Israeli court sentences mother of a Palestinian killed by the army to eleven months, for ‘incitement’
IMEMC 16 Dec — An Israeli court sentenced, on Sunday morning, the mother of a Palestinian who was killed by the army last year to eleven months in prison for what the military prosecution described as “incitement on social media.” Attorney Mohammad Mahmoud of the Palestinian Detainees’ Committee, said the court sentenced Susan Abu Ghannam to eleven months in prison for posting statements on Facebook after the death of her son. The court deemed the posts as incitement, and passed its sentence on the woman, from at-Tur neighborhood, east of Jerusalem’s Old City. She was taken prisoner last August, after dozens of soldiers and officers invaded her home, and conducted violent searches, leading to damage. It is worth mentioning that Suzan’s son, Mohammad Hasan Abu Ghannam, 20, was killed on by Israeli soldiers, July 21, 2017, during protests that took place after the army invaded at-Tour neighborhood, in East Jerusalem….
Sick and elderly mother detained while visiting son in jail
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Dec — Israeli forces, on Sunday, detained an elderly Palestinian mother from the town of Tel, southwest of the occupied West Bank district of Nablus, during a family visit to her detained son, in the Israeli Gilboa Prison, according to her son. The son, Iyad Ishtaiyeh, said his 80-year-old mother, Zahra Ishtaiyeh, who suffers from chronic illnesses, was detained by Israeli forces as she was waiting in front of Gilboa prison to see her detained son, Jawad. She was taken to an unknown destination. No reason was given for the arrest, according to WAFA. Jawad has served 16 years out of his 30-year sentence in Israeli jails.
Israel sentences Palestinian boy to 35 years in jail
MEMO 18 Dec — An Israeli military court yesterday sentenced 17-year-old boy Palestinian, Ayham Sabbah, to 35 years in prison and fined him one million shekels ($0.27 million), Palestinian news agency WAFA reported. Ayham was charged over an alleged stabbing attempt which was said to have taken place in 2016. At the time, both he and Omar Al-Rimawi were arrested aged only 14 years old. Both were shot and seriously wounded. Omar later succumbed to his wounds while Ayham survived. Both were accused of attacking Jewish settlers at a supermarket in the occupied West Bank. The PLO’s Prisoners Commission criticised the harsh sentence, which was passed by the Israeli military court at Ofer, near Ramallah, describing it as unfair.
Prisoners’ advocates: 40% of Palestinian lawmakers were at one point detained by Israel
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 18 Dec – Since the 2006 general elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, 40% of the members of the Palestinian parliament, the Legislative Council (PLC), have been detained by the Israeli authorities at one time or another, three prisoners advocacy groups said on Tuesday. Two of the lawmakers, Marwan Barghouti of Fatah, and Ahmad Saadat of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), are serving long prison terms, with Barghouti sentenced to five life sentences for his role in the second Palestinian Intifada (uprising) and Saadat serving 30 years for his party role in the killing of an Israeli lawmaker. The Palestinian Prisoner Society, Addameer and the Prisoners Commission said in their joint report that the Israeli authorities have been targeting Palestinian deputies and political activists by holding them in administrative detention without charge or trial for long periods of time in order to prevent them from performing their societal and national roles….
Israel demolishes family home of Palestinian attack suspect in Tulkarem
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 17 Dec .— Israeli bulldozers demolished the family home of Ashraf Naalwa, a Palestinian suspected of carrying out a shooting attack killing two Israelis in October and who was killed by Israeli forces during the past week, in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem, on predawn Monday. Dozens of Israeli soldiers raided Naalwa’s family home in the Shweika village of Tulkarem, on predawn Monday, in preparation to demolish the building. Locals told Ma‘an that clashes erupted between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers. Three Palestinian youths were detained during the raid….
In video – Israel blows up Abu Hmeid family home in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Dec — The Israeli army blew up the home of the Abu Hmeid family, in the al-Amaari refugee camp south of Ramallah City, in the central occupied West Bank, after surrounding it for more than 5 hours. More than 56 Palestinians were injured during clashes that erupted with Israeli soldiers around the building, as dozens of activists and supporters had gathered for a vigil to prevent the demolition of the family’s building. The Israeli court had given the army the green light to demolish the building as a form of collective punishment, as Israel accuses one of the family’s sons, Islam, of having killed an Israeli soldier during an Israeli raid to the refugee camp … Some 500 Israeli soldiers raided Ramallah City after midnight Friday, surrounded the Abu Hmeid family building in al-Amaari and forcefully evacuated the family and activists protesting inside the building. Israeli soldiers assaulted family members and protesters by beating and firing tear-gas bombs at them. Israeli forces also evacuated all neighboring homes under the cold weather, estimated to be around 400 women, children and men of all ages, including a pregnant woman who was in labor, and kept them in a nearby open football field. The Palestinian Red Crescent was then able to evacuate the pregnant woman to a hospital in Ramallah … Israeli forces detained more than 100 protesters, assaulted journalists and suppressed them using tear-gas bombs, injuring three of them … Abu Hmeid’s son, Islam, was detained by Israeli forces in June and charged with stone throwing and accused of killing an Israeli soldier during clashes in which he threw a stone on an Israeli soldier, later killing the soldier….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israel forces shoot, kill Palestinian teen in al-Bireh
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian teen, on Thursday night, at the Beit El checkpoint north of al-Bireh City in the central occupied West Bank. A Ma‘an reporter said that the Palestinian Liaison identified the teen as Qassem Muhammad Ali al-Abbasi,17, from the Silwan town in East Jerusalem. Initial reports said that the driver of a Palestinian vehicle attempted to drive into the checkpoint before Israeli soldiers opened fire critically injuring him. However, al-Abbasi’s friends who were with him in the vehicle refuted the Israeli claim, saying that the four of them were heading to Nablus City, in the northern West Bank, but when the road to Nablus was closed they turned back to cross via the Beit El checkpoint. Muhammad Hani al-Abbasi added that they went into the wrong road when arriving at Beit El and suddenly realized they were inside an illegal Israeli settlement, “as we attempted to go back to the main road we were chased by either Israeli soldiers or settlers, we could barely see as there were not enough lights and it was very dark, they were about ten kilometers far from our vehicle, we kept going and we were between two settlements.” Al-Abbasi continued to say, “We were surrounded, they randomly opened fire at us, we did not stop, we kept going fast, the vehicle’s glass broke and the tires were punctured.” He added that one of their friends, Mahmoud al-Abbasi, then started shouting “Qassem… Qassem” as Qassem was in a very difficult condition … Israeli forces then told the youths to take Qassem out of the vehicle, “we carried him out of the vehicle and he had a bullet in his back as he was sitting behind the driver.” He added that Israeli policemen then informed them that he was dead, “almost an hour after they kept him on the ground, they took him in an ambulance, they searched us and interrogated us at the checkpoint before they took us in ambulances to a hospital for treatment where the police was waiting for us.”….
