Israel decides against toppling Hamas in Gaza, seeks to weaken it
[behind paywall] Haaretz 30 Oct by Yaniv Kubovich & Noa Landau — Political and military leaders have concluded that it would be better for Israel not to overthrow the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, officials who took part in the deliberations told Haaretz. A political source said Israel’s policy on Hamas has not changed; the plan to keep the group in power in the Strip stems from a desire to prevent a collapse of Gaza’s infrastructure, a problem that could harm Israel as well. Accordingly, the instructions to defense officials are to deter Hamas and weaken it, but in a way that will not put its control of Gaza at risk … The Israeli officials’ conclusion stems from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ rigid stance on Gaza and the attempts to reach an agreement. According to the officials, Abbas is hoping for a flare-up because he believes that this would serve the PA in its reconciliation talks with Hamas. In the near term, he plans to increase the punitive measures against the organization, the officials say. As a result, senior political and defense officials say Israel’s talks with Hamas through intermediaries will be more effective than a process that involves the PA.
Israel army says did not know fatal Gaza strike targets were children
The Israeli military said Tuesday it did not know a weekend air strike on the Gaza border that killed three teens was targeting minors, after accusations of excessive force. In a statement the military said the three Palestinians, aged 13 and 14 according to the Gaza health ministry, were believed to be planting a bomb by the border fence after dark on Sunday. “Troops spotted a squad of three suspects approaching the border under the cover of darkness, in a crouched and suspicious manner,” it said, adding that they were seen “sabotaging the fence and digging”. “The three operated in a way that was identical to previous incidents in which terror operatives had placed explosive devices in the same location.” The army said that before the strike was called in “warning shots were fired towards them, which they failed to heed” and that military spotters “did not positively identify that they were minors”.
Three Gaza boys killed in Israeli strike on tinderbox border
GAZA (Reuters) 28 Oct — Three Palestinian boys were killed in an Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip frontier on Sunday, medical officials in the Hamas-run enclave said, while Israel said it had hit suspected militants trying to blow up part of a border fence. The Gaza Health Ministry said two of the dead were aged 13 and one aged 14. Gaza medics have tallied more than 216 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces at the frontier during almost seven months of Palestinian protests against Israel’s blockade of the territory and in support of a right for Palestinian refugees to return to lands in Israel. One Israeli soldier has been killed by a sniper.
In video – Israel launches over 80 airstrikes across Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 27 Oct — Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes targeting more than 80 sites across the besieged Gaza Strip, on Saturday, as a form of response to 30 rockets fired from Gaza towards Israel, according to the Israeli army. A Ma‘an reporter said that Israeli warplanes carried out continuous airstrikes over Gaza since the predawn hours until Saturday morning. Reports confirmed that Israeli warplanes targeted an apartment building in the center of Gaza City and a site belonging to Gaza’s civil administration in northern Gaza, as well as dozens of other sites. No injuries were reported; however, serious damages were caused to dozens of Palestinian homes and various buildings due to the airstrikes. In addition, the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza suffered serious damages after Israeli warplanes fired five missiles at a site near the hospital, which led to causing panic among the patients.
Local sources said that loud explosions were heard across eastern and northern Gaza. Hebrew-language news outlets reported that the Israeli army announced that Israeli warplanes have carried out over 80 airstrikes across Gaza. Sources added that from the 30 rockets fired from Gaza towards Israel, about 10 were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome aerial defense system. Sources also confirmed that the rockets fired from Gaza landed in open fields in Israel. No injuries or damages were reported.
Palestinian militants agree truce with Israel after exchange of fire over Gaza protests
AFP 27 Oct — Palestinian militants said on Saturday they would halt attacks into Israel from the Gaza Strip after they fired the heaviest rocket salvos across the border since August. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, one of the armed groups that operates in Gaza, said it fired the rockets in retaliation for Israel’s killing of four Palestinian protesters on Friday. Israel in response struck dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip on Saturday. A spokesman for the militants said an Egyptian-mediated truce had been reached. “After contacts between the Islamic Jihad leadership and the brothers in Egypt it was agreed that a comprehensive ceasefire will begin immediately,” spokesman Daoud Shehab said. “The Islamic Jihad will abide by the ceasefire if the occupation (Israel) does the same.”
