Media Analysis

35 senators send letter to Trump opposing Palestinian aid cut

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35 US senators urge Trump to restore Palestinian aid
ADN 28 Sept — 14 Democrats and 51 Republicans, mostly Senators who have received huge campaign donations from Israel’s lobby AIPAC, refused to sign the letter including those who have claimed to be advocates for “peaceful negotiations with Israel.” The letter was immediately applauded by Churches for Middle East Peace —  Today U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.) led a letter of 34 Democratic Senators to President Trump to express strong opposition to his decision to cut more than $500 million in aid to the Palestinian people – funding that was passed into law to provide clean water, food, education, and critical medical services to families in the West Bank and Gaza. “We are deeply concerned that your strategy of attempting to force the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table by withholding humanitarian assistance from women and children is misguided and destined to backfire. Your proposed cuts would undermine those who seek a peaceful resolution and strengthen the hands of Hamas and other extremists in the Gaza Strip, as the humanitarian crisis there worsens,” the Senators wrote. They continued, “For these reasons, we strongly believe it is in the national security interest of the United States, our ally Israel, the Palestinian people, and our other partners and allies in the region to expeditiously obligate the FY17 Economic Support Fund assistance originally planned for the West Bank and Gaza and to sustain U.S. contributions to UNRWA. We urge you to reverse your decision and look forward to your prompt response.”….

Trump is giving Palestinians a choice. We’ll choose dignity. / Husam Zomlot
RAMALLAH (NY Times) 25 Sept —  My family and I moved to Washington in April 2017, just a few months after President Trump took office. I’d been sent as the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s general delegation to the United States — effectively the Palestinian ambassador in Washington … This month, the administration ordered the closing of the Palestinian mission in Washington, my office. And it has announced that it plans to revoke my family’s visas by Oct. 10. We are in the middle of a political and diplomatic crisis. I resent, of course, the toll this is taking on my family. But as a diplomat, I can see the upside. This situation presents three strategic opportunities.
First, it frees the Palestinians from the shackles of a failed 27-year-old, American-led peace process, unleashing more of our energy to work with the international community. At our invitation, dozens of countries will attend a meeting in New York this week to discuss restarting international peace efforts.
Second, it provides an opportunity to correct the American-Palestinian bilateral relationship. In 1987, Congress designated the P.L.O. as a terrorist organization. This law, among others, contributed to the United States’ failure as a mediator. Despite the American-sponsored Madrid peace conference in 1991, the signing of the Oslo accords at the White House in 1993, the numerous bilateral agreements and generous American aid program, this label was never removed. We know this process drags on — Nelson Mandela was officially classified as a terrorist by the United States until 2008 — but it’s time to do so. Our diplomatic mission in Washington must be reopened only once this law is repealed.
Third, this crisis will help redirect Palestinian attention away from just high-level American officials and toward an equally, if not more, important investment: long-term engagement directly with the American people. American public opinion, especially among young people, is shifting toward supporting peace and Palestinian rights….


Israeli army kills one Palestinian, injures 90, in Gaza
IMEMC 24 Sept — Israeli soldiers killed, Monday, one Palestinian and injured 90 others, during a protest in northern Gaza, especially at the shore where many boats attempted to sail and challenge the ongoing Israeli siege on the coastal region. Media sources in Gaza said the soldiers fired a barrage of live fire, in addition to high-velocity gas bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets. The Health Ministry in Gaza has confirmed that the soldiers killed Mohammad Fayez Salim Abu Sadeq, 21, and injured ninety other Palestinians, including ten who were shot with live fire. It added that the soldiers also fired a gas bomb directly at a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance, while trying to reach some of the wounded protesters. Furthermore, the soldiers shot Monser Sawwaf, a cameraman working of the Anadolu Turkish News Agency, with a gas bomb in his leg, while live rounds also struck his camera and equipment. It is worth mentioning that, using slingshots, Palestinian protesters managed to down an Israeli drone while firing gas bombs at them. The soldiers also fired many gas bombs and live rounds at the boats, trying to break the illegal siege on Gaza.

Israeli soldiers kill a Palestinian in Gaza
IMEMC 24 Sept — The Palestinian Health Ministry has reported that Israeli soldiers killed, on Sunday evening, a young Palestinian man, and injured at least 20 others, including one medic, along the eastern part of the besieged Gaza Strip. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, said the soldiers shot Emad Daoud Eshteiwi, 21, with a live round in the head, east of Gaza city, and moderately injured a medic in the leg. He added that the soldiers also shot twenty Palestinians with live rounds, along the perimeter fence, in the eastern parts of the coastal region, especially east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza, as the army shot at least 14 Palestinians. The Palestinians were shot during the ongoing Great Return March processions in the besieged Gaza Strip, while many burnt tires in an attempt to block the sniper vision of the Israeli soldiers, stationed hundreds of meters away, across the perimeter fence. In addition, Israeli drones fired missiles at protesters near the fence, east of Gaza city, causing several injuries.

Slain Palestinian teen laid to rest in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Sept — Hundreds of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip marched in the funeral of Palestinian teen, Karim Mohammad Kallab, 19, who was killed by Israeli forces during the 26th “Great March of Return,” on Friday. Funeral processions took off from the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City to Kallab’s family home where his family and loved ones said their final farewells before heading to the Huthaifa mosque for funeral prayers and burial at the Sheikh Radwan cemetery. Kallab was shot and killed by Israeli forces during protests at the eastern borders of Gaza City. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Kallab’s death raises the number of Palestinians killed since “The Great March of Return” began on March 30th to 184.The ministry pointed out that some 20472 injuries have been recorded since the beginning of marches.

Army injures five Palestinians in Gaza
IMEMC 25 Sept — Israeli soldiers shot, on Tuesday evening, five Palestinians in the Great Return Camp, east of Khuza‘a town, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip and near Jabalia, in northern Gaza. The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza has reported that two Palestinians were injured, including one who suffered a very serious gunshot wound to the head in northern Gaza, and were rushed to the Indonesian hospital, east of Jabalia. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, said the Palestinian who was shot in the head was later rushed to the Shifa Medical Center, due to the seriousness of his condition. It added that the soldiers shot two Palestinians near Khuza‘a town, east of Khan Younis, and one was shot with a gas bomb in his head, east of Gaza city. Protests were held along the eastern border areas along the Gaza Strip, including Khan Younis, al-Boreij in central Gaza, and Jabalia, in northern Gaza. The protesters burnt tires, and used laser pointers directly at Israeli military sniper posts, while the soldiers fired live rounds, in addition to high-velocity gas bombs and concussion grenades.

