In Gaza protests, Israeli troops aim at the legs
GAZA CITY, Gaza (AP) 9 Dec by Todd Pitman — Israeli forces deployed along the volatile border with the Gaza Strip have fired live rounds at rock-throwing Palestinian protesters ever since demonstrations against Israel’s long-running blockade of Gaza began in March. And for eight months, Israeli snipers have targeted one part of the body more than any other — the legs. The Israeli army says it is responding to weekly assaults on its frontier by Palestinians armed with stones, grenades and firebombs. The military says it opens fire only as a last resort, and considers firing at the lower limbs an act of restraint. Still, 175 Palestinians have been shot to death, according to an Associated Press count. And the number of wounded has reached colossal proportions. Of the 10,511 protesters treated at hospitals and field clinics in Gaza so far, at least 6,392, or roughly 60 percent, have been struck in the lower limbs, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. At least 5,884 of those casualties were hit by live ammunition; others have been hit by rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters. The upsurge in violence has left a visible mark on Gaza that will likely remain for decades to come. It is now common to see young men walking through dilapidated streets on crutches. Most have legs bandaged or fitted with a metal frame called a fixator, which uses pins or screws that are inserted into fractured bones to help stabilize them….
Gaza’s amputees face death, dashed dreams under blockade
Gaza City (Asia Times) 12 Dec by Mohammed Dahman — When Palestinian cycling champion Alaa al-Daly rode to the eastern edges of the Gaza Strip earlier this year to join a demonstration against a decade-long Israeli blockade, he had no idea it would end with the loss of his leg and career. The 21-year-old athlete had finished his training early on March 30 and cycled over to join thousands in a march along the Israeli-occupied border zone … Daly says the Israeli authorities on multiple occasions have prevented him from traveling abroad to compete in cycling competitions, and so a central demand of the “Great March of Return” – an end to the blockade – resonated with him. The 2018 Asia Games were coming up in August in Jakarta, and Daly was eager to represent his people. On that first day of the protests, he recounted, “I was on my bike, about 250 meters from the barbed wire, when suddenly a bullet from an Israeli sniper stationed at the border hit my right leg.” The gunshot was only the first shock for Daly. In the span of eight days following the injury, doctors performed eight operations on Daly in an attempt to save his leg. Finally, they found themselves with no choice but to amputate it, shattering the cyclist’s hopes to ever return to his beloved sport, which he had been perfecting since childhood.
Disabled athletes compete in Gaza sports contest
[photos] MEMO 11 Dec by Mohammed Asad — The Rachel Corrie Gaza Sport Initiative was held for the fifth time this year for Palestinians with special needs in the besieged Gaza Strip. The table tennis tournament held today was attended by nearly 50 players – both male and female – from a range of clubs. The majority of the players had been injured by Israeli occupation forces. The Rachel Corrie Gaza Sport Initiative is an annual project, consisting of the Rachel Corrie Ramadan Football Tournaments and the Rachel Corrie Tournament for Athletes with Disabilities. The Tournament for Athletes with Disabilities helps connect those with disabilities to the broader Palestinian society, affirms the place of the disabled in Gaza, and provides an avenue of accomplishment and fun in the sphere of athletics.
Child dies from wounds suffered last Friday
IMEMC 12 Dec — The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed that a child died, Tuesday, from serious wounds he suffered, last Friday, after Israeli soldiers shot him, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The Health Ministry said the soldiers shot the child, Ahmad Yasser Sabri Abu ‘Aabed, 4, with expanding bullets, one in his eye, and one in his abdomen, causing very serious wounds. The child was rushed to a hospital in Khan Younis, underwent surgery, and remained in critical condition at the Intensive Care Unit, until he succumbed to his wounds …
On the day of Ahmad’s serious injury, Friday December 7, 2018, the 37th Friday of the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege on Gaza, the soldiers shot 72 Palestinian civilians, including 11 children and 2 paramedics.
Palestinian paramedic injured as Israel suppresses Gaza naval march
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Dec — A Palestinian paramedic was injured with a tear-gas bomb and a Palestinian was injured with live Israeli fire as Israeli forces suppressed the 19th weekly naval march in the northern besieged Gaza Strip, on Monday afternoon. 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 opened live fire and tear-gas bombs at Palestinian protesters and boats attempting to break the siege. Boats had set off from the Gaza seaport towards the Israeli “Zikim” beach. Many attempts have been made throughout the years to draw the public’s attention to and break the ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip whether via ships attempting to sail into Gaza or ships attempting to sail from Gaza.
Israeli navy detains Palestinian fishermen near Rafah City
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Dec — Israeli naval forces detained two Palestinian fishermen and confiscated their boat while working west of Rafah City, in the southern besieged Gaza City, on Monday. The Fishermen Committee in Gaza confirmed that Israeli forces detained two fishermen, who were identified as Nasser al-Nada, 24, and Muhammad Saydam, 20. Israeli naval forces transferred the detained fishermen to an unknown location.