Egyptian security officials have been talking separately to Israeli and Palestinian leaders in an attempt to restore calm along the border. An Israeli military spokeswoman declined comment on Shehab’s remarks and there was no immediate response from other Israeli officials. Israel rarely acknowledges it has reached a truce with Gaza’s militant groups which it designates as terrorist organisations. Earlier, Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus accused Syria and Iran of involvement in the rocket attack.“Orders and incentives were given from Damascus with a clear involvement of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards al-Quds force,” Conricus told reporters. “Our response is not limited geographically.” Israel regularly accuses Iran of aiding Gaza militants, but rarely levels the charge in connection with a specific rocket attack. Shehab dismissed the allegation as “an Israeli attempt to escape its responsibility” for Friday’s protest deaths. There were no casualties reported from the heavy exchange of fire in either Israel or Gaza, which is controlled by the Islamist Hamas group. The Israeli military said it holds Hamas accountable for the events in Gaza. It said its air force hit more than 80 targets including one used by Hamas as a headquarters, in response to more than 30 rockets launched into Israel. There was no immediate comment from Hamas. The flare-up began after the four Palestinians were killed on Friday during weekly protests. Israel said its forces were attacked with explosive devices and some demonstrators breached the border.
One Palestinian killed in accidental explosion in central Gaza
IMEMC 26 Oct — Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, has reported that one Palestinian was killed, and another was injured, in an explosion in the al-Boreij refugee camp, in Central Gaza. Dr. al-Qedra said the Palestinian has been identified as Jabr Ibrahim Abu Hmeisa, 27, and added that another Palestinian was injured in the same incident. An armed group calling itself the Mujahidin Brigades said the Abu Hmeisa was one of its members, and that he died in an accidental explosion, without providing further details.
Israeli forces open fire, injure Palestinian farmer in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 Oct — Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian farmers on Sunday morning, in several areas along the eastern borders of the besieged Gaza Strip. According to local sources, Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian farmers, while working in their lands, east of Beit Hanoun town, in northern Gaza. Sources confirmed that one farmer was injured by Israeli forces and transferred to the Beit Hanoun Hospital to receive necessary medical treatment. The medical condition of the injured Palestinian remained unknown. Meanwhile, Israeli forces also opened fire at farmers east of the al-Maghazi refugee camp, in central Gaza. The farmers were forced to leave their lands in fear for their lives. No injuries were reported from the incident….
Right-wing activists, southern residents briefly block Gaza cargo crossing
Times of Israel 29 Oct — Activists briefly blocked trucks carrying goods and fuel from entering Gaza Monday morning, aiming to up pressure on the government to tighten its blockade on the Palestinian enclave amid continuing unrest along the border. The small group, consisting of about a dozen locals and members of the right-wing Im Tirtzu organization, blocked a road leading to the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing for several minutes, according to the Ynet news website … The protest came as tensions along the restive border once again ramped up, after a weekend that saw heavy rocket fire on Israeli communities in the south and retaliatory strikes from the IDF, threatening to bring the sides back to the brink of war….
Israeli army opens criminal investigation into killing of Gaza medic
[with video] Haaretz 29 Oct by Yaniv Kubovich — The Israel Defense Forces has ordered a criminal probe into the killing of Razan al-Najjar, a Palestinian medic who was killed at the end of May during protests on the Gaza border. The IDF’s Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Sharon Afek rejected the findings of the preliminary military investigation from June. He ordered the Military Police to open a criminal investigation … According to Palestinian Health Minister Dr. Jawad Awaad, Najjar was shot in the neck. “This is a war crime,” he said, saying Najjar was shot while clearly wearing a medical staff uniform. Earlier that day, Najjar gave an interview in which she took pride in the aid she was providing for the wounded, Awaad added.
Ramallah decries ‘uncoordinated’ fuel shipments to Gaza
RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA) 30 Oct — Ramallah on Tuesday criticized the ongoing provision of aid to blockaded Gaza — especially fuel — without coordination with the Palestinian government, saying the arrangement promoted “Palestinian division”. The assertion came in a statement issued following a weekly cabinet meeting in Ramallah, the Palestinian government’s administrative capital. The government also criticized the international community — including the U.S. administration — for approving the transfer of aid to Gaza and the implementation of humanitarian projects in the blockaded coastal enclave. “The dispatch of aid to Gaza — in the absence of coordination with the Palestinian government — is aimed at deepening the existing rift between the West Bank and Gaza,” the statement read. Ramallah also condemned recent threats by Israel to reallocate some of the Palestinian tax revenue it collects (on behalf of the Palestinian government) to cash-strapped Gaza….