Slain Palestinian teen laid to rest in Ramallah
[with photos] RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — Thousands of Palestinians marched, on Saturday, in the funeral of 16-year-old Mahmoud Youssef Nakhleh, who was shot and killed by Israeli forces during clashes that erupted on Friday in Ramallah City in the central occupied West Bank. The funeral march set off from in front of Palestine Medical Center, heading towards Nakhleh’s family home where his family said their final goodbyes before burial. Nakhleh’s body was carried on shoulders. Mourners condemned Israel’s killing of Nakhleh and the Israeli crimes against Palestinians, and waved Palestinian flags during the funeral march. Stores and shops of the Ramallah and al-Bireh district shut its doors in mourning for Nakhleh.
After shooting a Palestinian teen, Israeli troops dragged him around – and chased an ambulance away
[behind paywall] Haaretz 20 Dec by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — What goes through the head of soldiers, young Israelis, after they shoot an unarmed Palestinian teenager in the back with live ammunition, prevent him from getting medical treatment, move him around, putting him on the ground and then picking him up again – and chase away an ambulance at gunpoint? For 15 minutes, the Israel Defense Forces soldiers carried the dying Mahmoud Nakhle, pulling him by his hands and feet, it’s not clear why or where, before allowing him to be evacuated. They had already shot him and wounded him badly. He was dying. Why not let the Palestinian ambulance that arrived at the site rush him to the hospital and possibly save his life? Nakhle died from a bullet in his liver and loss of blood. He was two weeks after his 18th birthday, the only son of parents who are descendants of refugees, and he lived in the Jalazun refugee camp adjacent to Ramallah, in the West Bank. Nakhle was killed last Friday, December 14.
Getting to Jalazun took a long time this week; it was a long and stressful trip. Overnight, terror attacks and other sights of the intifada had returned simultaneously: innumerable surprise checkpoints, such as we hadn’t seen for years; long lines of Palestinian vehicles, forced to wait for hours; drivers emerging from their cars and waiting in desperation by the side of the road, anger and frustration etched on their faces; roads blocked arbitrarily, with people signaling each other as to which was open and which was closed; some cars making their way cross-country via boulder-strewn areas and dirt paths to bypass the roadblocks, until those options, too, were sealed off by the army. And also aggressive, edgy, frightened soldiers, carrying weapons that threatened just about anyone who made a move near them….
Palestinian woman dies after Israel obstructs ambulance access
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — A Palestinian elderly woman died, on Saturday evening, of a heart attack while inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, after Israeli forces prevented ambulances from reaching her. The Palestinian Red Crescent said, in a statement, that medics at Al-Aqsa attempted to provide aid to the elderly woman after she had lost consciousness while inside the mosque, and called for an ambulance to transfer her to a hospital. Israeli forces reportedly prevented the ambulance from reaching the woman for around 8 minutes. The woman was identified as Sumayya Mahmoud Nasser, 68, from the Jit area in Palestinian lands occupied in 1948.
Beating of Palestinian bus driver ruled road rage, not a hate crime
Times of Israel 17 Dec by Jacob Magid/TOI staff — The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Monday ruled that the beating of a Palestinian bus driver in the West Bank last week was a road rage incident and not a hate crime, as police initially suspected. Nidal Fakih told authorities he was dropping off passengers in the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Modiin Illit last Thursday night, when two men boarded the bus and began speaking to him. Fakih said that when the suspects identified him as an Arab, they began beating him. Footage from shortly after the assault shows Fakih bruised, bleeding profusely from his left eye and unable to move from his seat. Fakih, a resident of East Jerusalem, was hospitalized with lacerations to his face, a fractured eye socket and several cracked ribs. Police opened an investigation into the assault, and on Friday said they believed it was nationalistically motivated. On Monday, officers arrested a man in his 20s from Modiin Illit believed to be behind the assault. At a remand hearing later in the day, however, a judge said the attack was a road rage incident, and slammed police for their handling of the investigation so far … The Kavim bus company, which operates in Modiin Illit, said last week that a group of its drivers in the ultra-Orthodox settlement would be striking to protest the violence they have endured at the hands of “a small minority of extremists” in the town….
Palestinian youth run over by Israeli settler in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — A Palestinian youth sustained wounds, on Monday evening, after being run over by an Israeli settler east of the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, in the southern occupied West Bank. Locals told Ma‘an that 19-year-old Muhammed Mahmoud Odeh Ghazal, from the Kisan village, east of Bethlehem, was run over by an Israeli settler while walking on the main road near the al-Minya village crossroads. Al -Minya is adjacent to the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Amos. Ghazal was transferred to the Beit Jala Governmental hospital for treatment, where he was reported to have sustained bruises and multiple injuries across his body.
Armed Israeli settlers raid Saint Saba monastery near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Hundreds of armed Israeli settlers raided Saint Saba Monastery (Mar Saba) area, near the al-Ubeidiya village east of the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, on predawn Tuesday. Security sources told the Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa News Agency that hundreds of armed Israeli settlers raided the Greek Orthodox monastery area and performed religious rituals, under armed security by Israeli soldiers. Locals reported that this is a first, that Israeli settlers raid the Saint Saba Monastery, located 15 kilometers from Bethlehem City. The monastery is considered one of the oldest inhabited monasteries in the world. The raid came in time as many Palestinian Christians had headed to the monastery, late Monday and overnight, to perform prayers at the church inside the monastery to celebrate Saint Saba’s Feast.
Yesh Din: Israeli politician calls for citizen attacks on Palestinians
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Dec — Extremist right wing Israeli Member of Knesset Bezalel Smotrich has called for illegal Jewish settlers to attack Palestinians, asserting that the lives of Jews are more valuable than those of Palestinians. On his Twitter account, Smotrich wrote: “I call on my heroic [settler] friends and pioneers to come out tonight and close Route 60 along its entire length to the movement of Arab vehicles. “If there are [Palestinian resistance] attacks [against illegal Jewish settlers], there will be no Arabs on the roads. Our lives precede their quality of life.” Consequently, Israeli human rights organisation Yesh Din demanded that an investigation be opened into the Jewish Home politician, as he tweeted a call for settler violence against Palestinians…
According to Days of Palestine, illegal Jewish-Israeli settlers indeed responded to Smotrich’s tweet, gathering in the streets and attacking Palestinians. Yesh Din says that, in the 24 hours after Smotrich’s tweet, it documented 25 attacks carried out by settlers against Palestinians….
