Palestinian shot dead by Israeli forces in Gaza border clashes: Gaza ministry
GAZA CITY (AFP) 25 Jan — A Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli fire during fresh clashes along the Gaza border Friday, the health ministry in the enclave said. Ehab Abed, 25, was “killed by Israeli occupation fire east of Rafah,” in southern Gaza, health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said in a statement. An AFP journalist at the hospital said he had been shot in the heart. Thousands of people gathered at multiple sites along the border, with Israeli forces using tear gas and live fire to force protesters back from the border. Friday’s protests were the first since the seeming breakdown of an informal truce agreement between Israel and Gaza rulers Hamas.
Israeli soldiers kill a Palestinian in central Gaza
IMEMC 23 Jan — Israeli soldiers killed, on Tuesday evening, a Palestinian fighter, and injured four others, including one who suffered life-threatening wounds, after the army fired missiles into an area east of al-Boreij, in central Gaza. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip, said the slain Palestinian has been identified as Mahmoud al-‘Abed Nabahin, 24. The Palestinian was killed in an observation post run by the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas. Media sources in Gaza said the army fired at least one missile into the observation post, in addition to many smoke bombs targeting young men near the Great Return Camp, in central Gaza … Israeli daily Haaretz has quoted the army stating that it bombed several “Hamas training sites in the Gaza Strip, in retaliation to shooting incidents targeting the soldiers.” [from Ma‘an: “Israeli news sites reported that an Israeli soldier was lightly injured after a bullet reportedly fired from Gaza hit his helmet while near the border fence.]
Qatar to pay aid into Gaza with Hamas approval
GAZA (Reuters) 25 Jan — Qatar on Friday said it will pay $20 million in humanitarian aid to boost the ailing economy of Gaza, a day after the coastal strip’s Palestinian rulers stopped the oil-rich Gulf state from paying money directly to impoverished government workers there. The move was widely seen as a compromise between Qatar, which appears intent on increasing its regional influence, and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which controls Gaza. Qatar’s point-man for Gaza relief efforts, Mohammed Al-Emadi, said in Gaza: “It was agreed to allocate the Qatari financial grant to pay for humanitarian projects with full cooperation and coordination with the United Nations.” He said the first agreement with the U.N. would be signed on Monday next week, setting up a $20 million job creation project. A Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, on Friday welcomed Qatar’s decision to give money to humanitarian projects. A day earlier Hamas had blocked direct Qatari payments to thousands of unpaid Palestinian civil servants in Gaza, claiming that Israel had broken agreements about how the arrangement would be carried out….
Fuel crisis is rapidly draining last ‘coping capacities’ of Palestinians in Gaza
UN News 22 Jan — “Acute fuel shortages are rapidly exhausting the last coping capacities of the health system in Gaza, which is struggling with chronic shortages of pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and electricity”, said Gerald Rockenschaub, Head of the WHO Office for the West Bank and Gaza. Gaza’s 14 public hospitals are under increasing jeopardy of electricity shortages and rapidly declining fuel reserves, which are supervised by UN agencies, but controlled by Israeli authorities which have been blockading Gaza for over a decade. The fuel is essential to run emergency generators during prolonged electricity cuts from the main grid. “Without a quick solution to address the critically low emergency fuel supplies in hospitals, many of the most vulnerable patients will be put at risk” Dr. Rockenschaub continued, in a statement released on Monday. WHO maintained that several of the most severely impacted hospitals have already put rationalization measures in place and suspended sterilization, diagnostic imaging, cleaning, laundry and catering services during cut-off hours. Moreover, elective surgeries have been reduced further and doctors and nurses are warning of imminent drastic service cuts that would close wards and hospitals … Depending on the number of hours of available electricity, current fuel reserves are only expected to sustain critical hospital services for a few more days.
Egypt closes Rafah crossing in both directions
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — The Egyptian authorities confirmed that the Rafah border crossing in the southern besieged Gaza Strip was closed on Thursday, in both directions. Egyptian authorities informed the Rafah border crossing administration of closure in both directions due to anniversary celebrations of the 2011 Egyptian revolution. The border crossing is scheduled to resume operations on January 27th, allowing passage in one direction only. It is noteworthy that the border crossing was opened in one direction since January 7th after the Palestinian Authority (PA) pulled out its staff working at the Palestinian side of the border over disputes with the Hamas movement, which is the de facto leading political party in Gaza. The Egyptian authorities pointed out that the Rafah crossing would not allow passage in both directions until a legitimate representative of the PA will be present to manage the crossing from the Palestinian side.
Israeli forces detain 2 Palestinians after crossing Gaza border fence
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — Israeli forces detained two Palestinians who reportedly crossed the Israeli border fence between the besieged Gaza Strip and Israel, on Friday morning. The detainees were transferred for interrogation.
Church-run Gaza hospital faces £119,000 repair bill
Church Times 18 Jam by Hattie Williams — THE Archbishop in Jerusalem, the Most Revd Suheil Dawani, has made an urgent appeal for donations to rebuild the Al Ahli Arab Hospital, in Gaza, which collapsed last month owing to “environmental stress”. The steel beams and surrounding walls of the Outpatient Clinic of the 120-year-old hospital caved into the basement below on 6 December. No one was harmed, because the rooms were unoccupied at the time … The church-run hospital has a capacity of 80 beds, of which 50 are used. It offers free healthcare to the poor and vulnerable in the region, including refugees. About 3500 outpatients and 400 inpatients are seen by medics each month. Initial assessments by engineers place the cost of immediate repairs at about £119,000.
The challenge of filling gaps in the legs of Gaza’s wounded
[includes X-rays] Médecins Sans Frontières 24 Jan — In the wake of the March of Return protests in Gaza, MSF teams in the Palestinian enclave are coping with the arduous task of replacing the centimetres of bones pulverised by Israeli bullets in the bodies of protesters. The limited resources available on site, however, make it impossible to provide a viable solution for many of them – this is why referrals to hospitals abroad are a necessary part of the equation. Two centimetres doesn’t sound like much. When it comes to your leg, though, a missing two centimetres of bone leaves a big hole – especially when the cause is a bullet turning and smashing its way through your body. That much was evident at al-Awda hospital in Jabalia, in northern Gaza, as our surgeons opened the shin of Yousri* … Unfortunately, as ghastly as the gap left by the bullet in Yousri’s bone was, his case was relatively simple. In protests held along the fence that separates Gaza from Israel since 30 March 2018, 6,174 people have been injured by live bullets fired by the Israeli army. Nearly 90 per cent of those were injured in the lower limbs. We have provided care for around half of the wounded after their initial treatment in local hospitals, and the wounds we have observed have been unusually severe. In half the cases, patients have complex open fractures – where the bone is exposed to the air – and severe tissue and nerve damage in most of the rest. Many patients are missing huge parts of their leg bones: if two centimetres leaves such a big hole, just imagine 10….
Gaza’s sole artificial limbs centre: March of Return wounded protesters’ hope
MEMO 25 Jan — The dream of the young Palestinian Alaa Al-Dali of participating in international championships with his country’s cycling team has not vanished yet, despite the amputation of his leg months ago after being hit by an Israeli bullet during peaceful marches near the Gaza border. His hopes were renewed after getting a prosthetic leg with the help of Gaza’s sole artificial limbs centre, putting an end to his fears that his career as a professional cyclist would end and granting him a fresh start. The administration of the centre, which is under the supervision of the municipality of Gaza, said that the [locally manufactured] prosthetic limbs provided by the health care facility are of high quality and are not different from other prostheses used internationally. However, the centre is in desperate need of financial support, given the high costs of prostheses, which are offered free of charge to the injured people.
