Australia considers recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
SYDNEY/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Australia will consider recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and shifting its embassy there from Tel Aviv, Australia’s Prime Minister said on Tuesday. The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest obstacles to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel regards all of the city, including the eastern sector that it annexed after the 1967 Middle East war, as its capital. Last December, U.S. President Donald Trump reversed decades of U.S. policy by recognising Jerusalem, enraging the Palestinians and upsetting the Arab world and Western allies. Australia was firm in its refusal to follow suit at the time, however Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in parliament he was now “open-minded” about doing so, while not changing Australia’s policy of support for a Palestinian state. “The orthodoxy that’s driven this debate which says issues like considering the question of the capital are taboo. I think we have to challenge that,” Morrison said. “The whole point of a two-state solution is two nations recognised living side by side,” he added, saying he was open to the suggestion from Dave Sharma, Australia’s former ambassador to Israel, that Australia support West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and East Jerusalem as Palestine’s….
Mayor of Bethlehem: PM Netanyahu’s statement on Bethlehem and Palestinian Christians is another attempt at distorting the reality of Israeli occupation
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Oct — Mayor of Bethlehem, advocate Anton Salman , said, in response to Sunday’s statements by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Bethlehem and the situation of Palestinian Christians, that such a statement “is another Israeli attempt at distorting the reality of the Israeli occupation and particularly the effects that Israeli policies have had on the Palestinian Christian community since 1948.” “If Mr. Netanyahu was concerned about the situation of Palestinian Christians, particularly in the Bethlehem area, he would return the 22,000 dunams of Bethlehem land illegally annexed to Israel for expansion of colonial settlements. He would dismantle the annexation wall that divides Bethlehem from Jerusalem, for the first time in 2000 years of Christianity, and would stop imposing restrictions to Palestinian movement, including the thousand of Palestinian Christians living in exile and whose return is impossible due to the Israeli control over the Palestinian population registry,” said the mayor in a statement issued by the Bethlehem municipality. He continued, according to WAFA: “For example, in Jordan alone, a few kilometers away, there are at least 20,000 Palestinian Christians from the Bethlehem area that are denied family unification and even cannot enter the city, not even to celebrate Christmas, due to the Israeli military restrictions. “We would like to remind Mr. Netanyahu that it was himself who supported the building of one of the most damaging colonial-settlements that surround Bethlehem, Jabal Abu Ghneim (Har Homa), and that, in 2015, he declared that by doing so he is preventing the connection between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.” There are over 100,000 Israeli settlers surrounding Bethlehem from all sides, reducing the area of Palestinian control over Bethlehem to less than 13% of the district, and making it impossible to plan for the future of our city, said the statement….
Swedish friendship boat docks in Herzliya
About two months after the Israeli navy stopped a Swedish flag bearing ship trying to “break the siege” on Gaza in the framework of one of the protest flotillas, on Thursday evening, a friendlier ship, also from Sweden, arrived on Israeli shores. Accompanied by dozens of small vessels, carrying Israelis providing encouragement, decorated with Israeli and Swedish flags and playing Israeli tunes such as “Hatikvah” and “Hava Nagila,” the yacht “Elida” arrived at the coast of Herzliya with about 50 Israel supporting Swedes.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli border policewoman arrested on suspicion of shooting Palestinian for fun
[behind paywall] Haaretz 15 Oct by Josh Breiner — Judge says suspect shot the man, who was seriously wounded, ‘as a dubious form of entertainment’ — A woman in the Border Police was arrested Monday on suspicion of shooting a sponge-tipped bullet at a Palestinian man for fun near a West Bank checkpoint. The incident occurred in May, when the policewoman, who is around 20, was on duty near the Al-Zaim checkpoint outside of Jerusalem. She allegedly shot the Palestinian for no apparent reason and seriously wounded him. The Justice Ministry department that probes police misconduct learned about the incident while investigating another case in which members of the Border Police allegedly beat a Palestinian for no reason. The policewoman was arrested along with four colleagues who were with her at the time of the incident. At Monday’s bail hearing at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, Judge Elad Persky said the suspect apparently shot the Palestinian “as a dubious form of entertainment.” He ordered her held for another three days, while the other suspects were released with restrictions. One of the policemen in the unit had filmed the incident on his phone. In the footage, the policemen can be heard shouting at the Palestinian in Arabic to go away. A few seconds later, the Palestinian was shot in the back with a sponge-tipped bullet. Investigators suspect that the shooting occurred after the police officers returned from an operation during which they detained the Palestinian, thus he was still under their responsibility. So far, however, the investigators have not been able to identify the Palestinian and are still trying to locate him. The evidence includes text messages in which members of the policewoman’s unit boast about the incident. The woman allegedly admitted in the text messages that she shot the Palestinian….
