Israeli soldiers kill one Palestinian, injure 220, in Gaza
IMEMC 4 Aug — The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed, Friday, that Israel soldiers resorted to the excessive use of force against the nonviolent “Great Return Match” in Gaza, on its nineteenth consecutive week, killing a young man, and wounding 220 Palestinians, including 90 who were shot with live fire. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the head of the Public Relations Department at Gaza’s Health Ministry, said an Israeli army sharpshooter killed Ahmad Yahia Atallah Yaghi, 25, on Palestinian lands, east of the Zeitoun neighborhood, east of Gaza city. It is worth mentioning that, in a previous protest, the soldiers shot Yaghi with live fire, wounding him in his leg.
Dr. al-Qedra confirmed that the soldiers injured 220 Palestinians, including 90 who were shot with live fire, in the Gaza Strip. He added that the soldiers, stationed in their fortified sniper posts hundreds of meters away from the parameter fence, also shot six other Palestinians with live fire in the same area, and caused many to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. The soldiers also shot four Palestinians with live fire east of Khuza‘a town, east of the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, before they were rushed to the European Hospital, while many others suffered the effects of teargas inhalation. Another Palestinian suffered a moderate injury after the soldiers shot him with live fire in his leg, and caused many to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation, in Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza. Furthermore, one Palestinian was shot with a live round in his pelvis, east of Rafah, in southern Gaza, before he was moved to Abu Yousef Najjar hospital, suffering a moderate injury.
The army attacked the Palestinian protesters in several parts of the coastal region, especially east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza, in addition to Rafah, Khan Younis, Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun areas, in the southern and northern parts of the Gaza Strip.
Dozens of protesters launched balloons carrying the colors of the Palestinian flag, in addition to flying burning kites, causing fire in lands in Israeli settlements hundreds of meters away from the fence.
On Friday evening, the soldiers fired a shell at a site, east of Rafah, causing fire and property damage.
Child dies from serious wounds suffered Friday
IMEMC 4 Aug — The Health Ministry in Gaza has reported that a child died, on Saturday morning, from serious wounds he suffered a day earlier, after Israeli soldiers shot him with live fire. The Health Ministry said the child, identified as Moath Ziad Soori, 15, died from serious wounds he suffered during the Great Return March procession, east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza. The child, who was shot with a live round in the abdomen, was rushed to a hospital, but remained in a critical condition until he succumbed to his serious injuries, Saturday. Moath was from Nusseirat refugee camp, in central Gaza…. [With this death, the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli army fire in the Gaza Strip since March 30 now stands at 157.]
Israel bans entry of fuel and gas into besieged Gaza Strip
Al Jazeera 2 Aug — Israel has blocked the supply of fuel and gas to the besieged Gaza Strip, saying it was in retaliation over Palestinians setting fire to Israeli land, local media reported. Minister of Defence Avigdor Lieberman ordered the halt in fuel shipments via the partially sealed off Karem Abu Salem commercial border crossing. The decision, which came into effect on Thursday, will continue until further notice. Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker, reporting from Gaza, said at least 19 fires were reported by Israel on Wednesday. The move was to place “pressure on the leadership here to stop the incendiary kites and balloons,” Dekker said, referring to Hamas – the group that governs the Gaza Strip.
On July 9, Israel shut down the sole commercial crossing to the besieged Palestinian territory, cutting the supply of essential commodities to the nearly two million residents. The move only allowed for the transfer of humanitarian needs such as cooking gas as well as wheat and flour into Gaza, an official responsible for coordinating the movement of cargo through the border confirmed to Al Jazeera last month.
Opinion: Gaza’s indifference will spell its end / Mohammed Azaiza
(paywall) Haaretz 30 July — It’s very hot in Gaza, and unbearably humid, too … I live in Dir al-Balah, a quiet, lovely city, situated in the heart of the Strip. I love my small city and I feel connected to everything in it. We live in an apartment on the second and top floor. Our bad luck is that it faces southeast, which means it is exposed to the sun from the morning hours almost until sunset. And when the sun sets, the walls of the home emit all the heat they’ve absorbed during the day into the humid apartment and we who are trapped in it end up covered with sweat, pacing back and forth without knowing what to do. And my situation is better than that of many others.
At least I have an apartment. I don’t live in a shack made of metal plates, which turns into an oven both day and night. I can use a battery-operated fan, and I can also wait with my wife and children in the small park beneath our house until they fall asleep. But by the time I finish bringing them up, one by one, to their beds, they start to sweat and toss in their sleep in an effort to breathe and find respite from the heat. I deliberate until midnight about where I should sleep – on the couch near the window, or on the floor of the balcony. It breaks my heart to see my children start to imitate me by sleeping on the floor. Despite the discomfort of sleeping on the hard surface, I see my son’s relief when his body cools down a bit.
The lengthy power cutoffs affect the pumping of water into homes throughout the Gaza Strip and this has become even more serious than usual. For two days we’ve had no water at home. Laundry is piling up everywhere and we are waiting to bathe even in cold water, to get five minutes of refreshment. This is the dream of every Gaza resident in the summer of 2018 … there is a feeling that residents of the Gaza Strip are getting increasingly apathetic. As sad as it sounds, one could even call it indifferent. Instead of expressing normal anger about what is happening, people are taking everything in stride. The main concern is to get through the day, to survive the moment and not think about tomorrow….
From wedding dresses to soap: Gaza event highlights Israeli siege
Al Jazeera 2 Aug by Farah Najjar & Hosam Salem — School supplies, medical equipment, power generators, and even children’s bicycles – these are just some of the items displayed at a new exhibition in the Gaza Strip showcasing more than 1,000 “basic commodities” banned from entering the coastal enclave due to Israel’s crippling blockade. Business owners, commerce officials and several non-governmental groups attended the event on Thursday, which coincided with an Israeli decision to block the supply of fuel and gas to the coastal enclave. “We wanted to highlight the suffering of the people in Gaza,” said Jamal al-Khoudary, a Palestinian MP and the head of the Popular Committee to End Gaza’s Siege, the group organising the showcase. “We wanted to show the world what humanitarian necessities Israel has banned from entering the strip,” Khoudary told Al Jazeera … At the exhibition in Gaza City, items such as wedding dress, cleaning sponges, baby bottles and diapers are also on display – all prohibited from entering Gaza since Israel cut off the supply of essential commodities last month by partially sealing off the Karem Abu Salem, known as Kerem Shalom to Israelis, commercial border crossing with the Gaza Strip. The closure of the vital crossing on July 9 only allowed for the transfer of humanitarian needs such as cooking gas as well as wheat and flour into Gaza, an official responsible for coordinating the movement of cargo through the border told Al Jazeera last month. But after the most recent decision to also halt the flow of fuel and cooking gas, residents of the Gaza are expecting to face even harsher circumstances….
