Israel warns Hamas of ‘painful’ strikes if war goes on
JERUSALEM (AP) 14 Oct — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday threatened “very painful blows” against Gaza’s Hamas rulers if they don’t halt protests along the perimeter fence that have led to clashes with Israeli troops. Netanyahu said Israel is very close to waging a “different kind of activity” against the Islamic militants. He said “if it has any sense, Hamas will cease its fire and violent outbursts — now.” Hamas has orchestrated near-weekly protests along the Israel-Gaza boundary since March, pressing for an end to a decade-long Israel-Egyptian blockade of the isolated territory.
UN envoy ‘no longer acceptable’ to Palestinians
RAMALLAH (Agencies) 12 Oct — The Palestinian leadership will no longer work with the UN peace envoy, a senior official said Thursday, accusing him of overstepping his role by seeking a deal between Israel and Hamas. Ahmad Majdalani, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) executive committee, said it had informed the UN secretary general that envoy Nickolay Mladenov was “no longer acceptable” to the Palestinian government. Mladenov had “gone beyond his role” in seeking agreements between the Israeli regime and rival Palestinian faction Hamas, which controls Gaza, he said, adding that his actions impacted “Palestinian national security and the unity of our people”. There was no immediate comment from Mladenov or confirmation from the United Nations. Mladenov, alongside Egypt, has been seeking a long-term truce agreement between Hamas and the Israeli regime, without including Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’s internationally recognised government in the indirect negotiations. The talks have stalled, partly due to pressure form Abbas, but on Tuesday a smaller UN-brokered agreement was reached for Qatar to finance much-needed fuel deliveries to Gaza for six months. Abbas’s government was not involved in that deal and Mladenov’s strategy has angered Palestinian politicians.
UNESCO adopts by consensus decisions on Palestine
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 11 Oct — The Program and External Relations Commission (PX) of the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted, on Wednesday, by consensus two resolutions on Palestine in the framework of its 205th plenary meeting.
The resolutions, sponsored by Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan, dealt with the issues of Jerusalem and two sites in Hebron and Bethlehem as well as education and culture, in addition to others.
One resolution stated “The Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, a site inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and on the List of World Heritage in Danger, is the sacred city of the three monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam,” reaffirming that “all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the ‘basic law’ on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.”
It reaffirmed that “The two Palestinian sites of the Ibrahimi Mosque also known as the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the southern West Bank city of Hebron and the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque also known as Rachel’s Tomb in the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem are an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and shares the conviction affirmed by the international community that the two sites are of religious significance for Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”
The resolution also deplored “the ongoing Israeli excavations, works, construction of private roads for settlers and of a wall inside the Old City of Hebron, which are illegal under international law and harmfully affect the authenticity and integrity of the site, and the subsequent denial of freedom of movement and freedom of access to places of worship.” (continued)
US Navy returns to Israel port in sign of ‘deep alliance’
ASHDOD, Israel (Reuters) 11 Oct – A U.S. Navy warship has docked in the southern Israeli port of Ashdod, the first such visit there in almost 20 years, in what officials from both sides hailed as a sign of their strong ties in the face of shared adversaries like Iran. Foreign navies generally prefer northern Haifa as their Israeli port of call, so the destroyer USS Ross’s arrival at Ashdod potentially signalled Washington’s interest in broadened berthing options for its Mediterranean Sixth Fleet. “This visit has significance. It symbolizes the deep alliance between Israel and the United States,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking from the deck of the USS Ross, together with his wife and the U.S. ambassador to Israel. “We are determined to defend ourselves against the Iranian military entrenchment in Syria,” Netanyahu said. “President Trump gave full support to this policy of ours, and the fact that this destroyer is visiting here today is an expression of that support.” Netanyahu and his wife toured the ship, shaking hands with officers and sailors, and then took part in a ceremony onboard.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian woman killed as Israeli settlers attack vehicle in Nablus
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 13 Oct — A Palestinian woman was killed while her husband was injured after Israeli settlers attacked their vehicle near the Zaatara checkpoint in southern Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank, late Friday night. Palestinian security sources identified the woman as Aisha Muhammad Talal al-Rabi, 47, pointing out that the couple is from the Bidya village near Salfit in the northern West Bank. Sources added that Israeli settlers attacked the couple’s vehicle with rocks, hitting Aisha with a rock in the head, which caused her death, and leaving her husband injured. The woman was transferred to a nearby hospital in Nablus, where she was then pronounced dead. Aisha is a mother of eight; one of her daughters’ wedding was scheduled to take place in two weeks.
