In Video: Crowded protest in Ramallah against US ‘Deal of the Century’
[with many photos] RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 2 July — Hundreds of Palestinians renewed on Monday their complete rejection of the ‘Deal of the Century’ that is being proposed by the United States administration. Hundreds marched across the streets of Ramallah City in the central West Bank protesting the US deal dubbed ‘Deal of the Century’ and in support of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Protesters repeated slogans in support of the Palestinian leadership in its stand against the deal. Deputy Head of the Fatah movement Mahmoud al-Alul, member of the movement’s Central Committee Jamal Muheisen and the governor of the Ramallah and al-Bireh district Laila Ghannam took part in the march. Al-Alul said during a speech that “we do not want your aid, we want a Palestinian state.”
The ‘Deal of the Century’ peace plan proposed by the US suggests that the Palestinians can build their own Jerusalem from areas surrounding the city of villages and neighborhoods. The plan also calls for keeping borders and security under Israeli control, while it keeps Israeli settlements final borders to be discussed in later negotiations.
PFLP condemns PA, Fatah aggression on pro-Gaza rally in Nablus
MEMO 2 July — The Palestinian Front for the Liberation Palestinian (PFLP) yesterday condemned the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah members’ aggression against a rally organised in the West Bank city of Nablus calling for lifting sanctions imposed on the Gaza Strip, Quds Net reported. In a statement, the PFLP also called for holding the PA and Fatah accountable for this “aggressive” behavior. The PFLP stressed the importance of maintaining national unity in Nablus, as well as across the whole country based on “real” and “serious” partnership. Hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets of Nablus to show their support for Palestinians living in the besieged Gaza Strip and calling on the PA to end the punitive measures it has taken against the enclave.
Palestinian conference in Istanbul discusses ‘Deal of the Century’
MEMO 30 June –The Popular Conference of Palestinians Abroad launched its second gathering on Friday in Istanbul, Quds Press has reported. The agenda of the conference includes several aspects of the Palestinian cause, at the top of which is America’s “deal of the century”. The rights of Palestinian refugees, the UNRWA funding crisis and political consideration surrounding the refugee issue will also be discussed. Salman Abu Sitta, the head of the general commission of the conference, said that the Palestinians abroad and the refugees, who number as many as 6 million, bear several responsibilities. He called for them to prosecute the Israeli occupation authorities in the international courts, and warned them about the procrastination of the Palestinian Authority in this regard. The General Secretary of the conference movement, Moneer Shafiq, hailed the Great March of Return, which, he said, united the Palestinians. Describing the security cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel as “shameful”, he accused the PA of living on paradoxes as it claims to be protecting the Palestinian people, while also cooperating with Israel to deter Palestinian resistance to the occupation. The conference was launched in Istanbul in February last year with the objective of creating a popular movement to reinforce a real role for the Palestinians living abroad.
Israeli court orders PA to compensate collaborators
MEMO 30 June — An Israeli court has ordered the Palestinian Authority to compensate Palestinians detained by its security services over suspicions that they have collaborated with the occupation authorities, local media reported on Friday. According to the Times of Israel, the court has ordered the PA to pay a total of NIS13.2m ($3.5 million) in compensation to 52 collaborators. The PA occasionally detains Palestinians in the occupied West Bank who are suspected of collaborating with the Israeli security services. Israel Hayom reported that five lawsuits involving dozens of plaintiffs have been filed against the authority over its crackdown on collaborators, noting that the oldest dates from 2004. “We welcome the court’s landmark ruling,” said lawyers acting for the collaborators. “The judge saw the plaintiffs’ disabilities [resulting from torture], understood their distress and decided to grant them partial compensation immediately.” The Palestinian Authority calls its own collaboration with the Israeli occupation authorities “security cooperation”. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has described this as “sacred”. Critics insist that the PA security services were created solely to protect Israel and its occupation, not the people of Palestine.
Twitter closes accounts of Hamas, Hezbollah leaders
JERUSALEM (AA) 2 July by Abdel Raouf Arnaout — Twitter has shut the accounts of dozens of Hamas and Hezbollah leaders at Israel’s request, according to Israel’s Homeland Security Ministry. In a statement, the ministry said that Homeland Security Minister Gilad Erdan had provided the popular social-networking site with the names of 40 individuals linked to Hamas or Hezbollah whose accounts Israel wanted to see closed. Twitter responded by closing 35 of the accounts on the list, according to the same statement.
The list included the names of prominent Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh, Khaled Meshaal, Izzat al-Rishq, Hossam Badran, Salah al-Bardawil, Fathi Hammad, Fawzi Barhoum, Osama Hamdan, Sami Abu Zuhri, Taher al-Nono, Rawhi Mushtaha, Moussa Abu Marzouk and Hussein Abu Kwik, among others, the ministry said.
It also included the names of leading members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, including Naim Kassem and Salam al-Faham, among others. Neither Hamas nor Hezbollah have yet commented on the ministry statement.
Australia to stop direct aid to Palestine
MEMO 2 July — Australia announced today that it will stop direct aid to Palestine following objections from ministers over “martyr payments”. Australia has previously provided 10 million Australian dollars ($7.4 million) of funding annually to the World Bank’s Palestinian Recovery and Development Trust Fund. The fund enables donors to support the Palestinian Authority’s national policy agenda, which focuses on institution-building activities and development projects. Australian funds will now be redirected to the United Nations’ Humanitarian Fund for the Palestinian Territories, which provides health care, food and water, and sanitation to vulnerable families but does not focus on development. The move will mean Australian funds bypass the PA. Australian Finance Minister, Julie Bishop, said: “I am concerned that in providing funds for this aspect of the PA’s operations there is an opportunity for it to use its own budget [for] activities that Australia would never support,” according to Australian news network SBS. She added that “any assistance provided by the Palestine Liberation Organisation [PLO] to those convicted of politically motivated violence is an affront to Australian values.” ….
