US aid suspension hits Gaza’s poor
AFP 23 July — Hadil al-Rafati gently adjusts her anaemia-stricken toddler’s frail legs onto her lap in the lobby of an NGO’s clinic in Gaza City. The programme providing treatment to her son is among those in the enclave facing cuts or closure due to a freeze on US aid to the Palestinians, organisers say. “He weighs 7.2 kilogrammes (16 pounds), but at a year and a month, he should be at least 10,” the 21-year-old mother said of her son, Essam. Since January, US financing for humanitarian programmes serving the Palestinians has been suspended, with Washington saying it is being reviewed. President Donald Trump has threatened to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to force the Palestinians back to the negotiating table with Israel. On a recent day, around 15 mothers waited in the lobby of the clinic run by Palestinian organisation Ard al-Insan to see a paediatrician or to receive food supplements for their children. Certain services have been maintained with available funding, but the programme is due to expire at the end of August if the money is not released. “They help us, give us medicine,” said Rafati, who is unemployed and whose husband picks up odd jobs to make ends meet. “If they close, where will we go?” … Some 80 percent of the enclave’s two million residents rely on aid, according to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) …
Some programmes are already facing cuts, such as the Palestine Avenir for Childhood Foundation, which has not renewed contracts for some 30 employees since the start of the year. Suffering from cerebral palsy, nine-month-old Maher had been receiving four physiotherapy sessions per week from the organisation. He now only comes twice per week due to a lack of available therapists. “The change has been huge in the last three months,” said his mother Nada Abu Assi, 27, as she watches her son move with the help of a support device. The foundation’s director, Ahmad Alkashif, said “these are the last beneficiaries,” adding that hundreds of children are on its waiting list. The project, financed by Washington’s development agency USAID, is part of a $50 million programme started in 2016 and meant to last five years.
Israeli army kills a fourth Palestinian in Gaza
IMEMC 20 July — Palestinian medical sources have confirmed that Israeli soldiers killed, Friday, a fourth Palestinian, in the Gaza Strip, after it killed three others earlier. The Health Ministry stated that an Israeli army sharpshooter shot Mohammad Sharif Badwan, 27, with a live round in the chest, east of Gaza City. Mohammad was killed while participating in the Great Return March procession, east of Gaza city, when the soldiers attacked the protesters with live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets, high-velocity gas bombs and concussion grenades. The Al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed wing of Fateh movement, issued a statement claiming that Badwan was one of its members. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, said the soldiers also injured 120 Palestinians, including 50 who were rushed to hospitals in the coastal region. One of the wounded Palestinians is a journalist, identified as Zaki Awadallah, who was shot by the army east of Gaza city.
Also on Friday, the soldiers killed three Palestinian fighters, members of the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, and injured many residents, after the army fired missiles into two sites run by the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, in Rafah and Khan Younis, in the southern parts of the Gaza Strip.
Young man dies from serious wounds suffered on June 8
IMEMC 23 July — The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza has reported, on Monday at dawn, that a young man died from serious wounds he suffered, on June 8th, after Israeli soldiers shot him with live fire. The Ministry said the young man, identified as Karam Ibrahim Arafat [Ma‘an has Majd Abu al-Eish], 26, was shot during the “Great Return March” procession, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. It added that Arafat, from Abasan al-Saghira town, southeast of Khan Younis, was shot with a live round in the head, and remained in a critical condition until he succumbed to his serious wounds.
Palestinian dies from serious wounds he suffered on May 14th
IMEMC 24 July The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed, Tuesday, that a young man died from serious wounds her suffered, on May 14th, after Israeli soldiers shot him with live fire in northern Gaza. The Health Ministry said the Palestinian, Majd Soheil Mohammad ‘Oqeil, 26, was shot during the “Great Return March” nonviolent protests, on May 14th, and remained in a critical condition until he succumbed to his wounds. The Palestinian is from Jabalia refugee camp, in Jabalia, in northern Gaza.
Israeli soldiers have killed 142 unarmed protesters, and wounded 17,000 who were participating in non-violent protests, since the Great Return March procession started on Palestinian Land Day, on March 30th.
Gaza reporter: ‘My brother’s body was in pieces in front of me’
Al Jazeera 22 July — For journalist Maryam Abu Daqqa, it was another day at work covering the protests near the Israeli fence, in the Gaza Strip’s east. Since March 30, the 24-year-old reporter for the local Sharq news agency had been documenting the weekly Great March of Return demonstrations calling for the right of return of refugees to the areas they were expelled from in 1948. As Palestinians on Friday renewed their protests, Israel launched dozens of air raids and tank fire against what it said were Hamas positions. Like any other time of escalation, Abu Daqqa went on air to relay the latest information from the ground. She told viewers that moments before, a heavy artillery shell had struck a monitoring post, causing deaths and injuries. “That was all I knew until then,” she recounted later. What she didn’t know at the time was that among those killed was her older brother, Mohammed Abu Farhana. After her live report, Abu Daqqa rushed to the site of the attack to find out more. Blood and body parts were everywhere. Minutes later, details came in with the names of those killed. Upon hearing the name of her brother, Abu Daqqa broke down. Still, she called her TV station colleagues to get the news out. “I never imagined that I would one day convey the news of a loved one’s killing,” she told local Palestinian outlet al-Quds Network. Below, Abu Daqqa narrates to al-Quds Network about the day her brother was killed:….
Israel targets incendiary kite flyers, injuring 2 Palestinians
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 July — Israeli warplanes fired a missile targeting a group of Palestinian youths on Tuesday, injuring 2 people near the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern besieged Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses told Ma‘an that the Israeli-fired missile fell near a group of incendiary kite flyers; the injuries of the two youths were reported as light.
Local sources said that Israeli forces had fired flash bombs towards the Gaza border on Monday night. A Ma‘an reporter said that Israeli forces fired flash bombs above the al-Shuja‘iyyeh neighborhood in Gaza, while shots were fired at an Israeli military vehicle near the security border fence. No injuries were reported.