Aisha’s daughter during funeral: ‘Is mom here yet?’
[with photos] SALFIT (Ma’an) 13 Oct — Thousands of Palestinians laid the body of Aisha al-Rabi, 47, to rest in her hometown of Bidya in the northern occupied West Bank district of Salfit, on Saturday afternoon. The funeral procession set off from the hospital, where her she was pronounced dead, towards al-Rabi’s home before burial took place in the town’s cemetery. Aisha was killed, and her husband, Yacoub, was injured late Friday night after Israeli settlers hurled rocks at their vehicle near the Zaatara checkpoint in southern Nablus in the northern West Bank. Aisha’s mother, Azziya, 70, told Ma’an that her daughter had been in Hebron, in the southern West Bank, for 3 days visiting her daughter who is a dentist there. Azziya said that the last thing Aisha said during their last phone call was asking her mother to take care and send her greetings to her father before telling her that her husband, Yacoub is coming to pick her up so they can go home together. Azziya burst in tears as she finished her sentence, “I did not know it would be our last call,I wish I wish I talked to her more, it was our goodbye conversation.” Aisha, a mother of eight, had just finished her university education along with her daughters, as she had gotten married before she could finish her education. Azziya told Ma’an that Aisha’s visit to her dentist daughter in Hebron for 3 days was also to get her teeth fixed in preparation to her other daughter’s upcoming wedding.One of Aisha’s brothers, Fawzat, was killed by Israeli forces one day before his wedding in 1999; Azziya added “The occupation deprives me of my children for a second time.” Aisha’s daughter Lamis told Ma’an that her mother was preparing for her sister’s upcoming wedding, “But the occupation took away our happiness.” Eight-year-old Rama, Aisha’s youngest daughter, appeared as if she was waiting for some news, looking around her and asking her sisters every once in a while “Is mom here, yet?” Rama, who was with her parents in the car, said “Rocks came down at us like rain, I did not know what happened, my head was full of shattered glass, I looked at my mom and I saw her bleeding from her head, she did not say anything and I started crying.”
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:
Israeli settler attacks Palestinians in Tel Rumeida
HEBRON (Ma’an) 13 Oct — An Israeli settler assaulted Palestinians residents of the Tel Rumeida Street in central Hebron City in the southern West Bank, on Friday evening, while Israeli soldiers detained Palestinians. Locals told Ma’an that an Israeli settler attacked and cursed Palestinians in Tel Rumeida, and when locals attempted to prevent him a “hand fight” erupted.Israeli forces then detained two Palestinians identified as Bassam Abu Aisha, 53, and teen Bashir Jawad al-Shweiki, 16. The area of Tel Rumeida has long been a flashpoint for tensions between Palestinians and Israeli settlers and military, as it is located near illegal Israeli settlements whose residents are notoriously aggressive toward Palestinians. Tel Rumeida is located within the area of the city designated as H2, an area taking over the bulk of Hebron’s Old City that is under full Israeli military control, and the site of five illegal Israeli settlements which continually expand into surrounding Palestinian neighborhoods. The Israeli-controlled H2 area is home to 30,000 Palestinians and around 800 Israeli settlers who live under the protection of Israeli forces…..
Army injures many Palestinians near Tulkarem
IMEMC 13 Oct — Israeli soldiers injured, Saturday, one Palestinian with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the eye, and caused dozens to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation in Bal’a town, east of the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem. Media sources said several army jeeps invaded Bal’a town through its southern part, before the soldiers advanced towards Downtown area and the Schools Street. They added that many Palestinians protested the invasions, and hurled stones at the army jeeps, before the soldiers fired many rubber-coated steel bullets, and gas bombs. Medics rushed to the two areas, and moved a young man to a local hospital in Tulkarem city, after an Israeli rubber-coated steel bullet struck him in his eye. They also provided the needed treatment to many Palestinians who suffered the severe effects of teargas inhalation.