Interview: Trump pursues Israel ‘peace plan’ to break off Gaza, without input from Palestinians
The Real News 30 June — While US President Trump reportedly hopes to use Gulf funding to pressure Egypt to take over Gaza, splitting it from the West Bank, expert Phyllis Bennis warns no Israel peace deal is possible when “there is no Palestinian voice” involved
Prince William’s pledge after Israel and Palestine visit: ‘Middle East peace will be my lifelong mission’
The Mirror 1 July by Russell Myers — Prince William has pledged to make peace in the Middle East his “lifelong project” after his historic trip to the region. This week the Duke of Cambridge became the first royal ever to travel on official business to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The 36-year-old father of three was so moved by the stories of those he met – especially the suffering endured by youngsters – he even personally rewrote half an official speech to reflect his own feelings. Now the former military pilot has made it his mission to campaign for a “just and lasting peace”. A highly-placed Palace source told the Sunday Mirror that the Duke is determined to solve the region’s long-simmering mutual hostility – a problem which has stumped a series of world leaders. Before the visit, unsure of how he would be received, he asked aides to brief him closely on the labyrinthine politics that have doomed previous attempts at peace to failure. And as the trip ended he told them: “This is the start of something new. I will forever honour my commitments to the people I have met.” … Tradition dictates that royals stay neutral rather than entering the political landscape at home or abroad. But sources say William wants to play a significant role in bringing “peace and prosperity” to the Middle East and intends to use his global platform as a force for good in the region. His dedication echoes his mother Princess Diana’s work with causes close to her heart over many years, continuing her legacy of helping “forgotten” people….
Sufi women blazing a new trail in Nablus
NABLUS (Al-Monitor) 29 June — The classes in Sufism that Jamila Haroun al-Debai took more than a decade ago changed her life. As a member of the General Union of Palestinian Women, Debai used to attend every funeral and demonstration in Nablus, but today she devotes most of her time to Sufism, describing her devotion as “worth all the work she has done in the past.” Debai leads a group of 40 women who gather every Monday at the Sheikh Muslim Zawiya, a Sufi religious school, in the heart of the old town in Nablus, to attend the hadra, a collective ritual performed by Sufi orders. The hadra, which literally means “presence,” starts with adherents reciting the Quran and collectively chanting short prayers, either aloud or silently, while counting on a set of prayer beads. The chanting of rhyming verse is supposed to bring one closer to God, a practice called “dhikr” in Arabic, meaning “remembrance.” … Debai’s hadra for women is thought to be the first of its kind in Nablus and perhaps among Sufis in all of Palestine. Abdul Karim Najm, head of the Supreme Islamic Sufi Council of Palestine, told Al-Monitor, “We regard hadra sessions as ‘ijtihad,’ [personal initiative or reasoning], but it is unusual that women go to the zawiyas and hold such sessions….
Palestinians celebrate traditional dress in vibrant march
AL-BIREH (WAFA) 30 June – What started as a response to Israel’s cultural appropriation turned into a multi-day annual event during which Palestinians travel back to times when heritage was a way of life and clothes told the stories of their owners. About 200 women and some 50 men marched from the municipality square in the center of Al-Bireh city in the central West Bank, wearing traditional dresses to celebrate the symbol of Palestinian culture and a form of art and a language of expression. Four years ago, June 30th became known as the Palestinian Traditional Dress Day. Women and men walk the streets in colorful dresses singing traditional Palestinian songs that celebrate nature, land and love. Lana Hijazi, one of the coordinators of the Palestinian Traditional Dress Day, told WAFA that a major motive for the day was attempts by Israeli models to hijack the Palestinian dress and reintroduce it as an Israeli tradition on international runways and in showrooms. Hijazi said, “Another goal is the need to enrich the Palestinian visual archive with photos of the traditional Palestinian dresses for both men and women.” The organizers of the event chose the slogan “Wear your [traditional] dress, like nobody else”, because they believe Palestinian traditional dresses are unique and so diverse. Hijazi said Palestinian dresses are elegant, timeless and varied; each dress has a story and represents a certain area. “As such, our heritage manifests in our dresses. Our life is on our dresses and we will not allow the Israeli occupation to one day steal our heritage … The event will continue until the 25th of July. Similar marches with take place in Battir, Hebron, Sebastia, Tulkarem, Qalqilia, Jericho and Salfit. The next event in Battir in Bethlehem will include a traditional wedding ceremony with women and men dressed in the traditional Palestinian dress. [Google “Palestinian traditional dress” for a great many more beautiful photos]
This touching photo set reveals another side to life in the West Bank
Highsnobiety 30 June — Now, thanks to photographer Adlan Mansri, we can see what it’s really like to visit the West Bank.[Captions would have been nice, though] The area is fraught with political tension and violence — more than 100 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds more wounded since protests started in Gaza and the West Bank in March — but that doesn’t mean that all aspects of life are put on hold. Mansri spent three months across the three areas that make up the West Bank: Area A, controlled by the Palestinian Authority; Area B, controlled by Palestine in coordination with Israel; and Area C, controlled by Israel. He traveled to the cities of Jerusalem, Ramallah, Jericho, Bethlehem, Jenin, Hebron, and Nablus, as well as numerous smaller villages. “During my stay, I met a lot of Palestinians, either in the cities or the villages,” says Mansri. “People that live in the three different areas have a different level of struggle, but at the end of the day, the resilience is the same. Palestinians love on a different level because their emotions are pushed into the depths of fear. They are exposed to the extremes of their own emotions from the youngest age.” The West Bank is littered with military checkpoints and reminders of struggle and despair, but Mansri attempts to capture another side of the landscape. “People should visit Palestine because it’s much more than war,” he says. “The West Bank is beautiful. The roads between every city are spectacular, with olive trees and blossoming landscapes. Feelings of compassion, love, and solidarity are everywhere.”
