Media Analysis

Trump admin to end all USAID projects in West Bank and Gaza by January 31

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USAID to end all Palestinian projects on Jan. 31st
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Jan — The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will end all its projects in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip on January 31st following the US administration’s decision to cut funding to the Palestinians, Dave Harden, former USAID Mission Director and Managing Director of the Georgetown Strategy Group, confirmed on Thursday. According to Hebrew-language news outlets, Harden expressed deep concern over the move to shut down USAID and said that the US administration “demonstrates again a lack of nuance, sophistication, and appreciation for the complexity of the situation.” He stressed, “Who suffers when USAID leaves schools and water systems unfinished? Palestinians, of course, but also Israelis and Americans. The administration just gave Hamas more running room.” The shutdown on January 31st matches the implementation of the Anti Terrorism Clarification Act, a bill signed into law last October by the Trump administration, which creates liability for the Palestinian Authority (PA) should it accept any foreign assistance from the US government – effectively shutting dwon all USAID programming….

OCHA: ‘Humanitarian operations undermined by Israeli government’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Jan — Attempts to delegitimize humanitarian and human rights organizations operating in the occupied Palestinian territories, particularly non-governmental organizations (NGOs), have been on the rise in recent years and advanced by Israeli government and civil society groups, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory said in a report issued on Wednesday. The OCHA report said that this has a negative impact on the ability of these organizations to deliver assistance and advocate on behalf of Palestinian rights. The situation is further compounded by longstanding access restrictions imposed on humanitarian staff and operations, restrictive legislation and attacks on human rights defenders. “The bulk of the delegitimization attempts have been advanced by a network of Israeli civil society groups and some associated organizations elsewhere, with the apparent support of the Israeli government,” said OCHA. “Targeted defamation and smear campaigns allege violations of counter-terrorism legislation and international law, or political action against Israel.”

World Food Programme cuts aid for Palestinians
Al Jazeera 13 Jan — The World Food Programme (WFP) has suspended or reduced aid for some of its Palestinian beneficiaries in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip due to funding shortages, an official has said. Some 27,000 Palestinians are no longer receiving aid through the United Nations programme since January 1 in the occupied West Bank, said Stephen Kearney, the organisation’s director for the Palestinian territories. Another 165,000, including 110,000 in Gaza, are receiving 80 percent of the usual amount, he said on Sunday. The cuts were decided upon after a gradual reduction in donations over the past nearly four years, with US cuts having the biggest effect. In 2018, the WFP assisted 250,000 people in Gaza and 110,000 in the West Bank … The WFP launched a funding appeal on December 19 and received additional contributions from the European Union and Switzerland, but the amount remains short, Kearney said. It said at the time that it was in need of $57m. It will now seek contributions from new donors in an effort to fill the gap, he said….

Invading Ramallah, bursting the bubble
Al Jazeera 18 Jan by Yara Hawari — The raids in Ramallah are part of Israel’s systematic efforts to keep Palestinians in a state of uncertainty and siege — Over the last two weeks, the Israeli army has been invading the Palestinian city of Ramallah and conducting a series of military incursions which has almost entirely escaped international attention. On Saturday, we saw this escalate when they took up position in front of the Ramallah municipality and various high-end establishments. In a scene reminiscent of the Second Intifada, clashes ensued when the shabab (the youth) responded to the invasion with rocks, taking cover behind the dozens of expensive cars lined up in this fancy part of the city. The soldiers reciprocated with tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets. They also harassed and pushed around journalists, medics and bystanders. There were arrests, ransacking of establishments and dozens of tear gas-related injuries. This demonstration of collective punishment also left a rather bewildered population, with many pondering what the Israeli military was actually doing in Ramallah this time.
The official justification provided by the Israeli army is that they were confiscating private security cameras that would provide footage of the apparent Palestinian assailants. Meanwhile, others have speculated that this could be an attempt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to gain electoral points and show the Israeli public that he means business when it comes to the Palestinians. This justification does not hold up, as the Israeli media has not been reporting on the invasions. And, as usual, the majority of Jewish Israelis have no idea what’s going on in Ramallah. The army justification is also flimsy because it would not take them a week to confiscate all the cameras they need from the area. More so, because Israel has the occupied West Bank under intensive drone surveillance.  What’s more likely is that Israel is flexing its muscles in order to put pressure on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to yield further politically by reminding them that they can literally come into their backyard and do whatever they like. It is also part of a systematic effort to keep Palestinians in a state of uncertainty and siege, something which the Israeli regime has perfected in Gaza….

Soldiers shoot two Palestinians, abduct four, in Jenin
IMEMC 16 Jan —  Israeli soldiers shot, on Wednesday at dawn, two young Palestinian men, including one who was shot with an expanding bullet, and abducted four others, in the northern West Bank governorate of Jenin.  Media sources said the soldiers invaded the ‘Anza village, south of Jenin, and fired many live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs at Palestinian youngster, protesting the invasion.  They added that the soldiers shot Ali Qassem Sadaqa with an expanding bullet in his leg, causing moderate-to-serious injuries, and Abdullah Kamal Barahma with a rubber-coated steel bullet.  Medics rushed the two wounded Palestinians to a hospital in Jenin and provided the needed first aid to several others who suffered the effects of teargas inhalation.  In addition, the soldiers abducted Amara Fashafsha, Morad Malaysha and Ala’ Khaliliyya, from Jaba‘ town southwest of Jenin, and As‘ad Mohammad Steiti, from Jenin refugee camp, after stopping them at two sudden military roadblocks on the Jenin-Nablus road….

Soldiers seriously injure a Palestinian in Hebron
[with video] IMEMC 11 Jan — Israeli soldiers shot and seriously injured, Friday, a young Palestinian man. reportedly after he attempted to stab them in Hebron city, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. Israeli media sources quoted the army stating that “the Palestinian was neutralized after a suspected stabbing attack.” Although initial news indicated that the Palestinian, identified as Sufian Ghazi Skafi, 35, was killed, the Palestinian Civil District Coordination Office said the man is in serious condition after the soldiers shot him in his abdomen and legs. Soldiers and armed colonialist settlers surrounded the Palestinian and prevented Palestinian medics from reaching him. The incident took place near an Israeli police station close to Kiryat Arba illegal colony in Hebron; dozens of soldiers rushed to the scene, before one of them covered the entire body of the wounded Palestinian, including his head, with a sheet, although he was not dead. The Palestinian was later moved by the army to the Israeli Shaare Zedek medical center.

Palestinian journalist injured during Kafr Qaddum march
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 11 Jan — A Palestinian journalist was injured while dozens of others suffered tear-gas suffocation as Israeli forces suppressed the weekly Kafr Qaddum march in the northern West Bank district of Qalqiliya, on Friday afternoon. Coordinator of the local popular committee of Kafr Qaddum, Murad Ishteiwi, said that Israeli forces raided Kafr Qaddum, went up rooftops of houses and fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas canisters targeting protesters, injuring photojournalist Jaafar Ishtayeh. All injuries were treated on the spot. Dozens of protesters suffered tear-gas inhalation. Clashes erupted between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers, during which Palestinians responded to Israeli bullets with rocks and empty bottles. Residents of Kafr Qaddum began staging weekly protests in 2011 against Israeli land confiscations, as well as the closure of the village’s southern road by Israeli forces.