Number of Gazans denied exit permits by Israel for Hamas ties soars: NGO
JERUSALEM (AFP)1 Aug — The number of Gazans denied exit permits by Israel due to a close family member’s alleged connection to Hamas has soared this year, a rights group said Wednesday. Those declined for having a close relative with alleged ties to Hamas have included people seeking medical care for cancer, according to Gisha, an Israeli NGO that monitors Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Gisha along with three other NGOs based their findings on data obtained through a freedom of information request from the Israeli defence ministry. The three others are Adalah, Al Mezan and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel. “In the first quarter of 2018 alone, 833 exit permit applications by residents of Gaza were denied by Israel on the grounds that the applicants’ ‘first-degree relative is a Hamas operative,'” Gisha said in a statement. “For comparison, the Israeli authorities refused 21 applications on these grounds throughout 2017.” The Israeli defence ministry unit that oversees the permits, known as COGAT, told AFP that the 833 declined applications represented 529 people since some had applied more than once. It declined to say how many were seeking permits for medical reasons. “Denying patients access to medical treatment on the grounds that they have family relations to Hamas members is a breach of international law, and completely immoral,” the NGOs said in a statement … The NGO said the change appeared to be the result of a decision taken by Israel’s security cabinet authorising action to pressure Hamas to return the remains of two Israeli soldiers it is believed to be holding. Two Israeli civilians, both said to be mentally unstable, are also believed to have entered Gaza and to be held by Hamas….
Seven seriously ill Gaza women refused entry to Israel for treatment
(paywall) Haaretz 2 Aug by Amira Hass — Seven seriously ill Palestinian women petitioned the High Court of Justice this week, challenging Israel’s refusal to grant them entry permits from the Gaza Strip. All the women need life-saving treatments such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy or surgery that are unavailable in Gaza, but Israel has rejected them because they are related to Hamas members. Israel is keeping its promise to the family of 1st Lt. Hadar Goldin and has reduced the number of entry permits from Gaza. Goldin was killed in combat in the Strip in 2014; his body is still being held by Hamas. To get it returned, his family has mounted a campaign to reduce the number of humanitarian exit permits from Gaza. … One petitioner, identified as M.S., is a 51-year-old with stomach cancer who needs chemotherapy after the removal of part of her stomach and metastatic lymph nodes. Z.S., 31, has skin cancer that requires radiation therapy. Nifin Habub, 40, has undergone a mastectomy and has metastases that have reached her spine, causing severe pain and requiring radiation therapy … The organizations petitioning the High Court say Israel’s refusal to grant entry permits for medical treatment based on first-degree family relationships with Hamas members is collective punishment. In addition, the denial-of-entry permits to the seven women contradicts statements by the Israeli government that its policy will not apply in life-threatening cases and for patients who have no “alternative treatment” in Gaza….
EU completes Gaza’s largest solar energy field
Times of Israel 3 Aug — The European Union announced Thursday that it had completed construction of the largest solar energy field in Gaza, which will power the Southern Gaza Desalination Plant, providing water to residents of the coastal enclave. The desalination plant currently provides clean water to 75,000 inhabitants of Khan Younis and Rafah. The new energy field’s output of 0.5 megawatts and further investment from the EU will increase the output, so that it will provide drinking water to 250,000 people in Southern Gaza by 2020, the EU said. Johannes Hahn, the EU commissioner for European neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations, said that electricity shortages create a serious challenge to providing Gazans with water. He said that improving living conditions for the people of Gaza will lead to “mitigating tensions in a highly conflict sensitive area.” The EU is also working on other projects to ease the water crisis in Gaza. These include supporting an Oxfam plan to rehabilitate brackish desalination plants; working to reduce the amount of water that leaks out of the system, currently a staggering 40 percent; and assisting the Palestinian Water Authority. In March an international coalition pledged €456 million ($520 million) to construct a central desalination plant. It will be the biggest-ever infrastructure project in the Gaza strip, and will provide drinking water to 2 million people….
Israeli restrictions prevent opening of Gaza’s largest solar field
JPost 2 Aug by Tovah Lazaroff — Israel’s ban on Gaza goods has preventing the opening of the largest solar field in the Strip, which otherwise could have become operational this week, sources told The Jerusalem Post. The field was constructed with funding from the European Union. It is designed to “provide 0.5 Megawatts of electricity per day to fuel the Southern Gaza Desalinization Plant.” Some 75,000 residents of Khan Younis and the Rafah receive drinking water from the plant, which is only partially operational. It will eventually be able to provide water for 250,000 people in southern Gaza. Projects like the EU funded solar field are designed to help provide electricity for the plant, but this new field is lacking the cables and other parts necessary to be hooked up to the electricity grid. Last month Israel banned all commercial goods from entering and leaving Gaza to protest Hamas violence against Israel. This includes building materials for infrastructure projects such as the solar field. Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said: “Limited energy supplies in Gaza are one of the main challenges when improving access to safe and drinkable water to the local population. The photovoltaic solar field is essential to respond to the urgent water needs in Gaza and create dignified living conditions for its people, thus mitigating tensions in a highly conflict sensitive area.” The international community, including the EU, has focused in the last year on helping provide clean drinking water for the two million people that live in Gaza. According to the EU, 97% of the Gaza water is “unfit for human consumption.” At the start of the week, however, Israel did make an exception to the ban and allowed in “six truckloads of humanitarian equipment into the Gaza Strip for USAID water projects,” according to the Office of Government Activities in the Territories. It added that this did not reflect a change in policy with regard to Gaza….
Egypt trying to broker broad Israel-Hamas truce, Hamas says
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 2 Aug — Egypt is trying to broker a broad cease-fire deal between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers that is to pave the way for Gaza’s reconstruction and an eventual prisoner swap, senior Hamas officials said Thursday. Repeated cease-fire deals over the years collapsed, but there were signs of possible momentum toward a new agreement, after weeks of escalation along the Gaza-Israel frontier. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to put off a trip to South America to keep an eye on the situation in Gaza, a government official said Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. Separately, a high-level Hamas delegation planned to enter Gaza later Thursday after holding talks in Cairo, said the Palestine Information Center, a Hamas-linked website.