Syrians fleeing Assad regime airstrikes reach Israeli border: ‘It’s the safest place to be’
Haaretz 1 July by Elizabeth Tsurkov — As Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces advance on southern Syria, the stream of refugees fleeing toward Israel has increased. Thousands of them, crowded into trucks jolting along the roads toward the border fence on the Golan, perceived as being the safest area, which Russia and the Assad regime would hesitate to bombard. According to United Nations figures published early last week, some 11,000 civilians have fled to this area. But aid groups and local residents say the number has ballooned following bombardments of population centers in the southern part of Daraa province. Dozens of refugees and residents of the Syrian Golan Heights told Haaretz repeatedly that they expect Israel to protect those fleeing for their lives and increase its aid to the displaced persons camps, which are collapsing under the load. Many of the refugees sleep under the stars and have received no assistance from humanitarian aid organizations….
Israel deploys armoured, artillery forces to Syrian Golan Heights
MEMO 2 July –The Israeli army yesterday deployed several armoured and artillery forces into the Israeli-occupied Syrian territory of the Golan Heights [see video]. According to an Israeli army spokesperson, the deployment of Israeli forces came in the wake of an assessment of the position of the “Northern Military Command” in light of developments on the Syrian side of the border, deciding it is necessary to strengthen the occupied Golan Heights’ armoured forces and artillery. The spokesperson added that the Israeli army considers it very important to maintain the disengagement agreement between Israel and Syria which was agreed in 1974. According to Ynet news website, speaking during the cabinet meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will keep protecting its borders but won’t allow refugees into Israel.
Israeli army kills a Palestinian, injures three, then abducts two of them
IMEMC 3 July — Israeli soldiers killed, on Monday evening, at least one Palestinian, and injured three others, including two who were then abducted by the soldiers after being injured, and one teenager who was rushed to a Palestinian hospital in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli news agency Haaretz reports that the four young men were trying to cross the border into Israel when the Israeli army spotted them and began shooting. But video footage [below] of the incident published by Quds News shows that the soldiers had invaded the Gaza Strip and were well within Palestinian territory when they grabbed the young men and dragged them across to their military base. The disturbing footage shows the soldiers pulling one young man who is lying motionless on the ground, picking him up by arms and legs and dropping him repeatedly as they drag him across the stony ground. It is unclear whether the young man was alive or dead at the time.
Although the Israeli military claimed that the young men were “armed with fireworks”, no evidence was presented to back this claim. The army also alleged that the soldiers “heard shots being fired at them,” but there has been no confirmation for his claim. Only one of the wounded Palestinians, a 16-year-old child, managed to escape the army’s attempt to abduct him, and was rushed to Abu Yousef Najjar Hospital, in Rafah, suffering a gunshot wound to his shoulder. The three other Palestinians were taken by the soldiers who invaded the Palestinian lands, near the border fence, and took them away. A Palestinian medic said the Palestinians (as confirmed by the video footage) did not cross the fence, and that he and his colleagues were only twenty meters away from the wounded Palestinians. “We tried to provide aid to the wounded Palestinians; we were just twenty meters away from them,” the medic said, “but the soldiers threatened to shoot us, and forced us away.”
It is worth mentioning that some media outlets have reported that two of the young Palestinians were killed, while others report that one was killed. Because the Israeli military is holding three of them, the extent of their wounds is unknown, and it is unclear whether one or two of them are dead. The Israeli army claimed that the Palestinians were carrying cutters and flammable materials, and “were attempting to set fire to a vacant Israeli military sniper post along the border fence”. The Israeli army issued a statement holding the Hamas movement in Gaza fully responsible for “all attempts to cross the border fence and attack military installations.” So far, the names of the Palestinians, including the deceased, remain unknown as they, except for the wounded teen who was rushed to a Palestinian hospital, have been captured by the army.
Two teens killed, eight injured, in Gaza explosion
IMEMC 1 July — The Palestinian Health Ministry has reported, Saturday, that two teenagers were killed, and eight other residents were injured, three seriously, in an explosion in a home in the Sheja‘eyya neighborhood in Gaza city. The Health Ministry said the deceased Palestinian teens have been identified as Moayyad Hayyed Hallas, 17, and Majed Dia’ al-‘Ar‘ir, 17. The property is owned by Sami al-‘Ar‘ir. The eight wounded Palestinians were rushed to the Shifa Medical Center, in Gaza city. The Palestinian police rushed to the scene and initiated an investigation into the incident. Initial reports indicate that the explosion took place in a home where fireworks were illegally manufactured.
Gaza family mourns slain son, 11: ‘Not last child to be killed’
Al Jazeera 30 June by Maram Humaid & Linah Alsaafin — On Friday afternoon, as Israeli soldiers from the other side of the fence were firing tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition, Yaser Abu al-Naja and a few friends took cover behind a waste container away from the front lines of a protest in the Gaza Strip. As Yaser briefly peeked out from behind the bin, an explosive bullet hit him in the head. His skull was shattered, resulting a bloody pulp in one side, eye-witnesses said. Yaser was 11 years old. His killing on Friday made him the 16th Palestinian child to be shot dead by Israeli forces since the launch on March 30 of the Great March of Return protests calling for the right of refugees and their descendants to return to the homes and lands from which they were violently expelled from in 1948. A few hours later, at sundown, Yaser’s mother Samah Abu al-Naja was browsing through Facebook on her mobile phone when she came upon a photo of an “unidentified boy” with his head blurred and bloodied clothes. “His face was not showing, but I recognised him as my son from the clothes he was wearing,” the 30-year-old told Al Jazeera from her home east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip. “My neighbour and one of my daughters were sitting with me,” she added. “I turned to them with the phone in my hand and said: ‘This is my son.'” For Samah, the horror of certainty instantly gave way to a sense of shock. As the young mother headed to the European Hospital, where Yaser’s body was held, she struggled to wrap her mind around the fact that her first-born child had been shot dead. “I never expected my son to be killed,” she wept. “I knew he went every Friday to attend the protests, but he was driven by curiosity and went mostly to watch other protesters with his group of his friends.”