Settlers attack Palestinians in south of West Bank, injure some
HEBRON (WAFA) 12 Jan – Jewish settlers attacked on Saturday a number of Palestinians in the south of the West Bank, injuring some, according to Rateb Jabour, coordinator of the Anti-Settlement Committee in Hebron. He told WAFA that a group of Jewish settlers from the illegal settlements of Oteniel, Ma’on and Sussia, accompanied by soldiers, physically attacked residents and shepherds in the villages of Tuwaneh, Susya and Um al-Amad. He said the settlers used dogs in the attack and injured some of residents. Nasser Nawaj’a, a local anti-settlement activist, told WAFA that the settlers unleashed their dogs towards him and he was bitten in his hand and leg, causing him moderate injuries. He was moved to a nearby hospital for medical treatment.

Colonialist settlers attack Palestinian homes near Nablus
IMEMC 12 Jan — A group of illegal extremist Israeli colonists attacked, Saturday, Palestinian homes in Burqa village, north of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, causing damage. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors Israel’s illegal colonialist activities in northern West Bank, said the colonists attacked many homes in the northeastern area of the village. He added that the colonists came from the location of the former Homesh illegal colony, which was evacuated in 2005. The locals then rushed out of their homes and chased the colonists, who fled the area. Daghlas stated that the colonists have been constantly trying to rebuild and inhabit the former illegal colony and are responsible for numerous assaults and violations against the Palestinians, their homes and lands.
Also Saturday, a group of extremist settlers attacked many Palestinian farmers while working on their own lands, and several shepherds, in Yatta town, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, causing them to suffer cuts and bruises.

Israeli settlers chop down dozens of olive trees near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Jan — Israeli settlers chopped down 40 Palestinian-owned olive trees, on Friday, in the al-Mughayyir village in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. According to local sources, the residents of al-Mughayyir village were shocked as they arrived to their lands to find dozens of olive trees chopped down. Sources mentioned that the village faces increased attacks carried out by Israeli settlers, such as running over flocks of sheep, uprooting of trees, seizure of land, and burning local mosques. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), “Olive-based livelihoods in many areas of the West Bank are undermined by Israeli settlers who uproot and vandalize olive trees, and by intimidation and the physical assaults on farmers during the harvest itself.”The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reported that Israeli settlers’ vandalism in the occupied West Bank is a daily routine and is fully backed by Israeli authorities. “In just over two months, from the beginning of May to 7 July 2018, B’Tselem documented 10 instances in which settlers destroyed a total of more than 2,000 trees and grapevines and burned down a barley field and bales of hay,” B’Tselem said in its report.

Israeli soldiers abduct 28 Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 15 Jan — Israeli soldiers abducted, overnight until morning hours Tuesday, at least 28 Palestinians, including children and a shepherd, in several parts of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported. The PPS office in Jenin, in northern West Bank, has reported that the soldiers abducted eight Palestinians in the governorate, after invading their homes and ransacking them … In addition, the soldiers abducted a Palestinian shepherd identified as Yousef Bisharat, in Makhoul area, in the West Bank’s Northern Plains, after a group of extremist illegal Israeli colonists chased him, and his herd. It is worth mentioning that the colonists frequently attack Palestinian shepherds in the area, leading to many injuries, in addition to steeling or killing some of their livestock, while Israeli soldiers also abducted many of shepherds and farmers.

Israel’s thugs beat me, but they only strengthened my dream of Palestinian freedom / Awad Abdelfattah
MEE 11 Jan — Most Western commentators still refuse to recognise Palestinians in Israel as subjugated by the same colonialist regime that oppresses people in the West Bank and Gaza —  In 1983, three Israeli civilian-dressed men entered the Jerusalem-based English al-Fajr newspaper office where I was working, and asked: “Are you Awad?” I replied, “Yes, I am.” They said they had an order from the Israeli internal security minister banning me from entering the West Bank and Gaza Strip for six months, for security reasons. They refused my suggestion to sign the order in our office, as I had done previously, and insisted that I accompany them to a local police station. I was pushed towards a Jeep, and the three men began attacking me brutally, uttering nasty and sexist words against my mother, wife and whole family. I almost fainted, but that was not the end. In the detention compound, they reneIwed their brutal physical and verbal assault until I fell to the ground, almost unconscious. It was shocking that this second round of abuse occurred after a lawyer who had been asked to accompany me to the station had left. This brutal episode lasted only two hours, but the impact on me – mentally, politically and intellectually – was huge and continues to this day. The sense of humiliation was immense. But later on, it only consolidated my determination and resilience to adhere to my path: the path of a colonised people fighting for freedom, liberty and a decent life.  This wasn’t the first time I was arrested, for a few hours or days, for my views and political activities – but it was the first time I encountered such barbaric behaviour from the Israeli occupation against a university graduate and former English teacher fired for his political views. The interrogators’ claim that I was a traitor to Israel for working at a Palestinian newspaper, though licensed and legal, stunned me….


Child dies from serious wounds suffered last Friday in Gaza
IMEMC 14 Jan — The Palestinian Health Ministry has reported that a child died, on Monday at dawn, from serious wounds he suffered on Friday January 11th, 2019, after Israeli soldiers shot him with live fire, in northern Gaza. The Health Ministry stated that the child, Abdul-Rauf Ismael Salha, 14, was shot with a live round in the head during the Great Return March procession, east of Jabalia, in the northern part of the besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip. It added that the child was first rushed to the Indonesian Hospital, in Beit Lahia, and was later moved to the Shifa Medical Center, in Gaza city, due to the seriousness of his wounds.

Palestinian dies from wounds suffered several weeks earlier in Gaza
IMEMC 13 Jan — The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza has reported, Sunday, that a man who was shot and seriously injured by Israeli army fire three weeks ago has died from his wounds in a hospital in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, said an Israeli army sharpshooter shot the man, Anwar Mohammad Qdeih, 33, with a live bullet in his neck, near the perimeter fence, east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza. The man underwent several surgeries following his serious injury, on Friday, October 19th 2018, but remained in a critical condition at a Gaza European Hospital, until he succumbed to his serious wounds.

Pictures: Gaza mourns slain Palestinian teen, man
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — Thousands of Palestinians marched, on Monday afternoon, in the funerals of two Palestinians who succumbed to wounds they had sustained during protests alongside the eastern borders of the besieged Gaza Strip….