Israeli forces open fire at Gazan fishermen, shepherds
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Dec — Israeli naval forces opened fire towards Palestinian fishermen, west of Rafah City and Khan Younis City, in the southern besieged Gaza Strip, on Sunday. A Ma‘an reporter said that Israeli naval forces repeatedly opened fire at fishermen within the permitted fishing zone, forcing them back to shore.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces stationed at the Kissufim military site, east of the al-Qarrara town in southern Gaza, opened fire at Palestinian shepherds, while working in their lands. No injuries were reported from both incidents. The reason for both shootings remained unknown.
Palestinian woman, escorting ill husband, detained by Israel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Dec — Head of the documentation unit at the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs in the besieged Gaza Strip, Abed al-Nasser Farawneh, said on Saturday that Israeli forces had detained a Palestinian woman while at the Erez crossing (Beit Hanoun) in the northern Gaza Strip, last Thursday. Farawneh added that Israel had detained a Palestinian woman, identifying her as Samar Salah Abu Thaher, as she was at Erez escorting her ill husband, who is heading to a hospital in the West Bank for treatment. The Palestinian Liaison had informed the Prisoners’ Affairs Committee of the detention.
Abu Thaher’s husband was not able to head to the West Bank for treatment alone, and returned to the Gaza Strip.
Palestinians offer new details of Israel’s botched Gaza raid
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 12 Dec by FARES AKRAM and MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH — The small town of Abassan in the Gaza Strip is a tough place to infiltrate — everyone knows everyone else and outsiders passing through quickly attract attention. So when strangers drove through town, suspicious Hamas security men stopped the van and questioned those inside. The answers didn’t add up. With their covers about to be blown, the Israeli undercover forces inside the vehicle opened fire, setting off a fierce battle that left eight people dead and triggered a brief but intense round of cross-border fighting. A month after the exchange, the raid remains clouded in mystery … According to some of the accounts, the scheme began to unravel when the team made its way to Abassan. Suspicious residents alerted Hamas security, which stopped their van. One official said the leader of the Israeli group, reportedly a member of Israel’s Arab Druze minority, spoke the local dialect fluently and remained calm. But several things did not appear right. He said a woman was sitting between two men, even though their IDs showed them to be members of different families. Under local customs, it is frowned upon for a woman to sit alongside men who are not her relatives. “That was the major reason for the suspicions,” he said. Under further questioning, the team told Hamas that they were going to visit a woman who does not live in the area….
Qatari envoy says Gaza airport was proposed, Israel unresponsive
GAZA, Dec 10 (Reuters) – A Qatari envoy overseeing the Gulf state’s humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip said on Monday that he had proposed building an airport in the blockaded Palestinian enclave but had received no response from Israel. In coordination of Israel and the United Nations, Qatar has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to various Gaza projects that the partners say are designed to stave off Palestinian poverty and prevent escalations in violence. “They (Israel) said it would be discussed and they procrastinated … We will renew our request,” Qatari Ambassador Al-Emadi told the Gaza-based news agency SAWA. “The Israeli side had security concerns and we told them we can resolve them by having the planes fly to Doha and return to Gaza from there and under Qatari security supervision,” Israel had not responded, Al-Emadi said, but had proposed that such an airport be built on its side of the border – an idea the diplomat said had been rejected by Qatar … In 1998, the Palestinians got their first international airport as a result of the historic peace treaty with Israel, but Israel destroyed its radar antenna and runway a few months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States….
For Palestinian children in Gaza, a lesson in conflict
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 9 Dec by Todd Pitman — When Mazen al-Dalo took two of his young sons to see the Palestinian protests against Israel’s decade-old blockade of Gaza, he knew it could be dangerous. Rock-throwing demonstrators were being shot by Israeli soldiers, and armored Israeli jeeps were firing endless volleys of tear gas into the crowds. But it was important to teach the boys about Palestinian history, he said, and give them a glimpse of the modern-day struggles their people face. “Seeing things with your own eyes is different than reading about them in books,” the 44-year-old father said, explaining his decision to take the children, aged 8 and 11, one day last April. The family only ventured about 400 meters (yards) from the border — a spot al-Dalo believed was safe, away from the violent confrontations. But just as he pointed to a group of Israeli soldiers atop a berm on the other side of the Israeli fence, a single gunshot rang out. The round ripped off al-Dalo’s thumb and struck his 8-year-old son, Mohamed, in the leg — two more casualties in a simmering conflict that began last spring and has seen a staggering 948 Palestinians under the age of 18 shot and wounded by Israeli forces, according to the United Nations….
Video: ‘Music is a freedom that breaks every border’: Yound musicians in Gaza fight the siege to play in peace
GAZA (The Independent) 12 Dec by Bel Trew — With just one grand piano in the whole of Gaza, and a dwindling number of teachers, young Palestinian musicians fight 11-year-long blockade to keep music alive in times of war — She played the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” on the piano to drown out the deadening crunch of air strikes as they smashed up the neighbourhood around her. It was November and Gaza, Yara Thabit’s home, was on the perilous brink of another war with Israel. The terrified 18-year-old, who has lived through three wars already, stuttered over the same Tchaikovsky phrase, as if clinging to the crochets could defend her. The battered upright piano, her pride and joy, had taken years and thousands of dollars to get through the heavily-guarded border with Israel that has imposed an 11-year blockade on the militant-run enclave….