In video – Israeli settler runs over 2 Palestinians in Qalqiliya
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 14 Oct — Two Palestinian workers were injured, on Sunday, after an Israeli settler ran them over near the Kafr Laqif village, east of the northern occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya. According to local sources, an Israeli settler ran over two Palestinian workers, who were identified as Oqab Raji Mahmoud Abed al-Hafith and Ameer Hayel Raji. The two were transferred to a nearby hospital to receive necessary medical treatment.
Sources added that al-Hafith suffered serious injuries in the head, while Raji suffered moderate injuries to the head and shoulder. Sources mentioned that the Israeli settler could reportedly be from the illegal Israeli settlement of Karnei Shomron, which is located near where the incident took place.
In video – Israeli settlers attack Palestinian farmers in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 14 Oct — Video footage showed how several Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian farmers, on Saturday, while they were harvesting olive harvest on Palestinians lands belonging to the residents of the Burin village, south of the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus. According to local sources, Israeli settlers from the illegal Givat Ronin settlement attacked two Palestinian farmers by throwing rocks at them and chased them out of their own lands. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reported that “Settler violence and vandalism takes place with full backing by the Israeli authorities. Sometimes soldiers take part in the assault; at other times, they stand idly by. The police makes no substantial effort to investigate the incidents, nor takes measures to prevent them or stop them in real time.”… The video below shows Israeli settlers attacking Palestinian farmers:
Hate graffiti painted on walls of northern West Bank mosque
Times of Israel 10 Oct by Jacob Magid and Stuart Winer — Hebrew graffiti was found Wednesday sprayed on the walls of a mosque in the northern West Bank village of Krayot, near the Israeli settlement of Shiloh, in an attack that also saw the tires of seven vehicles slashed. Slogans included the phrases, “We will take our fate into our hands” and “Jews are not silent.” A Star of David was also sprayed on one of the vehicles in the Palestinian village. Security cameras recorded three suspects entering and leaving the village during the night. The incident came after two Israelis were shot dead by a Palestinian terrorist in an attack at the Barkan Industrial Park in the West Bank on Sunday. The gunman escaped and a large-scale manhunt continued Wednesday. Attacks by Jewish extremists often follow incidents of Palestinian violence or state demolition of illegal settlement homes in the West Bank. In a statement, the left-wing Rabbis for Human Rights group denounced “the low rate of suspects’ capture, prosecution, and even more so, severe punishment for those who commit such hate crimes.”
Dozens injured during protest against closure of Nablus school
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 15 Oct — Dozens of Palestinians participated in a protest against an Israeli army order to close a Palestinian high school in the al-Lubban village south of the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, on Monday, forcing the Israeli army to back down on the decision. Local sources told Ma‘an that Palestinian families and officials participated in a protest against the closure of the al-Sawiya school, seemed to have forced the Israeli army to back down on its earlier decision. The Israeli army was to close the al-Sawiya high school, located on the Ramallah-Nablus road, under the pretext that students threw stones at Israeli soldiers nearby. Israeli forces sealed off roads leading to the high school, in an attempt to prevent students from reaching it.
Meanwhile, as Palestinians began to peacefully protest the closure, Israeli forces attacked protesters and students at the school, causing clashes to break out. Israeli forces fired tear-gas bombs at students, their parents and officials protesting the closure. Israeli forces also locked several students inside the school, preventing them from leaving the premises during clashes. Medical sources confirmed that the head of the al-Lubban village council, Samer Owais, was injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet fired by Israeli forces during the protest, while many others suffered from tear-gas inhalation. Among the ones suffering from tear-gas inhalation was the Palestinian Minister of Education, Sabri Saidam. Additionally, a photojournalist, whose identity remained unknown, was injured while covering the protest after being hit by a tear-gas canister. Those injured were later evacuated to nearby hospitals in Nablus City. The videos below show clashes among the protesters and Israeli forces:
PPS: ‘Israeli soldiers abduct 16 Palestinians in the West Bank’
IMEMC 15 Oct — The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has confirmed that Israeli soldiers abducted, late at night and on Monday at dawn, at least 16 Palestinians, including children, during extensive and violent invasions and searches of homes across the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem. In Bethlehem, the soldiers abducted Zein Mohammad al-‘Amour, 15, and Ahmad Suleiman Abu Mfarreh, 15, from their homes in Teqoua‘ town, southeast of the city, in addition to Hamza Mohammad Salah, 20, from the al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem. In Qalqilia, in northern West Bank, the soldiers abducted Sami Samir Barham, from his home in Kufur Qaddoum town, east of the city. In Tulkarem, also in northern West Bank, the soldiers stormed and ransacked many homes in the governorate, and abducted Nasser Mahmoud Shahrour, 28, his brother Mohammad, 22, from Bal‘a town east of the city, in addition to Ahmad Mohammad Omran, 27, from the al-Jarushiya village, north of Tulkarem, Ahmad Mahmoud Hishma, 17, from Shweika area, and Mohammad Adnan Tabbal, from Deir al-Ghosoun town, north of Tulkarem. The soldiers also broke into violently searched many homes, causing excessive damage, starting late on Sunday at night, in Bal’a town, northeast of Tulkarem, in addition to Beit Lid Athletic Club, east of Tulkarem, after smashing its doors.