Hebron schools gassed
HEBRON (ISM Al-Khalil Team) 16 Dec — At 1pm, 4 Israeli occupation soldiers entered Salaymeh neighbourhood, Hebron. Activists were present from 12:30 pm and did not witness any stones thrown or other provocation. The soldiers fired 21 tear gas rounds in under 5 minutes into the street outside the 3 schools. There are 3 primary schools on the street where the tear gas was used: Hebron School, UNRWA Hebron Basic Boys School. and Khadijah School. There are also 4 other schools in the immediate area. During this time the soldiers also threw three concussion grenades over a wall into the Hebron School. They were unable to see who was on the other side of the wall or where they were at the time … Older school students were still in Hebron School. 30 boys and 5 teachers suffered tear gas inhalation. There was no threat to the soldiers or anyone else at the time yet the soldiers continued to fire tear gas into the neighbourhood even the streets were completely empty of people. They seemed to stop only when they had run out of tear gas. The tear gas spread through the neighbourhood into schools and residential buildings along the streets where families live….
Child abductions by Israeli forces in Hebron, 4-11 Dec 2018
HEBRON, occupied Palestine (ISM Al-Khalil Team) 15 Dec — 7 children were abducted on 3 different days in the Qeitun and Salaymeh neighbourhoods of al- Khalil (Hebron) so far in December. ISM activists were present on these 3 occasions and this report contains video footage from all 3 incidents.
In video – Israel detains Palestinian groom, 20 of his guests
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 15 Dec — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian former prisoner, on predawn Saturday, after ambushing him in occupied East Jerusalem in the central West Bank. Sources told Ma’an that Israeli forces ambushed former prisoner Rami al-Fakhouri in the Wadi al-Juz neighborhood of the city. Witnesses said that Israeli soldiers and intelligence forces were deployed in the neighborhood for more than an hour and a half before detaining al-Fakhouri. Al-Fakhouri got married to the daughter of a killed Palestinian, Musbah Abu Sbeih, whose body is still withheld by the Israeli authorities, three weeks ago. Israeli forces detained al-Fakhouri, his father and more than 22 Palestinian youths who had attended the wedding, and summoned others for interrogation on charges of “taking part in a wedding during which flags of the Hamas movement were waved and terrorists were hailed.” The wedding party had taken place in the al-‘Eizariya town east of Jerusalem. An Israeli TV Channel had broadcasted footage of al-Fakhouri’s wedding party, directly inciting against him and the guests of his wedding….
Israel soldiers abduct 20 Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Al-‘Isawiya
IMEMC 19 Dec — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, dozens of Palestinian homes and buildings in the al-‘Isawiya town in occupied Jerusalem, and violently searched them before interrogating many Palestinians, and abducted at least twenty of them, in addition to summoning two others for interrogation. Mohammad Abu al-Hummus, a member of the Follow-Up Committee in al-‘Isawiya, said dozens of soldiers surrounded the town, and were heavily deployed in many areas, especially on its main entrance, before invading it. He added that the soldiers installed roadblocks in the town, before conducting massive and violent searches of cars, homes, commercial buildings, and a gas station where they also confiscated a propane tank. Abu al-Hummus further stated that the soldiers summoned two Palestinians for interrogation, and installed a military tent at the western entrance of the town to use it as an “operation room,” after completely sealing the area. Israeli police officers were also deployed at the entrance of the town, during early morning hours, before stopping and searching dozens of vehicles, including buses transporting children to their schools….
PA believes it has identified the mastermind behind deadly West Bank attacks
Ynet 17 Dec by Elior Levy — Palestinian Authority officials believe they have identified the mastermind of the Hamas cell that carried out the recent shooting attacks at the Ofra settlement and Giv’at Asaf outpost. According to the PA, the mastermind is Jassar Barghouti, a member of the infamous Barghouti clan. The senior officials told Ynet on Monday that Barghouti is part of the “West Bank headquarters” of Hamas, which operates from the Gaza Strip to launch attacks in the West Bank under the leadership of Hamas second-in-command Saleh al-Arouri, who founded the group’s military wing, and Hamas politburo member Maher Obeid….
Hamas leader praises West Bank ‘resistance’ actions
Asia Times/AFP 17 Dec — In a speech to tens of thousands of Palestinians on Sunday after recent deadly attacks against Israelis, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya praised “resistance” in the occupied West Bank. Haniya made the comments at a rally in Gaza City marking the 31st anniversary of the founding of the Palestinian Islamist movement. “We place our hopes in the West Bank, which is the main area where events are occurring and the most appropriate area to resolve the conflict with our Zionist enemy,” he told the Hamas flag-waving crowd. “The West Bank has shaken and stood up with glory, strength and skill, as if it wanted to say to our people on the occasion of this glorious anniversary that it was with the resistance, in total harmony.” … Hamas controls the Gaza Strip but also has a presence in the West Bank, where its rivals from Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah are based. Palestinian militants in Gaza, including Hamas, have fought three wars with Israel since 2008. The group has claimed two recent deadly shootings in the West Bank, which has seen an upsurge in violence over the past week.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli court rejects appeal to release Naalwa’s mother, brother
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — The Israeli military court of Salem rejected, on Wednesday, an appeal to release the mother and brother of Ashraf Naalwa on bail. Ashraf Naalwa was shot and killed by Israeli forces on December 13th, 2 months after carrying out a shooting attack in the Israeli Barkan industrial zone, killing two Israelis … The two are still being held without any real charges. The family’s lawyer said that he would be appealing the ruling, for immediate release, at the Ofer military court. The indictment list included that Naalwa’s mother, Wafaa Mihdawi, had known of his intention to carry out an attack two weeks before he did, and that he had weapons and had informed his brother as well. Israel accuses Ashraf’s brother, Amjad, of disrupting their work as he refused to give them recorders of surveillance cameras from around the family’s home….
Photos: Tens of thousands rally in Gaza to mark Hamas anniversary
GAZA CITY (AP) 16 Dec — Tens of thousands of Palestinians have gathered in Gaza City for a rally marking the 31st anniversary of the militant Hamas group’s establishment. Hamas fighters in military fatigues paraded with rockets and heavy machineguns during today’s rally. The Islamist group said the large turnout reflects widespread support despite domestic and external challenges….
20th weekly boat protest attacked by Israeli naval forces near Gaza
IMEMC 18 Dec by Celine Hagbard — The Israeli navy, with battleships stationed just off the coast of the Gaza Strip, fired live bullets, tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at protesters who, for the 20th straight Monday, gathered on the beach and set off in small fishing boats with flags and signs to challenge the Israeli naval blockade. The Palestinian Health Ministry reported that at least 22 Palestinians were injured in the assault on the non-violent protest. No Israelis were injured – nor could they have been, because they were firing from naval battleships at a distance of several kilometers toward fishing boats carrying unarmed protesters. Of the wounded, 3 were hit with live bullets and 19 with rubber-coated steel bullets. The protest took place on Monday afternoon, with hundreds of Palestinians gathering at the northernmost beach of the Gaza Strip and chanting for an end to the Israeli occupation and siege on Gaza’s air, land and sea. They then got into about twenty fishing boats and continued chanting and singing as they attempted to break the Israeli naval siege….