Israeli special forces detain stabbing attack suspect
NABLUS (Ma’an) 12 Oct — Israeli special forces detained the Palestinian suspect, who carried out a stabbing attack, in the Jammain village south of the northern West Bank district of Nablus, on late Thursday, less than 24 hours after the attack. Israeli security sources said that the Israeli army raided the Jammain village in military vehicles and broke into the house of the Palestinian suspect who had arrived to his house shortly prior to the raid. Israeli forces detained the Palestinian, who was identified as Muaz Qassem Hussein, 19, and was taken to the Huwwara military checkpoint, south of the Nablus district. Hussein had carried out a stabbing attack at the Huwwara military checkpoint, on Thursday afternoon, in which he stabbed and injured an Israeli soldier. An Israeli settler was injured in the attack by Israeli live ammunition as Israeli forces opened fire at Hussein after he stabbed one of the soldiers. The Israeli soldier was reported to be in light-to-moderate condition, while the Israeli settler was reported to have suffered light injuries to her lower body.
Incendiary balloons found in Jerusalem City
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 13 Oct — Several incendiary balloons were found in the Israeli Ein Kerem neighborhood west of occupied Jerusalem City, on Saturday. According to Israeli news outlet Ynet, an Israeli resident reportedly found the balloons, collected them and handed them over to an Israeli police patrol on the road.Israeli patrols and explosive experts searched the area where the balloons were located. The Israeli police called upon the public to avoid touching or picking up suspicious objects, and to immediately report them to the police emergency line.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel approves $6 million settlement expansion in Hebron City
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) 14 Oct — The Israeli government approved, on Sunday, 22 million shekels ($6.1 million) in government funding to expand an illegal Israeli settlement inside the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron. According to Hebrew-languages news outlets, the new housing units, which will be constructed at the site of a former Israeli army base, was previously approved by the Israeli Civil Administration. Sources confirmed that the Israeli government’s approval provides the necessary funding for the construction to proceed on the new Israeli neighborhood, which is to include 31 housing units, as well as kindergartens and public parks. The project, which will reduce the military zone in the area, will be funded by a number of government ministries, including 2.8 million shekels ($772,584) from the Defense Ministry. Other ministries providing funding include the Science, Technology and Space Ministry, the Environmental Protection Ministry and the ministries of social equality, justice and education. Additionally, some of the funds will be the 2018 budget. The newly approved housing units are the first project to expand illegal Israeli settlements in Hebron after more than a decade.
Army destroys water pipeline in Kafr Qaddum
IMEMC/Agencies 14 Oct –Israeli forces, on Saturday, destroyed a water pipeline and sealed several roads in the village of Kafr Qaddoum, near Qalqilia city, in the occupied West Bank, local sources said. Morad Shtewi, coordinator of the popular resistance in the village, told WAFA that Israeli army accompanied by a bulldozer broke into the village, destroyed a main water pipeline and sealed several roads. Israeli measures in the village sparked confrontations with local residents, upon which an old woman was reportedly hit by a teargas canister, in her mouth, by the soldiers.
Israeli settles 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.
Israeli forces kill 7 Palestinians in Gaza protests
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -13 Oct – Seven Palestinians were killed and at least 252 others were injured as Israel escalated suppression of weekly protests at the eastern borders of the besieged Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza confirmed that seven Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli forces, including four in eastern al-Breij in the central Gaza Strip. The ministry added that 252 injuries arrived at hospitals for treatment, including 154 injured with live fire. Fifty Palestinian children were among injuries, in addition to 10 women and 1 journalist. The ministry said that Israeli forces targeted a medical point in eastern al-Breij, injuring two paramedics. Six of the killed Palestinians in the al-Breij were identified by the ministry as: Ahmad Ibrahim Zaki al-Tawil, 27, Ahmad Ahmad Abdullah Abu Naim, 17, from the al-Nuseirat refugee camp, Muhammad Abed al-Hafith Youssef Ismail, 29, from the al-Breij refugee camp, Afifi Mahmoud Atta Afifi, 18, from Gaza City, Abdullah Barham Suleiman al-Dughmeh, 25, from Abasan al-Jadida and Tamer Iyad Mahmoud Abu Armaneh, 22, from Rafah City. Later Friday, the ministry declared that Muhammad Issam Muhammad Abbas, 21, from the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City, succumbed to a head injury he had sustained during protests. Witnesses told a Ma’an reporter that Israeli forces heavily opened fire at protesters alongside the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip. Palestinian crowds had arrived at the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip to take part in the 29th Friday of “The Great March of Return,” that set off under the slogan “the Intifada of Jerusalem.”
