Palestinian dies from serious wounds suffered in Gaza
IMEMC 30 May — A seriously wounded Palestinian man who was shot by Israeli army fire several days earlier died Wednesday at a hospital in occupied Jerusalem. The Palestinian Health Ministry said the young man, identified as Naji Maisara Abdullah Ghneim, 23, was shot by an Israeli soldier stationed across the border fence, east of Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. It added that the young man was moved to a hospital in Gaza, and then to another hospital in Jerusalem, due to the seriousness of his condition, but succumbed to his wounds. Naji was from Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.
Updated: Army kills a medic, injures 100 Palestinians, including 40 with live fire, in Gaza
[includes video about Razan] IMEMC 2 June — The Palestinian Health Ministry has reported that Israeli soldiers killed, Friday, a young Palestinian woman, a volunteer medic identified as Razan Ashraf Najjar, 22, and injured 100 Palestinians, including 40 with live fire … Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, stated that the Razan was killed by live Israeli army fire after the soldiers targeted five medics providing treatment to wounded Palestinians in the “Return Camp,” east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. He added that the soldiers also injured more than 100 Palestinians, including 40 with live fire, while the rest suffered various cuts and bruises, in addition to the effects of teargas inhalation. Razan, who was wearing a clearly marked medic vest, was at least 100 meters away from the eastern border fence when she was shot while providing aid to wounded Palestinians and attempting to evacuate them to the field clinic. Prior to her injury, Razan, managed to render aid to many wounded Palestinians, including an elderly man who suffered the effects of teargas inhalation. Razan was killed when an Israeli sniper shot her in the back, and the bullet went through her heart.
Dr. Rasha Abdul-Rahman Qdeih said she was with Razan when they were trying to help wounded Palestinians, but five army jeeps came close to the fence, before two soldiers left one of the vehicles and pointed their sniper scopes at them. “I shouted at my colleagues to take cover and remain alert,” she said, “The soldiers fired several rounds, and some minutes later, we managed to evacuate the wounded, before the soldiers started firing gas bombs.” “But then, the soldiers fired several exploding rounds at us; one of them struck Razan and killed her, and another bullet struck a medic identified as Rami Abu Jazar in his thigh, in addition to shrapnel in his left thigh, arm and leg, while another medic, Mahmoud Abdul-‘Aati, was injured by shrapnel,” Dr. Rasha added. It is worth mentioning that Razan is the second medic to be killed by Israeli army fire since March 30th, after the soldiers killed Mousa Jaber Abu Hassanein, 36, who was shot on May 14th while wearing a clearly marked medic vest. The soldiers also injured 223 medics, including 29 who were shot with live fire or after being directly targeted with high-velocity gas bombs.
Razan’s death brings the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli army fire since the beginning of the “Great Return Match on March 30th to 119, while more than 13,400 have been injured, including 330 who suffered life-threatening wounds.
Thousands attend funeral of Palestinian medic killed by Israeli army in Gaza protest
Haaretz 2 June by Jack Khoury — Thousands of Palestinians are attending Saturday the funeral of a volunteer medic killed by Israeli soldiers during protests along the Gaza border fence on Friday. The funeral procession for Razan Najjar, 21, departed from her hometown of Khuza‘a and will conclude in a cemetery in Khan Yunis. According to Palestinian Health Minister Dr. Jawad Awaad, Najjar was shot in the neck. “This is a war crime,” he said Friday, saying Najjar was shot while clearly wearing a medical staff uniform. Earlier that day, Najjar gave an interview in which she took pride in the aid she was providing for the wounded, Awaad added. Speaking at a convention in Wadi Ara on Saturday, Israeli-Arab lawmaker Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) called Najjar’s killing “a heinous war crime,” adding that the U.S. and its envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, who vetoed the Security Council resolution for “international protection” for the Palestinians, bear responsibility for Najjar’s death….
Israeli soldiers shoot a Palestinian in southern Gaza
IMEMC 2 June — Israeli soldiers shot, on Saturday morning, a young man on Palestinian lands near the border fence, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The Health Ministry in Gaza said the soldiers, stationed behind sand hills, opened fire at the Palestinian, and shot him with a live round in his abdomen. It added that the young man was rushed to a Palestinian hospital and is currently in a moderate-but-stable condition.
Red Cross sends war surgeons to ‘sinking ship’ Gaza
Reuters 31 May — The International Committee of the Red Cross is sending two teams of war surgeons to Gaza and setting up a surgical unit in the enclave’s main hospital to treat heavy casualties from clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians. Since protests on the Gaza-Israel border began on March 30, Israeli troops have killed 115 Palestinians and wounded more than 13,000 people, including 3,600 by live ammunition, Robert Mardini, ICRC’s director for the Near and Middle East, said. This week also saw the most intense flare-up of hostilities between Palestinian militants and Israel since the 2014 Gaza war. “The recent demonstrations and violence that took place along the Gaza border since the end of March have triggered a health crisis of unprecedented magnitude in this part of the world,” Mardini told a news conference on Thursday in Geneva. The ICRC will set up a 50-bed surgical unit at al-Shifa hospital, Gaza’s largest. “Our priority now clearly is to help gunshot wound victims. Imagine, 1,350 people with complex cases who will need three to five operations each, a total of 4,000 surgeries, half of which will be carried out by ICRC teams,” he said. “I think such a caseload would overwhelm any health system in the world, including in Geneva.” The six-month surge of medical expertise, drugs and equipment will speed the long road to recovery and relieve an overwhelmed health care system, he said….
Israel launches counterattacks in Gaza amid soaring tensions
Al Jazeera 29 May — Palestinian factions launch biggest assault in years amid soaring frustration over crippling 12-year Israeli siege — Israel’s military has launched a series of air strikes on Palestinian positions in Gaza after a barrage of rocket fire – the biggest in years – from the Strip amid soaring frustration in the coastal enclave over a crippling 12-year Israeli-imposed siege. Israeli warplanes on Tuesday hit more than 35 targets belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, according to Israel’s military. The strikes came after the Israeli army said Palestinian fighters were behind a “barrage of projectiles” fired from Gaza into southern Israel. The firing of the rockets and mortars came as Islamic Jihad vowed to take revenge after a deadly attack against its members last week. In a statement, the armed wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad said their “joint response with dozens of rockets at the occupation’s military positions … is a declaration that these crimes cannot be tolerated in any way”. Al-Qassam Brigades and al-Quds Brigades blamed Israel for Israel’s “aggression against our people” which it described as “an attempt to shift attention away from the crimes it carried out against our peaceful civilians”. Ismail Radwan, an official of Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, told Al Jazeera that Israel had escalated tensions. “This escalation is very dangerous from the Zionist occupation and the occupation bares responsibility for this escalation and its ramifications,” Radwan said. “The occupiers should know that the crimes will be responded to with resistance.” Since March 30, at least 121 unarmed Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in protests near the fence with Israel, in which they are demanding their right to return to the homes and lands their families were expelled from during the establishment of Israel. “There is a lot of frustration here that after more than two months of protests and more than 100 people killed Palestinians here are no closer to ending Israel’s blockade of Gaza,” said Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from Gaza city. Israeli officials said on Tuesday the military’s Iron Dome aerial defence system intercepted most of the 28 rockets and mortar rounds that were fired into Israel. There were no reports of deaths on either side. The Israeli military said three soldiers suffered minor injuries….
