Media Analysis

Israeli forces fire on Gaza protest, injuring 89

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PCHR: Israeli forces attack nonviolent protest in Gaza, wounding 89 civilians
PCHR 24 Aug — On Friday, 24 August 2018, using excessive lethal force against the peaceful protesters in eastern Gaza Strip for the 22nd Friday in a row, Israeli forces wounded 89 civilians, including 17 children, 2 women and 3 paramedics, after hitting them with live bullets and direct tear gas canisters. Five of those wounded sustained serious wounds. Moreover, dozens of civilians suffered tear gas inhalation, despite the decrease in the number of participants in the demonstrations on the fourth day of Eid al-Adha. During this week, the Israeli forces continued to target medical personnel working in the field, wounding 3 of them. Moreover, an ambulance sustained damage in eastern Jabalia, indicating that there is a systematic Israeli policy to target medical personnel and obstruct their humanitarian work, which is protected under the rules of international humanitarian law …
The incidents today, 24 August 2018, were as follows: At approximately 16:30, thousands of civilians, including women, children and entire families, started swarming to 5 encampments established by the Supreme National Authority for the Great March of Return and Breaking Siege along the border fence, east of the Gaza Strip’s governorates. They raised flags, and chanted slogans and national songs in addition to flying kites and firing balloons, while hundreds of them, including children and women, approached the border fence, set fire to tires and attempted to throw stones at the Israeli forces. The participants were present around 300 meters away from the main border fence. The Israeli shooting, which continued until 19:30, resulted in the injury of 89 civilians, including 17 children, 2 women and 3 paramedics. Five of those wounded sustained serious wounds. In addition, dozens of civilians suffered tear gas inhalation and seizures after tear gas canisters were heavily fired by the Israeli soldiers stationed in military vehicles and by drones hovering over the protesters in the eastern Gaza Strip.

Israel says gunman was Doctors without Borders nurse
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 23 Aug by Dan Williams and Nidal al-Mughrabi — Israel said on Thursday a Palestinian gunman killed by its forces on the Gaza Strip border this week was a nurse working for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and that it was seeking an explanation from the international aid group. Israel’s liaison office for Gaza, COGAT, named the Palestinian as Hani Majdalawi and said he was shot dead on Monday after shooting and throwing a grenade at soldiers. “We have reached out to Doctors without Borders for clarification regarding the matter,” a Cogat spokesman said. The organization later confirmed in a statement that Majdalawi had been killed but did not elaborate. “MSF is working to verify and understand the circumstances regarding this extremely serious incident, and is not able to comment further at this stage,” it said. Its website says the group runs three burns and trauma centers in Gaza, whose Islamist Hamas rulers have fought three wars against Israel in the last decade. Gaza authorities did not confirm Majdalawi’s death, saying that would require having his body, which they believed was being held by Israel. The Israeli military said it could not immediately confirm this. No armed Palestinian factions claimed Majdalawi as a member. Responding to Israeli media reports on Majdalawi’s killing, his brother, Osama, described the married 28-year-old on Facebook as a “martyr” who had “bought the weapon with his own money” and acted “completely independently”….

Israeli bulldozers raze lands in southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Aug — Four Israeli military vehicles and an armed carrier raided Palestinian lands east of the southern Gaza Strip district of Khan Younis, on Tuesday. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces entered some 50 meters into lands, coming from the Israeli security border fence. Sources added that Israeli military bulldozers razed and leveled the lands; no shootings were reported.

Israeli navy detains 2 Gaza fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 Aug — Two Palestinian fishermen were detained by Israeli naval forces on Sunday off the coast of the northern besieged Gaza Strip. Nizar Ayyash, the boat captain, told Ma‘an that Israeli naval forces detained two fishermen as they were working along the northern Gaza Strip coast and were taken to an unknown location. The two detained fishermen were identified as Owrans al-Sultan and Hassan al-Sultan. Ayyash added that Israeli naval forces also confiscated their fishing boat …  Israeli human rights group B’Tselem recently concluded that Israel’s Gaza closure and “harassment of fishermen” have been “destroying Gaza’s fishing sector,” with 95 percent of fishermen living below the poverty line.

Video: Gaza’s lifeline is the sea
Electronic Intifada 16 Aug — Rashad al-Hissi has been fishing in the Gaza sea for 60 years. “We have inherited this profession from our fathers and grandfathers,” he told The Electronic Intifada. “I have a 12-year-old son, he goes to school. On Thursdays, he comes home early. He joins his siblings in the sea.” Over the years, al-Hissi has seen fish populations decrease. With waste treatment out of commission in Gaza, raw sewage is being dumped into the Mediterranean. That has been catastrophic for Gaza’s fishers, who are restricted by the Israeli military to an area within six nautical miles from the shore. In July, Israeli authorities announced a reduction of the fishing zone from six to three nautical miles. That was part of a series of devastating collective punishments that included shutting down Gaza’s only commercial goods crossing and stopping supplies of fuel and cooking gas. In January 2017, al-Hissi loaned his boat to his cousin Muhammad to fish in the Gaza sea. An Israeli navy vessel rammed the boat, capsizing it. The boat was never found and Muhammad is presumed dead. Israeli forces are currently holding more than 40 boats they have confiscated from their owners, according to the Palestinian fishers union in Gaza.    Video by Ruwaida Amer and Sanad Ltefa.

British film and theater figures condemn Israeli bombing of major Gaza cultural center
HR 21 Aug — ‘Mamma Mia!’ and ‘The Iron Lady’ director Phyllida Lloyd is among those lamenting the “devastating loss” after Israeli warplanes demolished the Said al-Mishal Cultural Center, one of the only places for Gazan children to have a true cinema experience …  Decades of political and military unrest, rising conservatism under the Hamas-led leadership and the incalculable consequences of the Israeli occupation and, later, strict blockade, had seen all dedicated cinemas close across Gaza, an overcrowded and beleaguered territory where more than 70 percent of the population is under 19. The children’s initiative, founded in the summer of 2013, had managed to host around 160 screenings across the strip, most in community-based libraries. But their size and limited technical capabilities had restricted much of these to shorts, with children forced to stand or sit on the floor.
The Said al-Mishal Cultural Center, the second-largest theater in the territory and located in Gaza City’s congested Beach refugee camp, was different: a proper screen in a darkened hall, cushioned seats and something that could be equated to a normal cinema experience. As such, Gaza Children’s Cinema decided to make it like this as much as possible, getting their young guests to queue up outside, giving them tickets and serving popcorn. “The kids were so excited,” says Ayman Qwaider, co-founder of Gaza Children’s Cinema. “They watched the movie and were then given space to reflect on what they had seen and how it had impacted them.”
At around 6.30 p.m on Aug. 9, following rising tensions between Israel and Hamas and weeks of on-off violence, the building housing the Said al-Mishal Cultural Center was struck by 10 missiles fired by Israeli warplanes. All five stories came crashing to the ground in a matter of seconds. The Israeli military, which shared video of the airstrike, claimed the building was targeted because it was “used by the Hamas terror organization’s interior security forces for military purposes.” This claim was rebuked by several Palestinian sources, including one referenced in the Israeli media. While nobody was killed in that particular attack, news of the center’s destruction began to reverberate around the world….

