Palestinian teenage protester dies after being hit by tear gas canister
Press TV 12 Feb — A Palestinian teenager has died in the Gaza Strip four days after being hit by a tear gas canister during clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the eastern Gaza Strip and the occupied territories. Spokesman for the Gaza Ministry of Health, Ashraf al-Qidra, said in a statement that Hassan Nabil Ahmed Nofal, 17, died late on Tuesday at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City from the wounds he suffered Friday [8 Feb] when he hit in the head by the cartridge. Nofal was hit when the canister was fired several meters from him during a “Great March of Return” protest east of Bureij refugee camp.
In video: Funeral processions of 2 killed minors set off in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — Funeral processions of two Palestinians who were shot and killed in protests across the eastern borders of the besieged Gaza Strip set off on Saturday. Mourners marched in the funeral of Iyad Shalabi, 13, as the funeral march set off from his school in the Hamad City in northern Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, where final goodbyes were said. The thirteen-year-old was shot by Israeli forces with a live bullet in the heart. Meanwhile in Gaza City, the funeral procession of Hamza Muhammad Ishteiwi, 17, set off from the Salah al-Din mosque in the al-Zaytoun neighborhood towards the al-Shuhada cemetery for burial. Ishtayeh was shot and injured with a live bullet in the neck.
Two Palestinians killed in tunnel in southern Gaza
IMEMC 11 Feb — The Palestinian Interior Ministry in the besieged Gaza Strip has reported, Sunday, that two Palestinians were killed, and nine others were injured, in a siege-busting tunnel on the border with Egypt, in Rafah, in the southern part of the coastal region. Eyad al-Bozom, the media spokesperson of the Interior Ministry in Gaza, said volunteers and rescue teams located the corpse of a police officer, identified as Abdul-Hamid al-Aker, 39, in addition to Sobhi Abu Qershein, 28. He added that rescue teams located the corpses of the two Palestinians after hours of search and rescue operations in the border tunnel and stated that the two suffocated due to toxic gas inhalation while trying to rescue Palestinians who were trapped in the tunnel. At least nine Palestinians, including two rescue workers, were injured in the same incident. Although some reports speculated that the Egyptian army gassed or detonated the border tunnel, the cause of this fatal incident remains unknown, especially since dozens of Palestinians have been killed, and hundreds were injured, in tunnel accidents when the tunnels collapsed on them, or when they suffocated in the tunnels, or by accidental electrocution. Al-Bozom did not make any statement accusing Egypt of the incident, but only reported on the death and the verified circumstances.
On 47th Friday of Great March of Return and Breaking Siege, Israeli forces wound 67 civilians…
PCHR 15 Feb — On Friday evening, 15 February 2019, in excessive use of force against peaceful protesters on the 47th Friday of the March of Return and Breaking the Siege, Israeli forces wounded 67 civilians, including 14 children, 2 women, 2 paramedics, and a journalist in the eastern Gaza Strip. The injury of 5 of the wounded civilians was reported serious. According to observations by PCHR’s fieldworkers, the Israeli forces who were stationed in prone positions and in military jeeps along the fence with Israel continued to use excessive force against the demonstrators by opening fire and firing teargas canisters at them. As a result, dozens of the demonstrators were hit with bullets and teargas canisters without posing any imminent threat or danger to the life of soldiers. On Friday, 15 February 2019, the incidents were as follows: At approximately 15:00, thousands of civilians, including women, children and entire families, started swarming to the encampments established by the Supreme National Authority of Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege adjacent to the border fence with Israel in eastern Gaza Strip cities. Hundreds, including children and women, approached the border fence with Israel in front of each encampment and gathered 10-100 meters away from the main border fence….