OCHA: Israeli restrictions on access to land along Gaza fence undermine livelihoods of Palestinians
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 4 Aug – A new fact report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory on the humanitarian impact of restrictions on access to land near the perimeter fence in the Gaza Strip said that restrictions imposed by Israel on the Gaza side of the perimeter fence undermine the security and livelihoods of Palestinians. It said that since September 2000, citing security concerns, Israel has tightened restrictions on Palestinian access to land located along the northern and eastern side of the perimeter fence in Gaza, which have fluctuated over time. At its widest extent, said the report, the access restricted area included a ‘no go area’ reaching up to 500 meters on the Gaza side of the fence, and a ‘high risk area’, based on Palestinian risk perceptions, extending from the ‘no go area’ up to 1,500 meters from the fence. According to the report, while Palestinian agricultural activity in the ‘high risk’ areas has increased in recent years, farmers’ concerns about their personal safety and livelihood investment remain. Since 2014, the Israeli military has conducted periodic aerial spraying of herbicides, impacting farmland on the Gaza side of the fence. A spraying operation in January 2018 affected some 550 acres of agricultural lands belonging to 212 farmers, with an estimated loss of $1.3 million, according to Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture report. Two farmers have also been killed in proximity to the fence since 2014 and at least 26 have been injured, excluding the over 155 killed and 17,000 injured by Israeli gunfire along the border fence in the March of Return demonstrations that started on March 30. Farmers fear that plants above a certain height, greenhouses, trees, fences and other infrastructure, which could impair the visibility of Israeli forces, are still not permitted in the ‘high risk’ area. In practice, farmers, the private sector and donors remain reluctant to invest in higher-value crops in areas close to the fence, due to the lack of clarity and the risk of potential loss. There is also a reluctance to invest in livestock production, agricultural roads, and irrigation systems in areas up to 1,500 meters from the fence. These areas remain largely off-s for housing, services and infrastructure needs….
Seized Gaza ship captain accuses Israel of breaking international law
OSLO (AFP) 2 Aug — The captain of a Norwegian boat carrying pro-Palestinian activists en route to Gaza has accused Israeli authorities of violating the law by boarding the vessel in international waters and using violent force against its crew who were arrested. Norway has asked Israel to explain the circumstances surrounding the arrests and “the allegations of excessive use of force,” a Norwegian government spokesman told AFP on Thursday. “We were arrested in international waters and we were closer to Egypt than Israel,” the boat’s captain Herman Reksten said early Thursday when he returned to Norway after being held for three days in an Israeli prison. “Israel has broken all the rules, it’s horrific that they board a Norwegian ship in international waters and force it to moor in Israel,” he told Norwegian public broadcaster NRK. The Israeli army on Sunday announced the seizure of a boat off the Gaza Strip with activists who were denouncing the land and sea blockade imposed by the Jewish state on the Palestinian enclave for more than a decade. The Norwegian-flagged Karstein ship had 22 people on board. All of them have since been released and expelled from Israel or are in the process of being deported, according to Ship to Gaza Norway. The fate of one Canadian passenger with health problems was uncertain on Thursday. Arriving at Oslo International Airport, Karstein captain Reksten also accused Israeli soldiers of shocking the activists with tasers. “I still have a headache from being hit in prison,” he added. The Israeli embassy in Oslo denied the accusations….
Claims of violence as Israel deports crew of Gaza aid vessel
The Guardian 2 Aug by Oliver Holmes in Jerusalem — Activists who attempted to sail a fishing boat carrying aid to Gaza but were intercepted by the Israeli navy have complained of violence during a boarding operation. Israel held the 20 foreigners and the boat after they arrived several dozen miles off the coast of Gaza on Sunday and were in the process of releasing and deporting the crew, the group said. Most of those on board Al Awda, which means The Return in Arabic, were held in prison, while two Israelis on the vessel were released on bail. Freedom Flotilla said the Norwegian-flagged boat had been surrounded by “12 military vessels with hundreds of armed soldiers”. “Some participants were repeatedly tasered, including in the head. Others were punched or had their head beaten against a wall by IOF soldiers. Zip-cuffs were used in a manner which cut off circulation,” Freedom Flotilla said, referring to Israeli troops as Israel Occupation Forces. The account appeared to conflict with that of the Israeli military on Sunday, which said the boat was “monitored and was intercepted” and “the activity ended without exceptional events”….
Israel intercepts second Gaza-bound activist boat: army
AFP 4 Aug — The Israeli navy intercepted a Swedish-flagged activist boat bent on breaching its more than decade-long blockade of Gaza, the second in less than a week, the military said on Saturday. “The ship was monitored and was intercepted in accordance with international law,” the army said in a statement, before the vessel, named Freedom for Gaza and carrying 12 people, was taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod. “The (military) clarified to the ship’s passengers that they are violating the legal naval blockade and that any humanitarian merchandise can be transferred to Gaza through the Port of Ashdod,” the statement said. The people on board were taken for “further inquiry”. Freedom was the second boat of the “Freedom Flotilla” to be intercepted en route to “break the blockade” on Gaza, organisers said. The boat was carrying medical equipment. Four boats left from Scandinavia in mid-May and stopped in some 28 ports along the way, with two remaining behind after a recent stop in the Italian port of Palermo.
The other side of Gaza: Swimming, canoeing, and ‘trying’ to be a child
GAZA, Palestine (Al Jazeera) 2 Aug by Stefanie Dekker — Gaza’s beach offers a brief respite to the nearly 2 million Palestinians living under Israeli siege — We hear a whistle … and a smiling, freckled face with greying beard, comes to meet us. Abu Ayman is arguably the best-known lifeguard in Gaza. It’s just past 9am and the air is heavy with humidity. The sun reflects off the beach – it’s hot. The water is a turquoise blue, the sand a bright white – switch off your mind, and for a moment you may just forget where you are. Abu Ayman takes us to a swimming pool, just behind the beach. It’s covered from the sun with a wooden thatched roof. The dappled shade reflects off eleven young boys who stand on the side, waiting for his orders to jump in. One wears oversized, mirrored goggles, almost covering his slight face. Another wears a smaller pair, baby blue. There are pink goggles, too. Abu Ayman whistles, they all jump in – one smacks the water in what looks like a searingly painful belly flop. They tread water – hands above their heads – and keep looking at the camera with massive grins – we keep telling them to ignore us. It’s such a normal moment – children having swimming lessons, playing around. Certainly not worthy of international news….
Joyous photos show there’s more to life in Gaza than conflict
VICE 31 July by Rowaida Amer — Four Gaza-based photographers are capturing their favorite parts of the region to show a different side of the territory and its people.