Israeli army orders criminal inquiry into killing of two Palestinian teens in Gaza
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 21 Aug by Maayan Lubell — Israel’s military said on Tuesday it would launch a criminal investigation into two incidents in which its troops shot dead Palestinian teenagers taking part in protests along the Gaza border. The inquiry into the deaths of Abed Nabi [Abdul-Fattah Bahjat Abdul-Nabi], 18, on March 30, and 15-year-old Othman Rami Helles on July 13 was the first announced by the military into its use of lethal force in the border demonstrations that began five months ago. At least 170 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers during the weekly protests, drawing international criticism of Israel. One Israeli soldier has been killed by a Gaza sniper. There was no immediate comment by Palestinian officials in the occupied West Bank or in Gaza, where celebrations for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha have begun. But Nabi’s father, Bahjat, said the soldier who shot his son should stand trial. “I ask for justice and to put the soldier who has wrongfully shot my son on trial. He was shot in the back. I ask for psychological and financial compensation for what we are going through,” Bahjat Nabi said. A statement from the Israeli military said its initial inquiries into the two events raised “a suspicion that the shooting in these incidents was not in accordance with standard operating procedures”. Video posted on social media after the March 30 incident showed a Palestinian, identified by protest organisers as Abed Nabi, dropping to the ground as he ran, holding a tyre. The organisers said he was shot with his back to Israeli forces. The Gaza Health Ministry said that in the July 13 shooting, Helles was hit in the chest….

Rafah crossing reopens allowing passage in both directions
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 Aug — The Egyptian authorities decided to reopen the Rafah crossing with the besieged Gaza Strip on Sunday allowing passage in both directions after one week of closure due to the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. The Rafah crossing administration in Gaza said that it received orders from the Egyptian authorities to reopen the crossing allowing passage for Palestinians from Gaza into Egypt and the rest of the world, as well as passage for Palestinians returning to Gaza. The administration added that residents of Gaza, who are signed up on travel waiting lists, should follow up on details regarding the travel process. About 250 Palestinians cross the Rafah crossing daily into Egypt, while many others are signed up on waiting lists, awaiting departure from the besieged Gaza Strip.

US $4.5 million needed urgently to prevent life-saving services in the Gaza Strip from shutting down
UN OCHA statement 20 Aug — The Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, Jamie McGoldrick, on Tuesday, called on the donor community to immediately fund the procurement of emergency fuel to prevent essential services in the Gaza Strip from shutting down completely, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory said, in a statement. “Life-saving services in the Gaza Strip rely heavily on donor-funded emergency fuel,” said McGoldrick, according to WAFA. “We have now run out of funds and are delivering the final supplies in the next few days. Without funds to enable ongoing deliveries, service providers will be forced to suspend, or heavily reduce, operations from early September, with potentially grave consequences.” At least $4.5 million is required to ensure that a minimum level of essential services can continue to run through the end of the year, said OCHA. UN-procured emergency fuel is delivered to some 250 health, water and sanitation facilities, mainly to power back-up generators that are required in the context of Gaza’s chronic energy crisis, which leaves the population with no more than five hours of electricity daily. Among the most vulnerable to shortages are 4,800 patients in Gaza’s hospitals, who rely each day on electrical devices in intensive care units, including newborns, and those on dialysis or in trauma departments, said the OCHA statement.  Medical services for over 1.6 million other Palestinians will suffer from reduction or cessation of services, due to lack of emergency fuel at the main health facilities, and over half the population face the risk of possible sewage overflow, if fuel runs out for the 41 main sewage pumping stations in the Gaza Strip. “If donors intervene quickly, we can prevent a serious deterioration, such as a disease outbreak or other public health concern,” said Mr. McGoldrick. “But we need funding immediately to avoid the collapse of critical life-saving services,” he concluded.

In Video – Incendiary balloon nearly causes catastrophe
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Aug — A large fire could have erupted due to an incendiary balloon launched from the besieged Gaza Strip near the Israeli Iron Dome defense system anti-missile battery in southern Israel. According to 0404 news outlet, an incendiary balloon landed in southern Israel, near the Iron Dome defense system anti-missile battery, and caused panic in the area. The battery near which the incendiary ballon landed is one of the ten Iron Dome batteries that protect all of Israel, with each battery including three to four stationary launchers and 20 Tamir missiles, as well as a battlefield radar. Sources mentioned that military officials feared that if the fire spread, it would reach the battery of the defense system, which could have led to a catastrophe in the region. Israeli firefighters on the ground immediately arrived at the scene and managed to extinguish the fire in time, with the help of several aerial firefighters overhead dumping fire retardant over the area. The site added that the Israeli military censorship banned them from publishing the video of the incident and allegedly attempted to hide the details from the public.
In July, it was reported that about 6,000 dunams (1482.6 acres) of agricultural produce as well as thousands of dunams of open fields were burned due to about 678 fires caused by incendiary kites and balloons flown from inside the Gaza Strip towards southern Israel. Palestinians in Gaza view the incendiary kites as a form of protest against Israel’s nearly 12-year blockade of Gaza and for Palestinian refugees right of return to their homes and lands which are now known as Israel.
The video below shows aerial firefighters dumping fire retardant over the area:

Gaza emergency – First responder volunteer loses her eyesight
Reliefweb 24 Aug — Zena lives in the south of the Gaza Strip, in the governorate of Rafah. Trained in first aid, she was among the first to help the injured when demonstrations began last March. On May 13, she was assisting three people when a bullet hit her in the face, causing her to lose 70% of her vision. She also fractured her right wrist as she fell to the ground. A housewife and mother of eight children, her injury has had a serious impact on her daily life. She is now highly sensitive to light and noise–even the television is too loud for her. “I want my sight back,” she says. “I’m a housewife, so it makes life very hard. I shouldn’t be exposed to heat, but I have to cook. And I get tired very easily.” Zena, who has a graduate degree, planned to become a teacher. But the violence in Gaza has cut her ambitions short. “My dream was to be a teacher. Because of what I am and how I look, there’s no way I can do it now. Physical appearance is very important when dealing with children.” A few days after her injury, Zena met a mobile HI [Handicap Internationl] team who identified her needs. Medics cleaned her eye and she spent eight days in hospital due to her fracture. To help her recovery both physically and emotionally, HI provided her with physical therapy care and psychological support. She will need additional surgeries to fully restore her sight.  HI and its local partners have set up 12 mobile teams. These teams include rehabilitation professionals, psychologists, and social workers….