Israeli soldiers shoot two Palestinians, one seriously, in Gaza
IMEMC 28 Sept — Israeli soldiers shot, on Thursday evening, at least two young Palestinian men, including one who suffered life-threatening wounds, in Central Gaza. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, said the soldiers shot one Palestinian with a live round in the head, before he was rushed to the Indonesian Hospital. Eyewitnesses said Israeli army sharpshooters, stationed in fortified posts across the perimeter fence, targeted Palestinian protesters, wounding two, including the one who suffered a serious injury. The second Palestinian was shot with a live round in the thigh, and suffered a moderate wound.

In Pictures — Great March of Return: Six months of protests in the Gaza Strip
GAZA STRIP (Active Stills) Almost six months have passed since the start of a massive wave of protests known as the Great March of Return, organised by the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. They started on March 30, the commemoration of Land Day, which marks the events of March 30, 1976, when Israeli police shot and killed six Palestinian citizens of Israel as they protested against the Israeli government’s expropriation of land … According to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, 194 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip since March 30. Of them, 141 were killed during demonstrations, including 28 children, one woman, two journalists, three paramedics and three differently abled people. Another 9,970 were injured, including 1,815 children, 419 women, 114 paramedics, and 105 journalists. Of those injured, 5,645 were hit by live fire, including 919 children and 113 women. One Israeli soldier has died after being shot on July 20, 2018, during the protests. Mohammed Zaanoun, a photographer and videographer, has been documenting the protests since the first day. He was himself injured during a protest when shrapnel penetrated his hands. His brother, who is a cameraman, was also injured by a live bullet while covering the protests. But for him, the most difficult thing to witness is “when the sniper shoots at unarmed children for no reason, and then to see the mothers saying farewell to them”. Occupying forces also deliberately target journalists, Zaanoun says….

Video: Between fire & sea: The man behind Gaza’s Great March of Return
Al Jazeera Witness 24 Sept 25:50 English subtitles — Following poet and non-violent resistance activist, Ahmed Abu Artema, as he inspires peaceful protest in Gaza — … Frustrated by Israel’s more than decade-long land, sea and air blockade of the Gaza Strip, upon which it has waged three wars in the past 10 years, and wanting to draw attention to the Palestinian right of return, Ahmed organised the marches as a cry for help. “Our hardships induced this scream for life,” the soft-spoken father explains. “The March of Return is a scream for life so that we may leave the walls of our prison.” But Ahmed is an unconventional protest leader. More comfortable in a library than at a protest camp, the former student of non-violent resistance wanted the movement to follow the examples of Martin Luther King Jr and Mahatma Gandhi. “Up until a few years ago, the idea of peaceful struggle in Gaza was considered strange and disapproved of, because in people’s minds it meant surrender,” he reflects. “But with the March of Return, there was a positive transformation. People started having faith in peaceful struggle.” Many of the protests took on a carnival-like atmosphere, with people of all ages and even traditional dabke dancers in attendance. But they were met with violence. More than 18,000 Palestinians have been injured so far, many of them seriously, and nearly 200 killed by Israeli forces, including 21-year-old volunteer paramedic Razan al-Najjar who was shot as she tended to a wounded protester. It’s a toll Ahmed grapples with in Gaza: Between Fire and Sea, as he visits some of the injured and relatives of the deceased. For Ahmed, it’s a battle between his conscience and his dreams of a world beyond borders, where people of all nationalities can live and move freely. But as the cost in human suffering mounts, can he reconcile the two and persuade others of the power of non-violence?
Filmmaker: Karim Shah Video editor: Dima Gharbawi Shaibani

Video — Gaza family: ‘Our children suffer to get a bottle of water’
BBC News 27 Sept 1:42 — There are fresh warnings about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, where there are severe water and power shortages. A new World Bank report says the economy is in “free fall”. Meanwhile, deadly protests have resumed along the Gaza-Israel border and the situation “could explode any minute”, according to Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. Talks brokered by Egypt and the UN have so far failed to agree a long-term truce between Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Israel. BBC News visited one family in Gaza to see how they were coping with the lack of resources.

Gaza staff at UN agency for Palestinians strike over job cuts
GAZA (AFP) 25 Sept — Staff at the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees went on strike in the Gaza Strip on Monday to protest against job losses and US funding cuts. The one-day strike closed more than 250 UNRWA schools in Gaza, as well as medical centres and food aid distribution points, the union said. The United States has traditionally been UNRWA’s largest funder, providing around $350 million a year. But President Donald Trump has cut all support, sparking a funding crisis. More than 250 jobs have been cut in Gaza and the West Bank so far, while hundreds of full-time roles have become part-time. The refugee agency’s labour union is demanding the job cuts be reversed and its leaders say the strike could be the first of a number of measures.  A small protest took place outside the agency’s Gaza headquarters….

Gazans recycle bomb wreckage to beat the blockade
The Guardian 23 Sept by Oliver Holmes & Hazem Balousha in Gaza — Palestinians in Gaza have developed an industry that recycles twisted steel bars and smashed-up concrete from bombed structures as a way to rebuild the coastal enclave. In a trapped society living under persistent attack, the reuse of materials has become a vital part of a construction sector flailing under the strain of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade that severely restricts imports. Across the territory, among the dust and wreckage of buildings flattened in Israeli airstrikes, workers can be seen collecting chunks of walls and floors with diggers, and driving them off to be crushed. At one bombsite in Gaza City, Abu Mohammed sat drinking bitter coffee under a plastic tarpaulin attached to a shipping container that is his temporary office. A few metres away lay a slumped ruin that was built to be a public library but was later abandoned and used by Gaza’s rulers, Hamas, for public parades. “If there is no war, we do nothing,” said Abu Mohammed, who asked to use his nickname as he did not want to be publicly identified. “When there is a destroyed building, we make contact with the owner to arrange salvage. This time it is with the government.” One of the main products he extracts from the detritus is gravel – used to make concrete and to build roads. Sometimes, when residents cannot afford asphalt, gravel is laid down. “In some neighbourhoods of Gaza, most of the smaller roads are made of debris from bombed buildings,” he said….

Gaza farmers have dates, but nowhere to sell them
MEMO 26 Sept — Farmers in the besieged Gaza Strip have harvested 12,000 tonnes of dates from their palm trees however they are struggling to find buyers for their produce. High unemployment and rising poverty rates mean locals in the Strip are unable to buy the fruit, while the Israeli siege has limited the farmers’ abilities to export their crop. Farmer Mohammed Barka, 28, told the Anadolu Agency that his yield is abundant and good this year, but the deteriorating economic condition in Gaza has caused people to buy less. “Despite the low prices of the product, the demand is still low,” he explained. Baraka, who has been working in this profession for ten years, called on the Ministry of Agriculture to work to export the produce out of Gaza … “The production of dates amounted this year to 12,000 tonnes,” said Tahsin Al-Sakka, director general of marketing and coordination at the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza. “This quantity is enough for the Strip’s needs and exports also, but poor purchasing [power of the local population] leaves them stacked up in the market.”….