Updated: Soldiers kill one woman, injure 25 Palestinians, including a medic and two journalists, in Gaza
IMEMC 11 Jan — Updated: The Palestinian Health Ministry said the slain Palestinian woman has been identified as Amal Mustafa at-Taramisi, 43, from Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, north of Gaza city. It added that the woman was shot in her head, and died from her serious wounds shortly after she was injured. At least 25 Palestinians were injured in several areas of the Gaza Strip, including at least one who remains in a critical condition.
Updated from:  Jan 11, 2019 @ 16:46: Israeli soldiers killed, Friday, one woman, injured 25 Palestinians, including one medic and a journalist, and caused dozens to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation, after the army resorted to the excessive use of force against the protesters participating in the Great Return March procession in the Gaza Strip. The attacks against the nonviolent protesters mainly took place near the perimeter fence, east of Gaza city, the al-Boreij refugee camp in central Gaza, in addition to Khan Younis and Rafah, in the southern part, and Jabalia in northern Gaza. The soldiers, stationed in fortified towers and posts across the perimeter fence, fired many live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, high-velocity gas bombs and concussion grenades. The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said the soldiers shot and killed one woman, east of Gaza city, injured three others before they were moved to the Shifa Medical center, and caused dozens to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza said the slain woman is yet to be officially identified. He added that the soldiers also shot two Palestinians with live fire, east of Jabalia, suffering moderate wounds, before they were rushed to the Indonesian Hospital in nearby Beit Lahia. Dr. al-Qedra also stated that the soldiers also fired a high-velocity gas bomb at a Red Crescent ambulance, east of Gaza, wounding several Palestinians, including a medic, identified as Emad Sinwar, with a gas bomb that struck his neck, in addition to one journalist. One Palestinian was shot with live fire, and many others suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, east of Khan Younis, in southern Gaza.

Israel to decide on Qatari money to Gaza based on nature of Friday’s border protest
[behind paywall] Haaretz 17 Jan by Noa Landau & Jack Khoury — Israel is still delaying the transfer of funds from Qatar to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and will decide on the matter based on the nature of Friday’s planned protest along the border. Hamas leadership has rejected any attempt to link the funds to quelled protests, and said any delay in transferring the money will lead to escalation. Meanwhile, foreign diplomats told Haaretz they are concerned that the ongoing delay in transiting the money could lead to another escalation between Israel and Gaza. At the same time, Israel has recently signaled that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks a calm front ahead of the April 9 election. According to understandings reached with Hamas at the time, the money transfers are supposed to continue right up to the election. According to several diplomats, Netanyahu may be mulling walking back these understandings given the political price of photographs depicting suitcases of money arriving in Gaza….

Israeli soldiers fire several missiles into Gaza
IMEMC 13 Jan — Israeli soldiers fired, on Saturday at night, several missiles and shells into a few areas in the besieged Gaza Strip, causing property damage. The army claimed it was “retaliating to a shell that landed in an open area in Sdot Regional Council.” The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported that Israeli F-16 fighter jets fired several missiles into areas in Gaza city, Beit Lahia in the northern part of the coastal region, and Khan Younis, in southern Gaza. WAFA added that the missiles caused damage to several buildings, including homes and other civilian property surrounding the targeted sites. The army also fired several artillery shells into a few areas east of Gaza city, especially east of the Shuhada Graveyard, causing damage. In a brief statement, the Israeli army claimed it attacked Gaza “in retaliation to a shell that was fired from Gaza and landed in an open area in Sdot Regional Council,” near Gaza, causing no damage or injuries.

Israeli army bombards Gaza
IMEMC 11 Jan — The Israeli army fired, on Friday evening, several missiles and artillery shells into three sites, east of Gaza city and east of Khan Younis, causing excessive damage. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency has reported that the Israeli Air Force fired at least one missile into a site believed to be run by an armed Palestinian resistance group, causing excessive damage and fire, without leading to casualties. It added that the army also fired an artillery shell into another site east of the Sheja‘eyya neighborhood, east of Gaza city, causing damage. In addition, the soldiers fired missiles into an observation post in Khuza‘a town, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Video: Electricity shortage may close Palestine’s hospitals
Al Jazeera 19 Jan 3:26 — The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza is warning that at least three hospitals may be forced to close because there isn’t enough fuel to power generators vital to the supply of electricity. The latest fuel crisis started after Israel stopped millions of dollars from transferred from Qatar to the Palestinian territory more than two weeks ago. Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford reports.

Beit Hanoun hospital to shut down over ongoing fuel crisis
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Jan — Beit Hanoun hospital director Jameel Suleiman has warned that their generator would be shut down within two days, due to shortage of fuel. Suleiman said, in a statement, that the depletion of fuel would lead to complete paralysis in the services of the hospital, which serves 340 thousand people in the north of the Gaza Strip. The spokesman of the ministry, Ashraf al-Qedra, appealed on Monday to all interested parties, to work towards immediately ending the fuel crisis in hospitals and facilities of the Ministry of Health, stressing that it will have catastrophic repercussions on patients in the Gaza Strip when the generators stop, within just a few days. Gaza hospitals need 450 thousand liters of fuel, per month, to operate generators during power outages that last for 8-12 hours a day, according to the ministry….

Israeli forces detain Palestinian after crossing Gaza border fence
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Jan — Israeli forces detained a Palestinian who reportedly crossed the Israeli border fence between southern Israel and the northern besieged Gaza Strip, on Friday. Israeli news outlets reported that the Palestinian was not armed. The Palestinian was immediately taken in for interrogation. Israeli forces regularly detain Palestinians attempting to cross into Israel from the besieged Gaza Strip, which has suffered under a decade-long military blockade by Israel.

Egypt closes crossing to Gaza as Abbas tightens noose
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 15 Jan by Ahmed el-Komi — Hamas says recent actions by the Palestinian Authority (PA) are designed to further separate the territories and grease the wheels for the nebulous US plan for peace in the Middle East. The Fatah-controlled PA in the West Bank has removed its staff that was managing the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. Hamas had turned over the crossing’s management to the PA in November 2017 as part of a reconciliation deal brokered by Cairo. The deal barely got off the ground before stalling and has been troubled ever since. When the PA left the crossing Jan. 7 and Hamas took over again, Egypt closed the crossing to traffic trying to exit Gaza, for security reasons. Ma’an News Agency reported Egypt has said it won’t reopen the crossing in both directions until the PA sends someone back to monitor the Palestinian side, though Hamas said it is discussing the matter with Egypt….

Gaza teachers ask why their jobs remain uncertain despite UN’s fundraising success
The New Arab 16 Jan by Khuloud Rabah Sulaiman — Despite last month’s announcement that the UN’s agency charged with aiding Palestinian refugees [UNRWA] has just about overcome its US-induced funding shortfall, the organisation has still not restored the pay and positions it had cut earlier causing employees in Gaza to continue their protests. What is preventing UNRWA from granting us contracts, since they themselves say the crisis has ended?” asked Malak*, a teacher who passed the agency exam last year and had been promised a contract. The decision by US President Donald Trump in August to end all financial support for UNRWA, suspending $360 million in funding, caused a financial crisis in the agency. This meant a cut in 125 jobs with emergency services, converting 570 staff positions to part-time and transferring 270 employees to other programmes. UNRWA also stopped offering employees permanent contracts, depriving a large number of Gazans (about 13,000, which in turn support many more people) with one of the few sources of security in the Strip. Meanwhile, UNRWA issued an international appeal for donations to make up the dramatic gap left by the US pullout. And it was surprisingly successful … Yet the agency has made no move to reinstate its cutbacks….