Football: Egypt’s Ahly sign ‘Gaza’s Messi’ from Palestinian Al-Shugaa
AhramOnline 10 Dec by Mahmoud Elassai — Ahly have completed the signing of Palestinian playmaker Mahmoud Salmi, who is dubbed ‘Gaza’s Messi’, in a three-and-a-half year contract from Palestinian side Ittihad Al-Shugaa without disclosing the financial details. The Red Devils announced that Salmi will be registered in the team’s youth squad. The 20-year-old forward rose to prominence with Palestinian outfit Al-Shugaa with some fine displays, prompting the Palestinian team’s fans to call him ‘Gaza’s Messi’ . “It is an honour to have any Palestinian player join Ahly,” Al-Shugaa board member Naif Al-Hatab told a television programme. Salmi, who plays with his left leg, gives fine displays as a playmaker as well as a winger.
Why Gaza’s flowers are no longer in bloom
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 10 Dec by Fatima Zaki Abu Hayya — When Ghazi Hijazi started to grow flowers nearly three decades ago on two dunams (0.49 acres) of land in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, he thought it was the opportunity of a lifetime and a legacy to leave his eight sons. “My father expanded the farm every year. We worked with him,” one of his sons, Mohammad Hijazi, told Al-Monitor … But the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip in 2006 changed all of that. “We were no longer able to export flowers to European traders on agreed time frames because the crossings were closed. Moreover, [Israeli authorities] would deliberately close them during key seasons and on occasions such as New Year’s,” said Mohammad….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
60 year old Palestinian man shot dead by Israeli soldiers
IMEMC 14 Dec by Ali Salam — The Israeli military, according to Israeli media sources, has admitted that its soldiers mistakenly killed Hamdan Tawfiq Arda, 60, [on Thursday afternoon] after initially claiming that he had deliberately tried to ram his vehicle into soldiers, in the Industrial Zone in al-Biereh city, in central West Bank. Eyewitnesses told Ma‘an News Agency that it looked like a car accident, and that the driver was startled by the military presence, and tried to turn away from them. Sources added that one soldier was lightly injured, but it was not from the car driven by the Palestinian man. The soldiers fired a barrage of live rounds at the car, fatally wounding the driver, who suffered gunshot wounds mainly to the head. His brain and fragments of his skull were on the car seat after he was removed by the medics, before they were collected for proper burial with his body later on. The Israeli military initially stated was an “attempt to ram his car into soldiers”, and then changed their statement, telling the Jerusalem Post that they believed it was an accident. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has confirmed that its medics were at the scene shortly after the man was shot, and added that the soldiers stopped them and prevented them from approaching him. The slain Palestinian man was from ‘Arraba town, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin.
Army raids Palestine Olympic Committee headquarters
IMEMC/Agencies 14 Dec — Israeli occupation forces raided, on Thursday evening, the headquarters of the Palestine Olympic Committee (POC), in the occupied West Bank city of al-Bireh, according to Palestinian security sources. Israeli soldiers raided the headquarters in an attempt to retrieve the tapes of the surveillance cameras. The soldiers forced the Committee’s employees into a single room and physically assaulted some of them, according to a statement by the Committee. However, POC officials said, according to WAFA correspondence, that they refused to hand over the tapes to the Israeli army, by order of POC chief Jibril Rajoub.
Earlier, the Israeli military imposed total closure on Ramallah and al-Bireh cities, following a shooting attack to the northeast of the two cities that left at least three Israeli soldiers dead. The army closed all checkpoints leading to Ramallah and al-Bireh from all sides, while army jeeps entered the northern sections of al-Bireh, in apparent pursuit of the attackers, who seem to have gotten away.
Soldiers open fire at Palestinian ambulance near al-Bireh
IMEMC 14 Dec — Israeli soldiers opened fire, Friday, at a Palestinian ambulance transporting a patient to a hospital, just as the driver approached an Israeli military roadblock, north of al-Biereh, in central West Bank. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has reported that its ambulance was approaching the military roadblock, installed at the entrance of Beitin Palestinian village, north of al-Biereh, while transporting a patient from Deir Dibwan village, to a hospital in Ramallah. It added that the soldiers instantly opened fire at the ambulance, forcing the medics to turn away and try to find another road. The Red Crescent said that attack did not lead to any injuries, and strongly denounced this serious Israeli violation of basic human rights, the Geneva Convention and various international resolutions.
Israeli colonists invade village near Ramallah, shoot a Palestinian
IMEMC 14 Dec — A group of armed extremist Israeli colonialist settlers invaded, on Thursday evening, Beitin Palestinian village, north of the al-Biereh city in the Ramallah and al-Biereh Governorate in central West Bank, and shot a young man. Media sources in Ramallah said the settlers invaded the village, fired many live rounds and hurled stones at home and cars. They added that dozens of locals tried to fend the attack off, before one of the armed colonists shot a young man with live fire. Medical sources said the young man, identified as Raed Hamed, was shot with a live round in the arm, and suffered a moderate injury. Israeli soldiers also invaded the village after the colonists infiltrated into it, and fired many live rounds, and gas bombs, at Palestinians protesting the invasion.