Occupied Minds: Exposing a mental health crisis in the West Bank
Doctors without Borders 10 Oct — On World Mental Health Day, October 10, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) launched “Occupied Minds,” a multimedia exhibition featuring the work of Magnum photographer Moises Saman documenting the mental health challenges facing Palestinians living in the West Bank. The traveling exhibition opened in Amman, Jordan. “Palestinians living in the West Bank experience enormous levels of direct and indirect violence in their daily lives, and this is having an impact on the mental health of many of them,” said Juan Carlos Ramos, MSF head of mission in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. “Every day, our teams work to support people suffering as a direct result of events related to the violence, including detention of relatives, violent home and school raids, house demolitions, the killing of family members, searches at checkpoints, and day to day harassment by settlers and soldiers.” MSF has run mental health support programs in the West Bank city of Hebron since 2001. In 2018, MSF mental health teams have provided over 6,400 people with individual or group counseling, psychotherapy, psychosocial first aid, or psycho-educational support. However, mental health issues remain a stigmatized topic in the region, discouraging many of those who need help from seeking it. Saman´s documentary work explores the personal impact of traumatic events on Palestinians living in Hebron. Here are some of the stories featured in the exhibition: Raed, a father of six children living in the Beit Ummar neighborhood of Hebron, was shot in the hip by Israeli soldiers during clashes following the funeral of his young cousin. Raed is now unable to provide for his family and shows signs of depression. He also worries for his son, traumatized by a raid on the family’s home….
Restriction of movement
EAs witness checkpoints in Jerusalem and West Bank
Catholic News 9 Oct by Albin Hillert Source: WCC — At 4.45am, the Qalandiya checkpoint is already crowded, as thousands upon thousands of Palestinians try to make their way to Jerusalem each day. Qalandiya is the main checkpoint between the northern West Bank and Jerusalem, and Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) from the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (WCC-EAPPI) visit regularly in the early mornings. Their task is to be an international presence and to show solidarity, offer basic support to anyone denied passage, and collect documentation of the situation at the checkpoint. EAs’ reports feed into the UN system, providing ongoing monitoring of the human rights situation in Israel and Palestine. “If you live in East Jerusalem outside the wall, or in Ramallah for example, and you work in Jerusalem, you need to be at the checkpoint early if you want to get to work on time. Getting through the checkpoint can take anything between one and several hours,” one of the EAs explains. Today is a Monday, and Qalandiya is crowded with men of all ages queuing to go to work. People are let through intermittently, some 20-50 people at a time, all under careful control of Israeli security personnel. “And if something happens while you are at the turnstile, the only way to move is back where you came from. And it’s not easy when it’s so crowded,” the EA adds. Qalandiya has three turnstiles, each preceded by a narrow metal pathway made to constrain more than one person from going through at a time. As one turnstile is suddenly closed shut, people rush, push and climb to make it into one of the other two. “But it’s also difficult to know what to think, when they are all so used to this system now,” the EA adds, reflecting on the risk of normalisation of conditions under occupation. “I’ve lived in the United States most of my life, but I’ve moved home now to support my parents. They’re getting old, you know,” a young Palestinian man explains. “I’m going to Jerusalem today to look for a job. I have a US passport, but because I’m Palestinian too, they won’t give me a visa. So I have to enter through the checkpoint on a permit,” the man says. EAs monitor and document the situation at many checkpoints in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and offer basic support if anyone is denied passage, by asking to find out the reason given for the denial, and providing contact details to organizations – international, Palestinian, and Israeli ones – that can give practical support as necessary…..