Army carries out a limited invasion into northern Gaza
IMEMC 26 Sept — Several armored Israeli military vehicles carried out, on Wednesday morning, a limited invasion into Palestinian lands, east of Jabalia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. Media sources in Gaza said four armored Israeli military bulldozers, and several jeeps, advanced nearly 50 meters into the Palestinian lands, and leveled them. They added that several Israeli military drones hovered over the area, and other parts close to the perimeter fence, across the coastal region.

Israeli forces fire at Gaza boats attempting to break siege
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Sept — Palestinian crowds gathered at the west northern borders of the besieged Gaza Strip to take part in a boat protest setting off from the Gaza seaport against the siege, on Monday. A Ma‘an reporter said that the Israeli navy obstructed the protest’s way off the shore by firing live ammunition and tear-gas bombs towards protesters. The National Committee for Breaking the Siege, that organized the protest, called upon the “free world” to save Gaza …  Many attempts have been made throughout the years to draw the public’s attention to and break the on-going siege of the Gaza Strip whether via ships attempting to sail into Gaza or ships attempting to sail from Gaza.

Israeli navy opens fire at Gazan fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Sept — Israeli naval forces opened fire on Tuesday afternoon at Palestinian fishing boats west of besieged Gaza City. A Ma‘an reporter said that Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing about six nautical miles off the Gaza shore. No injuries were reported from the shooting. Additionally, Israel is currently threatening the Gaza Strip with the possible reduction of the permitted fishing zone to only three nautical miles from the current six depending on if the on-going protests continue … Several human rights groups have reported that since the beginning of 2018, the Israeli navy has carried out more than 230 attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip, including shootings, detentions and confiscation of boats.

Israeli NGO urges donors: Gaza economic recovery impossible until blockade lifted
MEMO 27 Sept — An Israeli human rights NGO has told international donors that economic recovery in the occupied Gaza Strip will be impossible unless Israeli authorities lift long-standing restrictions on movement. In a press release issued yesterday ahead of a meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) in New York, Gisha highlighted the results of a new World Bank report submitted to the committee, which documents deteriorating conditions in the blockaded territory. “Gaza’s water, electricity and sanitation infrastructure as well as its healthcare system face exceptional challenges,” Gisha stated, adding that “Gaza’s already deficient infrastructure is under constant risk of collapse.” According to Gisha, while Israel has previously agreed “to advance a plan for Gaza’s ‘humanitarian reconstruction’” in AHLC meetings, the government “continues to disregard its obligations and responsibility for the devastating conditions in the Strip”. Gisha urged international donors to focus on “concrete policy changes that could be implemented today”, and “which would have an immediate and direct effect on the well-being of Palestinian residents of Gaza and the Palestinian economy”. Examples include “the lifting of blanket restrictions Israel places on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza – restrictions that have nothing to do with legitimate security needs”, a step Gisha called “a fundamental prerequisite for jump-starting Gaza’s economy”….

Hundreds of dunams set on fire near Gaza
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 Sept — Palestinians continued to launch incendiary kites and balloons, on Sunday evening, from the besieged Gaza Strip towards Israeli communities surrounding Gaza. According to Hebrew-language news outlets, about seven fires broke out on Sunday due to the continuous launch of incendiary balloons from Gaza. Sources added that the incendiary balloons set around 300 dunams (74 acres) on fire in the Israeli communities surrounding Gaza. Israeli firefighting crews arrived to the various areas that caught fire and managed to gain control of the flames, which were later extinguished.

Incendiary balloons spark 7 fires near Gaza
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 27 Sept — Seven fires erupted, on Wednesday, in Israeli communities surrounding the besieged Gaza Strip due to the launch of incendiary kites and balloons from Gaza. Hebrew-language news outlets reported that since Wednesday afternoon seven fires erupted due to the continuous launch of incendiary balloons from Gaza into southern Israel. Israeli firefighting crews managed to control the flames and later extinguish them; the fires caused serious material damage. Earlier this month, Israeli farmers from Israeli communities surrounding the besieged Gaza Strip announced that they will be filing a lawsuit against the Hamas movement leaders before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague. The lawsuit will be filed for violating international laws, including the launch of incendiary kites and balloons resulting in burning hundreds of dunams of open fields.

UN Palestinian refugee agency narrows shortfall after US cuts
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) 27 Sept by Michelle Nichols — A United Nations agency that supports Palestinian refugees received contributions of $118 million on Thursday, narrowing a budget gap for this year to $68 million as it aims to fill a shortfall left by a cut in U.S. funding. Pierre Krahenbuhl, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said the pledges were made at a meeting on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations in New York. He said the largest funding pledges on Thursday were made by Germany, the European Union, Kuwait, Ireland and Norway. “Five million Palestinian refugees were following these events very, very closely indeed. It was year of tremendous existential concerns, of great anxiety … I think it is a very big step that has been achieved today,” Krahenbuhl said….

Qatar charity lays stone to build school in Gaza
DOHA (The Peninsula) 26 Sept — Qatar Charity has laid cornerstone of project to build a school for girls at a cost of around QR5.4m in Beit Lahia, north of the Gaza Strip, in cooperation with the Palestinian Ministry of Education. The project, Al Shaimaa Secondary School for Girls, is expected to benefit 1,920 students, said a release. Spreading over a total area of 5,000sqm, the school will have 36 rooms, of which 24 will be classrooms and the rest will be used as laboratories and management rooms.

QRCS reopens cardiac department at Gaza hospital
Gulf Times 23 Sept — In a ceremony in the Gaza Strip, the new department of cardiology at the Nasser Medical Complex was reopened, following a renovation project funded by Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS). “By supporting the project of renovating and furnishing the department, QRCS seeks to upgrade the cardiology services for the 650,000 population of the southern parts of the blockade,” said QRCS office director in Gaza. “It is part of our plan to develop the health sector of Gaza, particularly in areas that lack adequate human and financial resources, including chronic diseases such as cardiac diseases”. According to Dr Nassar, the new project increased the capacity of the department of cardiology by 35%. The beds at the intensive care unit (ICU) have also increased by 60%. The department’s area was expanded from 400sq m to 650sq m. “At a total value of $284,000, the project involved procuring quantities of medical equipment and consumables, in order to improve specialized services, treatment and IVU for cardiac patients,” he added.