Al-Qassam fighter succumbs to wounds sustained in accident
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Jan — A member of the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas movement, succumbed on Thursday morning to wounds he had sustained earlier in a gun accident. Al-Qassam confirmed in a statement that fighter, Ahmad Samih al-Fayumi, 20, succumbed to wounds he had sustained in a gun accident during a mission.

Gaza authorities: 6 Egyptian fishermen rescued, one missing
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 17 Jan — Gaza’s Hamas authorities say they have rescued six Egyptian fishermen in the stormy Mediterranean Sea but that one is still believed to be missing. The Hamas media office says the rough sea washed the wreckage of their boat ashore on the Nusseirat beach in central Gaza Strip The fishermen were taken to a Gaza hospital. Local media reports say a 48-year-old Egyptian was missing at sea. The boat apparently was sailing off the coast of northern Sinai when it got caught up in the bad weather and heavy winter winds sweeping the region.

Crisis over Italy security guards in Gaza resolved
MEMO 17 Jan — A crisis surrounding three Italian security guards thought to be undercover Israeli forces operating in the Gaza Strip has ended. In a statement issued yesterday, the spokesman of the Palestinian Interior Ministry in Gaza, Iyad Al-Bozm, said that: “In the past few hours an investigation was carried out into a suspicious vehicle, in which three Italians were traveling, that coincidentally was in the same area as a shooting in the Gaza Strip which took place on January 14, 2019.” “Following the incident, the car went to the UNSCO [United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process] headquarters in Gaza City,” he continued, adding: “During the investigation, the identity of three Italians and their proper entry into Gaza was confirmed. It also became clear that the car was not connected to the shooting.” … China’s Xinhua news agency reported that the Italians were security guards who were in the besieged Gaza Strip to prepare for a visit by the Italian Ambassador to Israel, Gianluigi Benedetti, which should have taken place yesterday. On Monday, Palestinian security guards suspected that the three men were undercover Israeli forces, as the trio was carrying automatic guns and refused to stop at a security checkpoint in central Gaza. Palestinian forces chased the three suspects, who then took refuge in the head office of UNSCO in Gaza. The security forces followed internationally recognised norms and did not enter the office in pursuit, instead asking for official permission to investigate the three men.

Hamas offers $1M for info on Israeli ‘eavesdropping’ raid in Gaza last November
AlBawaba 13 Jan — The military wing of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has offered a reward of one million dollars for more information about a botched Israeli raid on the besieged Gaza Strip two months ago, saying the operation was aimed at planting surveillance devices on the movement’s landline communications network. Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades shared on Saturday video footage of Israeli commandos in action inside Gaza as well as several photos of the equipment they left behind. The failed raid on November 11, 2018 sparked the heaviest fighting in Gaza since the 2014 Israeli war on the coastal sliver of land, prompting the Palestinian resistance to fire over 400 retaliatory rockets into the occupied territories. An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire ended tensions on November 13. Speaking at a press conference in Gaza, Qassam spokesman Abu Obeida said a 15-member elite Israeli military unit had infiltrated into Gaza under the cover of fog and traveled there in cars disguised as vehicles belonging to a local charity. The Israeli forces used fake Gazan IDs and forged documents of humanitarian workers and had undergone training for the operation from January to October 2018, he added. Their goal, Obeida noted, was “establishing a spy system to eavesdrop on the communications network of the resistance in the Gaza Strip.”….

Hamas says seizes secret devices in Israeli botched mission in eastern Gaza
GAZA (Xinhua) 12 Jan — The armed wing of Islamic Hamas movement, known as al-Qassam Brigades, said on Saturday that its militants seized top secret equipment during the botched Israeli mission in the eastern Gaza Strip in November last year. The operation was called “edge of the sword,” said Abu Obeida, spokesman of the armed wing, at a news briefing in Gaza. “Al-Qassam Brigades seized technical devices and equipment that contained top-secret stuff, in which the enemy (Israel) thought it had gone after its war jets struck its undercover force vehicles during the botched mission,” the masked spokesman said. “The enemy and its security apparatuses must be deeply concerned, because we have a treasure of secret data that will give us a strategic feature on the level of the minds war with the Zionist occupation,” he added…

The human cost of the drug crisis sweeping Gaza
GAZA (Arab News) 13 Jan by Hazem Balousha — ‘200,000 addicts’ as Gaza drugs epidemic spirals out of control; Faced with extreme poverty, few job prospects and a lack of hope, desperate residents are easy prey for drug dealers — It started with a single pill. Mohammed was working as a digger of tunnels through which goods were being smuggled into the southern Gaza Strip from Egypt when he said felt the need for a “pep pill” to help him make it through the daily grind of grueling 18-hour workday.  In 2010 he started to take tramadol, also known by the brand name Tramal, an opioid pain medication used to treat moderately severe pain, which is commonly prescribed after surgery or for musculoskeletal problems. At the time, Mohammed was 30 years old, with a degree in information technology but little prospect of landing a job …. Fadl Ashour, a consultant psychiatrist and neurologist, said that during a study in the Gaza Strip three years ago he found the number of addicts to be as high as 200,000. He attributes the use of drugs such as opioids, stimulants and hallucinogens by young men and young women to the feelings of hopelessness and anxiety that pervade the Gaza Strip….

Latest stage of UK-Gaza kidney transplant programme begins
MEMO 14 Jan — The Palestinian Ministry of Health announced yesterday that the latest stage of the “From Gaza to Liverpool” kidney transplant programme has begun. This stage is the 20th instalment of the programme, which is led by the head of the Organ Surgery Centre at the Royal Liverpool Hospital in the UK, Dr Abdelkader Hammad, Safa reported. Since 2013 Dr Hammad – who is of Palestinian origin – has worked alongside his colleagues to transfer organ transplant expertise from Liverpool to the besieged Gaza Strip. According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 61 kidney transplants have been carried out since the start of the programme. The first kidney transplant of this latest phase was carried out on Saturday. The head of the Artificial Kidneys’ Department at Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital, Dr Abdullah Al-Qishawi, explained that the operation was carried out by Palestinian doctors on a patient in his thirties. The patient had been suffering from kidney failure for seven months and needed dialysis several times a week. This operation is one of four kidney transplants to be carried out during this latest phase.