Palestinian groups, acting alone, announce cease-fire with Israel after latest Gaza violence
Los Angeles Times 30 May by Noga Tarnopolsky — Fighting between Israel and Islamist movements in the Gaza Strip, which started with a sudden barrage of rockets launched into southern Israel, came to a swift end Wednesday with the announcement of a unilateral cease-fire. Over a dozen Gaza-based militias, including the military wings of the ruling Hamas movement and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, signed the agreement among themselves. Israel had blamed them for an almost 24-hour salvo of rockets and mortars that prompted a fierce Israeli response. Israel was not a party to the pact but indicated it will tacitly accept a cease-fire “as long as they stop their terror attacks,” said the Israeli army spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis. According to the Israeli military, the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad fired about 180 Iranian-made rockets and mortar shells into Israel. The barrage included the use of a precise 107-millimeter rocket that can reach over six miles into Israeli territory. In retaliation, the Israeli army said it struck 65 Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets throughout the Gaza Strip, including a tunnel that traversed Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and penetrated half a mile into Israel. No casualties were reported in Gaza. Seven Israelis were reported wounded by shrapnel in Tuesday’s rocket and mortar attack. In a joint statement announcing the agreement, Islamic Jihad took responsibility for the fusillade and indirectly elevated its profile among the factions struggling to rival Hamas’ hold on Gaza. The statement added, without further explanation: “The time has passed when the enemy sets the rules of confrontation and alone changes the conflict’s equations.”….
Hamas-Israel ceasefire holds after night of violence
Al Jazeera 30 May — A ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel appears to be holding following one of the worst days in violence in the Gaza Strip since the 2014 Gaza war. Hamas said on Wednesday that armed groups in the Gaza Strip had agreed to a deal with Israel following a night of air attacks targeting several Hamas and Islamic Jihad positions in the coastal enclave. The Israeli government had yet to comment on the offer but Khalil al-Hayya, Hamas’s deputy chief in Gaza, said the group was committed to a truce as long as Israel was. “A number of mediators intervened in the past hours, and an agreement was reached to return to a ceasefire in Gaza”, Hayya said in a statement. Hours earlier, a Hamas-affiliated Twitter account announced that the group had agreed to return to an understanding on a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip so long as the “occupier” did the same. Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from Gaza, said Egyptian security officials had helped broker the deal after Israel warned of “tougher retaliation measures” against the groups’ leadership. “The truce came about after Israel conveyed a message to the Egyptians that if the Palestinian factions didn’t stop, Israel would react in a stronger, harder way and target the leadership of those groups. “It’s 10am local time (07:00 GMT), and the ceasefire appears to be sticking for now, it started at 4am local time,” he added. “The Palestinians are projecting this image that they brokered the ceasefire. Israel will not admit that they agreed to one. But – however it’s happened – it’s worked and kept things quiet for the time being.” Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz sidestepped questions on whether Israel had agreed to a ceasefire, but said it was not interested in an escalation towards war….
Israel intercepts Gaza boat after setting sail to break blockade
Al Jazeera 29 May — Israeli naval forces have intercepted a Palestinian vessel hours after it sailed off the coast of the besieged Gaza Strip. The boat, carrying patients, students and people wounded in recent mass protests, was transferred on Tuesday to the Israeli port of Ashdod, according to the Israeli army. The 17 people on board were attempting to break an Israeli-imposed siege for the first time in more than a decade, and had set off with the intention of reaching Limassol, a coastal city in southern Cyprus. The intercepted boat had crossed nine nautical miles (16km) before four Israeli warships flanked the vessel. Under the Oslo Accords signed in 1993, Israel is obligated to permit fishing up to 20 nautical miles, but this has never been implemented. The widest range Israel has allowed boats in the past 10 years is 12 nautical miles (22km), and at times, the limit was reduced to one nautical mile (1.85km). Boats are often limited to six nautical miles (11km), and Israeli forces regularly fire warning shots to boats attempting to breach it. [from the Electronic Intifada: “Since the year 2000, Al Mezan has documented nearly 1,300 Israeli violations against Palestinian fishers in Gaza. These include some 1,200 incidents of shooting at fishing boats, causing the death of eight fishers and the injury of 134.”]
Although hundreds of people boarded more than 30 fishing boats in support of the main vessel, they did not cross the six-nautical-mile permitted boundary, Ramadan al-Hayek, one of the organisers of the voyage, told Al Jazeera. Fifteen boats attempted to cross more than nine nautical miles (16.7km) but met open fire by Israeli forces. These boats sailed in a show of support and were not aiming to reach Cyprus, al Hayek added. Organisers of the voyage, called Break the Siege committee, also told Al Jazeera the captured boat went as far as 14 nautical miles (26km) when Israeli forces started shooting towards the vessel. They lost contact with those on board shortly after that. Passengers had valid passports, with the wounded having made arrangements to receive medical treatment in Turkey prior to leaving Gaza’s seaport. According to al-Hayek, 17 people were detained by Israeli forces in Ashdod. Committee members said they were working with international agencies, including Human Rights Watch and The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to ensure the wellbeing of the boat’s passengers and to hold Israel responsible for their safety. Al-Hayek also said the committee would soon announce the launching of a second boat in response to Israel’s actions.
In Pictures: Gaza residents show support for boat in bid to break Israel siege
Al Jazeera 29 May by Hosam Salem — A vessel carrying Palestinian patients, students and activists attempted on Tuesday to break Israel’s imposed boundary off the coast of the Gaza Strip with the intention of reaching Limassol in southern Cyprus. … Tuesday’s boat also carried protesters who had been wounded in the weeks-long demonstrations dubbed the Great March of Return along the fence with Israel. Hundreds of others boarded more than 30 boats in support of the main vessel, but did not cross the permitted boundary. As documented in this series of photographs, the supporting boats, most of which were small fishing vessels, carried men and women mostly in their 20s and 30s who were determined to highlight Israel’s blockade.
Birawi: Freedom Flotilla ships reach Amsterdam
LONDON (PIC) 1 June — Head of the International Committee to Break the Siege on Gaza Zaher Birawi on Friday said that the four-ship Freedom Flotilla arrived in the Dutch capital Amsterdam. Birawi said in a statement that the 30 activists who were on the ships were received by Dutch activists and members of the Palestinian community in Amsterdam. Birawi added that a symposium will be held in the evening with the participation of activists and politicians on ways to break the siege on Gaza followed by a protest on Saturday in support of Gaza and the Freedom Flotilla. The four ships are scheduled to visit some European ports, where solidarity events in support of the Palestinian people will be organized, before heading to Gaza.
Israeli navy abducts two fishermen in Gaza
IMEMC 30 May — Several Israeli military ships attacked, Wednesday, Palestinian fishing boats, near the shore in Gaza city. Media sources said the fishermen were taken prisoner while fishing in Palestinian territorial waters, in front of the Shati’ refugee camp, west of Gaza city. The two were placed in a navy ship, before they were moved to an unknown destination.
He found a way out of Gaza. Then, something drew him back
Forbes 31 May by Elizabeth MacBride — “Iyad, you need to open the door for the donkey,” his grandfather said sometimes after he woke from a dream. He was almost always in his bed then, cared for by his family in Gaza, but remembering the village he’d come from. There are still donkeys on the streets in Gaza, the blockaded Palestinian territory between Israel and Egypt. “When my grandfather would hear a donkey outside on the street –he would say, “Check from the window and see what color it is,” Iyad Altaharwi says. “He would ask every few minutes. It was exhausting, but it was so much fun.” Altaharwi is the manager of the pre-seed startup accelerator at Gaza Sky Geeks, the improbable Mercy Corps.-funded tech accelerator that operates inside blockaded Gaza. He is a rarity. Altaharwi not only managed to leave Gaza, eventually earning an MBA in Germany, but he gave up the chance to work at McKinsey, Bain or Accenture — Big Three firms he was in discussions with — to come back. “He could have gone to (one of them) but decided to come back to Gaza to work with us. I still can’t believe it,” says Ryan Sturgill, Gaza Sky Geeks director.
I checked in on the Geeks during these past weeks of terrible violence. When you see the numbers – more than 115 Palestinians killed and 13,000 wounded — it’s hard to imagine life going on normally there. The U.N. has said it will be unlivable by 2020. But more than 1.8 million people live in Gaza, and despite the electricity shortages and the collapsing infrastructure, in some places some people manage to maintain hope against the odds. Gaza Sky Geeks is one of those places. Amazingly, it has more than doubled in size since I visited in 2016….