–‘Ray of sunlight’– Yaser was born in 2006, one year before the Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the Gaza Strip was imposed. He grew up through three Israeli offensives which devastated the Hamas-run enclave. His family’s house was destroyed twice during his short lifetime – once in 2011 and again in 2014 – leaving him and his relatives to seek temporary shelter with other families. Those who knew Yaser, whose funeral was held on Saturday, described him as a well-mannered, obedient and clever boy who loved sports and counted swimming, horseback riding and football as his favourite hobbies. The night before he was killed, he was watching the football World Cup with his friends …
The first boy in the family, Yaser’s birth was a major source of happiness for his parents and his father’s first wife, Naeema. Naeema had nine girls before she suggested to her husband, Amjad Abu al-Najar, over a decade ago to marry a younger woman in order to conceive a coveted male heir. When Yaser was born, the 48-year-old treated him like her own son … Naeema said Yaser’s killing was personal to get back at his father, who is a leader with Hamas’ military wing al-Qassam Brigades….
25 Palestinian children slain by Israel since beginning of 2018
IMEMC/Agencies 2 July — Israeli occupation forces have killed 25 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip since the start of 2018, Defence for Children International–Palestine (DCIP) revealed on Sunday. Of the 25 minors killed by occupation forces, 21 were targeted in the besieged Gaza Strip, the organisation said. The association added that the Israeli army “intentionally killed children by using live ammunition.” According to DCIP, 21 of the 25 children were killed with live bullets, and 11 of them were shot in the head and neck. “The Israeli army continues to escalate its use of lethal force and live bullets against Palestinian children who pose no direct threat to it,” the organisation said.
Knesset guards eject four MKs as debate over Gaza children hits raw nerves
Times of Israel 2 July by Sur Surkes — As left-wing groups present testimony about alleged abuse by Israeli soldiers, right-wing lawmakers hurl accusations of lying and treason — Four right-wing Knesset members were forcibly ejected from an emotionally charged Knesset meeting on Monday, as lawmakers clashed during a special conference to highlight the plight of children in the Gaza Strip. The meeting — so packed with lawmakers, journalists, activists and others that many had to line up outside — was organized by four opposition MKs, and held in a Knesset chamber under the auspices of diplomats from the EU, the Netherlands and the UK. Among the groups invited to take part and present testimony were Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Physicians for Human Rights, and Combatants for Peace — groups sometimes derided as treasonous by right-wing Israelis … As spokespeople for the organization tried to provide testimony Monday, right-wing MKs heckled and hurled insults to the extent that, at times, it was hard to hear anything else … Meanwhile, MK Jamal Zahalka of the Joint (Arab) List charged that children in the Gaza Strip were being deliberately killed by Israeli troops….
Army invades Palestinian lands in southern Gaza; navy fires at Palestinian fishing boats
IMEMC 2 July — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday morning, Palestinian agricultural lands east of Abasan al-Kabeera town, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The invasion was carried out by a few armored vehicles, and bulldozers, before the soldiers advanced approximately 50 meters into Palestinian lands in the Sanati area, east of Khan Younis. The soldiers then bulldozed Palestinian lands, and installed sand hills in the area, before withdrawing.
In related news, Israeli navy ships fired several live rounds at Palestinian fishing boats, in northern Gaza, causing no damage or injuries, but forced the fishermen back to shore.
Egypt opens Gaza border following three-day closure
CAIRO (AA) 2 July by Rabie Abu Zamil — Egypt reopened the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip on Monday following a three-day closure, according to Egyptian state media. Egypt’s official MENA news agency reported that President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi had ordered the crossing reopened — in both directions — to allow medical patients from Gaza to receive treatment abroad. MENA did not, however, say how long the crossing — the blockaded strip’s only means of accessing the outside world — would remain open. In mid-May, the Egyptian authorities opened the crossing for the entire Ramadan fasting month.
Palestinian Ministry of Health prepares shipment of medical supplies to Gaza Strip
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 2 July — The Palestinian Ministry of Health announced on Monday to have begun processing a shipment full of vaccines, cancer medicine, and required medical aid, which will be distributed to several warehouses in the besieged Gaza Strip. The Minister of Health, Dr. Jawad Awad stated in a statement that an urgent shipment of medicines and vaccines worth one million dollars, have been prepared to be shipped to the Gaza Strip. The distribution of the medical shipment is expected to reach the besieged coastal enclave on Tuesday, from the ministry’s warehouses in the northern West Bank district of Nablus to the Gaza Strip. Minister Awad stressed that the ministry is constantly working on providing their best efforts while treating patients in both the West Bank and Gaza, and to equip all hospitals with much needed medical supplies and medication. Prior to these efforts, several doctors in Gaza warned the ministry about the shortage of medication or medical supplies available to the residents and called upon the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to immediately intervene to ensure the immediate supply of necessary medications and medical consignment into the Gaza Strip.