Fifth of applications denied access to medical care outside Gaza were cancer patients – WHO
JERUSALAM, September 27, 2018 (WAFA) – A fifth or 20% of the August applications by patients in the Gaza Strip that were denied by Israel a permit to leave the besieged enclave for medical treatment in East Jerusalem or Israeli hospitals were cancer patients, said the World Health Organization’s monthly report on health access for Palestinians in the occupied territories published on Thursday. In addition, it said, 18% of the denied applications were for orthopedics and 14% for neurosurgery patients. Several Gaza patients have actually died waiting for a permit to get life-saving treatment not available in Gaza. The report said 152 patient applications (98 male; 54 female), or 7% of the total, were denied permission to cross Beit Hanoun/Erez crossing from Gaza to Israel in August for health care. Those denied included seven children under the age of 18 years and 23 patients aged 60 years or older. The report said 68% of the permit applications were approved – 1,484 (781 male; 703 female) of the 2,173 applications. It said, however, that the approval rate of permit applications for Palestinians injured by Israeli army gunfire during the border protests was significantly lower than the overall approval rate, with only three out of 53 applications in August were approved (6%), 17 (32%) denied, and 33 (62%) delayed….

Runners raise over $160,000
Arlington (Virginia) Connection 28 Sept by Eden Brown — Mental health for Palestinian children is focus of Gaza 5K this year —  Arlington resident Janine Ali was standing at the starting line at the Gaza 5K race on Saturday morning, Sept. 22, to support her son and grandson. Ali is a Palestinian-American, born in Dearborn, Michigan. Her son, Jehad Ali, now lives in Centreville … The Gaza 5K takes place in several U.S. cities — Houston, Washington, and New York. Supporters from Fairfax, McLean, Vienna, Arlington, Centreville, and Reston came out to run and walk, dance the “Dabke,” and eat a breakfast of hummus, olives, pickles and flat bread … Participants were buoyant as they noted UNRWA, despite the U.S. defunding, would continue to be financed by other U.N. members and events like this fundraiser, which raised over $160,000 of its $200,000 goal to support mental health efforts for children in the war-torn Gaza strip.

Restriction of movement / Closures

Video — Forget BDS: Denied entry to Israel, just because of a last name
Israeli Social TV 26 Sept English subtitles 5:40 — Over the past two years, the Israeli army has revoked Palestinian workers’ permits to enter Israel simply because they share a last name with someone who carried out a violent attack against Israelis. The move has already dealt a severe blow to over 2,000 workers in the West Bank, many of whom have been working inside Israel and the settlements since they were teenagers.

Army closes Palestinian community to allow settlers to tour nearby
IMEMC 28 Sept — The Israeli army announced, Friday, the closure and siege on a Palestinian Bedouin community, in northern Jordan Valley of the occupied West Bank, so that groups of illegal colonialist settlers can tour in the area. The military ordered a siege on Khallet Hamad from eight in the morning until six in the evening, Friday. Local sources said groups of colonialist settlers, accompanied by soldiers, have already started their “tours” in the area, while the villagers were not allowed to leave their community. The sources added that such activities have been carried out several times lately, while the Palestinian shepherds were unable to even take their sheep to grazing areas. It is worth mentioning that, two years ago, Israel built an illegal colony on Palestinian lands near the community.

Israel to close Kerem Shalom crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 27 Sept – Israel announced, on Thursday, a decision to close the Kerem Shalom crossing in the besieged Gaza Strip due to the Sukkot Jewish holiday, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles. The Israeli authorities said that the Kerem Shalom crossing, Gaza’s main commercial crossing, will be closed for four consecutive days in the month of September due to the Jewish holiday. The crossing will be closed from Friday 28th of September until Monday evening and will resume work on Tuesday 2nd of October.

Israel seals off Nablus village as settlers celebrate Sukkot
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 27 Sept — Israeli forces sealed off the Sabastiya village, on Wednesday, in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, to allow access for Israeli settlers near the village. Sabasitiya’s mayor Muhammad Azem told Ma‘an that Israeli forces began to seal off the village on Wednesday morning and sealed off an archaeological site west of the village. Azem said that several Israeli military checkpoints were set up around the village and the archaeological site. He confirmed that Israeli forces officially informed the Sabastiya Municipality of these measures and that it will continue for the next 48 hours. Azem was informed that Israeli forces sealed off the village under the pretext of easing access for hundreds of Israeli settlers to the archaeological site, in order for them to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Israeli soldiers accused of sexual harassment and theft at West Bank checkpoint
i24NEWS 22 Sept — The soldiers reportedly forced women to strip and touched them inappropriately — Two Israeli soldiers are accused of sexually harassing Palestinian women and stealing from Palestinians crossing through the Qalandiya checkpoint. A military court said Friday that their actions were motivated by racism, and ordered their remand be extended by a week. The two suspects were serving in the Military Police Corps at the Qalandia checkpoint outside the Palestinian city Ramallah. They have been accused of illegally conducting searches of Palestinian women, in violation of orders. During searches, the soldiers were accused of deliberately touching women in inappropriate places and demanding strip searches, the remand request stated. The soldiers were also accused of stealing money and personal belongings from Palestinians at the checkpoint. A lawyer for one of the suspects told Israeli daily Haaretz that the theft incident was a one-time offense, but rejects all other claims. “This is an excellent and highly valued soldier who serves well in a complex and demanding role. Regarding the property offense, this is a one-time blunder that is unlike him. The soldier completely rejects all the other claims and expected the investigation to end in a way that refutes the allegations.” The checkpoint in Qalandia is often a hotspot of tension between Israelis and Palestinians as it is one of the main crossings into the West Bank.

Updated: Israeli soldiers abduct five Palestinians, shoot two journalists
[with videos] Israeli soldiers abducted, on Thursday at dawn, five Palestinians from Qalandia refugee camp, north of occupied East Jerusalem, in addition to Qalqilia and Nablus, in northern West Bank, shot two journalists, and injured one Palestinian after ramming him with their jeep. Media sources said dozens of soldiers invaded Qalandia refugee camp, before storming and ransacking many homes, and occupied the rooftops of several buildings…
In related news, an Israeli military vehicle rammed a young Palestinian man, during protests against an invasion into Nablus, before he was rushed to Rafidia hospital. During the invasion, the soldiers shot two journalists, identified as Mahmoud Fawzi and Omar Esteitiyya, after directly targeting them while documenting the invasion. Dozens of soldiers accompanied colonialist settlers’ buses invaded Nablus, heading towards Joseph’s Tomb, while the army also closed many roads to block Palestinian traffic. The invasion was carried out by several armored military jeeps, and bulldozers. Many Palestinians hurled stones, and Molotov cocktails, at an armored military bulldozer, while the soldiers fired many live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs. Medical sources said several Palestinians were shot, and dozens suffered the effects of teargas inhalation.

Israeli forces raid Palestinian school in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 27 Sept — Israeli forces raided a Palestinian high school for boys in the Einabous village, south of the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus, on Thursday, causing clashes to break out … Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, said that Israeli forces raided the Einabous School for Boys to detain a student which provoked the rest of the students who were attempting to keep the soldiers out of the school. The raid led to clashes between Palestinian students and Israeli forces, who fired tear-gas bombs at the students and inside the school, leading to disruption of classes. No injuries were reported.