Uneasy calm in Gaza after Hamas-Israel deal
Al Jazeera 21 July — A fragile calm has taken hold in the besieged Gaza Strip as a deal between Hamas and Israel appears to be holding. The deal, brokered by Egyptian and United Nations officials, was designed to restore calm and end the Israeli onslaught on Hamas positions and other violence that resulted in the deaths of four Palestinians and one Israeli soldier on Friday. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum announced the deal early on Saturday morning, saying that it had been active from midnight local time on Friday. “We reached [an agreement] to return to the previous state of calm between the [Israeli] occupation and the Palestinian factions,” Barhoum said. Israel confirmed the agreement later on Saturday, with the army saying in a separate statement that communities near Gaza could return to normal activity, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz. “At the end of an assessment by the southern command this morning it was decided to maintain a full civilian routine in the communities close to the Gaza Strip,” Haaretz quoted the statement as saying….
Calm after ceasefire in Gaza shattered with two Israeli shells
GAZA (WAFA) 21 July – A calm that prevailed in Gaza since early Saturday after reaching a ceasefire following a day of Israel air and land strikes on the besieged Gaza Strip was shattered hours later when Israel fired two shells at a location east of Gaza City, according to WAFA correspondent. He said Israeli artillery fired two shells at a location east of Zaytoun neighborhood, southeast of Gaza City, causing a fire and destroying the site. No one was reportedly hurt. Reports said the renewed Israeli attack on Gaza came after a group of Palestinians penetrated the border fence north of Gaza City and sabotaged an Israeli post before retreating to Gaza … No Palestinian retaliation was reported for the new shelling.
Israel partially lifts limitations on Gaza goods crossing
Al Jazeera 24 July — Move comes after urgent warnings from UN officials that emergency fuel supplies running low in the besieged enclave — Israel says it is partially reopening its only commercial crossing with the besieged Gaza Strip. According to a statement issued by Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s office on Tuesday, the partial reopening was set to begin at 12:00pm (9:00 GMT), after which it “will be possible to transfer gas and fuel into the Gaza Strip, in addition to food and medicine”. The Kerem Shalom crossing, known as Karem Abu Salem to Palestinians, was partially closed on July 9 with only goods regarded by Israel as “humanitarian” – such as fuel, medicine, and food – allowed to enter. A week later, Israeli authorities, citing “continued terror efforts of Hamas”, tightened the blockade on the coastal enclave, suspending fuel and gas deliveries. The authorities were referring to incendiary kites and balloons sent from the Palestinian side above the Israeli fence east of the strip, setting fire to agricultural lands owned by Israelis and reportedly causing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage. Tuesday’s statement also said the crossing could soon return to full activity “conditioned on the full cessation of fire-balloon launches and friction on the fence”. The statement said that the number of kites and balloons carrying firebombs had been reduced but not totally eliminated.
-Electricity cuts- The partial reopening follows urgent warnings from UN officials that said emergency fuel supplies are running low in the Gaza Strip and that the shortage is starting to affect hospitals and water sanitation. The coastal enclave suffers from a severe lack of electricity and relies on fuel-powered generators during outages that last hours at a time. On Monday, a spokesperson for the electric utility in Gaza said the strip’s two million population would go without power for 18 hours a day instead of 16. “We are trying to supply a minimal level of four hours a day of electricity to Gaza residents,” said Mohammed Tabet, “but that too is in doubt, so the duration of the cut will extend beyond 16 hours a day”. Electricity supply in Gaza is dependent on six power lines from Israel, as well as power supplied by Egypt….
Israeli bulldozers raze, level lands in eastern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 July — Several Israeli military vehicles raided into the eastern borders of the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning. Local witnesses told Ma‘an that six Israeli bulldozers entered dozens of meters into lands near the return camps, east of Gaza City, razed and leveled lands near the security border fence. Sources added that while Israeli bulldozers razed and leveled lands, Israeli drones flew overhead; no injuries were reported.
Egypt closes Rafah for national holiday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 July — The Egyptian authorities decided to close the Rafah crossing in the southern besieged Gaza Strip on Monday to mark the Egyptian celebrations of Revolution Day. Revolution Day refers to the anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution of July 23rd 1952, which led to the declaration of the modern republic of Egypt, ending the period of the Kingdom of Egypt. The administration of the Rafah crossing said that Monday is an official holiday for the Egyptian side of the border. On Sunday, five ambulances entered Egypt through the Rafah crossing transporting nine injured Palestinians who suffered injuries during the Gaza protests and were accompanied by another nine companions. Three buses carrying about 270 passengers have crossed into Egypt from Gaza before the temporary closure.
UN rights chief sharply criticizes Israel over Gaza killings
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 23 July — The U.N. human rights chief sharply criticized Israel on Monday, calling recent killings by its soldiers during Palestinian demonstrations along the Gaza border fence “shocking” and saying living conditions inflicted by Israel’s 11-year blockade of the territory are “grossly inadequate.” Zeid Ra‘ad Al Hussein said in a video address to the U.N. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People that the situation in Gaza has escalated dramatically in recent months with “the potential to generate threats to peace across a far broader region.” Zeid, who heads the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said it is essential for all parties to cooperate with the independent, international commission of inquiry into the recent deadly events in Gaza that his office is helping to establish. It was authorized by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council on May 18 “to advance accountability” for the killings and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, he said. Zeid said there are “serious concerns” that Israeli accountability mechanisms don’t comply with international standards of “independence, impartiality, and effectiveness.” “Very few investigations ever occur,” he said. “In the rare cases where an investigation has led to an indictment, the sentence has been extremely lenient in light of the gravity of the crime committed.” Zeid said it is vital to address the root causes of the Gaza demonstrations….
3-minute video — Gaza resident: I am very worried about a future war
Israel says it will reopen its only goods crossing with the blockaded Gaza Strip on Tuesday if calm holds following a ceasefire. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists the military is prepared for more intense strikes if violence flares up again. Meanwhile, UN officials are warning that serious fuel shortages are affecting hospitals, water and sanitation facilities. Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford reports from Gaza.
After over 100 days of mass demonstrations, what’s next for Gaza?