Gaza theater wants to be voice of Palestinians to world
GAZA (Anadolu) 15 Jan — The acting academy Palestinian Theater was founded in Gaza nearly three months ago. It aims to introduce the Palestinian issue from the perspective of Palestinians to the wider world. The academy, where 47 young people, among which seven are handicapped, get training, is the first institution that conducts work in this field in Gaza. The founding father of the academy and director, Isam Şahin, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the idea of establishing this acting academy occurred five years ago. Şahin mentioned that they started accepting students three months ago as a result of their work to conduct the project….

Gaza zoo owner blames winter storm for lion cub deaths
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 17 Jan — The owner of a dilapidated Gaza zoo is blaming stormy weather for the death of four lion cubs. Fathi Jumaa said Thursday that he covered the cage of the day-old lions with blankets ahead of Wednesday’s winter storm, but found them dead the next morning at the small zoo in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah. Most of the animals in the zoo were smuggled into Gaza from Egypt via underground tunnels a few years ago, before the Egyptian military destroyed the tunnels running beneath the border. The wintry weather sweeping the region has made it especially hard for animals that lack proper care….

Punitive demolitions

Israel blows up house of Palestinian prisoner in Yatta
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces blew up the family home of an injured Palestinian prisoner responsible for carrying out a stabbing attack killing an Israeli settler last September, on Friday morning. Locals reported that Israeli forces raided the Ruqaa area in Yatta City in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, and demolished the family home of Khalil Youssef Jabbarin, 17, using explosives. Israeli forces raided Jabbarin’s home on predawn Friday, and forced residents to evacuate the 3-floor house before blowing up the third floor of the house.  Jabbarin was shot, injured and imprisoned by Israeli forces, on September 16th, 2018 after carrying out a stabbing attack near the illegal Israeli settlement of Gush Etzion, near Hebron, reportedly killing an Israeli settler. Israeli forces had raided Jabbarin’s home on Wednesday and took footage of the house in preparation to carry out the demolition.The family had received a demolition order in December, 2018, allowing them until January 2nd to appeal the order. Israel always demolishes family homes of Palestinians who were involved in attacking Israelis, as part of its collective punishment policy against the Palestinian people.


Video: Palestinians protest Israeli police activity at Al-Aqsa
AIC 18 Jan — On Monday, January 14, 2019, Palestinians worshipers closed the doors to the Dome of the Rock Mosque [Shrine] and barricaded themselves inside of it in protest of Israeli police activity at al-Aqsa Compound in Jerusalem. The Middle East Monitor reports that the protest erupted after an Israeli police officer attempted to enter the Dome of the Rock Mosque while wearing a kippah. “The Dome of the Rock guards asked the policeman to remove his kippah before entering the mosque, but he refused and insisted on entering by force. The guards closed the mosque’s gates and sealed themselves inside as the police waited outside to arrest them,” said Firas al-Dibs, spokesperson for the Islamic Waqf. During the siege, Palestinians staged a sit-in in the yard of the Mosque. Israeli police pushed the protesting worshippers. Director of the Mosque Sheikh Omar Al Kiswani was lightly wounded. When the afternoon call to prayer was sounded, Israeli forces withdrew and Palestinian worshippers streamed into the Mosque. The siege lasted for a total of six hours, reports the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, and at least four Islamic Waqf guards were arrested. Israeli authorities released the four guards from detention later that day with orders to stay away from al-Aqsa for one week and report back to the Israeli police on Sunday. The next day, Tuesday, January 15, Israeli police summoned al-Dibs for interrogation. Israeli police arrested Al-Dibs earlier this month. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center reports that on Wednesday and Thursday Israeli settlers toured al-Aqsa compound with the protection of Israeli police.

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem


Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Israel evicting Palestinian family to replace them with settlers
SHEIKH JARRAH, occupied East Jerusalem (Al Jazeera) 15 Jan by Zena Tahhan — Huddled around an electric heater on a chilly winter day, four Palestinian women sit nervously, making calls to acquaintances to ask about homes for rent in the city. “We can’t leave it to the last minute. We have to figure it out – the Israelis can come at any time to evict us from our homes,” says 31-year-old Ramziyeh Sabbagh. She is due to give birth to a baby girl in five days. “My husband is in denial that we may be evicted,” says Khadija Sabbagh, Ramziyeh’s aunt. “I don’t know what we’re going to do. We only have God at this point.”  Umm Alaa Skafi, who lives next door and whose family is also facing eviction, came over to check on her dear neighbour. “Keep praying. Don’t let your mind wander. Keep yourself busy. I am here for you. I’ll make a dish and bring it over for you and your family,” Umm Alaa tells Khadija.
On January 12, Israeli authorities handed an eviction order to the Sabbagh family – numbering about 45 people – so Israeli settlers could move into their homes. The five Sabbagh brothers, their wives, children and grandchildren were given until January 23 to leave their homes. On Tuesday, lawyers representing the family said Israeli authorities agreed to freeze the eviction until a final decision was reached within a month. The families have lived there since 1956. They were forcibly displaced from their hometown of Jaffa during the 1948 Palestinian Nakba – the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Zionist militias to create the state of Israel. Having had relatives in the nearby neighbourhood of Wadi al-Joz, they settled in Jerusalem…..

Settlers destroy Palestinian property in south of West Bank for settlement purposes
HEBRON (WAFA) 14Jan – For the second time in a few days, Israeli settlers ransacked on Monday Palestinian-owned properties and demolished retaining walls in order to open a new settlers-only road in Wadi al-Hasin area to the east of Hebron city in the south of the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian residents. They said settlers from the nearby illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba carrying firearms, sticks, shovels and axes gathered in Wadi al-Hasin and demolished the retaining walls the landowners had rebuilt after the settlers had destroyed them few days earlier. Settlers also threatened to kill the owners of the land and residents in the area if they attempted to stop them. The settlers had previously opened a two-meter-wide road along nine dunums of land in the same area following an Israeli court ruling under the pretext of opening an emergency road for the settlers. However, the settlers wanted to open another side street from that road, which would pass through more land in Wadi al-Hasin the owners from the Jaber family had previously won a court order preventing the settlers from approaching it.

Palestinians in south of West Bank ordered to halt construction on structuresHEBRON (WAFA) 14 Jan – Israeli forces Monday ordered halt on construction of Palestinian structures in Yatta town in the south of the West Bank, said a local activist. Rateb Jabour, from the anti-settlements committee, told WAFA that Israeli forces raided al-Jawaya locality, east of Yatta, and ordered two residents to halt construction on a house, a water well and an animal barn. Israel refuses to permit virtually any Palestinian construction in Area C, which constitutes 60 percent of the occupied West Bank and falls under full Israeli military rule, forcing residents to build without permit to provide shelters for their families.