Israeli army raids Jenin-area village; Palestinians hurt
JENIN (WAFA) 26 Sept – Several Palestinians were hurt on Wednesday after Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at homes during an army raid of the village of Rommaneh, west of Jenin in the northern West Bank, said local sources. Israeli soldiers raided the town at dawn and fired tear gas canisters at Palestinian homes, causing several suffocation cases. Some people were transferred to hospital for medical treatment. Israeli soldiers also stormed the village of Zabboba to the west of Jenin for the third consecutive day, deployed troops in the streets and alleys and placed flying checkpoints at its entrances while deploying forces on rooftops of two residences and turning them into military outposts. Forces reportedly raided and wreaked havoc into dozens of homes in the area and interrogated their residents.

Israeli settlement guard sets fire to agricultural land south of Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 28 Sept – An Israeli settlement guard Wednesday set fire to Palestinian-owned agricultural land planted with olive trees in the town of al-Lubban al-Sharqiya to the south of Nablus, in the northern West Bank, said a local official. The village mayor Samer Awais said a security guard from the settlement of Eli, built illegally on Palestinian land, set ablaze four dunums of agricultural land located at the entrance of the town and adjacent to the Ramallah-Nablus road, burning dozens of olive trees. The town residents and with the help of fire crews were able to put out the fire, he said.

Farm burns during Israeli army raid on West Bank village
NABLUS (WAFA) 22 Sept – A farm was set on fire early Saturday when Israeli soldiers raided the northern West Bank archeological village of Sabastia and fired tear gas and stun grenades in the village, according to the head of the village council Mohammad Azem. He said an Israeli army force entered the village during the night to remove Palestinian flags, fired tear gas and stun grenades at random to scare the people during the flag removal operation. He said the bombs that have fallen everywhere set fire to a farm causing heavy damage since people were not able reach it to put oot the fire due to the army presence. Young village residents confronted the soldiers with stones but were attacked with more tear gas causing several cases of suffocation. Sabastia is a historical archeological site and extremist Jewish settlers often break into the Palestinian village during the night under army protection to hold religious rituals. Confrontations normally occur in the village as a result.

Israel arrests Palestinian poet from West Bank home
HEBRON, Palestine (AA) 26 Sept by Qais Abu Samra — The Israeli army on Wednesday arrested prominent Palestinian author Israa Lafi, 34, from her home near the city of Hebron (Al-Khalil) in the occupied West Bank, according to Lafi’s father. An Israeli army force raided and searched Lafi’s home before arresting her, the author’s father told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday. He said his daughter had been threatened earlier by an Israeli intelligence officer because of her previous work with the Gaza-based Al-Aqsa television channel. Before her arrest, Lafi had been posting media reports on her personal blog and writing for a number of Arab-language websites.

Israel detains 6 Palestinians for attacking soldiers’ bus
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Sept — Israeli forces reported the detention of two Palestinians involved in rock-throwing at an Israeli army bus. Israeli Border Police forces detained two Palestinians from the Qalandiya refugee camp, in the central occupied West Bank, reportedly involved in throwing rocks at an Israeli army bus that had accidentally entered the refugee camp last week. Hebrew-language news sites reported that several Israeli soldiers were injured in the incident. Sources added that the number of Palestinians detained for reportedly being involved in the bus incident has risen to six; all detainees are between the ages of 18 and 25. Three Palestinians were detained on the same day of the incident, while a fourth was detained a day after.

Israeli forces detain 18 Palestinians, including minor
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 Sept — Israeli forces detained at least 18 Palestinians, including a minor and former prisoners, during raids on predawn Sunday across the occupied West Bank. Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) confirmed that Israeli forces detained six Palestinians in the southern West bank district of Hebron. They were identified as Oweis Hashem al-Rajoub, Salama Muhammad al-Arjan, Basel Muhammad al-Fasfous, Rezeq Fathi Jaafra along with his brothers, Abdullah and Ramzi. In the central West Bank district of Jerusalem, one Palestinian was detained, however, was not yet identified. In the central West Bank district of Ramallah, three Palestinians were detained. They were identified as Qatiba al-Biyari, Abdullah al-Aziz Qathi, and Ahmad Abu al-Sabri, 16. In the northern West Bank district of Qalqiliya, Israeli forces detained another three Palestinians. They were identified as Qasam al-Riyashi, 19, Hamza Radwan, 22, and Raed Radwan, 23. PPS also confirmed that three Palestinians were detained in the northern West Bank district of Nablus. They were identified as Ashraf Mahmoud Saour, 19, Suleiman Mahmoud Kaabi, 18, and Ibrahim Khamis Naqib, 17. In the northern West Bank district of Jenin, two Palestinian former prisoners were detained and identified as Tareq Ibrahim Abu Shaduf and Ahmad Sami Ghneim.

Khan al-Ahmar

Israel sets October deadline to evacuate Bedouin village in West Bank
KHAN AL-AHMAR, West Bank (Reuters) 23 Sept — Israel on Sunday told residents of Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank slated for demolition, to clear their houses by Oct. 1 … Israel plans to demolish the village and relocate its 180 residents – Bedouins who scrape a living by raising sheep and goats – to a site 12 kilometers (7 miles) away, near the Palestinian village of Abu Dis and adjacent to a landfill site. The move has drawn criticism from Palestinians and some European states, who cite the impact on the community and prospects for peace. A spokeswoman for Israel’s military liaison agency with the Palestinians said no date had been set for demolition should the houses remain after the deadline. Israeli security forces on Sunday morning handed out letters telling residents to voluntarily take down the buildings by Oct. 1 or Israeli authorities would enforce the demolition orders.  “We will not voluntarily evacuate the place,” said village resident Faisal Abu Dahuk. “The occupation forces that have an army and weapons can evacuate us by force, but there is no other place to go and we refuse to be moved anywhere else.” …  Palestinians say the demolition is part of an Israeli push to create an arc of settlements that would effectively cut off East Jerusalem from the West Bank, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and which the Palestinians seek for an independent state.

Rabbis for Human Rights celebrate Sukkot at Khan al-Ahmar
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 Sept — Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) announced that they have set up sukkahs, which are temporary tents constructed for use during the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot, in the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem. RHR decided to set up sukkahs at the Bedouin village to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, to show solidarity with the residents and as a protest against Israel’s planned demolition of the village. RHR said, in a statement, “We will express solidarity with our Bedouin brothers and we will live as they do for a little bit. We will remember that our forefathers lived as free human beings for 40 years in the Sinai Desert.” “We will sit during Sukkot in the Judean Desert during the seven days of the holiday. We will live a life of confidence in our temporary quarters, together with members of the Jahalin tribe, who have been living in this vulnerable situation for years.” RHR joins local and international activists along with residents of Khan al-Ahmar, who have started an open sit-in at the village, protesting the Israeli High Court’s approval of the demolition at the beginning of the month….