Al Jazeera 20 July by Mersiha Gadzo and Anas Jnena — … Seventeen weeks after the start of the protests, Al Jazeera met a spokesperson for the Great March of Return campaign, as well as two participants to hear their opinions about the movement and how they view Gaza’s future. Issam Hammad, spokesperson for Great March of Return: Al Jazeera: Critics say the Right of Return isn’t realistic because there are more than seven million Palestinian refugees – one of the largest displaced populations in the world. What’s your response? Issam Hammad: Did Israel agree, in the first place, to the refugees’ return in 1950 when the figure was much lower? It did not. Israel rejected that principle from the very beginning. On the contrary, it evicted more than 400,000 of 1948 Palestinians [Palestinians living in today’s Israel] to the north [Syria, Lebanon, Jordan] in 1967. Therefore, this state formed itself based on the principle of segregation and replacement. Personally, I call for the return of refugees and living in peace with the Israelis. We are in the age of technology, knowledge, love, harmony and peace, not an age of fighting nations; we can create life together. The Gaza Strip is 365 square kilometres and it accommodates now two million people. The current state of Israel can withstand tens of times the population it now has. All problems have a solution, but there must be an intention from Israel to recognise the Palestinians’ right to exist and to live in freedom and dignity … We are not in the age of religions. We are in an age of knowledge and globalisation … Man is the foundation of society, not religion or race….
In Video – Freedom Flotilla sails off towards the shores of Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 23 July — The Freedom Flotilla continues its journey as it departed from its last stop, from the Italian port of Palermo towards the shores of the besieged Gaza Strip, on Sunday. The Freedom Flotilla is a new flotilla made up of four ships, which intend on breaking Israel’s nearly 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip. The flotilla sailed off from its last stop from the Italian port of Palermo about two months after it first set off from Copenhagen, Denmark, towards their final destination, the Gaza Strip.
The world followed the flotilla’s journey as it stopped in 15 European ports since sailing off on March 22nd. The four ships, making up the Freedom Flotilla, departed on Sunday for the final 10-day leg to Gaza. The flotilla includes 40 activists from around the world on board, who are aiming to end the blockade. Before the flotilla’s departure from Palermo, they were welcomed by the mayor of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando, who renamed a section of the Italian port in honor of the late Palestinian president, Yasser Arafat.
Many attempts have been made throughout the years to draw the public’s attention to the on-going siege of Gaza. From 2008 through 2016, international activists have sailed 31 ships to challenge the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. In 2010, one of the flotilla ships, which was carrying aid to Gaza, was attacked by Israeli forces in international waters. During the attack 10 pro-Palestinian activists were killed and dozens of other peaceful activists were injured….
Video: Meet the girl who dreams of being Gaza’s first Olympic swimmer
A 13-year-old girl from Gaza who has survived three wars is an unlikely candidate for an Olympic swimming champion. Until four years ago Fatima Abu Shedeg was not only unable to swim but had never been in a pool. Yet despite the challenges she has faced, she spends her days dreaming of stepping onto the starting block at the Tokyo 2020 Games as Gaza’s first Olympic swimmer. In 2014, Fatima lost her father during the last war with Israel, which raged for 51 days and left more than 2,200 Palestinians and 73 Israelis dead. She saw her uncle’s legs blown off in the same airstrike that killed her father and destroyed most of their home in Beit Lahia, north Gaza. Like many children in the tiny enclave, she suffered from post-traumatic stress. Then Amjed Tantesh, 42, a swimming coach and one-time Olympic hopeful, encouraged her to learn to swim as a way of channelling her depression and anger. “A week after my dad passed away Amjed called my mum and offered me and my brother swimming lessons … Four years later, the fitness and football fanatic spends her free time training in grubby and sometimes makeshift pools. Gaza is in the 11th year of an Israeli blockade, meaning Fatima cannot even get hold of proper swimming equipment. She is left to swim in a mismatched pair of pyjamas. If she qualifies it would be her first trip out of Gaza, which is just 25 miles long….
Qatar offers jobs in education sector to Gaza residents
MEMO 23 July — The Qatari Committee to Rebuild Gaza announced yesterday that positions are available for Palestinian teachers from Gaza to work in the small Gulf state, the Shehab News Agency reported. In a statement, the head of the committee, Mohammad Al-Amadi, said: “The announcement was made in coordination with the Qatari Ministry of Education and High Education.” Al-Amadi noted that these jobs came as “part of the Qatari efforts being exerted to help the Palestinian people at all levels in Gaza in the light of the sharp rise of the unemployment rate.” He also said that the office of the Qatari Committee to Rebuild Gaza would coordinate with all the related parties in Qatar in order to facilitate the arrival of the nominees. The ambassador called for all the interested people to quickly apply for the jobs through the website dedicated for this purpose.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli soldiers kill a Palestinian child in Bethlehem
IMEMC 23 July — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday at dawn, the Deheishe refugee camp, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, killed one child, injured two young men and caused dozens to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. Media sources in Bethlehem said the soldiers invaded the camp before storming and searching homes, causing damage. They added that dozens of youngsters protested the invasion, and hurled stones at the soldiers, who fired many live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades. Medical sources said the soldiers seriously injured Akram Tha’er Mizhir, 15, after shooting him with a live round in the chest, before he was rushed to Beit Jala (al-Hussein) Governmental Hospital, where he died from his wounds. The soldiers also shot two young men with live fire, and caused dozens of Palestinians to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. In addition, the soldiers abducted two young men, identified as Mohammad Adnan Abu Ayyash and Jamal Sar‘awi….
In Photos – Funeral procession of killed Palestinian child commences
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 July — The funeral procession of the 15-year-old Palestinian child who was shot and killed by Israeli forces during violent clashes set off in the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, on Monday. During predawn raids in the Dheisheh refugee camp, clashes broke out among Palestinian youths and Israeli forces, who fired live ammunition and tear gas at the Palestinian youths, killing 15-year-old Arkan Thaer Mezher. According to local sources, large crowds of Palestinians, including the child’s family and loved ones, set off the funeral march in the Dheisheh refugee camp.
Children protest Israeli police damaging their bicycles
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 25 July – Palestinian children protested outside the Israeli police station at the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City on Wednesday police attacking them and damaging their bicycles, according to WAFA correspondent. The children, members of the same family, said police attacked them and smashed their bicycles for no reason other than that they were riding them in the New Gate area in the Old City, where they live. The children demanded compensation for their damaged bicycles.
