Report: Settler attacks increased by 60% in 2018
IMEMC/Agencies 26 Dec by Madeeha Araj, PNN — In its latest weekly report about Israeli settlements activities in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem, the National Bureau for the Defense of Land stated as follows: The course of hatred and attacks on the Palestinian people continue and take a more dangerous curve following the formation of more organized and coordinated extremist groups, in the West Bank, that launched calls under the title, “There’s operations, no Arabs.” Moreover, they called for gathering at road 60, which extends from Hebron to Nablus, in order to prevent Palestinians from using it. In their calls, the settlers wrote to Netanyahu that, if he fails to protect them, they will act themselves. Bit-Eil settlement council head Bin Yashai told Israeli army leaders that he and other settlers would prevent the re-opening of the road. According to Israeli information and reports, settler attacks on Palestinians classified as hate crimes have increased by 60%, from the previous year of 2017. Data indicate that, in 2017, there were 79 cases of aggression, but 2018 recorded 127 cases, which means approximately one assault every three days, to include the puncturing of car tires, the uprooting of trees, racist slogans painted on walls, physical assault, killing and assaulting animals. The highest number of attacks was recorded in the villages of Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron governorates….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian at Huwwara checkpoint
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 26 Dec — Israeli forces opened fire at a Palestinian vehicle at the Huwwara checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, on Wednesday noon, after its driver allegedly attempted to run over Israeli settlers. Israeli news sites reported that Israeli soldiers deployed at the checkpoint opened fire at the vehicle, injuring the Palestinian driver; he sustained light to moderate wounds. Sources added that the Palestinian driver was then detained and transferred to a hospital to receive the necessary medical treatment. No injuries were reported among Israelis. The Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs confirmed that they were officially informed of the driver’s injury, whom they identified as Raed Thiab, 35, from Kafr Qalil village. The ministry added that he was injured with two bullets in the leg….
Israel to return body of slain Palestinian in Salfit
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 28 Dec – The Israeli authorities decided, late Thursday, to return the body of a slain Palestinian youth on Friday afternoon. The Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs said that the body of Elias Saleh Yassin, 22, from the Bidya town in the northern occupied West Bank district of Salfit, will be returned by Israeli forces at 5:00 p.m. Friday at the northern entrance of Salfit City. Israeli forces had shot and killed Yassin on October 15th, 2018 claiming that he attempted to carry out a stabbing attack against Israelis at the Jit crossroads near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel near Salfit City; no injuries among Israelis were reported at the time.
Israeli forces raid towns in South Hebron Hills
IMEMC/Agencies 26 Dec — Israeli forces, on Tuesday, raided Palestinian residential homes and tents of multiple towns in the South Hebron Hills, east of the town of Yatta, south of Hebron, occupied West Bank, said a local activist. According to WAFA, Israeli forces raided and blocked the South Hebron Hills towns of al-Masdara, Ar-Rakeez, and al-Tawani, located adjacent to the illegal Israeli settlements of Avigal and Maon, southeast of Yatta. Soldiers reportedly forced residents out of their homes and tents at gunpoint and forced them to remain outside in the cold winter weather, while conducting thorough search operations.
Israeli settlers assault, injure elderly Palestinian shepherd
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 26 Dec — Israeli settlers assaulted a Palestinian elderly shepherd in the Burqa village, in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, on Wednesday, injuring him in the head. A Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, reported that a number of Israeli settlers attacked an elderly Palestinian shepherd, identified as Mufid Abu Hussein, 70, as he was herding his sheep in Burqa, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Homesh. Abu Hussein was injured in the head and transferred to a hospital for treatment, after he was found unconscious.
Huwwara residents foil an attack by colonialist settlers
IMEMC 23 Dec — Members of the popular Local Guards Committee, an unarmed group of residents in Huwwara town, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, managed to foil an infiltration attack carried out by extremist illegal Israeli colonialist settlers into their town. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors Israel’s illegal colonialist activities in northern West Bank, said locals from the Guards Committee in Huwwara managed to intercept the illegal settlers infiltrating into their town. He added that the Israeli assailants were seen trying to attack a Palestinian home at the edge of the town, before they were chased away. The official said that the illegal colonists were apparently trying to burn a Palestinian home, but their attack was foiled before they managed to do any harm.
Israeli forces assault mourners at funeral of slain teen
IMEMC 25 Dec by Ali Salam — The funeral of Qassem al-Abbassi, the teen killed by Israeli forces on December 20, 2018, was held Monday night, in the town of Silwan, in occupied East Jerusalem. The Palestinian men were carrying the teen’s body on their shoulders, from the Silwan mosque, and many of the mourners shouted criticism regarding the death of the teen, and chanted for the liberation of Palestine, the Wadi Hilweh Information Center (Silwanic), has reported. Walking behind an ambulance, the funeral procession was blocked by Israeli forces, who instructed the mourners to return the body of the teen to the ambulance, and to stop chanting slogans. Israeli forces threatened not to allow the teen to be buried at the cemetery of Bab al-Rahma, at the eastern wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque. According to Silwanic, although the mourners complied with the orders given by Israeli soldiers, they were assaulted and attempts were made to block the funeral procession from entering Al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem. The mourners were forbidden from raising flags or banners at the funeral, and were eventually allowed to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque with the body of the slain Palestinian, and later went to the cemetery, amidst extensive Israeli military presence.