Supporting the rehabilitation of Palestinians injured at Gaza border demonstrations
UN OCHA 23 Jan — An oPt Humanitarian Fund success story — Ahmad, a 14-year-old Palestinian, was hit by live ammunition at Israel’s perimeter fence surrounding Gaza during one of the “Great March of Return” (GMR) demonstrations in June 2018. He was injured in his right leg, close to the knee, and as a result he experienced difficulties in performing daily tasks, including walking and dressing by himself, and suffered depression. “I cried during the nights, because I wasn’t able to play with my friends,” he recalls. His story is not unique. In 2018, more than 6,000 Palestinians were hit by live ammunition from Israeli forces at the GMR protests, most of whom suffered limb wounds, according to figures provided by the Health Ministry in Gaza. Many of the casualties are expected to be left with permanent disabilities. In the context of the demonstrations, and with funding received through the Humanitarian Fund for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt HF), Humanity & Inclusion (HI) implemented an emergency project to address the care and rehabilitation needs of Palestinians injured at the border demonstrations. HI’s local partners deployed across the Gaza Strip physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurses, psychologists and social workers, who were provided with technical and financial support….
Gaza suffers from brain drain as young professionals look for better life
Ynet 18 Jan by Elior Levy — The Gaza Strip has been experiencing mass emigration in recent months, with almost half of those leaving the Palestinian enclave choosing not to return. Most of the Gazans who chose to emigrate are young and educated. Some 36,000 people left Gaza between May and September of 2018, in the first four months after the permanent opening of the Rafah border crossing between the Strip and the Sinai Peninsula. Of that number, however, just 17,000 returned. Leaving Gaza is expensive, particularly for the residents of the impoverished coastal enclave. Every day, anywhere from several dozen to several hundred people leave the Strip, depending on a quota set at the crossing by the Egyptian authorities. The demand is high, and the waiting list to leave is long. Those wishing to cut short their wait must pay for a place on a special list, which is run by a private firm in Gaza that works with Egyptian border officers. The price for a place on this special list is $1,500—a fortune for the average resident of Gaza, where the unemployment rate is at 53 percent and the average daily wages are no more than NIS 62 ($16.85) … It appears, however, that the most problematic and controversial emigration from Gaza is that by doctors. According to reports, 82 doctors left the Strip between May and November of last year and haven’t returned….
Family of Palestinian killed by Gaza rocket fire sues Israel for negligence
Times of Israel 25 Jan — The family of a Palestinian killed in Ashkelon by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip last year has sued Israel for tens of millions of shekels, saying the time it took rescue workers to find his body led to his death, Israeli television reported Thursday. Mahmoud Abu Asabeh, a 48-year-old from the West Bank city of Halhul, was in Israel on a work permit when the building in Ashkelon he was staying at was struck by a rocket during a major flare-up in November between the Israeli military and Gaza-based terror groups. Firefighters who searched the building evacuated several wounded people but did not find Abu Asabeh or a Palestinian woman who also lived there and was seriously injured by the rocket. The two were only found by a local man over an hour after the impact. According to Hadashot TV news, Abu Asabeh’s relatives say his death was due to rescuers carrying out a quick search of the building and not continuing to look despite neighbors telling them people remained trapped underneath the rubble, and are therefore suing the state and rescue services for NIS 10 million (approximately $2.7 million)….
IDF chief turned PM candidate touts body count & bombing Gaza into ‘stone age’ in campaign ad
RT 22 Jan — Former Israeli Defense Forces chief turned political candidate Benny Gantz is touting the body count he racked up leading Operation Protective Edge with a campaign that boasts about bombing parts of Gaza “back to the Stone Age.” Gantz has released a series of campaign ads for his “Hosen Le Yisrael” (Israel Resilience) party, glorifying the operation he oversaw as IDF commander as he attempts to replace Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister in April’s election … As chief of general staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, Gantz led the offensive that bombarded Gaza for 51 days, killing – as the ad boasts – “1,364 terrorists” and bringing “3.5 years of quiet.” The second ad in the series shows a running tally of deaths over scenes of Palestinian funerals, and a third shows the targeted assassination of a Hamas leader whose car explodes in a ball of flame. Gantz, whose campaign slogan translates to “Israel Before Everything,” seems convinced that Israeli voters pick their leaders by evaluating their death-dealing prowess – though he may be onto something, as recent polls have him trailing Netanyahu by just ten points….
Opinion: Weaponizing medical treatment to keep Palestinians divided / Amira Hass
[behind paywall] Haaretz 21 Jan — Israel says 15-year-old girl can’t leave Gaza for tests ‘until her brothers return,’ and her story is no exception — Imagine that the Interior Ministry prohibits your relative from receiving essential medical care in Tel Aviv, because you – contrary to the policies of increasing the Jewish population in the outlying areas and separating ethnic communities – moved there from your hometown, where you could not find a decent job. Hard to picture such ill will, right? But that’s what Israel habitually does to patients from the Gaza Strip: If they have a relative who has moved out of Gaza to live and work in Ramallah, in the West Bank, for example, Israel prohibits them from leaving Gaza for essential medical care not available in Gaza. It conditions granting them an exit permit for medical treatment on the relative in Ramallah first returning to live in the Strip … The ban imposed by the Israeli bureaucracy does not skip over a person whose nephew committed the anti-Semitic crime of going to live where he could find a livelihood. Like Abed Al-Hakim, 61, father of 11. Problems with his eyes caused his vision to decline badly. He was set to undergo surgery at St. Joseph’s Hospital in East Jerusalem. But his application for an exit permit was turned down because one of his nephews lives in the West Bank. What was the older man liable to do? Sneak into Ramallah after his surgery and work with his nephew at a construction site, or a restaurant?
Video: Anger and loss over Gaza airport ruin once seen as milestone
21 Jan 1:54 — In Gaza, a shell of a structure offers a symbol of what could have been. The airport that could once handle 700,000 passengers is rubble, shut down during the second Intifada in 2000 and bombed by Israel in 2001. It had been a place of hope and connected Palestine to capital cities around the Middle East, but now is a reminder of just how far Palestinians are from their own independent state. Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford reports from Gaza.
Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli police kill a Palestinian in Jerusalem
IMEMC 26 Jan — Israeli police officers shot and killed, on Saturday at dawn, a young Palestinian man, after the officers opened fire at his car in Bab al-‘Amoud (Damascus Gate) area, in occupied Jerusalem. The slain Palestinian has been identified as Riyad Mohammad Hammad Shamasneh, from Qotna town, northwest of occupied East Jerusalem. The Israeli Police said the Palestinian driver “endangered the lives of the officers, who opened fire at the car, and killed him during the ensued chase.” It added that other Palestinians were also in the car, but did not provide further details about them, and only stated that the Palestinian “entered Jerusalem illegally, and was driving a car suspected to have been stolen.” The Palestinians in the car were heading to their work in occupied Jerusalem, when the officers opened fire at their car. Although Qotna is in the Jerusalem Governorate, Israeli surrounded and isolated the Palestinian town by the Annexation Wall, and its inhabitants have been denied access to occupied Jerusalem since 2004.