Israeli soldiers attack Palestinian with Down syndrome
Palestine Chronicle 22 July — Israeli soldiers have assaulted a Palestinian youth with Down syndrome in the West Bank city of Hebron (Al-Khalil), according to a local Palestinian official on Saturday. The soldiers attacked Mahmoud Zayed, 26, with the back of their guns and left him with a broken arm in the Bab al-Zawiya area in Hebron on Friday, Ynis al-Juneidi, head of Palestinian group Fatah in Hebron, told Anadolu Agency. He said the soldiers had been deployed in the area to disperse Palestinian protests against the decades-long Israeli occupation. Al-Juneidi said Israeli soldiers often abuse and mock at the young Palestinian despite his health condition.
Birthright walk-offs get a taste of settler violence in Hebron
+962 Mag 15 July by Mairav Zonszein — If the settlers of Hebron were trying to show a group of Birthright participants who had walked off their trip earlier this week that their views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are skewed, it’s safe to say that they failed miserably. Halfway through a tour of occupied Hebron that the eight Birthright participants were taking with Israeli anti-occupation group Breaking the Silence on Monday, a settler child, who appeared to be between eight and 10 years old, threw yellow paint onto the head of tour leader Frima “Merphie” Bubis. The incident followed at least half an hour of harassment by adult settlers, accompanied by children, as part of their routine attempts to disrupt and drown out Breaking the Silence tours in the city. Bubis was shaken but required no medical attention. Eight Israeli soldiers who were present did nothing to stop or apprehend the child. The tour on Monday was part of several actions in the West Bank so far this summer organized or facilitated by IfNotNow, an American Jewish anti-occupation group. The movement’s “Not Just a Free Trip” program, which has already seen two groups of Birthright participants walk off their trips, aims to challenge Birthright’s narrative while inviting participants to learn about Israel’s military regime during their 10-day free trip to Israel….
Israeli forces arrest Palestinian female journalist in Hebron
Al Jazeera 24 July by Shatha Hammad — At least 63 Palestinian women are being held in Israeli prisons, including journalists and mothers — Two-year-old Yahya followed his mother Lama Khater to the front door of their house in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, trying to leave with her as she was arrested by at least 25 Israeli soldiers. Khater paused, then knelt down to hug and kiss her toddler, before she was forcefully pulled by the soldiers who put her in an Israeli army jeep waiting in the dark outside. Yahya began to cry as his mother walked away without him, and was picked up by his older sister Beesan who tried to comfort him, before being passed to his other sister Yaman – all to no avail. “Around 1:30am on Tuesday, we heard a loud noise just outside our home,” Beesan, 18, told Al Jazeera. Their home was then stormed by a large number of Israeli soldiers, who immediately informed the family of their intention to arrest Lama Khater. Most of the family was rounded up in a single room and only Yaman, 14, was allowed to help her mother pack her bag. “My mother kissed each one of us goodbye, and advised us to take care of each other,” Beesan said. “She told us she would be back soon.” Lama Khater, the 42-year-old mother of five, is a writer known for her articles published on the independent Noon Post website on crimes and violations committed by the Israeli occupation. She was arrested two years ago, barely a month after giving birth to Yahya, and was subjected to long hours of interrogation regarding her writings before she was released on the same day. Her husband, Hazem al-Fakhouri, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that he was summoned by Israeli forces five days ago for interrogation, who warned him that Khater would be arrested unless he pressured his wife to stop writing. “I did not expect the occupation to follow through on their threats,” he said. “My children and I were surprised to see the Israelis raiding our house in the middle of the night to arrest Lama without giving a reason. “She is the very foundation of this household, our family, and we all rely on her,” he added. “We don’t know how we will continue with our lives now.” Hazem said his wife suffers from anaemia and has to take an assortment of medicines and supplements….
Israeli forces detain 12 Palestinians in West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 July — Israeli forces detained at least 12 Palestinians from across the occupied West Bank during predawn raids on Monday. According to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, Israeli forces detained one Palestinian, who was identified as Mahmoud Ideis. In the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem, one Palestinian was detained and identified as Raji Odeh. In the Dheisheh refugee camp of the same district, Israeli forces detained another two Palestinians; PPS identified them as Jamal al-Saraawi and Muhammad Abu Ayyash. PPS confirmed that in the northern West Bank district of Qalqiliya, three Palestinians were detained; they were identified as Ismail Nidal Abu al-Sheikh, Mahdi Daoud and Muhamaad Freij. In the northern West Bank district of Nablus, Israeli forces detained five Palestinians….
Israeli forces detain Palestinian woman writer, 2 children in West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 July — Israeli forces detained at least 15 Palestinians, including two children and a woman, during predawn raids across the occupied West Bank on Tuesday. Locals said that Israeli forces raided several Palestinian homes across the West Bank. Sources confirmed that in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, three Palestinians were detained including a Palestinian writer, Lama Abu Khater, former prisoner Nizar Shiahadeh, and Ahmad Atef Swailam. In the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem, while Israeli forces detained a Palestinian youth, identified as Muhannad Iyad al-Hreimi, police dogs attacked the youth’s mother. Another four Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces from the Bethlehem district. They were identified as Mahmmud Huwaresh, Muhammad Awad, Tareq al-Jahalin, and Majd Awad, who was detained for several hours before being released. In the central West Bank district of Ramallah, Israeli forces raided the Deir Nitham village causing violent clashes to erupt between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers, who fire live ammunition targeting youths. No injuries were reported. Meanwhile, two Palestinian children were detained by Israeli forces from the village; they were identified as Muhammad Salah and Rami Nimr….
Al-Aqsa and vicinity
Hundreds of Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa compound
Al Jazeera 22 July — Hundreds of Israeli settlers have stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem to commemorate the historic destruction of Jewish temples, referred to in Israel as Tisha B’av. Palestinian sources said that at least 1,023 settlers entered the compound on Sunday under heavy police protection. The Al-Aqsa compound, which houses the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, represents the third holiest site in Islam, while in Judaism it is considered their most holy place. Yehuda Glick, a far-right Israeli Knesset member, who campaigns for Jewish access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, was seen in the compound. Firas al-Dibis, an official with Jerusalem’s Jordan-run Religious Endowments Authority, told Anadolu News Agency that Israeli police stormed the compound before the settlers and carried out security sweeps and search. Al-Dibis also said Israeli forces denied access to Najeh Bakirat, a scholar at the Endowments Authority, and allowed Muslim worshippers inside the mosque after seizing their IDs. According to Palestinian local news agencies, a Palestinian boy was arrested after raising the Palestinian flag in the compound [see Shehab News video, below] … On Saturday night, hundreds of settlers organised a march inside the walls of the Old City and at the gates of the Al-Aqsa compound. They performed prayers, danced and shouted anti-Arab and anti-Muslim slogans….