Family of Palestinian shot dead deny his car ran a West Bank checkpoint
Times of Israel 24 Dec by Adam Rasgon — Relatives of Qassem al-Abbasi, a 17-year-old Palestinian who was shot dead near Ramallah last week, on Sunday denied the IDF’s assertion that Abbasi’s car drove through a military roadblock, and said he and the other passengers did not pose a threat when they came under fire. “We were going to a Turkish bath in Nablus,” said Mohammad al-Abbasi, a 25-year-old resident of Silwan and one of Qassem’s cousins. “We were not a threat to anyone.” Mohammad, who was driving the car last Thursday evening, said he and his relatives were traveling to Nablus from Silwan when they were diverted by Israeli security forces and then got lost … “When we reached the Beit El [traffic] circle, we made a right turn and realized we were not going the right way,” said Mohammad. “We began to make our way back to the road we came from and settlers started shooting at us, breaking one of our windows. We kept driving, but then stopped shortly afterwards when the army came.” The Israel Defense Forces contradicted Mohammad’s account that settlers opened fire on the car, and asserted that soldiers had shot at it. The IDF said an initial review of the incident found that Mohammad had driven through a checkpoint and continued driving even after soldiers fired warning shots in the air to compel him to stop the car. The army said that after Mohammad did not stop, soldiers opened fire on the vehicle, killing Qassem and injuring another passenger … When pressed on how certain he was that settlers had fired at their vehicle, Mohammad maintained that he “had no doubts,” while denying that he had driven through a checkpoint … Following the incident on Thursday, the IDF’s Judea and Samaria Division commander, Brig. Gen. Eran Niv, clarified open-fire protocols to soldiers. Niv said the army’s rules of engagement allow soldiers to open fire only in cases of “clear and present danger,” Channel 10 news reported. “We are killing people who did not intend to kill,” Niv reportedly said….
Israel army says probing fatal car shooting by soldiers
RAMALLAH (AFP) 21 Dec — The Israeli army said Friday it had opened a probe after troops shot dead the passenger of a car that tried to break through two checkpoints in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian health ministry said 17-year-old Qassem al-Abbasi, from east Jerusalem, was shot dead by Israeli troops on Thursday near the city of Ramallah. “The military police have opened an investigation into the death of the passenger,” an army spokeswoman told AFP, without giving any more details on the deceased. Soldiers fired warning shots into the air after the vehicle failed to stop a roadblock, she said. When the vehicle tried to break though a second roadblock nearby, soldiers again fired into the air “before aiming at the car, killing one of the occupants and injuring another passenger”, the spokeswoman said. The Israeli news site Ynet reported an initial investigation had revealed “the vehicle did not try to hit the soldiers at the roadblocks and no weapon was found in the car”.
Autopsy results – bullet in the back hit the main artery and lungs of Martyr Abbasi
Silwanic 24 Dec– On Monday afternoon, autopsy on the body of Martyr Qasem Mohammed Abbasi, 17, was completed at Abu Kbeir Medical Institute in the city of Jaffa. Wadi Hilweh Information Center’s lawyer for Minors, Mohammed Mahmoud, said that the autopsy was completed on the body of the Jerusalemite Martyr, which lasted several hours in the presence of the Palestinian doctor Ashraf Al-Qadi from the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Lawyer Mahmoud explained that the initial report of the autopsy revealed that the cause of death was a bullet that hit Qasem in the back and broke into the main artery and lungs. Lawyer Mahmoud added that calls are underway with the competent authorities to determine the date, time and place of delivery of the body of the Martyr. Abbasi was shot by the Israeli occupation on Thursday evening at Beit El settlement north of the city of Al-Bireh. The Abbasi family asked for an autopsy on the body of their son to investigate the circumstances of the execution and crime which also threatened the lives of three other members of his family that accompanied the Martyr on their way to the city of Nablus.
IDF in West Bank refrains from arresting Jews
Al-Monitor 26 Dec by Shlomi Eldar — Despite a dramatic increase in Jewish nationalist crimes, such as slashing tires, throwing stones, and cutting down olive trees in Palestinian settlements even within the Green Line, Israeli security forces have been remarkably helpless — … Knesset member Raz notes that so far not a single suspect has been arrested for throwing rocks at a car carrying Aisha Muhammad al-Rawbi, 47, from the village of Bidia, near the Tapuah Intersection on Oct. 13. Aisha died in the accident that resulted from the stone-throwing attack … “But no one asks how the assailant from the Tapuah Intersection attack was never caught. The only person called for interrogation was Aisha’s 8-year-old daughter, who saw her mother die right beside her. An armed policewoman sat there throughout and interrogated her about the incident. Nothing came of it.”….
Israeli forces detain 15 Palestinians in West Bank raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 24 Dec — Israeli forces detained at least 15 Palestinians from across districts of the occupied West Bank, on predawn Monday. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said that Israeli forces detained three Palestinians from the southern West Bank district of Hebron; PPS identified them as Nader Abed al-Hafitha Abu Mayyaleh, Adam Ibrahim Mahfouth and Muhammad Nasser al-Badawi. Six Palestinians from the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem; PPS identified them as Mahmoud Khalid Salah, Mahmoud Ibrahim Ghneim, Mahdi Khalid Issa, Muath al-Umour, Tukri Muhammad Raja Sabah and Ahmad Kamel Thawabteh. One Palestinian was detained from the central West Bank district of Jerusalem; he was identified as Fouad Ali al-Khatib. Israeli forces detained three Palestinians from the Ramallah and al-Bireh district in the central West Bank; PPS identified them as Amir Anwar Nakhleh, Ali Salem Dabbour and Muhammad Khalid Abu Hilweh. In the northern West Bank, Israeli forces detained two Palestinians from the Qalqiliya district; they were identified as Muhammad Sameh Affaneh and Abed al-Halim Basha. According to prisoners rights group Addameer, there are 5,554 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli prisons.