Video: Israel blockade’s impact ripples over to Gaza’s beaches
2 Aug — The Gaza Strip has 45km of blue waters and sandy coast, but not many people know how to swim. That is where the lifeguards come in, teaching the next generation. But even the beach, which has waters contaminated by raw sewage, is directly affected by Israel‘s long-standing blockade of the Palestinian territory. Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker reports from Gaza.
70 House Democrats urge Trump administration to restore Gaza aid funding
WASHINGTON (Times of Israel) 1 Aug by Eric Cortellessa — Seventy House Democrats on Monday urged the Trump administration to reinstate its humanitarian aid funding in Gaza, saying that it was necessary toward alleviating the crisis there. The missive — supported by the left-wing Middle East advocacy group J Street — argued that the White House’s cuts to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) was exacerbating an already-deteriorating situation that poses long-term security risks to Israel. “We urge you to immediately restore funding for humanitarian aid in Gaza because it plays a critical role in the larger US strategy to secure peace and stability in the region,” the lawmakers said … This letter follows a similar initiative that was led by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders last May, in which he calls for the Trump administration to address the crisis in Gaza. Twelve other Democratic senators were signatories.
Film review: An animated look at a Gaza tragedy
[with clip] Haaretz 3 Aug by Nirit Anderman — A Palestinian girl who rises like the living dead out of a pile of bodies is the star of director Stefano Savona’s documentary ‘Samouni Road’ — …She leads the director through the alleyways of her neighborhood, among the houses destroyed in the bombings by the Israeli Air Force and, along with her mother, brother and other members of her extended family she lays out before us the story of the Samouni family, which, lost 29 of its members in Operation Cast Lead in late December 2008 and January 2009. The film sketches out the lives of the family before and after the tragedy, wanders between the past and the present, shows how the daily reality of the residents of the Gaza Strip has changed over the past two decades and succeeds in doing all this using impressive cinematic tools that present the audience with a picture of reality that is particularly disturbing.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Soldiers injure one Palestinian near Jerusalem, two near Ramallah
IMEMC 4 Aug — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, dozens of Palestinian protesters near the main entrance of Hizma town, east of occupied East Jerusalem, and shot a young man with a live round … Medical sources said the soldiers shot a teenage boy with a live round in his abdomen, before he was rushed to Palestine Medical Complex, in Ramallah, suffering a moderate-but-stable injury.
It is worth mentioning that the soldiers are always deployed at the main entrance of Hizma, and constantly obstruct traffic by stopped and searching Palestinian cars, in addition to interrogating the residents while inspecting their ID cards.
In related news, the soldiers shot two Palestinians with live fire in the Al-Mughayyir village, northeast ofRamallah, before they were moved to a hospital in the city. The two were shot after the soldiers invaded the village and attacked local protesters.
Israeli soldiers injure many Palestinians in Kufur Qaddoum
IMEMC 3 Aug — Israeli soldiers shot, Friday, one Palestinian with a rubber-coated steel bullet, and caused dozens to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation, after the army attacked the weekly nonviolent procession against the Annexation Wall and colonies in Kafr Qaddoum town, east of the northern West Bank city ofQalqilia. The Palestinians, accompanied by Israeli and international peace activists, marched against the wall and colonies, denouncing both the Israeli and American hostile policies towards the Palestinians and their legitimate rights in occupied Palestine. They also marched demanding the military to reopen the main road, which was blockaded fifteen years ago to enable easy access for colonialist settlers driving to and from the illegal Kedumim colony, which was built on private Palestinian lands. The Coordinator of the Popular Committee in Kufur Qaddoum, Morad Eshteiwi, said a large military force attacked the nonviolent protesters, even before they started marching towards Palestinian lands, and fired rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades at them. He added that a young man was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his arm, while dozens, including Fateh Revolutionary Council member Bayan Tabeeb, suffered the effects of teargas inhalation. Eshteiwi also said that the soldiers fired gas bombs and concussion grenades at a number of homes, and attempted to abduct several Palestinians after ambushing them.
Army injures several Palestinians near Jenin
IMEMC 3 Aug — Israeli soldiers injured, on Friday evening, several Palestinians in Toura village, southwest of Jenin, in northern West Bank. Media sources in Jenin said dozens of soldiers invaded the village, and fired many gas bombs at locals, and their homes, causing many to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. They added that the army claimed that several residents approached the Annexation Wall, built on Palestinian lands.
Journalist shot during Nablus confrontations
IMEMC/Agencies 3 Aug — Violent confrontations erupted as hundreds of Israeli settlers stormed, on Wednesday night, the northern West Bank city of Nablus, guarded by Israeli forces and for the purpose of performing Talmudic rituals. Eyewitnesses reported that Israeli forces, accompanied by a bulldozer, stormed Beit Furik checkpoint, to the east of Nablus. Dozens of Israeli soldiers then stormed the Dahiya neighborhood, near Joseph’s tomb, coming from the military point on Mount Gerizim. Confrontations centered in Dahiya, Jerusalem Street, Amman Street and Al-Hesba Street, in the vicinity of the tomb, where Israeli soldiers fired sound bombs and tear gas. During the confrontations, journalist Mu‘tasim Suqef al-Hitt, a reporter for Quds News Network, was wounded with two metal bullets in his feet while covering the events. He received treatment on the ground, and was then transferred to hospital.
More than 2,000 trees in West Bank village destroyed in two months
(paywall) Haaretz 1 Aug by Yotam Berger — Palestinians in the West Bank village of Al-Mughayyir awoke Monday morning to discover that they had had unwelcome visitors overnight: Car tires had been punctured, and houses were spray-painted with slogans in Hebrew protesting stone-throwing. Two kilometers away, 25 trees belonging to the villagers were cut down – the latest of more than 2,000 trees that have been destroyed since May 1. As in dozens of similar incidents in recent months, police have opened an investigation but haven’t yet arrested any suspects. Attacks by Jews on Palestinian villages throughout the West Bank have become commonplace in recent months. Almost every week, Palestinians somewhere in the territory wake up to vandalized property and racist slogans in Hebrew. So far, police have arrested 10 people in the cases. Some were questioned about specific attacks, but most were only interrogated about involvement in hate crimes in general. And all were later released.
Israel detains Palestinian journalist, the fifth in one week
NABLUS (WAFA) 1 Aug – The Israeli military detained on Wednesday Palestinian journalist, Mohammad Muna, who runs Hawa Nablus radio station, after raiding his home in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, according to local and Palestinian security sources. They said an army unit raided Muna’s home east of Nablus, searched it and detained Muna. He is the fifth journalist to be detained this week. Four other Palestinian journalists working for Al-Quds TV, which was ordered shut down on July 9, were detained on Monday during raids at their homes in Ramallah. This brings the total number of Palestinian journalists held by Israel to 30, according to the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission.