Palestinian prisoner’s wife gives birth using smuggled sperm
JENIN (Ma‘an) 25 Aug — The wife of a Palestinian prisoner gave birth, on Saturday, after she had conceived from a smuggled sperm from her husband in Israeli jails. Prisoner Muhammad Muteb Tayahneh’s family, from Silat al-Harthiyeh village in the northern West Bank district of Jenin, said that the wife of their imprisoned son, Rasha, gave birth to a baby boy named Danial in a Nablus-area hospital from her husband’s smuggled sperm. Prisoner Tahayneh is currently serving a 19-year sentence in Israeli jails; he has served 16 years. Several Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have resorted to smuggling of sperm out of prisons in order to become a father. Wives of the prisoners gained support for the procedure after the Palestinian Authority’s religious council decreed the IVF treatment permissible for the wives of prisoners. According to the Razan Medical Center for Fertility and IVF, which helps wives of prisoners undergo IVF treatments to conceive via smuggled sperms, the first such case reportedly took place in 2012, when Dalal al-Zein had a baby using sperm smuggled from her husband who had been jailed in Israel for 15 years. Doctor Ghusoun Badra, from the center, said that more than 50 women, wives of Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails, have given birth to 66 babies through smuggled sperm. Palestinian prisoners are denied conjugal visits by the Israeli Prison Service.

Detained journalist released under strict conditions
IMEMC 22 Aug — The Israeli authorities released, on Tuesday evening, a Palestinian journalist from the central West Bank city of Ramallah, after forcing him to pay a [10,000-shekel] fine, in addition to preventing him for working in his profession for two months. The journalist, Ala’ Rimawi, was abducted, along with three other reporters, on July 30th, 2018, for working for the Palestinian Al-Quds Satellite News Agency, after the military and the Israeli political leadership, decided to classify it as a “terrorist agency.” The three other journalists have been identified as Hosni Anjass, Mohammad Alwan and Qoteiba Hamdan.It is worth mentioning that Rimawi launched a hunger strike on the first day of his imprisonment on July 30th, 2018. The ruling to release Rimawi was made by the military court in Ofer prison, built on Palestinian lands in Betunia city, west of Ramallah; the Israeli prosecutor’s office filed three appeals demanding keeping the journalist in prison.

Israel extends detention of female Palestinian writer for 7th time
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 Aug — The Israeli military court of Ashkelon extended the detention of Palestinian female writer and mother Lama Khater on Thursday, for another week, which makes it the seventh extension since her detention one month ago. Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) lawyer Firas al-Sabbah said that the Israeli military court reportedly extended the 42-year-old writer’s detention under the pretext of conducting further investigation. The PPS lawyer confirmed that Khater was subjected to harsh and intensive interrogation throughout her entire detention. Khater told al-Sabbah that Israeli security services handcuffed her to a chair throughout the entire interrogation; she also pointed out that interrogators deprived her of sleep and continued to curse and shout at her. Interrogations would last for more than 20 hours per day … She was detained for her anti-occupation writings and was accused of incitement and being a member in an illegal organization, which are charges that she has rejected.

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem / Israel

Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian herder in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 23 Aug — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian sheep herder on Wednesday in the village of Madama, south of the northern West Bank district of Nablus. Local sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces shot and injured the sheep herder, who was identified as Imad Ibrahim Ziadeh, with four rubber-coated steel bullets during clashes with Israeli forces. Sources added that Ziadeh was immediately taken to the Rafidia Governmental Hospital near Nablus to receive medical treatment. Ziadeh was reported to be in moderate condition. Sources confirmed that prior to the clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian residents, about 20 Israeli settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Yitzhar raided the Madama village and set fire to the agricultural area.

2 Palestinians ‘brutally’ attacked by Israeli settlers
[with photos] NABLUS (Ma‘an) 23 Aug — Dozens of Israeli settlers attacked two Palestinians, on Thursday, while inside a vehicle near the Zaatara checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus. According to a relative of the two Palestinians, Uqab Qanna, told Ma‘an that his two relatives were driving back home to Kafr Qalil village, when heavily armed Israeli settlers stopped the vehicle some 200 meters away from the Zaatara checkpoint. Qanna confirmed that after his relatives stopped the vehicle, Israeli settlers began “brutally” kicking and beating them with guns and sticks, causing them severe injuries. Additionally, settlers smashed and destroyed parts of the vehicle before fleeing the area. Qanna identified the two attacked Palestinians as Suleiman Idris Qanna, 20, and Yahiya Naim Qanna, 23. Both of them were immediately taken to the Rafidiya Governmental Hospital near Nablus to receive the necessary medical treatment. Medical sources confirmed that both Yahiya and Suleiman suffered severe injuries due to the attack; Yahya’s injuries included bruises, fractures and an open cut on the side of his head, while Suleiman suffered various bruises all over his body. Yahiya and Suleiman are reported to be in moderate condition.

Israeli settlers raid, vandalize property in Nablus
[with photos] NABLUS (Ma‘an) 23 Aug — A group of Israeli settlers raided a number of Palestinian homes and vandalized vehicles, on Thursday, in the Urif village in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus. Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that Israeli settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Yitzhar stormed the Urif village and raided several Palestinian homes in the eastern part of the village. No injuries were reported. Daghlas confirmed that Israeli settlers punctured the tires and broke the windows of a number of Palestinian-owned vehicles.The vandalized vehicles belonged to Ziad Abdul Aziz Shihadeh, who owned an Opel, Mahmoud Mahfouz Shihadeh, who owned a Skoda Fabia, and Bakr Nabil Shihadeh, who owned a Subaru. Daghlas added that the Israeli settlers carried out the attack at 5 a.m. on Thursday and immediately fled the area after residents of the village confronted them.

Extremist settlers attack West Bank Palestinian commuters
IMEMC/Agencies 25 Aug — Israeli settlers attacked, late Friday night, the cars of Palestinians traveling on roads in the northern West Bank, causing damage but no injuries, according to local WAFA sources. Settlers reportedly threw rocks and bottles at Palestinian cars driving on a road between Jenin and Nablus near the village of Silat al-Dahr. They said damage was caused to some cars. Settlers had previously attacked and almost lynched two young Palestinians south of Nablus.

PLO official warns of arming Israeli settlers
IMEMC/Agencies 25 Aug — Tayseer Khaled, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), warned of the reduced terms for Israeli settlers to carry weapons, which was recently approved by the Israeli Minister of Internal Security, Gilad Ardan. Khaled said, in a released statement, that there are currently about 145,000 Israel settlers in the occupied Palestinian lands with possession of permits to carry weapons, not including soldiers, police officers and others who carry firearms during work. He further explained, according to the PNN, that the increase of weapons license standards will increase the number of Israelis holding a license to 35,000-40,000; as a result, this will lead to an increase in the number of Israeli settlers carrying weapons in Israeli settlements and outposts to some 200,000 settlers. Khalid noted that the plan, adopted by the Israeli Ministry of Security, “includes conditions that also allow young settlers to acquire weapons for those living in a settlement near the apartheid wall, which was previously described by the former US President George W. Bush as a snake crawling in the womb of the West Bank.”….