Video: Dmitri Lascaris reporting from the Gaza Freedom Flotilla
The Real News 29 June — A candidate of Sweden’s feminist party and one of the flotilla’s captains talk about their participation in the effort to break the Gaza blockade.
Great Dance of Return: Palestinians perform dabke to the sound of bullets at Gaza border (VIDEO)
RT 1 July — Live bullet fire and tear gas shot by Israeli soldiers did not stop about half a dozen Palestinian activists from performing an Arab folk dance at the latest Great March of Return protest, which, once again, has turned out deadly. Taking a break from protesting and rushing the Israeli lines, a number of Palestinian youths staged a perfectly executed Dabke circle dance at the 14th weekly Great March of Return demonstration on Friday. Swinging ropes in their hands, typically used to hurdle projectiles at IDF soldiers across the demarcation line, a number of young male activists were joined by a young woman to perform a piece synonymous with the Palestinian cultural resistance against occupation….
Israel tightens financial noose on Gaza
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 2 July by Ahmad Abu Amer — Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman issued an order on June 21 designating the Hamed Exchange Company in Gaza City a terrorist organization. The directive follows a recommendation by Shin Bet, Israel’s intelligence service, accusing the company of funding Hamas. Liberman noted that declaring the company a terrorist organization would prevent it from working with financial institutions internationally, thus cutting off sources of funding for the movement. Considered a first of its kind measure by Israel against a company in Gaza, the move was foreshadowed by the Israeli military’s campaign against money exchange operations in the West Bank between 2006 and 2017. The companies targeted were accused of transferring funds to Palestinian activists and families of political prisoners and Palestinians killed by Israelis or in attacks against them. They were met with orders to confiscate millions of dollars and shekels and to close. Their owners were also arrested … Nasr Abdel Karim, a professor of economics at Birzeit University, told Al-Monitor that exchanges and other companies in Gaza are concerned that the decision to classify Hamed Exchange as a terrorist organization is the first step by Israel in a broader campaign against non-banking financial institutions in Gaza … Yet according to Muhammad Miqdad, a professor of economics and finance at the Islamic University in Gaza, Israel’s latest decision will neither advance nor impede the economic reality in Gaza, which is experiencing a meltdown not witnessed for decades as a result of the Israeli blockade and punitive measures by the PA … In recent months, Israel has tightened its fiscal blockade of Gaza, refusing to convert foreign currency in adequate quantities, including dollars and Jordanian dinars. Banks and money exchanges have also had difficulty replacing damaged currency due to procrastination on the part of Israeli banks. On June 25, the PMA could only replace part of its currency stocks.
Hamas: PA unwilling to lift its punitive measures on Gaza
MEMO 2 July — The Palestinian Authority’s crackdown on protests in the West Bank in solidarity with the Gaza Strip is proof that it is unwilling to lift the punitive measures it has imposed on the besieged enclave, Hamas said yesterday. According to Felesteen.ps, the movement’s spokesperson Hazem Qasim stressed in a statement that the PA is challenging the national consensus and refusing to lift the punitive measures it has imposed on the Gaza Strip. “The PA security services’ crackdown on protests staged in Nablus, which called for lifting the punitive measures imposed on Gaza, is a continuation to the systematic violence adopted by the PA against Palestinians,” Qasim said. He added: “This is a flagrant violation of the Palestinian law which guarantees the right to peaceful gathering and demonstrations.”
Analysis: Abbas is key obstacle to Gaza rehabilitation, in eyes of Israeli security establishment / Amos Harel
Haaretz 3 July — The Israeli security establishment sees opposition from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as the main obstacle to taking steps toward improving the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. Despite the tough rhetoric by Israeli leaders, the past few weeks have seen a greater readiness among them to advance projects that would rehabilitate Gaza’s infrastructure. But Abbas’ vehement opposition, due to the ongoing tension between the PA and Hamas, is making it difficult to move anything forward. Qatar, meanwhile, disclosed on Sunday that there have been indirect contacts between Israel and Hamas aimed at preventing an escalation of violence in the Strip and facilitating reconstruction. In their official statements, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman continue to demand the return of the two Israeli civilians and the remains of the two soldiers being held in Gaza before they will approve extensive humanitarian measures. In practice, however, the two have been giving the professional echelon more discretion to advance projects that could help ease tensions with Hamas along the border. Among other things, progress has been reported in contacts with Cyprus for the construction of a harbor that could receive and forward goods to the Gaza Strip….
Analysis: Only freedom of movement can save the Gaza Strip from imminent collapse / Amira Hass
Haaretz 2 July — Gaza’s condition could improve if Israel let Gazans work, thereby increasing their income sources. But the government’s policy is to divide the Strip from the West Bank– which only serves Hamas — The only thing that could really save Gaza is rapid and immediate growth in jobs and revenue sources. No technical solution can rescue Gaza from the distress it is in after 27 years of Israeli closure, whose direct results are unemployment among almost half the labor force and even more among the young, the impoverishment of formerly prosperous industries such as commerce, manufacturing and construction, a decline in the quality of education and health and a brain drain. Neither can mobilizing donations from the Gulf States – another therapeutic magic trick. Gaza doesn’t lack entrepreneurs, people with ingenuity and talent and ideas who want to support themselves and their families and not be dependent on humiliating donations. But a rapid increase in the availability of work can be achieved only by restoring freedom of movement to Gaza residents – above all to Israel and the West Bank, and through it to other countries in the region, rather than solely to impoverished Egypt and distant Cairo. This would also revive the Palestinian economy as a whole ... There are plenty of ideas; the obstacle to their implementation is not technical but political. Restoring freedom of movement to the residents of the Gaza Strip contradicts Israel’s consistent policy of almost three decades – to sever the Gaza Strip from the West Bank in order to turn it into a separate Palestinian political entity from that in the West Bank enclaves. This has also been one of Hamas’ goals since the movement won the 2006 elections … There is a contradiction between removing the Israeli fear of uncontrolled entry of cement (and other raw materials) into the Gaza Strip, and the apparent fear of having several thousand laborers enter Israel. This contradiction shows that Israel intends to continue to sever Gaza residents from the population of the West Bank from a political, civil, cultural and economic perspective, and from Israel – from an economic perspective. This continuing disconnect under the outline of U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu means ensuring Hamas’ rule. This is the main message behind the leaks about the Israeli easing of conditions.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Clashes erupt in Hebron-area town during Israeli raid
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 30 June — Clashes erupted between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces in the Beit Ummar town in the southern occupied West Bank district of Beit Ummar on Saturday, the Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency reported. Activist Muhammad Awad told Wafa that Israeli soldiers raided the town, forcefully closed shops, stopped and inspected cars. Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas at the residents, causing dozens of them to suffer tear-gas suffocation; they were treated on the spot by Palestinian Red Crescent medics. One Palestinian youth suffered a broken arm injury he sustained while running away from the soldiers. Awad added that a grenade fired by Israeli soldiers caused a fire to erupt in one of the farms and loss of crops.