Settlers attack Ramallah village, open gunfire at homes
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 13 Dec – Extremist Israeli settlers on Thursday evening rampaged through the village of Ein Yabroud, to the northeast of Ramallah in the West Bank, and opened gunfire at homes, witnesses said. A large number of Jewish settlers — some of them armed and accompanied by Israeli army — from the nearby illegal Ofra settlement raided the village and opened gunfire at Palestinians’ homes, provoking clashes with citizens. The settlers remained in the village for some time before local citizens were able to fend them off and push them back.
Meanwhile, settlers from Yitzar settlement, south of Nablus city in the northern West Bank, attacked a home in the village of Burin and a car that was parked outside.
The two attacks are part of a series of attacks perpetrated by Jewish settlers across the occupied West Bank since the fatal shooting of three Israeli soldiers near Ramallah earlier today. Most of the attacks occurred in the full sight of Israeli military and security forces.
Army closes checkpoint south of Nablus in the West Bank as settlers attack area villages
NABLUS (WAFA) 13 Dec – The Israeli army closed all checkpoints south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus including Hawwara and Zaatra checkpoints on Thursday and prevented movement of Palestinians in and out of the city through these checkpoints while settlers attacked area villages and stoned Palestinian cars on the roads, according to witnesses. People reported that the army closed all checkpoints from Nablus in the direction of Ramallah to the south and would not let Palestinian cars go through them. At the same time, armed settlers went on a rampage in Palestinian villages in the Nablus area, mainly Assira al-Qibliya, attacking unarmed Palestinian civilians and injuring some of them. Hospitals said at least one person injured in the head by a rock was brought to hospital in Nablus. Settler rampages, in addition to stoning Palestinian cars on the West Bank roads, have reached several vulnerable villages in the north, center and south of the West Bank, said reports.
Israeli soldiers kill a Palestinian in Jerusalem
IMEMC 13 Dec — Israeli soldiers killed, on Thursday at dawn, a young Palestinian man in the al-Waad Street, in the Old City of occupied Jerusalem, after he reportedly stabbed and injured two Israeli police officers. Israeli sources said two officers of the Border Guards Unit suffered mild wounds, “when the Palestinian stabbed them, before he was shot dead.” They added that one of the wounded officers, a 19-year-old policewoman, suffered a moderate injury, and was moved to Hadassah Ein Karem Medical Center, in Jerusalem, where her condition improved and was described as mild. The slain Palestinian was later identified as Majd Mteir, 26, from Qalandia refugee camp, north of occupied East Jerusalem. He was shot with several live rounds, and succumbed to his wounds shortly afterwards. Following the incident, dozens of soldiers and officers were deployed in the Old City, and installed many roadblocks, preventing the Palestinians from leaving their homes, especially as many Muslims were heading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, for dawn prayers.
2 months later: Israel executes Palestinian attack suspect
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — The Israeli army announced that Ashraf Waleed Na‘awla, who carried out a shooting attack was shot and killed in Askar al-Jadid refugee camp, east of Nablus City, in the northern West Bank, on predawn Thursday. [On October 7], Na‘awla had carried out a shooting attack in the Barkan industrial area, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel, killing two Israelis and seriously injuring another.
According to a statement by the Israeli army, Na‘awla was found in hiding a house in the refugee camp. Medical sources confirmed to Ma‘an that Israeli forces fired dozens of live bullets inside one of the rooms of the house, where Na‘awla was present, in addition to a large amount of blood on the floor. Sources added that Israeli forces prevented the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) from reaching the area and transporting the body. The Israeli army took Na‘awla’s body before withdrawing from the area. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces also detained four Palestinian youths from the same area.
Israeli forces shoot, kill Palestinian attacker
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Dec — A 29-year-old Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli forces, on late Wednesday, near Surda village, north of the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. The Israeli army announced that Saleh Amer Saleh al-Barghouthi, 29, a resident from Kobar village, in Ramallah district, was shot and killed by Israeli special forces. Earlier this week, al-Barghouthi carried out a drive-by shooting attack near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ofra, injuring seven Israeli settlers, including a 21-year-old pregnant woman, who was in critical condition and delivered the baby prematurely in an emergency procedure. The baby later died.
‘Wrong place at the wrong time’: Family reject Israeli accusations against slain Palestinian
MEE 11 Dec by Chloé Benoist — Israeli police forces shot and killed a young Palestinian man in the southern occupied West Bank on Tuesday morning after an alleged attempted car-ramming attack – an accusation his family vehemently denied. Relatives told Middle East Eye that the slain man, 24-year-old Omar Hassan al-‘Awawda, was shot several times in the back by Israeli forces near the illegal separation wall close to the village of Idhna in the Hebron district. “He was passing through the area where the soldiers were and they started following him,” Hani ‘Awawda, one of ‘Awawda’s cousins, told Middle East Eye. “He started driving away and they shot him six times in the back from a close range. One bullet passed straight through his heart.” According to Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa – whose office in Ramallah was raided by Israeli forces on Monday – ‘Awawda was left bleeding on the ground until a Palestinian ambulance was able to reach him and take him to the al-Ahli hospital in Hebron city, where he was declared dead on arrival. Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement that a “suspect Palestinian drove his vehicle at a security vehicle and then attempted to drive into border police officers who were securing the area”. Rosenfeld said the police officers then shot at the Palestinian, adding that no Israelis were injured in the incident. The exact circumstances of the shooting – including how ‘Awawda would have been shot in the back if he was speeding towards the soldiers – remain unclear.