In video: Israel forces assault Muslim worshipers at Al-Aqsa
[with many photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 27 Sept — Tensions increased at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, on Thursday, as Israeli forces assaulted a number of Muslim worshipers, while Israeli settlers performed prayers in the compound. Firas al-Dibs, head of the Public Relations and Media Department at the Islamic Endowment, said that 924 Israeli settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound through the Moroccan Gate on the fourth day of Sukkot under armed security by Israeli forces. Israeli settlers stormed Al-Aqsa in large successive groups; many performed religious Jewish prayers in the compound. Al-Dibs mentioned that during the entry of the last group of Israeli settlers, an Israeli soldier stopped a Jerusalemite youth demanding his ID, after which he was unexpectedly assaulted and detained by Israeli forces. Eyewitnesses said that prior to the youth’s detention, Israeli forces beat and pushed him along with his mother, while several other Muslim worshipers, who were present in the compound, were repeatedly assaulted. No other detentions were reported. Sources added that Israeli forces and police were deployed throughout the area and closed several the streets leading up to Al-Aqsa Mosque, in order to secure access for Israeli settlers.

Palestinian refugees – Lebanon

Video: Palestinians in Lebanon hit hard by UN funding crisis
France 24 Focus 27 Sept 5:40 — Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians refugees live in Lebanon. They’re descendants of the Palestinians displaced during the Arab-Israeli wars of the mid-20th century. Many live in abject poverty, relying on support from the UN agency UNRWA and a helping hand from international donors. But the United States, a key donor, has now entirely cut off its funding to UNRWA, forcing the refugees deeper into a spiral of hardship. Our correspondent reports. A programme prepared by Patrick Lovett and Emerald Maxwell.

Other news, opinion

PA reportedly arrests dozens of Hamas members in the West Bank
Times of Israel 27 Sept by Adam Rasgon — The Palestinian Authority security forces arrested dozens of Hamas members in the West Bank early Thursday morning, the Hamas-linked al-Risalah reported, citing sources in the terror group. The reported arrests come a day after the official PA news site Wafa reported the Hamas-run security forces summoned dozens of Fatah members in the Gaza Strip and arrested several others, including the son of a Fatah Central Committee member. The PA dominates urban centers in the West Bank, whereas Hamas controls Gaza.  Wafa also reported the Hamas-run security forces threatened print shop owners with “arrests and beatings” if they printed materials in support of PA President Mahmoud Abbas ahead of his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.  Fatah, the PA, and the Palestine Liberation Organization have been organizing events in support of Abbas and his upcoming speech.  Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri lashed out at the PA security forces following the report about the West Bank arrests.  “The Abbas security forces’ arrests of dozens of Hamas members in the West Bank represents a dangerous escalation,” Abu Zuhri tweeted Thursday morning….

Palestinian Islamic Jihad elects Al-Nakhleh as successor of Shalah
MEMO 28 Sept — The Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement (PIJ) elected Ziad Al-Nakhleh as the new Secretary-General of the movement inside Palestine and abroad, replacing the former secretary Ramadan Shalah whose health situation has triggered concern. The movement has also elected new members of its Political Bureau, and the details of the elections will be revealed during a press conference in the upcoming hours, according to Al-Khaleej Online website. Shalah underwent heart surgery at “Al-Rassoul Al-Azam” Hospital in the southern suburb of Beirut in April. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad then explained that Shalah’s health condition is stable, and revealed that he is subject to close surveillance. Unconfirmed reports pointed out some suspicions which indicated that he was poisoned by Israel’s intelligence service, the Mossad. Al-Nakhleh was born in Gaza Strip in 1951. He began his political career in the Islamic Jihad in 1982, along with its late founder Fathi Shaqaqi, and played an essential role in forming the military wing of the movement, known as Al-Quds Brigades. In 1986, the Israelis exiled Al-Nakhleh to southern Lebanon, and he remained there until 1994 when he moved to settle in Beirut. In 1997, he was appointed Deputy Secretary-General of the Jihad Movement, after the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, assassinated the founder of the movement, Shaqaqi, in Malta.

Egypt presents new plan to return control of Gaza to PA
TOI 23 Sept — Egypt has reportedly proposed a new framework for Palestinian reconciliation and an Israel-Hamas truce that would include an Israeli message to Hamas calling on the terror group to end its weekly protests at the Israel-Gaza border fence and maintain a 500-meter no-go area near the border. The plan, reported Sunday by the London-based Arabic daily al-Hayat, would see control of Gaza revert to the Palestinian Authority, which lost the enclave to Hamas in a violent coup in 2007. It would also put in place limits on Hamas’s military wing, including the police, judiciary and internal security agencies in the Strip. It also reportedly calls on Hamas to accept the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines in the West Bank and Gaza. The report came a day after Hamas released a statement saying that the parties had held a “deep conversation about ways to end the siege on the Gaza Strip and alleviate the suffering of our people” in the coastal enclave. According to the Egyptian plan, during the transition from Hamas rule to PA control, the Ramallah-based PA would pay half the salaries of tens of thousands of Hamas-appointed officials in Gaza’s government agencies, the report said. The PA paid those salaries for years but stopped earlier this year in a bid to pressure Hamas to relinquish control of Gaza, leading to a loss of one of the blockaded territory’s major sources of income….

Hamas says indirect cease-fire talks with Israel have halted
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 23 Sept — Gaza’s Hamas rulers say their indirect cease-fire talks with Israel have halted. Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri on Sunday blamed the impasse on the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, which has voiced its strong opposition to the talks. Abu Zuhri said that in response, his Islamic militant group is escalating its protests in new locations along Gaza’s borders with Israel. Hamas has led weekly protests since March, demanding in large part an end to the decade-long Israeli-Egyptian blockade that has crippled Gaza since Hamas assumed control of the coastal strip.

Hamas widens rift with Abbas ahead of his UN speech
[behind paywall] Haaretz 26 Sept by Jack Khoury — On the eve of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ speech to the UN General Assembly, in which he is expected to ask for swift international intervention to save the two-state solution, the rift and disgust between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas is getting worse. The Hamas Legislative Council denounced him on Wednesday as an illegitimate president who does not represent the Palestinian people. Ahmad Bahar, the council’s deputy chairman, told the lawmakers at a meeting that when Abbas takes the podium Thursday he will not represent the Palestinian people but only his own views. He demanded that Abbas and the PA seek to cancel the Oslo Accords, their recognition of Israel and the security coordination with Israel and set up a national unity government that will advance new presidential and parliamentary elections. Palestinian lawmaker Ataf Adwan accused Abbas of yielding the Palestinian people’s basic rights, making him unworthy of representing them at the United Nations … Source close to the Hamas leadership in Gaza told Haaretz that the timing of the condemnations is related to the talks last week with the Egyptian intelligence delegation that visited Gaza and Ramallah. Hamas understood from these talks that Egypt is supporting Abbas’ insistence that there could be no calm with Israel – and therefore no effort to rehabilitate the Gaza Strip – without reconciliation and the return of PA control in Gaza….

