‘Death to Arabs’ painted, Palestinian olive trees chopped down in West Bank
Times of Israel 8 Jan by Jacob Magid — Police opened an investigation Tuesday into an apparent hate crime targeting a Palestinian village in the southern West Bank. Residents of Tuwani, in the south Hebron Hills just west of the Israeli outpost of Havat Maon, woke up Tuesday to find 15 olive trees chopped down. Nearby, two boulders were spray-painted with the Hebrew phrases “Death to Arabs” and “Revenge.” Another boulder was graffiti’d with a red Star of David … Last week, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released statistics ahead of the new year that showed a 69 percent increase in settler attacks on Palestinians in 2018 compared to 2017. OCHA recorded 265 incidents in which Israeli residents of the West Bank allegedly targeted Palestinians or their property. In total, 115 Palestinians were injured in those attacks and 7,900 trees and 540 vehicles were destroyed….
Israeli ‘Jewish terror’ incidents targeting Palestinians tripled in 2018
[behind paywall] Haaretz 6 Jan by Amos Harel — Last year saw a steep rise in “nationalist crimes,” violence and property damage by Jews against Palestinians in the West Bank. As of mid-December, 482 such incidents had been reported, compared to 140 for 2017. Violence by settlers and right-wing activists included beating up and throwing stones at Palestinians. More frequently, the offenses consisted of painting nationalist and anti-Arab or anti-Muslim slogans, damaging homes and cars and cutting down trees belonging to Palestinian farmers. Such incidents decreased sharply in 2016 and 2017 from previous years. The decline has been attributed to the response of the authorities following the firebombing of a home in the West Bank village of Duma, which took the lives of three members of the Dawabshe family. Amiram Ben-Uliel, a young settler, was indicted on three counts of murder in that case. After the attack the Shin Bet security service arrested several extremist right-wing activists living in the northern West Bank who were suspected of involvement in violence and incitement to violence against Arabs. A series of actions taken during that time — including detention without charges, restraining orders keeping suspects out of the West Bank and in a few cases the granting of permission to interrogate suspects using harsh methods — enabled the authorities to crack a number of cases, which acted as a deterrent and brought down the rate of violence against Palestinians. However, over the past year, after the activists were released (as well as the rise of new, younger groups), violent acts increased once again….
Hamas says Egypt to fully open Gaza border despite PA pullout
GAZA CITY (AFP) 10 Jan — Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas said Thursday that Egypt plans to fully reopen its border crossing with the enclave, days after partially closing it amid infighting between Palestinian factions. Forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas withdrew on Sunday from the Rafah border crossing, accusing rivals Hamas of interference. The crossing is the only way for Palestinians to leave Gaza that bypasses Israel. Egypt has prevented Gazans from leaving the enclave since Abbas’s Palestinian Authority withdrew its staff. An Egyptian security delegation visited Gaza on Thursday, meeting with senior Hamas officials including its head Ismail Haniya. Khalil al-Hayya, deputy head of Hamas, told journalists the Egyptians “assured us that there will be no changes at the Rafah border and it will stay open”. It was not immediately clear when the crossing would fully reopen. Hayya said he expected that all sides would also stick to an informal truce agreement with Israel. Hamas employees retook the post on Monday in what they said was an attempt to maintain border control after the shock PA withdrawal.
Palestinian boat catches fire as Israeli navy attacks fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — A Palestinian fishing boat was set on fire, on Thursday, after Israeli naval forces repeatedly fired towards it off of the coast in the northern besieged Gaza Strip. Head of the Palestinian Fishermen Union in Gaza, Zakariya Bakr, said that Israeli naval forces opened fire towards Palestinian fishing boats located three nautical miles off of the northern coast of Gaza and ignited a fire in one of them. Bakr confirmed that two Palestinian fishermen were present on the boat as it caught on fire due to repeated gunfire. He identified them as Mahmoud Hamoud Ishkantana and Muhammad Mahmoud Ishkantana. The two fishermen were detained by Israeli naval forces and taken to an unknown location.
Israel carries out overnight air strikes on Gaza
Al Jazeera 7 Jan — The Israeli military carried out air raids on the Gaza Strip overnight on Monday, causing damage to property, Palestinian media reported. According to Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, Israeli warplanes fired two missiles at a site in Beit Lahiya in the northern strip. No casualties were reported. In a statement, the Israeli army said it had carried out air strikes against Hamas positions in response to a rocket being fired into Ashkelon in southern Israel. Fighter jets and helicopter gunships then raided “terrorist targets at Hamas military camps” on the Gaza Strip, the statement said. “Earlier today, an explosive device attached to multiple balloons was launched on a model plane from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory,” the statement said. A Hamas security source said one attack occurred east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip and hit an observation point for Hamas’s armed wing, while the second was east of Gaza City. The security source said no injuries had been reported. The Gaza frontier has been relatively calm in recent weeks after a deal in which Israel allowed Qatar to provide millions of dollars in aid for fuel and salaries in the blockaded enclave….
Gaza militants float model plane with bomb attached into Israel
Ynet 6 Jan by Matan Tzuri — Gaza militants used a cluster of balloons to fly a Styrofoam airplane carrying an explosive device [photo] into southern Israel on Sunday. The plane landed in a field in Sdot Negev Regional Council, near the Gaza border, and was neutralized by police sappers. The process caused the device to explode, but no damages or injuries were reported. Israel Air Force helicopters struck a position belonging to the Hamas terror group in southern Gaza in response. Around 10 days ago, a cluster of approximately 10 balloons with an explosive device attached landed on Moshav Kfar Maimon, also located in the Sdot Negev Regional Council, c lose to the fence of a kindergarten. The incident also prompted a police response, who arrived at the scene to neutralize the device….
Security fears in Israel after Qatar funds for Gaza frozen
MEMO 9 Jan — The Israeli government’s decision to freeze Qatari funds allocated to the Gaza Strip are causing security fears among security officials in Tel Aviv, Quds Press reported yesterday. According to Haaretz, Israeli security is afraid that freezing the funds will lead to a deterioration in the humanitarian situations in Gaza; leaving Hamas unable to commit to the truce previously agreed. On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to freeze the Qatari funds allocated to the Gaza Strip. Qatar had pledged to pay $150 million to Gaza over a six month period. The money is to be spent on paying the salaries of government employees in the Strip, help ensure the electricity plant continues to operate and to support Palestinians who were injured during the “Great March of Return” protests. Two payments have already been sent over the past two months, these were met with severe criticism from senior Israeli officials who claimed that Israel was fighting Hamas on the one hand then allowing it to be funded on another.
Turkish doctors carry out surgeries on Gaza wounded
MEMO 9 Jan — A delegation of Turkish doctors has arrived in Gaza to carry out operations on Palestinians injured during the “Great March of Return”, Felesteen.ps reported today. The delegation, from Doctors Worldwide Turkey, an independent charity, arrived in Gaza on Monday, programmes coordinator Ahmed Tsefek said. According to Tsefek, the delegation will remain in Gaza for four days and carry out operations at Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in the besieged Strip. Tsefek said his organisation is currently thinking of opening an office in the occupied West Bank in order to offer its services to the Palestinian refugees in the refugee camps there. The charity opened its Gaza office in 2015, where 31 employees have been working on different medical programmes.