Israeli soldiers kill a Palestinian teen near Ramallah
IMEMC 26 Jan — Israeli soldiers killed, on Friday evening, a Palestinian teen, only 18 years of age, from Silwad town, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and wounded another Palestinian, in addition to moderately injuring a young man in ar-Reesan Mountain area, west of Ramallah. Palestinian medical sources said a soldier, stationed in a fortified military tower, shot Ayman Ahmad Othman Hamed, 18, from Silwan town, with a live round in his chest. The soldier was in the fortified military tower which was installed by the army near Ein Yabrud nearby village. After shooting the Palestinian, several soldiers surrounded him, and later allowed Red Crescent medics to approach him. His corpse was then moved to Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah. The soldiers also shot a young man with a live round in his arm, before he was rushed to a hospital.
In related news, the soldiers attacked dozens of nonviolent Palestinian protesters in ar-Reesan Mountain, which belongs to the villages of Ras Karkar, Kafr Ni‘ma and Kharbatha Bani Harith, west of Ramallah. Medical sources said the soldiers shot a young man with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the head, causing a fracture in his skull and brain hemorrhage. His condition was described as moderate; Several Palestinians suffered the effects of teargas inhalation.
Israeli soldiers kill a Palestinian near Nablus
IMEMC 22 Jan — Israeli soldiers killed, on Monday at night, a Palestinian man at Huwwara military roadblock, south of Nablus, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank. Media sources in Nablus said the soldiers shot Mohammad Fawzi Adawi, 36, seriously wounding him, and prevented Palestinian medics from approaching him, before he succumbed to his wounds. The Palestinian, from ‘Azzoun town east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, was shot with at least three live rounds in his upper body. Israeli media sources quoted the army claiming that the Palestinian “exited a car and ran towards a soldier and attempted to stab him, before he was neutralized.” They added that the soldiers closed the roadblock and initiated extensive searches in the area.
UPDATE: Israel releases body of slain Palestinian after being held for 40 days
IMEMC 26 Jan by Ali Salam — The body of 60 year old Palestinian, Hamdan Tawfiq Arda, who was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers in al-Biereh city, in December, was released Friday. Israeli authorities withheld the body of the slain civilian for 40 days, without a reason, reported WAFA. After 40 days, the Israeli military released the body to the family, at Salem military checkpoint, northeast of Jenin in the northern West Bank. Following a raid in the central West Bank, Ramallah and al-Biereh Governorate, al-Arda, in his vehicle, was stopped by Israeli military forces. The Palestinian elder attempted to turn his vehicle around, which the Israeli soldiers viewed as an attempt at “ramming” the soldiers. The Israeli military opened fire at the man, hitting him in the head, with live ammunition. Eyewitnesses said it was an “accident, with the driver surprised with Israeli soldiers in his way and attempted to turn away from them before they heavily opened fire at him.” The eyewitness accounts conflicted with the soldiers’ claims of intent to harm, forcing the army to change their statement….
Palestinian teen critically injured by Israeli undercover forces in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — A Palestinian teen was shot and injured by Israeli undercover forces inside the Shu‘fat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem, late Thursday. Spokesperson of the Fatah movement in Shu‘fat refugee camp, Thaer Fasfous, told Ma‘an that Israeli undercover police forces chased four Palestinian teens before opening fire at them. One of the teens was injured with a live bullet. Fasfous identified the teen as Muhammad Issam al-Qawasmi, adding that he was injured with a live bullet that entered through his back and out of his abdomen. Al-Qawasmi’s condition was reported as critical as he was transferred to the HaDassa Hospital for treatment. The teen was detained by Israeli forces before entering operation room at the hospital as they handcuffed him to the bed despite his critical condition. Hebrew-language news outlets reported that three teens had thrown Molotov cocktails at the Pisgat Zeev illegal settlement road, before Israeli undercover forces injured one of them and detained the two others.
Palestinian is shot in the head by Israeli police on his way to school, and lives to tell the tale
[behind paywall] Haaretz 20 Jan by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — …The boy is Fawaz Abed; he’s 16. His father, Maher, 45, is an inspector in the El Bireh municipality, a Peruvian-born Palestinian who still has Peruvian citizenship and speaks English with a heavy Spanish accent … On that Sunday morning, Fawaz had left his house on the way to Amin al-Husseini High School, to have coffee with his friend Amjad Quran, who attends a different school. At the same time, the Border Police were gathering the security cameras from the stores and cafés down the street. While they did that, a few boys were throwing stones at them and drawing tear gas and sponge-tipped bullets in return. According to the investigation conducted by Iyad Hadad, a field researcher for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, the police engaged in a shouting match with Fawaz. Hadad thinks this was probably to distract Fawaz while two members of the unit approached, took him by surprise from the right and shot him. Why was he shot? It’s still not clear. Maher thinks his son aroused their suspicion when he tried to run away. Fawaz’s grandmother, Therwa says they shot him because he’s tall. It was hard to find more persuasive explanations for the shooting, this week … According to Hadad, Fawaz fell to the ground, lost consciousness and was bleeding from the head, a pool of blood forming around him. All he remembers now is that he felt that he was losing air and choking. He collapsed, falling onto his back, and can’t remember anything else … Hadad estimates that Fawaz lay on the street, bleeding, for five to 10 minutes before help was summoned … The police spokesman did not respond to what is the perhaps the most important question: Why did the force shoot Fawaz Abed in the head? The troops meanwhile pulled out, leaving the wounded boy on the road. The women who had gone out to the street called a Palestinian ambulance, and when it was slow in arriving, a neighbor took Fawaz and rushed him to the local Red Crescent clinic. After getting first aid there, he was taken by ambulance to the Government Hospital in Ramallah. The physicians found that he had a fractured skull and hemorrhaging within his brain, and thus rushed him into surgery … Fawaz regained consciousness quickly after the surgery. His recovery was amazingly rapid and he was back home in a week. The physicians call it a miracle, and that’s the feeling at home, too. He’s walking around with his head bandaged, and covered by a red hood. Still, he finds it hard to sit with us – within a few minutes he returns to his room. Maher says his son is incapable of focusing on anything,…
Israeli forces raid, ransack Palestinian homes in West Bank, terrorize residents
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 22 Jan – Israeli forces Tuesday raided and ransacked Palestinian homes in the West Bank and terrorized their residents, according to sources. Israeli military raided Beit Iksa, northwest of Jerusalem, at around 3:00 a.m. and surrounded the house of Rashad Awwad, 50, before breaking down the doors while the family was in bed. The family was terrorized when the soldiers broke into their home in the night. It was held in one room before the soldiers proceeded to thoroughly search the house, ransacking it in the process and turning it upside down, reported the family. No clear reason was given for the overnight raid.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces broke into the family house of Jamal (Jaber Taha) Hamamreh in the middle of the night in Husan town, west of Bethlehem. Hamamreh, 52, is serving an administrative detention order in section 15 of Ofer military prison near Ramallah where prison guards have raided and attacked prisoners on Monday night. Hamamreh’s eldest brother, Nasser, told WAFA that soldiers ransacked the house after destroying the door, interrogated his brother’s son, Muhammad, and threatened the family to “make their life a living hell” should Jamal continue to confront Israeli Prison Services.