Fathi Harb burnt himself to death in Gaza. Will the world notice?
Palestine Chronicle 28 May by Jonathan Cook — Fathi Harb should have had something to live for, not least the imminent arrival of a new baby. But last week the 21-year-old extinguished his life in an inferno of flames in central Gaza. It is believed to be the first example of a public act of self-immolation in the enclave. Harb doused himself in petrol and set himself alight on a street in Gaza City shortly before dawn prayers during the holy month of Ramadan. In part, Harb was driven to this terrible act of self-destruction out of despair. After a savage, decade-long Israeli blockade by land, sea and air, Gaza is like a car running on fumes. The United Nations has repeatedly warned that the enclave will be uninhabitable within a few years. Over that same decade, Israel has intermittently pounded Gaza into ruins, in line with the Israeli army’s Dahiya doctrine. The goal is to decimate the targeted area, turning life back to the Stone Age so that the population is too preoccupied with making ends meet to care about the struggle for freedom. Both of these kinds of assault have had a devastating impact on inhabitants’ psychological health. Harb would have barely remembered a time before Gaza was an open-air prison and one where a 1,000kg Israeli bomb might land near his home. In an enclave where two-thirds of young men are unemployed, he had no hope of finding work. He could not afford a home for his young family and he was about to have another mouth to feed. Doubtless, all of this contributed to his decision to burn himself to death. But self-immolation is more than suicide. That can be done quietly, out of sight, less gruesomely. In fact, figures suggest that suicide rates in Gaza have rocketed in recent years. But public self-immolation is associated with protest….
Opinion: They’re right. If Palestinians in Gaza don’t shoot, no one listens / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 1 June — They are the last fighters against the Israeli occupation. While the occupied West Bank behaves like it’s given up, Gaza is not giving up — We have to say it simply and honestly: They’re right. They have no choice but to fight for their freedom with their bodies, their property, their weapons and their blood. They have no choice, except for the Qassam and the mortar. There is no way open to them except for violence or surrender. They have no way of breaching the fences that pen them in without using force, and their force is primitive and pathetic, almost touching. A people that is fighting for its freedom with kites, tunnels, mirrors, tires, scissors, incendiary devices, mortar shells and Qassam rockets, against one of the most sophisticated war machines in the world, is a people without hope. But the only way they can change their situation is with their pathetic weapons. When they’re quiet, Israel and the world take no interest in their fate. Only the Qassam restores awareness of their disaster.
When do we hear about Gaza in Israel? Only when Gaza is shooting. That’s why they have no choice but to shoot. That’s why their shooting is justified, even if it criminally harms innocent civilians, instills fear and terror in the residents of the south and is intolerable to Israel, and rightly so … It’s clear that their violence is cruel, like any violence. But what choice do they have? Every hesitant attempt they make to take a different path – a truce, a change in leadership or in their political positions – immediately encounters automatic Israeli dismissal and rejection. Israel believes them only when they shoot. After all, there’s a clear control group: the West Bank. There’s no Hamas there and no Qassam, there are barely any vestiges of terror, and what good did that do Mahmoud Abbas and his people? They’re right, because after all the diversions and deceptions and lies of Israeli propaganda, nothing can blur the fact that they have been thrown into a huge cage for the rest of their lives. An unbelievable siege, 11 years without respite, which is the greatest war crime in this arena….
Truth about Gaza: 3 myths keeping US, Jerusalem from owning up to their role in the crisis / Trudy Rubin
Phil. Inquirer 18 May — … Rather than face facts – and address Gaza’s economic ills – Jerusalem and Washington promote convenient myths that absolve themselves from responsibility. If both governments continue down that blind path, the violence in Gaza will explode again with huge costs to Israel as well. The myths go as follows: First, Israel ended its occupation of Gaza when it withdrew its troops and Jewish settlers from the 5-by-28 mile strip in 2005. So Jerusalem has no more responsibility for the strip’s internal affairs. Especially since, Myth Two, the Palestinians chose Hamas in 2005 legislative elections because its charter envisions the end of Israel and endorses violent resistance; ergo, they caused their own misery. In reality, Israel has retained control of Gaza’s border, air space, and sea coast, except for one outlet into a remote area of Egypt. Thus Israel entirely controls Gazan imports and exports, its coastal fishing, along with its supply of electricity. It also controls all movement in and out of Gaza. Since Hamas took control, Israel has mostly bottled up Gaza’s population while border closures strangle its industry and agriculture. As for the 2006 elections, which the Bush administration urged on a reluctant Palestinian leadership, polls showed that the main reasons a plurality of Palestinians voted for Hamas were not its ideology. Rather, they were frustrated that the then-ruling Fatah party was corrupt and hadn’t delivered a promised two-state diplomatic solution …
But the most pernicious Myth, number Three, posits that Palestinians are sole authors of their economic misery. The prime example given is the case of greenhouses turned over by Israeli settlers when they quit Gaza in 2005 (they demolished half of the greenhouses and stripped the rest before leaving). The remaining greenhouses were refurbished with $14 million by Jewish American donors, but were supposedly destroyed by Palestinians immediately upon the settlers’ exit. Yes, there was looting, but the Palestinian Authority quickly refurbished the greenhouses, which were soon brimming with crops of sweet peppers, tomatoes, and herbs worth $20 million. The Palestinians’ then-finance minister Salam Fayyad even gave Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a gift of peppers on her birthday in mid-November 2005, and the greenhouses exported 8 tons of them in mid-December. What actually destroyed the greenhouse initiative were Israel’s restrictions on Gazan exports at the Karni border crossing.
Residency / Work permits / Restriction of movement
What’s in a name: Israel revoking work permits from Palestinians who share name with terrorists
Haaretz 1 June by Yotam Berger — Israel has over the past year canceled the permits of hundreds who share a last name with an attacker. Many did not know the perpetrator and some are not even related — Bashar Jamal’s home on the outskirts of the West Bank town of Beit Surik overlooks the Jerusalem suburb of Mevasseret Zion, just a few kilometers away. He can still see the place where he worked as a gardener for some 20 years. He liked his work, he says, and the residents like him. Some still call to ask when he plans to return. But Jamal doesn’t know the answer, and it was not his decision to leave. One day last autumn, Israel’s Civil Administration informed him that his permit to work in Israel had been suspended because of a terror attack in September in Har Adar, a Jewish town that straddles the line between the West Bank and Israel, in which three Israelis were killed. Bashar Jamal had nothing to do with the incident, so why was he punished? Because of his name. The gunman who carried out the attack, in which one Border Police officer and two security guards were killed and the community’s security coordinater suffered serious injuries, was a Beit Surik man by the name of Nimr Mahmoud Ahmed Jamal. When Israel announced in response to the incident that it would rescind the work permits of “the terrorist’s entire family,” the fate of Bashar Jamal was sealed as well, even though he repeatedly says he has never taken part in the Palestinian national conflict with Israel. Moreover, the Israeli security authorities have presented no evidence to contradict his claims. Furthermore, says Jamal, he and Nimr Mahmoud Ahmed Jamal are not related in any way. They’ve never even met, he says. The only thing they have in common, apart from living in the same village, is their last name — which they share with many other residents of Beit Surik … Bashar Jamal is one of 159 Beit Surik residents with that surname whose permits to work in Israel were suspended until further notice in the wake of the September terror attack. Similar incidents have occurred in other Palestinian communities in the West Bank. Take the town of Yatta, for example, where having the surname Abu Adham (sometimes spelled Abu Aram) caused 660 residents to lose their work permits after a stabbing….