‘We overcame but never forgot’: Samouni family recount 2009 war
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 9 Jan by Maram Humaid — Survivors gather in Gaza City to remember 48 family members killed in Israel’s Operation Cast Lead attack in 2008-2009 — On the morning of January 4, 2009, 16 members of Talal Hilmi al-Samouni’s family evacuated to the first floor of their home in the al-Zaytoun neighbourhood, south of Gaza City, after an Israeli missile struck the third floor. According to Palestinian rights group al-Haq, the shelling intensified resulting in three other Samouni families – Ibrahim al-Samouni (12 members), Rashad al-Samouni (11 members), and Nafiz al-Samouni (10 members) – seeking refuge in Talal’s home. Later the same day, Israeli forces approached Talal’s house and ordered the congregated families to move to another home, that of Wael al-Samouni (11 members). The men were ordered to lift up their shirts on their way out.
The result was 60 people under one roof without access to water or electricity, which had been cut off since the start of the offensive … The following day, January 5, after a lull in fighting, one of the Samounis decided to venture outside of the house to collect water. He was shocked to find they were still encircled by soldiers and tanks and dashed back inside. “Five minutes later, the tanks shelled a missile into the house and injured seven people,” al-Haq recounted. “Only three minutes later the Israelis aimed another missile close by, which killed many al-Samouni family members – predominantly children and women.” … The most harrowing detail of the massacre, however, was when the Red Cross was finally permitted to enter the house, three days later. They found 13 injured family members, including eight children, who spent days without food or water, surrounded by the bodies of their parents and relatives. In total, 48 members of the Samouni family were massacred by Israel forces, including 10 children and seven women. Three years later, an Israeli military investigation concluded the army did not commit any crimes and was not responsible for the al-Samouni family deaths …
Zainab al-Samouni was 12 when the killings occurred. “It was my first time seeing Israeli soldiers,” she said. “I felt terrified. They were tall with their faces masked with black paint and heavily armed.” “The passage of time can’t heal my open injury. My parents bled to death. Many of my injured relatives died after the Israelis prevented their evacuation to hospital … “The weather that day was very cold, and there was no food to feed children or blankets,” Zainab recalled. “On January 5, the home where we had gathered was bombed with more than six missiles. I couldn’t see anything from the dust and fumes. I only could see blood all around me.”….
Human rights defenders urge Israel to stop spraying dangerous herbicides over Gaza
MEMO 10 Jan — Human rights defenders have urged Israeli authorities to cease spraying dangerous herbicides over the occupied Gaza Strip, a press release by legal rights centre Adalah stated yesterday. On Monday, human rights groups Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights in Gaza, Gisha – Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement, and Adalah, wrote to senior officials “with an urgent demand to refrain from conducting further aerial spraying of herbicides inside and near the Gaza Strip, due to the severe damage to crops and the risk to the health of Gaza residents caused by the spraying.” On 4 December, the Israeli military “sprayed herbicides from the air over areas inside the Gaza Strip and near the fence separating it from Israel”. A variety of crops grown in fields near the fence inside the Gaza Strip were “damaged as a result” … “Contrary to Israel’s official position,” Adalah added, “whereby the military only sprays herbicides over Israeli territory, farmers in Gaza report that the planes spray over the Strip’s aerial space.” “The letter further notes that even if the spraying were to in fact take place only on the Israeli side, the chemical agents used are carried by wind over to the Gaza Strip, causing severe damage to crops and disproportionate financial losses to local farmers, meaning that there is no justification or legal basis for the continued use of this destructive practice.”
Searching for clean water in Gaza
UNICEF 10 Jan by Gregor von Medeazza — There is no simple narrative about water and sanitation in the State of Palestine. It’s one about Gaza, the West Bank, and multiple contexts within each. But for a child – or a family — it’s access to safe water and sanitation that ultimately matters. That’s why, after three years working in the State of Palestine, I wanted to reflect on the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) story and what UNICEF and partners are doing within the complex challenges….
Hamas arrests 5 over Palestinian government media raid
GAZA CITY (AFP) 5 Jan — Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip arrested five men Saturday over a raid at the Palestinian Authority’s media headquarters, in which valuable equipment was destroyed. Five armed men attacked the offices of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation in Gaza City on Friday, trashing equipment worth thousands of dollars. The media centre is funded by the West Bank-based Palestinian government and houses Palestine TV and the Voice of Palestine radio station. Staff and a PA official initially blamed the raid on Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, but the Islamist movement said disgruntled PA employees were responsible. All five arrested are “employees of the Palestinian Authority whose salaries have been cut recently,” the Hamas-run interior ministry in Gaza said. “It turned out that one of them was a Palestine TV employee whose salary was cut last month.”
Israeli army pulling plug on Gaza rocket alert apps leaves Bedouin out to dry
[behind paywall] Haaretz 6 Jan by Yaniv Kubovich & Almog Ben Zikri — Most of the unrecognized Bedouin communities in southern Israel are unable to receive real-time warnings of incoming rocket and mortar shell attacks from the Gaza Strip since the army’s Home Front Command smartphone app does not include these communities in its database. The Israel Defense Forces said that it was difficult to add the communities to their database since they are not recognized by the state … The military recommended using the Home Front Command’s official app, which it says delivers reliable, real-time alerts to users … To download the app, users must choose three communities about which they want to receive real-time warnings. Residents of unrecognized villages who want to download the app will not, however, be able to find their communities’ names in the list when they come to select three in order to download.
A light for Gaza
Qantara 8 Jan — A go-getting young Palestinian woman is currently causing an energy surge in Gaza. Her goal: to make solar panels affordable for poor families. Her motto: do your thing, regardless of what others think. Inge Gunther reports from Gaza — The chickens on the flat roof are all in a tizzy. With fluttering wings, the birds inspect the two shiny silver-blue solar panels the workers have just put down to take a breather. In the midst of all the cackling, curious onlookers watch in rapt attention as the men manoeuvre the solar collectors to the roof’s apex and drill the frame into position. The residents of the half-finished two-storey building in Mograka, a poor village south of Gaza City, have been saving up for a long time for this day. The prospect of now being able to produce their own electricity instead of sitting in the dark in the evenings brings waves of happiness. “Now we can do our homework whenever we want,” says eleven-year-old Rinat. Her grandfather laughs: “As long as you don’t watch TV all the time.” All they need to do is connect the batteries and hook up the power supply unit. The sun will do the rest. Majd Mashharawi is also filled with sunshine on this important occasion, which compensates for many a setback. She is the head of an ambitious project for making solar energy affordable for low-income families in Gaza. “Sun Box” is the name she chose for the company she founded a year ago….