Soldiers and settlers wreak havoc in Bethlehem and Ramallah districts
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Jan — A soccer match between two local teams was suspended on Friday, after Israeli soldiers fired teargas canisters into Al-Khader Stadium, to the south of Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank. Sa‘di Hmeidan, a local sports official, told WAFA that Israeli soldiers fired teargas canisters inside the stadium, during a match between the soccer teams of Al-Abidia and Doha villages, as part of a youth football league. He said that some of the players suffocated from the teargas, causing the match to be suspended. The match was resumed in about an hour. Israeli occupation forces, on Friday, also detained five Palestinian teenagers during clashes in the village of Taqou‘, to the southeast of Bethlehem, local sources said.
Israeli army distributes leaflets threatening residents near Salfit
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — The Israeli army distributed leaflets, on Tuesday, threatening the residents of Deir Istiya village, west of the northern occupied West Bank district of Salfit, of collective punishments under the pretext that the residents carried out “terror attacks” against Israeli settlers in the area. Residents of Deir Istiya told Ma‘an that a large number of Israeli forces stormed the village during the night, firing tear-gas bombs and sound grenades throughout the village. Sources added that Israeli forces distributed threatening leaflets in multiple areas across the village, such as residents’ homes, mosques, shops, and hung them on the doors and walls. Sources mentioned that the leaflets were distributed under the pretext that the village is a “terrorist area” and that the residents have allegedly carried out “terror attacks” against Israeli settlers. It is noteworthy that the Israeli army has failed to impose any penalties or collective punishment on Israeli settlers, who attack Palestinian vehicles with rocks or Molotov cocktails, as such attacks have increased towards Palestinian vehicles during the past few months.
Update: Soldiers and settlers destroy hundreds of trees in West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 23 Jan — Israeli soldiers, on Tuesday, uprooted 60 olive trees in the central West Bank village of Jaba‘, to the east of Jerusalem, and taking possession of them, according to the head of Jaba‘ village council, Musallam Dar Salim. He said, according to WAFA correspondence, that the soldiers demolished retaining walls and fences built around a plot of land located near an Israeli military checkpoint and then proceeded to uproot the trees. He said the army claims the area targeted is classified “C”, which means it is under full Israeli control and Palestinians are not allowed to develop it. Some 4,000 people live in Jaba‘, which has seen most of its land taken away from it, by Israel, to build the illegal settlement of Adam and an Israeli shopping area, said Dar Salim. Israeli settlers, on Tuesday, chopped down hundreds of olive trees in the town of Beit Ummar, in the south of the occupied West Bank, according to a local activist….
Opinion: The sadists who destroyed a decades-old Palestinian olive grove can rest easy / Gideon Levy & Alex Levac
[behind paywall] Haaretz 24 Jan — Who are the human scum who last Friday drove all-terrain vehicles down to the magnificent olive grove owned by Abed al Hai Na‘asan, in the West Bank village of Al-Mughayyir, chose the oldest and biggest row, and with electric saws felled 25 trees, one after another? Who are the human scum who are capable of fomenting such an outrage on the soil, the earth, the trees and of course on the farmer, who’s been working his land for decades? Who are the human scum who fled like cowards, knowing that no one would bring them to justice for the evil they had wrought? We’re unlikely ever to get the answers. The police are investigating, but at the wild outposts of the Shiloh Valley, and Mevo Shiloh in particular, where the perpetrators’ tracks led, they can go on sleeping in peace. No one will be arrested, no one will be interrogated, no one will be punished. That’s the lesson of past experience in this violent, lawless, settlers’ country. The story itself makes one’s blood boil, but only the sight of the violated grove brings home the scale of the atrocity, the pathological sadism of the perpetrators, the depth of the farmer’s pain upon seeing that his own God’s little acre was assaulted by the Jewish, Israeli, settlers, believers, destroyers – just three days before Tu B’Shvat, the Jewish Arbor Day, the holiday of the trees celebrated by the same people who destroyed his grove. This is how they express their love for the land, this is a reflection of the encroacher’s fondness for the earth and for nature….
Israel forces held Palestinian child overnight then abandoned him far from home
MEMO 25 Jan — Israeli occupation forces detained four Palestinian children in Hebron, then held a 13-year-old boy overnight, before beating him and abandoning him far from home. The incident, which occurred on 5 December 2018, was reported by Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem yesterday. On the afternoon of the day in question, Palestinian children were throwing stones at Israeli occupation forces near one of Hebron’s checkpoints. In video footage released by the NGO, Israeli Border Police officers can be seen seizing four children, including two under the age of 12. One child, 13-year-old ‘Abed Al-Jalil Murar, was taken to the police station in Kiryat Arba settlement, and “interrogated without the presence of his parents or another adult on his behalf”. There he made and signed a confession. The boy was then taken to a detention centre at Etzion settlement police station, where he spent the night alone in a cell “without being given food or drink”. The next day, the boy was released on bail by a military court, after which soldiers took ‘Abed Al-Jalil to the military tower at the entrance to Al-‘Orub refugee camp. At the entrance to the camp “the soldiers removed the handcuffs from his hands and put him down from the jeep”, B’Tselem recounted. “While they were doing this, one of the soldiers hit the boy on the head with his fist and he fell to the ground. The soldiers left ‘Abed Al-Jalilon the ground and drove off.”….
Palestinian man abducted by undercover soldiers in Tubas
IMEMC/Agencies 25 Jan — Israeli special forces, on Thursday morning, abducted a Palestinian man, Abdul Qader Bani Odeh, age 38, from his place of work at the Awqaf office, in Tubas. Head of the Public Relations Department of the Awqaf directorate, Fares Zaher, confirmed that three people dressed as “sheikhs” identified themselves as special forces who abducted Bani Odeh and ordered him not to move; two others secured the stairs of the building and withdrew to Tayasir in a white vehicle. Al Ray further notes that Abdul Qader Bani Odeh Asir is the editor and head of the mosques department at the Awqaf Directorate.
Israeli soldiers abduct 20 Palestinians, injure many others, in West Bank
IMEMC 21 Jan — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Monday at dawn, several Palestinian areas in the occupied West Bank, searched and ransacked homes, and abducted twenty Palestinians, including a lawyer and the wife of a political prisoner. Media sources in Nablus, in the northern West Bank, said the soldiers invaded and ransacked the home of a political prisoner, identified as Amir Eshteyya, and abducted his wife, attorney Aman Mansour, in addition to confiscating their car. The invasion into the property came as dozens of soldiers, and hundreds of illegal colonialist settlers, invaded the eastern area of Nablus city, especially Joseph’s Tomb, before the army fired many live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs at dozens of Palestinian protesters. Medical sources said the soldiers shot two young men with live fire, and caused dozens of Palestinians, including many in their own homes, to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. The soldiers also detained Palestinian journalists and prevented them from documenting the invasion.
Furthermore, the soldiers invaded Qarawat Bani Hassan village, in Salfit governorate in central West Bank, searched homes and abducted Laith Abdullah Mer‘ey.