Jordan releases memorandum about violations against Al-Aqsa
AMMAN (Ma‘an) 22 July –Jordanian Minister of State for Media Affairs, Jumana Ghneimat, condemned in the strongest terms the ongoing Israeli violations and provocations against Al-Aqsa Mosque/ Al Haram al-Sharif, especially the provocative incursions of extremists and settlers that took place today into the courtyards of the holy site. According to “Official News Agency Petra,” Ghneimat, who is also the Government Spokesperson, said that “those condemned and rejected” practices, which are conducted under protection of the Israeli police, violate the sanctity of this holy place, provoke sentiments of worshipers and Muslims all over the world, and constitute a violation of Israel’s obligations as an occupying power under int’l and int’l humanitarian laws. The minister affirmed those practices also breach all int’l norms and charters, which stress the need to respect the places of worship for all religions….
Islamic Waqf department warns against Israeli digs below Al-Aqsa Mosque
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 23 July – The Islamic Waqf department in Jerusalem, which is in charge of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, warned in a recent press release against Israeli digs below the Muslim holy place. Waqf director, Azzam al-Khatib, said Israel was secretly carrying out digs below the Islamic Museum, on the western side of the Mosque compound, with an intention to link together the tunnels under Jerusalem’s Old City and Al-Aqsa Mosque, particularly with the Umayyad Palaces below the Islamic Museum. “We are taking this matter very seriously and with deep concern,” he said in a statement. Khatib called on UNESCO and the Jordanian government, which is the custodian over the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem, to send teams to inspect what Israel is doing below the Mosque, which could eventually harm the foundations of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock next to it. Meanwhile, reports said on Monday that a large stone fell from the northwestern side of the wall of Jerusalem’s Old City, prompting Waqf officials to warn of the possibility of other stones falling due to the Israeli digs in the area….
Israeli settlers raid East Jerusalem cemetery
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 July — A group of Israeli settlers raided the Bab al-Rahma cemetery, wall-to-wall with the Al-Aqsa Mosque on its eastern side, in occupied East Jerusalem on Saturday morning. Eyewitnesses told Ma’an that a group of Israeli settlers raided the cemetery under armed security by Israeli forces as dozens of Palestinians from Jerusalem were volunteering inside the cemetery. Witnesses added that Palestinians called out “Allah Akbar” (God is Great) in response to Israeli settlers’ prayers while inside the cemetery. Israeli forces threatened to assault and detain some of the Palestinians before they escorted Israeli settlers out of the cemetery later.
Last month, Israel’s Nature And Parks Authority (INPA) carried out excavations at the cemetery reportedly for the benefit of building a national (Israeli) park on parts of the cemetery. In 2015, the Bab al-Rahma cemetery was subject to demolitions after Israeli authorities announced plans to seize parts of the cemetery for a national park trail in 2015.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli accused of igniting Arabs’ property
Ynet 22 July by Gilad Morag — The Central District Attorney’s Office filed an indictment against David Sharaf, 41, of Eilat, for setting fire to Arab Israeli citizens’ property. According to the indictment, Sharaf decided to set these fires to avenge recent events in the Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, the indictment does not mention a nationalist motive. According to the indictment, filed by attorney Netanel Bujo, Sharaf planned to ignite the property of the Arab population. The accused also planned to set fire to open areas in order to prevent firefighters from responding to fires aimed at the Arab population. The first fire was set on July 8th in a souvenir shop located in the Old City of Jerusalem. The following day the accused called his relative and told him that he intends to “burn Arabs” because, he claimed, “they are burning our property.” The relative told authorities about the conversation, and Sharaf was questioned by police and removed from the city of Eilat for a period of 15 days. The next day, the accused, according to the indictment, set fire in three additional locations — a field near the IDF base in the central Nahal Sorek, an olive grove next to a residential building in an East Jerusalem’s neighborhood, and vegetation near several buildings and homes in Jerusalem….
Re-detained hunger striker remanded in custody for 24th time
JENIN (WAFA) 25 July – An Israeli military court remanded on Wednesday until August 8 and for the 24th time Khader Adnan, from the town of Arrabeh in the north of the West Bank, who had spent 66 days on hunger strike in Israeli prisons, according to members of his family. They said that the court remanded Adnan in custody until the security forces complete their investigation. Adnan, 40, a leading member of the Islamic Jihad, was detained at his home on December 11. He is married with six children. Adnan has been detained 11 times in his lifetime and spent over eight years in administrative detention. He forced Israel to end his administrative detention on April 17, 2012 after spending 66 days on hunger strike and was the first to start this struggle against administrative detention when Palestinians are held for long times without charge or trial and based on classified evidence. He was rearrested two years later and again spent 55 days on hunger strike after his administrative detention was extended for the third time in a row before he was released in July 2015 after reaching a deal to end his strike in return to not renewing his detention.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
In video – Israeli settlers storm Hebron-area village
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 22 July — Israeli settlers continued to storm the Palestinian village of Susiya, for the third day in a row, in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, on Sunday. According to local sources, dozens of Israeli settlers, under the armed security by Israeli forces, stormed the Susiya village for the third day this week. Sources added that Israeli settlers performed Jewish religious rituals in the area and several of them were reported to have verbally assaulted the Palestinian residents of the village. While in the village, Israeli settlers were also calling for the displacement of Palestinian residents from their lands. Settlers regularly storm Palestinian areas in the occupied West Bank to carry out religious rituals under the protection of the Israeli army. Visits by Israeli Jews to areas under Palestinian control across the West Bank often cause tensions with locals, as these visits are accompanied by large armed escorts. The video below shows Israeli settlers storming the area:
In video – Israel authorities assault residents, demolish Palestinian home in Sakhnin town
SAKHNIN (Ma‘an) 23 July — Israeli authorities demolished a Palestinian-owned home while injuring two residents protesting the demolition in the northern Israeli town of Sakhnin on Monday. Local sources told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities assaulted the residents of Sakhnin, who refused to allow the demolition of the home to take place. Sources added that the assault caused serious injuries in the chest to a 28-year-old Palestinian man, while a 60-year-old Palestinian woman was injured in her upper body.
Sources mentioned that the two injured were immediately transferred to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, and due to their medical condition they were placed in intensive care. The Municipality of Sakhnin released an official statement in which it condemned the demolition of the Palestinian-owned home by Israeli authorities in Sakhnin on Monday. According to the Mayor of Sakhnin, Mazen Ghanaim, the demolished home belonged to Palestinian resident Hussein Osman, and marked the unjust demolition as the beginning of the actual implementation of the discriminatory “Nationality Law.”….
Jewish settlers return to West Bank home 13 years after disengagement
JPost 24 July — Under cover of darkness, approximately 200 Jewish settlers, accompanied by Bayit Hayehudi MKs Betzalel Smotrich and Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, returned to the settlement of Sanur in the northern West Bank. The settlement was evacuated as part of the 2005 disengagement from Gaza, which also included four Jewish settlements in the Samaria region of the West Bank. “Nothing is better than realizing the true and clear desire to return,” said Smotrich. “After one understanding that a mistake was made, it needs to be corrected,” he added, referring to the disengagement. “We are coming today to express that desire. We are presenting this idea to the prime minister, the defense minister, and the rest of the members [of Knesset]: our message is that we need to fix this.”
Prime Minister Hamdallah inaugurates street in threatened West Bank community
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 21 July – Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah inaugurated on Saturday a regional street connecting the Bedouin community of Tana — a frequent target of the Israeli home demolition policy — with nearby Beit Furik town, to the east of Nablus in the occupied West Bank. Hamdallah said the opening of the road aims to reinforce the steadfastness of the local Bedouin population of the village, which is located in an area of almost daily Israeli military training activities. The Israeli military has frequently demolished residencies, mainly shacks, in the village under the pretext of construction without permission. The Palestinian government is trying to help the local residents to remain steadfast on their land in what is known as Area C of the occupied West Bank, which Israel seeks to seize after pushing its original Palestinian inhabitants out of it in order to build Jewish settlements in their locations.
Israel demolishes kindergarten in Bedouin community east of Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 25 July – The Israeli military destroyed on Wednesday a kindergarten in Jabal al-Baba Bedouin community east of Jerusalem, according to WAFA correspondent. He said an army force and a bulldozer raided the village and proceeded to demolish the kindergarten and a women’s center in the village under the pretext they were built without a permit. Israel has been waging a campaign to uproot dozens of Bedouin communities east of Jerusalem in an effort to clear the area from its Palestinian residents to eventually build a Jewish settlement in their location. The demolition and uprooting of the communities has generated an international uproar and protest.
Israeli forces destroy water pipeline in Jordan Valley
TUBAS (WAFA) 25 July – Israeli bulldozers destroyed late Tuesday a water pipeline that was supplying the northern Jordan Valley village of Ras al-Ahmar with fresh water as they razed the land to open a road, according to Motaz Bisharat, a local official. He said bulldozers working on the road under military protection destroyed the pipeline the local farmers were using to drink from and irrigate their land. The soldiers declared the area a closed military zone and prevented its Palestinian residents from leaving their tents during the operation. Ras al-Ahmar is often violated by Israeli forces who carry out demolition, razing of land and military training in the area and around the homes forcing the residents to leave their homes for hours and days.
Israel takes measures of Palestinian land in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 July — The Israeli authorities conducted a land survey in a Palestinian land belonging to the Sbeih family, in the Harmala village in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem on Tuesday. Owner and local resident, Nasri Sbeih, said that the family was surprised by the arrival of a group of surveyors and engineers under armed protection by Israeli forces to his land conducting surveys and taking measures of the land. Sbeih pointed out that the total space of the Palestinian-owned land is about 10 acres, adding that he was not notified of the reasons behind the survey. He added that locals attempted to prevent Israeli engineers from conducting the survey However, Israeli forces opened fire at them in response. Local sources told Ma‘an that the Israeli authorities conduct land surveys in order to prepare for the confiscation of more lands to build a new settlement outpost, which is another step towards cutting the occupied West Bank into two.
Israeli forces detain married couple in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 July — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian woman and her husband after raiding their home in al-‘Issawiya neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, on Tuesday. Muhammad Abu al-Hummos, a member of a local follow-up committee in al-‘Issawiya, said that Israeli forces raided the neighborhood after midnight on Tuesday. Abu al-Hummos added that Israeli forces surrounded the home of Wasim Nayif ‘Obeid and ambushed him; Israeli forces broke into his home and detained ‘Obeid and his wife. According to ‘Obeid, Israeli forces raided his home and detained him and his wife, Ibtisam, 35, and transferred them to the Salah al-Din police station, interrogated ‘Obeid about his wife’s illegal presence in East Jerusalem as she is a holder of a Palestinian ID card. ‘Obeid added that he was released after several hours of interrogation, while his wife was transferred to the Ofer Israeli prison, on charges of “illegally entering and living in Jerusalem.” Israeli forces had previously removed Ibtisam ‘Obeid from her East Jerusalem home in March 2017, after being held for several hours at a detention center and later released at a checkpoint outside the borders of Jerusalem. ‘Obeid mentioned that he and his wife have been married for 16 years and have three children. He continued to point out that Ibtisam had attempted to obtain an Israeli citizenship or at least a temporary permit, which has to be renewed every 6-12 months, to be allowed residency in Jerusalem, but her request was rejected under the pretext of “security purposes.”
The ICC is reaching out to victims of war crimes in Palestine
Al Jazeera 20 July by Nada Kiswanson — The Court’s surprising decision to establish outreach activities in Palestine is a welcomed step in the right direction — In an extraordinary move, the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court recently issued a decision ordering its registry “to establish, as soon as practicable, a system of public information and outreach activities for the benefit of the victims and affected communities in the situation in Palestine”. It is the first time the court issues an order for outreach at the earliest stages of the process, and before a decision has been reached by the ICC Prosecutor to open a formal investigation. The decision struck fear in the Israelis, who were yet again confronted with the long reach of the court. It also surprised those closely following the work of the court, including myself. What is to be made of this decision and could it be that the court is attempting to correct its criticized approach to victims and affected communities in general, through the situation in Palestine? The decision came at a time when state representatives gathered in The Hague to mark twenty years since the adoption of the Court’s founding treaty, the so-called Rome Statute. Those participating in the celebrations reminisced at the landmark decision to establish the first permanent international criminal institution capable, in theory, of holding world leaders to account for their role in the commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. The novelty of the decision by the Pre-Trial Chamber on the situation in Palestine reminds us, however, of the court’s shortcomings in engaging with victims and affected communities in a timely, continuous, and valuable manner as well as ensuring their early participation in the proceedings so that their unique views and concerns are taken into consideration from the beginning until the end….
Abbas: ‘We will not accept cancellation of stipends’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an)24 July — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday that the Palestinian Authority (PA) will continue to pay stipends to the families of killed Palestinians and prisoners. Abbas described the imprisoned and killed Palestinians as “stars in the skies of the Palestinian struggle and they have priority in everything.” He continued by saying that “we will not accept a cut or cancellation of salaries to the families of martyrs and prisoners.” Abbas added “even if we only have a penny left, we will give it to the martyrs, the prisoners and their families.”
Earlier this month, the Israeli Knesset had approved a law to deduct funds transferred to the PA by the amount paid to Palestinian prisoners and their families. The law will deduct the PA’s transfers, which makes up 7% of its overall budget, estimated at 1.1 billion shekels ($300 million) annually, which was used to pay salaries and funding for Palestinian prisoners and to pay stipends to families of killed and wounded Palestinians; this deduction move will add to another deficit to the PA’s budget.
Palestinians in West Bank protest against PA in support of Gaza
MEMO 23 July — Hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets in the West Bank city of Ramallah yesterday to protest against the Palestinian Authority (PA), calling it to lift its punitive measures imposed on the Gaza Strip, Quds Press reported. The protesters gathered in the centre of the city and raised placards reading: “Lift the sanctions imposed on Gaza”, “Shame on You Abbas” amongst others. According to Quds Press, the protesters, among them MPs and leaders of Palestinian factions, also called for the PA to stop its security cooperation with the Israeli occupation. They accused the PA of starving the residents of Gaza by cutting the salaries of government employees, halting treatment transfers and destroying basic services. More protests are expected to be held on Wednesday.
Palestinian envoy says US peace plan is ‘dead upon arrival’
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 24 July by Edith M. Lederer — The Trump administration’s long-awaited plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace is “dead upon arrival,” the Palestinian U.N. ambassador said Tuesday. Riyad Mansour told reporters that after President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Dec. 6 the United States “lost the qualification to be the only party to supervise the political process.” Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt, who have been drafting the administration’s plan, told the Arabic language Al-Quds newspaper last month that they will present it soon, with or without input from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Mansour said the U.S. is “eager” for Palestinian engagement on the plan but “we are not going to engage.” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and many other Palestinian officials “have indicated we will not engage in something that was dead upon arrival before even we received it,” he said. “It seems to me that people in Washington, D.C. — they still think that ‘we are the only game in town. It’s us or nothing,’” Mansour said. “We are not a player to accommodate their desires.” Mansour said the Palestinians will insist on “a collective process” involving many countries to try to end the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as Abbas proposed in an address to the Security Council in February….
Two Gaza Palestinians found dead in Algeria
MEMO 23 July — Two Palestinians were found dead in an apartment in Algeria yesterday, with mixed reports as to the cause of their deaths. The pair, who were originally from Khan Yunis in the besieged Gaza Strip, have been named as 34-year-old Suliman Al-Farra and 35-year-old Mohammed Albana. One was working as a doctor and the other as a scientific researcher, with both believed to have been studying in Algeria. Their bodies were found in Al-Farra’s apartment in Zeralda, a suburb of the Algerian capital Algiers. Haaretz reported that their families “were trying to locate the men and called on Palestinians in Algeria for help. They broke into the apartment where both men were found dead.” Other sources have maintained that the pair were discovered accidentally; Palestine News Network quoted Gazan news agencies as saying “the death occurred two days ago and was discovered by incident on Sunday evening after the neighbours smelled gas in the building.”… Palestinian Ambassador to Algeria, Loai Issa, told Wafa that initial investigation into their deaths showed they died of suffocation from a gas leak in their apartment and there “was no criminal wrongdoing.”
UN rights chief calls out Israel over detained Palestinian kids
UNITED NATIONS (United States) (AFP) 23 July — The United Nations rights chief on Monday demanded that Israel either give more than 400 detained Palestinian children their day in court or release them, decrying “assaults” on Palestinians’ rights. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra‘ad Al Hussein criticized the “administrative detention” system under which Israel is currently holding an estimated 440 children. “Israel should immediately charge, or release, all of them,” the Geneva-based Zeid said via videolink, calling Israel’s system a “fundamental human rights violation.” “It should be absolutely clear that international law requires detention only be used for children as a last resort,” he said. “And whether for children or for adults, detention without trial, on evidence that is often kept secret, under often indefinitely renewable administrative detention orders, contravenes Israel’s obligations under international law, and must come to an end.”….
Egypt says Israel’s Jewish nation-state law undermines Mideast peace
CAIRO (Reuters) 21 July — Egypt on Saturday said a new Israeli law giving Jews the exclusive right to self-determination in the country undermined the chances for peace in the Middle East and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. The law, which was passed on Thursday, has drawn rebuke from the European Union and was denounced by the Palestinian Authority and Arab citizens of Israel as racist legislation. “The Arab Republic of Egypt announces…its rejection of the law passed by the Israeli Knesset on the “national state for the Jewish people” law … for its ramifications that consecrate the concept of occupation and racial segregation,” the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement. “It undermines the chances for achieving peace and reaching a just and comprehensive solution for the Palestinian issue,” it said … On Friday, Egypt’s al-Azhar Mosque, the most prestigious Sunni Muslim institution, denounced the Israeli law calling it “a step that reflects repugnant racism”.
Saudi Arabia slams ‘racial discrimination’ of Israeli law
Riyadh (AFP) 21 July — Saudi Arabia has slammed a controversial Israeli law as “perpetuating racial discrimination” against Palestinians by defining the country as the nation state of the Jewish people, state media reported. The law adopted by Israel’s parliament on Thursday also defines the establishment of Jewish communities as being in the national interest and downgrades Arabic from an official language to one with special status. Citing a Saudi foreign ministry source, the official Saudi Press Agency said late Friday the kingdom “rejects and disapproves” of the new legislation which it argued contradicts international law. The source called on the international community to “confront such a law and or other Israeli attempts, aimed at perpetuating racial discrimination against the Palestinian people”, SPA reported. Saudi Arabia said the adoption of the law would also be a barrier to ending the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict…
The Israeli legislation was also condemned by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, comprised of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Adoption of the law “reflected the regime of racism and discrimination against the Palestinian people,” GCC secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani was quoted by SPA as saying. Zayani accused Israel of trying to obliterate the Palestinians’ “national identity and depriving them of their legitimate civil and human rights on their occupied homeland”.
US envoy Haley attacks Arab, Islamic states over Palestinian aid
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) 224 July by Michelle Nichols — U.S. envoy to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Tuesday slammed Arab and Islamic states for talking a lot about supporting the Palestinians but not giving more money to help, calling out countries like Egypt, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Haley listed how much those countries, along with Algeria, Tunisia, Pakistan, Oman, Iran and Turkey, had given – or not given – to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which helps Palestinian refugees. Washington, long the biggest donor, cut its aid to $60 million from a promised $365 million this year. “No group of countries is more generous with their words than the Palestinians’ Arab neighbors, and other OIC member states,” Haley told a U.N. Security Council meeting on the Middle East, citing the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. “But all of the words spoken here in New York do not feed, clothe, or educate a single Palestinian child. All they do is get the international community riled up,” she said. Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour said Haley had insulted U.S. allies “in an arrogant way.” Haley also called out China and Russia for talking “a big game about the Palestinian cause” but providing only $350,000 and $2 million respectively to UNRWA in 2017. China’s U.N. Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu told the council: “We have no intention of competing with any other countries.” Haley said it was time for the “regional states in particular to step up.” According to IRIN, a nonprofit that reports on humanitarian issues, the UAE and Kuwait were ranked in the top five most generous aid donors compared with national income globally in 2017, while the United States came in at 16….
Obama’s peace envoy: Israel is carrying out ‘reversed Oslo’ in West Bank
Times of Israel 23 July by Jacob Magid — Amid rising doubts over the viability of US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-released peace plan, the Obama administration’s special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is speaking out against what he describes as Israel’s “alarming” rejection of previous agreements aimed at moving towards a two-state solution. Speaking to The Times of Israel last week, former senior State Department official Frank Lowenstein said that Israel was implementing “Oslo reversed,” in which the Jewish state has been gradually transferring power to Israeli settlers in the West Bank rather than to the Palestinian Authority as originally agreed in the bilateral accords of the 1990s. Earlier this month, The New Yorker reported that it was this realization by Lowenstein in the spring of 2015 that “shocked” Barack Obama into refusing to block UN Security Council Resolution 2334 condemning Israeli settlements. Lowenstein told The Times of Israel that he’d long been aware of the reality in the West Bank, but had been unable to fully explain it to his superiors until the sixth year of Obama’s presidency when he came across a series of maps that showed how 60 percent of the land beyond the Green Line had become off-limits to Palestinian development….
In presence of the prime minister, foundation stone laid for largest Palestinian mall
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 23 July – Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah laid on Monday the foundation stone for the largest mall in Palestine, Centro Mall, which will be built in Ramallah. He praised such projects saying they help provide jobs and support the local economy at a time international aid to Palestine has declined by over 70 percent and with Israel’s dominion over Palestinian resources. “In light of the decline in financial aid by 70 percent and Israel’s dominance over our resources, its piracy of our money and its efforts to weaken our national economy, we urgently need to maximize our capabilities and resources, strengthen our sectors and enhance investment opportunities,” he said at the ground-breaking ceremony. Centro Mall will be built in Ramallah city center with an area of 70,000 square meters, half of it for parking, 2,000 square meters for a hyper market and the remaining 33,000 square meters for shops of various international and local brands. It is expected to have a total cost of $100 million, according to the owners, Abu Ein Group and Nabali and al-Faris Holdings. Khaled al-Faris, one of the owners, said a world-standard mall with international specifications is expected to attract Palestinian shoppers from all over the West Bank who would prefer to shop at a Palestinian mall instead of going to Israeli malls.
Palestine’s first aquarium opens in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 23 July – The first Palestinian aquarium opened in Ramallah on Sunday with a display of a variety of fish, amphibians and tropical plants. The 820-meter Palestine Aquarium and its glassed basins that have on display 250 unique and rare underwater species simulates the maritime environment with its various mysteries. Project engineer, Sufian Qawasmi, said that the various kinds of fish and plants, 90 percent of which enter Palestine for the first time, are being displayed in one place. He said, there are currently coral, Red Sea fish and Nile crocodiles and later jellyfish, seahorses, species of sharks and some other kinds of fish will be added to give bring the aquarium to international standard. The project was supposed to open in April, but Israeli obstructions blocked the entry of many types of fish for more than six months, which led to the death of a large number of the fish and the project owners suffered significant financial losses….
Palestinian adventurers start long walk up Mount Ararat
BAYAZID, Turkey (WAFA) 21 July — A group of Palestinian adventurers started on Saturday a four-day climb toward the top of Mount Ararat in Turkey, according to the trip organizers. The participants in the “Climb for Palestine” group arrived on Friday in the town of Dojo Bayazid in northeastern Turkey in preparation to start their mountain climbing toward the top of Mount Ararat, about 5,136 meters above sea level. “The group is ready to take on this new adventure,” said the group coordinator Samer al Azem. “We have four days to walk up to the top of the mountain. We will walk about 40 kilometers in very rugged terrain to the top of the snow-covered mountain.” Climb for Palestine – C4P started two years ago organizing mountaineering, rock climbing, mountain hiking and trekking trips locally and internationally, according to the group’s Facebook page. “We walked dozens of tracks from the Golan Heights in the north of the country to the Naqab Desert in the south in spite of Israeli occupation obstacles,” said Azem. “We were the first large group to raise the flag of Palestine over Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, and if we succeed this time, we will raise our flag once again in few days on the top of Mount Ararat.”