago, after an Israeli soldier stationed across the border fence shot him with a live round. The Health Ministry in Gaza said Zakariya, who was shot east of the al-Boreij refugee camp in central Gaza, was rushed to the Shifa Medical Center. Zakariya, from the al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza, was then moved to surgery, and remained at the Intensive Care Unit, until he succumbed to his serious wounds.
Israeli activists bring images of Gaza dead to the heart of Tel Aviv
+972 Mag 18 June by Orly Noy — In the middle of the night, left-wing activists hung 115 kites along Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv’s central street — one for each Palestinian protester killed by Israeli forces during the Great Return March protests … The action was partially a response to the 60 Palestinians killed during the protests on May 14. A., who was abroad at the time, struggled to comprehend what had happened. “I returned to Israel and I was in shock to see that [here] nothing had happened — complete indifference.” … In addition to the picture of the deceased, each kite bore their name in Arab and Hebrew, as well as their date of birth. “You see how young they were and you realize that we have been wardens guarding the prisoners in the world’s largest prison for three generations.”
Israeli use of live fire in Gaza triggers ‘unprecedented’ crisis: Red Cross
AFP 18 June — Israel’s use of live ammunition against Palestinian protesters in Gaza has left health workers struggling to cope with an unprecedented crisis, with more than 13,000 wounded, a senior Red Cross official said Monday. At least 132 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the protests at the border with Gaza began at the end of March. Robert Mardini, head of Middle East for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), told reporters that the “vast majority” of the 13,000 hospitalized protesters had suffered severe wounds, including multiple gunshot wounds. “This is I think a crisis of unprecedented magnitude in the Gaza Strip,” said Mardini. The wounded caseload from the seven weeks of protest had surpassed that of the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas. The Red Cross is planning to open a new 50-bed surgery unit at Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital to help deal with the surge in gunshot wounds. Some 1,400 patients have been hit by three to five bullets, many in the legs, which require several complex orthopedic and reconstructive surgeries. Israel maintains the use of live ammunition is necessary to defend its borders and stop infiltrations. It accuses Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas of seeking to use the protests as cover for attacks. Mardini said the Red Cross was holding talks with Israeli defense forces to minimize civilian harm. As a result of the talks, the Palestinian Red Cross has been able to send aid workers near the fence to evacuate the wounded to safety….
Fourth Gaza strike: Israel goes on the attack against Palestinians launching burning balloons
Haaretz 17 June by Yaniv Kubovich & Jack Khoury — The Israeli army said Sunday evening that it struck a car used by a group of Palestinians who launched incendiary balloons from the southern Gaza Strip into Israel, the fourth such strike in a day. Meanwhile, some 17 fires broke out throughout the day in Gaza border communities, the Jewish National Fund said. Reports in Gaza said Israel attacked a Hamas target east of the Al-Bureij refugee camp in the center of the coastal enclave. No casualties were reported. Early Sunday, the military confirmed that it struck the vehicle of one of the leaders of the incendiary kites unit in Gaza. This was in response to a string of kites and balloons with explosives launched at Israel in recent days, the army said. Later, the army struck again, this time also targeting what the army called a cell launching balloons carrying explosive devices. Palestinian sources reported two people injured but no official reports of injuries have yet been issued. Meanwhile, there were reports of at least ten fires in the south since the morning – in one case in a local forest.
On Saturday, the Israeli army said it carried out a drone strike near residents of the Gaza Strip who were launching incendiary balloons into Israel. Two people were wounded in the strike, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza.
In second strike today, Israel hits Hamas targets in Gaza in response to burning balloons
Haaretz 18 June by Jack Khoury & Yaniv Kubovich — … On Monday evening, the Israeli military reported attacking Hamas infrastructure in Gaza for the second time. The army claimed Hamas had launched burning balloons into Israeli territory. Earlier that day, hours before the killing of Abu Khader, the Israeli military said it attacked nine Hamas targets in Gaza, including military compounds and weapons production facilities. The IDF said the attacks were carried out in response to the firing of kites and explosive devices into Israel, as well as to an attempt to infiltrate into Israel.