Egypt resumes shuttle diplomacy for Gaza truce
GAZA CITY (AA) 30 Oct by Nour Abu Aisha — A delegation from Egypt’s intelligence service arrived in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday to continue talks with Hamas leaders on inter-Palestinian reconciliation and truce with Israel. The delegation crossed into Gaza via the Erez crossing, a Palestinian security source told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to media. The Egyptian delegation has been holding a shuttle diplomacy between the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Israel for weeks, during which they are meeting with officials of Hamas, rival group Fatah and the Israeli government. The talks are taking part with a view to reaching a truce between Hamas and Israel and achieving Palestinian reconciliation between the Palestinian rivals. Tuesday’s visit is the fourth by the Egyptian delegation to Gaza within two weeks.
Palestine Cinema Days arrives in Gaza
MEMO 25 Oct by Mohammed Asad — The Palestine Cinema Days festival arrived in Gaza over the weekend having been launched in the occupied West bank city of Ramallah earlier. The director of the Palestine Film Festival in the Gaza Strip, Wissam Mousa, said the films were shown in two venues: the French Cultural Centre and the Red Crescent Society Hall. He said projectors are being used in both venues because there have been no cinemas in Gaza for almost 40 years, with younger generations never having been able to watch a film on the big screen because of the occupation. To encourage Palestinians from across the Strip to come to the premiers, festival organisers provided transport for those from the south of the Strip, Mousa said. Taking place in a number of Palestinian cities across the occupied territories, including Jerusalem, Ramallah, Nablus, Bethlehem and Gaza City, the festival is showcasing 60 films, 22 of which are competing in the coveted Sunbird Award….
Gazans flee to Europe, illegally
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 30 Oct by Huda Baroud — Palestinians are increasingly seeking to leave the Gaza Strip given the deteriorating living conditions, seeking refuge in Europe — Along with 122 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip detained in a temporary refugee camp in Tamanrasset province in southern Algeria, Mahmoud awaits the decision of the Algerian government to release them so they can continue their journey to Europe. They had been arrested during the first half of October. Mahmoud, 23, who did not want to reveal his full name, told Al-Monitor that he reached the border in the desert of southern Algeria with the assistance of smugglers who took him by land from Mauritania through the Malian desert to Algeria, where he arrived Oct. 9. He was planning to travel to the Spanish city of Melilla on Moroccan territories, then by sea to Spain before continuing by land to another European Union country. He said, “Algerian security forces arrested me along with a group of 20 illegal Palestinians from Gaza, Syrians and Africans, after we reached the border between Mali and Algeria. They confiscated our belongings, including electronic equipment and phones, and they transferred us to a refugee camp in Tamanrasset sheltering more than 120 Palestinians from Gaza, alongside Africans and Syrians. Most of them in the camp were young — not older than 30. There were also families. I hid my phone to contact my family.” … A survey conducted in July by Al-Aqsa University in Gaza indicates that 92% of the 1,280 people polled in the study believe youth migration has become a phenomenon. They blame the ongoing rift between Hamas and Fatah and high unemployment rates as well as a lack of basic services….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli soldiers kill a Palestinian near Ramallah
IMEMC 26 Oct — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Friday evening, the al-Mazra‘a al-Gharbiyya village, northwest of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, killed one Palestinian and injured dozens, including eight who were shot with live fire, while the soldiers also assaulted journalists, and shot one. Media sources in Ramallah said several army jeeps invaded the village, and attacked dozens of Palestinian protesters who were holding a nonviolent procession against the Annexation Wall and colonies, leading to confrontations. The soldiers fired many live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades at the protesters. The Palestinian Health Ministry said the soldiers killed a former political prisoner, identified as Othman Ahmad Ladadweh, 33. It stated that Ladadweh was shot with a live round in the upper thigh, but the bullet went through his spleen and liver, causing a very serious injury before he was rushed to the Istishari Hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds. The soldiers also shot eight Palestinians with live fire, including one who suffered a serious gunshot wound in the head, and caused many others to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. Among the wounded is a journalist identified as Ahmad Shreiteh, who was shot with a live round in the thigh and suffered a moderate injury. In addition, the soldiers fired gas bombs at media crews, and assaulted several journalists while trying to stop them from documenting the unfolding events.