Israeli forces detain 7 Palestinians in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 27 Dec — Israeli forces detained at least seven Palestinians from across the occupied West Bank, on predawn Thursday. Israeli forces detained one Palestinian identified as Muhammad Atef Banat, 21, from the Dheisheh refugee camp in the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem, while at the Container checkpoint. Locals reported that Israeli forces detained two Palestinians from Hebron, in the southern West Bank, they were identified as Majdi Muhammad Rasras, 22, and Yazid Abu Rmeileh. Israeli forces also assaulted Abu Rmeileh’s younger brother who was with him in the Old City of Hebron during his detention. In Nablus City in the northern West Bank, locals reported that Israeli forces raided the Balata refugee camp and detained one youth identified as Muhammad Ahmad Saoudi, and Ahmad Abed al-Hadi Hamadneh from the Assira al-Shamaliya town. Israeli forces interrogated several Palestinians in Nablus. In the Tulkarem refugee camp, in the northern West Bank, Israeli forces detained Musaab Adnan al-Husari and Haitham Nour al-Din Bleidi, after raiding and searching their family homes.
In video – Israeli MK performs prayers at Al-Aqsa
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — An ultra-Orthodox Israeli Knesset member, Yehuda Glick, and over a hundred Israeli settlers entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem, on Sunday. MK Glick posted on his Facebook profile that he toured the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to perform prayers on the anniversary of his wife’s death. Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, the Imam and director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, told Ma‘an that about 112 Israeli settlers, including Glick, entered the compound through the Moroccans Gate in large consecutive groups. Al-Kisawni added that heavily armed Israeli forces were deployed across the compound and provided protection to the Israeli settlers as they toured the compound … The number of Israeli MKs who storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound has increased the past few months after Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, decided to lift a ban that would previously not allow Israeli Knesset members to visit the compound every three months, after incursions were banned since October 2015. Netanyahu allowed members of the Knesset, mostly right-wing extremists, who support the demolition of the Islamic site in order to build a Jewish temple instead, to visit the Al-Aqsa compound once every three months….
Army abducts a Waqf employee in Al-Aqsa
IMEMC 24 Dec — Israeli soldiers assaulted and abducted, Monday, a Palestinian employee of the Waqf and Islamic Endowment Department in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied East Jerusalem, and took him to an unknown destination. The employee has been identified as Ashraf Sharabati, and was taken prisoner after groups of soldiers, police officers and colonialist settlers invaded the courtyards of the holy site, and conducted provocative tours, after removing the Palestinians.
Israeli forces suppress 21st Gaza naval march, injure 27 Palestinians
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Dec — At least 27 Palestinians were injured, including 14 with Israeli forces’ live fire, while others sustained [wounds from] rubber-coated steel bullets and suffered tear-gas suffocation as Israeli forces suppressed the 21st weekly naval march in the northern besieged Gaza Strip, on Monday afternoon. Medical sources confirmed to a Ma‘an reporter that many Palestinians suffered tear-gas suffocation. Palestinian protesters gathered at the northern borders of the Gaza Strip to take part in protests in an attempt to break the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. Israeli war boats directly opened live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas bombs at Palestinian boats taking part in the protest.
Gaza – 4 Palestinians killed, dozens injured including journalists, paramedics
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Four Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli forces during weekly protests across the eastern borders of the besieged Gaza Strip since Friday afternoon. The Ministry of Health confirmed that Ayman Munir Shbeir, 18, from Deir al-Balah, succumbed on Saturday morning to wounds he sustained during Friday protests in eastern al-Breij. A Palestinian teen identified as Muhammad Muin al-Jahjouh,16, was killed after being shot with a live bullet in the neck by Israeli forces in eastern Gaza City, while Maher Attiyeh Yassin, 40, a man with disability, was shot and killed from al-Nuseirat succumbed to wounds he sustained while at eastern al-Breij, Abed al-Aziz Ibrahim Abu Sharia, 28, from al-Sabra neighborhood also succumbed to a bullet wound in the abdomen he sustained at the eastern borders of Gaza City. The ministry pointed out that two journalists and four paramedics were among those injured. At least 47 others were injured with live bullets and rubber-coated steel bullets, while dozens suffered tear-gas inhalation as Israeli forces suppressed the 39th Friday of the return marches. Palestinian protesters had gathered at the eastern borders of Gaza. [Photographs of the four men killed can be seen here]
Great March of Return protests to continue until end of Gaza siege: Hamas
PressTV 23 Dec — A senior official of the Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, says Palestinians will continue the Great March of Return rallies until the end of the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip. Mahmoud al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas and a member of its leadership in the Gaza Strip, made the remarks in a Sunday interview with Iran’s Al-Alam News Network in Tehran. He said the anti-occupation rallies, known as the “Great March of Return,” have produced important results, and will not be stopped before the Israeli regime’s siege on the enclave is lifted …
The military wings of Hamas warned in a joint statement on Sunday that the coming Friday will be “decisive” in determining their response to the killing of four people during recent border protests. The groups declared they had prepared retaliation steps, and that their use will be dependent upon Israel’s policy….
Israeli military still silent over journalist shooting
JERUSALEM (AP) 21 Dec by Josef Federman — One month after the shooting of an Associated Press cameraman in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military still has not commented on the incident or provided any updates about the status of an investigation. Rashed Rashid was covering a protest near Gaza’s northern border with Israel on Nov. 19 when he was shot in the left ankle, apparently by Israeli fire. Rashid was wearing protective gear that clearly identified himself as a journalist and standing with a crowd of other journalists some 600 meters (660 yards) away from the Israeli border when he was hit. Rashid, 47, was allowed to enter Israel for medical treatment. He has been hospitalized at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem to repair multiple fractures and a gaping hole in his left leg. Doctors say the injuries are not life threatening. At the time of the shooting, the AP urged the army to conduct a thorough investigation. The army says it typically investigates such incidents, and it has implied that it is looking into Rashid’s shooting. But it has not responded to repeated requests for comment or updates about the investigation. It also has not attempted to interview Rashid or other AP staffers who witnessed the incident, or asked to view AP footage of the shooting….