The soldiers also invaded and searched homes in Kufur Qaddoum town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, and abducted Mohammad Sameeh Eshteiwi. [continued]
Prisoners / Court actions
Tales of torture from Israel’s prisons
Al Jazeera 22 Jan by Ramzy Baroud & Abdallah Aljamal — As Israel prepares to worsen conditions for Palestinian prisoners, we asked six former inmates about their experiences — Earlier this month, Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan announced plans to “worsen” already horrific conditions for Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s jails … Speaking to reporters on January 2, Erdan disclosed some aspects of his plan, but a sinister context was missing from the story. The minister said the prisoners will be denied “cooking rights”, yet failed to mention that many prisoners, especially during the first stage of their detention, are tortured and denied food altogether. “The plan also includes preventing members of the Knesset from visiting Palestinian detainees,” Erdan added but did not mention how hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are already denied access to lawyers and family visitations on a regular basis. There is no reason to doubt the Israeli minister’s words when he vows to worsen conditions for Palestinian prisoners. However, the horrific conditions under which thousands of Palestinians are held in Israeli jails – which itself is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention – are already at a stage that can only be described as inhumane as they fail the minimum standards set by international and humanitarian laws.
No one is as qualified to describe Israeli prison conditions as Palestinian prisoners, who experienced every form of physical and psychological torture, and have spent years, sometimes decades, fending for their humanity every hour of every day … We spoke to six freed prisoners, including two women and a child, who shared their stories with us, with the hope that their testimonies would help the world understand the true context of Erdan’s latest plan … Wafa’ Samir Ibrahim al-Bis: ”…When I was in prison, I felt so lonely. Then one day, I saw a little cat walking among the rooms, so I kept throwing her food so that she would be my friend. Eventually, she started coming inside my cell and would stay with me for hours. When the guards discovered that she was keeping me company, they slit her throat in front of me. I cried for her more than I cried for my own fate….”
Court hands man prison time for faking his own West Bank kidnapping
Times of Israel 23 Jan — The Jerusalem District Court handed down stiffer sentences Wednesday to two Israelis who faked a kidnapping in the West Bank four years ago that sparked a massive military operation. The court accepted the state’s appeal for tougher sentences, sending Niv Asraf, who directed his own abduction, to prison for nine months. His friend Eran Ngauker, who helped stage the act, was sentenced to six months of community service … The two were convicted under a plea bargain and sentenced last June to community service and ordered to pay fines for the hoax kidnapping in the West Bank in 2015 that sparked a massive search and rescue operation … The hoax report, centering on the same area of the West Bank where three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered less than a year before, sent hundreds of soldiers, police and agents of the Shin Bet security agency hammering on the doors of frightened Palestinian villagers as they searched house to house in the Hebron district … During the search, a thousand soldiers were scrambled, special units were deployed and aircraft were dispatched….
IDF to indict 5 soldiers for beating bound and blindfolded Palestinian suspects
Times of Israel 20 Jan by Judah Ari Gross — The Israeli military on said Sunday that it plans to indict five soldiers suspected of beating two Palestinian detainees last month, seriously injuring them. According to the Israel Defense Forces, the soldiers are believed to have attacked the two suspects “when they were handcuffed and blindfolded.” The two had been arrested in a raid conducted as part of a search for a terrorist who had killed two of the servicemen’s comrades in a shooting attack outside the Givat Assaf outpost in the central West Bank. The IDF said the Palestinian detainees sustained serious injuries in the attack. The soldiers are believed to have beaten the two Palestinian men, who were suspected of aiding the terrorist in his escape, as a form of revenge for the attack that killed their comrades. In addition to being suspected of aggravated abuse and aggravated assault, some of them are expected to be charged with obstruction of justice. The obstruction charge appears to be tied to attempts to hide footage filmed by one of the soldiers, which reportedly shows the servicemen kicking and punching the Palestinian suspects.
Israeli student charged with killing Palestinian in stone attack
Al Jazeera 24 Jan — Israeli prosecutors have charged a 16-year-old seminary student with manslaughter for his involvement in a rock-throwing attack that killed a Palestinian woman in her car. The teenager, who was not named in the indictment on Thursday because he is a minor, was one of five students arrested after the death of Aisha al-Rawbi, 47, who died of a head wound in October after stones were thrown at her near an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank. Besides manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, the prosecutors allege the teen threw the stone in the anti-Arab attack “as part of an act of terror”. He was also charged with stone-throwing and intentional sabotage of a vehicle, both “under terrorist circumstances”. Al-Rawbi died after a 2kg stone smashed through the windshield of the car she was travelling in with her husband and nine-year-old daughter in the West Bank on October 12 … Four other suspects arrested as part of the investigation have been released to house arrest. The five were students at the Pri Haaretz religious seminary in the Rechelim settlement in the occupied West Bank. According to a court officer, who spoke to Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity, the evidence against the teenager includes his DNA found on the stone, but lawyers for the teen have denied he had any involvement in the case….
Police: No evidence crash that killed Israeli in West Bank due to stone throwing
Times of israel 20 Jan by staff/Jacob Magid — Police said Sunday there currently is no evidence that a West Bank car accident that led to the death of an Israeli woman was caused by rocks thrown by Palestinians, as her family had claimed. Hadas Tapuhi, a 30-year-old mother of four, died last week after her car swerved from its lane and hit an oncoming truck near the settlement of Ateret, where she lived, in the northern West Bank. “In contrast to reports attempting to create a reality that does not correspond to the findings of the investigation at this stage, there have not been any findings that indicate stone-throwing toward the vehicle, nor were reports received about stone-throwing on the road,” police said in a statement. “Nevertheless, all possibilities are being looked into as part of the investigation, all in order to arrive at the truth,” police added….
Analysis: An imprisoned ’emir’ could blow up the Israel-Gaza powder keg
[behind paywall] Haaretz 23 Jan by Amos Harel — This week’s escalation in the Gaza Strip, involving two shooting attacks on Israeli troops who responded with tank fire followed by an aerial attack, is apparently closely connected to tension with Palestinian prisoners at Israel’s Ofer Prison in the West Bank. Israeli defense officials believe that members of the Islamic Jihad were involved in the Gaza incidents, the same organization at the center of a confrontation at Ofer. The tension at Ofer Prison erupted about ten days ago following an incident in a wing of the facility housing Palestinian Islamic Jihad prisoners. After inmates attacked a member of the prison staff, a wide-scale search of the prison was carried out, in which metal detectors prompted suspicions that an ‘emir’ of the Islamic Jihad at Ofer had cellphones inside his body … The security prisoners, whose contact with the outside world is under strict supervision and considerable limitations, have been investing major efforts in smuggling cellphones into prison in the course of family visits or by other means … The continued searches and the isolation of the prisoner leader sparked nervousness among the Islamic Jihad inmates at Ofer. On Sunday, the prisoners declared a hunger strike and refused to leave their cells for meals. The Israel Prison Service responded by relocating Islamic Jihad prison leadership to other detention facilities and with raids that turned up another five cellphones. Prison staff at Ofer was then reinforced with special prison service units. In clashes, prison staff members and prisoners were injured. Against the backdrop of the tension, the leadership of other Palestinian prisoner factions – Hamas and Fatah – announced that they would be joining the hunger strike. The leadership from Fatah, which had not been enamored over the confrontation, was dragged into it by other, more radical organizationss out of concern that Fatah would be portrayed as insufficiently patriotic. There are now about 1,000 prisoners on hunger strike, from all of the Palestinian organizations….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements / Apartheid
Palestinians protest ‘apartheid road’ in occupied West Bank
Al Jazeera 23 Jan — Palestinians and activists have attempted to block a newly opened road in the occupied West Bank dubbed “apartheid road”. Dozens of protesters on Wednesday temporarily sealed the gates to the first operational section of the eastern ring road around Jerusalem. It has two separate lanes divided by an eight-metre-high concrete wall – one for Palestinians who reside in the West Bank, and the other for residents of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Two protesters have been arrested, and four others suffered injuries as Israeli forces attempted to reopen the road, local media reported … The road runs northeast of Jerusalem past the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar and the Maale Adumim settlement, in an area known as E-1. Israel has planned to annex E-1 and develop the land for as part of the “Greater Jerusalem” plan to redraw the borders of the city. Expanding Jerusalem further east would create space for settlement expansion and would connect Maale Adumim to the city. The annexation of E-1 would also displace thousands of Palestinians living in towns and villages in the area. In a statement issued last week upon the road’s opening, Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), said its creation “affirms Israel’s willful intent to entrench its racist colonial regime and superimpose ‘Greater Israel’ on all of historic Palestine.”