Israeli soldiers injure 20 Palestinians in Gaza
IMEMC 15 Feb — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the Great Return March processions, ongoing for the 47th consecutive week in the besieged Gaza Strip, and injured dozens of Palestinians … The Health Ministry in Gaza has confirmed that the soldiers shot twenty Palestinians with live fire, and added that one of the wounded is a child, 15, who suffered a serious injury after the soldiers shot him with a live round in the chest. It stated that the child was shot east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza, and was rushed to the Al-Aqsa Hospital. Furthermore, a Palestinian woman, 29, was injured with shrapnel in her head, causing a moderate wound, before she was rushed to the Al-Aqsa Hospital. The soldiers also shot and moderately injured a photojournalist, identified as Mohammad Za‘noun, east of Gaza city. More than 11000 Palestinians participated in the ongoing Great Return March processions this Friday, media sources in Gaza have confirmed. It is worth mentioning that the Israeli army stated that one of its undercover soldiers was injured, Friday, after a Palestinian hurled a pipe bomb at a military jeep, near the perimeter fence in Gaza. Media sources in Gaza said the officer opened the door of his armored jeep, and started firing live rounds at the protesters, before one Palestinian hurled a pipe bomb at the jeep, mildly wounding the soldiers in the leg.
Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian in Gaza night protests
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Feb — One Palestinian was shot and injured with Israeli live fire during night protests, on Thursday, east of Rafah, in the southern besieged Gaza Strip. Local medical sources confirmed to Ma‘an that one Palestinian was shot and injured in his foot, while three others suffered from tear-gas suffocation during night protests organized by the “Night Confusion” unit, in southern Gaza. Israeli forces repeatedly fired live ammunition and tear-gas bombs at dozens of Palestinian protesters demonstrating against the nearly 12-year siege imposed by Israel. Palestinians fired locally made stun grenades and ignited dozens of rubber tires on fire near the Israel-Gaza security border fence. Hebrew-language news outlets reported that within ten minutes, about 30 locally made stun grenades were fired at Israeli forces, who were stationed along the eastern border of Rafah. No injuries were reported among Israeli soldiers. For the past several nights, hundreds of Palestinian protesters have been organizing as well as participating in night protests, during which they set tires on fire and chant slogans through loudspeakers, while marching towards the border with Israel.
35 Palestinians injured during Gaza’s weekly naval march
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Feb — At least 35 Palestinians were injured as Israeli forces suppressed the 23rd naval march along the northern besieged Gaza Strip, on Tuesday afternoon. Local sources said Israeli forces repeatedly fired live ammunition and tear-gas bombs towards hundreds of Palestinian protesters participating in the weekly march. Israeli war boats also fired at dozens of boats which were attempting to break the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. Medical sources confirmed that 35 Palestinians were injured and were immediately transferred to a nearby hospital for necessary medical treatment. About twenty boats, along with hundreds of Palestinian protesters, holding up Palestinian flags and banners, had set off from the Gaza seaport towards the Israeli “Zikim” beach.
Gaza: First and only pediatric cancer department to open this month
GAZA (PNN) 14 Feb — The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund on Thursday held a press conference to announce opening of the first and only Pediatric Cancer Department in the Gaza Strip, which is due to be officially opened on 19 February. The 24,000 square meter department, named Dr. Musa & Suhaila Nasir Gaza Pediatric Cancer Department, will provide daily health care with 15 beds, 16 rooms for overnight stays, 3 children’s examination rooms, a dental clinic, medical stations, a pharmacy and nursing stations … According to a statement by PCRF, 100% of children with cancer in Gaza are referred for treatment in hospitals outside the Gaza Strip. In most cases, they cannot travel with their loved ones because of the Israeli procedures for granting exit permits from the Gaza Strip. In addition to that the treatment of children is intermittent and may be delayed due to delays in granting permits or not re-issued for follow-up treatment, which leads to the cessation of treatment and affects the health of children. PCRF was able to raise more than $3 million to build the department and to fully equip it with materials as well as high-quality design, with the help of hundreds of people around the world. The PCRF is a US NGO with more than 26 years of experience in providing medical services and care for sick and wounded children in the Middle East, regardless of their political status and nationality….
Unemployment rate sharply up in Gaza Strip in 2018 to reach 52%
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 13 Feb – Unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip sharply increased in 2018 to reach 52% compared with 44% in 2017, while in the West Bank it was 18% in 2018, compared to 19% the year before, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said in its latest results of the Labor Force Survey 2018. It said there was however a significant increase by 26% in the participation rate of females in the work force in the Gaza Strip in 2018 compared to only 18% in the West Bank, where unemployment rate for females was 51% in 2018 compared to only 25% for males….