Prisoners / Court actions
Detainee receives additional six-month administrative detention order despite medical complications
IMEMC 2 Aug — The Palestinian Detainees’ Committee reported, on Thursday evening, that detainee Mo‘taz Mohammad Obeido, 38, from the southern West Bank city of Hebron, has received a six-month arbitrary Administrative Detention order without charges or trial. The Committee stated that the detainee, who was abducted on February 5th, 2018, already spent six months under the same orders, and was supposed to be released today, but was instead slapped with a new order despite his serious medical complications. It is worth mentioning that the detainee, born in 1980, is a married father of three children; he was previously imprisoned by Israel for 33 months which he spent the Ramla prison clinic until his release on November 9th, 2015. In 2011, and just before the soldiers abducted him from his home, he was shot by the army with expanding bullets, which led to damaging his bladder and intestines, forcing him to permanently need a urine bag and a colostomy bag, in addition to paralysis of his left leg….
Woman detainee, held for her writings, undergoes long hours of vicious interrogation
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 1 Aug – A Palestinian woman detainee has been undergoing long and vicious interrogation at Asqalan detention center in Israel, the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) said on Wednesday. PPS attorney Firas al-Sabbah said Lama Khater, 42, who was detained at her Hebron home on July 24, was interrogated for long hours on two consecutive days in an attempt to break her and force her to sign a confession. Khater was screamed at, tied to a chair, refused permission to go to the toilet except for once a day and denied food, said Sabbah after visiting her at her detention center. He said that after an appeal hearing on Sunday, Israeli interrogators subjected Khater for questioning until eight at night and on the next day they interrogated her for 10 hours regarding her writings, which they described as “time bombs.” Khater is mother of five children and was previously detained for her activism against the Israeli occupation.
Palestinian woman jailed for anti-occupation poems
AFP 31 July — An Israeli court on Tuesday sentenced an Arab woman to five months in prison for incitement to violence and support for a terrorist organisation in poems and other social media posts, the justice ministry said. Dareen Tatour, 36 and an Israeli citizen, posted a video clip of herself reading her poem “Resist, my people, resist them” in October 2015, accompanied by pictures of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces, according to authorities. The posts on YouTube and Facebook came as a wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence was erupting, including Palestinian knife attacks. She was convicted in May and sentenced in the Nazareth district court. Her lawyer Gaby Lasky was expected to appeal. Her prosecution has drawn international criticism. International writers group Pen has defended Tatour, saying she “has been convicted for doing what writers do every day — we use our words to peacefully challenge injustice”. The poem was quoted in Hebrew in the charge sheet, but according to an English translation on the Arabic literature and translation site ArabLit, it contains the following lines: “For an Arab Palestine, I will not succumb to the ‘peaceful solution’, Never lower my flags, Until I evict them from my land, Resist the settler’s robbery, and follow the caravan of martyrs.” Prosecutors said that on October 4, she also quoted a statement by Islamic Jihad calling for “continuation of the intifada in every part of the West Bank”, alleging it showed her support for the outlawed militant group. Tatour, from the Arab village of Reineh near Nazareth, was arrested on October 11, 2015….
Palestinian prisoner suspends 60-day hunger strike
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Aug — A 30-year-old Palestinian prisoner, Hassan Hassanin Shokeh, suspended his open hunger strike at the Israeli Kaplan Medical Center on Friday. According to a report by the Prisoners and Former Prisoners’ Affairs Committee, Shokeh suspended his two-month hunger strike after his lawyer, Ahlam Haddad, reached an agreement with the Israeli prosecution. The agreement stated that Shokeh’s administrative detention would be renewed for another two months after the end of his current detention, meaning he is to be released by the beginning of December 2018. Shokeh was detained on August 28, 2017 from the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem; the Israeli authorities immediately issued a six-month administrative detention order against him. On October 11, 2017, Shokeh declared an open hunger strike that lasted for 35 days. Following his hunger strike, the case was reviewed and Shokeh supposed to be released on June 3, 2018. However, the Israeli authorities renewed his administrative detention for another four months, which led to Shokeh declaring the now-ended hunger strike….
Detained journalist declares hunger strike
IMEMC 3 Aug — Monther Abu Ahmad, a lawyer with the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has confirmed, Wednesday, that journalist Ala Rimawi, 40, who is held by Israel, has launched a hunger strike on the first day of his imprisonment on July 30th, 2018. Abu Ahmad said that the detainee is protesting his imprisonment, especially since the only reason for his abduction and detention is the fact that he is a journalist. Abu Ahmad added that Rimawi is under interrogation at the Ofer Israeli detention center, near Ramallah. Rimawi was abducted at dawn (July 30th), along with three other journalists, identified as Hosni Anjass, Mohammad Alwan and Qoteiba Hamdan. On Wednesday, August 1st, the soldiers invaded the home of another journalist, identified as Mohammad Anwar Mona, the head of “Hawa Nablus” Radio, from his home in Nablus, in northern West Bank.
In related news, detainee Mohammad Nimir Dar Sattouf, 27, from Beit Rima town, in the central West Bank governorate of Ramallah, is ongoing with a huger start he stated 15 days ago protesting his illegal extended interrogation, abuse and bad conditions at Asqalan prison.
Restrictions on movement
Ban on entry of foreign academics hindering Palestinian education, says rights group
IMEMC/Agencies 3 Aug — The Campaign for the Right to Enter the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Thursday, expressed deep concern at the rise in Israeli denial, of work or stay visa applications, for foreign nationals seeking to enter the occupied territories, saying this measure is hurting Palestinian education. The group said, in a press release, that, in June, seven international faculty members at Birzeit University (BZU) — one-third of the international staff at the university — were refused visa extensions by the Israeli authorities; several others have already been obliged to leave the country, according to WAFA. This policy, it added, “has severely diminished opportunities for development of faculty, courses, and research programs at Palestinian institutes of higher education.” The Campaign said that, while international academics seeking to enter or work in the occupied Palestinian territory have long faced obstacles, the situation has dramatically declined, over the past year. Since 2017, foreign nationals wishing to maintain a presence in the occupied territories, whether for reasons of work or family unity, have faced an alarming escalation in the rejection of visa extension requests and in the frequency and range of arbitrary demands and conditions imposed by Israeli authorities….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
New Khan al-Ahmar decision attempts alternate tactic for evacuation
IMEMC/Agencies 3 Aug — Khan al-Ahmar will be destroyed after the Bedouin community is given five days to respond to new relocation options, Israel’s Supreme Court has determined. The court decided on Aug. 1, according to the PNN, that the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar is inevitable, even though the citizens have shown popular rejection of any relocation plans. The representatives from the Israeli government gave more options for the relocation of the Bedouin community. But, lawyers working with the Bedouin community have said that these options are unsuitable. The options included a state-funded water and electrical connection to major facilities in the village’s relocation, near a waste facility in Abu Dis, as well as a new location near the Mitzpe Jericho Israeli Settlement. The implications of this court decision go much farther than just the few hundred people living in Khan al-Ahmar. The village’s strategic position in the E1 region has Palestinians and Israelis fighting over the land. E1 is the region between the third-largest Israeli settlement in the West Bank (Ma’aleh Adummim), and East Jerusalem. Evacuating Khan al-Ahmar is the last step before Israel is able to annex the entire region, and entirely close off Jerusalem from Palestinian access to the East Jerusalem area. Annexing the E1 region also creates the conditions necessary for dividing the West Bank in half, creating three separate Palestinian-controlled areas. Many agree that this act would be the end of any possibility for a two-state solution. Thousands of activists have attended rallies, protests and preventative acts against the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar. These efforts created enough upheaval during the multiple attempts to demolish the village that courts decided to postpone the decision over and over again until yesterday….