Israel has killed 253 Palestinians during Great March of Return
MEMO 27 Dec — Israeli occupation forces have killed 253 Palestinian protesters and wounded thousands more during the “Great March of Return” protests in the besieged Gaza Strip, Quds Press reported yesterday. According to a report issued by Abdullah Al-Hourani Centre for Studies, the Israeli occupation is withholding the bodies of 11 Palestinian martyrs killed during the protests. Forty-five children were among those killed during the protests, the organisation said, including Bayan Abu-Khamash who was just 18 months old. In addition, it stated that Inas Abu-Khamas, a pregnant mother, two female paramedics and two journalists were also among the martyrs. Meanwhile, the centre reported that 25,477 protesters were wounded, including 13,750 who were admitted to hospital and others that were treated in the field. Some 4,379 children were among the wounded; half of them were shot or wounded by shrapnel as a result of artillery shelling and air strikes. It also stated that 2,050 men and 263 journalists were among the wounded…..
Turkish NGO distributes wheelchairs to Palestinians
MEMO 27 Dec — Turkey’s Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) on Thursday distributed 90 wheelchairs to Palestinians injured during the ‘Great March of Return’ demonstrations in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip. Mahmoud al-Shurafa, the IHH’s spokesman in Gaza, told Anadolu Agency that the aid project was carried out to alleviate grievances of the Gazans struggling under difficult conditions. The cost of the aid project is €18,000 ($20,600), al-Shurafa added.
Israeli bulldozers raid Palestinian lands in northern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 Dec — Several Israeli bulldozers raided western Beit Lahiya town in the northern besieged Gaza Strip, on Wednesday morning. Witnesses told a Ma‘an reporter that six Israeli military bulldozers and an excavator raided dozens of meters into Palestinian lands, coming from the Zikim military base. Israeli bulldozers raided and leveled lands while Israeli drones flew overhead. Israeli military incursions inside the besieged Gaza Strip and near the “buffer zone,” which lies on both land and sea sides of Gaza, have long been a near-daily occurrence.
China gives $2 million to UNRWA in Gaza
MEMO 22 Dec — The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) announced that the People’s Republic of China has provided $2.35 million in support of the Agency’s emergency appeal for the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt). In a statement on Friday, UNRWA said that “we appreciate the generous donation of $2.35 million from the People’s Republic of China in support of the Agency’s appeal for the Palestinian territories,” adding: “This generous donation from China provides immediate and critical emergency food aid during the months of October through December 2018 to approximately 1 million Palestine refugees who are classified under absolute poverty and extreme poverty categories in Gaza as part of the agency fourth emergency food aid.” ….
Remembering the Israeli 2008 offensive on Gaza (VIDEO)
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Dec by Rebecca Stead — What: Israel waged a three-week military offensive against the Gaza Strip, killing almost 1,400 Palestinians and wounding thousands more. Where: The Gaza Strip When: 27 Dec 2008 – 18 Jan 2009 What happened? On 27 December 2008, the Israeli occupation launched a massive military offensive against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The Strip had been placed under an Israeli-led siege a year earlier, subjecting the 265 square-kilometre-enclave to a land, air and sea blockade. Codenamed Operation Cast Lead, this offensive began at 11am on a Saturday morning, with Israeli Air Force jets firing on targets across the territory. Ynet reported at the time that “80 jets, warplanes and helicopters dropped over 100 bombs on dozens of targets [during] the initial strike.” Among the targets were the small fishing port and the main police compound in Gaza City …
A 2009 Amnesty International report found that “Israeli forces made extensive use of white phosphorus, often launched from 155mm artillery shells, in residential areas, causing death and injuries to civilians.” Among the targets were the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) headquarters and Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City; an UNRWA primary school in Beit Lahia, north of Jabalia and numerous residential areas. Amnesty explained that: “White phosphorus is extremely dangerous for humans as it causes deep burns through muscle and down to the bone, continuing to burn until deprived of oxygen. It can contaminate other parts of the body, or even people treating the injuries, poisoning and irreparably damaging internal organs.”….
Warning ; first video is extremely graphic. The second one, with Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish reporting live on Israeli TV that his children were being killed, is no less devastating.
Despite protocol against death penalty, Gaza sentences six more to death
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 23 Dec by Huda Baroud — The Hamas-controlled military court in Gaza has sentenced six people to death for allegedly collaborating with Israel on a failed covert operation in Gaza on Nov. 11, in which six Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were killed….
Faithful few: can Gaza’s Christian community survive?