Israeli soldiers demolish a residential shed near Jericho
IMEMC 16 Jan — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday morning, Fasayel Palestinian village, north of Jericho city in the occupied West Bank, and demolished a residential shed. The soldiers surrounded the small community before invading it, and demolished a residential shed, owned by Abdul-Hadi Obeyyat, allegedly for being built without a permit. The owner said that he received the demolition order four months ago, before he hired a lawyer, but the soldiers demolished the 30 -square-meter shed, although the case is still in Israeli courts. The Palestinian and his family were rendered homeless as a result of the demolition.
In related news, the soldiers closed the main entrance of Azzoun town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, by closing the iron gate of the illegal Annexation Wall and prevented the Palestinians from entering or leaving it. It is worth mentioning that Azzoun is surrounded by the illegal Annexation Wall, five iron gates, surveillance cameras, roadblocks and six colonies.

Israeli forces evict 13 families for military training
TUBAS (WAFA) 13 Jan – Israeli forces on Sunday evicted 13 Palestinian families from their homes in the village of Khirbet Ibzeiq, to the northeast of Tubas in the Jordan Valley region, the occupied West Bank, making way for military training using heavy armored tanks. Aref Daraghmeh, who monitors Israeli violations in the area, said Israeli forces stormed the village and forced 13 families out of their homes for the next 24 hours for military training in the area. Palestinian residents of the Jordan Valley regularly face evictions due to Israeli military exercises on or near their land. Only last month, Israeli forces evicted the village’s population three times for the same purpose….

Israeli settlers raze 1,000 planted trees in West Bank village
The National 14 Jan — Israel settlers have razed around 1,000 planted trees in a West Bank village, according to Palestinian officials. On Sunday, a group of ultra-nationalist Jewish extremists stormed Burqa, a village located near the West Bank city of Nablus. They proceeded to destroy hundreds of tree saplings meant to turn the village land into a nature reserve, according to Palestinian Authority official Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity in the West Bank. The planting of 1,000 trees was coordinated between the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture and the village’s local council, Mr Daghlas, who was quoted by Palestinian news agency Ma‘an, said. Settlers regularly target Palestinian plots, including olive trees and vines, in a bid to harass them and prevent them from harvesting on land they consider to be theirs according to the Bible. Between May and July 2018, Israeli rights group B’Tselem documented 10 attacks on Palestinian farmland that destroyed more than 2,000 trees and grapevines, as well as burning down a barley field and bales of hay.

Jailed Palestinian who sold land to Israelis set to be freed
Al Jazeera 18 Jan — A Palestinian man who received a life sentence for selling property in occupied territory to Israelis is set to be released to the United States, Israeli media reported. Isaam Akel, who also holds dual US citizenship, is expected to leave the occupied West Bank to be transported to the US in the upcoming days, according to Haaretz. The Palestinian Authority (PA) was under tremendous Israeli and US pressure to release the 55-year-old, with Israel conducting several retaliatory operations following the sentencing. No official statement has been made by the PA, Israel or the US after the reports of Akel’s imminent release. In December, a Ramallah court sentenced Akel to life in prison with hard labour after he was found guilty of selling land in the Old City of annexed East Jerusalem to Israeli Jews.

Prisoners / Court actions

Detainee receives administrative detention order hours before his release
IMEMC 17 Jan — Just hours before his scheduled release, Thursday, a Palestinian political prisoner, held by Israel, received an arbitrary Administrative Detention order for six months, without charges or trial. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that the detainee has been identified as Sameh Mohammad Kamil, from Qabatia town, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin. The PPS added that Kamil, who is currently held at Majeddo Israeli prison, was supposed to be released today, Thursday, after serving a prison sentence of three months. He was taken prisoner in October of last year. Many detainees spend months, while others even spend years, due to being held under repeatedly renewed Administrative Detention orders, without charges or trial, due to what the military claims to have a “secret file” against them, requiring their continued imprisonment.

Israeli military courts have fined Palestinians $16M in 3 years
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Jan — Israeli military courts have imposed fines topping $16m, on West Bank Palestinians, from 2015 to 2017, “even though the great majority of the offenses do not involve the harming of people or property.” According to a report by Haaretz, “the money is deposited in the Israeli Civil Administration’s accounts in the West Bank and is managed by an officer also subordinate to Israeli finance ministry.” The report cites examples of fines, such as the December 2018 conviction of a Beit Ummar resident, for throwing a stone at Israeli occupation forces “from an unknown distance.” Although “the stone did not hit anyone and caused no damage,” he was jailed for six months and fined 2,000 shekels ($550). In October 2018, a military judge convicted a 45-year-old man of what the court considered a “hostile terrorist offense” – namely, “he went on a family picnic holding a hunting rifle with one bullet in it.” In a plea deal, “he was sentenced to two months in prison and fined 3,000 shekels ($800).” The Haaretz article notes how “experience shows that a Palestinian cannot be released from detention or prison without paying the fine imposed on him, regardless of the offense’s severity.”

IDF admits teen didn’t commit crime, locks him up for Facebook post anyway
+972 mag 10 Jan by Edo Konrad — The Israeli army arrested Anwar Makhtoob, an 18-year-old Palestinian, over several old Facebook posts two weeks ago. The military prosecutor readily admitted that there wasn’t even a suspicion that he had committed a crime, but instead of releasing him, as one might expect, the prosecution and the judge decided to keep him in prison, so that he could be put in administrative detention. On December 31, 2018, Mahktoob’s uncle and little brother were driving through an Israeli military checkpoint near their West Bank village of Al-Qubeiba. The Israeli officers there asked about Anwar, and then called his father and demanded that he bring the teenager to the checkpoint for questioning. When the two arrived, the Border Police officer in charge asked Makhtoob about two photos he had published in July 2018, six months earlier: one, a photo of weapons, and the other, a keffiyeh-clad man in a flak jacket holding an assault rifle. According to Makhtoob’s attorney, Khalil Zaher, the teenager found the photos online and decided to share them….

Cancer patient held in Israeli jail at critical stage
IMEMC/Agencies 18 Jan — Palestinian detainee and cancer victim Sami Abu-Diak has lost a great amount of weight and is no longer able to eat or drink, the Detainees Affairs Commission said on Thursday. Karim Ajwa, the Commission’s attorney, said Abu-Diak has also lost the ability to sleep and can no longer walk. He is also suffering severe stomach pain as a result of the advanced stage of cancer he is suffering. Abu-Diak, who comes from the town of Silat al-Dahr in the West Bank, is serving a life sentence, and so far served 18 years in jail, according to WAFA. He underwent surgery in September of 2015, at the Soroka Hospital in Israel, during which 80 cm of his intestine was removed. He suffered a medical error during the surgery, resulting in kidney and lung failure, along with other serious health complications.