On 38th Friday of Great March of Return, Israeli forces wound 120 civilians, including 20 children, 2 women, 1 journalist and 2 paramedics
IMEMC 15 Dec — On Friday evening, 14 December 2018, Israeli forces wounded 120 Palestinian civilians, including 11 children, 1 woman and 2 paramedics, in the peaceful demonstrations in the eastern Gaza Strip despite the decreasing intensity of the demonstrations there for the sixth week consecutively and absence of most means usually used during the demonstrations since the beginning of the Return and Breaking the Siege March 8 months ago. According to observations by PCHR’s fieldworkers, for the seventh week since the beginning of the Return March on 30 March 2018, the demonstrators abstained from burning tires while the attempts to cross the border fence and throw stones and incendiary balloons were completely absent….
Hamas says it seized ‘tech asset’ in botched Gaza op that exposes IDF’s methods
[behind paywall] Haaretz 16 Dec by Jack Khoury — Hamas obtained “a security technology asset that is a real treasure” when it disrupted an Israeli intelligence operation in the Gaza Strip last month, Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh said Sunday. Speaking at a rally attended by tens of thousands of people to mark 31 years since Hamas’ formation, Haniyeh claimed that what Hamas captured during the botched operation exposed the Israeli military’s operating methods, which will have “implications in the war of minds” between Israel and his Islamist organization. Haniyeh promised that additional details would be disclosed at a news conference that Hamas’ military wing, Iz al-Din al-Qassam, would be holding in the coming days…..
IDF edited out key footage of deadly Gaza missile strike, researchers say
+972 mag 20 Dec by Oren Ziv — The Israeli military published drone footage of its air force bombing a seemingly empty building in Gaza. It left out the part where one of its missiles killed two teens sitting on the roof, independent investigators find.– … “Airstrikes in Gaza are marketed to the public by the Israeli military as surgical actions, designed to protect civilians, based on precision intelligence, accurate munitions, state-of-the-art surveillance, and close attention to international law,” Haggai El-Ad, the executive director of B’Tselem, said in a press statement. “In reality, that is often nothing more than propaganda. The truth, instead, is devastating civilian casualties, surveillance that is incapable of distinguishing combatants from teenagers, inept intelligence, and the reduction of legal principles that are intended to protect civilians into a perfunctory checklist, which is later used to whitewash human rights violations, and to establish impunity,” he added….
Lethal ‘warning’: 2 Palestinian teens killed on rooftop in Gaza by Israeli ‘warning missile’
[with videos] B’Tselem & Forensic Architecture 19 Dec — …The al-Katibah Building in Gaza City, which was in advanced stages of construction, was supposed to serve as a library once it was completed. A military aircraft fired four “warning missiles” at it: three hit the roof and one landed on the ground nearby. Four more powerful strikes followed immediately, causing massive damage to the building. The first “warning missile” killed two 14-year-olds, Luai Kahil and Amir a-Nimrah, who were sitting on the roof. Altogether, 23 residents sustained mild injuries in the strike; nearby buildings were damaged, including a mosque, Waqf office, a first aid center of the Palestinian Health Ministry, residential apartments and an artists’ village. Following the attack, the Israeli military published footage of the strikes via its Twitter account, @idfspokesperson, supposedly showing four different strikes … Our investigation found that the sequence of videos published through the @idfspokesperson Twitter account edited out the first, fatal strike….
Gaza’s Al-Aqsa TV to go off air after Israel bombing
MEMO 20 Dec — The Gaza Strip’s Al-Aqsa TV is to go off air tonight, a month after its studio was destroyed by an Israeli air strike. In a statement yesterday, the TV station announced that it would go off air today at 17:00 local time (15:00 GMT), citing a “suffocating financial crisis” caused by an Israeli air strike which left the channel with $4.5 million worth of damages, the Times of Israel reported. Director of Al-Aqsa TV, Wisam Afifa, told Anadolu Agency that it is unclear if and when the station will be able to resume its broadcasts, saying the timescale “depends on the availability funds”. Though the station yesterday provided an email address and phone numbers that could be used to make donations, it is unlikely enough funds will be raised to prevent the channel from ceasing its broadcast tonight. Afifa added that some 220 people work for the channel, meaning they are likely to be left without work following the station’s closure.
Israeli navy abducts two fishermen in Gaza
IMEMC 15 Dec — Israeli navy ships attacked, on Saturday morning, several Palestinian fishing boats with live fire, and abducted two sibling fishermen, including a child, and confiscated their boat. Zakariya Bakr, the head of the Gaza Fishermen Committee of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, has reported that the soldiers fired many live rounds at the fishing boats, and chased a small boat owned by Saleh Abu Ryala. Bakr added that the navy then abducted Mohammad Saleh Abu Ryala and his brother, Atef, 15 years of age, and took them to an unknown destination. The navy also fired many live rounds at fishing boats in the Sudaniyya Sea area, northwest of Gaza.
In addition, the soldiers fired dozens of live rounds at Palestinian lands, and farmers, close to the fence near Khan Younis, in the southern part of the coastal region.
Video: The Gaza blockade is strangling us
BBC 18 Dec — In Gaza, 2m people are poised to slip deeper into poverty, and basic services are at risk of collapse, according to the UN. It is calling for $350m from international donors, following a drop in US funding for Palestinians. Gaza’s economy has been badly affected by a blockade by Israel and Egypt, which was tightened after Hamas took full control of Gaza more than a decade ago. Israel says the blockade is necessary to stop attacks by the militant group. Inside Gaza, 54% of the labour force is unemployed, according to the World Bank, and the UN says 97% of tap water is unfit for human consumption. Mishal Husain visited the Bolbol family to find out what life under the blockade is like.
Israel allegedly preparing for identical tunnel operation in Gaza – report
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AMN) 19 Dec — The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are allegedly preparing for a new tunnel operation along the border of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli publication Maariv reported on Tuesday. According to the Maariv report, residents of nearby Sderot have heard digging sounds from underneath their settlements. The Maariv report said that the new Israeli military endeavor will mimic their ongoing operation along the southern border of Lebanon. Similar to the Lebanese border operation, this military endeavor by the Israeli Defense Forces will be called “Operation Southern Shield”. The tunnels allegedly belong to the Hamas Movement, who is considered a terrorist entity in Israel.
Video: Merry Christmas from Gaza!
Al-Monitor 18 Dec — It’s Christmas in Gaza, so Wasem Abdo’s gift shop is overflowing with holiday-themed decorations. “We’ve been doing this for 19 years,” said Abdo. “Muslim customers buy gifts to take to their Christian friends, who’ll do the same during the Muslim holidays.” Twelve years ago, when the Israeli blockade began, an estimated 3,000 Christians lived in Gaza. That number has since dropped precipitously, with Christians emigrating due to political and economic pressures … For Christians and Muslims alike, Christmas is an opportunity to celebrate with charitable giving in Gaza, but it is also a time to enjoy the decorations and other traditions of the season, including for the children to have their picture taken with Santa Claus.