Israeli settlers attack 4 Israeli left-wing activists
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 26 Aug — A group of Israeli settlers on Saturday attacked four Israeli left-wing activists from Ta‘ayush NGO near the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Yair, in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. According to local sources, about 15 masked Israeli settlers from the illegal Mitzpe Yair settlement attacked four activists as they were taking photos of the area, resulting in throwing stones at them, pushing them, breaking their personal cameras, and stealing their cell phones. No suspects were detained yet. Israeli Ynet news outlet reported that the Ta‘ayush NGO activists were lightly wounded and transferred to the Soroka University Medical Center in Beer Sheva for necessary treatments. Israeli forces, who received a complaint from the attacked activists, arrived at the scene immediately and opened an investigation into the matter. “At some point, as reported by the activists, several masked young men arrived and began throwing stones at them and wounding them,” according to an Israeli policeman. Sources added that Israeli forces said several Ta‘ayush activists arrived to the area near Mitzpeh Yair, where allegedly illegal Palestinian construction was taking place, resulting in confiscation of construction equipment. Following this, clashes broke out among the activists and Israeli settlers. Israeli forces blamed the activists for their “provocation” of the Israeli settlers and for the attack…
One of the Ta‘ayush activists, Pepe Goldman, responded to the Israeli army statement by calling it a “lie” including the alleged declaration of a closed military zone. “The IDF has turned into an army of the settlers. That is what is happening in the West Bank,” he added. The Ta‘ayush NGO issued a statement, regarding the attack, on its Facebook page “Jewish terrorists from the Mitzpe Yair settlement attacked four members of our organization by throwing stones and sticks at them.” The statement added “The soldiers present at the scene were scared to intervene. We are afraid to think what would have happened if the activists were Palestinians.”

‘We don’t shoot women’ — but Kristin Foss is shot for second time in a week in Palestine
Mondoweiss 25 Aug by Jonathan Ofir — “We don’t shoot women”, a Lieutenant in the Israeli army said yesterday, when asked why they shot a Norwegian activist in Kafr Qaddum on Saturday last week, shortly before shooting her again. Israeli activist Matan Cohen posted this exchange and occurrence yesterday on his Facebook with photos from the scene. This time Kristin was not shot in the abdomen, but in the foot, by a rubber-coated steel bullet. I was alerted to Kristin’s injury by her Facebook update from the clinic: “Went back to Kufur Quaddum to show that solidarity, is stronger than fear! Very nervous though, so kept right at the back, up against the wall. Thought I was safe-ish. But they shot me again!! The protest has been on for 2 minutes. Israeli activists at the front talking to the soldiers earlier… so yeah… I just go shot twice in a week…” It was déjà-vu. Again I called Kristin, again we talked on Messenger while she was in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, on that long and winding bypass road which the Kafr Qaddum residents are forced to drive on, because their access to the main road leading to Nablus had been barred, to serve the Jewish settlement of Kedumim (typical Hebrewization of the Arabic name) and other settlers. The settlement is the cause of the regular demonstrations in the village since 2011. Kristin was sitting in front of a man who had been shot in the back of the head by a rubber-coated bullet. This ammunition can be lethal. Ahed Tamimi’s cousin, 15-year-old Mohammed, was the head by one of these bullets in December, and only miraculously survived. Kristin tells me that the man who brought her to the clinic was himself shot in the head by a rubber-coated steel bullet a few months ago, which caused him blindness in one eye and made him unable to shut his jaw….

Police detain 2nd suspect of attack on Arabs at Haifa beach
Ynet 25 Aug by Ittai Shickman & Lior El-Hay — The police arrested Saturday a second suspect in the beating of three Arabs from Shfaram at a Haifa beach earlier this week, while a judge ordered them to release the first suspect and put him on house arrest instead …  The victims — a doctor from the Ichilov Hospital at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, a 28-year-old nurse and a 20-year-old man — described the chain of events leading to their attack. “We were sitting on the beach for about half an hour when a Jewish man walked up to us and asked if we were Arabs. We said ‘yes, what do you want?’ And he just left. We thought that he might be drunk. The man returned shortly, this time accompanied by many others,” the victims said. “After two minutes, he came back with nine other people with knives, metal chains and bars and just started to beat us,” they recalled.  “They started hitting us with no mercy, in all parts of our body, when we were sitting down. They wanted to kill us, just because we are Arabs,” they added, and mentioned they were hit in the head, upper limbs, knees and back. “Two Jewish men passed by, pushed them back from us and called the police and Magen David Adom (MDA). The two Jewish men gave us water and helped us,” they added.  One of the men who was attacked said, “It pains me, because in my profession I treat Jews. I have never looked at a man’s origin. I also have Jewish friends and I live among Jews.” The men also said that the attackers swore at them and said “you are Arab dogs, don’t stay here.” …. [According to one of the Jews who helped them, the attackers were ‘Russians’],7340,L-5334987,00.html

Israeli news site: ‘Palestinian security thwarts major terror attack’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Aug — Israeli news outlet Yedioth Ahronoth (Ynet) reported that Palestinian security services thwarted a serious attack allegedly involving an extremely powerful bomb on Route 443, between southwestern Ramallah and Jerusalem in the central occupied West Bank. The attack reportedly intended to bomb an Israeli forces convoy in an attempt to sabotage efforts to reach a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Ynet reported that “two sources familiar with the attempted bombing who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue confirmed the details that were first published in Yedioth Ahronoth on Friday morning.” The Israeli news site added that the bomb was placed and later found between the Beit Liqya and Beit Anan village in southwestern Ramallah and al-Bireh district, south of Route 443 in Area C, that is under full Israeli control. The bomb was reportedly was made by assembling two gas canisters together and attached to an explosive device; the bomb also contained a large number of nails. Units of Palestinian engineers dismantled the bomb. Israeli forces and patrols frequently use the road on their way to carry out overnight raids and operations inside the West Bank.