In addition, an explosion was reported in the vicinity of a different group of Palestinians near the Israeli community of Zikim. It is believed that the group was also attempting to cross into Israel. According to the Israeli military, five Palestinians were injured when “security infrastructure” they were attempting to damage exploded. The military said it evacuated workers from a site close to the border community of Nahal Oz, where a protective wall is being built…
Also Monday, three rockets were fired from the Strip toward Israel, with one of them landing in the coastal enclave…
Major Gaza escalation: 45 rockets fired at Israel, IDF strikes 25 Hamas targets
Haaretz 20 June by Yaniv Kubovich et al. — Some 45 rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel overnight on Tuesday after the Israeli military struck Hamas infrastructure in the Strip in response to burning balloons being launched from Gaza into Israel. Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted seven of the 45 rockets and at least three landed inside the Gaza Strip. In response, the IDF once again attacked the Strip, targeting a total of 25 Hamas targets. Eshkol Regional Council said that five projectiles fell inside populated communities, three landing in the southern region and two landing near a community center, with one causing damage to buildings and vehicles and another landing near a kindergarten. Sources in Gaza said two people were lightly wounded by the IDF strikes. “The sounds and explosions reminded us of the nights of summer of 2014,” a Gaza resident told Haaretz, referring to the last time Israel and Hamas waged a major conflict. According to a medical source in Gaza, the small number of wounded was the result of the strikes being focused on empty sites, including some already struck by the IDF in recent weeks.
On Monday evening, the Israeli military reported attacking Hamas infrastructure in Gaza for the second time. The army claimed Hamas had launched burning balloons into Israeli territory. Earlier that day, the Israeli military said it attacked nine Hamas targets in Gaza, including military compounds and weapons production facilities. The IDF said the attacks were carried out in response to the firing of kites and explosive devices into Israel, as well as to an attempt to infiltrate into Israel. Also Monday, three rockets were fired from the Strip toward Israel, with one of them landing in the coastal enclave.
Injuries reported in Gaza in a night of heavy Israeli strikes
GAZA (WAFA) 20 June – A number of Palestinians were injured in the Gaza Strip following Israeli air strikes on different areas in Gaza during the night and early Wednesday, according to WAFA correspondent and reports. Air strikes were conducted from the north of the Gaza Strip to the south, where at 25 different locations were hit by missiles causing at least three injuries – two in the Rafah area and one in Khan Younis area in the south. Residents reported hearing big explosions throughout the night, causing panic and fear of possible escalation in the fighting. Fire was also caused in some areas hit by missiles as well as damage to homes. Meanwhile, in retaliation, Palestinian factions in Gaza fired at least 45 rockets at targets in southern Israel, most intercepted by Israel’s land defenses while few fell short of their targets. No damage or injuries were reported….
UN chief Antonio Guterres: Gaza ‘on brink of war’
Al Jazeera 19 June — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the “most serious escalation” of violence in the Gaza Strip places the besieged enclave on the “brink of war”, urging Israel and Hamas to recommit to a 2014 ceasefire. The UN chief said in a report obtained by news agencies that he is “shocked” by Israel’s use of live fire since border protests began in Gaza on March 30. Guterres said its military has “a responsibility to exercise maximum restraint” except as a last resort. The report was sent to the council last week in advance of a meeting on Tuesday on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “The killing of children, as well as of clearly identified journalists and medical staffers by security forces during a demonstration are particularly unacceptable,” Guterres said. “They must be allowed to perform their duties without fear of death or injury.” Israel has not yet responded to the accusations. Guterres also told the Security Council that he “unequivocally condemns the steps by all parties that have brought us to this dangerous and fragile place” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He warned that actions by Hamas and other Palestinian groups not only risk Palestinian and Israeli lives but “efforts to restore dignity and the prospects of a livable future for Palestinians in Gaza”, citing rockets fired at Israel and attempts to breach the Gaza-Israel fence by some protesters….
Army opens fire at shepherds in Gaza
IMEMC 19 June — Israeli soldiers opened fire, on Tuesday morning, at many Palestinian shepherds, hundreds of meters away from the border fence, in the Gaza Strip. Media sources said the soldiers, stationed in Kissufim Crossing, fired many live rounds at shepherds east of Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza. They added that the army also fired live rounds at Palestinians east of Abasan al-Kabeera town, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The attacks did not lead to casualties, while the army said it opened fire at the Palestinians for “approaching the border fence.”
Gaza’s flaming kites: The Japanese invented them in World War II
Haaretz 19 June letter from Dr. Ehud Finkelstein — It is believed the Japanese launched more than 9,000 hydrogen-filled balloons, starting in November, 1944. As late as 2014 unexploded bombs were being found in western Canada — The use of kites and balloons as vehicles for arson isn’t a Hamas invention. During World War II, the Japanese launched some 9,000 incendiary balloons from their territory in the hope that they would be carried to the United States by the jet stream – a distance of several thousand kilometers. The balloons were made of silk covered with rubber or paper, filled with hydrogen to a volume of about 500 cubic meters, and equipped with primitive control systems to maintain altitude. At least 342 balloons reached American territory. One hit a high-voltage line and set fire to a nuclear weapons production site in Hanford, Washington. The only civilian casualties in the continental United States during World War II were five students and a teacher hit by a balloon bomb near Klamath Falls, Oregon….