Palestinian among world’s 50 best teachers
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Dec — Palestinian teacher Rana Ziada, from al-Zahra School, in Gaza, has been chosen among the 50 shortlisted for the world’s best teacher prize. Ziada is competing for the best teacher, in the US$1 million Global Teacher Prize, which is carried out by Varkey Foundation. Ziada is a mathematics teacher in a school that has been targeted by Israeli forces several times; dozens of her students have been killed, according to Days of Palestine. She lost all of her education resources, while the Palestinian Authority cut half of her salary as part of the punishment imposed on Gaza public servants.
SodaStream plans to build factory in Gaza, CEO says
The Marker 21 Dec — Daniel Birnbaum provides no details but says company will be ‘co-backer’ of project — SodaStream, the Israeli maker of home carbonated beverage devices that Pepsico bought for $3.2 billion this year, is establishing a manufacturing plant in the Gaza Strip, CEO Daniel Birnbaum said Thursday. Birnbaum told the Globes Business Conference that SodaStream wanted to take its business model of Jewish-Arab cooperation on the factory floor to Gaza and to encourage other companies to do the same. “We want to amplify that. We want more companies to do that and now we have a project: We’re establishing a manufacturing facility as a co-backer in Gaza. We want the people of Gaza to have jobs, real jobs, because where there is prosperity, there can be peace,” Birnbaum said. He did not discuss other details of the plan, apart from signaling that SodaStream and PepsiCo would be partners in the business. Birnbaum made the announcement during a dialogue with Pepsico CEO Ramon Laguarta.
SodaStream has had a tangled history vis-a-vis the Palestinians. Until three years ago, its main plant was in the West Bank industrial zone of Mishor Adumim. As one of Israel’s few high-profile companies selling to consumers, the West Bank plant made it a target of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. The controversy peaked after actress Scarlett Johansson starred in an ad for the company’s products during the 2014 Superbowl. The company has since relocated to the Negev town of Lehavim. Amid the BDS controversy, Birnbaum stressed that SodaStream was creating badly needed jobs for Palestinians and that the factory was a model of coexistence. On Thursday he reiterated that theme, saying diversity is very important to the company. “We love to show what peace looks like. At the factory there are 1,000 Jews and 1,000 Arabs, including a few hundred Palestinians. You wouldn’t believe it — we get along. We live in peace and harmony, and people are smiling and friendships are emerging.“
PHOTOS: The only surviving tiger at the ‘world’s worst zoo’ makes a full recovery after being rescued from Gaza animal park
20 Dec by James Billot for MailOnLine — New photos show tiger Laziz, who was rescued from the ‘world’s worst zoo’ in 2016 after being starved for two months, is now happy again at a safe sanctuary. Laziz was the only big cat still alive in the Khan Younis zoo in Gaza when he was rescued two years after international outcry over the zoo’s conditions. The zoo, which has since been closed down, was partly destroyed by bombs during the conflict between Israel and Gaza. Laziz has now been relocated to LionsRock – a sanctuary for big cats – in South Africa and has settled well in spite of his difficult beginnings….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israeli settlers raze Palestinian lands to expand Nablus-area settlement
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Israeli bulldozers belonging to settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Yitzhar in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus razed Palestinian lands in the Assira al-Qibliya village, on Wednesday morning. Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that several Israeli settlers from Yitzhar razed lands in eastern Assira al-Qibliya to expand their settlement. Daghlas confirmed that these lands belong to several Palestinians. He pointed out that this is a new attempt to seize Palestinians’ lands in favor of settlements.
Battir lands invaded by Israeli settlers building a new road
IMEMC 20 Dec by Ghassan Bannoura — The following is an interview conducted by Ghassan Bannoura with the Mayor of Battir village about the invasion that took place earlier today. Q. Please introduce yourself and tell us what happened in the lands between Al-Makhrour area and Battir? (In Bethlehem governorate in the West Bank) And who are the owners of the land? A. My name is Taysir َQattoush, the Mayor of Battir. In the morning, we were sitting in the City Council, and we received information that the there were settlers with bulldozers and machinery, and there also soldiers, in the al-Makhrour area. They were coming into the eastern area of Battir, Between our village and Beit Jala. And in addition to the military vehicles, they brought a steamroller for leveling the land in preparation to build a road … The Civil Administration asked the settlers to remove the bulldozers, and eventually they left – but the work was already completed for this new road they are trying to construct. We know from past experience that they may now be planning to bring mobile homes across the newly flattened road … Q. Can you tell us how many Dunams of land are threatened by this invasion and excavation for colonialist activities? A. If we look at the area of there they leveled the land to the edge of the mountain, we are talking about at least 1000 Dunams [about 250 acres]….
Jordan Valley families ordered to vacate homes for military training
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Dec — Israeli occupation authorities, on Friday, ordered several Palestinian families from the village of Ebzeiq, in the northern Jordan Valley region of the occupied West Bank, to leave their homes and make way for Israeli military training, in the area. Muataz Besharat, who monitors Israeli violations in the area, told WAFA that the Israeli army served notices to 14 families, ordering them to leave their homes on December 16, 23, 26 and 31, from 6:00am to 2:00pm (local time), on some days, and from 12:00am to 6:00am on other days, to make way for the training. The Jordan Valley forms a third of the occupied West Bank, with 88 percent of its land classified as Area C – under full Israeli military control
Palestinian home in occupied Jerusalem demolished for lack of building permit
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 18 Dec – Bulldozers of the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem Tuesday demolished a Palestinian-owned house in the neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukkaber, southeast of the occupied city of Jerusalem, under the pretext of lacking a building permit, according to witnesses. Israeli police cordoned off the area before the bulldozers proceeded to demolish the house owned by Moath Aqil, which was in its last stage of construction.
Israeli settlers uproot over 100 trees west of Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 19 Dec – Israeli settlers Tuesday evening uprooted over 100 trees belonging to the Palestinian villagers of Tarqumiya, west of Hebron, said a local official. Head of the Agricultural Damage Documentation Section Hashem Badarin told WAFA that settlers from Adora settlement uprooted and destroyed over 100 fruitful trees belonging to the village.
Israeli forces cut down hundreds of cactus seedlings in northern Jordan Valley
JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA) 18 Dec – Israeli forces Tuesday cut down hundreds of cactus seedlings belonging to a Palestinian resident in the village of Bardala, in the northern Jordan Valley, said a local activist. Mutaz Bsharat, who monitors settlement activity in the Tubas district, said Israeli soldiers cut down five-month-old cactus seedlings belonging to local resident Faris Sawafta in the village of Bardala.