But for Hani ‘Awawda, the 24-year-old could not have committed an attack. “I was with him last night, he was so normal, I didn’t feel there was anything strange about him, like he was stressed or planning to carry out an attack the next day,” the 42-year-old said. “Omar won’t do something like this, he’s a simple person … He is just a hard worker who tries to provide for his family,” Hani added … “We are sure that he just didn’t hear or see them signalling him to stop and just kept driving,” Hani ‘Awawda said. After ‘Awawda’s body was taken to the hospital, soldiers reportedly followed the ambulance, his cousin said, leading the family to fear that they would try to confiscate his body … “We had to rush to bury him in only 30 minutes so the Israelis couldn’t take his body from us.” Hani ‘Awawda described his cousin as a “gentle and well mannered young man” who had dropped out of school at 12 years old to support his family after the death of his father….
Soldiers, settlers break into archaeological site in West Bank, clash with residents
NABLUS (WAFA) 12 Dec – Israeli soldiers accompanied Jewish settlers as they broke into Sabastia village and archaeological site in the north of the occupied West Bank on Wednesday and clashed with the village’s Palestinian residents, according to mayor of Sabastia Mohammad Azzam. He told WAFA that the soldiers accompanied a busload of fanatic settlers in a provocative visit to the site and while they were there the soldiers fired teargas and stun grenades at the village, causing suffocation cases, especially among elderly people and children. Young residents of the village pelted the soldiers with stones while the soldiers shot back more teargas at them causing more suffocation cases, said the mayor, who added that the provocations by the settlers and army of his village under the pretext of visiting the archaeological site has become almost a daily occurrence.
Israeli military probes shooting of Palestinian in the back
JERUSALEM (AP) 9 Dec — The Israeli military on Sunday said it has opened an investigation into the death of a 22-year-old Palestinian man in the West Bank after a video surfaced appearing to show him being shot in the back. The security-camera video, obtained from a local restaurant in the town of Tulkarem, shows Mohammed Husam Abdul-Latif Habali walking in an alleyway holding a stick when he is shot from behind and falls down on his face. Several other young males are standing nearby or walking away in the same direction — sometimes looking back — apparently to keep their distance from Israeli troops. No soldiers are seen in the video. Habali’s brother, Alaa, said Mohammed had suffered a mental disability and also was physically disabled after breaking his pelvis in a car accident a few years ago. He said the stick his brother carried was used to help him walk. He said Mohammed had worked in a coffee shop and was in the street after closing the restaurant when he saw soldiers in the area. In a statement Sunday, the military confirmed that it was conducting an “operational activity” in Tulkarem last week when dozens of Palestinians began hurling stones at the soldiers. It gave no further details on the operation, but the military often carries out arrest raids in the West Bank. The army said that soldiers responded to the stone throwers with “riot dispersal means” and live fire. It said military police are now investigating the shooting. It gave no details on when the probe would be completed.
PPS: ‘Israeli soldiers abduct 56 Palestinians in West Bank’
IMEMC 13 Dec — The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers abducted, overnight and on Thursday at dawn, at least 56 Palestinians from their homes in various parts of the occupied West Bank, including 22 from occupied Jerusalem, and 17 from Ramallah. The PPS stated that the soldiers conducted extensive and very violent searches of dozens of homes across the West Bank, and interrogated the families while inspecting their ID cards. The soldiers also installed many roadblocks across the West Bank, before stopping and searching dozens of cars, and interrogated the Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards. Many former political prisoners are among the abducted Palestinians, in addition to siblings, while the soldiers also searched cars, buildings, lands and various structures, causing serious property damage to homes, buildings and cars. The PPS added that the soldiers abducted Omar Barghouthi, the father of Saleh Barghouthi, who was killed by undercover Israeli soldiers, Wednesday, in addition to Omar’s son Assef, his brother Hadi Barghouthi, and three former political prisoners, Monir al-‘Abed, Khaled al-‘Abed and Khaled Mon’em Zeebar. The soldiers imposed severe restrictions on the movement of the Palestinians across the West bank, especially in occupied Jerusalem, mainly its Old City and the areas surrounding Al-Aqsa Mosque, and prevented dozens from Palestinians from reaching the holy site for dawn prayers. The soldiers also abducted four siblings in Nablus, in northern West Bank, after the army killed Ashraf Na‘alwa in their home.
Dozens of Palestinians arrested in Israeli raids in West Bank towns
MEE 11 Dec — Israeli troops arrested 28 people early on Tuesday morning in several cities of the occupied West Bank, in a second consecutive day of night raids, local media reported. The majority of arrests were in Nablus city’s villages of Tal and ‘Urif, in the north of the West Bank, and in the towns of Tubas, Tulkarem and Hebron. The Israeli army said those arrested were “wanted for security investigations”.
On Monday evening, Israeli troops raided the offices of the Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA), the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency in Ramallah, firing tear gas into WAFA’s building, injuring several journalists and preventing staff from leaving or returning to their offices. The Israeli troops also pushed and shoved two photographers and hurled profanities at them, according to local reports. WAFA said the Israeli army confiscated security camera footage from the building during the incident.