Trump administration will ask Gulf states to invest up to $1 billion in Gaza economy
Haaretz 17 June by Amir Tibon & Amos Harel (Washington) — Most projects, like port and solar energy grid, planned for northern Sinai near border. Sources: Kushner, Greenblatt will raise issue on upcoming Mideast trip to generate momentum before peace plan unveiling — The Trump administration is trying to convince the Arab monarchies in the Gulf to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in economic projects in the Gaza Strip, in an attempt to calm the security situation there and generate momentum before the White House presents its Middle East peace plan. According to Israeli and Arab sources, the idea will be raised when Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Jason Greenblatt, the president’s special envoy, speak this week with the leaders of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Israel. According to these sources, Kushner and Greenblatt hope to secure funding from the Gulf states and the cooperation of Israel and Egypt in implementing the economic projects. The White House declined to elaborate, telling Haaretz that the administration “won’t discuss specifics before the conversations have taken place.” Kushner and Greenblatt are heading to the Middle East this week for talks focusing on both Gaza and the administration’s upcoming peace plan. According to the sources who spoke with Haaretz, among the issues Kushner and Greenblatt seek to tackle first is the energy supply for Gaza, which has suffered severe electricity shortages and disruptions in recent months. “This is an issue that is urgent, and at the same time, can be dealt with relatively quickly,” said one of the sources, all of whom requested anonymity. “The Americans are counting on the Gulf states to help with the money necessary for solving it.”….
Abbas aide slams reported US plans to raise funds for Gaza
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 18 June — A Palestinian official has condemned reported U.S. plans to secure Gulf funding for major economic projects in blockaded, impoverished Gaza. Nabil Abu Rdeneh, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, alleged Monday that such efforts aim to further separate the Gaza and the West Bank which flank Israel. Abbas runs parts of the West Bank and the Islamic militant Hamas controls Gaza. Israel, citing security, has prevented most travel between the two territories sought for a Palestinian state. President Donald Trump’s adviser, son-in-law Jared Kushner, is expected to visit Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia this week to discuss the situation in Gaza and the administration’s proposals for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
Hamas members suppress anti-division protest in Gaza
[with video] IMEMC/Agencies 18 June — Members of the ruling Hamas movement, on Monday, reportedly assaulted citizens who took part in a rally headed by the Prisoners and ex-prisoners Committee and factions in the Strip, on the 11th anniversary of the Hamas coup against the Palestinian Authority. The protest called for the end of the division between the two major Palestinian parties, Hamas and Fateh, calling for a national unity. According to eyewitnesses, at 11:30 in the afternoon, dozens of Hamas members entered the protest area, wearing black shirts, and tried to approach the center of the gathering, despite the participants’ assertion that the movement was patriotic, attacked the platform, broke it, and cracked the speakers. According to the PNN, the Hamas members attacked the protesters, who included representatives of prisoners, journalists, employees, and representatives of the national action and civil society organizations from all the provinces. For its part, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) praised the masses that demanded an end of the division and the abolition of punitive measures imposed on the Gaza Strip by the Palestinian Authority (PA)….
‘I wake up screaming’: Child trauma in Gaza deepens after bloody protests
The National 16 June by Florian Neuhof — In a modest house on a sandy patch of land near the border fence separating Gaza from Israel, fourteen-year-old Riham Qudaih stands next to her wounded father’s bed as she describes the night terrors that plague her daily. “I see blood, injured people, ambulances. I hear the sound of rockets. I have these nightmares every night, and I wake up screaming,” she says. Riham speaks little, and when she does her teenage voice is awkwardly out of kilter with her diminutive looks. Her slight frame belies her age, and her stooped posture gives her the appearance of someone who does not want to be there. Her father Ismael has been confined to his bed, where he lies in agony after an Israeli sniper shattered his leg with an explosive round on March 30. The Palestinian teenager says her nightmares began after his shooting. March 30 marked the first day of ongoing weekly protests in Gaza … So far, over 120 protesters have been killed, and many thousands wounded. One of them is Mr Qudaih, who lives on the outskirts of Khan Younis, a decrepit city in the south of the Gaza Strip. The family home is only half a kilometre from the border fence, where he was hit in the leg by an explosive round that caused severe damage to the limb. His slow recovery has prevented him from resuming his work as a plastic waste collector – cutting the family’s sole source of income – and weighed heavily on his four children. “The children are very affected. They see the father lying on the bed, not being able to work,” his wife Manara says … Child trauma, already rampant in the coastal enclave, has become worse since the protests began, according to aid agencies. A study by the Norwegian Refugee Council found that 56 per cent of Gazan children surveyed suffered from traumatic nightmares before March 30. A month later, this figure had risen to 60 per cent….