Israeli soldiers abduct a detainee immediately after his release
IMEMC 1 July — Israeli soldiers abducted, Sunday, a Palestinian detainee from occupied East Jerusalem, instantly upon his release after spending a prison sentence of 11 months. The detainee, Rami Saleh al-Fakhouri, from the Old City of Jerusalem, was released from the Negev detention camp, but was re-arrested and taken prison in front of the prison gate. It is worth mentioning that al-Fakhouri was previously frequently abducted and imprisoned by Israel, including being held under Administrative Detention orders, without charges or trial, for protesting ongoing assaults and provocative tours by Israeli colonists in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. His last imprisonment was on August 23rd, 2017 when was sentenced to eleven months in prison. Several years ago, al-Fakhouri was seriously injured in his face, and lost one of his eyes, after being shot while he and other Palestinians pretested an invasion into the holy site.
Undercover forces kidnap a Palestinian from Bethlehem
IMEMC 1 July — Undercover Israeli soldiers infiltrated, on Monday at night, into Beit Jala city, north of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and kidnapped a young Palestinian man. Dressed as civilians, the soldiers, driving a car with Palestinian license plates, broke into a coffeeshop in the Sahl area in Beit Jala, kidnapped Hasan Mohammad Zaghari, 24, and drove away. The young man, from the Deheishe refugee camp, south of Bethlehem, was then handed to a regular army unit waiting nearby, and was taken to an unknown destination.
Israeli forces detain 4 Palestinians in overnight West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 July — Israeli forces detained four Palestinians during predawn raids on Sunday across the occupied West Bank. According to local sources, after Israeli forces raided and searched many houses; the detainees were taken in for further investigation.
In the northern West Bank district of Nablus, Israeli forces raided several neighborhoods and detained three Palestinian youths who were identified as Raed Dabik, 16, Rami Abdel Haq, 19, and Sultan Makkawi, 19. In the same Nablus district, while he was passing through the Zaatara checkpoint, Israeli forces detained a Palestinian who was identified as Bader Tashtush.
In the meantime, in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, Israeli forces closed off the entrances to the neighborhood of Tel Rumeida and al-Shuhada Street, in the center of Hebron.Israeli forces banned the residents of the city from any movement in the streets. Following this, dozens of Israeli settlers stormed the Tel Rumeida neighborhood, and residents of the area fear that the settlers will assault them, in light of the escalation of attacks during the past two days.
Israeli military detention raids in the Palestinian cities, villages, and refugee camps are a near-nightly occurrence. UN documentation reported that between April 24 and May 7, Israeli forces conducted 127 search and arrest operations and arrested 151 Palestinians in the West Bank. According to prisoners rights group Addameer, as of April, 6,036 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prisons.
In video: Israeli forces, settlers raid, assault residents of Hebron district
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 1 July — Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian residents, including an elderly man, while Israeli forces raided two houses, in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, on predawn Sunday. A local resident, Mufid al-Sharbati, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided and thoroughly searched his house, as well as the house of his brother, Zeidan al-Sharbati, on al-Shuhada Street in the city of Hebron. Imad Abu Shamsieh, Coordinator of the Human Rights Defenders, also told Ma‘an that the group of Israeli settlers stormed the home of resident, Bassam Abu Aisha, and the home of an elderly man from the Abu Aisha family, as well as assaulted other residents of the two houses. Dozens of Israeli forces were deployed to the area and closed off the entrances to the neighborhood of Tel Rumeida and al-Shuhada Street, in the center of Hebron, preventing the residents from any movement. This resulted after groups of Israeli settlers stormed the neighborhood of Tel Rumeida, under the protection of Israeli forces.
Palestinian youths warned the residents of Tel Rumeida, Wad al-Husain, and the Kiryat Arba area against the presence of groups of Israeli settlers outside the city of Hebron, who were organizing a demonstration demanding the Palestinian residents of the area leave their homes.
Palestinian residents of the Old City of Hebron face a large Israeli military presence on a daily basis, with at least 32 permanent and partial checkpoints set up at the entrances of many streets. Additionally, Palestinians are not allowed to drive on al-Shuhada street, have had their homes and shops on the street welded shut, and in some areas of the Old City, are not permitted to walk on certain roads. Meanwhile, Israeli settlers move freely on the street, drive cars, and carry machine guns.