Israeli army to displace Bedouin families for military training
IMEMC 1 Aug — Israeli soldiers invaded, Wednesday, Khirbit Yarza village, east of Tubas in northeastern West Bank, and handed orders to four Bedouin families to leave their dwellings ahead of live-fire military drills. Human Rights activist Aref Daraghma said the soldiers handed official notices to the families of Faisal Masa‘eed, Ismael Masa‘eed, Jamal Daraghma and Mohammad Daraghma instructing them to leave their residential areas and dwellings ahead of military drills planned for this coming Monday August 6th at 4 P.M. until Tuesday morning.He added that the orders also instructed the families to leave their dwellings again on Thursday, August 9th, ahead of military training starting at 4 P.M until 6 A.M on Friday morning, August 10th.The families were also ordered to leave their dwellings, yet again, on Tuesday, August 14, starting at 4 P.M. until 6 A.M the next day … The Israeli army conducts frequent military drills in several parts of the occupied West Bank, especially certain areas of Tubas, the Jordan Valley and near Hebron. Many Palestinians, including children, have been killed and seriously injured after coming in contact with undetonated ordinances dropped by the army during training. In January of this year, the soldiers shot a Palestinian child with a live round in the head, during a “military training” near Tubas, in northeastern West Bank.
Israel is after Palestinian water in the Jordan Valley
JORDAN VALLEY, August 1, 2018 (WAFA) – The residents of the village of Kardala in the northern Jordan Valley said this week that Israeli forces came to their village and destroyed a water pipeline that was supplying fresh water to the village claiming that this happened while it was searching what it claims were “illegal” water holes. Residents of the villages of Kardala and nearby Bardala that live off agriculture did not believe the Israeli claim as they watched Israeli forces destroying their pipeline and going from one water pipeline to another in a clear move that Israel is after their water. Over the past two months, Israeli forces razed water pipelines in the two adjacent villages more than four times under the pretext that they were looking for open holes that they claimed were “illegal.” During the same period, Israeli forces also seized water pipelines from Bardala and destroyed a water pool in the area of al-Farisiya in the northern valley. Aref Daraghmah, rights activists from the Jordan Valley, said that according to agreements signed with Israel after its 1967 occupation, citizens in the villages of Bardala and Kardala are allowed to have 240 cubic meters of water an hour. However, this rate dropped over time by more than a half and is not confined to 140 cubic meters.
In the summer, when temperature is usually high, residents need double the quantity of water they would use during winter. Residents say Israel deliberately chooses the summer to destroy the water pipelines. “If our crops remain without water for days during the winter, they will be slightly affected, but in the summer, they have to be irrigated daily so they don’t die,” says Ibrahim Fuqaha, a resident of Kardala and the head of its Green Cooperative Agricultural Society. “When the water is reduced in the summer, everything else is reduced. Production is no longer the same as it would be if we get enough water,” said Fuqaha. “Their goal is clear. They just want to empty the Jordan Valley of its original inhabitants in order to make it better for Israeli settlers,” said Nabil Fuqaha, a farmer who has land in the Jordan Valley. The numbers indicate that the average consumption of an Israeli settler living in the northern Jordan Valley is 8 times more than that of a Palestinian citizen, according to a study done by Abdullah Hourani Center….
EU denounces illegal Israeli project in East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Aug — The European Union (EU) Representative and the EU Heads of Mission in the Jerusalem and Ramallah districts issued a statement on Thursday denouncing the Israeli expansion of an illegal Israeli settlement project in the Silwan neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem. The statement said that “the EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah express serious concern at the official inauguration on 1st August of a touristic center, run by a settler organization, in the Batn al-Hawa/Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, in the compound from which five households of the Palestinian Abu Nab family were evicted in 2015.” The EU said that “around 180 Palestinian households in East Jerusalem, out of which approximately 100 in Batn al-Hawa alone, face the risk of eviction from their homes, directly facilitating further settlement growth in the city, as in this instance.” … The EU statement comes a few days after the Wadi Hilweh Information Center and the Batn al-Hawa Committee announced, in a joint statement, that Israeli authorities allocated about 4.5 million shekels for the illegal Israeli settlement project, under the name of the Jewish Yemenite Heritage Center, near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Silwan neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem…. http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=780584
East Jerusalem neighborhood gets first elementary school with Japanese funding
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 2 Aug – An East Jerusalem neighborhood is going to get its first elementary school after work on completion of a school run by the Islamic Waqf (endowment) department and funded by Japan is over, the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR) said in a statement on Thursday. PECDAR deputy assistant for technical affairs, Raed Anabtawi, said Japan funded completion of the school located in Wadi al-Joz neighborhood in the heart of Jerusalem and furnishing it with around $800,000. The importance of the school is that it is located in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem and in a neighborhood that lacks an elementary school, which forced children to walk or travel long distance to reach their schools, said Samir Jibril, education ministry director in East Jerusalem. He said the school, which will open with the new school year, is going to have 150 children from grade one to four. He said the school is going to solve some of the shortage in schools and classrooms in the occupied section of the city. Palestinians in East Jerusalem prefer to send their children to private schools that teach the Palestinian curriculum instead of schools run by the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem or the Israeli Ministry of Education that teach the Israeli curriculum or a distorted and altered version of the Palestinian curriculum.