In video: Funeral procession of slain Palestinian father commences
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 Oct — Thousands of Palestinians marched, on Saturday afternoon, in the funeral of a Palestinian father who was killed earlier by Israeli forces during clashes in the village of al-Mazraa al-Gharbiya, west of the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. Othman Ahmad Ali Lidadweh, 33, was killed by Israeli live ammunition during violent clashes that erupted in al-Mazraa al-Gharbiya village following a protest against illegal Israeli settlement activities. Another eight Palestinians were injured in the clashes, one of them was reported to have suffered serious injuries to the head. The funeral processions began as Lidadweh ‘s body arrived to his hometown, the body was carried on people’s shoulders from the entrance of the village towards Lidadweh’s home, where final goodbyes were said before prayers took place at the village’s mosque and then burial at the village’s cemetery.
Military police probe death of Palestinian in West Bank clash
Times of Israel 29 Oct by Judah Ari Gross — Israeli military police opened an investigation into the actions of a number of soldiers over the death of a Palestinian man during clashes in the northern West Bank last week, the army said. Last Wednesday, soldiers from the mixed-gender Lions of the Jordan Valley Battalion conducted a predawn raid in the West Bank village of Tammun, close to Jenin. During the operation, dozens of residents of the town threw rocks and set off fireworks at the soldiers. In response, the troops fired live rounds, as well as tear gas, at the rioters, the army said at the time. During those clashes, the man, 21-year-old Muhammed Bisharat, was shot in the chest and subsequently died of his wounds, according to the official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa. According to the PA outlet, 10 other Palestinians sustained various injuries during the clashes. No Israeli soldiers were injured. The IDF Military Police’s investigatory unit — known in Hebrew by its acronym metzach — is looking into the soldiers’ use of force during the riot in order to determine if the live fire was necessary against the reportedly unarmed Bisharat, according to Army Radio….
Killing of Palestinian woman in West Bank increasingly suspected to be Jewish terror act
[behind paywall] Haaretz 26 Oct by Amos Harel — The murder of Aisha Rabi, the 47-year-old woman killed on October 12 after a rock hit the car in which she was traveling in the West Bank near the Tapuach junction, is looking with high probability like an act of terror committed by Jews. The investigation is being spearheaded by the Jewish affairs division in the Shin Bet, and has yet to determine whether it was direct vengeance for the murder of two Israeli citizens, Kim Yehezkel-Levengrond and Ziv Hajbi, five days earlier in the Barkan industrial zone. What is clear, though, is that the mood in the West Bank is the most tense it’s been in months. There have been other terror attacks and attempts from the Palestinian side in the last few weeks. Rabi’s cousin, one of the men carrying her body on the stretcher at the funeral, tried to stab a soldier three days later, near that very intersection. He was shot and killed.
Soldiers ram two Palestinians with armored jeep, fire tear gas at crowd
IMEMC 27 Oct — An Israeli army jeep rammed, Saturday, two Palestinians in ‘Azzoun town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, while the soldiers fired dozens of gas bombs, causing many Palestinians to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. Medical sources have reported that two Palestinians, identified as Omar Abdul-Halim Hussein, 45, and Ahmad Sa‘id Salim, 25, suffered various fractures, cuts and bruises after the soldiers deliberately rammed them with their armored jeep, during protests in the town. They added that local medics provided the two Palestinians with urgently needed first aid, and rushed them to Darwish Nazzal hospital in Qalqilia; their wounds were described as moderate. The soldier also fired a barrage of gas bombs and concussion grenades, causing dozens of Palestinians to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. Furthermore, the soldiers abducted one Palestinian, after beating him up, and took him to an unknown destination.
NABLUS (WAFA) 28 Oct – An Israeli Jewish settler on Sunday assaulted two Palestinians as they were working on their land in the village of Qaryout, to the south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors Israeli violations in the area, told WAFA that a security guard from the illegal Israeli settlement of Eli attacked a bulldozer driver and a member of the Qaryout village council as they were working on a new agricultural road to the west of the village.
Injuries reported as Israel suppresses weekly Kafr Qaddum march
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 26 Oct — Several Palestinians and international peace activists were injured by Israeli forces during the weekly anti-settlement march, on Friday afternoon, in the Kafr Qaddum village in the northern occupied West Bank district of Qalqiliya. Coordinator of the local popular committee of Kafr Qaddum, Murad Ishteiwi, said that Israeli forces raided the village in huge numbers and showered protesters with live bullets and tear-gas bombs, causing many to suffer tear-gas suffocation. Those injured were treated on the spot. Ishteiwi added that Israeli forces raided a local home belonging to Zahi Ali, held him and his family inside the house while soldiers used their rooftop to shoot at protesters. Groups of Israeli settlers were gathered near the village’s gate that was closed by Israeli forces early Friday morning. Hundreds of protesters took part in the march that set off following Friday prayers, repeating slogans calling for unity and escalating protests against Israel.