Shin Bet threatened underage Jewish terror suspect with rape
Ynet 13 Jan by Yishai Porat & Yoram Yarkoni — New details emerge in case of minor accused of vandalism and arson at a Jerusalem church, in which court found interrogation tactics to be abusive and highly inappropriate — The confessions of a 17-year-old Israeli youth, charged with membership in a terror organization and various incidents of vandalism, were thrown on by the Lod Central District Court on the grounds that his confession had been coerced by investigators who posed as fellow inmates in a fake detention center, and who even threatened the teen with violence and rape …  Following the charges, the minor was incarcerated at a fake detention center in Acre, erected in a ruse designed to extract information from him. He was placed in a cell together with others who were ostensibly dangerous criminals but were in fact undercover policemen placed there to eavesdrop and observe him …  The court also found that one of the undercover policemen, Aviv, intimidated the youth into giving him half of his meal on the evening following a religious fast day. On another occasion he was prevented from performing the morning prayers with his Tefilin, a religious obligation….,7340,L-5441870,00.html

Jewish minor to be charged over killing of Palestinian woman
JERUSALEM (AFP) 15 Jan — A Jewish minor is to be charged in connection with the killing of a Palestinian woman last year in the occupied West Bank, Israeli police said Tuesday. Aisha Rabi, 48, died after stones were thrown at the car she was travelling in with her family on October 12. Five pupils from the Pri Haaretz religious seminary in the Rechelim settlement in the West Bank were arrested last month, four of whom were released to house arrest. The fifth suspect held in custody would be charged over the attack “in the next few days”, police said in a statement. Rabi, a mother of nine, was killed near Rechelim which lies close to her village of Bidiya in the northern West Bank. She died after suffering a head injury, while her husband escaped with minor injuries. Israeli investigations into “Jewish terrorism” — as such cases are often referred to by Israeli media — are highly sensitive.  Rights activists have accused Israeli authorities of dragging their feet in such probes compared with those into Palestinian attacks, while far-right Israelis say suspects have undergone coercement and torture.

Other news

92 civil society organizations send letter to Group of 77+1 regarding Abbas’ legitimacy
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Jan — 82 civil society organizations in the Gaza Strip sent a letter to the UN Group of 77 + 1, stating that Mr. Mahmoud Abbas no longer has any legal status in representing the Palestinian people and talking on their behalf in accordance with the Palestinian Basic Law, which set the term of office of the President as only four years, the period that ended for Mr. Abbas in 2009….

Al-Malki to re-submit Palestine’s application for full UN membership
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Jan — With Palestine assuming presidency of the Group of 77 and China in the United Nations, “the United States will have no choice but to negotiate with Palestine in its capacity as chair of this organization,” Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said in a statement on Wednesday. In an interview with Palestine TV, al-Malki said that Palestine is going to negotiate development issues with industrial and advanced countries on behalf of the Group of 77, including with the US. “The US has to recognize that Palestine is the chair of this organization and if it decides it does not want to sit with us, then it is the one losing,” he said, explaining that “the US is going to sit and negotiate with the State of Palestine but pretend that it is not sitting with Palestine, which it does not recognize, but rather with the chair of the Group of 77. This will not have an impact on our role.” He stressed that the member states that voted for Palestine to chair the group are interested in achieving its interests and therefore “we are confident that they will support the Palestinians when it time comes for negotiations and the US will find out that it cannot ignore Palestine.” Al-Malki said that Palestine will do its best to make its role as chair of the Group of 77 a success “despite of the difficult conditions.” He said the special privileges granted to Palestine to chair this group are valid for the duration of this mandate. He added, “We will abide by this temporary mandate, which is for this year. We are not going to politicize our presidency of the Group of 77 and China and when we succeed in this mission and gain experience, as well as support of member states, we are going to approach the UN General Assembly once again to earn these privileges after the end of our mandate.”….

Palestinian president plans anti-Hamas measures as split widens
RAMALLAH (AFP) 13 Jan — The decade-long Palestinian split looks set to deepen in the coming months, with president Mahmud Abbas poised to take multiple measures against Gaza to squeeze its Islamist rulers Hamas. The moves raise concerns of more suffering for Gaza’s two million residents, already under an Israeli blockade and facing severe electricity shortages, while a cornered Hamas could renew violence against Israel. Analysts say the measures will also widen the gap between Hamas-run Gaza and the occupied West Bank, where Abbas’s government has limited self-rule … Multiple reconciliation attempts between the Palestinian factions have failed but Egypt thought it had made a breakthrough in late 2017 when the two sides agreed to eventually share power. As part of that agreement Hamas withdrew from border crossings between Gaza and Egypt and Israel, allowing the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority to return and the Egyptian border to be reopened regularly. The reconciliation agreement has since collapsed acrimoniously. On Sunday, the PA announced it would withdraw from the Egyptian border crossing, creating a dilemma for Cairo about whether to leave it open with Hamas in control. So far they have indicated they will. Senior officials close to Abbas say he is looking for other measures to punish Hamas. Among these could be removing staff from the crossings between Israel and Gaza — making it hard for the Jewish state to allow anything into the territory without dealing directly with Hamas, which it and many other countries label a terrorist organisation. They could also include cutting salaries to families of Hamas prisoners or rescinding Palestinian passports for Hamas employees. Abbas has also pledged to dissolve the Hamas-dominated Palestinian parliament, which though it hasn’t met since the 2007 split is still nominally the basis for new laws….

West Bank Palestinians strike against social security law
Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) – Thousands of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank joined a strike on Tuesday against their government’s proposed new social security law, fearing the fund will be mismanaged. The strike, which saw much of Ramallah, Hebron and other Palestinian cities closed, comes hours before president Mahmud Abbas is due to address the United Nations. A few thousand people protested outside the Social Security Corporation in Ramallah, where Abbas’s government is based. Under the proposed system both private employers and their employees would pay monthly into a government-managed fund, with employees receiving a pension when they retire. The government says it will provide new security for employees, arguing similar systems exist in countries across the globe. Protesters say they do not trust the Palestinian government to manage the fund and point out there are no guarantees.  They also say Israel’s occupation of the West Bank means that the long-term existence of the Palestinian Authority government is far from secure….

Thousands of Palestinians protest in Gaza, Ramallah demanding end of division
GAZA, RAMALLAH (Asharq Al-Awsat) 13 Jan —  Thousands of Palestinians staged protests in Gaza and Ramallah on Saturday to demand an end to the 11-year Palestinian internal division and a halt to growing internal tension. The demonstrations were held simultaneously in Gaza and Ramallah and were called by the Palestinian Democratic Rally, which was recently launched by a coalition of five left-wing factions, including the Popular and Democratic Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine.  Participants in Gaza demonstration raised Palestinian flags and banners condemning the division, calling for reconciliation and restoration of national unity. Leaders of the five factions carried a giant banner reading “Yes to form a government of national unity prepared for presidential and legislative elections and a national council.”….