Opinion: If they come to boycott you, fire them first / Carolina Landsmann
Haaretz 21 Dec — The Netanyahu government’s ‘diplomatic achievement’ in getting U.S. states to bar public employees from supporting a boycott of Israel is backfiring badly — The Israeli government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu is playing with anti-Semitic fire. And anyone who plays with fire gets burned. There’s no delicate way of warning the Jews in the world from the dangers the government is exposing them to, except perhaps to scream at the government: Have you lost your mind? A children’s speech pathologist in Texas was fired because she refused to sign a contract that required her to pledge that she does not and will not boycott Israel or support boycotting products from West Bank settlements. This is no conspiracy theory from a new edition of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, or a new anti-Semitic cartoon posted by Yair Netanyahu. This really happened and was first reported on The Intercept site … We must exercise a basic capacity for empathy, on the very level of survival, and put ourselves for one moment in the other’s place, to understand the extent of damage caused by such a combative, destructive legal action. Imagine Michal Michaeli, a social worker in the Be’er Sheva municipality’s social affairs department, who is required to sign, as a condition for her continued employment, that in her free time she won’t support violations of the international sanctions against Russia due to the Crimea annexation, for example. If there was any chance that a speech pathologist from Texas would object to the settlement boycott, or at the most ignore it, this clause made sure it no longer exists. How can you not support the boycott on Israel and, heaven forbid, do worse than that, after being fired from work because you refused to accept political hush money? The speech pathologist filed suit against the law and on Wednesday the American Civil Liberties Union announced it has filed similar lawsuits on behalf of four other Texas citizens….
New York Times editorial board warns ‘political space for opposing Israel is shrinking’
MEMO 19 Dec — An op-ed by the Editorial Board of the New York Times has warned of an attack on freedom of speech “in the name of helping Israel”. The piece comes in the context of efforts by pro-Israel politicians to include anti-boycott legislation in an upcoming package of spending bills that Congress must pass by midnight Friday. As summarised by the Editorial Board, “it is a legislative proposal that would impose civil and criminal penalties on American companies and organisations that participate in boycotts supporting Palestinian rights and opposing Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.” The aim, the op-ed notes, “is to cripple the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement known as B.D.S., which has gathered steam in recent years despite bitter opposition from the Israeli government and its supporters around the world.” The Editorial Board described the legislation as part of “a widening attempt to silence one side of the debate”, and “a larger, ominous trend in which the political space for opposing Israel is shrinking”. The op-ed also defended the right of Palestinians to boycott….
Amnesty hands UK government 50,000-strong petition for ban on Israel settlement goods
MEMO 18 Dec — Amnesty International activists delivered a “special Christmas hamper” to the UK Foreign Office earlier this month, to highlight campaigners’ demand for a ban on Israeli settlement produce. The hamper was stocked with olive oil, wine, dates and oranges produced in Israeli settlements illegally established in occupied territory, and labelled with “Delicious but tainted” stickers. According to Amnesty, “these items are just some of the thousands of products from illegal Israeli settlements that end up on our shelves in the UK.” In addition to the hamper, Amnesty activists also submitted a petition “urging the UK government to ban Israeli settlement goods”, which more than 50,000 members of the public had signed. “For over 50 years, Palestinians have been forced from their homes, detained and killed – all to make way for more illegal Israeli settlements”, Amnesty stated. “Products from those settlements often make their way into UK markets and onto our shop shelves. These products are made on stolen land, with stolen resources, and profit from human rights abuses,” the group added….
Canadian court hands important victory to BDS movement
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Dec — A Canadian Court has ruled that Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) activists were denied free speech and campaigning rights when the city of Montreal tore down their posters highlighting an Israeli atrocity, during an election campaign in Canada. TRNN discusses the case with Bruce Katz, one of the main plaintiffs in the case.
Airbnb says it hasn’t reversed West Bank policy
JERUSALEM (AP) 17 Dec — Airbnb says it hasn’t reversed its plan to stop listing properties in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Earlier Monday, Israel’s tourism minister, Yariv Levin, said Airbnb pledged “not to implement” its decision during a meeting between the two sides. Airbnb’s plan would affect around 200 properties. But Airbnb says that report was inaccurate. The San Francisco-based company says it is developing the tools needed to implement its policy while it continues to talk with stakeholders. The company announced last month that it would stop listing properties in the settlements, which are considered illegal by most of the world. The decision prompted uproar in Israel. Officials accused the company of anti-Semitism and threatened to impose taxes on its operations in Israel. Lawsuits were filed in Israel and the U.S.
Palestinian refugees / UNRWA
More than 560 Palestinians tortured to death in Syria prisons
MEMO 19 Dec — Two Palestinian sisters from the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus were tortured to death in Syrian regime prisons on Saturday, the Action Group for Palestinians in Syria said, noting that they had spent four years in prison before their death, Arab48 reported yesterday. They increase to 563 the number of Palestinian refugees tortured to death in Syrian regime prisons, the group said. While 1,711 Palestinian refugees are enduring difficult conditions in regime jails, in addition to the 12,000 who have been detained. The Action Group also reported that the Syrian regime security forces had arrested a number of the Palestinian refugees who voluntarily returned to Syria from Europe….
Palestinian child dies after being refused treatment in Lebanon
MEMO 19 Dec — Three-year-old Palestinian refugee Mohammad Wahbah was announced dead yesterday morning after he was denied treatment at Lebanese hospitals, Arab48 reported. Mohammad needed urgent brain surgery which his family could not afford and the hospital said they did not have the funds to complete. Palestinian refugees launched a campaign on social media to put pressure on Lebanese health services to admit Mohammad but it was too late. He fell into a coma as soon as he was admitted to hospital and died three days later. Mohammad’s family said UNRWA, the UN body in charge of Palestinian refugee affairs, [was to blame] for his death. As a result, thousands of Palestinian refugees took to the streets and protested against UNRWA and the Lebanese government. They also announced a general strike in the refugee camps to express their anger with the policy of negligence.
UN WFP to cut back food aid to Palestinians
JERUSALEM/GAZA, Dec 19 (Reuters) by Stephen Farrell, Nidal al-Mughrabi — The World Food Programme (WFP) is to cut food aid next year to about 190,000 poor Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank due to a shortage of funds, the WFP’s senior official for the Palestinian Territories said on Wednesday. The move follows the slashing of U.S. aid funding to humanitarian agencies working in the territories by the Trump administration. “WFP has been forced, unfortunately, to make drastic cuts to the number of people that we support across Palestine, both in Gaza and the West Bank,” WFP country director Stephen Kearney told Reuters in Jerusalem. From Jan. 1, the United Nations agency will suspend food assistance to 27,000 people in the West Bank. In addition, food aid to 165,000 people in the Israeli-occupied territory and in the Gaza Strip would be reduced by 20 percent from $10 to $8 per person each month. The U.S. cuts affected 40 per cent of total WFP funding, Kearney said….