Soldiers abduct 68 Palestinian workers, injure one, near Hebron
IMEMC 26 Aug — Israeli soldiers chased, Sunday, dozens of Palestinian day laborers, near Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, as they were trying to enter Jerusalem for work, and abducted 68 of them, in addition to wounding one. Media sources in Hebron said the workers, who were not granted permits to enter occupied Jerusalem, have to risk their lives to provide for their families amidst the deteriorating economic conditions in the West Bank. They added that the soldiers chased dozens of workers, and managed to detain 68 of them, including a young man who suffered cuts and bruises in his legs, after falling down while the soldiers were chasing him. The wounded young man, 20 years of age, from Yatta town, south of Hebron, received first aid by a soldier before being detained along with the rest of the workers who are 20-60 years of age. The workers face dire conditions, and are constantly chased and abducted by the soldiers, who in many cases open fire and injure some of them. Israeli army and the police also frequently invade construction sites before detaining the Palestinian workers, who are usually released later after being sent to military roadblocks outside Jerusalem.
In addition, the soldiers abducted four young Palestinian men, from their homes in the al-‘Issawiya town, in occupied East Jerusalem.
The soldiers also abducted four young Palestinian men in Beit Ummar and Halhoul towns, near Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank.

On Eid, Palestinian children suddenly cease to be security threats
+972 mag 23 Aug by Oren Ziv — Tel Aviv’s beaches are packed with Palestinians from the West Bank and East Jerusalem this week, due to Eid al-Adha. Walking along the promenade, you can almost imagine what life would be like here without separation — Arabic. This was the main language spoken on the beach in Tel Aviv Wednesday. It was the second day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, and thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Israel took the day to come to the beach. For many of those who live in the West Bank, it was a rare opportunity to be given a permit to enter Israel. On the border between Tel Aviv and Jaffa, I meet a family from the Nablus area. Although the lifeguard had already gone home, the children insist on playing in the water, perhaps because they do not know when they will return. Their father, Nasser, is originally from Jaffa, but was married to a woman from Nablus. He does not understand why the Israeli authorities grant him and his family permission to enter on the holiday. After all, it is generally extremely difficult to obtain entry permits. “What is the difference between today and any other day?” he asks, pointing at his young daughters. “Today they do not pose a danger to Israel, and tomorrow they are a security threat? From the day we are born and until we die, they (the Israeli government – O.Z.) know everything we do, so what is the problem with letting us in?” Nasser says that despite having Israeli citizenship, his family is unable to get permits to enter Israel. “Had I married a foreign national, they would let her come here, but my wife and children cannot enter. They can only come see my home city, Jaffa, on holidays, and only for one day.” His two young daughters, who have not spent time at the beach since the last holiday, refuse to leave even once the sun goes down….

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Amana moves its headquarters to east J’lem
Ynet 23 Aug by Itamar Eichner — As part of reinforcing the territorial contiguity of Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem, the Jewish settlement movement relocates its main building to the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood; Amana’s secretary general stresses its mission to further establish Jewish settlements in the West Bank —  On the backdrop of President Donald Trump’s peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Amana (Covenant) Israeli settlement movement has moved its headquarters to east Jerusalem. Amana, which was established by Gush Emunim (Jewish Orthodox right-wing movement), has been striving for years to build additional Jewish settlements in the West Back and bolster the existing ones. Until now Amana’s headquarters operated in the neighborhood of Ramat Eshkol in Jerusalem. It was established after the 1967 Six-Day War and is located In the vicinity of east Jerusalem.  The plot on which Amana’s new headquarters was built had been given to the right-wing movement 26 years ago for free by Jerusalem’s former mayor Teddy Kollek who was actually affiliated with the Labor party. The movement’s new building is situated in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, in adjacent to the national police headquarters and to some government offices. Amana says the new headquarters will help bolster the territorial contiguity of Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem.  The movement’s main building is located near the Shepherd Hotel area, in which a Jewish neighborhood is planned to be established. The Shepherd Hotel was initially founded for the Mufti of Jerusalem (cleric responsible for the Muslim holy places in the city)….,7340,L-5333878,00.html

Israeli forces confiscate equipment in Yatta
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 25 Aug — Israeli forces confiscated construction equipment, on Saturday, from a Palestinian home in the Masafer Yatta village, in Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank. Rateb al-Jbour, coordinator of the National and Popular Committee in southern Hebron, said that Israeli forces raided the al-Qawaqis area in Masafer Yatta and confiscated construction equipment belonging to Palestinian resident Jibril Moussa Abu Aaram. Al-Jbour added that Israeli forces also photographed the home of Youssef Ayoub Abu Aaram for unknown reasons. Meanwhile, Israeli settlers assaulted a number of Israeli pro-Palestine solidarity activists in the same area.

Israel to confiscate agricultural lands near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Aug — The Israeli authorities decided, on Tuesday, to confiscate about 100 dunams (24.7 acres) of agricultural land in the Palestinian village of al-Khader, in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem. Hassan Breijeh, a representative of the Wall and Settlement Resistance Committee in Bethlehem, said that the Israeli Civil Administration has approved the confiscation of 100 dunams of agricultural land from western of al-Khader. Breijeh added that the confiscation is part of a plan to build new settlement units to expand the illegal Israeli settlement of Neve Daniel, which is built on the lands of the village’s residents.

Israeli settlers uproot 30 olive trees in Nablus district
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 25 Aug — Israeli settlers uprooted about 30 olive trees on Friday in the Palestinian village of Sawiya in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, said that Israeli settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Rahalim cut down about 30 olive trees near the Sawiya village. Daghlas confirmed that the damaged property belonged to Palestinian resident Suleiman Hassan Mahmmud Ahmad. Daghlas added that Israeli settlers have been committing anti-Palestinian crimes at an increased rate in the past few days.
For hundreds of Palestinian families, olive trees are the main source of income; however when harvest season approaches, Israeli settlers target Palestinian lands and cause severe economic damages. According to a report by Israeli NGO B’Tselem, Israeli settlers’ vandalism in the occupied West Bank is a daily routine and is fully backed by Israeli authorities. B’Tselem reported that “In just over two months, from the beginning of May to 7 July 2018, B’Tselem documented 10 instances in which settlers destroyed a total of more than 2,000 trees and grapevines and burned down a barley field and bales of hay.” B’Tselem also argued that under the guise of a “temporary military occupation,” Israel has been “using the land as its own: robbing land, exploiting the area’s natural resources for its own benefit and establishing permanent settlements,” estimating that Israel had dispossessed Palestinians from some 200,000 hectares (494,211 acres) of lands in the occupied Palestinian territory over the years….

Israel advances plans for 1,000 new West Bank settler homes
BBC 22 Aug — Israel has advanced plans to build more than 1,000 new homes in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. Final approval for construction was given for 382 homes, while the others cleared an earlier planning stage. Anti-settlement watchdog Peace Now said most would be built in communities that were likely to be evacuated as part of any peace deal with the Palestinians. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this. More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem – land the Palestinians claim for a future state. There are also some 100 outposts – small settlements built without the Israeli government’s authorisation – across the West Bank. Peace Now reported that 370 of the homes given initial approval would be built in the settlement of Adam, where an Israeli civilian was stabbed to death and two others wounded by a Palestinian last month. Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman had promised to build 400 units there in response to the attack. The main body representing Jewish settlers – the Yesha Council – expressed disappointment that plans for “so few” homes were approved on Wednesday. But a left-wing Israeli party, Meretz, warned that the decision was like “sticking a finger in the eye” of any possible peace process … The US state department did not criticise the Israeli move….