Israeli soldiers abduct 20 Palestinians in West Bank
IMEMC 29 Oct — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Monday at dawn at least twenty-two Palestinians, including two sisters, ages 14 and 15, from their homes in several parts of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported. The soldiers invaded many governorates in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, searched and ransacked dozens of homes, and interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards. In addition the soldiers summoned for interrogation in Etzion military base and security center, south of Bethlehem, two Palestinians, identified as Majdi Samer al-Badan, 13, and Habis al-‘Amour, 22, and abducted two siblings, identified as Aseel Bassem Abu Aker, 14, and her sister Nisreen, 15, from Aida refugee camp, north of the city. It is worth mentioning that the father of the two teenage girls is a political prisoner, held by Israel. The army also installed many roadblocks across the occupied West Bank, stopped and searched dozens of cars, and interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards.
South Africa comes to the rescue of Palestinian teen brutally shot by Israeli troops
South Africa, said to be Israel’s harshest critic outside the Islamic world due to apartheid, has brought back smiles to the face of a Palestinian teenager who was shot by Israeli soldiers during a night raid in his village. The 15-year-old, Muhammed Tamimi was shot in the head at close range with rubber-coated, metal bullet in his village of Nabi Saleh in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in December last year. […] On Monday, Mandla Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela visited Tamimi at the hospital and expressed appreciation to all those involved in Tamimi’s operation.
Israel sentences hunger-striking Palestinian to one year
JENIN (Ma‘an) 29 Oct — The Israeli military court in Salem, north of the northern occupied West Bank district of Jenin, sentenced Palestinian prisoner, Khader Adnan, to one year in prison, fined him 1,00 shekels ($270) and 18 months suspended sentence for five years, on Monday. Jawad Boulous, head of the legal department in the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), said that the prison sentence starts from the day of his arrest on December 11th 2017.
Adnan, 40, a father of seven children, has been on an open hunger strike for 58 days and even stopped drinking water, as a form of protest against his “arbitrary” detention by Israel. Despite the sentence, it remained unclear whether Adnan suspended his open hunger strike or not. The prisoners’ rights group Muhjat al-Quds Foundation said that Adnan started his open hunger strike on September 2nd, demanding his immediate release. Since Adnan began his hunger strike, Israeli authorities have imposed harsh measures, such as isolation, no visitations, and being transferred from one detention center to another. Adnan, from the ‘Arraba town in the northern West Bank district of Jenin, previously went through two major hunger strikes – one was a 66-day long hunger strike in 2012 and another 55-day long in 2015, protesting his administrative detention. However, Adnan is not currently being held in administrative detention. Israeli forces had detained Adnan on December 11th, 2017 accusing him of incitement.
Israel releases detained Palestinian sisters
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Oct — The Israeli authorities released two Palestinian minors, on Monday evening, who were detained earlier by Israeli forces in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) confirmed that Israeli forces detained two minors, who are sisters, from their family home in the ‘Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem City on Monday dawn. The two were identified as Aseel, 14, and Nisreen Abu Aker, 15, the daughters of Palestinian administrative prisoner, Bassam Abu Aker, who has spent a total of 20 years in Israeli administrative detention. The reason for their detention remained unknown.
According to prisoners rights group Addameer, there are 5,640 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli prisons, of whom 270 are child prisoners, of whom 50 are under the age of 16 years.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
470 illegal settlement units approved east of Jerusalem
IMEMC 28 Oct by Ali Salam — Maale Adumim is an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian Territories, seven kilometres east of Jerusalem, with a population of more than 37,000 settlers. According to Ma‘an News Agency, Hebrew-language media sources claim 470 new housing units were approved by the Israeli government on Thursday, with a total of 20,000 units pending approval. Yoav Galant, the Israeli Minister of Construction and Housing, stated that “public buildings, and institutions such as Jewish synagogues, schools, and kindergartens” will also be built. Galant emphasized the need to “continue to strengthen control of the Jerusalem area.” … Turkish news outlet Anadolu quoted Palestinian Foreign Ministry, which stated, “This shuts the door to any plan to achieve peace on the basis of the two-state solution and thwarts any efforts to launch a real peace process.”