The Observer 23 Dec by Donald Macintyre — Gaza is home to a mere 1,100 Christians, who must obtain permits just to visit Jerusalem. We ask them how they see their future — As Hatem al-Far waited with dwindling hope for an Israeli permit that would allow him out of Gaza this Christmas, he showed a picture on his phone of his first grandson, eight-month-old Ibrahim, and wondered when, if ever, he would see him in the flesh. This year Far, 53, has a double reason for wanting permission to leave Gaza: he wants to attend the Greek Orthodox midnight mass in Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity with his family and attend Ibrahim’s christening, which has been postponed in the hope that his grandfather will make it to the West Bank. “I’m not asking for much,” he said. “I’m living in one Palestinian city, and all I want is to travel to another Palestinian city for a few days.”….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel advances plans for nearly 2,200 settler homes : NGO
JERUSALEM (AFP) 26 Dec — Israeli authorities have advanced plans for nearly 2,200 settlement homes in the occupied West Bank, the Peace Now NGO said Wednesday, the first such approvals since snap polls were called earlier this week. A defence ministry committee with responsibility for such projects on Tuesday and Wednesday approved the plans, which are in various stages of the approval process, the settlement watchdog said in a statement. It said 1,159 housing units were given final approvals before building permits can be issued, while 1,032 were at an earlier stage. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government agreed Monday to dissolve parliament and call for early elections on April 9. Settlements play an important role in Israeli right-wing politics, and Netanyahu met with settler leaders earlier Wednesday in Jerusalem. “We’ll see an attempt by the left-wing to overthrow our rule with the help of the media and others,” he said, speaking of the elections….
Israel orders eviction of Palestinian family in Silwan
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — The Israeli municipality of Jerusalem ordered, on Saturday, a Palestinian family in the Silwan town of occupied East Jerusalem to evacuate their home after a part of a wall surrounding the house collapsed. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan said that the Abu Rmeileh family woke up to the collapse of the outside wall, on Friday, which could form a serious risk to the family. Abdullah Abu Rmeileh said that Israeli settlers, who had seized a piece of land next to the family’s house, had started excavations and digging weeks ago. He added that Israeli settlers left dirt and rock mounds by the 4-meter wall surrounding his brother Mufid Abu Rmeileh’s house. Abu Rmeileh added that the Israeli municipality sent an engineer to inspect and assess the damages done. The engineer acknowledged the possibility of other collapses due to the seriousness of the collapse and subsequently issued a decision to evacuate and immediately seal the house that sheltered his brother’s 7-member family. Jawad Siyam from the center said that the Israeli authorities had begun excavation works under the neighborhood in 2007.
Illegal colonialist settlers demolish a Palestinian room in Hebron
IMEMC 24 Dec — A number of illegal Israeli colonialist settlers demolished, Sunday, a room which was built by a local Palestinian youth group in Tel Rumeida neighborhood, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. The room was built by local volunteers of the Somoud Center of the Youth Coalition Against Settlements, in Hebron. Mohammad Zghayyar, the spokesperson of the Youth Coalition Against Settlements, said that Israeli soldiers frequently tried to prevent them from building this room, in addition to the repeated threat by the illegal colonialist settlers to use force against them. “The Israeli army protects the colonists, and disregards their assaults and violence against us,” he said, “Our center is just meters away from a permanent military post, yet, the colonists were able to demolish the room without interruption!”….
Israelis pitch tents in Jordan Valley
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Dec — Israeli settlers erected tents to the east of Khallet, in the northern Jordan Valley, on Wednesday. Arif Daraghmeh, a human rights activist, said that settlers pitched tents east of Khallet Makhoul, setting up camp for themselves and a number of sheep they had taken with them. The camp has incited fears among local Palestinians “that these tents will become a new settlement”. In similar situations prior to this, these camps start off as caravans that evolve into illegal settlement outposts on Palestinian land; the first sign of the establishment of official settlements….
PA condemns Israel aggression on World Heritage Site in West Bank
MEMO 22 Dec — The Palestine Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities condemned yesterday the attack on a Palestinian tourist site in the village of Battir, one of the ancient Palestinian sites listed as a World Heritage Site. The condemnation came after a group of Israeli settlers razed parts of the site and opened a street in the village in preparation for building a Jewish settlement in the area, Al-Wattan Voice reported. Palestinian residents in the area confronted the settlers and pushed them out of the village. However, the settlers’ aggression caused damage to large parts of the site, including to its terraces which date back to the Roman era – about 2,000 years ago. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee added Battir – located southwest of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank – to the organisation’s prestigious World Heritage List in 2014 and added the site to a subset of the heritage list, a much smaller compilation of sites in danger. Some of the site’s terraces “are irrigated for market garden production” and others are planted with grapevines and olive trees. The terraces’ irrigation network is supplied by underground sources and shared with village families. The landscape is in danger of being damaged by Israeli plans to build the Separation Wall through the area, UNESCO has said, noting that the wall “may isolate farmers from fields they have cultivated for centuries.”
Israeli soldiers demolish a car repair facility near Nablus
IMEMC 26 Dec — On Wednesday evening, Israeli soldiers, accompanied by armored bulldozers, invaded the al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and demolished a car repair facility. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency has reported that the soldiers demolished the facility, owned by Raja Daraghma, located near the main road between Ramallah and Nablus. It added that Daraghma’s car repair facility was attacked by soldiers and colonialist settlers in many previous incidents.
After 18 years in Israeli jail, Palestinian man gives wife present he bought her
MEMO 24 Dec — Eighteen years after he was detained while on his way back to Gaza through the Rafah crossing, Imad Al-Din Al-Saftawi has finally given his wife a present he bought her from a trip to Dubai. Imad was detained on his way home from the Emirates in 2000 when he was detained by Israeli occupation forces. He kept the gift he bought his wife, a state of the art Nokia mobile phone, with him throughout his time in jail in the hopes of giving it to her. After his release on 12 December he was handed back his possessions, including the phone. His teenage daughter tweeted about her father giving her mother the gift and the story has since gone viral on social media.