Facing misery in Gaza, more and more Palestinians trying to sneak into Israel
Ynet 13 Feb by Yoav Zitun — More than 15 Palestinians have infiltrated into Israel from Gaza since the beginning of 2019, seeking to escape the socioeconomic distress in the coastal enclave, according to the Israel Defense Forces Southern Command. Only a small proportion of those attempting to cross into Israel have been identified as Hamas members. The IDF said their main motive for breaching the fence was to escape their “misery” in the Strip. In order to prevent Israeli prisons from becoming too packed, some of the Palestinians were returned to the enclave after being questioned by the Shin Bet domestic security service. Several of the detainees—most of whom are teens aged 14-17—were carrying knives and bolt cutters to ensure they end up in an Israeli prison and therefore remain in the country rather than to carry out a terror attack. The would-be infiltrators have also recently come up with a new method—gathering along the security fence in groups and waiting for Israeli soldiers to arrest them….
Navy catches unarmed Palestinian trying to swim to Israel from Gaza
Times of Israel 10 Feb by Judah Ari Gross — The Israeli Navy arrested a Palestinian man who attempted to swim into Israel from the Gaza Strip on Sunday night, the military said. The man was spotted as he approached the Strip’s northern maritime border and was captured shortly after he crossed into Israeli waters, according to the Israel Defense Forces. He was unarmed and was handed over to the Shin Bet security service for further questioning. The man will likely be returned to the Gaza Strip in the coming day, as are most Palestinians who attempt to flee the coastal enclave.
Meanwhile, Palestinians launched at least one mortar shell toward Israel from east of the city of Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, according to local media. The projectiles apparently fell short and landed inside the Strip. The Israeli military said no projectiles landed in Israel.
Gaza’s abandoned children: Palestinians leaving their babies at border
Ynet 7 Feb by Yoav Zitun — A worrying phenomenon appears to have developed on the border with the Gaza Strip that sees parents of children taken to Israel for medical treatment abandon their offspring in order to remain in the country as illegal residents. According to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Israeli soldiers find abandoned Gazan children brought to Israel by their parents for medical treatment several times a month. This occurrence began a few months ago is not showing signs of slowing down. As recently as two days ago, a four-year-old boy was abandoned by his father at the Erez border crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. The child, who was abandoned after receiving medical treatment in Israel, had been left with a complete stranger on the Gaza side of the border, while his father chose to remain illegally on Israeli territory….
Two young men from Gaza drown after boat capsized near Algeria
IMEMC 10 Feb — Two young Palestinian men were killed, Saturday, and many others were injured, after a boat filled with immigrants capsized while they were trying to sail to Spain to seek better living conditions. Media sources said that the Algerian coastguards were informed about the capsized boat transporting eighteen persons, including the two Palestinians, to Spain. The al-Masri family in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, has confirmed that their son, Abdullah Mohammad al-Masri, has drowned to death. They added that the Abdullah was with his Algerian fiancée, and four men from his family. Another Palestinian, identified as Monir Abu Sharkh, 43, also drowned, and the Algerian coastguards initiated a search in an attempt to locate survivors among the eighteen immigrants, mainly Palestinians, who were onboard.
Factory in Gaza defies Israeli blockade through production of quality medicine
GAZA (KUNA) 14 Feb — Despite the 12 years of the suffocating Israeli blockade, a factory in the Gaza Strip defied this inhumane act via the mass production of quality medicine that covers the needs of the Health Ministry and its patients. Meters from the town of Beit Hanoun, near the eastern border of the Gaza Strip, the medicine factory — referred to as the Middle East medicine production company — continued to put out over a hundred brands of medicine to patients while the hardship of the blockade continues. Speaking to KUNA on the company’s efforts Director Marwan Al-Astal said that his establishment — founded in 1994 — faced many obstacles throughout the years, namely the 2003 Israeli bombardment of its facilities, leading to a three-month halt of operations. Currently, the company distributes medicine for local consumption, said Al-Astal who indicated that the company also deals with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and provides it with its need of products….