Feature: Gaza young man masters art of paper folding to fight unemployment
GAZA (Xinhua) 3 Jan — A jobless Palestinian young man from a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip finds a creative way to fight unemployment by learning Origami, or the art of paper folding, online. Ahmed Humaid, 28, creates a variety of interesting shapes and words in both Arabic and English by folding paper sheets. His works have started to attract customers from both inside and outside of the Palestinian enclave. It usually takes Humaid long hours to complete a piece of art at his home in the Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. About a year ago, Humaid learned the art of Origami from the Internet, including some social networking sites … Humaid said that the art of paper folding demands a lot of time and concentration, adding that he prefers to use old book pages because the yellow color embodies characters better than new white papers. “I use computer design programs to make a draft of the Arabic word or logo that I will make,” he said … Just like most Palestinian young people, Humaid suffers from unemployment, which led him to exploit his skills in finding a source of financial income to help his family of six. The price of Humaid’s works ranges from 20 U.S. dollars to 50 dollars….
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Army injures many Palestinians in Ramallah
IMEMC 11 Jan — Israeli soldiers injured, on Thursday at night, many Palestinians in the al-Masyoon neighborhood, in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, after several army jeeps invaded it, and fired many live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades at local protesters. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency said the soldiers invaded the neighborhood from several directions and added that many Palestinians suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, including families who were in their homes. It added that the soldiers also invaded Caesar local hotel, and several surrounding stores, before confiscating surveillance recordings. The protesters hurled stones, and a few Molotov cocktails, at the invading army jeeps, WAFA said. The soldiers closed the main road leading to the hotel, in addition to sealing all roads leading to Rafat village, south of Ramallah.
Palestinian man rushed to hospital after severe beating by Israeli soldiers
IMEMC/Agencies 10 Jan — According to the Wafa News Agency, Israeli forces transferred a Palestinian man to a hospital after severely beating him in his house in Abu Shkheidim village, northwest of Ramallah, said an attorney on Wednesday. Mamon al-Hashem, an attorney representing Palestine Prisoner’s Society, said that Ziyad Mohammad Shalalda, a 45-year-old resident of Abu Shkheidim village, was rushed to Shaare Zedek hospital after being severely beaten and detained by Israeli forces. According to al-Hashem, Shalalda has been held at the hospital and denied access to a lawyer since his detention. Al-Hashem could not ascertain any details about Shalalda’s health condition, but pledged that PPS would take necessary legal proceedings to learn about it. Shalalda was detained along with his son, Mahmoud, 21, during an Israeli military raid into Abu Shkheidim during which soldiers detained Assem Barghouthi, suspected of carrying out an attack which killed two Israeli soldiers on December 13.
Palestinian teen seriously injured as Israeli forces storm West Bank city
PressTV 6 Jan — The Palestinian Ministry of Health said in a statement that Israeli forces raided al-Bireh, located 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) north of Jerusalem al-Quds, early on Sunday, and violently ransacked a number of houses and shops, triggering clashes with local residents. Witnesses, requesting not to be named, said Israeli forces used live ammunition, teargas and rubber-coated steel bullets to disperse stone-throwing Palestinians, who responded by setting tires on fire. The ministry said a bullet struck a teenager, whose identity was not immediately known, in the head, causing a skull fracture and internal bleeding. The injured Palestinian was taken to hospital for treatment….
Army injures three Palestinians in Al- Bireh
IMEMC 8 Jan — Israeli soldiers shot, on Monday evening, three young Palestinian men in the al-Bireh city, in the Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate, in central West Bank. Media sources said several army jeeps invaded the city, and attacked dozens of protesters with live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades. They added that the soldiers shot two young men with live rounds in their lower limbs, and another young man with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his neck. Many Palestinians suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, and received the needed treatment by local medics, while the three young men were moved to Palestine Medical Complex, and their wounds have been described as mild.
Border guards shoot Palestinian in leg in apparent ‘suicide by cop’ attempt
Times of Israel 7 Jan by Judah Ari Gross — Border Police officers shot a Palestinian woman in the leg after she ignored calls to stop as she walked toward them, in an apparent attempt to be killed in “suicide by cop” at a northern West Bank junction on Monday, police said. The border guards were stationed at the Tapuah Junction, a location frequented by both Israelis and Palestinians. The officers “spotted the suspect approaching them. Despite the officers’ calls [for her to stop], she continued approaching,” police said in a statement. “The border guards fired into the air, but she was not deterred and continue approaching them suspiciously. Finally, the officers shot her in the lower body and subdued her,” police said. Police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said the woman, who was approximately 40 years old from the Palestinian city of Tulkarem, was searched after she was shot and was found to be unarmed. “During an initial interrogation, she said she had come to die, apparently because of a family situation,” police said in a statement. The woman sustained moderate injuries and received first aid at the scene before being taken to Petah Tikva’s Beilinson Hospital for treatment. Israeli security officials have noted that they believe many Palestinian assailants commit attacks with the goal of being killed, as being shot dead by Israeli soldiers and police officers is considered a more acceptable way to die in Palestinian society than suicide.
Soldiers abduct a man after illegal settlers assaulted him in Hebron
IMEMC 11 Jan — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Thursday evening, a Palestinian man from Yatta town, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, after a group of extremist illegal Israeli colonialist settlers assaulted him. Rateb Jabour, the coordinator of the National and Popular Committee against the Annexation Wall and Colonies in southern West Bank, said the soldiers abducted Ziad Mohammad Makhamra, 60, from Bir al-‘Ad area. He added that the man was abducted after a group of illegal settlers assaulted him while hurling insults at the man. The colonists came from the illegal Mitzpe Yair and Bnei Yacoub colonies, which were built on private Palestinian lands in Masafer Yatta area, east of Yatta.
Settlers attack Palestine official’s convoy in W. Bank
RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA) 3 Jan — Jewish settlers on Thursday attacked a convoy carrying Palestinian Religious Affairs Minister Yousef Adais near the West Bank city of Salfit, according to local sources. “Settlers attacked the convoy with stones; one car was damaged, although no injuries were reported,” one informed source said. Earlier Thursday, the Palestinian government said that a convoy carrying Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah had been subject to a similar settler attack near Nablus last week. “The PM’s convoy was attacked by a group of stone-throwing Jewish settlers near the Zatara checkpoint,” a government statement read….