Defense official: Government ordering us not to approve Palestinian construction
Times of Israel 28 Oct by Jacob Magid — Rights group says comments by Civil Administration head Achvat Ben Hoor prove that Israel is preventing any Palestinian development in Area C of West Bank — A Defense Ministry official told a Knesset committee Sunday that the government is ordering his office not to approve Palestinian building plans in the West Bank. “In accordance with the directive of the political echelon, there is just about no planning being approved for the Palestinian sector,” Brig. Gen. Achvat Ben Hoor told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Ben Hoor heads the Civil Administration, the Defense Ministry body that authorizes construction in the West Bank. During the session, settler-activist Orit Strock had claimed that all of the Civil Administration’s resources have been going to Palestinians. Ben Hoor assured Strock that the opposite was the case with regard to construction. A defense ministry official later clarified to The Times of Israel that Ben Hoor had been referring strictly to master building plans. While no new Palestinian homes are currently being considered for approval, the Civil Administration is still advancing other projects to improve and expand existing Palestinian infrastructure, the official said….
Israeli settlers take over abandoned West Bank army base, establish illegal outpost
[behind paywall] Haaretz 28 Oct by Yotam Berger — Stop-work orders have been issued by the Israeli Civil Administration for the construction carried out at the base, but 12 families have taken up residence there — … Most of the buildings on the base, which is known as Camp Gadi, and is on Route 90, the main highway running through the Jordan Valley, had already been destroyed. The settlers broke into six buildings that were still standing, however, each of which contains two apartments….
Israel demolishes house near Jerusalem leaving family homeless
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 Oct — Israeli bulldozers demolished a Palestinian mobile home in the ‘Anata town northeast of occupied Jerusalem, on Monday. Locals said that the demolished home belonged to a local resident, identified as Saleh Muhammad Fuheidat. Sources added that the reason of demolition was that the house was allegedly built without the nearly impossible-to-obtain Israeli permits. The demolition came without any previous notices leaving a 7-member family homeless; the Israeli authorities had demolished the family’s two houses, in the same area, in early September which forced them to move into the mobile house.
Israel orders construction halt of structures in Jordan Valley
TUBAS (Ma‘an) 25 Oct — The Israeli authorities ordered the halt of construction of Palestinian-owned structures, barns and tents, in the Zraa Awwad and al-Maksar areas, in the northern Jordan Valley in the West Bank, on Thursday. Local activist, Aaref Daraghmeh, said that the Israeli authorities delivered halt of construction orders under the pretext that the structures were built without the difficult-to-obtain Israeli permits. He also mentioned that demolition notices were delivered to more than 17 steel structures and tents already built in the same area. Daraghmeh added that the demolition notices informed the owners to evacuate by November 19th 2018. Daraghmeh called upon human rights organizations to stand by Palestinian residents and protect their property and homes, especially at the start of winter.
Soldiers uproot 200 olive trees, 13 dunams of farmland, near Hebron
IMEMC 30 Oct — Israeli soldiers invaded, Monday, Palestinian agricultural lands in Khirbat Kharouf area, uprooted 200 olive trees, in addition to uprooting 13 dunams of farmlands, in Beit Ula town, west of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. Hashem Badarin, the head of the Palestinian Farmers Services Department in Hebron, said the soldiers invaded Khirbit Kharouf, located west of Beit Ula, and uprooted 200 Palestinian olive trees, which were planted ten years ago. He added that the soldiers also destroyed and removed the fence which surrounded the land. The farmer who owned the land, identified as Hijazi at-Tarshan, said the soldiers and colonialist settlers have repeatedly attacked and vandalized his lands, and several surrounding farmlands, and assaulted many farmers, especially in areas near the Annexation Wall, in an attempt to confiscate the lands for the construction and expansion of the illegal colonies … Shortly after the army left the lands, the Palestinians started replanting new saplings, in a message of steadfastness on their lands, and their roots. Farida al-Atrash said the soldiers invaded her brother’s land, who supports a family of twenty, and is having problems with his eyesight. “When I came here and saw the lands uprooted like this, it felt like it would have been easier for us if they uprooted our souls, rather than the source of livelihood for our families,” she said….
The Muslims Are Coming
(The New York Times) 30 Oct by Wajahat Ali — For some Americans — those who support a travel ban, a wall along the Mexican border and increased restrictions on refugees, all while holding on to the ridiculous belief that the world’s 1.8 billion Muslim hate America, despite the fact that it’s home to nearly 3.5 million of us — that statement probably inspires fear. But it’s true: Nearly 100 Muslim political hopefuls have filed to run for elected office this year. Only a dozen or so ran in 2016.