Palestinian refugees – Syria, Palestine
Palestinians reach agreement with Damascus on return of refugees
RAMALLAH, West Bank 2 Aug by Ahmad Melhem — As Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas inaugurated the PLO Executive Committee meeting July 28, he described the Palestinian delegation visit to Syria on July 9 as “very successful.” Abbas said that an agreement has been reached with the Syrian authorities over the participation of both the Palestinian Authority and the UN in the reconstruction process for Yarmouk camp on the outskirts of Damascus, in a bid to help refugees return to their homes. While no date has been set for the reconstruction of the Palestinian camp, the process is set to be part of the comprehensive reconstruction plan in Syria, which the Syrian government started in some liberated areas. In this context, several Palestinian families who had fled Syria for the Gaza Strip and Lebanon and wish to return to Syria started July 23 registering their names at the headquarters of the PLO in Gaza and the Palestinian Popular Committees in Lebanon. This came in response to the July 20 announcement by the PLO Refugees Affairs Department that those who fled Syria to Lebanon and Gaza and wish to return to Syria were invited to register their names. While the registration process is limited to Lebanon and Gaza, the department said it will be shortly declaring the registration mechanism for Palestinians who have fled from Syria to other Arab countries such as Jordan and the Gulf states….
Citizens protest UNRWA’s cutbacks in Fari‘ah camp
TUBAS (PIC) 3 Aug — The Palestinian residents of Fari‘ah refugee camp in Tubas organized a protest rally on Thursday evening against UNRWA’s recent decisions to shrink its operations, which they described as “steps threatening their existence.” Scores of citizens rallied near the main entrance to the camp as they were carrying placards condemning UNRWA’s decisions and US president Donald Trump. Addressing the crowds, senior official of the Palestinian People’s Party Khaled Mansour called for developing stronger positions amounting to the size of threats targeting UNRWA and the issue of the Palestinian refugees. Other speakers also warned of the gravity of the decisions taken by UNRWA that adversely affected its operations, including the humanitarian services it provides for Palestinian refugees.
BDS: ‘Adidas no longer sponsors Israel Football Association’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Aug — The Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement announced earlier this week that sports brand giant, Adidas, will no longer sponsor the Israel Football Association (IFA). Following a global campaign with human rights supporters around the world asking the German sportswear manufacturer, Adidas, to stop its complicity in the oppression of Palestinian people who live under Israeli occupation, and with the ongoing colonization of their land in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. In March, over 130 Palestinian football clubs called on Adidas to end its sponsorship of the IFA over its complicity with the oppression of the Palestinian people. The IFA includes six Israeli football teams based in illegal Israeli settlements that perform matches on confiscated Palestinian land, which is a policy considered illegal under international law. In June, over 16,000 individuals signed an international petition calling on Adidas to drop the IFA, which was then delivered to the Adidas headquarters in Amsterdam. Adidas responded to the petition by saying “we have raised with FIFA the need for them to adjudicate on the question of the Israeli settlement teams, by following the tenets of international law and their human rights policy.” According to the official BDS website, international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, UN experts, and about 175 European legislators have urged FIFA to resolve the issue of Israeli settlement clubs. Despite these calls, FIFA has refused to address the issue saying they will remain “neutral.” … PACBI and Palestinians are now issuing a boycott campaign against IFA’s new sponsor, Puma, who has replaced Adidas under a four-year deal, in order to end complicity with Israel’s violations of international law.
Palestinians call for boycott of Meteor music festival in Israel
IMEMC/Agencies 4 Aug — Via BNC official: We, Palestinian cultural organizations, municipalities and human rights campaigns, call for the boycott of Meteor Festival in Israel, scheduled for September 6-8, 2018. We urge all participating artists to respect Palestinians’ non-violent resistance and withdraw from this complicit festival as a meaningful contribution to our struggle for freedom, justice and equality. Naranja, the Israeli organisers of Meteor Festival, bring international artists to Israel to serve later as future ambassadors for the country. In 2009, just months after Israel killed over 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza, Naranja worked to “improve Israel’s image in Scandinavia”. Naranja say they want Meteor Festival to create an “alternative reality”. The reality for Palestinians is 70-year-old regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid….
‘Apartheid, formalised’: Palestinians to fight Jewish state law
Al Jazeera 31 July by Farah Najjar — Palestinian citizens of Israel are planning a series of actions, including a general strike and international campaigning, in a bid to cancel a controversial law that defines the country exclusively as “the nation-state of the Jewish people”. Palestinian members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, described the legislation’s adoption on July 19 as an effort to sabotage the Palestinian “story and narrative”. “It’s an attempt at destroying the entire rhetoric of historic Palestine … it stands against an entire people,” MK Ahmad Tibi, told Al Jazeera. The Basic Law, which has standing similar to a constitution, gives only Jews the right to self-determination. It also strips Arabic of its official language designation, downgrading it to a “special status” that enables its continued use within Israeli institutions. Additionally, it allows the Israeli government to expand the state’s annexation of Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The law considers the expansion of the Jewish-only settlements a national value, encouraging and promoting their construction. Adopted with 62 votes for and 55 against, the law has been met with widespread condemnation. Critics compare it to apartheid, saying it promotes ethnic superiority and further marginalises some 1.8 million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and other smaller minorities. “We now expect to see a storm of legal proposals that are racist in nature,” MK Aida-Touma Suleiman told Al Jazeera. “We must be ready to face them and fight them in parliament and on the public level as well”.
Since the law’s adoption, the High Follow-up Committee – a representative body for the Palestinian citizens of Israel – has been meeting to discuss a way to respond.The various political factions within the committee have unanimously agreed to launch a series of counter-actions. The first is scheduled for August 8 when Palestinians from various cities will attempt to block the main street where the Knesset building lies in Jerusalem during an extraordinary session called for by the Joint List, an alliance of four predominantly Arab parties in the Israeli parliament.
Netanyahu makes deal with Druze
Al-Monitor 2 Aug by Shlomi Eldar — The Bedouin community is bitter over the offer outlined by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to assuage the Druze community’s concerns about the controversial new Nationality Law — The Israeli Druze community strongly objects to the new Nationality Law, codifying the Jewish character of the State of Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to amend the law, proposing instead a series of benefits for the Druze through legislation. Netanyahu in recent days held several meetings with Druze leaders to try to resolve the crisis. Former Knesset member Shakib Shanan, who sits on the committee established by Netanyahu to deal with the issue, was visibly excited when he left the Prime Minister’s Office Aug. 1. Shanan reported that the Druze parliamentarians in the coalition had accepted, in principle, the compromise outline presented by Netanyahu. Talking to Al-Monitor afterward, Shanan said, “We have reached a historic achievement that regularizes the special status of the Druze community.” … The outline also includes enacting laws that protect the rights to benefits of all minority religious groups and communities who serve in Israel’s armed forces, thus preserving social equality for them, and anchors recognition of their contribution in defending the state … While members of the Druze community are arguing over whether Netanyahu’s offer is a historic achievement or a bribe, the members of the Bedouin community feel especially insulted, as many of their sons also serve in the army. They complain that Netanyahu’s outline is directed only at the Druze and Circassian communities, and the appendage of the “rest of the communities” was only added as a fig leaf. The Bedouin community was not listed expressly, as the others were….