Netanyahu, Sisi discuss Gaza on sidelines of UN
JERUSALEM (AFP) 27 Sept — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met in New York on Wednesday to discuss Gaza and reviving peace talks with the Palestinians, officials said. During the meeting, which lasted nearly two hours and took place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the two “discussed regional developments and the situation in Gaza”, a statement from Netanyahu’s office said … Gaza lies between Israel and Egypt, which along with the UN has been seeking to broker a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, but those efforts have stalled in recent weeks. Netanyahu and Sisi also discussed “ways to revive the peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians, a statement from the Egyptian president’s office said….

Trump believes ‘two-state solution works best’
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 27 Sept — The United States President Donald Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, on Wednesday, during which Trump endorsed a two-state solution, for the first time, as the best way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Trump and Netanyahu held a press conference following their meeting, during which Trump was asked if he intends on including a two-state solution in the long-awaited peace plan, to which he responded by saying “I like a two state solution. That’s what I think works best,” and added that the US stands “with Israel 100%.”He added that most of Israel’s citizens prefer a two-state solution, noting that “the bottom line is that if the Israelis and Palestinians want two states I’m okay with that, if they want one state I’m okay with that; I’m the broker.”Trump believes that the US embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, would help peace efforts by recognizing that Israel identifies Jerusalem as its capital, mentioning that Israel would have to make concessions to the Palestinians in negotiations….

Erekat: Netanyahu’s speech victimizes criminal, blames victim
NEW YORK (Ma‘an) 28 Sept — Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat said, on Thursday, that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly victimizes the criminal and blames the victim. Erekat added that “Netanyahu’s speech is a combination of old and well-known talking points that conclude on victimizing the criminal and blaming the victim.” “His speech further exposes Israel’s systematic denial of our right to exist, to live in freedom and to celebrate our national identity.” Erekat stressed that the reality in Palestine is “a manifestation of what Israel is: a colonial- apartheid state.” “Despite the oppression, racism and daily violence, the proud and resilient people of Palestine will continue to remain steadfast and to believe in the achievement of our inalienable rights, to live in freedom and in dignity. For the Israeli government, not only the issues of Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugees are off the table, but also Palestine’s very existence.” During his speech at UNGA, Netanyahu said “Moments ago, President Abbas outrageously said that Israel’s nation-state law proves that Israel is a racist, apartheid state.”….

Abbas unanimously named chairman of the Group of 77 and China
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 28 Sept — The Group of 77 and China meeting in New York on Thursday on the sideline of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly session unanimously named Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as chairman, replacing Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the current chairman. The representatives of 134 countries, representing 80% of the world’s population, named the State of Palestine as chairman of the Group of 77 and China during the 42nd meeting of the group’s foreign ministers, and will take over the presidency of the group on January 1st 2019. The State of Palestine, while presiding over the group of 134 countries, will take over the presidency of the group and negotiate with the other partners and member states of the organization on all the developmental, humanitarian and legal issues on the agenda of the United Nations 2019. The issues include matters such as climate change, the final document of the Financing for Development Forum, as well as the Ministerial Declaration of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Group of 77 and China, including reforming the United Nations development system and the numerous annual forums such as the United Nations Forum on Forests as well as the specialized committees such as the United Nations Commission on Women, the United Nations Committee on Statisticians….

More than 40 countries attended consultative meeting called for by Palestine in New York
NEW YORK (WAFA) 27 Sept – Representatives of more than 40 countries, including the member states of the United Nations Security Council and members of regional and international organizations as well as special envoys to the Middle East peace process, attended on Wednesday a consultative meeting in New York called for by the State of Palestine on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. The meeting focused on the ways and means of protecting the two-state solution and defending international law and order. Secretary General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Saeb Erekat, spoke at the meeting on behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas on the main obstacles facing the peace process, namely the Israeli colonial regime and the practices and crimes of Israel, the Occupying Power, primarily the crime of settlements. Erekat said that the State of Palestine has never been reluctant to engage in any meaningful negotiating process, but there was a clear absence of any partner on the opposite side, which is perpetrating crimes against the Palestinian people armed with impunity from the current US administration, which encourages these crimes….

Over three million visitors to tourist sites in West Bank in first half of 2018 – report
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 27 Sept – Marking World Tourism Day on Thursday, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MOTA) said in a joint report that there were more than 3.1 million visits to tourist sites in the West Bank during the first half of 2018. These included 1.48 million visits by inbound visitors and 1.65 million visits by domestic visitors. The number of inbound visits increased by 5.8% compared to the first half of 2017. Most inbound visits were to Bethlehem governorate comprising 35% of the visits, followed by Jericho and Jordan Valley governorate at 30%, and Nablus and Jenin governorates at 13% and 11% respectively. Palestinians residing in areas occupied in 1948 accounted for the largest proportion of inbound visitors at 47% with 694,000 visits, followed by arrivals from the USA by 7% with 110,000 visits, Russian Federation by 7% with 106,000 visits, Poland by 4% with 52,000 visits and then Romania by 3% with 44,000 visits, while 32% were from other nationalities with 473,000 visits. It should be noted that inbound and domestic visitors’ data do not include Jerusalem and Gaza Strip….

Film review: What Walaa Wants: coming of age in the West Bank
Honi Soit 23 Sept by Jumana Al Sudani — What Walaa Wants, a documentary by Canadian filmmaker Christy Garland, has an incredibly intimate feel to it. The film tells the story of Walaa, a young Palestinian woman who lives in a refugee camp in Nablus, the West Bank. The moment it opens, we learn that Walaa’s mother, Latifa, was accused of aiding a suicide bomber and is now locked in an Israeli prison. We meet Walaa as a young woman, trying to get through life without her mother and striving to become a police officer, and watch her grow over five years. What Walaa Wants is incredibly intimate, and borderline invasive: we are given a glimpse into the dynamics of a tight-knit family, who are resilient and almost comedic, given their lives under occupation. Walaa’s story is told solely through her dialogue between her mother, sisters and brother. We watch them laugh, fight, recount childhood memories, dream about the future together and wipe tears from one another’s faces … And this is the biggest thing to take away from What Walaa Wants: that to be Palestinian is to exist in a constant state of resistance. The film shows us that even Walaa isn’t outside of the reach of colonialism, and that, in this context, a young woman yearning to be part of something bigger than herself can be an act of resistance. Walaa lends a human face to the same story of resistance that we’ve witnessed from the region for decades….