Israel army website lists ‘State of Judea and Samaria’, erasing West Bank
MEMO 23 Jan — An Israeli army website has listed the “State of Judea and Samaria” as an option for recruits to list their place of birth, erasing the occupied West Bank. The website – which belongs to the Meitav military unit that sorts new army recruits – asks new soldiers to fill out an online form before their arrival at the recruitment office. The soldiers are asked to state their mother’s country of birth by selecting from two options: the State of Israel or the State of Judea and Samaria. Judea and Samaria is Israel’s name for the West Bank, which it has occupied since the Six Day War of 1967. New recruits complained to the Israeli army about the designation, not because it erased the occupied West Bank and with it the estimated 2.9 million Palestinians living there, but because it implied that “Judea and Samaria” is a separate entity to Israel … An army spokesman responded to the complaints by saying that “the matter will be examined and treated as soon as possible,” though did not say whether the occupied West Bank would be named as such or whether it would be incorporated into the “State of Israel” option….
OCHA: 10% increase in Israeli demolition of Palestinian structures in 2018
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Jan — During 2018, Israel demolished or seized 460 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, a 10% increase compared to 2017, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory confirmed in a new report. The OCHA report stated, “While in Area C, which makes over 60% of the area of the West Bank that is under full Israeli military control, the number of structures targeted in both years was approximately the same and stood at 270, occupied East Jerusalem recorded a 25% increase compared to 2017. Of all structures targeted during 2018, 56 were donor-funded humanitarian aid structures, representing a 46% decline, compared to 2017 figures.”….
Palestinian family forced to demolish two rooms of their house in Jerusalem
IMEMC 26 Jan — The Israeli army forced, Saturday, a Palestinian family from Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, to demolish two rooms of its own home, under the pretext of being built without a permit. The home owner, Mohammad Samir al-‘Abbasi, said that he and his family had to demolish a bedroom and a living room, approximately 50 square/meters. The two rooms were built two and a half years ago, and their ceiling consisted of metal sheets. The City Council in occupied Jerusalem informed the Palestinian that he can either demolish the property at his own expense, or face high fines and fees should the city use its workers and machines in demolition the property.
Last week, resident Jamil Masalma, also from Silwan, had to demolish his own home in Silwan, under the same Israeli allegations….
Palestinian home in Lod demolished by Israeli forces
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Jan — Israeli bulldozers demolished, on Sunday, a Palestinian-owned home in the city of Lod, in central Israel. According to local WAFA sources, the home belonged to the Abu-Sa‘louk family, and was demolished on the pretext of being built without an Israeli permit. This was the second time that Israeli occupation forces demolish the home of the Abu-Sa’louk family for lack of an Israeli construction permit, which is nearly impossible to obtain for the native Palestinian citizens of Israel. While Israeli law is supposed to guarantee Palestinians the same equality as other citizens, in practice, however, there are claims of discrimination in government funding and a raft of other issues. Israeli Palestinian rights group Adalah says that only 4.6% of new homes built in Israel are in Palestinian towns and villages, even though Palestinians make up over 20% of the population….
Israeli settlers raze Palestinian lands for settlement expansion
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 23 Jan — Several bulldozers belonging to Israeli settlers razed and leveled Palestinian lands near ‘Assira al-Qibliya village, in the south of the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, on Wednesday. Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that a number of bulldozers belonging to Israeli settlers from the illegal Yitzhar settlement, began to raze dozens of dunams of Palestinian lands near ‘Assira al-Qibliya village. Daghlas added that Israeli settlers have razed these lands for more than three weeks, as part of an Israeli plan to expand the Yitzhar settlement.
The Palestinian home hemmed in by Israel’s separation wall
SALFIT, occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 26 Jan by Jaclynn Ashly — A decade and a half ago, Munira Ibrahim Amer would venture outside to the front porch of her home in Mas’ha village each morning and watch her community come alive. She remembers children giggling and sauntering off to school, the bustling of cars as residents made their way to work, and the fruit and vegetable vendors scrambling to set up their shops for the morning rush. Nowadays, all Munira is able to see from her porch is a massive concrete wall. “I somehow got used to it,” Munira, 54, told Al Jazeera. “Feeling the pain every day is too much to handle, so at some point you have to stop feeling.” … In 2002, when Israel began building its separation barrier, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice two years later, the family home near the settlement ended up on the Israeli side of the barrier. Israel’s concrete separation wall was constructed directly in front of the Amer family’s home. The fencing borders them on three sides, separating the family from Israeli settler units located just several metres away from their home … Hani’s 11 hectares of land, where he plants cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, and various other fruits and vegetables that he sells at local markets, was also targeted by the Israelis for confiscation. After protesting the decision with the help of human rights organisations, Hani was able to save eight hectares from being consumed by the wall. However, his ability to reach them was severely impeded. Before the wall, it would take Hani 15 minutes to walk to his land. Now, it takes him three hours to travel around the settlement and the wall to enter his land from the opposite side….
In video – Israeli settlers enter women’s prayer space in Dome of the Rock
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — A large number of Israeli settlers and Israeli police stormed the Dome of the Rock inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, in the Old City of Jerusalem, on Thursday afternoon. Head of the public relations office at the Islamic Endowment Department, Firas al-Dibs, confirmed that 41 Israeli settlers and 85 members of the Israeli police stormed the compound through the Moroccans Gate. Al-Dibs added Israeli police were heavily deployed across the area. Al-Dibs pointed out that a number of Israeli police stormed the Dome of the Rock mosque, which is situated inside the Al-Aqsa compound, and several Israeli settlers entered into the women’s prayer space, while Muslim women were performing prayers inside….
Israeli forces storm Al-Aqsa, take measurements and photographs
IMEMC/Agencies 22 Jan — Israeli forces stormed into Al Aqsa Mosque, on Monday morning, and began to photograph the mosque’s landmarks and take measurements without mentioning any reasons for it. Later this morning, groups of Israeli settlers renewed the provocative incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque through the Moroccan Gate, carried out tours inside the mosque, under high security reinforcement, until they left the mosque. In the same context, Israeli occupation authorities decided, on Sunday, to temporarily expel five guards from Al-Aqsa Mosque for periods ranging from four to six months. According to Al Ray, the six-month deportation decision included guards Fadi Alian, Louai Abu Saad, Ahmed Abu Alia and a member of the Jerusalem district Awad Salaymeh….