Seven Palestinians laid to rest in Gaza
[with photos] GAZA CITY (Ma’an) 13 Oct — Dozens of thousands of Palestinians took part, on Saturday, in the funerals of seven Palestinians who were killed by Israeli forces during Friday protests alongside the eastern borders of the besieged Gaza Strip.In the al-Nuseirat refugee camp of central Gaza Strip, mourners marched in the funerals of Ahmad Ibrahim al-Tawil, 27, and Ahmad Abu Naim, 17. The funeral of Muhammad Ismail, 29, set off in the al-Breij refugee camp. Meanwhile in Gaza City, Palestinians took part in the funeral processions of Afifi Mahmoud Afifi, 18, and Muhammad Abbas, 21.In the southern Gaza Strip, mourners marched in the funerals of Abdullah al-Dughmeh, 25, brother of two other Palestinians killed by Israel, in Khan Younis, and the funeral of Tamer Abu Armaneh, 22, in Rafah City. Head of the Hamas movement’s politburo, Ismail Haniyeh, stressed that marches will continue until the siege is broken.T he seven Palestinians were killed during “The Great March of Return” protests alongside the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip, on Friday afternoon, marking the 29th Friday of protests.
One injured in Israeli strike on northern Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 14 Oct — A Palestinian youth was injured in an Israeli airstrike that targeted a group of Palestinians east of the town of Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, said WAFA sources. An Israeli drone shelled an area to the east of Beit Hanoun, injuring one youth with missile shrapnel. The youth was taken to hospital for medical treatment, where his condition was described as moderate.
Qatar pledges $150 million in aid to Gaza
DOHA (Ma’an) 11 Oct — Qatar pledged $150 million in aid for the besieged Gaza Strip a day after the first truckload of Qatari-funded fuel arrived at Gaza’s only power plant. Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said, in a statement, that the aid had been pledged via the Qatar Development Fund, the government body responsible for distributing Qatar’s foreign aid. The ministry said “Under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, the Qatar Development Fund has pledged $150 million in humanitarian aid to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the besieged Gaza Strip.” The statement added that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) would oversee distribution of the aid.
On Tuesday, the first truckload of Qatari-funded fuel entered Gaza from Israel through the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which is Gaza’s main commercial crossing. The truck brought the first delivery out of a $60 million fuel donation by Qatar meant to provide the power plant with enough fuel to operate for the next six months. According to Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, 15 truckloads of Qatari fuel are expected to soon begin entering Gaza on a daily basis. However, the Palestinian Authority (PA) objected to the Qatari move, as the entry of fuel shipments was not done in coordination with it and due to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas opposing the foreign relief plan for Gaza.
Suspended Gaza fuel deal shreds tough diplomatic efforts
RAMALLAH (AFP) 13 Oct — By suspending badly needed fuel deliveries to the Gaza Strip after deadly overnight clashes, Israel occupation regime has cast doubts on the viability of the hard-won measure aimed at helping the Palestinian people and easing tensions. The deal, brokered by the United Nations and backed by the United States, Israel and others, had seen thousands of litres of fuel trucked into Gaza daily to boost the impoverished territory’s electricity supply. But only days after being brought into effect, Israeli regime’s Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman late on Friday ordered the deliveries to stop after clashes on the Gaza-Israel border. Despite hopes the fuel would help ease months of deadly violence, thousands of protesters gathered again Friday at the border fence. The Gaza health ministry said seven Palestinians were killed.
In video: Israel destroys cross-border Hamas tunnel
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) 11 Oct — Israel reportedly destroyed a Hamas movement tunnel that went 200 meters inside Israel from the central besieged Gaza Strip.Israeli news outlets reported that the tunnel is new, goes into various areas and was being worked on from different areas of the Gaza Strip.Israeli news website, Ynet, reported that since October 2017, the Israeli army has destroyed 15 Hamas tunnels, including this one.
The mentioned tunnel was reportedly located several months ago; an Israeli army spokesperson said that “The decision on the timing of the work (destroying the tunnel) has to do with operational considerations, as well as the fact that the tunnel connects to a network of fighting tunnels inside the strip.”….