Video: Gaza artist explores disability through cartoons
5 Feb — Mohamed Dalo, 24, is a cartoon artist from Gaza City. Dalo trained himself by researching online and imitating drawings he found on social networking websites. Dalo was born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a severe genetic muscular disorder. “Some of my pieces deal with the issue of special needs and different kinds of disability,” Dalo told The Electronic Intifada. Dalo has created 300 to 400 art pieces so far, and had three exhibitions. Video by Ruwaida Amer and Sanad Ltefa.
Feature: Gaza’s first-ever shopping festival provides chance for startups
GAZA (Xinhua0 14 Feb ed. by Xiang Bo — For the first time in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, a shopping festival has provided an opportunity for owners of emerging companies and businesses to display and market their products. The three-day event is expected to bring about a relative revival in trade in seaside territory which suffers from a severe economic recession caused by an Israeli blockade that has been imposed since 2007. The shopping fair is being held in partnership between Gaza’s Bel Mundo Tourist Company and the Red Carpet Company for Organizing Events. The fair, where dozens of local products and handicrafts are being showcased, is meant to give a boost to Gaza’s ailing economy….
Gaza’s entrepreneurs: Dreams and ambition in a tough neighborhood
Ynet 11 Feb by Elior Levy — Young Gazan business owners remain optimistic despite facing unique challenges and obstacles including limited power supply, difficulty obtaining Israeli exit permits to attend professional conferences and export their products — “My biggest challenge is that I am from Gaza,” said Muhammad Fouad, laughing bitterly, in response to the question “what is the biggest challenge for entrepreneurs in Gaza?” Fouad, 21, is a software engineering student and has already launched a start-up company dedicated to developing and maximizing the potential of companies … Over the summer, Fouad visited Amman as part of a program run by the US Consulate in Jerusalem to support a select group of young Palestinians. As of now, a young entrepreneur from Gaza seeking to expand his business does not qualify for an exit permit according to Israeli criteria….
UN: 10,000 new jobs to be created in Gaza
MEMO 14 Feb — UN Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov yesterday revealed that the UN is preparing work projects to create 10,000 job opportunities in the Gaza Strip. During his participation in the Palestine Youth Summit 2030 – which was held simultaneously in the besieged Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank – Mladenov said: “We are working on specific projects aiming to help improve the deteriorating situation related to the siege in the Gaza Strip,” Felesteen newspaper reported. Mladenov pointed out that the projects, which are being prepared in coordination with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Bank, would be announced soon. The UN envoy stated that the work opportunities would target youth who hold high qualifications, pointing to the high rate of higher education in Gaza and the rate of youth unemployment….
Israeli bulldozers raze lands in southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 12 Feb — Several Israeli military vehicles raided Palestinian lands along the eastern borders of Khan Younis in the southern besieged Gaza Strip, on Tuesday morning. According to local sources, six large D-9 Israeli military bulldozers entered dozens of meters into Palestinian lands, coming from the Israeli security border fence heading south. Sources added that Israeli military bulldozers razed and leveled lands east of the Khan Younis-area town of Khuzaa while drones flew overhead. No shootings were reported. Israeli military incursions inside the besieged Gaza Strip and near the “buffer zone,” which lies on both land and sea sides of Gaza, have long been a near-daily occurrence.