Irish lower house passes bill to ban Israeli settlement goods
Al Jazeera 25 Jan — The Israeli foreign ministry has reprimanded Ireland’s ambassador Alison Kelly after the lower house of Irish parliament voted in favour of a bill that will ban the purchase of goods and services from the illegal Israeli settlements. In a statement, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was a shame that Ireland “condemns the only democratic state in the Middle East”. “Israel is outraged over the legislation against it in the Irish parliament, which is indicative of hypocrisy and anti-Semitism,” the statement said. Last December, the upper house of the Irish parliament, the Seanad, voted in favour of the decision despite attempts by the United States, European powers and Israel to thwart it … On Thursday, the Dail overwhelmingly backed the bill by a vote of 78-45 … The bill would still go through several more stages of review and amendment before it is signed into law, but it is backed by all of Ireland’s opposition groups, including the Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein, Labour, the Green Party, the independents and the Socialist Democrats. If passed, the law would make Ireland the first European Union country to criminalise commercial activity in the settlements….
IN PHOTOS: Celebrating the Epiphany at the West Bank site of Jesus’ baptism
Haaretz 20 Jan — Each year, hundreds of Christians associated with the Eastern Orthodox Church gather at Qasr el Yahud in the West Bank, thought to be the original site of the baptism of Jesus, to celebrate with a ritual dip in the Jordan River and close out the holiday season.
Israeli court issues lien on Jerusalem plot belonging to Yasser Arafat estate
Haaretz 22 Jan by Nir Hasson — Arafat inherited less than 0.5 percent of the plot, but the judge rules it legal to put a temporary freeze on entire plot; Order issued at the request of families of terror victims — The Jerusalem District Court issued on Tuesday a temporary lien for a plot of land in East Jerusalem belonging to the estate of Yasser Arafat. The court issued the order at the request of victims of terrorism who filed a civil damages lawsuit against the Palestinian Authority and Arafat’s estate. The plaintiffs claimed that if they win the lawsuit, it will be difficult to collect the compensation from the estate, and as a result they also asked to place the lien on the property so they can collect their damages. The plaintiffs are eight families of terror victims, represented by attorneys Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Moshe Segal. A lien is a claim against an asset that allows a person to keep the property of a person who owes them money until it has been paid. The land involved is a 2.7 dunam (0.675 acre) plot, most of which is located inside the cemetery on the Mount of Olives, which Arafat inherited. Arafat’s estate owns less than half of a percent of the plot, which has not been divided up among its numerous owners. However, the judge ruled that legally it was possible to put a temporary freeze on the entire plot. “The defendant is not blessed with many exposed assets,” states the suit … Yossi Arnon, the lawyer representing the Palestinian Authority in the case, learned about the order from Haaretz and said he intends on taking action to reverse the ruling. Some 120 lawsuits are underway against the Palestinian Authority in Israeli courts based on claims the Palestinian Authority is responsible for damages stemming from terrorist attacks. Most of the cases are extremely complicated because it has been difficult to prove the PA’s direct responsibility for a specific attack. “I think this is vindictiveness and has no real legal basis. It’s like saying there was a murder in Jerusalem, so the Israel Police are responsible. That the attacker came from the territory of the PA does not make the PA responsible,” said Arnon.
Israeli forces raid Makassed Hospital to prevent 50th anniversary event
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 Jan — Israeli police forces raided the Makassed Hospital Events Hall in occupied East Jerusalem, on Monday, and prevented the administration from holding an event marking 50 years since its establishment. The Makassed Hospital, the largest in the central occupied West Bank city of Jerusalem, invited Palestinian Minister of Health, Jawad Awwad, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs in the Palestinian Authority (PA), Adnan Husseini, and Jerusalem governor, Adnan Ghaith, along with other Palestinian officials and guests to attend the celebratory event. The event also included the inauguration of new hospital wards.
A Ma’an reporter said that Israeli police forces raided the events hall before the start of the celebration and hung a notice on the door ordering closure of the hall, in addition to banning any activity to be held under the pretext that the event was held “under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority.” Despite the notice, the hospital’s administration along with the guests decided to hold the celebration outdoors. As a result, a large number of Israeli forces raided the events hall again and forced all guests to evacuate the area, during which soldiers used forced against the guests and assaulted several of them….
Palestinian PM amends controversial regulation to exclude Jerusalemites
Al-Monitor 22 Jan by Daoud Kuttab — A controversial decision ordering Palestinian homeowners to seek approval of government agencies before renting to any person with an Israeli ID produced a big reaction from East Jerusalem residents, prompting the order to later be amended to exclude them….
Video: Traditional West Bank pottery survives despite occupation
19 Jan 1:47 A minority of Israeli settlers, protected by soldiers, have made life difficult for Palestinians in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank. But the city is also home to the traditional art of hand-painted pottery and glass-blowing. The tourists that used to frequent the shops of Hebron are gone, but the city’s potters still produce unique pieces that are sold around the world, including in Israel. Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker reports on an industry that has survived for generations.
Video: West Bank checkpoints: ‘Endless’ delays, every day
18 Jan 2:30 — Al Jazeera has spoken to Palestinians who say they feel suffocated and trapped by the torturous process they’re subjected to by Israeli authorities, just to go to work. From long, angry lines at checkpoints to tough travel restrictions – they recount the endless delays that take hours out of their day. Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker reports from a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank.
Palestinian school and sewage projects unfinished as US cuts final bit of aid
KUNC18 Jan by Daniel Estrin — The White House has blocked an emergency effort to finish major U.S.-funded school, water and sewage projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to documents reviewed by NPR. It is the latest of a series of moves by the Trump administration to shut down U.S. aid to Palestinians, which is scheduled to end Feb 1. In the West Bank, a nearly complete multimillion-dollar sewage network in Jericho will have to be buried under asphalt and abandoned, and a $1.4 million school facility under construction in the Bethlehem area will be left behind, according to a recent document from the U.S. Agency for International Development. Anera, the U.S.-funded aid group carrying out the school project, recently received notification from the U.S. government that it may have to tear down the school, said Sean Carroll, the head of Anera. USAID, which oversees these projects, will lay off most of its local staff within months, U.S. officials say. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the matter publicly….
Israel plans to close UNRWA schools in occupied East Jerusalem
Al Jazeera 20 Jan — The United Nations refugee agency for Palestinians said Israeli authorities did not inform the group of a plan regarding shutting down UNRWA-run schools in occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli media reported that the state’s National Security Council will revoke permits allowing UNRWA schools to operate starting next school year. The schools will be replaced by schools run by the Jerusalem municipality, supported by Israel’s education ministry. “UNRWA’s existence in Jerusalem is not a gift from Israel,” Sami Meshasha, the spokesperson for the agency said in a press statement on Sunday. “There are bilateral agreements binding on Israel to respect the agency’s installations, jurisdiction and immunity in Jerusalem,” he said. “In addition, Israel is a party to the 1946 Refugee Convention, and such attempts are in violation of this Convention.” UNRWA runs seven schools in two refugee camps in occupied East Jerusalem, serving a total of 3,000 students. The Israeli plan is the latest blow to the agency, after the United States’s decision last year to halt its funding.