New guidelines inhibit foreigners from renewing visas to Israel and West Bank
The Media Line 29 May by Dima Abumaria — Critics claim Israeli government attempting to block people from entering the Palestinian territories — Foreign nationals who have obtained a visa to visit Israel and the West Bank are having trouble renewing their permit for both locations because of new guidelines implemented without notice by the Israeli Ministry of Interior … Critics of the new visa procedures claim they violate international law as well as the 1995 Oslo II Accords, which stipulated that foreigners be granted unhindered freedom of movement between Israel and the West Bank. Furthermore, they insist, the new directives are motivated by Israel’s desire to strictly regulate visitors to the country and especially those who want to travel to the West Bank. Waleed Wahdan, a media advisor at the Palestinian District Coordination Office, which submits applications to the Israeli Ministry of Interior on behalf of foreigners, accused Israel of using various methods to deny visas to individuals. “Sometimes they use stupid excuses while other times they delay the process indefinitely until the applicants lose their status and are then deported,” he told The Media Line. “Israeli officials don’t care about the Palestinians; they don’t want us to bring experts from abroad and they don’t want the internationals to become pro-Palestine.”….
Israel’s ultimatum to a revered Palestinian principal and change agent
NABLUS (Haaretz) 31 May by Amira Hass — How a principal of a Nablus school that’s regarded as a model of academic excellence became an illegal alien after three decades in the West Bank — …Nevertheless, the Israeli Civil Administration, which is part of the military government in the occupied Palestinian territory, has decreed that Lana Khalaf must resign as the school’s principal if she wants to remain in the West Bank. Khalaf is a U.S. citizen who was born 43 years ago in New Mexico to parents from El Bireh, near Ramallah, who were in the United States for work purposes. Israel revoked her parents’ residency status, as it did before 1994 to a quarter of a million Palestinians living abroad. Later, that status was reinstated as part of a family unification process, but because she was above the age of 18, Lana was not included in it. Khalaf has been married for 22 years to a Nablus resident, and has two sons who have Palestinian IDs. She met her future partner when she was studying business administration at Bir Zeit University. She had spent some years in primary and high school in Ramallah, her parents having sent her to the West Bank to ensure that she would retain the Arabic language and Palestinian culture. Her ties with her close family in El Bireh were never severed. In total she has lived in the West Bank for around 29 years, but only with tourist visas and visa extensions. Like many other spouses and mothers of people who are listed in the Palestinian population registry (it’s Israel that decides who and what is entered in the registry), Khalaf believed that the fact that her husband and sons are registered West Bank Palestinian residents was sufficient basis for Israel to let her stay. But over the past 18 months, Israel has toughened the conditions by which people like Khalaf – that is, spouses of West Bank residents – are granted visas. Going abroad or returning via Ben-Gurion airport, in Israel proper, is classified as a violation of the visa terms and cause for its non-extension; visas are now valid for only a few weeks or months instead of a year, necessitating additional fees and coerced trips abroad; the fact that the Palestinian partner had gone abroad for studies or work is also sufficient cause for not extending the visa. And so is employment, whether paid or as a volunteer….
Despite Israeli crackdowns, quarter of a million Muslims pray at Aqsa
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 1 June — An estimated 250,000 Muslims from all over Palestine attended the third Friday of the holy fast month of Ramadan prayer at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque. Worshippers filled the mosques and the open air plaza of the Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and territories occupied in 1948 started arriving in Occupied Jerusalem since the early morning hours, heading toward Al-Aqsa Mosque, despite the heavy restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation forces on the entry of Palestinians into the site. Palestinians from the besieged Gaza Strip have, meanwhile, been banned from reaching the site. Tens of thousands of Palestinians anxious to attend the Ramadan prayer in Occupied Jerusalem filled the Israeli military checkpoints around Jerusalem as they were intensively searched by soldiers before they were allowed to pass through on their way to the holy city. A set of military checkpoints was pitched by the occupation forces around the holy city to block Palestinians’ free movement inside and out. Palestinian men aged below 40 have officially been banned by the occupation authorities from praying at al-Aqsa Mosque.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli soldiers kill a Palestinian worker in Hebron
IMEMC 2 June — Israeli soldiers killed, Saturday, a Palestinian worker in Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, while he and other workers were conducting work for the Hebron City Council to rehabilitate and expand a road near the Ibrahimi Mosque. The Health Ministry in Hebron said the soldiers fatally shot Rami Wahid Hasan Sabarna, 36, in Jaber neighborhood in the Old City, near the military roadblock leading to the Ibrahimi Mosque. It added that the soldiers also stopped a Palestinian ambulance at the scene, and prevented the medics from approaching the Palestinian, before he bled to death. An Israeli ambulance later arrived, before its medics placed Rami’s body in a black bag and took it away. The army claimed that the Palestinian worker “attempted to ram the soldiers with his vehicle, before they shot him,” an allegation which was denied by eyewitnesses, who said the young man was just working, and did not attempt to attack the soldiers, or harm them in any way.
Aref Jaber, a local nonviolent activist against the Annexation Wall and Colonies, who lives near the area where the army killed the worker, said Sabarna was driving a small and loud bulldozer, and added that the worker passed by some soldiers who then started shouting at him an ordering him to stop. “He did not pose any threat to them, he passed by them and could not hear their shouts and orders,” Aref said, “Then, they just opened fire at him and his bulldozer, seriously wounded him, before removing him from his vehicle and left him to bleed on the ground … The soldiers also removed media outlets from the area, and prevented the journalist from performing their duties.
Israel decides not to return body of Palestinian prisoner who died in custody
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 May — Israeli Minister of Internal Security, Gilad Erdan, has reportedly decided not to return the body of deceased Palestinian prisoner Aziz Oweisat, who died while in Israeli custody last week. Oweisat, 53, died last week under disputed circumstances while being treated at the Assaf Harofeh hospital in Israel. Palestinian groups claimed he was medically neglected, leading to his death. Israel’s Channel Two reported that the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence agency, and Israeli Prison Service (IPS) opposed the minister’s decision in fear that it would cause “a Palestinian protesting wave,” especially in Ramadan. According to Israeli media, Erdan said that the goal of the decision “is to pressure Hamas to return the bodies of killed Israeli soldiers in Gaza.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to make the final decision in the case.
Army injures five Palestinians, abducts one, in Deheishe refugee camp
IMEMC 31 May — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, early on Friday morning, the Deheishe refugee camp, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, injured five Palestinians and abducted one. The soldiers invaded the refugee camp through its main entrance, and fired many live rounds, including expanding bullets, and gas bombs, at many youngsters, who hurled stones at the armored military jeeps. Medical sources said the soldiers shot five Palestinians with live fire and the Toto expanding bullets, before they were rushed to a local hospital. The Deheishe News said undercover soldiers also infiltrated into the refugee camp, using a car with Palestinian license plates, especially in Martyr Saed Eid neighborhood, before storming and searching homes, and abducted Ahmad Jamal Ghanayem. Regular army units then invaded many other areas in the refugee camp, and attacked protesters, especially in al-Basha area, and the al-‘Asleeni neighborhood.
Israeli soldiers invade homes in Hebron
IMEMC 1 June — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, shortly after midnight, Hebron city in southern West Bank, and the surrounding towns of Doura, Nuba, ath-Thaheriyya and Yatta, before storming and violently searching homes. Media sources in Hebron said the soldiers invaded the southern part of the city and fired many gas bombs and concussion grenades at locals, who protested the invasion, and added that several gas bombs struck homes in the area. The soldiers also invaded Nuda village, and fired gas bombs and concussion grenades at protesters, in addition to breaking into and searching homes. In addition, the soldiers invaded and searched homes in Beit Ula town, northwest of Hebron, and ath-Thaheriyya town, south of the city.
Palestinian hit by Israeli military patrol vehicle in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 1 June — A Palestinian was allegedly run over by an Israeli military vehicle on Wednesday night in the southern occupied West Bank Old City of Hebron.Locals told Ma‘an that Muhammad al-Zaru, who they said was a teenager, was ran over by an Israeli military patrol vehicle near the Ibrahimi Mosque in the Old City of Hebron. Al-Zaru was transferred to the Hebron Government Hospital to receive medical treatment. His condition was reported as light.
Israeli police suppress Ramadan celebrations in Jerusalem
AIC 29 May — Thousands of Israeli police are stationed in the holy city to monitor, arrest, and obstruct the movement of Palestinians going to al-Aqsa Mosque — Israeli occupation forces have inundated Jerusalem for the holy month of Ramadan. At least 3,000 Israeli police officers are reportedly on duty in the city, concentrated in the Old City. Suppression of Palestinian presence and celebrations in Jerusalem has increased in step with the escalated police presence. On Tuesday, May 29, 2018, in the Old City Israeli police arrested a number of “mosaharatis” – that is, drummers who march through Palestinian neighborhoods to alert those fasting for Ramadan of the approach of the final mealtime before the day’s fast begins. The Palestinian News and Info Agency reports Israeli police have detained five mosaharatis in Jerusalem since Ramadan started on May 16, 2018. Police insist the tradition disturbs Israeli settlers in the area … Police have also been forcibly dispersing those who dare to sit on the steps of the [Damascus] Gate. On Saturday, May 19, 2018, Israeli police shot sound grenades at and physically attacked Palestinians who had gathered there to protest the death of Aziz Awaisat. Throughout downtown East Jerusalem, Israeli police continue to raid Palestinian stores and issue fines to owners, claiming they display their goods incorrectly on the street. Intimidating fully armed police officers patrol the area constantly and randomly arrest Palestinian passersby, including children….
Israeli colonizers attack and injure two siblings in Bethlehem
IMEMC 31 May — Palestinian medical sources have reported, Wednesday, that two siblings were injured after Israeli colonizers assaulted them in Husan town, west of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. Ahmad Salah, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Colonies, said the assailants came from Sidi Boaz colony, illegally built on Palestinian lands in the Ein al-Qassis area of al-Khader. He added that the colonizers assaulted Mahmoud Ahmad Sabateen, 52, and his brother Ibrahim, 48, while they were working on their lands. The two siblings suffered various cuts and bruises and received the needed medical treatment. Salah stated that the siblings were assaulted when the colonizers tried to remove them from their own lands and demanded them to talk to the security coordinator of the illegal colony. “This type of assault is not new as it happened before with many other Palestinians,” Salah said, “The colonizers want to remove the Palestinians from their lands to occupy them and expand their outpost.”
Israeli settlers uproot Palestinian grapevines in Ramallah-area village
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 May — Israeli settlers uprooted hundreds of grapevines on Monday evening in the central occupied West Bank village of Kafr Malik, east of Ramallah. Locals told Ma‘an that dozens of settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Kokhav Shahar uprooted and destroyed hundreds of grapevines, though it remained unclear exactly how many were uprooted. The owner of the destroyed grapevines, Iyad Said Muadi, told Ma‘an he was shocked by the attack on his land, and said he would suffer from heavy financial losses as a result. Palestinians in the West Bank have witnessed an increase in Israeli settler attacks on their land and property in recent weeks. Over the past two weeks, in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, over 800 grapevines were cut down in the villages of Beit Einun and Halhoul, while a wheat field was set on fire in the al-Deirat village.
WATCH: Vandals slash tires in Palestinian village
Ynet 1 June by Elisha Ben Kimon & Elior Levy — Security cameras capture three masked men slashing tires and spray-painting hateful graffiti in Husan; in another suspected hate crime, vandals cut down some 60 grapevines in Ein Samiya — Security cameras in Husan, a Palestinian village near Bethlehem in the West Bank, captured three masked men slashing tires and spraying hateful graffiti on homes and a shed on the night between Wednesday and Thursday. Among other things, the graffiti included statements such as “Jews don’t remain silent,” and “Rock-throwers come out of Husan.” In another suspected hate crime, vandals cut down some 60 grapevines on Thursday from lands that belong to a resident of the village of Ein Samiya, spraying the words “Greetings from Esh Kodesh” — an illegal outpost — nearby.
Fearing anti-Arab attacks, Israeli security forces up presence in settlements
Haaretz 29 May by Josh Breiner & Yotam Berger — Israeli security forces have increased their presence across Israeli-controlled areas in the West Bank, particularly near the settlement of Yitzhar, in the northern West Bank, after the Shin Bet security service warned of a likely escalation in so-called “price tag” retaliatory attacks against Palestinian targets by residents of the settlement. Yitzhar is known as one of the more ideologically extreme Jewish communities in the area. A security source said the stepped up enforcement efforts around Yitzhar are an effort to “prevent friction,” but added that enforcement efforts are not limited to the settlement. Since the increased security presence was imposed around the settlement, which is near Nablus, it has been relatively quiet and concerns about anti-Arab hate crimes have been directed elsewhere in the West Bank, the source said. Incidents have occurred in other areas of the West Bank, such as Gush Etzion, the south Hebron hills and Shilo, but not around Nablus, he added … The main concern within the Jewish Division of the Shin Bet, which investigates the activities of Jewish Israeli extremists, is that price tag attacks during Ramadan, a fast month, and coming shortly after the controversial transfer of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and the tensions on the border with the Gaza Strip, could spur terrorist attacks against Israelis.
Israeli forces shoot Palestinian man before detaining him in Nablus
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 May — Israeli forces shot, injured and detained a Palestinian man as he allegedly attempted to enter the illegal Israeli settlement of Har Brakha, near the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus on Tuesday morning. Israeli media reported that Israeli forces deployed near the settlement spotted two Palestinians and opened fire on them, injuring one while the other fled the area. The Israeli army said in a statement that the Palestinian man was shot in the legs and was treated by Israeli forces on the scene before being detained. The man, whose identity remained unknown, was said to be in “moderate to serious condition.” Israeli forces are still searching the area for the second Palestinian who fled the scene.
Israeli forces detain 18 Palestinians from West Bank, East Jerusalem
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 30 May — Israeli forces detained 18 Palestinians during predawn raids on Wednesday from the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS said in a statement that 10 Palestinians were detained from the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of ‘Issawiya and al-Tur. The 10 detainees were identified as Muhammad Yunes Abu Sayme, Adam Fadi Mustafa, Thaer Muhammad Abd Muhsen, Rami Nasser Muhsen, Bashar Mahmud, Wadee Alian, Muhammad Zacharia Alian, Saleh Abu Asab, Muhammad Abd al-Ruof Mahmud, and Khaled Ismail Abu Ghannam. In the southern West Bank Hebron district, Israeli forces detained three Palestinians, who were identified as Muhammad Ibrahim, 24, Shadi Naim al-Amur, 27, and Qasi Khaled al-Amur, 25, from the town of Yatta. PPS said that three Palestinians were detained in the village of Bil‘in, in the central West Bank district of Ramallah, and identified them as Khader Abu Rahmeh, Najleh Issa, and Muhammad Hamed. In the northern West Bank city of Nablus, Israeli forces detained two Palestinians, identified as Muhammad Muafeq Madni, 40, a former prisoner, and Sabe al-Titi .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
Over 400 administrative detainees in Israeli prisons to launch hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 1 June — Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners being held under administrative detention in Israeli prisons are expected to launch a hunger strike next week in protest of their detentions, in addition to their ongoing boycott of Israeli courts. Issa Qaraqe, head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners Affairs, said in a statement on Thursday that some 500 prisoners being held under administrative have been boycotting Israeli courts since February, in an effort to end the widely condemned policy, which allows for the detention of Palestinians without charge or trial. Qaraqe added that the detainees would be “escalating measures” in early June, and would be launching a widespread hunger strike, though it remained unclear when the strike would begin. The administrative detainees are calling upon all Palestinian people to support the scheduled hunger strike, Qaraqe said, adding that he expects Israeli authorities to “exercise unprecedented repression and isolate detainees” during the strike. to end this scheduled hunger strike, and to face it similarly as the hunger strike in 2017….
Israeli court jails Palestinian academic for five years
GAZA (PIC) 1 June — An Israeli court on Thursday sentenced Palestinian detainee Ramzi Abed, a lecturer at the Islamic University, to five years in jail. The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence, arrested Abed after he tried to travel last September through Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, north of Gaza. The Shin Bet has accused, with no evidence, the academic of working as a hacker for the Hamas Movement and stealing information from computers and telecommunication devices belonging to the Israeli army and soldiers.
Israeli police abuse leading Arab activist in hospital, force his release against doctors’ advice
IMEMC/Agencies 1 June — Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHRI) filed a complaint on 23 May 2018 calling on the Israeli Health Ministry and the director of a Haifa hospital to open investigations into suspicions that police illegally intervened in medical decisions and pressured medical staff to violate ethical norms during the treatment of Mossawa Director Jafar Farah. Farah was arrested by Israeli police during the 18 May protest in Haifa and subsequently admitted to Bnai Zion Medical Center after officers broke his left knee while he was in custody. The Adalah-PHRI complaint, based on testimony from Farah and Bnai Zion medical staff on duty at the time of the incident, includes four primary claims:
Israeli police pressure on doctors to release Farah;
the concealing of medical information from Farah;
the handcuffing of Farah to his bed during treatment, in contravention of medical ethics;
verbal police attacks on medical staff….
Human rights activist Farah returns to protest in Haifa
Ynet 1 June — Human rights activist Jafar Farah, who accused a police officer of breaking his leg in a demonstration two weeks ago, returned to protest in solidarity with Gaza residents on Friday. Some 200 protesters at the German Colony in Haifa waved Palestinian flags and held up signs that said “We’re against the occupation” and “from Haifa to Gaza.” The demonstration, organized by the Hadash party, took place while Palestinians protested on the Gaza border under the tagline “Friday from Haifa to Gaza.” “I won’t be able to walk too much in my condition, but I want people to see they didn’t break us,” said Farah, the director of the Mossawa Center. “There’s a message here: you can’t suppress a different opinion, and I won’t aid this suppression.” Farah, who was arrested along with 20 others, claimed a police officer broke his leg while he was in detention, which led to his hospitalization. Earlier this week, police decided to put the officer suspected of assaulting Farah on forced leave. Police said they would consider “taking administrative and/or disciplinary actions” in accordance with the findings of the Police Investigations Unit’s probe. Among the protesters was also the head of the Joint List MK Ayman Odeh and former MK Mohammad Barakeh, the head of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel. “The Palestinian people are fighting against the siege and against the occupation, and we from our place here are fighting our own way,” Odeh said….
Wounded Palestinian woman shot in Jerusalem to be released
IMEMC/Agencies 1 June — A Palestinian woman who was shot in the leg and held in detention at a hospital, after being suspected of planning an attack, was released from detention on Thursday, ahead of a scheduled court hearing, said attorney Mufeed al-Haj of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society. Khawla Sbeih, from Jerusalem, was shot and injured by police on Sunday evening. She was taken to a hospital in Israel, where she was held in custody. Police later said that she was not carrying any weapon. Nevertheless, an Israeli court remanded her in absentia, to remain in custody until Sunday, according to WAFA. Al-Haj said that Israeli authorities informed him of their decision to release her days before her remand period was to end. He said this proves the fallacy of the Israeli claim that she planned an attack, which was the reason for shooting her. Sbeih is still in the hospital where she underwent surgery on her right leg, and her condition is reported to be stable, said al-Haj.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Judaization
Jerusalem municipality confiscates historic Islamic cemetery
[with VIDEO and map] AIC 30 May by Amalya Dubrovsky — Throughout May, the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority has been hard at work confiscating Bab al-Rahmah Cemetery in East Jerusalem. Following years of unearthing graves, preventing burials, and installing wire fencing there, Israeli construction crews cordoned off the cemetery with a metal fence this month. Bab al-Rahmah is an Islamic cemetery that sits outside of the eastern walls of the Old City, abutting al-Aqsa Mosque. It is over 1,000 years old. Palestinian residents of Silwan have long buried their dead there. Israeli authorities want to confiscate the graveyard by integrating it into the Jerusalem Walls (City of David) National Park. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center reports that the Israeli workers installing the metal fence are barring Palestinians from approaching the construction site or documenting changes to the landscape. The Israeli police supervising the fencing project are also detaining concerned Palestinians. Most recently, on May 25, 2018, Israeli forces detained Khaled al-Zeer at the site, alleging that he is banned from Bab al-Rahmah … The Jerusalem municipality is well known for classifying Palestinian areas as national parks to wrest control over more territory. The parks, like Israeli settlements, stand in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions, such as 194, 181, 252, 476 and 478. The area of Bab al-Rahmah is crucial to Israeli settlement plans, which aim to link four concentric circles of settlements, starting with the Old City, followed by the “Holy Basin” (Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah, a-Tur, Mount Zion, and the Kidron Valley), Jerusalem’s annexation border, and finally the West Bank.
Photo Essay: Photos of Palestinian life and Israeli occupation in the West Bank city of Hebron
Christian Peacemaker Teams 31 May — Freedom of movement– Pictured here: A man walks with his family past one of the three checkpoints surrounding the Ibrahimi Mosque. He is arbitrarily stopped by Israeli border police and forced to lift his shirt and his pant legs while the border police search his body.
Prayers interrupted — Pictured here: During Friday prayers at the Ibrahimi Mosque, an Israeli drone flies overhead. Due to Ramadan, as so many Muslims came to pray, the mosque was full and worshipers met outside to pray in the street. CPT witnessed the drone pass just barely above the heads of some of the men praying outside.
Israel approves more than 2.000 settlement units in West Bank
Al Jazeera 31 May — Since US President Donald Trump came to office, Israel has approved construction of more than 14,000 settlement units — The Israeli government has approved the construction of 2,070 new settlement units in the occupied West Bank, local media reported. Israel’s Civil Administration said at least 696 of the units were approved for construction, while1,262 were advanced through an earlier planning stage known as a “deposit”. According to Israeli organisation Peace Now, 14,454 settlement units in the West Bank have been approved since US President Donald Trump took office, which is more than three times the amount that was approved in the year and a half before his inauguration (4,476 units). Peace Now condemned the Netanyahu government for taking advantage of the “carte blanche” the Trump administration has given it in order to destroy the chances for peace. “It is well-known that for a two-state solution to be feasible, Israel will have to withdraw from most of the West Bank. Yet the government keeps raising the political cost of this redeployment and the evictions it will entail,” the organisation said. Under international law, settlements in occupied territories are considered illegal. Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority government decided to file a war crimes complaint against Israel with the International Criminal Court over its settlement construction on land claimed by the Palestinians for their future state. The White House released a statement on Wednesday, suggesting that Israel will scale back on future settlement construction in order to allow a US peace plan to progress. “The president has made his position on new settlement activity clear, and we encourage all parties to continue to work towards peace,” a White House spokesperson told The Times of Israel. “The Israeli government has made clear that going forward, its intent is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes the president’s concerns into consideration.”
EU slams Israeli decision to demolish West Bank Bedouin village
BRUSSELS (AFP) 31 May — The European Union on Thursday urged Israel to reconsider its decision to demolish a Palestinian Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank, saying it undermines “prospects for a lasting peace”. A statement from the EU denounced the intended destruction of the Khan Al-Ahmar village which comes at the same time as the construction of more Israeli settlements on occupied land. “Building new settlements for Israelis while demolishing Palestinian homes in the same area will only further entrench a one-state reality of unequal rights, perpetual occupation and conflict,” the statement said. The EU referenced a decision made Wednesday to build nearly 2,000 settlement units in the West Bank, while demolishing Khan Al-Ahmar, “the main land reserve of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state”.
France warns Israel: Demolishing West Bank village would break international law
Haaretz 28 May by Noa Landau — France condemned Israel’s plan to demolish the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar and evacuate its residents, saying such actions would violate international human rights law. In a statement published by the French Embassy in Tel Aviv Monday, France called on Israel to halt plans to demolish the village, which is home to the Jahalin tribe, and to refrain from expanding settlements in the West Bank. “These demolition orders pose an imminent threat to an already extremely vulnerable Palestinian community located in a zone of strategic importance to the two-state solution and the contiguity of a future Palestinian state,” the statement said. “The demolition of infrastructure in the West Bank, resulting in the eviction and the forcible transfer of populations, goes against international humanitarian law, and in particular, the Fourth Geneva Convention,” the statement said.
Rights group: Israeli banks help with settlement building
JERUSALEM (AP) 29 May — Israeli banks are helping build West Bank settlements in violation of international law by providing financial services to home buyers and local councils, Human Rights Watch said in a new report published Tuesday. The report said that bank activities in or with settlements have helped encourage settlement growth and “contribute to rights abuses” against Palestinians. It added that Israeli banks, and international banks doing business with them, may be engaging in pillage, by acquiring ownership interests in housing projects on seized land. Because of an Israeli law limiting the amount of money developers can collect from buyers in advance, banks often become direct partners in settlement projects, Human Rights Watch says. “Most Israeli banks finance or ‘accompany’ construction projects in the settlements by becoming partners in settlement expansion, supervising each stage of construction, holding the buyers’ money in escrow, and taking ownership of the project in case of default by the construction company,” the report said….
Japan store bars wine from Golan Heights after protest
TOKYO (AP) 1 June by Mari Yamagushi — A major Japanese department store has quietly removed a vendor specializing in wine from Israel’s occupied Golan Heights after protests from citizens’ groups boycotting products from the region amid escalating violence there. Daimaru store said it withdrew its offer for Naturael, a Tokyo-based importer specializing in wine from the Golan — highly valued among connoisseurs — to participate in a fair in May. Naturael said the wine is produced and imported legally and that Daimaru’s decision could lead to anti-Israel sentiment. Daimaru said the decision did not reflect any political stance and was only for the May 9-15 “Mediterranean gourmet and wine fair” at its Tokyo store. It said wine from elsewhere in Israel was sold at the fair and that Daimaru has no policy against Israeli products in general. But a spokesman acknowledged that Daimaru took into consideration activists’ concerns about the wine’s origin. “Today we cannot ignore geopolitical issues,” said Satoshi Nishio, a spokesman for Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores Co. “We have to start paying more attention to where products are coming from.” Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed it in 1981. The U.S. and others consider it to be disputed territory.
Israeli minister slams EU funding of ‘BDS groups’, ignoring that the US funds the same groups
Haaretz 1 June by Chaim Levinson — Gilad Erdan, the minister of public security and of strategic affairs (Likud), has for some time been conducting a campaign against the European Union … Last Friday he tweeted, “The European Union continues to fund #BDS organizations, some of which are linked to terrorist organizations, with tens of millions of shekels a year. This morning we published an in-depth study exposing the scale of the EU’s funding of BDS as part of the political effort I am leading against the phenomenon. We will continue to act until Europe stops funding boycott organizations and stops meddling in Israel’s internal affairs.” Erdan was citing a report drawn up by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which was leaked to the freebie newspaper Israel Hayom, about the EU’s involvement in financing organizations that call for a boycott of Israel. But a perusal of the report shows that, though Erdan imputes responsibility to the EU, he’s silent about other countries that are friendly to Israel and also appear to be underwriting boycott groups, namely, the United States and Australia. The largest organization mentioned in the report is Norwegian People’s Aid, which was founded in that Scandinavian country in the 1930s and conducts humanitarian activity across the globe. The fact is that, contrary to the allegation of the Strategic Affairs Ministry, NPA does not support a boycott of Israel in general, but only of the settlements. In any event, the organization’s 2016 budget stood at 1.2 billion kroner ($145 million), of which the EU’s share was 16 million kroner, or 1.3 percent of the total. Actually, the largest single donor to NPA was the United States: with the equivalent of 168 million kroner from the State Department and another 38 million from USAID, the American international development agency – all told, 206 million kroner….
France seeks European court’s ruling on West Bank settlements labels
AFP 31 May — France’s highest court has handed a decision on labeling products from Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territories to the European Court of Justice after pro-Israel groups launched a legal challenge against it. France was one of the first countries to comply with a 2015 European Union instruction to put a label indicating the provenance of goods from settlements on the West Bank and the Golan Heights, which have been occupied by Israel since 1967. The measure principally affects food, wine and cosmetics. Israel slammed the decision and the Jewish umbrella group Crif attacked it as “discriminatory”, claiming that it would strengthen the Boycott, Disinvest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, “which pours hatred and detestation on Israel”. In 2015 the appeal court endorsed two fines on BDS activists, leading the Crif to describe the boycott call as illegal. Another group, the European Jewish Organisation, and the kosher wine company Psagot appealed to the Council of State to annul the decision. On Wednesday the Council of State suspended its decision on the matter until the European court has ruled on whether European law makes such labeling obligatory.
Boycott of Tel Aviv LGBT film festival gains momentum with new cancellations
IMEMC/Agencies 1 June — Four more filmmakers have joined a growing number of artists boycotting the Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival (TLVFest), in response to a Palestinian call. Five artists had already cancelled their participation prior to the start of the festival, which runs between May 31 and June 9. With the latest cancellations, from two French directors and two from the Spanish state, a total of nine artists and filmmakers have boycotted the festival this year. Despite the cancellations, TLVFest has refused to remove the filmmakers’ films from the festival’s schedule. In a statement to an Israeli daily, the festival director Yair Hochner said, “Whoever canceled, canceled. As far as we are concerned the festival will continue normally.” … The wave of boycotts of TLVFest follows Israel’s latest massacres in Gaza ….
Palestinian refugees – Lebanon
Palestinians in Lebanon fear US cuts could close schools
TAALABAYA, Lebanon (AP) 30 May by Bassem Mroue — When the teacher asked the English class how to change a sentence from the active to the passive voice, Sarah’s hand shot up from the front row, and as soon as she was called upon she answered correctly. The 10-year-old Palestinian girl has come a long way since she arrived in Lebanon after fleeing Syria’s civil war five years ago, and is now a star student at an elementary school run by the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, which also provides trauma counseling. But those services, and the thousands of children who rely on them, now face an uncertain future, as the United States threatens to cut funding at a time when the U.N. agency is struggling to cope with crises across the region … Sarah’s family, who asked that their last name not be published because of safety concerns, became refugees a second time when they fled their Damascus home after it was hit by a rocket in 2013. In Lebanon, they enrolled Sarah at Jafna Elementary School, which is operated by UNRWA, the oldest and largest U.N. relief program in the Middle East. The agency provides health care, education and social services to millions of refugees, including those displaced a second time by the Syrian civil war and other regional unrest. The Trump administration announced in January it was slashing its aid to UNRWA, withholding $65 million of a planned $125 million funding installment. It released $60 million so the agency wouldn’t shut down, but made clear that additional U.S. support would be contingent on major reforms at the agency. Israel accuses UNRWA of perpetuating the conflict by promoting Palestinian claims to a right of return, while President Donald Trump has blamed the Palestinians for the lack of progress in Mideast peace efforts. Other countries responded by pledging $100 million in new funding this year, but UNRWA still faces a $350 million shortfall….
UN Security Council rejects US draft resolution on Gaza
Al Jazeera 2 June — UN Security Council resoundingly rejects US-drafted resolution criticising Hamas over recent Gaza violence — The United States has voted against a Kuwait-drafted United Nations Security Council resolution calling for the protection of Palestinian civilians, while being the only country to back its own measure condemning Hamas for the recent violence in the Gaza Strip …
Ten countries, including Russia and France, voted in favour of the Kuwait-sponsored resolution on Friday. Four others – Britain, Poland, the Netherlands and Ethiopia – abstained, while the US, a major ally of Israel, was the only country to vote against it. The resolution, which was revised three times and said to have been “watered down”, previously called for international protection for Palestinian people. The final draft called for “the consideration of measures to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in the Gaza Strip” … US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley described the resolution as “grossly one-sided” as she pinned the blame on much of Palestinians’ suffering on the Hamas movement, which runs the Strip. In a statement later on Friday, Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian Liberation Organization executive committee member, said the US had once again demonstrated its “blind loyalty to Israel and tried to absolve it of any wrongdoing despite its egregious violations, deliberate massacres and willful killings and war crimes.
— ‘Humiliating vote’ — The US was in turn the only country to vote in favour of a revised draft-resolution it submitted subsequent to the Kuwait-sponsored initiative. The second vote saw 11 countries abstaining and three rejecting it. The US version had omitted references to Israeli use of force and protecting Palestinians. It instead demanded that Hamas and other Palestinian groups cease “all violent provocative actions” in Gaza. Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York, said the US diplomatic efforts “seemed to have backfired”. “I don’t know when there was last a resolution put to the Security Council that only got one vote in favour,” said Bays. “It seems a very humiliating vote for the US, and one that is very starkly showing the divisions around the Security Council table on this issue,” he added. “The US was not able to muster the support from its normal US allies, they are not coming to their support on this issue….
After embassy move, Trump weighs Jerusalem consulate changes
Al Jazeera 2 June — This move could suggest placing the Palestinian Authority under Israel’s jurisdiction — President Donald Trump is considering giving US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman more authority over Washington’s diplomatic mission that handles Palestinian affairs, five US officials told The Associated Press news agency, a shift that could further dampen Palestinian hopes for an independent state. Any move to downgrade the autonomy of the US Consulate General in Jerusalem – responsible for relations with the Palestinians – could have potent symbolic implications, suggesting American recognition of Israeli control over East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. And while the change might be technical and bureaucratic, it could have potentially significant policy ramifications … For decades, the Jerusalem consulate has operated differently than almost every other consulate around the world. Rather than reporting to the US Embassy in Israel, it has reported directly to the State Department in Washington, giving the Palestinians an unfiltered channel to engage with the US government. That arrangement was relatively clear-cut before Trump moved the embassy … The Jerusalem consulate provided services to Americans in Jerusalem and also served as the de facto US embassy to the Palestinians. Palestinian leaders claim East Jerusalem for the capital of a future independent state. But since Trump earlier this month moved the embassy to Jerusalem, the situation has become more complicated. Now the US maintains an embassy in one part of the city and a separate consulate less than a mile away, potentially creating confusion about who has ultimate authority if, for example, an American citizen needs help and turns to the US government. No final decision has been made about what changes to make to the consulate’s chain of command, a decision complicated by the consulate’s unique circumstances. But the embassy, run by Friedman, is expected to end up with ultimate authority over the consulate, officials said. ….
Abbas refused to meet with Democratic delegation that visited Israel
Haaretz 31 May by Amir Tibon & Jack Khoury — The Palestinian president decided to halt contacts with all U.S. officials after Trump’s Jerusalem declaration — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refused to meet with a delegation of Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives that visited Israel two months ago, in protest of the Trump administration’s policies toward Israel. Abbas’ refusal to meet the delegation caught its members by surprise, because many of them are constant critics of the Trump administration, and they were hoping to hear the Palestinian point of view about Trump’s policies while visiting the region. The delegation, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, visited Israel and Jordan in late March. It comprised 11 representatives, including two members of the House Intelligence Committee … The delegation also wanted to visit Ramallah and meet Abbas, but to their surprise, he refused to meet them … A Palestinian official told Haaretz that Abbas refused to meet the delegation even though he knew they were all Democrats, and included strong critics of Trump. The decision, this official added, was meant to send a message that despite the Democrats’ criticism of Trump, the party didn’t act in any significant way to oppose the president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy to the city. According to this Palestinian official, Abbas reached the conclusion that the Democrats gave their silent blessing to the embassy move….
PA goes after mosque preachers who fail to toe the line
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 30 May by Rasha Abou Jalal — The Ministry of Religious Endowments and Affairs in the West Bank decided May 25 to ban mosque preacher Walid al-Hodali from taking to the pulpit on Fridays. This decision sparked controversy about the policy to punish and exclude mosque preachers who criticize the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) policies during the Friday sermon. These preachers are accused of provocation and stirring strife. Hodali, who is from Ramallah, told Al-Monitor, “On May 25, I received a verbal decision over the phone from the Ministry of Endowments in Ramallah and al-Bireh stating that I was banned from giving the Friday sermon under the excuse of offending high authorities and stirring strife among worshippers.” But Hodali said he received formal notice that he was banned because he strayed from the sermon topic specified by the Ministry of Endowments in Ramallah. The topic was about road traffic safety.…
Israel to invest in neglected Palestinian areas in Jerusalem
AP 31 May — The Israeli government on Thursday unveiled what it billed as a groundbreaking program to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in long-neglected Palestinian neighborhoods of east Jerusalem. The “Leading Change” program aims to reduce the huge social gaps between the Palestinian neighborhoods and the overwhelmingly Jewish western part of the city. Palestinian neighborhoods suffer from poor infrastructure, neglect and subpar public services, and nearly 80 percent of the city’s Palestinian families live in poverty. The program will invest 2 billion shekels, or $560 million, in three core areas: education, infrastructure and helping Palestinian women enter the work force. The money will be spent on a variety of programs, including nine pilot projects, in the coming five years, with the aim of attracting further government and private investment down the road. Various government ministries, along with the city of Jerusalem, will carry out the program, which was launched at a ceremony at President Reuven Rivlin’s official residence on Thursday … Zeev Elkin, the government’s minister for Jerusalem affairs, is expected to play a leading role in implementing the program. Elkin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party who is running for mayor of Jerusalem, said bringing to prosperity to east Jerusalem is an Israeli interest. “All those who truly believe in a unified Jerusalem and aspire to full sovereignty must act with determination to govern on one hand, and to take responsibility for developing infrastructure on the other,” he said….
Broken government promises leave Israeli-Arab youth organizations without funds
Ynet 31 May by Adir Yanko — Despite government approval of NIS 15 billion to health, education and employment in Arab sector only 3 years ago, informal educational groups in the sector claimed they never received promised funds; Israel Arab Scouts Association chairman says organization forced to shutter 11 branches, summer camp in jeopardy; Education Ministry: ‘Budgetary increments not yet received.’ ….
The legacy of the oldest Palestinian pharmacy in Jaffa
JAFFA 30 May by Linah Alsaafin — In dark green lettering, matching the rest of the storefront, is a proclamation in three languages – Arabic, English and French – that stands as a reminder of a lasting history in what was once the biggest Palestinian city before 1948. El-Kamal Pharmacy, or saydaliyya, or pharmacie, lies on one of the main commercial streets of Jaffa and remains relatively unchanged since it first opened back in 1924. The pharmacy, which has spanned three generations, was opened by Kamel Geday, the son of one of old Jaffa’s middle-class families after he completed his studies in Istanbul 14 years earlier. Inside, the pharmacy feels like it was frozen in time. The domed ceiling and arches may have had a lick of paint now and then, but the dark-green cabinets and countertop have remained untouched since the elder Geday’s days … Today, Kamel’s grandson Yousef stands behind the counter, carrying on after his father Fakhri, who had taken over from Kamel …
On the Mediterranean coast, Jaffa was a vibrant and prosperous city with a combined population of about 120,000 people – 80,000 in the city itself and 40,000 in smaller towns and villages in its vicinity. Then on May 13, 1948, it caved in to the three-week siege by Zionist paramilitaries and was ethnically cleansed of a staggering amount of its residents. “Jaffa was the largest city demographically, as well as the most important economic and Palestinian-Arab cultural centres during the British Mandate era,” said Sami Abu Shehadeh, an activist and resident of the city. “But in 1948, 97 percent of its Palestinian population were ethnically cleansed, and only 3,900 remained.”….