Israeli troops and military vehicles raided Ramallah city on Monday, in a scene that reminded Palestinians of 2002 Israeli military operations in West Bank cities, which resulted in the destruction of PA security forces’ buildings and institutions. Palestinian youths threw stones at the Israeli troops who were stationed at Al-Irsal, the main street in Ramallah located less than 500 metres from both PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s residency and Al-Muqata‘a, the PA’s seat of government. According to local reports, the PA’s own security forces and police “hid” during the Israeli raid. Ramallah is part of area A, according to the 1993 Oslo Accords, where the PA is supposed to have full sovereignty. Israeli troops are supposed to coordinate with the PA’s forces when they want to conduct a raid in the area or arrest someone.
Police arrest four Jewish teens for ‘price tag’ attack in northern Israel
Times of Israel 12 Dec by Jacob Magid — Police on Wednesday arrested four Israeli teenagers suspected of slashing tires and drawing hate slogans on homes in the northern Israeli Arab town of Yafia, near Nazareth, a month and a half ago. In the apparent hate crime on October 26, some 20 cars had their tires punctured and were spray-painted with Jewish stars and words such as “revenge” and “price tag,” a slogan that has been used in recent years by far-right Israelis to justify their attacks on Palestinians. It marks the attacks as ostensible retaliation for terror attacks and Israeli government actions deemed hostile to the settler movement … A spokesman for the right-wing legal aid organization Honenu, which defends right-wing extremists in courts and the media, said the suspects were all around 15 years old. Police said Wednesday that the youths were arrested at a yeshiva, or Jewish religious seminary, in the north of the country, but would not say which one….
Israel detains 6-year-old Palestinian in Hebron
MEMO 13 Dec — Israeli occupation forces seized a six-year-old Palestinian child in Hebron, the occupied West Bank, and detained him without family members for an hour, reported B’Tselem. The incident took place on 25 November, at around 2pm, when Israeli forces seized 15-year-old ‘Abd a-Rahman Abu Daoud, and six-year-old Zeid Taha. Both children were then taken to so-called “Pharmacy Checkpoint” in the segregated city. Abu Daoud was then transferred to Ofer Prison and ultimately sentenced to three months in prison. Zeid, meanwhile, was moved to two further checkpoints, before being handed over to Palestinian Authority police. “The policemen took me into Abu a-Rish Checkpoint (the Pharmacy Checkpoint) and kept me shut in a room there for about an hour,” Zeid told B’Tselem researchers. “I cried and the soldiers cursed me. Then they put me into a white car. I heard the other boy who was arrested with me asking a woman soldier where they were taking us, and she answered, ‘To prison’.” His mother – Falestin Taha, 26, a married mother of three – told B’Tselem: “I couldn’t have imagined that the military would arrest such a young boy. I was shocked and terribly worried. I kept imagining Taha all alone with armed Israeli soldiers.” According to the mother, “Zeid is still very scared and anxious. He’s not ready to be apart from me even for a moment. He isn’t even willing to sleep in his own bed. He sleeps holding on to me.”….
Israel to compensate Palestinian activist for false arrest
MEMO 13 Dec — Israeli authorities were ordered by a court yesterday “to pay several thousand shekels in compensation for false arrest” to Hebron-based Palestinian activist Issa Amro. According to the report by Haaretz, Amro “sued the state after being detained in Hebron in 2015 while conducting a tour of the city”. Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court “ruled that Amro’s arrest had been unlawful and awarded him 5,500 shekels ($1,470) in damages”, significantly lower than the 40,000 shekels ($10,656) demanded by Amro. As related by Haaretz, in the incident in question “Amro was standing with a group of people on Shuhada Street…when, at the request of Israeli soldiers, he moved to nearby stairs rather than standing in the street.” “Amro was then asked to leave the area altogether, but refused. He said that he lived in the area and presented an ID card with his address. After refusing, Amro was arrested and taken to a police station, where he waited several hours to be questioned. He was then released.” In addition to awarding Amro $1,470 in compensation for four hours under arrest or detention, the court also awarded him 1,300 shekels ($346) in expenses and 3,500 shekels ($932) in legal fees….
Palestinians stand by family to stop Israeli army from demolishing its home
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 12 Dec – A group of Palestinian activists calling themselves the Popular Campaign to Protect the Abu Hmeid Home said on Wednesday that its members will keep a vigil at the Abu Hmeid home in Am‘ari refugee camp in Ramallah to prevent the Israeli army from demolishing it. The army had set Wednesday as the deadline for the family to evacuate its four-story building in order to demolish it after it accused a family member of throwing a big tile on a soldier in the camp and killing him. The activists said they will stay with the family to prevent the demolition and called for a number of activities in the coming two days in support of the family. The Abu Hmeid family has five of its members serving life terms or long sentences in Israeli prisons for resisting the occupation and one son was shot and killed by the army several years ago. The army had demolished the Abu Hmeid house twice before and the family, with support from the community, had rebuilt it. The army had previously said it will demolish the floor where Islam Abu Hmeid, the person alleged to have thrown the tile and killed the soldier and who is in army custody, lived. However, an Israeli court gave the army the green light to demolish the entire building where even his brothers and their families live following an appeal by the army.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Netanyahu to ‘legalise’ more settler homes after West Bank attack
JERUSALEM (AFP) 13 Dec — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will legalise thousands of settlement homes built without even Israeli permits in the occupied West Bank following a deadly attack, he announced Thursday. All settlements are considered illegal under international law, but Israel draws a distinction between those it sanctions and those constructed without permission. Netanyahu’s office said in a statement he would seek to legalise thousands of homes built without Israeli permits in the West Bank. He would also look into building 82 new homes in Ofra, a settlement near to where Thursday’s attack took place. “They think they can uproot us from our land, they will not succeed,” he said in a statement.