2018: Plight of Gaza fishermen after Israel’s gradual destruction of their sector
B’Tselem 11 Feb — Since the Israeli navy confiscated my hasake (boat) I’ve been out of work and can’t support my family. Things in the Gaza Strip are very bad because of the blockade, and there are no other jobs available. I used to make about 20 shekels a day fishing. That enabled me to buy food and drink for my family. Now our lives are very hard. Tamer Zayed, Beit Lahiya, 27 August 2018 — Tamer Zayed’s plight is not unusual. He is one of thousands of fishermen in Gaza suffering from Israel’s gradual destruction of the fishing sector in Gaza. In the last two years, the navy shot and killed two fishermen, and injured dozens with rubber-coated metal bullets. Sometimes, soldiers even arrest fishermen and confiscate their fishing boats, known as hasakes. Israel also restricts the export and marketing of fish and prohibits the import of goods and gear essential to the maintenance of the fishing sector, for example, for repairing hasakes and engines. ll this has led the sector to collapse. In 2000, there were 10,000 registered fishermen in Gaza; now there are about 3,700. In practice, only about half of the registered fishermen actually fish, as many cannot use their boats due to the lack of supplies to repair them or build new ones, or because the military confiscated the boats. About 95% of fishermen in Gaza live below the poverty line, which is USD 4.6 a day in Gaza.…
PM Benjamin Netanyahu blocks Gaza aid funds after border flare-up
JERUSALEM (TimesNow) 15 Feb — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blocked millions in Qatari aid to the Gaza Strip in response to renewed border hostilities, risking increased tensions with the Palestinian territory’s Islamist rulers Hamas during Israel’s election campaign. Weeks of relative calm in the Gaza Strip ended Tuesday when Israeli soldiers were fired on along the border with the enclave in two separate incidents. One soldier was lightly injured when a bullet hit his helmet. In response Israeli tanks struck two Hamas positions in Gaza, killing one militant, while overnight Israeli fighter jets struck what the army said was a Hamas military camp in northern Gaza … Israel has permitted Gulf state Qatar, a rare Hamas ally, to bring in aid to the strip, including $15 million a month to pay salaries of Hamas civil servants and provide aid to impoverished residents. The January payment had been expected to enter Gaza on Wednesday or Thursday but Netanyahu has decided to block it after the border-flare up, an Israeli official confirmed. This is the first time that Israel has admitted to obstructing the transfer, which was already delayed by two weeks. The payment would be the third of six planned tranches, totaling $90 million, in connection with the truce….
Qatar paid $1.1 bn to Gaza since 2012
MEMO 11 Feb — Qatar paid $1.1 billion to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip between 2012 and 2018. The data was raised before the Israeli security cabinet this weekend, noting that in 2018 alone Qatar paid “$200 million for humanitarian aid, fuel and government salaries, and pledged to provide hundreds of millions of dollars more through United Nations aid groups,” Haaretz reported yesterday. According to the Israeli daily, “about 44 per cent of the money provided by Qatar during this period was invested in infrastructure, about 40 per cent was used for education and healthcare, while the rest went to support Hamas and other groups in the Gaza Strip,” referring to the salaries of public servants in the besieged Gaza Strip. Haaretz also reported that Qatar “gave $50 million to UNRWA, the United Nations relief agency for Palestinian refugees, with Israel’s approval,” noting that UNRWA “was on the verge of closing down many of its programs after the United States decided to stop funding the organization” … Qatar stepped in after many in the international community did not fulfil their pledges to rebuild the Gaza Strip after it was hit by Israel in three major offensives; the 2008, 2012 and 2014 wars. These wars turned the coastal enclave – which has been under strict Israeli siege for 12 years – into a pile of rubble. At the same time, the Palestinian Authority (PA) – led by Mahmoud Abbas – has imposed punitive measures on the Strip as part of the ongoing feud between his Fatah party and Hamas. This has paralysed Gaza’s economy and diminished its ability to offer the needed medical and welfare services to its inhabitants.
Hamas used TV coded messages for attacks, Israel alleges
JERUSALEM (AFP) 13 Feb — Hamas is using coded television messages to instruct recruits in the occupied West Bank to carry out anti-Israeli attacks, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency alleged on Wednesday. A statement by the agency said this was the “key factor” behind a November 12, 2018 Israeli air strike which destroyed the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa television station in Gaza City. Shin Bet and the Israeli army “are aware that operatives of Hamas’s military wing use Al-Aqsa TV for terrorist purposes” by broadcasting “secret messages” to the West Bank, it said. The security agency said “Al-Aqsa TV anchors and reporters pass on hidden messages on behalf of Hamas’s military wing in the channel’s broadcasts. “Their purpose is to convince recruited Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) residents that the activity to which they were enlisted is indeed guided by operatives of Hamas in Gaza Strip,” it added. Shin Bet alleged these recruits had been told in advance when to watch the channel to see “when the anchor would put down his cup in the beginning of the programme”. “By watching the programme, the recruit received a confirmation of the Gaza-based operative’s claims,” it said. According to Shin Bet, the Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas recently recruited four West Bank residents and an Israeli national from east Jerusalem….