Iraq national team arrives in West Bank for Palestine friendly
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) 3 Aug — Iraq’s national team arrived in the West Bank on Friday for a friendly international match against the Palestine national team at the Faisal Husseini Stadium in Ram on the outskirts of Ramallah and abutting East Jerusalem. The fixture on Saturday at 1400 GMT is expected to attract thousands of Palestinian fans who rarely see live international soccer. The stadium lies on the Palestinian side of Israel’s separation barrier, which at that point is a concrete wall. It lies parallel to an Israeli Jerusalem urban settlement in the part of the city that Palestinians want for the capital of their future state.
The Iraqi delegation are paying their first visit to the Palestinian territories. They crossed into the Israeli-occupied West Bank from Jordan. “This meeting certainly proves the brotherhood and bond between the two Arab nations – Iraqi and Palestinian – and I feel our presence is more important than the result,” Iraqi national team coach Basim Qasim told a pre-match news conference. “We are carrying out our obligation to be here with our brothers here in Palestine,” Qasim said.
NABLUS (PIC) 9 July — Behind a huge statue of Al-Amoud Gate, one of the gates of the Old City of Jerusalem, a group of Jerusalemite women brought the scent of Jerusalem to Nablus for its lovers to enjoy. Some 43 Jerusalemite women traveled to Nablus, carrying handcrafts they made, to be presented at Al-Amoud Gate Festival, which is hosted by the Hamdi Minko Cultural Center of the Municipality of Nablus for three consecutive days. The festival, which opened on Saturday (7/7/2018), includes traditional handicrafts, ranging from embroideries, ornaments, perfumes, soap, antiques, textiles, and popular food. In the center of the festival’s hall, a traditional cart displaying the famous Jerusalem cookies is located, where visitors are able to enjoy the atmosphere of Jerusalem and its old alleys. According to Fatima Abed Rabbo, the coordinator of the Maqdisyat group, the body that organizes the festival, “Every year, the group organizes a festival of the products of Jerusalem in the city itself, but this year the group decided to go out to the rest of the cities in the West Bank.” She added, “We found that Jerusalem is closed in the face of our people in the West Bank, who cannot access it because of the occupation, and at the same time we have wonderful products that we can’t sell inside Jerusalem, so we thought to bring some of these products to the entire West Bank.”
Barbary figs and figs: Fruits add beauty to Palestine
[with photos] NABLUS [PIC] 1 Aug — The pavement of Al-Salam Street, adjacent to Gamal Abdel Nasser Street and Al-Salam Mosque in Nablus, has become a market that attracts hundreds of shoppers looking for barbary figs and figs, whose season has started these days. Despite the large number of sellers from the villages west of Nablus, the fruits displayed are mostly from the village of Tal west of the city, which is famous for barbary figs and figs, who keep the price high in the early days of the season. Some of the vendors are fig tree owners from the town of Tal, and others are from outside the town who buy the fruits from the owners, or from the market of Tal in the morning, and then display it on Al-Salam Street. The fruits used to be sold to at Israeli markets in the past, but not anymore … According to the Palestinian National Information Center, Palestinians have known the fig tree cultivation for thousands of years since the Canaanite era. Figs were one of the oldest fruit trees known to Palestinian people and cultivated by them. The fig tree could survive under all environmental conditions and lives in all kinds of soils; sand, mud, and even rock. It does not require large quantities of water and fertilizers. It is resistant to pests and diseases, and all these qualities have given this tree a prominent place in Palestine….
Video: Work on Israel-Jordan pipeline begins, despite public refusal
3 Aug — Work has begun on a 65-kilometer pipeline which is supposed to start bringing gas from Israel to Jordan in early 2020. The Jordanian government says the deal will save hundreds of millions of dollars a year. But many organizations involved in anti-normalisation campaigns have been criticising the deal. Jordanian society, many of whom are Palestinian refugees, continue to resist official efforts to promote ties with Israel. It’s been more than two decades since Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel but it is still largely unpopular. Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr reports from Amman, Jordan.
5-year drought raises questions over Israel’s water strategy
KFAR YUVAL, Israel (AP) 4 Aug by Caron Creighton— For years, public service announcements warned Israelis to save water: Take shorter showers. Plant resilient gardens. Conserve. Then Israel invested heavily in desalination technology and professed to have solved the problem by tapping into the abundant waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The once ubiquitous conservation warnings vanished. Now, a five-year drought is challenging that strategy, as farmers struggle and the country’s most important bodies of water shrink. It’s a confounding situation for a country that places itself on the forefront of desalination technology in an arid region, where water is a key geostrategic issue that has its own clauses in peace agreements. “Nobody expected five years of drought in a row, so despite our desalination capacity, it’s still a very, very grave situation,” said Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s minister of energy. Some say Israel’s technological prowess may not be enough to overcome the forces of nature. Situated in the heart of the Middle East, Israel is in one of the driest regions on earth, traditionally relying on a short rainy season each winter to replenish its limited supplies. Years of decreased rainfall have reduced the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s main natural water source, to some of its lowest recorded levels, and Israel has stopped pumping water from it to its national system…
Trump staffs up Mideast team for peace plan rollout
WASHINGTON (AP) 3 Aug — U.S. officials say the Trump administration is staffing up a Middle East policy team at the White House in anticipation of unveiling its long awaited but largely mysterious Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. The National Security Council last week began approaching other agencies seeking volunteers to join the team, which will work for President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace pointmen Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, according to the officials. The team, which is being set up to organize the peace plan’s public presentation and any negotiations that may ensue, will comprise three units: one concentrating on its political and security details, one on its significant economic focus and one on strategic communications, the officials said. The creation of a White House team is the first evidence in months that a plan is advancing. Although Trump officials have long promised the most comprehensive package ever put forward toward resolving the conflict, the emerging plan has not been described with even a small amount of detail by Kushner, Greenblatt or any other official. Timing on the release of the plan remains undecided. The State Department, Pentagon, intelligence agencies and Congress have been asked to detail personnel to the team for six months to a year, according to the officials, who were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity….