Media Analysis

ICC responds to Trump administration threats: ‘the court will continue to do its work undeterred’

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ICC responds to US sanctions threats
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Sept — In response to threats by the United States National Security Adviser John Bolton, the International Criminal Court in Hague said, on Tuesday, that it would “continue to do its work undeterred.”  On Monday, Bolton had threatened ICC judges with imposing sanctions if they proceed with a probe into reported war crimes by the US in Afghanistan. Bolton’s threats said that if such an investigation was launched, the US administration would consider banning ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the United States, in addition to sanctioning funds they have there and prosecuting them in U.S. courts. The court said in a statement that it is an independent and impartial institution with the backing of 123 countries. The statement added that “the ICC, as a court of law, will continue to do its work undeterred, in accordance with those principles and the overarching idea of the rule of law.” Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister criticized the absence of an international response to US threats via his official Twitter account, on Tuesday. Mohammad Javad Zarif said “the US threatens to impose sanctions on the ICC & even prosecute its judges in American courts. Where is the outrage?” “The boorishness of this rogue US regime seems to know no bounds,” he added.

Church groups outraged as US denies critical support to Jerusalem hospitals
Al-Monitor 12 Sept by Daoud Kuttab — Church groups in the United States and Europe have begun a worldwide campaign in opposition to the latest last-minute decision by the Donald Trump administration to deny support to six Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem. The financial punishment falls within the efforts of the executive branch in the United States to pressure Palestinian negotiators. Pauliina Parhiala, a representative of the World Lutheran Federation that runs Jerusalem’s August Victoria Hospital, told Al-Monitor that the decision to stop $25 million in aid — of which the largest parts, $11 million, were earmarked for Makassed and the Augusta Victoria hospitals each — came at the last moment. “We had a visit from USAID last week, and they said that a final decision about the release of the money will be made in the White House even though the money was already approved by Congress.” Parhiala, a Finnish citizen, said that “friends throughout the United States had worked hard to ensure the funds for the six East Jerusalem hospitals were exempt from the Taylor Force Act that was passed last March by Congress and signed by the president to stop aid for Palestinians.” Parhiala told Al-Monitor that the approved funds were due to be released before the end of the current fiscal year, which expires September 30….

NGO warns Trump’s aid cuts will cause East Jerusalem hospitals to collapse
[behind paywall] Haaretz 9 Sept by Nir Hasson — The Physicians for Human Rights–Israel NGO and doctors at East Jerusalem hospitals objected on Sunday to the U.S. decision to cut the $20 million transferred by the U.S. government through USAID to hospitals in East Jerusalem. Many of these hospitals have been struggling with a continued economic crisis for many years. Earlier Saturday it was announced the Trump administration has decided to completely cut the funding from its budget … The American funding joins 13 million euros transferred by the European Union, which jointly cover part of the debt owed by the Palestinian Authority to the hospitals. The money therefore does not fund hospitals in East Jerusalem, but patients in the West Bank. East Jerusalem hospitals operate with an Israeli license and are supervised by the Health Ministry, but a substantial amount of their patients are residents of Gaza and the West Bank who come into Jerusalem for treatments, especially complex ones such as cancer treatment. The growing debt of the PA to the hospitals stands at 280 million shekels and heavily encumbers their performance … “The Trump administration’s decision is a critical blow to the healthcare system, which treats hundreds of thousands of Palestinian every year,” a statement by the Physicians for Human Rights–Israel, an NGO operating out of Jaffa which works to for equal medical treatment for all populations in Israel … Israel, the statement said, would bear the burden of responsibility in such a scenario. “Therefore, Israel cannot stand aside – it must to everything to foil the decision by the Trump administration or prepare to take responsibility for the health of Palestinians found under its direct or indirect control.”

US announces closure of PLO office, threatens sanctions against ICC
WASHINGTON (Xinhua) 10 Sept — The Trump administration announced the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s office in Washington on Monday and threatened sanctions against the International Criminal Court if it pursues investigations against the United States, Israel, or other allies. Despite Palestinian objection, the U.S. State Department unveiled the decision to close the Palestinian diplomatic mission in a statement released Monday noon, citing the lack of “steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.” The decision was also linked with U.S. concerns with Palestinian attempts to prompt an investigation of Israel by the International Criminal Court (ICC), according to the statement. Shortly after the State Department announcement, John Bolton, the U.S. National Security Advisor, followed up in his speech at a conservative think tank in Washington. “The Trump administration will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuses to take steps to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” he said. Bolton also threatened to impose sanctions against judges and prosecutors of the ICC if it pursues investigation against the United States, Israel or other U.S. allies. In his harshly worded remarks, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations called the Hague-based international body “ineffective, unaccountable” and “outright dangerous,” threatening to block the ICC personnel from entering the United States and even prosecute them if it charges U.S. military members serving in Afghanistan over war crimes…..

‘Cruel and vicious’: Palestinian officials condemn Trump’s closure of DC office
JERUSALEM (The Guardian) 10 Sept by Oliver Holmes — Palestinian leaders have condemned a decision by Donald Trump to shutter their diplomatic mission to Washington as part of a “cruel and spiteful” campaign they say represents collective punishment against Palestinians. The move follows a year of US action that includes cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to Palestinians and recognising Jerusalem, a city that is territorially contested, as Israel’s capital. Senior Palestinian politician Hanan Ashrawi said the US government was “extremely cruel and spiteful to persist in deliberately bashing the Palestinian people by denying them of their rights, giving away their lands and rightful capital of Jerusalem”. “This form of crude and vicious blackmail … once again seeks to punish the Palestinian people as a whole who are already victims of the ruthless Israeli military occupation,” she added.  Trump has said his decisions – which have ended half a century of bipartisan US policy towards the conflict – had been to pressure the Palestinians to make a peace deal. However, no US peace plans have yet to be put forward….


In VIDEO: Israel intentionally kills 16-year-old Palestinian
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Sept — A video documented the method of how Israeli forces targeted and killed 16-year-old Palestinian, Ahmad Misbah Abu Tyour, while he was participating in “The Great March of Return” protests in the besieged Gaza Strip. The video showed the Palestinian teen, while maintaining his distance, throwing rocks towards the border with Israel as a form of protest to the nearly 12-year Israeli siege of Gaza. Ahmad’s rock-throwing posed no threat to the heavily armed Israeli forces. The video also showed Ahmad raising his hands up, seconds prior to an Israeli sniper shooting him in the chest and causing him critical injuries. Ahmad succumbed to his wounds on Saturday morning. The video below is not the first of its kind to document Israel’s intentional killing of Palestinian children, who did not pose any threat to Israel, and yet Israel rarely takes accountability for such shootings. Israeli authorities announced the decision to open an investigation into the matter. Watch the video below:

Army kills a Palestinian in northern Gaza
IMEMC 10 Sept — Israeli soldiers killed, on Sunday evening, a young man near the perimeter fence, in Abu Safiyya area, east of Jabalia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, and abducted three other Palestinians. The Israeli army claimed the Palestinian was killed by the soldiers while trying to breach the perimeter fence. The slain Palestinian has been identified as Attaf Abed-Rabbo Saleh, 32, from Jabalia. It added that the soldiers also detained three other Palestinians, and claimed they carried knives, and were moved to an interrogation facility. After shooting the young man, the soldiers crossed the fence and advanced a few meters into Gaza, before taking him, and the other Palestinians. It later said the man had died from his wounds. Medical sources in Gaza said Palestinian medics tried to reach the seriously wounded young man, but the soldiers opened fire at them, preventing them from even approaching him.

Rafah bids farewell to 2 killed Palestinian teens
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Sept — Dozens of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip marched, on Saturday, in the funeral processions of two Palestinian teens who were killed during “The Great March of Return.”  Bilal Mustafa Khafaja, 17, was shot and killed by Israeli live ammunition during Friday protests at the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip, while Ahmad Misbah Abu Tyour, 16, succumbed on Saturday morning to wounds he sustained on Friday. Medical sources confirmed that both teens were shot in the chest and killed by Israeli snipers. The funeral processions set off from the European Hospital in Khan Younis towards the homes of the two killed teens, in Rafah in southern Gaza, for a final farewell. The mourners waved Palestinians flags and chanted slogans calling for Israel to be held responsible and be brought to justice. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, more than 174 Palestinians have been killed and over 18,000 Palestinians injured since the start of “The Great March of Return” on March 30th.

Israeli navy injures 49 Palestinians in Gaza
[with videos] IMEMC 11 Sept — Israeli navy ships fired, on Monday evening, dozens of live ammunition and gas bombs at Palestinians, and fishing boats, in the al-Waha Beach area, northwest of the Gaza Strip, wounding 49 Palestinians, including one journalist. The Palestinian Health Ministry said the navy attacked dozens of Palestinians holding a nonviolent activity calling for lifting the illegal Israeli siege on Gaza, and at many boats that tried to sail as part of the protests. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, said the navy injured 49 Palestinians with live fire and gas bombs. He added that ten of the wounded were rushed to hospitals in the coastal enclave, and the rest received treatment by medics at the scene. The navy also fired live rounds at Palestinian journalists, wounding one identified as Atiya Hijazi. The Israeli attacks took place after the Palestinians held an activity and a gathering at the beach, where Dabka troupes danced, and figures and politicians gave speeches about the ongoing deadly siege and the constant violations against the civilians in the Gaza Strip. At least fifty-five boats then tried to sail in Gaza waters, to challenge the illegal Israeli deadly blockade on the coastal region. The navy started firing dozens of rounds of live fire and gas bombs at the boats, just as they tried to sail Gaza Sea, heading towards the northwestern part of the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians enter Israeli military post on Gaza border
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Sept — Two Palestinian youths allegedly managed, on Tuesday, to enter an Israeli army military post on the border with the besieged Gaza Strip. According to eyewitnesses, two Palestinian youths, who have not been identified yet, managed to enter the Israeli military post and steal three cameras and a box full of live ammunition. Witnesses added that the Palestinians returned to the Gaza Strip unharmed. Hebrew-language news outlets reported that in response to the incident, Israeli forces fired from a tank at two empty observation posts, belonging to the Hamas movement. Sources said that the Hamas movement evacuated all observation posts in Gaza, in fear of another attack by Israeli forces.

Israeli forces open fire at Gaza fishermen, farmers
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Sept — Israeli war boats opened fire at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Beit Lahiya in the northern besieged Gaza Strip, on Saturday morning. Witnesses told a Ma‘an reporter that the Israeli navy opened fire at Palestinian fishermen working inside the allowed fishing zone. No injuries or detentions were reported.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces deployed at military towers in the Khuza‘a village of eastern Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian farmers working in their lands in the area. Farmers were forced to leave their lands in fear for their lives.

Israeli forces repeatedly open fire at Gazan farmers
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Sept — Israeli forces opened fire on Sunday on Palestinian farmers in the southern besieged Gaza Strip. A Ma‘an reporter said that Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian farmers as they were working near the return camps, east of Khan Younis district, in southern Gaza. Additionally, sources mentioned that south of the Khan Younis district, Israeli forces repeatedly opened fire at farmers for unknown reasons.  No injuries were reported from either incident.

The plea that echoes everywhere in Gaza: ‘We just want to feel safe’
GAZA CITY (Daily Beast) 8 Sept by Sandy Tolan — The indelible images of suffering and stories of loss are everywhere in Gaza. The family of nine in three small rooms whose only drinking water comes from plastic jugs filled at the mosque. The woman who lost 37 members of her family during Israeli strikes in 2014. The man who lived with 49 others in a relative’s house after his neighborhood of Shujaiya was flattened. But there is something else that abides in the day-to-day life in Gaza that for me resonates just as deeply: a kind of stubborn resilience in the face of catastrophe.  An insistence on living a normal life, or at least trying to. Recently I was walking along a spit of sand and rock that forms part of the Gaza harbor. The place was rippling with everyday life: fishermen pulling up their nets, laughing and giving each other grief; kids posing for selfies; families gathered under beach umbrellas at small plastic tables, sharing a modest picnic. A young couple with their three kids invited Raed Athamnah, my guide and translator, and me to join them. The children nibbled from bags of chips, eyeing me shyly. Rana Dilly poured mango soda into small plastic cups while her husband, Ahmad, pushed an unopened package of chocolate wafers toward me.  I politely declined; a big mistake. He laughed and pushed the package closer, telling me, “You are with Palestinians!” In other words, your resistance to our hospitality is futile! Ahmad told me that despite the hardships and frequent dangers, he tries to come to this little finger of land nearly every day, just to clear his head and have some kind of normal feeling. He brings the family once or twice a week. “I want to share life,” he told me. “To share some things with my family and my kids. To show them something is possible. “We just want to feel safe.”  I heard this phrase repeated again and again across Gaza—from refugee camps to the vegetable market; from offices, living rooms, restaurants and hotels; from the beach and the harbor…..

Israel detains 4 Palestinians who attempted to cross Gaza border fence
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Sept — Israeli forces detained four Palestinians for allegedly attempting to cross into Israel via the security fence in the northern besieged Gaza Strip, on Saturday. The spokesperson of the Israeli army said that four people attempted to cross the Israeli security fence in the northern Gaza Strip; the four detainees were taken by Israeli intelligence services for interrogation. The identities of the detainees were not immediately identified. The Israeli army added that a knife and an ax were found on the detainees.

Hospitals in Gaza may shut down shortly due to power shortage: Health Ministry
GAZA (Xinhua) 9 Sept — Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza warned on Sunday that hospitals in the coastal enclave may close within days due to power shortage resulting from depletion of fuel to run alternative generators during power outages. “Power generators of major hospitals in Gaza will stop in the coming few days because of the growing fuel shortage,” Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman of the ministry, said in a statement. Director of Beit Hanoun hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, Jamil Suleiman, said that the crisis threatens the work at his hospital, pointing out that a possible halt will deprive 350,000 people of service and health care. “Austerity measures, like rescheduling fuel use and switching to smaller generators, were taken to avoid the crisis,” Sulaiman said during a press conference held at the hospital headquarters. He pointed out that the crisis has postponed surgeries and hindering laboratory tests, blood tests, radiology and support services such as laundry and sterilization services. Suleiman urged all health workers and donors to take actions to provide sufficient energy to avoid the disruption of hospital services. The United Nations called on Wednesday for urgent funding to provide essential services in the Gaza Strip as supplies have been exhausted….

Court rejects Israeli rights group’s Gaza travel request
JERUSALEM (AP) 7 Sept — An Israeli rights group says the country’s Supreme Court has rejected its petition to ease restrictions on Palestinians traveling through a Gaza crossing. Gisha, an Israeli group advocating for greater freedom of movement for Gazans, maintains the ban on travel with basic necessities is “arbitrary … and illegal.” “The state is obligated to find a reasonable balance between Israel’s security needs and its responsibilities toward civilians under its control, passing through its crossings,” It said, Last year Israel, citing security concerns, imposed new restrictions, including a ban on laptops, on Palestinians exiting Gaza.

Selling government land in Gaza raises eyebrows
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 11 Sept by Huda Baroud — The Ministry of Finance in the Gaza Strip is advertising that its Land Authority will sell the site of the police station in Sheikh Radwan, west of Gaza City. The announcement earlier this month raised many questions about the legality of such a sale. The Land Authority in the Gaza Strip is a government body responsible for all official transactions of government and public lands. Safi al-Mahdouh, a lawyer focusing on land affairs, told Al-Monitor that the applicable law in the Palestinian territories prohibits selling government land without a direct authorization from the head of state. “Such transactions must be directly authorized by the head of state, which is referred to in the law as the high representative,” Mahdouh added….

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem / Israel

Army injures a teacher, abducts principal, and causes many students to suffer effects of teargas inhalation, in Hebron
IMEMC 10 Sept — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday morning, the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and attempted to invade a school, before assaulting and wounding a teacher, and caused many Palestinians to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation, in addition to abducting the school principal. Media sources in Hebron said the soldiers attacked teachers trying to get the students into the campus of a local elementary school, wounding one teacher, identified as Shokri Zaro. They added that the soldiers also fired many gas bombs and concussion grenades directly into the school, and the surrounding areas. Many schoolchildren suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, and several others suffered anxiety attacks. In addition, the soldiers abducted the school principal, identified as Adnan Da‘na. The school provides education to approximately 370 children [boys], and is subject to repeated Israeli military violations. The Israeli army is constantly deployed near and around many schools, in Hebron as well as several parts of the occupied West Bank, an issue that causes ongoing tensions, scores of injuries and abductions.

Israeli settler prevents Hebron students from reaching school
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 10 Sept — A video posted by a group of foreign pro-Palestinian activists showed an Israeli settler attempting to prevent young Palestinian students from reaching their school in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. The video recorded an Israeli settler chasing after Palestinian students in his vehicle, blocking the road, and preventing them from reaching their school south of the Hebron district. The Israeli settler, who was under Israeli protection, was chanting racist, anti-Arab slogans at the students. No injuries were reported from the incident.
Hebron’s city center is home to some 800 notoriously aggressive Israeli settlers, who live under the protection of thousands of Israeli forces, surrounded by more than 30,000 Palestinians. The video below shows the Israeli settler blocking the road and shouting at the students:

Hebron district subjected to attacks by Israeli settlers
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 9 Sept — Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian ambulance on Saturday evening which was transporting a patient from the al-Shuhada street to a nearby hospital in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron. According to local sources, Israeli settlers blocked the al-Shuhada street and closed it down, in order to prevent the ambulance from transporting the patient to a hospital. Sources said that Israeli settlers continued by throwing rocks at the ambulance, which broke the rear glass window of the ambulance. This attack came a few days after the Israeli authorities agreed to allow Palestinian ambulances to enter al-Shuhada street, without any prior notice, in the case of necessary transport of patients to hospitals.
Sources also confirmed that Israeli settlers under the heavy protection of Israeli forces, showered several Palestinian homes with rocks in the Hebron district and attacked a number of Palestinian shepherds in the same area … The video below shows damage to the ambulance resulting from the Israeli settlers’ attack:

Israeli colonizers cut olive trees near Hebron
IMEMC 10 Sept — A number of Israeli colonizers invaded, on Monday morning, a Palestinian olive orchard in the al-Hamra area, east of Yatta town, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and cut [down] at least fifteen trees. The coordinator of the National and Popular Committees in southern Hebron, Rateb Jabour, told the Palestinian News and Info Agency (WAFA) that the Israeli assailants cut more than fifteen trees, owned by members of Rib‘ey family. Jabour added that the colonizers came from Ma’on and Havat Ma’on colonies, which were illegally built on private Palestinian lands….

Two Palestinians injured during Nablus clashes
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 8 Sept — Two Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces during clashes that erupted following predawn raids in the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Palestinian security sources said that a Palestinian youth identified as Issa Hashash, 21, was injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet above his right eye and was run over by an Israeli military vehicle. Hashash was transferred to the Rafidiya Governmental Hospital for treatment, where his condition was reported as stable. Sources added that a 17-year-old Palestinian was also injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his right hand and was transferred to the same hospital for treatment.

Palestinian teen injured during Kafr Qaddum weekly march
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 7 Sept — A 16-year-old Palestinian was injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet by Israeli forces as they suppressed the weekly anti-settlement march, on Friday afternoon, in the Kafr Qaddum village in the northern occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya. Coordinator of popular resistance committee in Kafr Qaddum, Murad Ishteiwi, said that Israeli forces raided the village, went up rooftops of houses and fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas bombs at protesters taking part in the march. Ishteiwi confirmed that a 16-year-old boy was injured in the leg and was treated on the spot. Hundreds of Palestinians threw empty bottles and rocks at Israeli soldiers while repeating national slogans. Protesters welcomed Paraguay’s decision to return its embassy back to Tel Aviv.

Soldiers abduct a Palestinian in Al-‘Issayiya, injure many in Abu Dis
IMEMC 10 Sept — Israeli soldiers abducted, Monday, a young Palestinian man in the al-‘Issawiya town, in the center of occupied Jerusalem, and injured many students near Al-Quds University, in Abu Dis town, southeast of the city. Several army jeeps invaded al-‘Issawiya, before searching a number of homes, and abducted Taj Maher Mheisin, before moving him to an interrogation facility in the city. In related news, the soldiers invaded the area surrounding the al-Quds University in Abu Dis, and fired live rounds in addition to gas bombs and concussion grenades at Palestinian youngsters protesting the invasion. Medical sources said many Palestinians suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, and received the needed treatment.
In addition, the soldiers invaded a shop in Deir Sharaf village west of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and confiscated surveillance equipment. The soldiers also invaded ‘Asira ash-Shamaliya town, north of Nablus, and Al-Mughayyir village, northeast of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, while dozens of soldiers were deployed near ‘Azzoun town, east of Qalqilia, in the northern West Bank.

Israeli police detain Palestinian on suspicions of ‘incitement’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Sept — The Israeli police detained, on Tuesday, a 60-year-old Palestinian from on suspicions of “terror and violence incitement” and supporting “terror” organizations on social media. Israeli Ynet news outlet reported that the detained man is from the Umm al-Fahm town in northern Israel. The man was reportedly detained following an undercover investigation.

Israeli forces detain Palestinian human rights activist
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Sept — Israeli forces detained rights activist Hasan Karajeh after raiding and searching his home in the Safa village, in the central West Bank district of Ramallah and al-Bireh, on Tuesday dawn.  Locals said that Israeli soldiers searched Karajeh’s family house before detaining him. Karajeh was then transferred to an unidentified location. This is the third time Karajeh is detained by Israel, he was released from Israeli prisons last year; he was previously detained twice, once in 2013 and another time in 2016. The human rights youth activist was the Ambassador of Arab Youth at the Arab League and has previously represented Palestine at several international conferences and platforms regarding human rights and the Palestinian cause.
Israeli forces detained another two Palestinians during raids carried out across the West Bank on Tuesday dawn. Another former prisoner was also detained from Ramallah and identified by locals as Haitham Siyaj. Israeli forces detained a Palestinian youth identified as Muhammad al-Hilw from the Hizma town east of Jerusalem. In the central West Bank district of Bethlehem, Israeli forces delivered two brothers, Nur and Said Mahmoud al-Umour, from the Tuqu‘ town in southern Bethlehem notices to meet with the Israeli intelligence.
According to prisoners rights group Addameer, there are 5,871 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli prisons.

Dead Sea nature reserve blazes, 3 Palestinians detained
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 11 Sept — Israeli police forces detained three Palestinians, on Tuesday, suspected of starting a fire that broke out at the Ein Fashkha (Einot Tzukim) Nature Reserve in the northern Dead Sea overnight.  The Israeli police said in a statement that it suspected a vehicle passing on Route 90; when ordered to stop for search the driver of the vehicle fled the area; the vehicles was stopped following a chase with three Palestinian passengers inside. The statement added that the police detained the three Palestinians afterwards, pointing out that their clothes and the vehicle sent a strong smell of fuel and fire. Two of the detainees were identified by the police as residents of occupied East Jerusalem in the central West Bank, while the third as resident of the al-Eizariya in the central West Bank. The police added that the detainees, all in their twenties, were transferred for interrogation. The erupted fire caused damage to 500 dunums [125 acres] of vegetation; 16 fire crews and four aircraft worked to put out the fire and prevent it from spreading overnight Monday.

Punitive demolition

Israel to demolish Palestinian prisoner’s home for 2nd time
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Sept — Israeli authorities delivered a demolition notice on Sunday to the family of a Palestinian prisoner, Omar al-Abed, in the Kobar village in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. According to local sources, Israeli authorities delivered a demolition notice to the family of a Palestinian prisoner, Omar al-Abed, who carried out a deadly stabbing attack last year in July in the illegal Halamish settlement, which is located near his hometown of Kobar. Al-Abed was indicted on three charges of murder, seven charges of attempted murder, as well as conspiring to commit a crime and “additional offences.” Sources said that the demolition notice notified the al-Abed family that in the upcoming few days, the second floor in the building will be demolished. Following the stabbing attack, Al-Abed’s home was punitively demolished last year by Israeli authorities, in which the second floor was completely destroyed, while the first floor was partially torn down. Israel has come under harsh condemnation over the past several years for its response to attacks committed by Palestinians on Israelis, which rights groups have said amounted to “collective punishment” on family members and entire communities in a clear violation of international law.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Activists stand in solidarity with the residents of Khan al-Ahmar
Khan al-Ahmar (ISM Ramallah Team) 7 Sept — After an Israeli court ruling on September 5 2018 confirmed the eviction and demolition of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, residents of the village, Palestinians from across the West Bank and international activists have gathered each day in solidarity at the village, awaiting the arrival of the Israeli forces.
On the morning of September 7, 2018, around 09:40, as approximately 40 Palestinians and internationals were peacefully enjoying morning tea and coffee, a busload of an estimated 40-50 people from the Israeli zionist hate-group ‘Im Tirtzu’ pulled off the highway by the village and approached. The Palestinians and internationals who were gathered at Khan al-Ahmar met the Israeli hate group at the entrance of the village before they entered it. The Palestinians questioned the purpose of the group’s presence were met with verbal insults and accusations of anti-semitism.  The non-violent presence of the Palestinians and international solidarity activists put pressure on “Im Tirtzu” to retreat back to the highway. Israeli forces; police, military, and border police, met the groups by the highway and proceeded to don their full riot gear. As ‘Im Tirtzu’ awaited their bus for pick up, the police demanded that the Palestinians and internationals return to Khan Al-Ahmar, even physically pushing several individuals. Police also forcefully grabbed the Palestinian flags in a show of unnecessary aggression as people were retreating.

Activists build ‘Wadi al-Ahmar’ village
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 11 Sept — Palestinian and international activists built, overnight, wooden and steel houses constructing what they referred to as the “Wadi al-Ahmar” village in the Khan al-Ahmar village in challenge to the Israeli authorities attempting to uproot Bedouin communities from the area. During night hours, dozens of Palestinian and international activists built substitute homes for residents of Khan al-Ahmar using wood and steel. Head of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Committee against the Wall and Settlements, Minister Walid Assaf, announced the “birth” of the “Wadi al-Ahmar” village, dozens of meters away from the illegal Israeli settlement of Kfar Adumim that is built on lands of Khan al-Ahmar. Assaf stressed that building the village comes as a challenge to Israeli procedures of attacking Palestinian villages and to confirm that Palestinians are ready to keep on building and holding on to their lands. He added that “this is a message to the world that our people will continue to defend their lands, especially in Area C, as this is part of Palestinian lands.” “We will build everywhere and continue to protect them (lands.)” Assaf added “our battle at Khan al-Ahmar is a strategic one, as Israel has abused these areas and declared some 38% of Area C lands as state lands and camps for the occupation.” Activist Abdullah Abu Rahmeh, general director of the popular work department at the committee, said that activists took the initiative to built the “Wadi al-Ahmar” village so residents of Khan al-Ahmar could find a place to live if their village is demolished.

Assaf: ‘We will head to international courts over Al-Khan Al-Ahmar decision’
IMEMC 10 Sept — The Head of the National Committee against the Annexation Wall and Colonies, Waleed Assaf, said the Palestinian Authority will be heading to international courts over the Israeli decision to demolish the al-Khan al-Ahmar Bedouin community. His statements came during an interview with the Palestinian Radio, regarding the developments and Israel’s intention to demolish the community. He said that the committee will not be filing any more appeals with Israeli courts, since the judicial system is wired to serve the interests of the Israeli occupation. “The courts are part of the tools used to legalize and legislate the theft of Palestinian lands, and the demolition of homes,” he said. The official added that the Israeli judges only act within the lines of the Israeli colonialist policies, and are part of the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, not only in al-Khan al-Ahmar, but also all Bedouin communities around occupied Jerusalem….

B’Tselem to EU: Clarify to Israel demolition of Khan al-Ahmar will have consequences
B’Tselem press release 8 Sept — After the High Court ruling, which greenlighted the state’s plan to demolish the community within a week, B’Tselem’s director wrote urgently to EU foreign policy chief Mogherini yesterday, warning that Israel is trampling the shared values that are at the core of its relationship with the EU. B’Tselem director Hagai El-Ad wrote yesterday (8 September) to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, calling upon the European Union to act urgently to prevent the destruction of the Khan al-Ahmar community, after Israel’s High Court gave the demolition plan the go-ahead earlier this week (5 September). According to the ruling, the state may demolish all the structures in the community, including a school attended by some 180 children, about half of them from other communities, as of the middle of next week. In the letter, El-Ad quoted a statement from 18 July by Mogherini herself, in which she warned Israel that destroying the community would have serious consequences. According to El-Ad, “we have reached the juncture where it appears that these serious consequences must be spelled out, if the EU is to credibly back its own positions.”….

France urges Israel not to demolish Khan al-Ahmar
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 12 Sept — France urged Israel, on Tuesday, not to demolish the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem in the central occupied West Bank. The French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, expressed France’s deep concern regarding Israel’s plans to demolish the Khan al-Ahmar village and to displace its Palestinian residents. Le Drian said in a statement that “France expresses its very deep concern at the situation. Under the Israeli Supreme Court ruling, the decision to demolish this village lies with the Israeli government.” He added that France joins the High Representative of the European Union (EU), Federica Mogherini, in calling on Israeli authorities not to proceed with the demolition of the village. He stressed that “France reaffirms that the demolition of infrastructure and homes in the West Bank, a Palestinian occupied territory, are contrary to international humanitarian law, and in particular the fourth Geneva Convention – since they will result in the evacuation and forced transfer of populations – and the Security Council resolutions.” “France is paying particular attention to the case of Khan al-Ahmar given its location in an area of strategic importance for the contiguity of a Palestinian state and for the viability of a two-state solution with Jerusalem as the capital….

Haaretz editorial: The Israeli high court is at a crossroad
7 Sept — The legal basis for Israel’s acts in the West Bank’s lands has always been shaky, but now it has been totally destroyed by the government — The High Court of Justice’s display of deference to the planning and construction laws should not impress anyone. In its denial of the Khan al-Ahmar residents’ petition against the demolition of their village, whose houses were built without a permit, the court chose to join a system based on discrimination and oppression. The Civil Administration serves as the Israeli government’s tool to strengthen and expand its grasp of the West Bank’s occupied territories, by restricting the Palestinians’ rights and evicting them. This practice is a systematic violation of international law, and is based, in essence, on discriminating against the Palestinians compared to the settlers, and on abusing the Palestinians, which runs contrary to Israeli law as well. In its ruling to stick to the dry letter of the planning and construction laws, while ignoring the Civil Administration’s overall method of operation, the High Court has given a bad name to fair and just trial, which it is in charge of carrying out. The High Court of Justice is now at a crossroads. The legal basis for Israel’s acts in the West Bank’s lands has always been shaky, but now it has been totally destroyed by the government. First, the argument that the settlement enterprise is the act of individuals has been proven groundless. It is the act of a state that breaks international law, which prohibits an occupying state to settle its citizens in the occupied area. Second, the principle that Palestinians’ private lands must not be expropriated has been violated. Third, the legal viewpoint, that the Jewish settlement on “state’s lands” in the territories is temporary, and therefore legal as far as international law is concerned, has been smashed on the rock of reality and Israel’s policy. Nothing is more permanent than this false transience….

In photos: Israeli settlers build houses in Jordan Valley
[with map] TUBAS (Ma‘an) 11 Sept — Israeli settlers started building and setting up housing structures in a settlement outpost in Khirbet al-Sweida village in Tubas in the northern Jordan Valley of the West Bank. Activist Aaref Daraghmeh said that Israel confiscated thousands of dunums of lands from its original Palestinian owners for Israeli settlement expansion in the area. Daraghmeh said that Israeli settlers set up mobile homes (‘caravans’) five kilometers away from the “al-Sweida” settlement outpost near the village. He pointed out that settlers raised the Israeli flag on the structures. The settlement outpost was set up in May, 2018 south of the Shadmot Mehola Israeli settlement, the only area where Palestinian shepherds could herd their sheep. The closure of the area would close off thousands of dunums of lands where Palestinian farmers could shepherd their sheep; the new settlement outpost would obstruct the daily lives of dozens of families and land owners in the area….

‘I think that today, I am just going to cry’: a journal entry by an ISM volunteer
RAMALLAH 31 Aug by Kristin Foss, ISM — I woke up feeling sad today. I’m just so sad. I’m crying now, I started crying in the supermarket, I cried a little when a farmer refused my money for grapes. I think that today, I’m just going to cry. Maybe I need it. Yesterday, I was called by a friend to ask if ISM could spare some people to come to a place I can’t even remember the name of now. There are too many places, too much need for assistance … The man who alerted me is my age; he has a professional job, a nice car. But he spends his free time alerting people, travelling to places where he is needed and getting beaten up by 20 year olds with machine guns. He does not get to go home and have a nice dinner with his wife or play with his kids. I guess he could. But then, will his kids even have a country when they grow up? … I ’ve been reading comments that people have left in the comment sections of interviews with me, some say “third time lucky,” [after she’d been shot twice by Israeli forces] or “if she is there knowing the risks it’s her own fault, she deserved it,” etc. Then I think of what these same people say about my Palestinian friends: that they are an invented people, there was never a place called Palestine. If a nurse gets killed tending to the wounded, she is Hamas. If a school or hospital gets bombed, then Hamas was storing weapons there. If a child is murdered, his parents are using him for sympathy. It’s inexplicably inhumane. I have never witnessed anything like this, people denouncing a whole people. It is so unspeakably evil. How does it feel for Palestinians to read this; to read that they don’t even exist? To be faced with this evil? When all they did was to be born on their own land, and all they do is try to live under an inhumane occupation….

Palestinian refugees, UNRWA

Israel calls for alternative for UNRWA to avoid escalation in Gaza
MEMO 10 Sept — Israeli army officials have recommended the establishment of an alternative for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip to avoid any escalation in unrest, Safa news agency reported yesterday. The news site reported Israeli newspaper Haaretz saying the Israeli army’s recommendation should be considered because an escalation would be inevitable if UNRWA’s operations in Gaza were halted. Haaretz also said that a conference to discuss the consequences of halting UNRWA’s funding is to be held in New York at the end of September. Safa said that Israel had asked the US to stop funding UNRWA’s activities in the occupied West Bank, but in Gaza Israel is afraid that such a move would leave a vacuum that would undermine the regional security.

Additional UNRWA funding of €3.5 million approved by Italy
IMEMC/Agencies 10 Sept — Italy, on Monday, approved an additional funding of €3.5 million for UNRWA programs to be carried out in Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip, according to a press release by the Italian Consulate in Jerusalem.“In accordance with the well-established Italian support to UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, and given the serious financial difficulties that UNRWA is facing, Italy has approved an additional funding of EUR 3.5 million for programs to be carried out in Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip,” said the statement.“The contribution comes on top of the financial effort already set up by Italy for the benefit of the Agency. This effort, considered as a whole $14 million in 2017, allows our country to be the 14th most important donor of the agency.”The statement said, according to WAFA,  that “UNRWA keeps playing an essential part by providing basic services to more than 5 million Palestinian refugees. Its activities contribute in a concrete manner to the stability of the region.”….

Malaysia launches campaign to support Palestinian refugees
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Sept — The government of Malaysia announced on Monday the launch of a national fundraising campaign to support Palestinian refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The campaign aims to mobilize resources for UNRWA, since the agency currently faces a financial crisis after the United States Trump administration’s decision to end all funds to the agency. The Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, Wan Azizah spoke at the campaign launch event in Kuala Lumpur and said “The recent funding cuts to UNRWA undermine the education, healthcare and other life-saving services to vulnerable Palestine refugees.” She called on all Malaysians to “Join this effort. No matter how small, your contribution can make a big difference to people who have nothing.” Azizah stressed that the Malaysian government is determined to ensure that Palestinian refugees receive the support and solidarity they deserve. Many of the attendees expressed their solidarity with Palestine and Palestinian refugees, and have vowed to contribute to the national fundraising campaign, which will continue for a month….