IDF soldiers arrested for allegedly beating detained Palestinians
Ynet 10 Jan by Yoav Zitun — Military police arrest 5 members of Netzah Yehuda battalion on suspicion of assaulting two detainees; this is not the first time troubled battalion has been involved in violent incidents, as last month soldiers fought with Border Policemen in an effort to free settlers — The Military Police Criminal Investigation Division (CID) arrested an IDF platoon commander and four combat soldiers from the IDF’s religious battalion Netzah Yehuda Thursday for allegedly beating two Palestinians who were held in custody. The soldiers were to be brought before a military court Thursday for their remand hearing … In the past couple of years the religious battalion was involved in a number of violent incidents. Among others, members of the battalion were disciplined for interfering with a Palestinian journalist as she was reporting from the field, allowing participants in the so-called “wedding of hate” to use their weapons, and pointing a firearm at an Israeli Arab man in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Police expand Jewish terror probe, summon 30 more yeshiva students
Ynet 9 Jan by Elisha Ben Kimon — Israel Police on Wednesday summoned another 30 students at the Pri Haaretz yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Rehelim for questioning over the murder of a Palestinian woman last year. Police believe that the death of Aisha al-Rawbi in October 2018 is linked to five members of the yeshiva who are currently in custody. Police initially handed out the summons in private, but then went on to leave the rest with the yeshiva counselors. Aisha al-Rawbi, a 47-year-old mother of nine, was killed when a rock thrown at the vehicle in which she, her husband and nine-year-old daughter were travelling hit her on the head …. Police have already questioned around 30 other youths who attend the yeshiva on suspicion of throwing stones at the vehicle in which al-Rawbi was driving … On Tuesday, the heads of the yeshiva, Rabbis David Ben Natan and Yehuda Liebman, sent a letter to parents and students in which they accused the Shin Bet of cruelty to youths and of a vicious attack on their institution. The two claimed that they had fully cooperated the defense establishment, including a meeting with heads of the Jewish Department, and encouraged the students and their parents to do so, but that the Shin Bet had exploited this cooperation. The father of one of the suspects told Ynet on Tuesday that he has no doubt that the Shin Bet was harassing the detainees. “Let’s say that some children committed an act that requires an educational response, and for this they are being tortured?,” he said. “For this they have tied a child to a chair for 12-14 hours in a row and screamed into his ears? They tell him things he is incapable of hearing and break his soul? Because he scribbled on a flag?” … Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement of support for the Shin Bet on Tuesday, in apparent answer to complaints against the agency by the families of the five minors.
Husband of Palestinian woman killed in stoning seeks justice to stop next attack
Times of Israel 6 Jan by Adam Rasgon — The husband of a Palestinian woman who was killed in a roadside stoning last year said on Sunday that while nothing would bring her back, he hoped his wife’s killers will go to prison, since only justice would deter future attacks. Yakoub Rabi, 52, made the comments after the Shin Bet security service said it had arrested several Jewish minors over the past week on suspicion of involvement in the killing of his wife, Aisha. “I hope those who killed my wife will go to prison,” Yakoub told The Times of Israel. “It is important that they go there because others who want to carry out similar crimes need to know they will pay a heavy price….
Jewish terror suspects filmed themselves burning Israeli flag
Ynet 7 Jan by Yoav Zitun — Young Israeli Jews arrested on suspicion of causing the death of a Palestinian woman filmed themselves burning the Israeli flag, according to a video published by the Shin Bet domestic security service on Sunday. The security forces also confiscated Israeli flags daubed with Nazi slogans from the home of one of the detained teenagers. The five minors are suspected of hurling stones at a car of Palestinian woman in October, leading to her death. The five Israeli teenagers arrested in the case are suspected of a series of severe terrorism offenses, including her death. They are all under the age of 18 and have not been formally charged. The flag that was taken from the home of one of the minors had “Death to the Zionists” and “This stinking flag”—alongside a drawing of a swastika—written on it….
Rabbis approved Shabbat violation to counter threat of Shin Bet interrogations
Times of Israel 6 Jan by Jacob Magid — Settlement spiritual leaders deemed investigation into Palestinian woman’s killing a matter of life and death, in light of past suicide attempt by Jewish terror suspect — Concluding that a Shin Bet investigation into the killing of a Palestinian woman posed life-threatening danger, two noted settler rabbis authorized a group of far-right activists to drive on Shabbat and coach students at a northern West Bank yeshiva on how best to withstand interrogation by the security service. The Times of Israel spoke on Sunday with a prominent member of the Yitzhar settlement, who said he was involved in the decision to permit the violation of religious laws against driving on the Jewish Sabbath. The decision came after word got out regarding the death of Aisha Rabi, a 47-year-old mother of eight who was struck in the head with a large stone, as she sat in the passenger seat of a car being driven by her husband near the Tapuah Junction. An investigation conducted jointly by the Shin Bet and the Israel Police’s nationalistic crime unit led to the arrest of five students at the Pri Haaretz yeshiva high school, in the northern West Bank settlement of Rehelim — three last Sunday and two others roughly a week later. Although the incident took place on a Friday night (October 12), when members of the Orthodox settlement of Yitzhar do not use electrical appliances, word reached the community’s security coordinator, who leaves his phone on during Shabbat in case of emergency….
Israeli bus comes under fire near Beit El; driver lightly hurt
Ynet 6 Jan by Yoav Zitun & Roi Rubinstein — An Egged bus number 140 came under fire shortly after midnight on Sunday while it was making its way from Jerusalem to Beit El in the Binyamin region of the West Bank. The bus driver was lightly hurt from glass shards and damage was caused to the bus’s windshield. IDF soldiers launched a search for the perpetrators in the roads leading to the nearby towns of Al-Bireh and Beitin, as well as in nearby parts of route 60. In the wake of the attack, drivers of buses going to Beit El asked not to travel on that road, saying it does not have sufficient security. “We won’t endanger ourselves. You go on this road, and you don’t see any security personnel there,” one driver said. This is the fourth attack in the area over the past month….
Egged bus drivers to strike over safety concerns after West Bank shooting
Times of Israel 6 Jan — Union announces Monday protest, says authorities ‘systematically and inexplicably ignore’ threats to drivers, passengers; no Tel Aviv trains on Fridays due to infrastructure work….
Israel says arrests Palestinian suspect in deadly shootings
JERUSALEM (AFP) 8 Jan — Israeli forces arrested overnight a Palestinian accused of shooting dead two soldiers in the occupied West Bank last month and involvement in another attack that caused a baby’s death, authorities said Tuesday. Assam Barghouti is accused of shooting the soldiers at a bus stop near the Givat Assaf settlement in the Ramallah area on December 13, police said. At least two other people — including another soldier — were wounded, the army said at the time. Israel’s domestic security service, the Shin Bet, also accused him of involvement along with his brother in another shooting attack nearby, close to the Ofra settlement, that caused the death of a baby and wounded seven. In the December 9 shooting, a pregnant woman was seriously wounded and her baby was born prematurely and later died. Barghouti’s brother, Salah, 29, was killed during an arrest raid on December 12 … Assaf Barghouti was arrested at the home of an alleged accomplice in the West Bank village of Abu Shukheidim near Ramallah and was allegedly preparing more attacks, the Shin Bet said. An AK-47 rifle, night-vision equipment and ammunition were seized during his arrest, according to the Shin Bet.
Minors among 16 Palestinians detained by Israeli forces
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — Israeli forces detained at least 16 Palestinians, including minors, across the occupied West Bank on predawn Thursday. According to Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), Israeli forces detained six Palestinians in the southern West Bank district of Hebron. They were identified as Ismail Fawaz al-Qawasme, Muhammad Radwan al-Hashlamon, Ismail Shaher Riyan al-Sharawne, Muhammad Yahya Abu Jahisha, Hassan Mahmoud Abu Zanid, and Ahmad Bassam al-Zeir. In the Abu Dis village, in the central West Bank district of Jerusalem, one Palestinian was detained and identified as Abdullah Harbi Fahed Hussein. In the central West Bank district of Ramallah, Israeli forces detained two Palestinian minors. They were identified as Ayoub Ehsan Muhammad Nisser, 14, and Asaad Ahmad al-Haji Attaya, 17. In the northern West Bank district of Qalqiliya, three Palestinians were detained. PPS identified them as Abed al-Kareem Yasser Hussein, Hamza Mustafa Shteiwi, 15, and Abed al-Rahman Daoud Shteiwi, 16. In addition, Yousef Daoud Shteiwi, 14, the younger brother of Hamza and Abed Shteiwi, was summoned for interrogation by the Israeli army to the illegal Israeli settlement of Kadumim in the Qalqiliya district. In the northern West Bank district of Jenin, four former Palestinian prisoners were detained. PPS identified them as Nidal Amin Hazem, Yahya Bassam al-Saadi, Munadel Nafiaat, and Bahaa Muhammad Abu Tabikh.