Palestinian refugees – Iraq
Palestinians in Iraq fearful after loss of Saddam-era privileges
BAGHDAD (Reuters) 20 Dec — A year after the Iraqi parliament voted to strip Palestinians of the equal-rights status they enjoyed under Saddam Hussein, Palestinians living in Iraq feel marginalized and vulnerable. Last year parliament rescinded legislation that guaranteed Palestinians rights and privileges enjoyed by Iraqi citizens – from eligibility for state jobs and free education to receiving pensions and food items from a government subsidies program. The law had been decreed by Saddam, the longtime strongman president who was executed in 2006 after being ousted three years before by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Many Palestinian families have seen their economic situation deteriorate since parliament’s action – and those interviewed by Reuters were keen to find refuge in other countries – but this was not the start of their difficulties in post-Saddam Iraq. As predominantly Sunni Muslims, Palestinians have been increasingly viewed with suspicion by Iraq’s Shi’ite Muslim majority, who were at times persecuted under the Sunni Saddam….
Solidarity / BDS
Conscientious objector freed after 107 days in military prison
+972 mag 24 Dec — The Israeli army discharged conscientious objector Hillel Garmi on Sunday after imprisoning him for a total of 107 days. Israel has compulsory military service, and Garmi refused to be drafted due to his opposition to the occupation. Garmi, 19, from Yodfat in northern Israel, is one of the initiators and signatories of the “Shministim letter,” published earlier this year by dozens of Israeli high school seniors who declared their refusal to serve in the Israeli army. He served seven successive prison terms since July. Upon leaving military prison on Monday, Garmi said: “The five months I spent in prison were dedicated to the struggle against the occupation and the siege, for the sake of the five million Palestinians who actually live under the rule of the Israeli government, but do not enjoy the right to elect it.”….
US fundraising site suspends Palestinian boycott account
JERUSALEM (AP) by Josef Federman — A U.S. software company said Friday it blocked the fundraising account of the Palestinian-led boycott movement against Israel following a complaint by a pro-Israel group that the campaign has links to militant organizations. Donorbox, which makes fundraising management software, confirmed that the BDS campaign’s account was temporarily blocked while it investigates the allegations. The BDS movement called the Israeli move “McCarthyite.” The decision came in response to a complaint from Shurat HaDin, an Israeli advocacy group that files lawsuits around the world against Israel’s foes, submitted in coordination with Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry….
Banking giant HSBC divests from Israel arms manufacturer
MEMO 17 Dec — Human rights groups have claimed a major victory after HSBC, one of the largest banking and financial services organisations in the world, confirmed that it fully divested from Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit Systems, which sells weapons to the Israeli military used in attacks on Palestinians. As part of the campaign, over 24,000 people emailed HSBC with concern over its investments in Elbit Systems and other companies selling weapons to Israel’s military. Forty HSBC branches across the UK were picketed monthly to call on HSBC to stop aiding Israel’s brutal occupation and human rights abuse of millions of Palestinians….
Israel’s war on BDS faces backlash
MEMO 27 Dec — Israel allocated three million shekels ($790,000) to set up an international network of lawyers and financial legal groups to combat the Boycott, Divestment of Sanctions movement last week. Palestinian co-founder of BDS Omar Barghouti said that this proves how afraid Israel is of this peaceful movement. Speaking to Al-Wattan Voice, Barghouti said that since the rise of the extreme right-wing in Israel in 2015, the Israeli government has considered BDS as a primary threat to its “colonial apartheid enterprise”. “Israel is currently turning from the stage of self-defence in its battle with BDS to the stage of attack,” Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan has said, according to Al-Wattan Voice. “The failure of the Israeli occupation government to slowdown the growth of the BDS pushed it to wage a desperate psychological battle in addition to its legal and intelligence one,” Barghouti said….
Roseanne Barr to address Israeli parliament
AP 25 Dec — Former television star Roseanne Barr says she will be travelling to Israel in January and has been invited to address the country’s parliament. Barr announced her visit to Israel on Monday, saying her aim is to “further my own knowledge of Jewish and Israeli history” and speak out “against the insidious and anti-Semitic BDS movement”… ABC cancelled its reboot of Roseanne in May after Barr tweeted racist remarks about former Obama administration adviser Valerie Jarrett….
Hamas rejects Abbas plan to dissolve Palestinian parliament
GAZA CITY (AFP) 23 Dec — Hamas on Sunday denounced Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s plan to dissolve the largely defunct Palestinian parliament that it controls, calling it a move to “serve his partisan interests”. Abbas said Saturday he intended to dissolve the Palestinian Legislative Council after a court decision that ordered the move and elections to be held within six months. The ruling was made by the Palestinian Constitutional Court in Ramallah, and Hamas said in a statement it rejected the decision by a court created by Abbas “to legitimise his arbitrary decisions”. “Abbas should have extended his hands to (Hamas leader Ismail) Haniya’s invitation to hold a joint meeting, thereby ending the Palestinian division,” the statement said. “Rather, Abbas opted to ruin the Palestinian political system, maintain his unilateralism, and dissolve the legal institutions of the Palestinian people. All of this is just to serve his partisan interests.” It called on Egypt, which has been seeking to reconcile Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah, to block the measure. Dissolving the parliament would allow Abbas to further pressure Hamas. Though the parliament has not met since 2007, when Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian law allows for its speaker to act as interim president should 83-year-old Abbas die in office. Hamas won the last parliamentary elections in 2006 in a landslide, resulting in an electoral dispute with Fatah … Abbas’s term was meant to expire in 2009, but he has remained in office in the absence of elections.