Islamic Jihad broadcaster closes in Gaza, financial crisis
GAZA (ANSAmed) 13 Feb — Islamic Jihad broadcaster al-Quds closed its TV studios without warning in Gaza in recent days and fired some of its journalists, although its radio broadcasts and web updates are continuing, according to press sources in Gaza. The sources said the TV closure was due to a decrease in foreign funding of Islamic Jihad, a pro-Iran organisation. Despite difficulties, transmissions are still ongoing by two other local broadcasters: al-Aqsa TV, which is linked to Hamas and whose studios were bombed by Israel during a military escalation last November; and the Palestinian National Authority’s Falastin TV. At the end of November, Falastin’s studios experienced an attack of vandalism, which the PNA government attributed to Hamas.(ANSAmed).
Al Mezan: Israel claims immunity from all damages inflicted on Gaza protesters
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Feb — Adalah and Al Mezan appeal to Israeli Supreme Court against lower court ruling finding that Gazans may be denied compensation for damages because Gaza is defined by law as an ‘enemy territory’ — Israeli military forces shot Palestinian high school student Attiya Nabaheen on his 15th birthday in the front yard of his family home in the Gaza Strip on 16 November 2014. Nabaheen was returning from school. He was not armed and was not involved in any violence. As a result of the shooting, Nabaheen was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. In November 2018, Israel’s Be’er Sheva District Court rejected a case filed by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights on behalf of the Nabaheen family against the Israeli military for the shooting and wounding of their son. The court ruled that the state is not liable for damages because Palestinians in Gaza are not entitled to seek compensation from Israel as they live in an “enemy entity”….
PA cuts salaries of hundreds of doctors, teachers in Gaza
Palestine Chronicle 12 Feb — The Palestinian Authority (PA) has cut the salaries of 263 employees from Gaza’s Ministry of Health, most of whom are doctors, as well as a further 400 employees from the Education Ministry, mainly teachers. Spokespersons for both ministries announced the numbers in separate statements yesterday, stressing that cutting the salaries of public employees is a “flagrant violation” of their rights. The ministries condemned the move and warned that cutting employees’ salaries would negatively affect their capacity to provide services, further compounding the fact that the ministries have not received administrative and operational expenses from the PA for years. It is worth noting that the cuts only affected PA employees in Gaza, as well as the families of the people who are killed, wounded or arrested by the Israeli army.
Hamas forces prevent PA employees from Gaza crossing: Ramallah
GAZA CITY (AA) 10 Feb — The Palestinian Authority (PA)-run crossings authority has accused the Hamas-affiliated security forces of obstructing the work of its employees at the Kerem Shalom crossing in the Gaza Strip. In a statement on Sunday, the authority said Hamas security forces denied entry to its employees into the terminal “for no apparent reason.” “Work has been resumed at the crossing after a two-hour hiatus,” it said. The official Wafa news agency, citing a local source at the terminal, said Hamas personnel had “provoked” the PA employees and prevented their entry into the crossing. There was no comment from Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, on the allegation. A security source in Gaza, however, said security forces had checked the IDs of PA employees “as part of routine procedures”. “A number of employees did not have IDs, which led to hold them for some time until verifying their identity,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said. Kerem Shalom is Gaza’s only functioning commercial crossing….
West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinians in Hebron patrol city after Israeli kicks out international observers
AP 15 Feb — Following Israel’s expulsion of an international observer force from the volatile West Bank city of Hebron, Palestinian activists are trying to fill the void by launching their own patrols to document alleged Israeli settler violence. Armed with video cameras and donning blue vests, the activists say they will replace the Temporary International Presence in Hebron. The group has enlisted 18 volunteers and began its work this week. “By expelling the international monitors, the Israeli government wanted to hide the Israeli settlers’ and soldiers’ violations, but we will not let them get away with that,” Issa Amro, an activist leader, told The Associated Press. “We will document any attack by photos and words, and we will circulate it all over the world.”… The site has been divided into Jewish and Muslim prayer areas since shortly after a settler opened fire on Muslim worshippers at the shrine in 1994, killing 29 people and wounding over 100 others. The international mission, known as TIPH, was initially established after the mosque shooting, and began operating in its latest form after a 1997 agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Until recently, the mission stationed unarmed civilian observers from Norway, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey to report on alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws in the divided city. But last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the mission would be halted, saying Israel “will not allow the continuation of an international force that acts against us.” … In a joint statement, TIPH member countries said the suspension “undermines one of the few established mechanisms for conflict resolution between Israelis and Palestinians.” The EU said it “risks further deteriorating the already fragile situation on the ground.” … Amro and other volunteer activists began their work on Sunday as a “human rights monitoring and protection team” by escorting Palestinian students to school in Hebron’s Israeli-controlled downtown area. Tensions started right away, Amro said. An AP cameraman filmed a settler cursing the activists in front of the Israeli soldiers as “dogs and sons of dogs.” An activist cursed the settler back … In response to the arrival of the activists, the Israeli military declared the area of the Old City a military closed zone on Tuesday and banned the activists from remaining there. Izzat Karaki, another activist, vowed to continue the work. “We will stay here and support our students and people,” he said….