UN, Palestinians launch aid appeal after funding cuts
RAMALLAH (Reuters) 17 Dec by Stephen Farrell — The United Nations and the Palestinian Authority appealed on Monday for $350 million in aid for Palestinians next year, saying much more was needed but they had to be realistic after a year of funding cuts. The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan focused on Palestinians most in need of food, healthcare, shelter, water and sanitation, said Jamie McGoldrick, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem. Donations were down in many areas around the world, he said. But local aid work took a particularly hard hit this year when the United States ended funding for the U.N. agency that helps 5 million Palestinian refugees. “Humanitarian actors are faced with record-low funding levels of this year, at the same time we face massive and increasing needs,” McGoldrick said in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. “We will be able to assist fewer people this year, 1.4 million people are being targeted as opposed to 1.9 million last year.”….
No vaccination for Palestinian children, decides the Occupying Power, Israel
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 19 Dec by Ihan Rimawi — Lara Hamdan had no idea when she went to the health services center in Ramallah to vaccinate her one-year-old daughter that the vaccination was not available and that she has to wait until Israel allows the vaccines to enter Palestine before she can get her daughter vaccinated. Hamdan was concerned that if her daughter does not get the right vaccination for children on time, her health might be at risk. Israel has halted admission of all vaccinations to the Palestinian territories and has been holding them at its ports for over three months. It claims that a 1986 law [allow?]s import of the vaccines from only 10 countries. However the Palestinian Ministry of Health has been importing vaccines ever since it was established in 1995 from the countries that were certified by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the vaccines were brought to Palestine by the children fund, UNICEF. Director general of the public health department in the Ministry of Health, Yasser Bouzieh, warned that barring or delaying entry of vaccines will lead to outbreak of many diseases that might become an epidemic and will affect not only Palestine, but the neighboring countries and the region as a whole….
2018 one of the bloodiest years for Palestinian children under Israel occupation
MEMO 17 Dec — 2018 has been “one of the bloodiest for Palestinian children”, according to leading human rights NGO Defence for Children International Palestine (DCIP), with at least 53 confirmed child deaths “as the result of Israeli forces or settlers actions” documented by the organisation. According to DCIP, the majority of these deaths were at the hands of Israeli occupation forces and caused by live ammunition, “often in the context of weekly protests and related activities taking place in the Gaza Strip”. The grim picture was part of an update issued on 15 December, which reported on the killing of a four-year-old Palestinian boy by Israeli occupation forces in the Gaza Strip….
Israel proposes martyrs’ funds be deducted from PA tax revenues
MEMO 20 Dec — The Yisrael Beiteinu party headed by Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday presented a bill to the Knesset that would deduct “financial compensations” paid by the Palestinian Authorities to the families of Palestinian martyrs from tax revenues Israel collects on behalf of the PA, local media reported. The bill said the proposed legislation is “designed to rectify the absurd situation in which rather than deducting the money paid for terrorism against the citizens of Israel, the Israeli government opens a ‘savings account’ for the Palestinian Authority, which will only be used to increase terrorism.” … Israel collects nearly $175 million per month in tax revenues on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.
Israel minister halts vegetable, fruit imports from Palestine
MEMO 19 Dec — Israeli Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel has ordered a stop in the import of fruits and vegetables from the occupied Palestinian territories, local media reported yesterday. Despite warnings from Israeli security, army, intelligence and the civil administration that the Palestinian economy is fragile and cannot withstand such steps, Ariel insisted on his decision. “This is a populist, irresponsible decision that derives solely from political considerations at the expense of the security of the entire public, including the settlers,” security sources told Channel 2. The minister has justified his decision saying the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture has decided to stop importing sheep from Israel. If implemented, the minister’s decision is estimated to cause a loss of 1 million shekels ($0.27 million) per day for the Palestinian economy.
Amid West Bank tensions, PA official and Shin Bet head said to meet
Times of Israel 18 Dec by Adam Rasgon — Hussein al-Sheikh, a top Palestinian Authority official, has met with Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman and other senior Israeli security officials to examine ways to lower tensions in the West Bank, the Kan public broadcaster reported Monday, citing Palestinian sources. Without disclosing names, Sheikh told Palestine TV, the official PA television channel, that Palestinian and Israeli officials had held a meeting Monday. “We sent a very clear message that the dangerous escalation targeting the occupied lands is unacceptable for us and that we will not stand by idly in the face of this dangerous escalation targeting our cities, villages and refugee camps,” he said, adding that the “behavior” of the IDF and settlers was “massacring” signed agreements between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization….
Poll finds significant increase in Hamas popularity in West Bank, Gaza
MEMO 19 Dec — The latest poll conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) has shown a “significant increase in Hamas’ popularity in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip”. PSR attributed the change to both “the violent confrontations in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip”, as well as “Hamas’ success in insuring Gazan access to fuel and money to pay the salaries of its former government employees”. Meanwhile, support for President Mahmoud Abbas declined in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; 64 per cent of the public want Abbas to resign – up from 62 per cent three months ago. The level of satisfaction with the performance of Abbas stands at 32 per cent, down from 35 per cent. If new presidential elections were held today, the latest poll shows Hamas’ leader Ismail Haniyeh beating Abbas (49 per cent versus 42 per cent respectively), while if the contest was between Marwan Barghouti and Haniyeh, Barghouti would get 55 per cent and Haniyeh 40 per cent. In parliamentary elections, meanwhile, 35 per cent said they would vote for Fatah, 34 per cent said they would vote for Hamas, and ten per cent would vote for all other parties combined. Meanwhile, a majority of the public (53 per cent) views the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a burden on the Palestinian people while 42 per cent view it as an asset for the Palestinian people….
World Bank: An additional $18.5 million for improving Palestinian infrastructure services
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 20 Dec — Norway and Sweden contributed an additional total amount of $18.5 million to the Palestinian Partnership for Infrastructure Development Multi-Donor Trust Fund (PID fund) administered by the World Bank, according to a World Bank press release….
Work on new connecting road in Ramallah launched
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 20 Dec – Work on a new 8.3 kilometer-long connecting road financed by China was launched in Ramallah on Thursday in the presence of Palestinian and Chinese officials … Ramallah Mayor Moussa Hadid said the road should be completed and ready for use in 14 months. He said a technical Chinese team has been working with the municipality engineers to over a month on launching this important project that would serve as an access road to Ramallah and al-Bireh twin cities from the north….
Christmas tourism unprecedented, says official
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 20 Dec – Tourism this Christmas season is unprecedented with hotels reporting 100 percent occupancy, Jiries Qumsieh, spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, said on Thursday. He told Voice of Palestine radio that Palestine is witnessing an active and unprecedented tourism season for Christmas this year. “Tourism is very active and the occupancy rate of hotels is 100 percent in all governorates, but especially in Bethlehem,” said Qumsieh. Minister of Tourism Rola Ma’aya’a said in an earlier interview that the number of tourists who visit Palestine, particularly Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus Christ, is expected to reach 2.8 million by year end, the highest in recent years….