Israeli forces detain 18 Palestinians, including women and children, during West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 July — Israeli forces detained at least 18 Palestinians, including women and children, during predawn raids carried out across the occupied West Bank on Monday. According to Hebrew-language news outlets, Israeli forces allegedly found weapons during raids in the village of Abu Dis, in the central West Bank district of Jerusalem. Sources added that the detainees were immediately transferred for further investigation.
In the southern West Bank district of Hebron, one woman and four children were detained and identified as Dina Said, the wife of a killed Palestinian, Nashat al-Karmi; Muhammad Abed al-Ghani Qufeisha, 10; Mustafa Tareq Qafisha, 11; Yousef Abed Rajabi, 12; and Marwan Mufid al-Sharbati, 12, who was detained after Israeli forces raided his home in the al-Shuhada street in the center of Hebron city.
In the central West Bank district of Jerusalem, Israeli forces detained six Palestinians. They were identified as Islam Ibrahim Anata, Abu Azhar Ibrahim Anata, and from the neighborhood of Silwan in the district, Tamer al-Zaghel, Muslem Owda, Louay Rajabi, Diaa Baydoun, Amer Zeidani, and Muhammad Zeidani.
In the northern West Bank district of Qalqiliya, another four Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces and identified as teen Layla Maher Awainat, Ashraf Maher Awainat, Motasem Mahmmud Shawer, and Muhammad Abu Samra.
Israeli forces also detained a former prisoner, Baker al-Tawil, while passing near a checkpoint west of the northern Nablus district.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli court postpones decision on conditional release of Sheikh Raed Salah
MEMO 2 July – An Israeli military court in the northern city of Haifa postponed on Sunday its decision on the conditional release of Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement, until Thursday, media sources said. Journalists attending the session told Anadolu correspondent that the court announced the postponement during a hearing to discuss a request filed by Sheikh Salah lawyer to release him under house arrest. They noted that the hearing took place after completing all procedures to inspect the house where Salah will be released in the event of his release in Kafr Kanna, in the Lower Galilee, in northern Israel. According to the journalists, the Haifa Magistrate’s Court also discussed a report submitted by the Israel Prison Service (IPS) on Sheikh Salah behavior during his detention period. The Israeli police arrested Sheikh Raed Salah from his home in the northern city of Umm al-Fahm in mid-August 2017. He was charged with 12 counts of incitement to violence and terrorism as well as supporting a banned organization in reference to the Islamic Movement.
Palestinian detainee continues hunger strike for 28th day despite health deterioration
IMEMC 2 July — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) reported, Sunday, that a detainee from Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank, is ongoing with a hunger strike he started 29 days ago, protesting being held under arbitrary Administrative Detention order, without charges, in addition to bad living conditions and the repeated punitive measures against him. The PPS said the detainee, Hasan Khaled Shouka, 36, told one of its lawyers who managed to visit with him at the Ramla prison, that he is held in solitary confinement, and suffering from various health issues, including pain in his abdomen, especially the kidneys, in addition to general extreme body weakness, fatigue, frequent vomiting, migraine and pain in his eyes. It added that the detainee is determined to continue his hunger strike, and is rejecting medical checkups, in addition to refusing to take vitamins, and only drinks water. After he declared the hunger strike, the Israeli prison administration started taking punitive measures against him, including forcing him in solitary confinement, and transferred him to other prisons three times….
Israel tries Frenchman accused of Gaza-West Bank gun-running
RFI 2 July — A French employee of his country’s consulate accused of smuggling dozens of guns from Gaza to the West Bank in an official car appeared in an Israeli court on Monday. Romain Franck, a 24-year-old French citizen, is accused along with several Palestinian suspects of belonging to a gun-running network. He appeared in court in the southern city of Beersheba in a grey t-shirt. His parents and a French embassy representative also attended the hearing. After Franck’s lawyer requested more time to prepare his case and asked for an official translation into French of the charge sheet, the judge adjourned the trial to 16 September. Franck allegedly took advantage of reduced security checks for consular vehicles to transport the weapons out of the Gaza Strip to the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israeli authorities have stressed he acted on his own without the consulate’s knowledge, adding that diplomatic relations with France were not affected. According to the Shin Bet domestic security agency, he was motivated by money and paid a total of around €4,700.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
UN expert says Israel preparing to formally annex West Bank
PressTV 2 July — A United Nations expert says Israel has taken measures in violation of international law that would allow it to formally annex the West Bank — “After years of creeping Israeli de facto annexation of the large swathes of the West Bank through settlement expansion, the creation of closed military zones and other measures, Israel appears to be getting closer to enacting legislation that will formally annex parts of the West Bank,” UN legal expert Michael Lynk said. He made the remarks ahead of Monday’s United Nations Human Rights Council meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “This would amount to a profound violation of international law, and the impact of ongoing settlement expansion on human rights must not be ignored,” Lynk added. Lynk, who is the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, also expressed alarm about the deterioration of human rights in the Israeli occupied territories. He traveled to Jordan’s capital, Amman, last week to collect information for a report he plans to present to the UN General Assembly 73rd session in October. He worked out of Amman because Israel denied him entry into the West Bank. “This is my third mission to the region since I assumed the mandate in May 2016, and the reports I received this week have painted the bleakest picture yet of the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” he said, referring to Israeli restrictions on Palestinian movement in the West Bank, night raids and the lack of building permits. He also said the situation of the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar attests to Israel’s policy of forced relocation….
Israeli army sets up caravans on Palestinian land in Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 2 July – The Israeli army set up on Monday several caravans on Palestinian land in an area east of Hebron, in the south of the West Bank, near a military camp, reported WAFA correspondent. He said the army set up the caravans near the camp, which was set up on land belonging to the Jaber family around one month ago. The land is located near the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement. Normally the army sets up a temporary military base before turning it over to settlers to turn it into a settlement, which is what the Palestinian residents of the area have expressed concern could happen.