Former NJ resident on hunger strike is released from Palestinian jail
North Jersey Record 15 Jan by Hannan Adely — A former Clifton resident who went on a hunger strike to protest her alleged torture in a Palestinian jail has been released after two months in custody. Suha Jbara, 31, a mother of three and a U.S. citizen, was arrested by Palestinian security forces on Nov. 3. She had been on a hunger strike for 27 days to protest her imprisonment and alleged mistreatment. Jbara, who was freed Jan. 9, said at a press conference after her release that she had been deprived of her rights. “I was subjected to different types of torture, among them being sprayed in the face with cold water. The torture continued and was very cruel,” she said in Arabic … On Nov. 3, four police vehicles arrived at Jbara’s home in the Ramallah area of the West Bank and the armed officers arrested her, said her sister Khadija Jbara. Suha Jbara is a social justice activist involved with Islamic charities and works to support the families of Palestinian prisoners in Israel, said Amnesty International, the human rights organization that campaigned on her behalf. She also supports charities that help the families of Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza, news reports said. Jbara, who has a court hearing on Jan. 30, faces charges of collecting and distributing money unlawfully and “collaboration with the enemy,” the organization said in a statement. During her detention, Jbara said, she was beaten on her chest and back, shaken and slammed against the wall, and threatened with sexual violence. Family members said they saw bruises covering her arms and legs when they visited her….

Film: Jerusalem’s Palestinian cabbies
Al Jazeera World 16 Jan 47:30 Filmmaker: Bilal Yousef — Eeking out a living as a taxi driver in the Middle East is not for the faint-hearted, especially for Palestinian cabbies in Jerusalem. “It’s exhausting, kind of humiliating,” says Salah Najib, a former civil engineer-turned cabbie. “You try to please your passengers as much as possible so they continue riding with you.” At one point, he successfully built up a fleet of cars but his business was destroyed in 2000 due to the deteriorating security situation resulting from the Palestinian second Intifada. Like drivers everywhere, Jerusalem’s Palestinian cabbies can face unruly passengers – but they face hardships simply because they’re Palestinian … The city’s Arab taxi drivers are used to discrimination and sometimes harassment. Innate Palestinian resilience is what motivates Bassem Idris to work as a cabbie in Jerusalem. “I feel like a stranger in my own homeland,” he says. “I sometimes meet foreigners who think Arabs don’t exist here. Such matters make us want to stay here even more. This is my homeland and I want to stay here.” Used to wrangling with those of opposing political views, he enjoys educating tourists on the plight of Palestinians. Similarly, 61-year-old cabbie Rasheed Rishq also takes pride in his work, seeing himself as “the country’s ambassador”….

Rooting for peace
Globes 13 Jan by Brett Kline — Who would fund an unlikely partnership of Jewish settlers and their Palestinian neighbors in the West Bank? With the shootings and stabbings taking place on and off Route 60, the main thoroughfare here in the West Bank, this has been a particularly difficult moment to be raising funds for the Roots Association. Perhaps the only not-for-profit group in existence of Israeli Jewish settlers and their Palestinian neighbors, Roots (shorashim in Hebrew, judur in Arabic) sits on a three-dunam, Palestinian-owned piece of land on Route 60, between the Gush Etzion bloc roundabout and Bethlehem. On a shoestring budget, Roots is successfully organizing Arabic and Hebrew classes, plus a whole range of activities, from photography to religion to trauma-healing classes jointly attended by residents of Jewish settlements such as Tekoa, Efrat and Alon Shvuot, and the Palestinian towns of Beit Ummar, Al Khader and Husan. Coming together like this is a unique experience for the young people, who though they are neighbors, come from parallel universes that never cross….

US sees Palestinian state on most of West Bank, some of East Jerusalem: Israeli TV
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 16 Jan – Israeli television said on Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan would propose a Palestinian state on as much as 90 percent of the occupied West Bank, with a capital in East Jerusalem – but not including its holy sites. The White House, which has kept details of the plan under wraps and said its release could still be months away, dismissed the report by Israel’s Reshet 13 TV as inaccurate speculation. Citing what it said was a source briefed by the Americans, the television report said the plan would entail Israel annexing Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank while isolated settlements would either be evacuated or their construction halted. Trump wants the proposed Israeli moves to be supplemented by territorial swaps with the Palestinians, and for East Jerusalem’s walled Old City – site of major Jewish, Muslim and Christian shrines – to be under Israeli sovereignty but with the joint management of the Palestinians and Jordan, the report said….

Malaysia says it won’t host any more events involving Israel
PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia (AP) 16 Jan — Malaysia’s foreign minister said Wednesday that the government will not budge over a ban on Israeli athletes in a para swimming competition and has decided that the country will not host any events in the future involving Israel. Malaysia, a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, is among the predominantly Muslim countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. The government has said Israeli swimmers cannot join the competition in eastern Sarawak state in July, which serves as a qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said the Cabinet affirmed last week that no Israeli delegates can enter Malaysia for sporting or other events in solidarity with the Palestinians. “The Cabinet has also decided that Malaysia will not host any more events involving Israel or its representatives. This is to me, a decision to reflect the government’s firm stance over the Israeli issue,” Saifuddin said after meeting a coalition of Muslim groups. The groups submitted a memorandum urging the government to stick to the ban and not to repeat past instances of allowing Israel delegates into the country. Saifuddin said the Palestinian cause was not just a religious issue but also one of human rights. “It’s about fighting on behalf of the oppressed,” he said.
Israel’s Paralympic Committee said later Wednesday that together with the International Paralympic Committee, it hopes “to find the right solution before July.”….

Melbourne police arrest man over killing of exchange student Aiia Maasarwe in Bundoora
ABC News 18 Jan — A 20-year-old man has been arrested over the murder of 21-year-old Aiia Maasarwe, whose body was found near a tram stop in Melbourne’s north on Wednesday. Ms Maasarwe — an Arab-Israeli exchange student who was studying at La Trobe University — was on her way home from a night out at a comedy club when she was attacked. Her body was behind a hedge outside a nearby shopping centre in Bundoora, about 100 metres from the tram stop, which is on the Route 86 tram line … Students at La Trobe — where Ms Maasarwe was midway through a one-year exchange — held a vigil for her earlier this afternoon. Another silent vigil has been organised on the steps of Melbourne’s Parliament House for 6:00pm, and a special tram carrying only flowers will depart from there at 8:01pm….

Civil Rights Museum apologizes over Angela Davis decision
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) 14 Jan — An Alabama civil rights museum is apologizing for the discord that resulted from its decision to rescind a human rights award to political activist Angela Davis. A statement issued Monday by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute says the organization created division and compromised its good name with the move. The statement says board members accept responsibility for what happened and are sorry. Davis is an outspoken supporter of the Palestinian cause. The board withdrew her award after a local group that educates Alabamians about the Holocaust asked them to reconsider the honor. Three members of the institute’s board resigned last week. The award was supposed to be presented during a February gala. The event has been canceled, but Davis has said she plans to attend an alternative event in Birmingham. (listserv)

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Trump & Kushner both have lots of experience as landlords & land developers, crushing tenants with 0 political or economic leverage. So they work toward “the Deal of the Century!”

I did quick search on Google News this morning (March 2) to learn the current status of the U.S. aid cut off and its effects. There were a few older items: an NPR opinion piece expressing concern, a WaPo piece by Loveday Morris citing concerns from Israel that it might… Read more »