Christmas in Bethlehem: Controlling the narrative through tourism
BETHLEHEM, Occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 19 Dec by Megan Giovannetti – Israel’s monopoly on the tourism industry directly contributes to normalisation of the occupation, tour guides say — The town of Bethlehem is geared up for the Christmas season … Palestinian tour guides sit in the corner of the square, drinking coffee, while some wander around the entrance of the church. Since a majority of tourists come in large groups organised by Israeli tour companies, these local guides are instead looking for individual tourists to show them around their hometown. “How [do they] give Israelis permission to do tours in Bethlehem?” Matheos Alkassis, a licensed general tour guide from Bethlehem, asked emphatically. “Let them give us permission to guide in Israel.” Alkassis studied the historical sites of the Holy Land for four years, took an oral and written exam, and received a license to guide throughout Palestine from the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. But this license is virtually useless unless the Israeli government allows Alkassis and the roughly 250 other guides currently on a 12-year-long waiting list to enter Israel. Or at least to allow them to guide tourists within their own governed areas … A marketing representative at the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism, who wished to remain anonymous, told Al Jazeera that the prevalence of Israeli tour companies is a huge issue for them. Tourists’ time is, “divided between the church and the souvenir shop”, the representative explained. Not only do Israeli tour guides control what is said, but they also limit opportunities for tourists to interact with locals and the Palestinian city in general….
Knesset votes on bill to expel families of Palestinian attackers
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 19 Dec — The Israeli Knesset voted, on Wednesday, on the first reading of a bill to expel families of Palestinians involved in attacks against Israelis. According to the Hebrew-language “Maariv” news site, the bill was approved by 69 votes with, and 38 votes against. The Israeli Jewish Home political party presented the bill for its first reading at the Knesset. The bill was approved by the Israeli Cabinet ministers on Sunday. However, according to Haaretz, the Israeli governing coalition had postponed consideration of the bill, submitted by by Jewish Home MK Moti Yogev, for three months. The bill, if passed into law, would allow the Israeli army’s Central Command to expel families and relatives of Palestinians, who had carried out or were involved in attacks or attempted against Israelis, of their hometowns to other areas of the West Bank within a week of the attack or attempt. Haaretz also said that head of the Israeli Shin Bet, chief of staff the Israeli army and the army’s Attorney General all oppose the bill. Attorney General of the army Avichai Mandelblit had announced his official opposition to the bill, on Monday. Mandelblit warned that the bill could infringe on human rights and spark international condemnation of Israel.
US targets Hamas, Hezbollah with anti-human shield legislation
The Media Line 17 Dec — Congress approves bill that singles out Israel’s enemies as ‘repeat’ offenders of a tactic that violates international law; bill set to pass Senate, be signed into law by Trump — The US House of Representatives passed legislation targeting those who use “human shields” in military confrontations with Israel. The tactic is often employed by Palestinian terrorist group Hamas and the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah organization, who Israel says conceal their arsenals in civilian structures such as schools, homes and hospitals….
US funds to pay Palestinians to vacate the West Bank? Israel lobby group has a plan
WASHINGTON (Mintpress News) 18 Dec by Whitney Webb — A relatively unknown pro-Israel lobby organization in the U.S. with close ties to Vice President Mike Pence has been lobbying high-ranking members of Congress and the White House to support a plan that has been likened to a “U.S.-funded ethnic cleansing plan in Palestine.” According to a recent interview between Paul Liberman, the executive director of the Alliance for Israel Advocacy (AIA), and journalist Lee Fang at the Intercept, Liberman’s organization claims to have met with key figures in the Trump administration – including Jason Greenblatt, President Donald Trump’s chief adviser on Israel-related issues; Victoria Coates, an official with the National Security Council; Tom Rose, a top adviser to Pence – as well as several members of Congress, to promote controversial legislation that would use U.S. funds to pay Palestinians in the West Bank to move abroad. Most recently, Liberman pitched the plan at the Council for National Policy, which was attended by donors and activists of the religious right and by Nikki Haley, current U.S. ambassador to the U.N., who is set to leave her post by year’s end….
Head of Sinn Fein pays solidarity visit to official Palestinian media
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Dec — An Irish delegation headed by Mary Lou McDonald, leader of the Irish Sinn Fein (shin-FAYN) party and member of the Irish parliament, met on Thursday, in Ramallah, with Ahmad Assaf, General Supervisor of the official Palestinian media, during which she was briefed on the ongoing Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people and media … McDonald expressed support for the Palestinian people in their pursuit of their own independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. She said she was shocked by what she saw as a result of Israeli attacks and arrest of children, as well as Israel’s collective punishment policy and land grab. Earlier, the Irish leader had visited Jerusalem and met with Palestinian youngsters….
Palestinians slam Australia’s move on Jerusalem
RAMALLAH (AFP) 15 Dec — The Palestinian leadership on Saturday described as “irresponsible” Australia’s recognition of west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying it violated international law. The country became one of just a few to follow US President Donald Trump’s lead and recognise the contested city as Israel’s capital, saying. Australia said it would open a defence and trade office in the west of the holy city and Prime Minister Scott Morrison also committed to recognising a future state of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital. Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital….
Israel chides Australia’s recognition of West Jerusalem as capital
Reuters in Jerusalem 16 Dec — Canberra ‘mistaken’ in support for Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, minister says — Israel signalled its displeasure on Sunday with Australia’s recognition of West Jerusalem as its capital. The country’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu remained silent on Canberra’s move at the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting, which he often uses to hold forth in public on diplomatic developments, but a minister close to him said it was a mistake to contradict the notion of Israeli control over the whole city. Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem in the six-day war in 1967 and, in a move not recognised internationally, claimed the city as its capital. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as capital of the state they hope to found in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip….
‘Combat Proven’: Israel’s thriving war business in Europe
Al Jazeera 21 Dec by Romana Rubeo & Ramzy Baroud — Europe is increasingly sharing Israel’s racist approach to border security and adopting its deadly technologies — Earlier this month, an intergovernmental conference in Marrakesh, Morocco brought together leaders from around the world to address global migration. After two days of deliberations, some 150 nations signed the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) agreement, which called for the implementation of more humane policies to ensure “safe, orderly and regular migration”. But the conference and the agreement were very much a platform for Western doublespeak and hypocrisy. European countries and the United States are by far not concerned with the “safety” of migrants and refugees heading for their borders. In fact, the border security industry in Europe and the US is thriving and in both places, Israel with its infamous militarised security policies is serving as a role model and a major technology supplier. It is therefore no surprise that European and US border control mechanisms are increasingly becoming as brutal and inhumane as Israel’s….