Healing from trauma in conflict-affected Gaza
GAZA, June 20, 2018 (WAFA) – On World Refugee Day, UN Women published the following story about a Palestinian woman refugee and her battle to have a normal life after a devastating injury during the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza — If you meet Samia Asaf (not her real name) today, you wouldn’t know the ordeal she has suffered, unless she told you. She is an active member of a psychosocial support group at the Hayat Center in Gaza, Palestine, and supports women who come to the center to overcome the trauma of violence. Asaf was born in Gaza’s Nuseirat refugee camp in 1967. “Being a refugee in Gaza means you grow up watching what you don’t want to see as a child — violence, arrest of your neighbors, homes being demolished and extreme poverty,” she said about her unusual childhood. At merely 16 years of age, Asaf was married off because her parents could no longer support her. She went to live with her husband in Jabalia, another refugee camp, and gave birth to her first child at 17. She has had six more children since then and four of them have children of their own. Across three generations, the life of a refugee is all that this family has known. The only time Asaf has ever left Gaza is in an ambulance. It was the summer of 2014, and the conflict between Israel and Palestine had intensified. Asaf was hit by shrapnel inside the camp, which destroyed her left jaw and injured her shoulder. She was transferred to a hospital in Egypt, where she stayed for four months. During the first month, she could only breathe through a stoma — a hole in her neck that let air in and out of the windpipe….
Palestinian from Gaza turns Israeli tear gas canister into art
VOA 17 June — A Palestinian man from Gaza turns tear gas canisters used by Israeli forces into flower pots and prayer beads to commemorate often-violent border protests for future generations. Arash Arabasadi reports.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian in Ramallah-area clashes
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 19 June – A Palestinian Tuesday was shot and injured by Israeli forces’ live ammunition during clashes that broke out in the village of al-Mazra‘a al-Gharbiyeh, near Ramallah, said local sources. Israeli forces reportedly stormed the village, leading to clashes with villagers. His medical condition remains unknown. During the army’s withdrawal from the village, clashes broke out between dozens of Palestinian students and Israeli forces at the nearby eastern entrance of Bir Zeit University. However, no further injuries were reported.
Army attacks farmers, steals their produce, near Hebron
IMEMC 18 June — Israeli soldiers attacked, Monday, several Palestinian farmers in Halhoul and Beit Ummar towns, north of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, and stole their produce. Media sources in Hebron said the farmers were selling their fruits and vegetables near their farmlands, and in front of their homes, near the main Jerusalem-Hebron Road. They added that the soldiers assaulted the farmers and stole their produce before loading it into trucks before driving away. The farmers depend on the produce of their lands to support themselves and their families, but are subjected to constant assaults by both Israeli soldiers and colonialist settlers, living on stolen Palestinian lands.
Israeli colonizers uproot agricultural lands near Hebron
IMEMC 19 June — Groups of extremist illegal Israeli colonizers invaded, Tuesday, Palestinian farmlands near Tiwana village, east of Yatta town, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and uprooted dozens of trees. Rateb Jabour, the media coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Annexation Wall and Colonies in southern Hebron, said the Israeli assailants brought electric saws, and bulldozers, before uprooting the trees. He added that the attacked lands are owned by Palestinians from the families of Morr, Abu Qbeita and Moghannam. Jabour also stated that the attack is part of the ongoing attempts to expand the illegal Ma’on and Havat Ma’on colonialist outposts, built on private Palestinian lands east of Yatta town….
Zionist occupation claims arresting Hamas cell in West Bank
Al-Manar 18 June — The Zionist occupation authorities claimed on Sunday they had busted a Hamas cell operating in the West Bank, adding that the cell was planning to carry out attacks in main cities including Tel Aviv and Al-Quds (Jerusalem). Israeli media reported that the Shin Bet security service announced it had uncovered a ring of Hamas operatives in Nablus that had been working since October to plan attacks in Tel Aviv, Al-Quds and elsewhere. The network was “exceptional in its scope and activities,” the announcement said, according to Israeli daily, Haaretz. According to the details reported by the paper, the cell allegedly had 20 people in it, including people “with experience in producing explosives and bombs.” The network was headed by Me’atzam Mahmud Salam, 35, and Faras Kamal Zbeidi, 33, both Nablus residents, Haaretz reported, adding that the Shin Bet alleged they were responsible for planning attacks in various Israeli cities, recruiting operatives and manufacturing bombs.