Erekat: ‘Decision to dissolve PLC goes in line with transition to statehood’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Executive Committee, Saeb Erekat, said on Sunday that the Palestinian Constitutional Court’s recent decision that dissolved the Palestine Legislative Council (PLC) “goes hand in hand with efforts of transition from the period of the Palestinian Authority to into the State of Palestine period.” Erekat told Voice of Palestine radio that “the Palestinian Central Council formed a supreme committee preparing to move to the stage of statehood by determining the relationship with Israel, the United States and Hamas.” He called for holding general elections for a constituent assembly of the State of Palestine, as well as presidential elections, especially at a time that Palestine has become a legal figure in the United Nations. Erekat also called for changing the status quo and for achieving national reconciliation to “thwart the ‘Deal of the Century,’” which seeks to establish a state in Gaza, and self-rule in the West Bank.
Palestinian security forces block press conference by parliament speaker
RAMALLAH (AFP) 26 Dec — Palestinian security forces on Wednesday prevented a press conference by the speaker of the Hamas-controlled Palestinian parliament after a court ordered the largely defunct body dissolved. Security forces in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank deployed in the area outside the Palestinian Legislative Council building ahead of a scheduled press conference by speaker Aziz Dweik, a Hamas member, AFP journalists saw. A spokesman for the Palestinian security services said they were enforcing the court decision and that former members of parliament no longer have the right to use the building since the body has been dissolved. In comments to Hamas’s Al Aqsa television, Dweik said he had been detained at a checkpoint and denounced the actions of the security forces, calling the court’s decision illegal. Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri called the security forces’ actions a “serious escalation”. It was the latest controversy over Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s move to dissolve the parliament, which has not met since 2007….
Defying Constitutional Court, Hamas MPs hold meeting in Gaza
MEMO 27 Dec — Hamas Parliamentarian Bloc yesterday held a meeting for its MPs in the parliament headquarters in the Gaza Strip in defiance of the decision of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve parliament, a statement said. Ahmad Bahar, the first deputy speaker, stressed during the meeting that Abbas’ decision to dissolve parliament “is illegal” and reiterated that the parliament “is to continue its work.” The Palestinian factions in Gaza attended the meeting and announced their support for the elected parliament against the “unilateral” measures taken by Abbas “which do not serve the national interests.” Bahar accused Abbas of “ignoring the parliament and the Palestinian law”, noting that the Constitutional Court is illegal….
PA prevents doctors’ strike in West Bank
MEMO 24 Dec — The Supreme Court of the Palestinian Authority (PA) ruled yesterday that the one-day strike planned by the Syndicate of Physicians had been suspended, a statement said. Al-Wattan Voice reported that the court said that Palestinian law, amended in 2017, prevented certain sectors of public servants from carrying out strikes, including those working in the healthcare sector. Meanwhile, the council of the Syndicate of Physicians insisted on its demands related to the medical safety and protection law, unification of work for all physicians and its rejection of the new Social Welfare Law. According to the statement, the syndicate said medical safety and protection laws are lacking and do not cover important issues including insurance for medical mistakes. The syndicate stressed that it would carry out strike on a daily basis between 8-10am at all medical centres and hospitals except emergency units, maternity wards and cancer departments.
MOH: Israel to allow entry of children vaccines to Palestine
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 23 Dec — The Palestinian Ministry of Health succeeded, in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the children’s fund, UNICEF, in pressuring the Israeli authorities to allow entry of children vaccines for 2019 into the occupied Palestinian territories. The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health, Assad Ramlawi, confirmed that the ministry will continue to pressure Israel to allow vaccines into the Palestinian territories from WHO and UNICEF, as it has been receiving them from both organizations since 1995. Earlier this month, Israeli authorities issued a decree barring the Ministry of Health from importing vaccines, starting from the beginning of the year 2019, which put the supply of vaccinations at risk….
Israeli agricultural products banned from Palestinian market
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Dec — The Palestinian government decided, on Thursday, to ban entry of Israeli vegetables, fruits and poultry into the Palestinian market, following an Israel ban on import of similar Palestinian products. The cabinet said, in a statement following its weekly meeting held in Ramallah, that “in accordance with the principle of protecting the local produce and the Palestinian farmer in order to achieve the government’s policy of supporting the steadfastness of the Palestinian farmers and in light of the unilateral Israeli decision to prevent the entry of Palestinian vegetables and fruits into Israeli markets, the government decided to prevent the entry of all kinds of vegetables, fruits and poultry into the Palestinian markets.” Israel took its action against the Palestinian produce after the Palestinians decided not to allow into their markets live sheep imported by Israelis, in order to protect the local livestock farmers.
Christmas cheer at Jesus’s traditional birthplace of Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (Reuters) 24 Dec by Mustafa Abu Ganeyeh — Filing past a 16-meter (52-ft) Christmas tree in Manger Square, visitors from all over the world made a Christmas Eve pilgrimage to Bethlehem, the town revered as the birthplace of Jesus. The Palestinian town in the Israeli-occupied West Bank is enjoying its busiest Christmas in years, with hotels nearly fully booked and the security situation relatively calm … In Manger Square, visitors were entertained by choirs singing carols, bagpipe players and a Palestinian scouts’ marching band….
At Jesus’ birthplace, an app is born to ease crowds
AFP 20 Dec by Joe Dyke — Bethlehem is buzzing, with more tourists expected this Christmas than have visited the Biblical city in years, causing the kind of problem that modern technology was almost born to deal with. Such are the crowds at the church built on the site where Jesus is believed to have been born that the authorities are planning to introduce an advance reservation system through an app. The app, which will be introduced early next year, is aimed at ensuring a regular flow of tourists at the Church of the Nativity, where at busy times visitors wait hours to see the underground grotto where Christians believe Jesus was born in a manger….