Palestine to sever ties with Israel ‘gradually’: Erekat
RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA) 30 Oct — The Palestinian Authority (PA) will “gradually” sever ties with Israel in line with a decision adopted late Monday by the Palestinian Central Council (PCC), according to Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat. Erekat told the Voice of Palestine radio station on Tuesday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas planned to convene a meeting later Tuesday of the Higher National Committee, which is tasked with implementing decisions adopted by the PCC. “The National Committee consists of members of the PLO’s Executive Committee and Fatah’s Central Committee, along with government and security officials,” he explained. “The committee will begin implementing this decision [to cut ties with Israel] gradually… and in all areas,” Erekat added. On Monday, the PCC (which functions as part of the PLO) announced that it would suspend recognition of Israel until the latter officially recognized a state of Palestine based on pre-1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital. Following a two-day meeting in Ramallah (the Palestinian government’s administrative capital), the PCC announced that both the PLO and the PA also planned to end security coordination with Israel while also suspending economic agreements made within the context of the 1994 Paris Economic Protocol.
Social security law leaves Palestinians less than secure / Daoud Kuttab
22 Oct — A mandatory Palestinian social security law due to take effect Nov. 1 faces an uphill struggle, with various groups calling for it to be postponed or at least made optional for a time. At a mass demonstration Oct. 15 in Ramallah, protesters said they do not believe the Palestinian government is stable enough to guarantee such a huge economic and administrative project, which will be entrusted with a portion of workers’ money. The demonstrators called for the resignation of Labor Minister Mamoun Abu Shahla, who is also in charge of the Social Security Association. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said Oct. 15 in a public ceremony that the law must take effect as planned, but there is room for negotiations and amendments. Different Palestinian groups, including the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, opposed the law in its original form when it was first signed by President Mahmoud Abbas in March 2016. Since then, several changes have been made in an effort to appease the opposition … While most of the discussion focuses on the lack of confidence in the Palestinian government, a major incentive to pass and implement the law is the billions of dollars that are in play. The 1994 Paris economic agreement includes a clause that allows for the end-of-service compensation of some Palestinian workers in Israel to be transferred to a Palestinian fund….
Palestinian Cabinet vows to investigate HRW report findings
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 25 Oct — The Palestinian Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, reviewed, during its weekly meeting on Wednesday, the latest Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, regarding the situation of human rights in Palestine, and vowed to investigate its findings and recommendations in cooperation with all related parties and authorities … During the meeting, Hamdallah stated that “The State of Palestine, the democratic state, the state of law and institution-building, and the responsible member in the international community, is committed to its obligations and is making great efforts to comply with the standards of international human rights.” “The State of Palestine positively considers that the law enforcement agencies within the State must respect and protect human rights, in accordance with our beliefs in the value of human beings and our responsibility for preserving the human dignity.”….
Palestinians in East Jerusalem boycott Israeli polls
JERUSALEM (AA) 30 Oct by Esat Firat — Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem generally boycotted Israel’s municipal elections Tuesday, with turnout only around 2-5 percent, local media reported. Jerusalem had the lowest turnout of the elections overall, with only 32 percent of residents heading to the polls. Meanwhile, Israeli police arrested four Palestinians who attempted to block the installation of polling boxes in East Jerusalem … Local elections are held every four years in Israel amid partisan rivalries. Like every year, attention is drawn to the Israeli-occupied city of East Jerusalem, where the vast majority of Palestinians have boycotted the vote since Israel captured the city during the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians, who are considered “permanent residents” under Israeli law, are entitled to cast a ballot but not to run in the elections. According to Israeli official figures, Palestinians make up around 40 percent of Jerusalem’s population in both its eastern and western parts. In recent weeks, Palestinian religious figures have urged Palestinian residents of Jerusalem to boycott the vote. Palestinians view participation in Israeli elections as an endorsement of the Israeli occupation of the holy city.