7 injured, 4 detained, including Israelis, at Khan al-Ahmar
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 15 Oct — Seven Palestinians were injured and four others were detained, including two Israelis and one international activist, after Israeli forces stormed the Khan al-Ahmar village, east of Jerusalem, on Monday. Israeli forces escorting bulldozers stormed Khan al-Ahmar, in order to raze and level the land, in preparation for the demolition of the village and displacement of its residents. Dozens of Palestinians and international activists attempted to stand in the way of bulldozers to prevent them from reaching the village; however, bulldozers found another route through a nearby illegal Israeli settlement into the village. Khan al-Ahmar residents and protesters confronted Israeli bulldozers, leading to violent clashes between protesters and Israeli forces. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, seven Palestinians were injured and suffered broken limbs and bruises, after Israeli forces assaulted them at the village. Local sources confirmed that Israeli forces detained four protesters in total, including Riad Salahat, the deputy head of the public relations department, two Israelis, identified as Kobi and Jonathan and a Dutch activist, Robin. Palestinians and international activists are keeping a 24-hour vigil daily at Khan al-Ahmar to prevent Israeli forces from demolishing the village.
Khan al-Ahmar flooded with wastewater for 2nd time
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 15 Oct — Israeli settlers stormed the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem, on Monday, and flooded the area with wastewater for a second time. Locals said that Israeli settlers from the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Kfar Adummim stormed the village and flooded Khan al-Ahmar with wastewater, causing serious environmental and health hazard for residents. Sources added that the wastewater from the Kfar Adummim settlement flooded large areas of the village, as Israeli settlers attempt to assist the Israeli government force the residents to leave the area. This is not the first time Israeli settlers flooded the village with wastewater, causing serious damage to land and property. Khan al-Ahmar is in danger of being demolished by Israeli forces at any moment, which would displace 181 people, half of whom are children. Critics and human rights organizations argue that the demolition is part of an Israeli plan to expand the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Kfar Adummim and to create a region of contiguous Israeli control from Jerusalem almost to the Dead Sea, which would make a contiguous Palestinian state impossible…..
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israeli settlers uproot hundreds of grape trees near Al-Khader
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Oct — Israeli settlers chopped down hundreds of Palestinian-owned olive and grape trees, on Sunday, near the al-Khader village, south of the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem. Local sources confirmed that Israeli settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Efrat, chopped down and uprooted about 370 grape trees and 30 olive trees, near the al-Khader village. Sources added that there has been an increase in Israeli settlers’ attacks on Palestinian lands. The olive industry supports the livelihoods of roughly 80,000 families in the occupied West Bank. Since 1967, approximately 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted in the occupied West Bank, according to a joint report by the Palestinian Authority and the Applied Research Institute — Jerusalem.
Illegal Israeli colonists attack Palestinian olive pickers, injure one, near Nablus
IMEMC 15 Oct — A number of illegal extremist Israeli colonialist settlers invaded, Monday, Palestinian orchards in Deir al-Hatab village, east of the northern West bank city of Nablus, and attacked Palestinians picking their olive trees, wounding one. The attack was carried out by colonists from Elon Moreh illegal colony, which was built on privately owned Palestinian lands. The assailants invaded Palestinian orchards in Khallet Ismael and al-Jaldat areas, in Deir al-Hatab village. Medical sources said one Palestinian, identified as Amjad Awwad, suffered various cuts and bruises. In related news, a group of colonialist settlers invaded Palestinian olive orchards, south of Burin village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, chased the villages and stole their olive harvest.
Na‘alwa family receives demolition order
IMEMC 15 Oct — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, Monday, the Shweika area in Tulkarem, in northern West Bank, and handed the family of Ashraf Suleiman Na‘alwa, 23, an official order for the demolition of their home. Media sources said the soldiers handed the order to the family, and informed that they have until October 18, 2018, to appeal against the military decision with Israeli courts. Since Na‘alwa carried out the fatal shooting in Burkan illegal colony, killing two Israelis, identified as Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 28, from Rosh HaAyin, and Ziv Hagbi, 35, from Rishon LeZion, and fled the scene, the military started ongoing invasions into his home, and the homes of his relatives along with dozens of homes and property. The soldiers also repeatedly abducted members of his family, including his father, mother, sisters and brothers, in an attempt to locate him. His older brother, Amjad, and his sister, Fairouz, who teaches at the Najah National University in Nablus, are still imprisoned by Israel, while his father and mother were detained three times, last week. In addition, the army invaded and searched many other homes in Shweika area, and several parts of Tulkarem governorate, in addition to sealing off entire areas, as part of the ongoing search, and acts of collective punishment.