Israeli soldiers abduct 13 Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 19 June — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Tuesday at dawn, thirteen Palestinians from their homes in several parts of the occupied West Bank, and illegally confiscated cash from some of the invaded homes, in addition to seizing one car. The Israeli army claimed the soldiers located weapons in some of the homes, and confiscated cash “used to arm Palestinian fighters,” in Hebron and Tulkarem. The army said it confiscated thousands of Shekels from Tulkarem and Nablus, in northern West Bank, in addition to Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank.
The soldiers invaded and searched many homes in Bethlehem governorate, and abducted two former political prisoners, identified as Shadi Nayef al-‘Amour 23, and Jamal Sabah, 20, from Teqoua‘ town, east of the city. The soldiers also abducted another young man, identified as Yazan al-Bal‘awi, 22, from his home in Beit Jala city, northwest of Bethlehem, after breaking into his property and violently searching it, causing serious damage.
In addition, the soldiers stormed and ransacked many homes in Hebron city, in the southern part of the West Bank, and fired concussion grenades at Palestinians, protesting the invasion.
In Nablus, in northern West Bank, the soldiers invaded Madama and ‘Aseera al-Qibliyya towns, south of the city, before searching many homes. Many local youngsters hurled stones at the invading soldiers, while the army fired gas bombs and concussion grenades, in addition to many flares.
In Jenin, in northern West Bank, the soldiers invaded Sanour town, south of the city, before storming the home of Allam Gharbiyya and interrogating him along with his family, while ransacking the property, causing damage. The soldiers also installed roadblocks at the main road of the town and prevented the Palestinians from entering or leaving it for several hours.
In Tulkarem, also in northern West Bank, the soldiers invaded the southern Neighborhood, before storming the home of a former political prisoner, identified as Rami al-Battah, and confiscated his car. The soldiers were extensively deployed in various streets in Tulkarem and installed many roadblocks.
In related news, several army jeeps invaded Nabi Saleh village, northwest of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, before searching many homes.
Israeli soldiers abduct 20 Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 20 June — The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers abducted, on Wednesday at dawn, twenty Palestinians from their homes in several parts of the occupied West Bank. The soldiers conducted very violent searches of dozens of homes, and interrogated many Palestinians, before abducting twenty, and took them to various detention and interrogation centers….
Night raids and attack dogs: For West Bank Palestinians, their homes are not their castles
Haaretz 19 June by Amira Hass — Israel’s Border Police are increasingly using dogs to attack people in the middle of the night, while soldiers have used creative solutions like welding a door shut and keeping a family prisoners in their own house — Every night, Israeli soldiers, the Border Police or its counterterrorism unit carry out raids on Palestinian homes throughout the West Bank, whether to detain suspects or potential informants, or for military exercises or general deterrence. If soldiers aren’t hurt, information on those raids doesn’t reach the Israeli media and get attention. Often attack dogs accompany the soldiers, as they did last month during an encounter in Jenin. Not only did the dogs accompany the troops, they assaulted four civilians, among them a 13-year-old boy, a woman paralyzed on one side, and an elderly man. At about 4 A.M. on May 7, Sabah and Salah Yaakub from Jenin woke up to the sound of barking dogs and voices outside their door. They suspected the people outside were trying to break down the iron door of the house’s street entrance, and assumed they were soldiers. Salah, 44, an official at the Palestinian Agriculture Ministry, went to open the door before it was broken down. As soon as he opened it, Sabah said, soldiers stormed in with two dogs. Before one dog knocked her to the floor she saw the other dog attacking her husband. Since Sabah had a stroke last year, her right arm and leg have been paralyzed. Even though Salah was being attacked by a dog as well, his only thought was for his wife’s safety. He says he tried to push the dog off and grasped it between his legs. The dog tried to free itself from the hold, moving its head right and left, its muzzled mouth striking Salah’s legs. Salah says he managed to grab hold the other dog as well, the one that knocked down his wife. Then the soldiers restrained the two dogs, Salah told a field researcher from rights group B’Tselem, Abed al-Karim Saadi. Salah saw one of the soldiers kicking his wife, who was lying on the floor, too petrified to move. He pulled her to the bedroom. His 85-year-old mother was brought to the bedroom and two armed soldiers wouldn’t let them out. Sabah – again, someone paralyzed on one side – was so overcome with fright she lost consciousness and came to when her husband sprayed perfume on her face … Meanwhile, other soldiers entered the rooms where the couple’s three children – the youngest of whom is 17 – were sleeping. They arrested Abed al-Rahman, 20, who has been suffering a mental disability since a childhood accident. He was brought to the bedroom, his hands tied behind his back with plastic handcuffs; the soldiers let his parents hug him and bid him farewell. A month later he is still in custody….