In West Bank settlements, the housing market is booming
OFRA, West Bank (JTA) 23 Aug by Ben Sales — Growing up in a Jerusalem apartment, Aaron Lipkin used to marvel at the two-story houses that he would see on weekend drives with his parents. It made little difference to him that those houses were in Israeli West Bank settlements. A religious Zionist, he sees no problem living in the territory that the international community views as occupied. So when he and his wife went house hunting in Jerusalem 19 years ago and couldn’t find anything in their price range, they ventured north to this settlement. Ever since they have lived there in the two-story house of Lipkin’s dreams. A generation later, Lipkin is facing the same problem. His kids want to move back to Ofra — but now it, too, is unaffordable. Lipkin bought his house in 2000 for 550,000 shekels (about $200,000 in 2018 dollars, correcting for inflation). Now he sees houses the same size in Ofra sell for at least 1.5 million shekels, or $411,000. In fewer than 20 years, in other words, the price of housing in the settlement has doubled…
Many of the settlers are ideological — committed to the principle of Jews living in what they call Judea and Samaria and Israel retaining control of the area. But others were drawn by the quality of life offered by settlements — larger houses, more green space and intimate communities. The Israeli government has also facilitated that comfort, building access roads that avoid Palestinian areas and increasing the number of bus lines that go directly to the settlements. The changes mean that many settlers can live their lives, if they choose, largely avoiding contact with the Palestinian villages around them. Even relatively distant settlements like Ofra have the feel of a suburb….


Israeli forces ban 4 Palestinians from entering Al-Aqsa
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 25 Aug — Israeli forces released four Palestinians, on Saturday afternoon, who were detained while doing repairs inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound earlier Saturday, on condition of being banned from entering the mosque for two weeks. Local witnesses said that Israeli forces detained four employees of the Al-Aqsa Mosque Reconstruction Committee, part of the Islamic Endowment Department, which is in charge of Muslim holy places in Jerusalem and their upkeep. Witnesses identified the released Palestinians as Issa al-Dabagh, Bassem al-Zughayer, Jumaa Munasra and Muhammad Alqam. Following their detention, the four Palestinians were taken to the Israeli police station of Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem for interrogation.
Sources confirmed that Israeli forces released the four Palestinians on the condition of being banned from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque for the next two weeks.
It is noteworthy that Israeli forces are always deployed across the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to prevent Palestinians from doing any reconstruction work in the holy site….

Israeli police remove banner from Al-Aqsa Mosque
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 Aug — Israeli police removed a banner, on Tuesday, which was hung up on one of the walls of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem. A Ma‘an reporter said that that Israeli police, along with Israeli forces, removed a banner reading “49 years and the fire is still burning within us,” referring to the anniversary of a fire set off inside the mosque, by Jewish extremist Denis Michael Rohan. The banner was taken to the Israeli police station in the Old City of Jerusalem.  [Rohan was actually a mentally ill Australian Christian, who destroyed with his fire the minbar of Saladin – later reconstructed over 30 years, as shown in five videos by Al Jazeera on YouTube – this is the first one.]

Palestinian refugees

US to announce rejection of Palestinian right of return
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 26 Aug — The United States Donald Trump administration will announce a suspension of funding to the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) and the rejection of the right of return for Palestinian refugees. According to Hebrew-language news outlets, the US administration is expected to announce its new policy in early September, which would effectively cancel the right of return for Palestinians through several steps. UNRWA reported that the US administration will start enforcing its new policy with recognizing the existence of only half a million Palestinian refugees, who are legitimately considered refugees, out of the total of 5.3 million Palestinian refugees demanding the right of return. The US administration intends to form a plan in which it rejects the United Nations designation under which millions of descendants of the original refugees are also considered refugees. Sources also reported that the US administration’s new policy would “from its point of view, essentially cancel the right of return. “Israeli MK Israel Katz commended on the reports of the US administration’s future announcement by saying “This measure joins the historic decision to transfer the US embassy to Jerusalem and as such annuls two UN resolutions.” The right of return is one of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinians claim that about 5.3 million Palestinians, including tens of thousands of refugees who fled in the1948 and 1968 wars from what is now known as Israel, and their descendants, have a right of return to their homes.

UN official: Palestinian refugee issue can’t be wished away
JERUSALEM (AP) 24 Aug by Josef Federman — The head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees suggested that the United States slashed his budget early this year to punish the Palestinians for their criticism of the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel‘s capital, but he warned that the Palestinian refugee issue will not go away. The comments by Pierre Kraehenbuehl came amid signs that the U.S., with Israeli support, is aiming to abolish UNRWA in an apparent attempt to remove one of the most contentious issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the negotiating agenda. “One cannot simply wish 5 million people away,” Kraehenbuehl, commissioner of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, said in an interview with The Associated Press … The State Department said it is reviewing funding to UNRWA and has not decided whether to restore support in the future. It repeated its position that the agency’s repeated financial crises are “unsustainable” and called on it to find other countries to share the funding burden and to undertake “fundamental reforms.” But privately, there are signs that the American agenda runs deeper and that the Trump administration seeks to abolish UNRWA altogether. In an internal email recently published by Foreign Policy magazine, Kushner called for a “sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA.” “This (agency) perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace,” he reportedly wrote. The Palestinians fear the U.S. is putting pressure on host countries to absorb their refugee populations and eliminate the issue from future peace negotiations …
Kraehenbuehl said that Israeli claims that the Palestinians are the only people to pass down refugee status to their children also are unfounded, saying that Afghan refugees displaced decades ago have the same status….

US cuts aid to Palestinians by more than $200 million
WASHINGTON (AP) 25 Aug by Matthew Lee — The Trump administration has decided to cut more than $200 million in bilateral aid to the Palestinians, following a review of the funding for projects in the West Bank and Gaza, the State Department said Friday. The department notified Congress of the decision in a brief, three-paragraph notice sent first to lawmakers and then to reporters. It said the administration will redirect the money to “high priority projects elsewhere.” The move comes as President Donald Trump and his Middle East pointmen, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, staff up their office to prepare for the rollout of a much-vaunted but as yet unclear peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. “At the direction of President Trump, we have undertaken a review of U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority and in the West Bank and Gaza to ensure these funds are spent in accordance with U.S. national interests and provide value to the U.S. taxpayer,” the department said. “As a result of that review, at the direction of the president, we will redirect more than $200 million … originally planned for programs in the West Bank and Gaza.” “This decision takes into account the challenges the international community faces in providing assistance in Gaza, where Hamas control endangers the lives of Gaza’s citizens and degrades an already dire humanitarian and economic situation,” the notice said, without providing additional details … The Palestine Liberation Organization quickly denounced the decision, calling it “the use of cheap blackmail as a political tool. The Palestinian people and leadership will not be intimidated and will not succumb to coercion.” “The rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale,” PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement. “There is no glory in constantly bullying and punishing a people under occupation. The U.S. administration has already demonstrated meanness of spirit in its collusion with the Israeli occupation and its theft of land and resources; now it is exercising economic meanness by punishing the Palestinian victims of this occupation.”….