Japan funds project for construction of additional school classrooms in West Bank village
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 24 Sept – Takeshi Okubo, Ambassador for the Palestinian Affairs and Representative of Japan to Palestine, visited on Sunday Farkha Village in Salfit Governorate in the north of the West Bank to celebrate the completion of the project funded by the Government of Japan through Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP), a press release said on Monday. A grant of $89,851 was extended to Farkha Village Council to improve the learning environment in Farkha Secondary Mixed School. It was used to construct additional floor with four classrooms with the aim of stopping the use of the old classrooms which threatened the lives of students. Upon the completion of the project, 76 students of 9th -12th grades will benefit from securing a safe and healthy learning environment. In his speech, Okubo emphasized Japan’s firm commitment of supporting Palestinian people from human security perspective as well as the importance of implementing social and economic development projects needed for Palestinian communities. Since 1993 the Government of Japan has extended its official development assistance to the Palestinians to approximately $1.86 billion. GGP projects have been formulated in collaboration with the Palestinian Authority through Ministry of Finance and Planning since 2010.

Israeli minister angered by leak of West Bank security warning
JERUSALEM (SG) 22 Sept — Israel’s defense minister called on Friday for the security services to intervene to stop Cabinet leaks after details were broadcast of a confidential military briefing urging increased aid for the West Bank to avert new violence. Leaks from meetings of Israel’s security Cabinet are not uncommon even though it handles the most sensitive government issues. They are a regular source of finger-pointing between the small number of top ministers who are members. But Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said a red line had been crossed with the leaking of details of last Sunday’s briefing by armed forces chief of staff Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot. In the briefing, Eisenkot warned ministers there was a likelihood of increased violence in the occupied West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip, Israel’s privately run television news provider Hadashot reported on Thursday. He urged increased economic assistance to the Palestinians to compensate for the swingeing cuts in US aid ordered by President Donald Trump, it added….

Israel opens high-speed rail link between Tel Aviv airport and Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 25 Sept by Ori Lewis — Israel opened a high-speed rail link between Tel Aviv’s international airport and Jerusalem on Tuesday, part of a $2 billion project that has drawn Palestinian complaints over its route through small parts of the occupied West Bank. The train will cut travel time between Ben-Gurion Airport and a new, 80-metre-(260-foot)-deep underground terminal at the entrance to Jerusalem to around 20 minutes. By road, the trip takes at least 40 minutes … The train, travelling at speeds of up to 160 kilometres per hour (100 mph), traverses a series of new tunnels and bridges, passing through hills between Jerusalem and the airport, about 40 km (25 miles) away. The line runs through sections of land Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war near the Palestinian village of Beit Surik, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, and in the Latrun Valley, about midway between the holy city and Ben-Gurion airport. Palestinians who live in the West Bank are largely barred by Israel from travelling abroad via Ben-Gurion, and cross overland to Jordan instead to fly out of the airport in Amman. Israel cites security concerns for the ban. “It is very sad that you see a railway and see modern technology on your land and inside your land and you cannot use it or exploit it because of the element of power of the occupation,” said Mohammed al-Tari, 55, from Beit Surik. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Israel of “illegally making use of occupied Palestinian land” in setting the train’s route, which will eventually include a direct high-speed link between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv city itself. Erekat said the train was part of Israel’s “agenda of turning its occupation into annexation”….

Here’s what I found out when I spent the day with Israel’s most controversial journalist, Gideon Levy / Robert Fisk
The Independent 27 Sept — Journalism and Israel can be combined in the Levy story. His love-hate relationship with the one can get mixed up with his horror of the path down which his country is now travelling — Gideon Levy is a bit of a philosopher king although, sitting in his postage stamp garden in a suburb of Tel Aviv, straw hat shading mischievous dark eyes, there’s a touch of a Graham Greene character about Haaretz’s most provocative and infamous writer. Brave, subversive, sorrowful – in a harsh, uncompromising way – he’s the kind of journalist you either worship or loathe. Philosopher kings of the Plato kind are necessary for our moral health, perhaps, but not good for our blood pressure. So Levy’s life has been threatened by his fellow Israelis for telling the truth; and that’s the best journalism award one can get. He loves journalism but is appalled by its decline. His English is flawless but it sometimes breaks up in fury. Here’s an angry Levy on the effect of newspaper stories: “In the year of ’86, I wrote about a Palestinian Bedouin woman who lost her baby after giving birth at a checkpoint. She tried at three different [Israeli] checkpoints, she couldn’t make it and she gave birth in the car. They [the Israelis] didn’t let her bring the baby to the hospital. She carried him by foot two kilometres to the Augusta Victoria [Hospital in east Jerusalem]. The baby died. When I published this story – I don’t want to say that Israel ‘held its breath’, but it was a huge scandal, the cabinet was dealing with it, two officers were brought to court…” Then Levy found ten more women who had lost babies at Israeli checkpoints. “And nobody could care less any more. Today, I can publish it and people will yawn if they read it at all. [It’s] totally normalised, totally justified. We have a justification now for everything. The dehumanisation of the Palestinians has reached a stage in which we really don’t care. I can tell you, really, without exaggeration, if an Israeli dog was killed by Palestinians, it will get more attention in the Israeli media than if 20 Palestinian youngsters would be shot dead by snipers on the fence – without doing anything – in Gaza. The life of Palestinians has become the cheapest thing. It’s a whole system of demonisation, of de-humanisation, a whole system of justification that ‘we’ are always right and we can never be wrong.”…. (listserv)

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I am glad that these senators are showing initiative and trying to do their best to right a wrong. I see that all of them are Democrats. Where are the Republicans who brag about their Christian values? Are they aware that many Palestinians are Christians and need their help too. I don’t know how far this would go with the vindictive moron in the WH, who thinks starving the Palestinians, and depriving them of basic… Read more »

By my count there are 34 senators who signed the letter (33 Democrats plus Sanders), and there are 15 Democrats who didn’t sign: Bennet, Blumenthal, Cardin, Casey, Donnelly, Heitkamp, Jones, Manchin, McCaskill, Menendez, Nelson, Schumer, Smith, Tester, and Wyden. Independent Angus King did not sign, nor did any Republicans.

These are 35 senators with courage, plain and simple. That’s what it takes to stand up to the obviously ENORMOUS pressure the Israeli government manages to exert on Americans in public life.

Things are getting worse in Gaza. Palestinians kids have just been killed, in what has been described as one of the worst incidents in this conflict (according to CNN). This is evil and inhumane behavior, and perhaps these senators should start making a huge noise about the biggest parasites that feed off US tax payers, acting like barbarians. This is not democracy, and democracy is not only for some, while others suffer and languish with… Read more »

re: 35 U.S. senators send letter to Trump opposing cuts to aid to Palestinians but ” 14 Democrats and 51 Republicans, mostly Senators who have received huge campaign donations from Israel’s lobby AIPAC, refused to sign . . .”

Well, I guess the glass is one third full.