Netanyahu also said they would be seeking to speed up the process of destroying homes of Palestinian attackers, so it takes place within 48 hours, as well as withdrawing Israeli work permits for family members of assailants.
14-member Palestinian family left homeless in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 8 Dec — A Palestinian family was forced to demolish their two homes, which have been built since 20 years ago, in the Silwan town in occupied East Jerusalem, on Saturday. The two brothers, Jawhar and Murad Hashimeh, had begun to empty their homes, in the Wadi Qaddum neighborhood of the town, days ago in preparation to carry out the demolition. The brothers demolished their homes early Saturday morning as the Israeli municipality had given them until the 10th of December to carry out the demolition or they would be forced to pay the costs of demolition to the municipality’s bulldozers and escorting staff. The 14-member Hashimeh family has become homeless after the demolition. The family had attempted to issue [obtain] licenses for their homes for the past twenty years. Jawhar told Ma‘an that the family had paid a total of 61,000 shekels of fines as they attempted to issue licenses, however, the municipality always rejected their applications before ordering the demolition of the homes last June.
Land sales to Israeli settlers likely motive in Palestinian murder
The National 9 Dec — A Palestinian man shot dead in an Arab Israeli town on Friday had reportedly played a role in selling West Bank land to Jewish buyers. Ahmed Salama, originally a resident of the West Bank city of Qalqilya, was shot and killed near his home in the central Israeli town of Jaljulya. A Palestinian Authority source told The National they were unaware of the 58-year-old’s involvement in land sales. But Israeli media reports cited Palestinian sources as saying that he had avoided entering Area A of the West Bank, the section of the territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority, for fear of repercussions because of the suspicions around his role in selling West Bank property to Israeli settlers. Selling Palestinian land to Israelis is considered a betrayal in the Palestinian territories….
Forged Jerusalem home sale gets Jordan’s attention
Al-Monitor 12 Dec by Daoud Kuttab — A Jordanian parliamentarian revealed forged documents notarized by a Jordanian lawyer to sell a Palestinian home in East Jerusalem to Israelis, raising the ire of Jordanians and Palestinians alike….
Israeli forces raid home of Palestinian governor of Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 9 Dec — Staff members from the Israeli Civil Administration raided the home of the Palestinian Governor of Jerusalem, Adnan Ghaith, in the Silwan neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, on Sunday. Local witnesses told Ma‘an that the Israeli Civil Administration staff was escorted by Israeli police forces into the Silwan neighborhood and raided Ghaith’s home. The staff members took photographs and measurements of the home, in addition to photographing and measuring other homes, which belong to Ghaith’s siblings. Sources pointed out that there was no reason provided for the raid. This comes after Ghaith was released from Israeli detention and banned entry for six consecutive months to the occupied West Bank.
Water pipeline for illegal settlements to harm Palestinian farmers
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 9 Dec — Israel’s plan to build a 7-kilometer-long water pipeline between two illegal Israeli settlements in the northern occupied West Bank is going to harm several Palestinian farmers, whose land will be affected by the pipeline that will go through their land, according to Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank. The Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned news agency, Wafa, reported that Daghlas said, “Several Palestinian landowners and farmers in the Nablus-area villages of Qusra and Jaloud were informed by the Israeli military government that the water pipeline between the illegal settlements of Shavot Rahel and Migdalim, which were illegally built on land belonging to both of the villages, is going to go through their land, meaning the farmers will not be able to cultivate a large area of their land located near the pipeline.”….
Christian groups invested $65 million in Israel settlements
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Dec — Evangelical Christian groups have invested up to $65 million in projects in the “Biblical Heartland” over the past decade; however, that doesn’t include services they provide free of charge, such as volunteer laborers, according to a Haaretz investigation. Haaretz news outlet reported that about 1,700 volunteers were sent by Christian Evangelical groups to the illegal Israeli settlement of Har Brakha, south of the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus. Sources pointed out that the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs allocated $16,000 annually to one of the evangelical associations for the production of media campaigns for Israel and settlements abroad.
Palestinian toddler dies from wounds in Gaza as premature Israeli baby killed after West Bank shooting
JERUSALEM (The Independent) 14 Dec by Bel Trew — Hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza attended the funeral of a four-year-old boy who died after being injured by Israeli gunfire during a protest at the border, health officials have said. On the same day 70 miles away a baby, who was delivered prematurely to an Israeli woman wounded in a Palestinian drive-by shooting in the West Bank, also died….