Israeli defense officials: Swift cuts in UNRWA funds will create vacuum for Hamas
(paywall) Haaretz 26 Aug by Noa Landau — Israeli defense officials told the country’s leaders Sunday that a swift cut in the budget of the UN’s Relief and Works Agency could lead to a vacuum in supplying basic services to the Gaza Strip, creating a gap that Hamas might fill. The Trump administration is reportedly preparing to take a number of severe steps against the UN agency in the near future. Gaza’s food and education sectors would take the brunt of the blow. The U.S. is the largest donor to UNRWA, and last year transferred more than $360 million to the organization. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supports breaking up UNRWA, which he says perpetuates the refugee status of the Palestinians. Israel, however, has told Washington a number of times over the past year that a dramatic and sudden cut in the agency’s budget could lead to a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and the strengthening of Hamas’ power….

New Trump cuts deepen Israeli-Palestinian conflict’s intractability
The National 25 Aug by Jack Moore — After the Jerusalem embassy move, deep cuts to the UN agency that serves Palestinian refugees and a visit to the region by US Vice President Mike Pence that Ramallah snubbed, it appeared that US-Palestinian relations had hit an all-time low. But those ties went into freefall again on Friday as Washington cut a further $200 million in aid to the West Bank and Gaza to redirect that money and “address high-priority projects elsewhere”, the US State Department said. The slashing of funds, which now totals more than $500 million this year alone, have not only left the Palestinians more isolated than ever but threaten to increase the intractability of the conflict that has raged for seven decades …  The man that believes he can get what he wants through unilateral and punishing moves on the world stage – be it trade war with China or sanctions on Iran – appears to have picked the wrong strategy if he truly wants to cajole the Palestinians to the table. If the billionaire believes that recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, cutting Palestinian aid and squeezing the life out of those who rule in the West Bank and Gaza will make them more willing for concessions to the Israelis, he may find he is sorely mistaken. At a rally on Tuesday, Mr Trump said Jerusalem was off the table but that something “very good” would await them if they abandoned their claim to Jerusalem. For Palestinian leaders, this would represent political suicide. The latest cuts have again shown them that the American leader does not appear to be serious about peace but, as Ramallah’s ambassador in Washington called it, “anti-peace”.

Trump officials asked Jordan to end refugee status for two million Palestinians
The National 4 Aug — The Trump White House asked King Abdullah of Jordan to revoke the refugee status of two million Palestinian refugees at a meeting in June, according to Palestinian officials. The revelations came as President Trump’s son-in-law, and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, called for “an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA”, in emails obtained by Foreign Policy. According to Palestinian officials who spoke to Foreign Policy, Mr Kushner pressed Jordan at a meeting in June, “to strip its more than 2 million registered Palestinians of their refugee status so that UNRWA would no longer need to operate there.” UNRWA is the UN agency established in 1949 to support Palestinian refugees, it currently supports some 5 million people spread across Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinian leadership have made the right of return for those displaced a major issue in previous rounds of negotiations with Israel, which has flatly denied it as an option.

In Syria’s Yarmuk, artists paint amid the ruins
YARMUK, Syria (AFP) 23 Aug — Not far from his destroyed home in Syria’s Yarmuk camp for Palestinian refugees, 21-year-old Abdallah al-Harith dabs bright red paint onto a canvas standing amid the grey ruins. Last week, he was among 12 young artists to set up their easels in the once-crowded camp turned Damascus suburb, now largely abandoned after seven years of civil war. Equipped with paint brushes and pencils, they set out to translate suffering into art in a neighbourhood ravaged by years of bombardment and siege. “We’re bringing back life to a dark place,” said Harith, who fled Yarmuk several years ago, but returned after the regime ousted Islamic State group jihadists in May. “I had such a lump in my throat when I first came back to the camp. At first I couldn’t draw anything,” said the fine arts student. “But then I realised that any glimpse of life amid all this death was a victory,” he said, gesturing towards the battered buildings around him….


More than half of the invited speakers withdraw from scientific workshop at Israeli settlement university
PACBI 20 Aug — Six of the eleven invited speakers have confirmed their withdrawal from a physics workshop at Ariel University, which is built on occupied Palestinian land in an illegal Israeli settlement. Palestinian academics urge remaining speakers to withdraw from the workshop —  The following letter was sent on August 2, 2018 to invited speakers of the “Inflation, Alternatives and Gravitational Waves” workshop to be held September 3-6 at Ariel University. The university is built on occupied Palestinian land in the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel. Over half those invited to speak have confirmed they will not be attending. Despite some having withdrawn weeks ago, the workshop website continues to falsely display their names. We urge the remaining speakers to stand with their Palestinian colleagues and withdraw from the workshop….

BDS Movement ‘deliberating’ on boycott of PepsiCo after it buys SodaStream
The National 23 Aug by Jack Moore — The campaign has battled SodaStream’s ties to the Israeli occupation for years — The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) is considering extending its boycott call to beverage and snack giant PepsiCo after it announced the billion-dollar purchase of Israeli drinks company SodaStream, a campaign official told The National on Thursday. “The BNC (BDS National Committee) is still deliberating on this issue so we cannot offer comment at this time beyond the current statement,” the campaign official said when asked if it had plans to add PepsiCo to its list of companies to boycott because of links to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. In a statement, Omar Barghouthi, the co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, said that SodaStream was still “subject to the boycott” in the movement for equal Palestinian rights.

Other news and opinion

Al-Aqsa imam demands the lifting of PA sanctions on Gaza
MEMO 25 Aug — The senior imam of Al-Aqsa Mosque called for the lifting of sanctions imposed on the Gaza Strip by the Palestinian Authority during his sermon yesterday. Shaikh Ekrima Sabri stressed that it is not permissible according to Islamic Law to punish two million Palestinians in this manner. Around 40,000 worshippers listened to the sermon on the first Friday after Eid Al-Adha. “The siege of Gaza and the sanctions must be lifted for the sake of our unity,” Shaikh Sabri insisted … Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas imposed a series of sanctions on Gaza in April 2017 under the pretext of forcing the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, to dissolve the administrative committee it had formed in the besieged territory. The sanctions included the deduction of about 30 per cent of PA salaries, cutting electricity supplies and medical transfers, and the referral of more than 20,000 government employees for early retirement. Despite the subsequent dissolution of the committee as demanded, after talks held in Cairo in September 2017, the sanctions were kept in place, and were even strengthened in April, with cuts to salaries rising to 50 per cent.