Boycott Eurovision song contest hosted by Israel
Letter to The Guardian 7 Sept — We, the undersigned artists from Europe and beyond, support the heartfelt appeal from Palestinian artists to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 hosted by Israel. Until Palestinians can enjoy freedom, justice and equal rights, there should be no business-as-usual with the state that is denying them their basic rights. On 14 May, days after Israel’s Eurovision win, the Israeli army killed 62 unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, including six children, and injured hundreds, most with live ammunition. Amnesty International has condemned Israel’s shoot-to-kill-or-maim policy and Human Rights Watch described the killings as “unlawful and calculated”. Eurovision 2019 should be boycotted if it is hosted by Israel while it continues its grave, decades-old violations of Palestinian human rights. We understand that the European Broadcasting Union is demanding that Israel finds a “non-divisive” location for the 2019 Eurovision. It should cancel Israel’s hosting of the contest altogether and move it to another country with a better human rights record. Injustice divides, while the pursuit of dignity and human rights unites….[signed by 140+ international artists]

Other news

Palestine in pictures: August 2018
Electronic Intifada 2 September

PCBS: Illiteracy rate in Palestine one of the lowest in the world
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Sept — On the occasion of the International Literacy Day, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) published a report last week on the illiteracy rate in Palestine and confirmed that it is one of the lowest in the world. The report said that the illiteracy rate in 2017 was 3.3% (7,898 illiterate) in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip refugee camps run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which currently faces a financial crisis following the United States’ decision, which may affect its educational programs, compared to 3.1% (67,324 illiterate) in urban areas, and 4.8% (20,228 illiterate) in rural localities …
UNESCO Institute for Statistics reported that the illiteracy rate among individuals of 15 years and above in Arab countries was 24.8% (about 64.6 million illiterate) in 2016. For males, 17.4% (23.7 million illiterate) compared to 32.8% for females (40.9 million illiterate). For the same year, the rate was 13.8% (about 750.1 million illiterate) in the world among the same age group: for males, 10.2% (277.2 million illiterate) compared to 17.3% for females (472.9 million illiterate)….
In 2017, the highest illiteracy rate among the Palestinian population aged 15 years and above was in Jericho and the Jordan Valley district, scoring 5.5% (1,623 illiterate), followed by Tubas and the Northern Valley district, scoring 4.7% (1,808 illiterate).
Additionally, the lowest rate was in the Jerusalem and Gaza districts with only 2.3% (5,752 illiterate in Jerusalem and 8,778 illiterate in Gaza)….

Museum to showcase bewildering history of Palestinian money
Al-Monitor 6 Sept by Entsar Abu Jahal — Palestine is set to open an interactive money museum by next spring that will showcase the monetary history of a land that has used more than 28 different currencies in its volatile past. The museum will be created through cooperation between the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and the Palestinian Monetary Authority (PMA), the Ramallah-based central bank that is responsible for formulating and implementing the country’s monetary and banking policies. PMA Governor Azzam al-Shawa told Al-Monitor that the museum will tell the story of the Palestinian economy through the ages — from the time of bartering to modern economic concepts. The museum, to be located at the PMA headquarters, will also support research and publication in monetary and financial history with its research and resource center. Jihad Yassin, the director general of the Archaeological Excavations Department at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, explained that his ministry will provide the museum with coins that were confiscated from antiquities smugglers. The ministry will also restore ancient coins that will be placed in the museum to offer a chronological display of money used throughout the different eras. Palestinians started using coins for transactions in the 5th century BCE, with the Persian conquest of Palestinian lands….

Israeli wall rising near border with Lebanon stokes tensions
ROSH HANIKRA, Israel (AP) 6 Sept by Ilan Ben Zion — Israel is building a massive wall along its northern border, saying the barrier is needed to protect civilians from Hezbollah attacks, but the project has raised tensions with Lebanon, which fears the fence will encroach on its territory. The Israeli military insists the entire barrier is being constructed in Israeli territory, and the U.N. peacekeeping force in the area agrees. But Hezbollah has never fully accepted the border, and a senior Israeli military official stressed the need for the wall, saying that while Israeli intelligence closely monitors the militant group, “we are prepared for the possibility that they will surprise us.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity under military guidelines during a military-led tour of the border region provided for reporters. Israel’s military conducted a large-scale combined arms drill in northern Israel this week simulating a future conflict with Hezbollah, with which it fought a month-long war in 2006. Israelis fear there could be a renewal of hostilities as the civil war winds down in neighboring Syria, where the Iran-backed militant group has been fighting alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces for the last seven years…. (listserv) (various headlines, but byline always ‘Kate’)

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The last I heard the ICC said it could take 12 years for a case to be concluded, that’s outrageous, the way the US/Israel are behaving Palestine may not exist in 12 years time. One thing I do agree with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is that John Bolton is ‘human scum’.