Palestinians vow hunger strikes if Israel worsens jail conditions
All Jazeera 7 Jan b Farah Najjar — Detainees say Israeli proposals, including water rations and limits on family visits, are a ‘declaration of war’ — Hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli jails, detention facilities, and interrogation centres are preparing to launch a mass hunger strike once Israel implements new measures that will worsen conditions for prisoners. In a joint statement, prisoners, including administrative detainees who are held without charge, said their decision was in response to a “new level of oppression”. “These measures are a declaration of war that marks a new phase of our struggle,” the statement read. They also called on Palestinian factions and activists to stand in solidarity with them and demanded nationwide rallies. Israel holds 5,500 Palestinian prisoners, including nearly 500 administrative detainees, according to the Jerusalem-based Palestinian prisoners’ rights group, Addameer. The call to action is in response to Israel’s plans to worsen what are already poor conditions for Palestinians held in its jails. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan announced the measures last week and the Israeli government is expected to enforce the measures in the coming weeks. One of the more “serious” changes pending approval by the Israeli cabinet, is ending the policy of separating Hamas prisoners from those affiliated with rival Palestinian faction Fatah, according to Amjad al-Najjar, spokesperson for Hebron-based Palestinian Prisoners Club. “This has worried prisoners the most,” al-Najjar told Al Jazeera from the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. “This may cause fights to break out which could even lead to killings inside the prisons – especially in light of the current political climate,” he said. Other measures include rationing water supplies, blocking funds to the Palestinian Authority, reducing the number of family visits, and preventing access to jail canteens. For the past 12 years, detainees have mostly lived off food they pay for from the prison canteen. There, they would buy things like chicken, meat, and canned goods as an alternative to prison meals that are not enough to “sustain detainees throughout the day”, al-Najjar explained….
Palestinian detainees suffer severe cold in Etzion detention center
IMEMC/Agencies 10 Jan — The Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs stated that Palestinian detainees being held in the Israeli detention center of Etzion are subjected to extreme cold, under frigid weather conditions, lack of blankets and winter clothing, and scarcity of medical care. The Commission quoted its lawyer Jacqueline Fararja, following her visit to the detainees, on Tuesday, as saying that conditions of the detainees are catastrophic, adding that she met with the prisoners, and they are shivering hysterically, of intense cold. It added that the lawyer pointed out that the prisoners were wearing thin clothing that was given to them by prison administration, at a time when the administration is also depriving them of blankets, winter clothes and heating facilities. The detainees confirmed to the lawyer that living conditions in the detention center are intolerable, adding that their health status is in a clear deterioration, with most of them falling ill with colds and flu. The prisoners also told the lawyer that the health status of some prisoners has been aggravated, due to freezing cold, as it was with Osama Salhab, 20, who was assaulted by Israeli soldiers and wounded in his right leg, which resulted in the leg swelling in the freezing cold, with the administration providing him no medical relief….
Four minors suspected in Jewish terror case released to house arrest; fifth still in custody
[behind paywall] Haaretz 10 Jan by Yotam Berger — An Israeli judge ruled on Thursday to keep one of the five Yeshiva students implicated in the October murder of a Palestinian woman in detention, saying suspicions against him are of the “highest order.” Aisha Rabi, 47, was killed after stones were thrown at her car on a West Bank road. The judge of the Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s court released the other suspects to house arrest, but said that the dangerous nature of the offenses clearly supports the fifth suspect’s continued detention. The judge said that in the case of the fifth suspect, there was no appropriate alternative to his incarceration due to the nature of the allegations and concern over obstruction of justice … A gag order on other details of the case remains in effect until at least January 20. The police said that all five students are still suspected of Rabi’s murder, but one source told Haaretz that there is an “evidentiary difference” between the student who is still in detention and the other four. As far as is known, all five refused to speak under interrogation, meaning that the evidence against the detained suspect is not from his own account.
Palestinian who murdered British woman jailed for 18 years
JERUSALEM (AFP) 10 Jan — A mentally ill Palestinian man who stabbed a British woman to death near Jerusalem’s Old City was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Thursday by an Israeli court. Hannah Bladon, 20, was stabbed to death on April 14, 2017, by Jamil Tamimi, a Palestinian resident of east Jerusalem aged 57 at the time. Bladon, a student at Britain’s University of Birmingham, was in Jerusalem on a semester-long exchange programme at the Hebrew University. She had been riding a tram close to the Old City when she was stabbed by Tamimi seven times. Tamimi, who was convicted on December 31 and sentenced on Thursday in a plea bargain, had been released from a mental health institution the previous day. He was furious his children refused his request to stay with them and “resolved to stab someone to death with a knife” he had bought, the ruling said. Tamimi was diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia but fit to stand trial and accountable for his actions — but possibly to a slightly lesser degree, according to the doctors who examined him.
Israel denies Palestinians, PA officials access to Khan al-Ahmar
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — Israeli forces prevented Palestinians, including Palestinian Authority officials, from entering the Khan al-Ahmar Bedouin village of east of Jerusalem, on Saturday afternoon. Israeli forces obstructed a PA convoy while on its way to Khan al-Ahmar and briefly detained Minister Walid Assaf, Head of the Wall and Settlement Resistance Committee, as well as Mahmoud al-Aloul, Deputy Head of the Fatah movement. Witnesses said that Israeli forces denied access to Palestinians, journalists, activists in addition to these PA officials … On December 3rd, the Israeli authorities had issued a military order to extend the period of the closure of roads leading to the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem district in the central occupied West Bank. The Wall and Settlement Resistance Committee said, at the time, that the Israeli military order seeks to seize Palestinian-owned lands for military purposes. The closure will continue until January 15th 2019….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Apartheid
Road near Jerusalem puts wall between Israelis, Palestinians
JERUSALEM (AFP) 10 Jan — A newly opened highway into Jerusalem divides Israeli and Palestinian drivers into separate lanes with a wall, leading Palestinians to label it an “apartheid road”. Route 4370, which winds for several kilometres (miles) northeast of Jerusalem, consists of two separate two-way roads divided by a wall topped with fencing. Israeli public security minister Gilad Erdan, who attended the road’s inauguration on Wednesday, called it “an example of the ability to create shared life between Israelis and Palestinians, while meeting the existing security challenges.” He was referring to Palestinian attacks against Israelis, which in recent years have included sometimes deadly car-rammings and stabbings. Israeli officials say the road will ease heavy traffic in the Jerusalem area for residents of settlements in the West Bank, occupied by Israel for more than 50 years. The long-term goal is to provide settlers with another route to allow them to access Jerusalem more directly, said Aviv Tatarsky of Israeli NGO Ir Amim, which opposes settlement expansion … But Palestinians travelling between the north and south of the West Bank would have to change course and some Palestinian villages would find themselves further isolated from Jerusalem, said Tatarsky. Mohammed Abu Zaid, administrative director of the local council for Al-Zaim, a Palestinian village on the other side of the wall, fears that the journey from his village to the city will be lengthened by some eight kilometres (five miles) if the project is completed….
Bethlehem to be surrounded by Israeli settlements
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Jan — The Israeli occupation government has put forth a plan for a new neighborhood that would expand the settlement of Efrat toward Bethlehem, Haaretz paper reported Tuesday. The paper reported, according to Al Ray, that the government allocated about 1,200 dunams (300 acres) for the plan. The neighborhood is expected to expand the built-up area in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc up to the southern outskirts of the Palestinian city, in a manner that would surround Bethlehem with settlements. Israeli Civil Administration allocated the area to the Housing Ministry at the end of last month, a step that will enable the beginning of the active planning of the neighborhood called Givat Eitam (Eitam Hill). The hill is in Efrat’s area of jurisdiction, but on the eastern side of the separation barrier.
Did the PA play a role in Jerusalem home sale to settlers? / Mersiha Gadzo
OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM (Al Jazeera) 6 Jan — Early one morning in October, Adeeb Joudeh woke up to the news that Jewish settlers were moving into his former house in the Old City. Joudeh was shocked as he had sold his house to Khaled Attari, a Palestinian businessman, just six months ago, after spending six years trying to find a trustworthy buyer. “For the whole family, it’s like the sky has fallen on our heads,” Joudeh told Al Jazeera from his parents’ house in Sheikh Jarrah. “We’re a long-rooted family here in Jerusalem. We were very diligent in making sure that the person who buys this property is clean. And then our fears came true when we heard that our home was leaked to the settlers.” “We wouldn’t wish this even on our worst enemy.” His former house located in a prime location just a two-minute walk from the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque now reportedly belongs to Ateret Cohanim – a settler organisation whose purpose is to Judaise the Old City and its surroundings.
Joudeh holds the title of “key holder of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre” in the Old City, one of Christianity’s most sacred sites. His ancestors have served as custodians of the keys since the 12th century. Not only has his family’s reputation been damaged and is under pressure to relinquish the key, but Joudeh has also received death threats from fellow Palestinians over the sale, a grave crime. Under PA law, the selling of land and property to Jews is illegal. The laws aim to protect Palestinian properties from Zionist settler takeovers. While this isn’t the first time a Palestinian home has been transferred to a settler group through an intermediary, it has provoked a wave of reactions among the residents of Jerusalem as the case raises questions about the possible involvement of the Palestinian Authority (PA)….
Settlement plan to seize 139 dunums of Deir Dibwan land near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (PNN) 10 Jan — The Israeli Ministry of Finance has granted a license to implement a settlement plan which aims to seize some 139 dunums of the land of Deir Dibwan village, east of Ramallah. The Land Research Center in Jerusalem he center said in a press release on Thursday that the land was seized as part of a detailed settlement plan within the land of Deir Dibwan village in the natural ponds 32 and 33. He pointed out that the analysis of the detailed outline presented, shows that the occupation authorities aim to link the colony of “Ma’ale Mikhmas” settlement to [outpost] “Mitzpeh Danny”. He pointed out that the plan shows that the Israeli authorities allocated about 48 dunums for the construction of public buildings and institutions, 26 dunums for the construction of a new road and 15 dunums for the establishment of hiking areas.
West Bank settlers say population up 3 percent in 2018
JERUSALEM (AFP) 8 Jan — The Jewish settler population of the Israeli-occupied West Bank grew by three percent to 448,672 in 2018, the main organisation representing the settlers said on Tuesday. The figures, released by the Yesha Council, exclude the estimated 200,000 Israelis living in occupied and annexed east Jerusalem. Yesha said its figures were based on data supplied by the Israeli interior ministry. A statement by the council said that while the overall population was up from 2017 the rate of growth has slowed over the past decade from a 5.8 percent rise in 2008. “The obvious conclusion is that there is not enough new construction in recent years,” it said … Ultra-Orthodox Jews account for the overwhelming majority of residents of the two biggest settlements. They are Modiin Illit, west of Ramallah, with a population of 72,944, and Beitar Illit, southwest of Jerusalem, with 58,774 inhabitants, according to the interior ministry. The ultra-Orthodox comprise about 10 percent of the overall Israeli population and more than one-third of West Bank settlers….
Jerusalem municipality member proposes destruction of historic wall
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Jan — A Jerusalem municipality member advanced, on Sunday, a suggestion to demolish the historic wall of Jerusalem’s Old City district, under the pretext of easing the traffic crisis. Israel Hayom news quoted King as saying that the wall was built in the 16th century, by one of the Ottoman caliphs, to protect Jerusalem from war, and it is no longer needed, as well as being the cause of a severe traffic crisis. He added that the wall could not be considered sacred and historical; therefore, it can be fully or partially removed, in order to solve the traffic crisis. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates condemned Israeli Judaizing policy of the holy city, warning of extremist settlement organizations’ plans against Jerusalem and the Old City district, located in occupied East Jerusalem … The walls of Jerusalem and the Old City were added, in 1981, to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. They were built during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I, between 1535 and 1538. The walls surrounded the Old Town of 4,018 meters, with an average height of 12 meters and a thickness of 2.5 meters. According to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, Israeli occupation authorities use the walls to observe and to control the entry and exit of Palestinians through eight historic gates.
Muslim group sues to block ‘No Boycott of Israel’ measure
COLLEGE PARK, Maryland. (AP) 9 Jan by Michael Kunzelman — Maryland’s ban on contracting with businesses that boycott Israel tramples on the First Amendment rights of a software engineer who advocates for Palestinians, a Muslim civil rights group claims in a lawsuit filed Wednesday. The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ federal lawsuit seeks to block the state from enforcing an executive order that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed in October 2017. The order requires contractors to certify in writing that they don’t boycott Israel. The group’s suit claims the order has an unconstitutional chilling effect on First Amendment-protected political advocacy supporting the Palestinians. CAIR says 25 other states have enacted measures similar to Maryland’s, through legislation or executive orders. CAIR attorney Gadeir Abbas said other federal lawsuits have challenged measures in Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas and Texas. CAIR sued Hogan and state Attorney General Brian Frosh on behalf of software engineer Syed Saqib Ali, a former state legislator. Ali’s lawsuit says the order bars him from bidding for government software program contracts because he supports boycotts of businesses and organizations that “contribute to the oppression of Palestinians.”….
Anti-BDS measure stalled in US Senate but ‘will come back’
WASHINGTON, DC (Al Jazeera) 9 Jan by William Roberts — US legislation addressing security policy in the Middle East, including a measure taking aim at boycotts of Israel, failed to clear a key procedural hurdle on Tuesday but politicians say the bills “will come back” after the partial government shutdown ends. The legislation, introduced by Republican Senator Marco Rubio, consolidates four bills that did not make it through Congress last year. If passed, the legislation would authorise $3.3bn annually in US military support for Israel, reauthorise the US-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act and impose financial sanctions on the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad and companies or banks that do business with Syria. Controversially, the fourth measure, titled the Combating BDS Act, would allow US states and localities to retaliate commercially against companies or individuals supporting boycott, divestment or sanction campaigns aimed at Israel … The Senate voted 56-44 on Tuesday to prevent further consideration, forestalling action on the underlying legislation that otherwise enjoys broad bipartisan support. The Republicans need 60 votes. On Twitter, Rubio said he would try for another vote to move forward with the bill later this week. Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said the bill “will come back and it will have very strong bipartisan support”. “The problem right now is that there are those who feel very passionately that we should not do anything unless the government is open,” Menendez told Al Jazeera….
Birmingham Institute’s rescission of Angela Davis award over BDS becomes an embarrassment to pro-Israel groups that applied pressure
Mondoweiss 10 Jan by Philip Weiss — There are two big stories involving Israel and BDS in the American news this week. One is the Senate Republicans pushing a bill to punish supporters of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions and thereby divide the Democratic Party. The other is the uproar over the decision by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to rescind an award to Angela Davis because of the activist/scholar’s support for BDS, which one Birmingham Jewish group claimed “targets the Jewish people excessively.” Davis was to receive the Fred Shuttlesworth prize on February 16. The BCRI changed its mind about the award, and canceled the gala, because of what is being reported as pressure from the Jewish community. The story is proving to be a giant embarrassment to both the Civil Rights Institute and those Jewish organizations, showing the overreach of the Israel lobby. Angela Davis is now being showered with praise and the Institute is being condemned internationally; so much so that the top three officers of the organization resigned within days of rescinding the award (the chairman is a former Honda executive). And one Jewish organization that applied pressure on the BCRI has tried to back away from its own letter to the Institute!….
Palestinian refugees – Jordan
Jordan to carry out aid projects in support of Palestinian refugees
MEMO 8 Jan — The Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation (JHCO) yesterday started carrying out healthcare projects in aid of Palestinian refugees in Jordan, local news agency Petra reported. The aid projects are funded by the National Indonesian Zakat Agency. JHCO Secretary-General Ayman Al-Mifleh said in a press release that the aid projects include medicines, medical equipment and establishing new specialised clinics. The aid project targets the refugee camps of Jerash, Marka, Al-Wehdat and Talbieh. The Jerash refugee camp, known locally as the Gaza camp, hosts 37,000 Palestinians refugees who are served by only two clinics run by UNRWA and Medical Aid for Palestinians. The Marka camp, known locally as Hittin, hosts more than 54,000 Palestinian refugees and includes four medical centres; two are run by UNRWA while the others are managed by the Medical Aid for Palestinians. Al-Wehdat and Talbieh will see the opening of new optical and ENT clinics….
Palestinian Authority cuts off Hamas lawmakers’ salaries
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 9 Jan — The Palestinian Authority has cut off the salaries of Hamas lawmakers in the West Bank, the latest in a series of recent measures that have escalated tensions between the rival factions. President Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the 132-member assembly last month. Deputy Parliament Speaker Hassan Khreisheh said Wednesday that all but 48 lawmakers — mostly Hamas members — received their salaries this week. Palestinian officials aligned with Abbas’ Fatah movement have threatened further action against Hamas over its refusal to hand over power in the Gaza Strip, even as Israel has sought to preserve calm in and around the blockaded territory. Last week, the Palestinian Authority withdrew from the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, which it had been operating as part of a 2017 reconciliation agreement with Hamas.
Abbas attacks Netanyahu for letting Qatari funds into Gaza
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 7 Jan by Rasha Abou Jalal — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is leveling criticism at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for allowing Qatari funds to enter the Gaza Strip — funds he says Hamas is using to execute military operations against Israeli targets in the West Bank. “Netanyahu personally takes money and gives it to Hamas [via Qatari funds to Gaza], which in turn is turning the money here [in the West Bank] into weapons, equipment and funds,” Abbas said during a Dec. 22 meeting of the PLO Executive Committee in Ramallah. On Oct. 10, Qatar announced a $150 million aid package for the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, after receiving Israeli approval. Out of the $150 million, some $15 million is to be allocated each month for six months to pay the salaries of Gaza’s government employees. On Nov. 9, the first payout for government employees was made. The Qatari ambassador to the Palestinian territories, Mohammed al-Emadi, carries the money personally to Gaza every month, using the Israel-Gaza border crossing at Erez. With the remaining $60 million of the aid package, Qatar is buying fuel to run Gaza’s only power plant for six months. Hamas is also giving some of the money to 50,000 families…..
PA: Arab-Israelis require permission to rent in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Jan — The Palestinian government announced that Palestinians holding Israeli citizenship must obtain permission before being able to rent in the occupied West Bank. According to a statement issued by the Palestinian government at the weekly cabinet meeting in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, this procedure is intended for organizational purposes only and it should take two weeks to give an answer after an application is submitted. “Anyone who wishes to rent out a property to a Palestinian who holds an Israeli ID card must obtain permission from [his or her local] authority.” The statement added, “It is intended to protect the public interest.” However, the Cabinet said that Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem who have Israeli residency but not citizenship since Israel has annexed the city after its occupation in 1967 are exempt from this procedure.
Hamas-Fatah bitter split plays out in West Bank universities
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 6 Jan by Ahmad Melhem — Birzeit University suspended all activities recently after a brawl erupted between the student blocs of Hamas and Fatah. The Dec. 17 fight began after security forces wearing civilian attire attempted to arrest a student belonging to the Islamic Bloc, Hamas’ student wing. Witnesses and members of the Islamic Bloc who spoke to Al-Monitor said the forces were most likely affiliated with the Palestinian Authority (PA) intelligence network in the West Bank, which is known to pursue students belonging to the Islamic Bloc because of their university and student activities. The targeted student was leaving the university with his friends when security forces intercepted them. All of the students managed to escape and hide inside the university. Gunshots were reported, but no one was injured. Enraged by what had just happened, the students started yelling at security personnel and hurling insults about the PA — which didn’t sit well with members of Fatah’s student party, Shabiba. An altercation developed into a brawl despite the university guards’ attempts to contain the situation, which required an intervention by the university’s administration. The school canceled courses for the next day, and classes resumed Dec. 19. Almost 14,000 students are enrolled at Birzeit University … Islamic Bloc members at West Bank universities say they are constantly hunted by Palestinian security due to the students’ school activities, which include organizing artistic, cultural, student and academic exhibitions designed to raise money from students. Yet students who are arrested are often charged with serious crimes such as sectarian violence, libel, defamation, or even receiving funds from illicit parties or possessing weapons….
Hamas leader’s Jan 15 trip to Moscow canceled
GAZA, Jan 10 (Reuters) – A planned trip to Moscow next week by the leader of Hamas has been canceled, Palestinian officials said on Thursday amid new friction between the Islamist group that controls Gaza and the Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank. The Jan. 15 meeting between Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was called off due to Lavrov’s busy schedule, Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official, tweeted. No new date was announced….