After getting kicked off Birthright, trio regroups in West Bank
The Forward 24 Dec by Ari Feldman — A day after being kicked off a Birthright Israel trip, three young American Jews went to the exact place Birthright would never take them: the West Bank. They are meeting with residents of a Bedouin village to ask them about living under Israel’s occupation of the territory, Emily Bloch said. Bloch, 29, along with Shira Tiffany, 29, and Benjamin Doernberg, 29, were dismissed from their Birthright trip Sunday. Bloch, Doernberg and Tiffany are all members of IfNotNow, a left-wing group that is opposed to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. Members of IfNotNow left their Birthright trips over the summer to visit locations in the West Bank. The group has recently passed out packets of information about Israel and its occupation of the West Bank to Birthright participants in airports ahead of their trips.
Israel vows to block Palestinian bid to become full UN member
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) 27 Dec — Israel has vowed to work with the United States to block a bid by the Palestinians for full membership in the United Nations, a move that would confer international recognition of Palestinian statehood. Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said Wednesday that he will submit a request next month to the Security Council for full UN membership, according to the official Wafa Palestinian news agency. “We are preparing to stop the initiative,” said Israel’s UN ambassador Danny Danon in a statement. “The Palestinians pay terrorists and encourage violence yet seek to become a member state of the United Nations.” Danon accused Palestinian leaders of engaging in “destructive policies that have encouraged recent terror attacks” and said he was gearing up to block the initiative “in cooperation with the United States delegation.” Any move by the Palestinians to seek full UN membership will face a veto from the United States at the Security Council, diplomats said. Under UN rules the General Assembly must approve any request to become a UN member-state, but it must first be submitted to the Security Council. To win the council’s approval, the Palestinians would have to secure nine votes from the 15 members and no veto from any of the five permanent members: Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States … The Palestinians were granted the status of UN non-member observer state in 2012, a decision taken by the General Assembly where no member-state holds veto power….
New report urges PayPal to reconsider non-availability in Palestine
MEMO 21 Dec — A new report by 7amleh – The Arab Centre for the Advancement of Social Media has analysed “the abstention of the online payment company PayPal and the impact of this stance on the Palestinian economy”. Published Wednesday, “Palestine and PayPal – Towards Economic Equality”, looks at the “potential opportunities if PayPal provides its services to Palestinian citizens”, and “concludes with a series of recommendations for Palestinian stakeholders and decision makers”. 7amleh’s report stresses “the importance of electronic commerce in general, and PayPal in particular, for Palestinians, given the circumstances of the long-term Israeli occupation.” “In this climate of restricted movement and trade, the ability to participate in the global information, communications and technology (ICT) sector may enable the growth of the Palestinian economy, improve the quality of life for Palestinians, and create new income and employment opportunities.”….
Social media giants continue to collaborate with Israel’s illegal ‘cyber unit’
IMEMC/Agencies 23 Dec — The State Attorney’s unit operates outside the law to censor Facebook & YouTube posts; 2017 saw 500% increase in posts censored as a result of Cyber Unit’s action. Adalah–The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel continues to demand that Israel’s state attorney’s office shutter its “Cyber Unit” which – in collaboration with major social media outlets such as Facebook and YouTube – is illegally censoring user content. Adalah sent an initial letter on 2 August 2017 to Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, State Attorney Shai Nitzan, and Cyber Unit director Haim Vismonsky demanding that they immediately cease the illegal operations of the state attorney’s Cyber Unit. The state responded on 11 November 2017, claiming that the unit operates in accordance with instructions from the attorney general and state attorney, according to an orderly work procedure….
Twitter blocked Hamas, Hezbollah accounts at Israel’s demand
MEMO 21 Dec — Twitter has revealed that it blocked over 20 accounts belonging to Hamas and Hezbollah to meet demands issued by Israel. In the first half of 2018, the social media giant blocked over 20 accounts belonging to senior figures of Hamas and Hezbollah, including those of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum and Rawhi Mushtaha, a close associate of Hamas’ leader in Gaza Yahya Al-Sinwar. Twitter’s decision came after it received a letter from the Cybercrime Department of Israel’s Ministry of Justice on 26 June demanding that it “permanently close” the accounts in question. The letter – published by the Times of Israel yesterday – cited Article 24 of Israel’s Counterterror Law which “states that any act of solidarity with a terror organisation, including any publication of support in its actions, is an offense punishable by three or five years’ imprisonment”.“We would like to point out that Article 23 [of] that law states that facilitating or aiding terror organisations is also an offence,” the letter continued, before going on to provide a two-page list of the accounts Israel wanted to be blocked….
Trump: Israel is ‘doing well’ with $4.5bn US aid annually
MEMO 27 Dec — Donald Trump was pushed on to his back foot yesterday over his commitment to Israel. The US president has come under sharp criticism following last week’s surprise decision to withdraw American troops from Syria, which military officials and analysts have said endangers Israel’s security. Trump, however has defended the decision, telling reporters yesterday, in reply to a question on how the US withdrawal from Syria will impact Israel, that the US gave Israel $4.5 billion every year and that Israel is “doing well”….
Israel to hold early elections in April
AFP 24 Dec — Israel’s government decided Monday to hold early elections in April with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struggling to keep together a one-seat majority in parliament as he also faces potential corruption charges. Despite Netanyahu’s recent legal and political troubles, polls have indicated he would remain prime minister after new elections, putting him in line to become Israel’s longest-serving premier … The government was preparing a bill to dissolve the Knesset, or parliament, and hold elections on April 9, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said. Elections were not due until November, but there has been speculation the coalition would not last that long. Netanyahu laid out what he sees as his achievements and said he hoped for a similar coalition to the current one, seen as the most right-wing in Israel’s history….