Palestinian forces soldier on amid Israeli raids and US neglect
RAMALLAH (AP) 18 Jan by Mohammed Daraghmeh & Joseph Krauss — On a cold winter’s night earlier this month, a convoy of 10 Israeli armored jeeps drove into the heart of the West Bank city of Ramallah and parked in front of the Palestinian police headquarters. Soldiers fanned out, searching nearby shops for security cameras after a pair of recent shooting attacks against Israelis in the occupied territory. The raid attracted dozens of stone-throwing Palestinians, and the Israelis responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. It was the latest in a series of Israeli raids into urban areas that the Palestinians say undermine their own U.S.-trained security forces. Those forces have been coordinating operations with Israel in the West Bank for years but ties have frayed as the peace process ground to a halt. “This humiliates the Palestinian Authority,” said Zakariya Musleh, head of Palestinian military intelligence. “It’s a clear message from the occupying power that we are not a partner for peace.”….
Feature: Mall opened near West Bank barrier promoting coexistence of Palestinians, Israelis
JERUSALEM (Xinhua) 17 Jan by Keren Setton — Near the controversial Israeli barrier that separates Palestinian villages and Israeli neighborhood, there stands a newly opened shopping mall, Atarot Mall. Surrounded by high concrete walls, barbed wires, watch towers and cameras, the venture, which was invested by 63-year-old Israeli businessman Rami Levy and will be officially inaugurated at the end of this month, has sparked debate from the beginning. The mall is located in the territory where the majority of the international community does not recognize as the Israeli sovereignty. The West Bank barrier was built in the start of this century as a response of Israel to repeated suicide bombings carried out by the Palestinians that killed many Israelis. The construction has been a highly contentious move. Palestinians have condemned the move, saying it was an occupation of their land and that it undermines the negotiations on the future border between the two sides. Levy was attacked by both sides. The Jews condemned him for hiring the Arabs, while the Arabs called for boycotting him as he is Jewish … Aside from making money, Levy is trying to send a message by opening the mall in the hotspot. “If I open a mall in such a spot, I can prove to the world, which thinks there are wars here all the time, that it is possible (for Palestinians and Israelis) to live together, to co-exist,” Levy told Xinhua. In Levy’s company, 45 percent of the total 7,000 employees were Arab, some of whom hold managerial positions….
Congress in no hurry to act as Palestinians reject security aid
Al-Monitor 22 Jan by Bryant Harris — Palestinian officials today announced that they will no longer accept US security assistance amid fears that doing so could open them up to terrorism-related lawsuits. The concerns stem from the consequences of a law Congress passed last year. The White House has asked Congress to amend the law before it goes into effect at the end of the month, but lawmakers appear in no hurry to do so. Palestinian diplomat Saeb Erekat told Agence France Presse today that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has sent an official letter to the US administration “requesting it stop all aid to the Palestinian Authority, including assistance to the Palestinian security services.” Erekat singled out the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, which requires recipients of US assistance to submit to the jurisdiction of US civil courts. Both the House and the Senate unanimously voted for the law, introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and President Donald Trump signed it into law in October. But the Associated Press reported in November that the White House had asked Congress to amend the law post facto so that the PA could continue receiving security aid … Israeli and Palestinian leaders have historically been proponents of the security aid … While security coordination with Israel remains unpopular with the Palestinian public, many in Washington favor it as it is used to stop groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad from operating in the West Bank.
Republican Rep. trying to stop West Bank trip led by Democrat Tlaib
JTA 21 Jan — A Republican lawmaker from Texas is trying to prevent congresswoman Rashida Tlaib from leading a delegation of freshman lawmakers to the West Bank. The trip led by Tlaib, who is Palestinian American, would be held at the same time as the traditional Israel mission for first-term lawmakers sponsored by the education arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, which includes touring and meetings with leading Israeli figures in business, government and the military … He said that Israel is “of vital importance to US interests in the Middle East,” and that a trip of lawmakers exclusively to the West Bank “threatens that relationship. To signal to our most threatened ally in the region that the United States Congress sanctions an official trip to visit Israel’s nemesis would be an exceedingly dangerous path forward.” … Tlaib has called the AIPAC-sponsored trip “one-sided.” She said she would take lawmakers to the northern West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Foqa, where her grandmother lives.
Leading Palestinian activist wins payout after terror blacklist
LONDON (Al Jazeera) 21 Jan by Amandla Thomas-Johnson — A prominent Palestinian activist has won a legal case after an influential database used by banks to assess the risk of individuals and organisations linked him to terrorism. In a settlement announced on Monday at the high court in London, Majed al-Zeer was removed from World-Check’s “terrorism” category and paid $13,000 in damages plus legal fees. According to lawyers representing him, the designation was based on an unsubstantiated claim made by the Israeli government that he was an operative of the Palestinian group, Hamas. Zeer, who is also a British citizen, chairs the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), a UK-based lobby group that has long been a thorn in the side of Israel for leading calls for all Palestinian refugees to have the right of return. In comments to Al Jazeera, Zeer said, “World-Check has been a bad tool for governments to hammer people who are just trying to say the truth about their illegal activities.” … The designation is thought to have been a crucial factor in the closure of three bank accounts belonging to him and the PRC between 2009-2015. “The curtailment of our banking facilities severely hindered our ability to operate and live and we were unable to penetrate the cloak of secrecy surrounding World-Check and their relationship with the banks,” Zeer said, speaking outside the high court on Monday….
Aiia Maasarwe’s funeral sees thousands pay respects for killed exchange student
[with photos] ABC News 23 Jan by Eric Tlozek — Thousands of people have marched in northern Israel to farewell exchange student Aiia Maasarwe, who was killed in Melbourne last week. The 21-year-old’s body was brought from the airport to her family home in the Arab-Israeli town of Baka al Gharbiyye, so her mother and sisters could say a final goodbye. Ms Maasarwe left this house to study and see the world. She returned in a casket, unloaded from an ambulance in the driveway and carried by a crowd through the large front window … Ms Maasarwe’s cousin Sharef Maasarwe said the large turnout was touching. “I mean everybody’s here, this village only has a couple of thousand people, so it’s really incredible,” he said
‘An angel, a diamond’: Aiia Maasarwe’s Palestinian identity was erased after her death
The Guardian 20 Jan by Jennine Khalik — … The alleged rape and murder of Maasarwe is one of several brutal attacks on women in Melbourne in recent years, with Eurydice Dixon and Jill Meagher meeting similar fates. It has left women once again asking ourselves: where are we safe? Where do we go from here? It was also a reminder of how news reports can erase Palestinians so easily, with multiple Australian media outlets describing 21-year-old Maasarwe as Israeli or Arab-Israeli, when she was in fact Palestinian. A Palestinian with Israeli citizenship. It does not and should not matter where Maasarwe comes from. No human should suffer what she did. What matters, however, is identifying people correctly, and at the very least honouring that in death. Particularly when Palestinians living under Israel’s government overwhelmingly reject being called Arab Israelis. According to a survey by University of Haifa professor Sammy Smooha, only 16% of Palestinians living in historic Palestine – now modern-day Israel – accept the term Arab-Israeli, which is a label prescribed by the government of Israel….