Israeli settlers hang posters calling for killing Palestinian president
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 11 Dec – Israeli extreme Jewish groups hung posters [see photo] of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Huwwara crossroads in southern Nablus, in the northern occupied West Bank, on Tuesday, calling for his assassination. Locals reported that the Israeli army, deployed in the area, did not remove these posters. The posters read “supporter of terrorists” and called for killing (assassinating) the Palestinian President. The incident comes as member of the Likud party at the Israeli Knesset, Oren Hazan, had called for imposing closure on the Ramallah and al-Bireh district until the suspect of an attack carried out in the Ofra illegal Israeli settlement, two days ago, is detained. Seven Israeli settlers were injured in the attack. Israeli forces had raided Ramallah, on Monday, and were deployed just meters away from the Palestinian President’s house. Israeli forces raided several institutions in Ramallah, including the Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa News and Information Agency, allegedly searching for the suspect.
Knesset approves 200 more communities where Arabs are banned
MEMO 10 Dec — The legislation committee at the Israeli Knesset yesterday approved 200 extra communities where non-Jewish inhabitants can be banned, Arab48 reported. MK Bezalel Smotrich, from the Jewish Home party, initiated the bill to add the new communities to the list of areas which enjoy power to choose the families and persons who are planning to move in to them. The majority of the 700 communities which enjoy this right are based in the Galilee. Critics have said this racist policy is another means through which Israel plans to Judaise the areas and wipe away their Palestinian history by banning Arabs from living in them. Smotrich claims the law is needed because non-Jews do not keep up with the social fabric of the communities.
Nazareth preserves its Arab traditions as Christmas nears
NAZARETH, Israel (Reuters) 12 Dec by Rami Ayyub — As Nazareth was decked out for Christmas, a group of weavers gathered in the cobblestone alleys of Israel’s largest Arab city, intent on preserving their Palestinian heritage at a time when their communities feel under pressure. Above the Christian and Muslim women laying out embroidery stalls, workmen strung seasonal lights onto the Church of St. Gabriel. The church’s underground spring, according to Greek Orthodox tradition, is where Mary was drawing water during the Annunciation – when the angel Gabriel told her she would give birth to Jesus. The most common form of embroidery on display was “tatreez”, a centuries-old form of cross-stitch patterns on stretched white canvasses that is practiced in Arab communities throughout Israel, and in Palestinian towns across the West Bank and Gaza….
Christians in Gaza request prayer that permits will be granted to travel to the West Bank….
MEC 10 Dec — All inhabitants of Gaza, one of the most densely populated places on Earth, face severe travel restrictions and have difficulty obtaining permits from the Israeli authorities to enter Israel through the Erez border crossing. In previous years, Christians living in Gaza were privileged to be able to apply through the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem to receive travel permits from Israel to visit family and friends in the West Bank over the Christmas period. This year, however, nearly all the Christmas permit applications have been refused by the Israeli authorities, with only Christians over the age of fifty-five being allowed to travel.
De-miners sound all-clear at marooned Jordan River baptism shrines
QASR AL-YAHUD, West Bank (Reuters) 9 Dec — Israeli and foreign engineers sounded the all-clear on Sunday around three churches on the western bank of the Jordan River, near where Jesus is believed to have been baptized, after mines that had marooned the shrines for decades were cleared. The river banks were once a war zone between Israel and Jordan, and were littered with thousands of landmines and unexploded ordnance. The two neighbors made peace in 1994 but it took many years before the defusing and clearing began. Seven churches have lain abandoned for more than 50 years in the area of operations, about a kilometer (half-mile) from the Qasr al-Yahud baptism site in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which is a major draw for Christian pilgrims. Israel’s Defence Ministry said on Sunday that mine-clearing had been completed around three of the shrines – belonging to the Franciscan order and the Greek Orthodox and Ethiopian churches – though they have yet to be formally opened to the clergy or the public … Work around the other four shrines – Syrian Orthodox, Coptic, Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic – would take months to complete, Israel said. Engineers worry that some of them might have been booby-trapped.
Photos: Heavy rain causes floods in West Bank
Roya News 8 Dec — Heavy rains on Thursday and Friday blocked traffic in a large number of areas in the West Bank [actually Palestinian areas of Israel]. Rainwater flooded a number of houses, especially ones in lower areas. Some vehicles were trapped in high level water as heavy rain caused major roads of Umm al-Fahm and southern Baqa to flood. Rocks crashed on a car passing by, wounding a woman moderately in the Ein Khaled neighborhood in Umm al-Fahm. Water flooded some houses in multiple neighborhoods, causing damage to property, and angering many Palestinian citizens.
Australia warns citizens ahead of expected Jerusalem move
AFP 14 Dec — Australia on Friday warned citizens to take care while travelling in neighbouring Muslim-majority Indonesia, ahead of an expected but contentious move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to announce — as soon as Saturday — that his government will follow US President Donald Trump’s lead and recognise the contested city as Israel’s capital … Morrison is expected to stop short of actually shifting Australia’s diplomatic corps to the Holy City, amid fears about the cost and security implications. But recognising Jerusalem would help the embattled Australian PM — who faces the prospect of an election drubbing next year — with Jewish and conservative Christian voters and win him friends in the White House … Indonesia’s government, facing domestic pressure at home, had reacted angrily earlier this year, when Morrison floated the idea of both recognising Jerusalem and moving the Australian embassy there. The issue has put the conclusion of a bilateral trade agreement on hold….