PHOTOS: Israeli forces detain al-Aqsa guard while settlers raid compound
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 June — Israeli forces detained the head of the security department of the al-Aqsa Mosque and searched the Bab al-Rahma [Gate of Mercy] area east of the mosque on Monday morning. Firas al-Dibs, head of the Public Relations and Media department at the Islamic Endowment identified the detainee as Abdullah Abu Taleb, saying that he was immediately taken to the Chain Gate detention center. Dibs added that groups of Israeli settlers raided and toured the compound while Israeli forces prevented Abu Taleb from following up on the Israeli settlers’ raids into the compound, and forced the guard to stand behind Israeli special forces. Israeli police forces were deployed on top of the Mercy Gate, banned al-Aqsa guards from following up on events and held them in one area.
On Sunday night, Israeli forces had vandalized the Bab al-Rahma area that was filled by hundreds of worshipers during the last days of Ramadan. Hundreds of worshipers had launched a campaign during the last days of Ramadan to rebuild, improve and beautify the Bab al-Rahma area while calling out slogans that Bab al-Rahma is Palestinian. Within a few days, the worshipers were able to arrange the area of Bab al-Rahma and lay down stone chains, stone tables and benches and plant olive tree saplings.
Ma‘an News Agency also learned that Israeli forces uprooted those olive tree saplings and destroyed the stone seats and stairs in the area.
Detained teen released after losing his sight due to torture and being denied treatment
IMEMC 18 June — A detained Palestinian teen identified as Taiseer Hassan Tamimi, 18, from Deir Nitham village, northwest of Ramallah, in central West bank, was released, Monday, after he lost his sight while in prison, due to torture and after being denied specialized medicine or any treatment for preexisting health conditions. Tamimi required specialized treatment, and ongoing consumption of medications at specific times, in addition to vitamins, but was denied access to them. He was abducted by the army on April 7th, and suffers from liver and kidney diseases, but after he was denied access to specialized care and medications, his health condition witnessed a sharp deterioration, eventually resulting in him losing his eyesight. After Tamimi became blind, Israel released him unconditionally … “They did not give me any medication, and I lost my eyesight. I fell into a coma for three days, and I stayed a total of five days in Intensive Care, and when I regained consciousness, I could not see a thing, so I told my mother ‘am awake, but I cannot see anything,’ and that is when she told me that I became blind.” The head of the Palestinian Detainees Committee in Bethlehem, Monqith Abu Atwan, told the Palestinian TV that, what Tamimi was subjected to, is a crime committed by Israel, especially the severe torture he suffered, including repeated strikes to his head. “The Israeli Prison Authority is becoming even more aggressive against the detainees, especially detained children,” he said, “Almost instantly after Tamimi was taken prisoner, lawyers of the Detainees’ Committee and the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, tried to deliver the medications to him, but the requests were denied by Israel, and he was not provided any treatment until he lost his eyesight.”….
Israel court strikes down confessions of baby-murder suspects
AFP 19 June — An Israeli court has struck down some of the confessions of two Jewish suspects in the arson attack that killed a Palestinian toddler and his parents, ruling that interrogators obtained them by duress. The decision of the court in Lod, central Israel, could cast doubt on the strength of the prosecution’s case against the accused — Amiram Ben-Uliel from the northern West Bank settlement of Shilo and a minor who cannot be named. Eighteen-month-old Ali Dawabsha was burnt to death when the family home, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, was firebombed in July 2015. His parents later died of their injuries. His brother Ahmed, now six, was the sole survivor from the immediate family but was left with severe burns. Israeli security services came under heavy pressure to catch and try those responsible. Ben-Uliel was charged in January 2016 with three counts of murder and one of attempted murder, arson and conspiracy to commit a hate crime. His alleged accomplice, aged 17 at the time of the attack, was charged with being an accessory to committing a racially motivated murder. “The charge sheet accuses both of the accused of membership of a terror organisation seeking to inflame the security situation for nationalistic and inter-religious reasons,” court documents seen by AFP said. The Shin Bet internal security service held suspects under administrative detention, denied some of them the right to see a lawyer part of the time and used physical force during investigations, the documents said. Supporters of the suspects — religious extremists known as “hilltop youth” who oppose the “secular” Israeli state — denounced those methods as torture. Shin Bet denies using any illegal methods, and has stressed the entire investigation was conducted under the supervision of the attorney general….