No more than 1 wife: Israel looks to tackle Bedouin polygamy
AP 11 Jan — Jewish state outlawed practice of marrying multiple spouses many years ago, but it’s widespread in the impoverished Bedouin community that sees the Israeli government’s efforts to end the old custom as a ploy to curb their population growth — On Hadra al-Faqira’s wedding anniversary, just weeks after she gave birth to a daughter, her husband walked out and took a second wife. She hasn’t seen him since he moved down the road in their dusty Bedouin town and started a new family, with seven more children. “I can’t bear the thought of her,” al-Faqira said of the second wife. “He destroyed my household when he started another.” Although Israel outlawed polygamy decades ago, it’s widespread in the impoverished Bedouin sector. Israel is now trying to end the old custom, for the first time prosecuting suspected Bedouin polygamists … Critics of the campaign, including Bedouin women opposed to polygamy, mistrust the government’s motives and the timing of the campaign. “It’s simple: polygamy means more Bedouin children, and that means more demographic concerns from a Zionist perspective,” says human rights lawyer Rawia Aburabia … Around 20 to 30 percent of Bedouin men practice polygamy, according to government figures, with the rate climbing as high as 60 percent in some villages….
Orthodox worshipers mark Christmas in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (AFP) 6 Jan — Hundreds of Orthodox Christians began marking Christmas in Bethlehem Sunday, as protesters demonstrated against the sale of church land to Israelis. Greek Orthodox patriarch Theophilos III arrived at the Church of the Nativity, built on the traditionally recognised site of Jesus’s birth, as a large deployment of Palestinian police stood guard. Several dozen demonstrators shouted “traitor” and “spy” as they protested against the Greek Orthodox church’s sale of property in mainly Palestinian east Jerusalem to groups aiding Jewish settlement. A similar protest took place last year. Bethlehem municipality in the Israeli-occupied West Bank had decided not to welcome Theophilos officially, councillor Anton Salman told AFP. He called on the Greek Orthodox leader “to remain faithful to the cause of the Palestinian people”. Israeli purchases of church land and property in east Jerusalem angers Palestinians — including Orthodox Christians — who see this Israeli-annexed territory as the capital of their promised state. The church elected Theophilos in 2005 after dismissing his predecessor Irineos over an alleged multi-million-dollar sale of church land to Jewish buyers, but Palestinian critics say the practice continues. Most Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7, while those in the West observe it on December 25 because of differences between the Julian and Gregorian calendars. Earlier Sunday the traditional parade of boy and girl scout marching bands in Bethlehem went ahead in a biting cold wind….
Global team putting Palestine on map
AAP 10 Jan — When Nazmi Albadawi’s mother Raja heard her son had been approached to play international football for Palestine, she didn’t like it. Albadawi’s grandparents were among the estimated 700,000 who fled Palestine following the establishment of Israel after World War II and the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Almost half a century later it would be Albadawi’s own parents – Raja and father Nidal – making their own escape when they left Kuwait in the early 1990s after Iraq invaded the Gulf nation. Albadawi grew up a world away from the troubled Middle Eastern region, living among fellow members of the Palestinian diaspora in Raleigh, North Carolina in the United States … In November he travelled to the land of his grandparents for the first time with Palestine playing Pakistan in a friendly in Al-Ram – a city occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967. Highlighting the difficulties Palestine faces as a football team, the match had to be postponed for a day after their opponents were delayed by Israel officials upon entering the country. When the game did take place however, Albadawi scored the winner from the bench in a 2-1 victory and he’s now in the United Arab Emirates where he and his teammates are preparing to face the Socceroos in a crucial Asian Cup match in Dubai on Friday … The FC Cincinnati striker’s story is just one of many unique pathways players take into the Palestine team, which is appearing in just its second Asian Cup after debuting in Australia four years ago. As well as the American, Palestine’s 23-man squad boasts players from all around the globe – Chile, Argentina, Slovenia and Sweden….
US ambassador signals further delay in Trump Mideast peace plan
JERUSALEM (AFP) 6 Jan — US President Donald Trump’s long-awaited plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace is expected “within the next several months,” the US ambassador to Israel has said, signalling a further delay in its release. Trump said in September that the plan for what he has called the “ultimate deal” would be released within two to four months, while Israel’s UN envoy said later it was expected in early 2019. Israel has since called elections for April 9 and such a plan is seen by many analysts as too controversial to present ahead of polls. “I would say within the next several months,” ambassador David Friedman told journalists travelling with US National Security Adviser John Bolton after they arrived in Israel on Saturday, according to a transcript released Sunday by the US embassy….
Durham NC becomes first city to ban training by Israeli police and then be forced to reconsider it
Real New Network 5 Jan — Jazmynne Williams of Jewish Voices for Peace discusses the organizing efforts underway to ensure the ban remains. Video and Transcript — MARC STEINER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Marc Steiner, great to have you with us. Israel has become the hub to train the world’s police in military tactics, based on its 42 years of occupation on the West Bank. Here in the United States, literally dozens, if not hundreds, of U.S. police departments are being trained in military tactics, intelligence and community control by the Israeli police. The Baltimore police, in the city where we broadcast from, are being trained by Israeli security forces, along with places like Washington D.C. down the road and the New York Police, who also maintain a full time office in Israel. The nature of the Israeli army has morphed over the last four decades into a national police force to control Palestinians in the occupied territories. The world is learning and they are training. Resistance to this movement came to a head in Durham, North Carolina, where movements like Demilitarize Durham2Palestine and one of its member groups, Jewish Voices for Peace, organized intensely. That pushed the Durham City Council to vote on and pass a resolution that read in part, “The council opposes international exchanges with any country which Durham officers receive military style training since such exchanges do not support the kind of policing we want here in the city of Durham.” It may have been the very first time that a city council has taken such action in the United States….
Judge frees Palestinian man from 2-year immigration hold
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) 9 Jan by David Pitt — A Palestinian man who was jailed in Iowa for two years while immigration authorities tried to secure permission to deport him has been released after a federal judge ruled he had been held for too long without a reasonable expectation of being repatriated soon. Advocates for immigrants’ rights say Hasan Salama Dibai Ghithan’s case is not unusual and that far too many immigrants awaiting deportation are jailed indefinitely because they don’t know how to navigate the U.S. legal system … Complicating his departure, Ghithan can’t be flown direct to his homeland because the U.S. doesn’t recognize Palestine as a sovereign, independent state. Immigration officials said they must first obtain permission from Israel, transport him to Jordan and get him permission to cross the Allenby Bridge from Jordan into the West Bank, although Jordan rescinded a memorandum of understanding that allowed such crossings in September. Thus, the U.S. government has been unable to get the required permissions … The government filed documents Friday confirming his release. Ghithan, who is staying with relatives in Omaha, is unsure about his future. His attorney has told him he likely won’t be deported if he avoids trouble. But the immigration officer supervising his release told him not to bother looking for a job because he will be deported within a month or two….