Thousands of Syrian Druze in Golan protest against Israel’s municipal elections
MEE/Agencies 30 Oct — Thousands of Syrian Druze staged picket-line protests outside the gates of polling stations in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Tuesday, asking their townspeople not to cross it to vote in Israel’s municipal elections. Tens of them were wounded after Israeli military police wearing helmets and carrying tear-gas launchers cleared a path for the few would-be voters outside the balloting centre in Majdal Shams. The town is the largest Druze community in the Israeli-occupied part of the Golan, with a population of 10,000 people. It sits in a mountainous plateau that Israel took from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war. In 1981, Israel unilaterally and illegally annexed the Golan in a move not recognised by the international community. The protests were called for by Syrian nationalists and the High Religious Council, a Druze body in the occupied Golan, which issued a declaration calling on people to “prohibit and boycott” whoever nominates themselves or votes in the Israeli elections. Candidates for Masadeh, a town in the Golan, pulled their nominations, which resulted in the election being called off there. “Candidates and those who come to vote will have a religious and social prohibition put upon them,” said Sheikh Khamis Khanjar, a Druze community leader. “What bigger punishment is there than this?” In Majdal Shams, protesters carried Syrian national flags, and chanted “the Golan’s identity is Arab and Syrian”. A banner was placed on the entrance to the polling station reading: “No to elections.” Inside, election officials sat in mostly empty rooms taking care of blue ballot boxes bearing Israeli insignia. Some voters crossed the picket line. The Druze are a religious sect who practice an offshoot of Islam. Around 22,000 Druze live in the Israeli-occupied Golan. Israel, seeking to further integrate them, has offered the Druze citizenship but most have rejected it. Many regard themselves as Syrian, even after more than half a century of life under Israeli military occupation….
EU launches ‘Know Europe’ competition across 80 West Bank schools
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Oct — With the participation of 80 schools across the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip, the European Union and the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education launched the “Know Europe” competition in southern occupied Hebron, on Tuesday. The “Know Europe” competition is expected to include around 500 students of the 9th grade enrolled in public, private, and UNRWA schools. The competition will take place in Ramallah, Jenin, Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus, Tulkarem, Qalqiliya, Gaza City and Rafah. The Deputy EU Representative, Tomas Niklasson, said “We are happy to launch the ‘Know Europe’ competition again across the schools in the West Bank and Gaza.” … He added “The European Union has a lot in common with Palestine and the region. Through this initiative, we aim to introduce ourselves again to students of Palestine: introduce our values, culture, history, and identity. For us, this is one way to affirm once again that we are committed to supporting Palestinians.” The EU is keen in communicating to the Palestinian public, of all ages, its founding principles, as well as cultural and historical ties with the region….
EP rejects resolution to monitor ‘incitement’ in Palestinian education
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 25 Oct — The Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said, on Wednesday, that the Israeli diplomacy has received another defeat in the European Union after the European Parliament rejected a draft resolution on Palestinian education to monitor Palestinian textbooks to remove “incitement against Israel.” The rejected draft was submitted by a group from the Christian Democratic Party that called on the European Commission and the United Nations to monitor Palestinian textbooks and introduce necessary amendments to remove “incitement against Israel and dissemination of a culture of hate against Jews.” Al-Malki said that “This new defeat comes after the crushing defeat of Israel this morning in the European Parliament, which voted overwhelmingly against a proposal to reduce European aid to the education sector in Palestine and the adoption of another resolution calling for providing additional European financial assistance to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in the amount of 22 million Euros for this year.”
UEFA lifts ban on broadcasting football matches to West Bank settlements
The JC 26 Oct by Ben Welch — UEFA has reversed its decision to block the Israeli state broadcaster from airing international football matches to settlements in the West Bank. Previously, the European football governing body had restricted access to its matches, including preliminary rounds of the Euro 2020 championships, to Israelis living within the Green Line. Some of those games feature the Israeli national team, which falls under UEFA’s auspices. This week the Kan public broadcaster announced that UEFA had reversed its decision, and that it had purchased the rights to broadcast to Israeli settlements, the Jerusalem Post reported….
Hamas condemns attack on US synagogue
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Oct — “It is with deep regret and profound sadness that we received the news about the terrorist attack on a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, which resulted in the killing of 11 Jews and injuring six others,” a senior Hamas leader said. In a statement, Member of Hamas International Relations Bureau Basim Naim said: “As Palestinians who have been enduring the terrorism of the Israeli occupation, we are the most to realize what terrorism means and what are its destructive consequences.” He added. according to Days of Palestine: “On this sorrowful occasion, Hamas would like to extend its sincerest condolences to the families of the victims, wishing the injured a speedy recovery.” Naim concluded his statement, saying: “This aggressive act against ‘worship places’, which is highly condemned, highlights that terrorism has no religion nor ideology.” Following to the statement, Hamas quoted its founder and late leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin as saying: “The Islamic Palestinian Resistance Movement condemns the killing of any human, whether he is a Muslim, Christian, Jew or a follower of any religion.”