Israeli navy, soldiers injure 19 Palestinians in northern Gaza
IMEMC 15 Oct — Israeli navy and soldiers attacked, Monday, dozens of Palestinian protesters demanding an end to the deadly siege on the Gaza Strip, and injured 19 Palestinians with live fire, in addition to causing dozens to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. The procession was organized by the Higher National Committee for the Great Return March, in the Gaza Strip, and was attended by hundreds of Palestinians along the eastern parts of the coastal region. Media sources said the protesters gathered the shore, while many boarded boats that sailed in Gaza territorial waters, before the soldiers and the navy opened fire at them. The sources added that 19 Palestinians were shot with live Israeli army fire, and dozens suffered the effects of teargas inhalation. Most of the injuries tool place near Zikim military base, especially when some protesters managed to briefly cross through the northern Gaza and the soldiers fired a barrage of live rounds at them. Some protesters also managed to cut sections of the barb-wire fence in northern Gaza, and raised Palestinian flags. Many protesters also burnt dozens of tires to limit the vision of the Israeli army sharpshooters, in the sea, and across the perimeter fence. The Higher National Committee said the participation in today’s processions was the largest since the naval protests started, and added that the Palestinians are determined to continue the struggle for their legitimate rights, despite the escalating military violations, the fatal use of force, and the repeated threats by Israeli political leaders to wage a comprehensive war on the besieged coastal region. It also called on the international community, and the United Nations, to uphold their responsibilities, and act on ending the deadly Israeli siege on two million Palestinians, living in poverty and “in the largest open-air prison on earth.”
Polluted water a leading cause of Gazan child mortality, says RAND Corp. study
[behind paywall] Haaretz 16 Oct by Yaniv Kubovich — Water pollution accounts for more than a quarter of illnesses in Gaza and more than 12 percent of child deaths; ‘To think that it will stay on the other side of the fence is to bury your head in the sand,’ says lead researcher — … The collapse of water infrastructure has led to a sharp rise in germs and viruses such as rotavirus, cholera and salmonella, the report says … The study shows Gaza schools have one toilet per 75 pupils and one sink for washing hands per 80. Most of this water is either recycled or from a reservoir. As a result, the very presence of children in these schools puts them at risk of contracting gastrointestinal diseases. Schools, public buildings and hospitals are only cleaned when necessary in order to conserve water. Hospital staff only wash their hands when it’s essential and not on a regular basis when going from one patient to another, in order to conserve the water for life-saving treatment. The researchers estimate that within two years, even the isolated sources of water used today will cease to operate without proper maintenance. “To think that all this is taking place beyond the fences of a water power such as Israel in inconceivable,” Efron says. The average cost of water use per capita in the West is 0.7 percent of monthly wages, according to the report. In Gaza, a third of monthly wages goes toward the purchase of water….
Israel bars two US medical delegates from Gaza because they’re Jewish
[behind paywall] Haaretz 11 Oct by Amira Hass — Israel has refused entry to the Gaza Strip to two members of a U.S. medical delegation because they are Jewish. Initially, entry was refused to the entire group, from the Washington branch of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Among the reasons given were the Jewish origins of most of the delegation’s members and the organization’s alleged involvement with the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement. But after Gisha, Legal Center for the Freedom of Movement, petitioned the High Court of Justice, the state backtracked on those two reasons and said it would permit eight of the delegation’s 10 members to enter the Strip as planned, on October 21. In regard to two of the members — a neurosurgeon and a social worker with considerable experience treating people with trauma disorders — the state prosecution said they required “additional security checks.” Gisha said the two were an integral part of the delegation and refused to withdraw its petition. Washington PSR delegations visited the Gaza Strip 12 times between 2009 and 2016. Members met with Palestinian physicians, psychologists and patients, giving advice and guidance. In November 2016, the website of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories even boasted of the delegation’s visit (without mentioning the organization’s name). A photograph showed five of the doctors at the Erez checkpoint with a soldier from the District Coordinating Office. The text said that the doctors had come to improve the health care situation in the Strip, adding that COGAT looked forward to similar delegations in the future…..
Supreme Court freezes deportation of detained American student
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Oct — The Israeli Supreme Court froze, on Sunday, deportation measures against American student Lara al-Qasem, who was barred entry to Israel over alleged ties to the BDS movement. The court will convene on Wednesday to determine whether or not it will grant Al-Qasem permission to file an appeal against her detention and denial of entry. Al-Qasem, who is an American citizen of a Palestinian origin, was accused by the Israeli occupation of involvement in the BDS movement. On Friday, the Tel Aviv District Court rejected her previous appeal, saying it could not justify intervening in the case, and that the government’s decision to detain her was reasonable. The court echoed a previous decision by an administrative appeals court. Lara Al-Qasem, 22, has been detained at Ben-Gurion Airport for the last two weeks, Days of Palestine reports.