Family of members murdered by Israeli settlers to seek justice in international courts
NABLUS (WAFA) 20 June – The Dawabsheh family, who lost three of its members in the 2015 arson attack by Israeli settlers, said it will seek justice in international courts if all legal means to convict the murderers in Israeli courts lead to nothing. The family made this remark after an Israeli court ruled on Tuesday that the confessions by one of the main culprits in the arson murder of three of its members and another minor involved in the attack were not admissible since they were taken under alleged duress….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Lack of respect for other religions
Israelis demolish Palestinian house near Jerusalem despite court order
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 20 June – An Israeli military force used bulldozers to demolish on Wednesday a Palestinian-owned house in the village of Qalandia, to the north of the occupied Jerusalem, despite an Israeli court ruling barring the demolition, according to a local source. Mahmoud Awadallah, a Jerusalem-based Palestinian journalist, told WAFA that Israeli forces, accompanied by two bulldozers, raided the village in the early hours and proceeded to demolish the two-room house. Trees in the area were also uprooted. He said that the house was demolished despite the fact that the owner has a High Court ruling against demolishing the house. Israel intends to demolish at least 20 buildings and structures in the village reportedly for being built without a permit and for being too close to the wall Israel had built around Jerusalem to separate it from its neighboring Palestinian villages and towns.
Army to demolish wells and a shed near Bethlehem
IMEMC 20 June — Israeli soldiers delivered, Wednesday, demolition orders targeting seven wells and a shed, in Teqoua‘ town, south of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. The soldiers handed seven orders for the demolition of water wells built on private Palestinian lands. The wells are owned by Ahmad Khalaf Jibreel, Ibrahim Mohammad Jibreel, and Salem Za’al Jibreel, Atiya Mousa Jibreel, Salam Abu Mfarreh, Ali Mahmoud Khatib and Ali Yousef Nuwwara. Furthermore, the soldiers handed another demolition order targeting a shed, owned by Monir Mahmoud Suleiman.
Soldiers start preparation work for new base near Hebron
IMEMC 19 June — Israeli soldiers started, Tuesday, preparation work for the construction of a new military base on Palestinian lands, east of the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Dozens of soldiers invaded the Palestinian lands in Wad al-Hasseen area, east of Hebron city, and started the preparation work. They brought heavy equipment, and concrete walls, and started the work on private Palestinian lands owned by Jaber family. The area where the military is preparing for its new camp is located near Keryat Arba’ illegal colony.
4 dunams of Palestinian land leveled in Jordan Valley
IMEMC/Agencies 19 June — Israeli bulldozers, on Tuesday, leveled land belonging to Palestinians in the northern Jordan Valley area, without providing any reasons. Mutaz Bisharat, an activist from Tubas, said that Israeli bulldozers leveled more than 40 dunams of land (approximately 10 acres) belonging to Palestinians in the area, despite having ownership deeds, known as tabu. The land is located near the illegal Israeli settlement of Hamdat, WAFA Palestinian News Agency said.
Israeli lawmakers debate changes to bill restricting Muslim call to prayer
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 June — The Constitution Committee in the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, will reportedly discuss on Tuesday the controversial “Muezzin Law,” which heavily restricts the use of loudspeakers to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer in Israel. The call to prayer — also known as the adhan — is broadcast five times a day from mosques or Islamic centers. The initial bill called for barring the use of loudspeakers for any religious or “inciting” messages as part of the call to prayer. Israeli news daily Haaretz reported that the committee will debate changes to the highly condemned bill, which was introduced by right-wing Israeli ministers in 2016, in preparation for its first vote … According to Haaretz, the bill’s legislation was halted in January after ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties announced they would not support it. The groups’ refusal to support the bill marked a significant departure from the time of the bill’s preliminary reading in 2017, when the parties supported it after the Friday-afternoon sirens announcing the advent of Shabbat were excluded from it. The exclusion of Jewish and Christian traditions from the bill caused outrage among Palestinian citizens of Israel — both Muslim and Christian — and rights groups, who argued it was racist and directly targeting the Muslim community in the country….
New Israeli law to allow seizure of Christian properties
IMEMC/Agencies 19 June — The Islamic Christian Commission for the Support of Jerusalem and Holy Sites has warned of a draft law for a project which allows the Israeli occupation government to confiscate land sold by the Orthodox Church to private investors. According to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, the organization stressed, in a statement on Tuesday, its rejection of the imposition of taxes on the churches of Jerusalem and the destruction of their property, which runs contrary to the historical position of the churches in the Holy City over centuries. The Armenian and Orthodox churches of the Holy Land were called upon to stop the draft law, which aims to confiscate their land, four months after a major crisis led to the closure of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The Secretary-General of the Commission, Hanna Issa, stressed the need to oblige the Israeli occupation to abide by the historical situation of the Holy City, based on the Ottoman and the Jordanian guardianship of the Islamic and Christian sanctuaries in Jerusalem. He stressed that imposing taxes on churches and confiscating their lands, undermines the sacred character of the occupied city, and hinders the churches from performing their role and activities….