UN urges Israel not to hold Gaza aid ‘hostage’ to politics
UNITED NATIONS  (AP) 22 Aug — The U.N. political chief called on Israel Wednesday to ensure that urgently needed humanitarian supplies for the Gaza Strip are not “held hostage to political and security developments.” Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo told the Security Council its meeting was taking place “in the wake of yet another series of violent escalations that threatened to plunge Gaza into war.” She said the recurring violence “highlights the urgency” of U.N. and Egyptian-led efforts, along with regional and international partners, “to prevent another devastating outbreak of hostilities, respond to the most urgent humanitarian needs, and support intra-Palestinian reconciliation.” DiCarlo said funding for U.N. emergency fuel to keep about 250 hospitals, water and sanitation facilities in Gaza operating at a minimum level “has now run out.” She appealed for $4.5 million to keep these critical facilities operating through the end of the year….

Chair of UN probe of Gaza violence quits less than month into job
AMSTERDAM/GENEVA (Reuters) 23 Aug by Toby Sterling — Former war crimes prosecutor David Crane, an American who was named only last month to lead a U.N. investigation into violence in Gaza this year, has resigned, the United Nations said. The U.N. said in a statement dated Aug. 22 that Crane had informed the Human Rights Council of his decision a day earlier, “due to a personal circumstance that has arisen” and that the Council was “considering next steps”. Crane, a former senior U.S. legal official who served as chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone in 2002-2005, was named chair of the three-person inquiry on July 25. He could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday.

Palestinian FA head banned after call to burn Messi shirts
ZURICH (Reuters) 24 Aug — The head of the Palestinian Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, was banned from all soccer-related activity for a year by FIFA on Friday on charges of inciting hatred and violence before a friendly planned between Israel and Argentina. Rajoub protested after Israel switched the venue of the June game from Haifa to Jerusalem. He urged Palestinians to burn shirts bearing the name of Lionel Messi if Argentina’s star went ahead and played there. The change of venue came at a particularly sensitive time, after U.S. President Donald Trump had recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, infuriating Palestinians who want the eastern part of the city as the capital of their own future state. Global soccer body FIFA said on Friday its disciplinary committee considered Rajoub’s statements “incited hatred and violence”. It banned him for 12 months and fined him 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,000) …  Rajoub has long tried to get soccer’s world governing body, FIFA, and the International Olympic Committee to impose sanctions against Israel. This is mainly because of the Israeli government’s settlements policy in the West Bank and because it has imposed travel restrictions on Palestinian athletes citing security concerns. Those bodies have not heeded his calls.

Palestinian soccer chief: I’ll appeal Messi incitement ban
RAMALLAH (AP) 25 Aug — The head of Palestinian soccer said Saturday he will appeal FIFA’s year-long ban on him for inciting fans against Argentine superstar Lionel Messi as part of his campaign to stop Argentina’s national team from playing in Israel. Jibril Rajoub told The Associated Press he was consulting with his lawyers and will “use every possible opportunity” to fight the decision. He spoke by phone from China and said he was planning a press conference upon his return to Ramallah later this week. Rajoub’s Palestine Football Association has lashed out at the decision by international soccer’s ruling body as biased and “absurd.” FIFA said Jibril Rajoub “incited hatred and violence” by calling on soccer fans to target the Argentinian Football Association and burn jerseys and pictures of Lionel Messi. Argentina eventually abandoned the trip to Jerusalem for a game against Israel in June. Argentina Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie said at the time players felt “totally attacked, violated” after images emerged of the team’s white and sky-blue striped jerseys stained with red paint resembling blood.  FIFA imposed the minimum ban allowed in its disciplinary code for inciting hatred or violence….

Palestine’s first aquarium brings marine life to landlocked West Bank
[with photos] AL-BIREH, West Bank (MEE) 23 Aug by Tessa Fox — A giant ship sits staunchly in the city of al-Bireh, which lies next to Ramallah, the de-facto Palestinian capital of the West Bank. The architecture looks out of place against the block-built stone houses and apartments in the area. But even more so, it catches the eye as one drives past it, due to the West Bank being landlocked. Today the ship is host to Palestine’s first aquarium, managed and owned by Sofian Qawasmeh. Both Qawasmeh and his business partner Amjad Amer are investors in the aquarium and have used funds saved from their past ventures in trading to launch their new enterprise … When entering the Palestine Aquarium, spotlights descend on the enclosures for alligators and turtles, and neon blue lights illuminate the tanks of multi-coloured tropical fish and corals.  Pompous orchestra music plays on loop as families walk through the maze-like corridors pointing to sea life their young children have never seen up close before … “People here can’t visit our sea, which is occupied by Israel, so we bring it to Palestine so everyone can see it,” Qawasmeh told MEE … Since the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967, following the Six-Day War, and the building of the separation wall in 2002, many Palestinians with West Bank IDs are not able to receive permits to access Israel or its beaches…
Initially scheduled for April, the opening was delayed until July after many of the fish imports were “arbitrarily held” in Israeli ports, according to Qawasmeh. The animals should have been brought to the aquarium within a maximum of four days, he explained, but instead they were kept at the port from 10 to 20 days. He added that they were brought in buckets where the animals can only survive for a maximum of six days. According to Qawasmeh, many of the creatures died or arrived sick at the aquarium due to the waiting time, resulting in a $50,000 financial loss. Qwasmeh and other Palestinian businessmen say the halting of imports by Israeli authorities is a strategy used to reduce the chances of successful Palestinian businesses, though Israel claims it is in the interest of security….

Who’s running against Duncan Hunter? Ammar Campa-Najjar, a millennial Palestinian Mexican American
Los Angeles Times 23 Aug by Javier Panzar — For nearly 40 years, voters in eastern San Diego County have picked a Republican named Duncan Hunter to be their representative in Congress. Duncan Lee Hunter came first, and then his son and current Congressman Duncan Duane Hunter. Could 2018 be the year they change course and go with 29-year-old Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, a Palestinian Mexican American who spent part of his childhood in the Gaza Strip? Until Tuesday, election analysts said no. But after Hunter, a five-term incumbent, and his wife were indicted by a federal grand jury this week for misusing $250,000 in campaign dollars to fund their own lavish lifestyles, Campa-Najjar’s longshot bid seems less of a stretch … Campa-Najjar, who worked on President Obama’s reelection campaign, has never before run for public office … His campaign was dealt a serious blow in February when an Israeli newspaper reported that his grandfather, Muhammed Yusuf al-Najjar, was one of the leaders of the massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics that left 11 athletes and coaches dead. Israeli commandos killed his grandfather in 1973. After the story came out, Campa-Najjar said he was an advocate for peace in the Middle East and had left his family’s “dark past behind.” “I think a man should answer to his own crimes,” he said. “I answer to my own issues.”…. (listserv)