Incendiary balloons spark environmental disaster
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) 10 Oct — According to data received from KKL (Jewish National Fund Keren Kayemet Leisrael), thousands of dunams of farmland and woodland were set on fire by incendiary kites and balloons launched from the besieged Gaza Strip into Israel over the past six months. KKL documented that 1,053 fires were sparked in Israeli communities surrounding Gaza and that about 11,920 dunams (2,945 acres) of farmland and woodland were set on fire, prompting an “environmental disaster” in the area.The majority of the conflagrations broke out in the Beeri forest, with 452 fires sparking there, while 353 fires broke out in the Kissufim forest. Meanwhile, 75 fires were documented in the Shokeda forest, 31 fires sparked in the Hannun forest, and 29 fires scorched the HaBesor Stream forest.The data was provided by KKL’s forest rangers in the Negev area, who have been on call during the past six months, arriving to the scene once receiving a report about a fire breaking out, in order to gain control of the flames to later extinguish it. KKL added that dozens of trees were significantly harmed and their rehabilitation is expected to take years. Additionally, hundreds of wild animals were killed in the fires due to the continuous launch of incendiary kites and balloons into southern Israel. An Israeli firefighter said “The nature in the Gaza border communities has been severely damaged. In my opinion, when rain comes, we’ll be able to know what can be renewed. Everything is scorched now.” In September, 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….
Palestinian refugees / UNRWA
Canada boosts aid to Palestinian refugee agency
OTTAWA (AFP) 12 Oct — Canada stepped up aid for Palestinian refugees on Friday, announcing Can$50 million (US$38 million) for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), whose mission has suffered since Washington cut its help. The Canadian top up comes after the United States, the largest single contributor to UNRWA, announced in August an end to its US$350 million a year funding for the agency. UNRWA was set up in 1950 to help Palestinian refugees who lost their homes because of the 1948 Middle East conflict. Its assistance includees schools, healthcare centers and food distribution. The Canadian contribution is to be spread over two years. Can$40 million will go to “meeting the basic education, health and livelihood needs of millions of Palestinian refugees,” Ottawa said in a statement. Another Can$10 million will be used to provide “emergency life-saving assistance to more than 460,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon,” it said. In 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration reversed cuts to Palestinian aid by his predecessor.
Israel fines teens $18.000 for urging boycott
DUNEDIN (The Guardian) 12 Oct — An Israel court has ordered two New Zealand women to pay damages for harming the “artistic welfare” of three Israeli teenagers after the pop star Lorde cancelled a planned performance in Tel Aviv. Judge Mirit Fohrer ruled that Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab of New Zealand must pay damages to Israeli teenagers Shoshana Steinbach, Ayelet Wertzel and Ahuva Frogel totalling more than NZ$18,000 for writing a letter urging the singer to cancel her concert in Tel Aviv, the Jerusalem Post reports. It is believed to be the first effective use of a 2011 Israeli law allowing civil lawsuits of anyone who encourages a boycott of Israel. The Israeli teenagers claimed their “artistic welfare” was damaged because of the cancellation and that they suffered “damage to their good name as Israelis and Jews”. It remained unclear whether the claimants would be able to collect the cash. A spokesperson for the New Zealand ministry of foreign affairs said it would be up to the courts of New Zealand to decide whether the claim for damages was enforceable. “Whether a foreign judgment is enforceable in New Zealand will be governed by the laws of New Zealand and is a question for the Courts of New Zealand to determine.” In December 2017 the Grammy winning New Zealand pop star Lorde cancelled her planned June 2018 concert in Tel Aviv after a social media campaign sparked by an open letter from Sachs and Abu-Shanab. The lawsuit argued that Lorde’s response on Twitter after receiving the letter showed her decision was directly influenced by the New Zealand women’s plea….
New Zealand activists raise funds for Palestinian charity after fine by Israel
Melbourne (Reuters) 13 Oct by Lidia Kelly — Two New Zealand pro-Palestinian activists have raised NZ$14,000 ($9,108.40) as of Sunday for charity after being fined by an Israeli court for their alleged role in persuading pop star Lorde to cancel a concert in Tel Aviv last year. Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab said last week they would not pay the fine of 45,000 shekels ($12,423.05) awarded to three Israeli teenagers, calling the court’s ruling a “stunt” intended to intimidate Israel’s critics. Instead, they asked people to donate money through website “givealittle.co.nz” to the Gaza Mental Health Foundation, a volunteer group that raises funds for mental health and women’s empowerment groups in the Gaza Strip. As of Sunday, they raised NZ$14,000, according to the website. “Given that we’ve actually had this kind of push upon us – we felt that it was expedient to actually recenter the issue back on Palestine,” Abu-Shanab told Radio New Zealand. The case arose from an open letter that Sachs and Abu-Shanab wrote to Lorde, a New Zealander, on the website “thespinoff.co.nz” in December urging her to call off her planned concert. Lorde canceled her concert in Israel that same month after a campaign by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) group, which campaigns for Palestinian rights, that included the open letter published by Sachs and Abu-Shanab.