Israeli bulldozers demolish Palestinian-owned structures in Jerusalem
[with photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 2 July — Israeli bulldozers demolished Palestinian agricultural and commercial buildings in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem on Monday. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers raided the neighborhood of Silwan and Israeli forces stationed themselves at the entrances of Wadi Qaddum neighborhood in Jerusalem. Sources added that Israeli forces demolished the buildings on the pretext of building without the nearly impossible-to-obtain Israeli building permit.
Islam al-Salaymeh, owner of the demolished structures, told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers demolished a car wash building that was built five years ago and confiscated all of its equipment without a warning. The bulldozers continued to level the land later.
A Ma‘an reporter said that the Israeli intelligence raided parts of the Silwan neighborhood where they detained women and youths before they removed national Palestinian slogans from the walls of the neighborhood and confiscated several parked Palestinian-owned vehicles. In the Umm Tuba neighborhood, also located in Jerusalem City, Israeli bulldozers razed and leveled a 300-square-meter steel structure used for housing sheep. The demolished structures provide economic lifelines to many Palestinian families. The damages have yet to be counted.
Meanwhile, in the Palestinian village of Yatta in the southern West bank district of Hebron, Israeli authorities delivered a notice to stop the construction of a building and a water well. The notice was delivered to the owner of the under-construction building, Issa Hasan Hussein al-Shawahin, who told Ma‘an that he has received more than 10 notices over the past few months.
Israeli forces demolish tourist tent in Bethlehem-area village
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 July — Israeli forces demolished a tourist tent on Monday morning in the village of Battir, in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem. According to Hasan Brijieh, representative of the Bethlehem anti-settlements and wall committee, the tent was set up by Palestinian locals to receive tourists coming to visit the historic village of Battir. Breijieh added that even though the tent was set up on private Palestinian land, Israeli forces demolished the tent on the pretext that it was set up without a difficult-to-obtain Israeli-issued permit.
Since 2014, the village of Battir, west of Bethlehem district, is inscribed on the UNESCO list as “Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines” and comprises a series of farmed valleys with characteristic stone terraces, some of which are irrigated for market garden production, while others are dry and planted with grapevines and olive trees. Battir is on the UNESCO world heritage list due to its terrace farming and irrigation channels.
Sewage pumped by settlers toward village outside Ramallah
IMEMC/Agencies 2 July — The new settlement of “Amichai” reportedly discharged sewage water, on Monday morning, that drenched Palestinian lands in a town called TurmusAyya, north-west of Ramallah. Even though the residents tried to dig holes to collect the polluted water, it continued to flow toward adjacent lands. Locals fear that it would pose a threat to their agricultural economy, especially for the owners of the land, since the situation has been ongoing for two months, intermittently. The newly established settlement, under supervision of the “Maaleh Binyamin Regional Council”, was built after the evacuation from “Amona” settlement, which currently has 40 families as dwellers, according to the PNN. Despite objections from officials and local Palestinians, the new settlers confiscated the private Palestinian properties with protection from Israeli occupation forces.
Calls to halt EU funding for Israel security companies
MEMO 2 July — The Hebrew newspaper Israel Hayom reported on Sunday that Israel may lose billions of dollars if the European Union (EU) decides to exclude it from sponsorship for a scientific research and development program called Innovation Europe. The budget of the program is one hundred billion dollars that will be allotted to tens of thousands of research and development projects and initiatives in the EU and surrounding regions from 2021 to 2027. Proponents of the Palestinian cause handed a letter signed by more than 154 organizations and groups active in 16 countries to hundreds of EU members in the Belgian capital, Brussels, demanding the exclusion of all Israeli security companies from the financial support program provided by the EU. The letter also includes Israeli civilian research companies considered as “a financial liaison securing European funds for Israeli military companies, through the implementation of projects that can be implemented in the civil and military fields”. These companies have benefited from the Horizon 2020 program that will end by 2020 to be replaced by Innovation Europe. On the other hand, the letter said that, “though the EU claims that support funds go to projects with civilian applications, many of the approved projects had a twofold use and served military interests as well”. The letter addressed by the group of activists who seek to prevent Israel from getting European support attributes statements to Col. Isaac Israel in which he says that, “we are a small country. If a satellite production line is established, it will be used for commercial and military purposes as well”. The information included in the letter pointed out that the EU cooperates with Israel in the field of border security, which is contrary to its principles. Therefore, the signatories called for banning all the Israeli security companies immediately from the European support plan….
Israel denies entry to US Jewish BDS activist
Haaretz 2 July by Noa Landau & Yotam Berger — The Population and Immigration Authority prevented the entry of a Jewish-American citizen into Israel on Monday night over her ties to the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement. The BDS activist, named Ariel Gold, is known for her work on boycotts against Israel as part of Code Pink, a far-left peace and social justice NGO. Gold arrived in Israel as a tourist a few months ago, and during her stay it became clear that she was a known BDS activist. A statement issued by the Interior Ministry said that upon her departure from Israel, she received a letter informing her that her next visit to Israel would have to be made in advance. She recently contacted the authorities and claimed that she wanted to come to Israel for Jewish studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Gold landed at Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport on Sunday afternoon at around 4 P.M., and was stalled at the airport for several hours. Around 11 P.M. she was told that she was refused entry. When her status was clarified, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan recommended preventing her entry into Israel. Following the recommendation, Interior Minister Arye Dery decided to cancel her studies visa and prevent her from entering Israel. “Gold has distributed videos on social networks, in which she harasses IDF soldiers and Border Police officers in Hebron, accusing the soldiers of apartheid and oppression, and that their actions do not conform to Jewish values,” wrote Minister Erdan….