Clashes erupt over Tapuach West evacuations
[with video] JPost 17 June by Tovah Lazaroff — Eleven officers and five teenage activists were lightly injured on Sunday during hours of clashes over the evacuation and demolition of 10 structures in the Tapuach West outpost in Samaria. On Friday, dozens of teenagers had already made their way onto the small hilltop community located just outside the Tapuach settlement. More arrived on Saturday night. They hiked up the hill, thereby skirting security forces who closed the road to the outpost. Security forces surprised the small community of less than a dozen families by arriving Saturday night, rather than on Sunday morning. “It was a tactical decision,” said outpost resident Moshe Herzlich, who immediately posted their arrival on Facebook live. In the initial flush, most journalists were not allowed onto the hilltop, so residents broadcast the security forces’ actions on social media platforms. “They ran around here for hours looking for people,” said Herzlich, who hosted dozens of teens on the floor of his house. His home was not slated for removal, but could be taken down at a later date. Video showed officers removing – and in some cases shoving – youths who wriggled as they resisted being moved. In one video an officer can be seen punching an activist as he and another office held the young man against a bus. A number of photos were circulated of one teenager who had a gash on the back of his head. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said objects, including cleaning fluid, were thrown at the officers. Six of the activists were arrested for violence against officers … Security forces entered the outpost to execute a High Court of Justice ruling that some 17 structures be demolished because they were illegally built on land whose status is unknown. The left-wing group Yesh Din had filed a petition with the court against the existence of the settlers’ homes, believing Palestinians who claim ownership of the land … Yesh Din said in response that the Tapuah West outpost was built with disregard to the law and for many years has been a center for continuous harm to Palestinians living nearby….
Restriction of movement
On Eid al-Fitr, some Palestinians get their first visit to the sea
Activestills 18 June by Oren Ziv, photojournalist — Thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank celebrated the holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, on the beaches of Tel Aviv and Jaffa over the past two days. For many, it was their first time there — a visit made possible by special entry permits issued by the army for the holiday. In the evening hours, between the Jaffa Clock Tower and the beach, van drivers shout, “Ni‘lin, Beit Sira, Qalandia checkpoint, Hebron,” waiting to fill their vans to drive back to the West Bank. Most of the revelers, however, prefer to spend every minute they can on the beach. That’s where I meet Raed from the village of Ni‘lin in the West Bank. “This is my son’s first time at the beach,” Raed says. “He’s very excited.” By his side, in a wheelchair, sits his 85-year-old mother. She bends down to touch the water, which she hasn’t seen for nearly 50 years. For many Palestinians living in the West Bank, entry permits to Israel unrelated to work or medical care are rare and hard to come by. Over the past several years, during Eid al-Fitr, tens of thousands of Palestinians receive temporary entry permits — and many choose to spend their time at the beach. In the West Bank, only a small part of the Dead Sea is accessible to Palestinians … A different family from Nablus says they received permits for the whole family, but that when they arrived to the checkpoint on the way to the beach, the teenagers were not allowed to pass.
Occupation forces residents to remove clothing before entering homes
IMEME/Agencies 19 June — Israeli forces, on Tuesday morning, demanded the residents of the Tel Rumeida neighborhood in Hebron to take off their clothes before allowing them to enter their homes. An activist against settlement policy, Imad Abu Shamsieh, said that Israeli soldiers stationed at checkpoints in the neighborhood, at the center of Hebron’s Old City district, were humiliating citizens and forcing them to take off their clothes in order to enter their homes through the checkpoints. PNN further reports that residents of Tel Rumeida live under strict Israeli control, as it falls in the H2 area of the Old City. Israeli forces completely control entrances and exits into and out of the neighborhood, and residents have their IDs checked and searched on entrance.
Israeli forces prevent Palestinian pilgrim from traveling to Saudi Arabia via Allenby Bridge
JENIN (WAFA) 17 June – Israeli occupation forces Sunday prevented a young Palestinian man from the town of Burqin, west of Jenin, from traveling via al-Karama (Allenby) border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan, where he was heading to Hijaz in Saudi Arabia to perform ‘Umrah (Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca). The youth, who was identified as Mohammed Ali ‘Ateeq, told WAFA Israeli forces held him for hours at the border crossing after interrogating him and before he was prevented from crossing, citing ‘security reasons’ as a pretext.