In video – 2 Palestinians injured during clashes in Urif
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 15 Feb — Two Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces following Friday prayers organized by locals in the eastern area of the Urif village in southern Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank. Spokesperson of the Palestinian Red Crescent, Ahmad Jibril, told Ma‘an that one Palestinian identified as Youssef Ali Shihadeh was injured with a live bullet in the back, while another Palestinian, Farhan Najm Kokash, was injured in the leg. Both injuries were transferred to the Rafidiya Governmental Hospital in Nablus for treatment where they were reported as stable. Locals told Ma‘an that clashes erupted following Friday prayers, during which Israeli forces fired live bullets and tear-gas bombs. An official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank told Ma‘an that locals removed dirt mounds that Israeli forces had placed earlier Friday to prevent farmers from reaching their lands in the eastern part of Urif.
Israeli army admits the Palestinian motocyclist they killed had no explosives
IMEMC 11 Feb by Celine Hagbard — Following an investigation by the Israeli military into the killing of a Palestinian motorcycle rider on February 5th, and the severe wounding of his passenger, the military was forced to admit that their initial claim that the young man had explosives was a false claim. Abdullah Faisal Omar Tawalba, 19, was shot and killed by Israeli forces on February 5th, 2019, at an Israeli military checkpoint in Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank. His passenger, Omar Ahmad Hanana, 15, was also shot by the Israeli military and badly injured, but is in stable condition at the Jenin Governmental Hospital run by the Palestinian Authority. Initially, the Israeli military reported to the media that the young men had approached the checkpoint and “tried to plant explosives”. An investigation by Israeli military police found no evidence whatsoever of any explosives of any kind. The soldiers claimed that they “heard an explosion,” and “were sure “an explosive was thrown at the roadblock, before they opened fire.”….
Israeli settlers attack, injure Palestinian shepherd in Jordan Valley
TUBAS (Ma‘an) 12 Feb — Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian shepherd, as he was herding his flock of sheep in an open field in the al-Farisiya village, in the northern Jordan Valley, on Tuesday. According to Aref Daraghmeh, who monitors Israeli settlement activities in the area, Israeli settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Rotem, which was built on the lands of the residents of al-Farisiya village, chased Palestinian shepherds and attacked one of them. Daraghmeh identified the attacked shepherd as Barakat Ali Daraghmeh, 35, and confirmed that he was transferred to a nearby hospital in Tubas to receive medical treatment. In addition, locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces prevented ambulances, which belong to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), from reaching Barakat for an entire hour. Daraghmeh added that as a result of the attack, Barakat suffered various bruises and cuts all over his body. His medical condition was described as stable. Meanwhile, Israeli forces detained two Palestinian shepherds from the same village. They were identified as Louay Zahdi Daraghmeh and Ali Kheiri Daraghmeh.
Settlers stone Palestinian vehicles in the West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 11 Feb — Extremist Jewish-Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian vehicles in the West Bank over the past night. Local Al Ray sources reported that a group of Israeli settlers threw stones towards Palestinian vehicles on the Wadi al-Delb road, near the village of Ras Karkar, in the Ramallah district, causing damage to some of them, without causing injuries. Palestinian vehicles near the Jewish settlement of Beit El, located on the land east of the city of Ramallah (north of Jerusalem), were also stoned by settlers, damaging a number of vehicles. Settlers also carried out attacks against Palestinians and their vehicles in the southern city of Hebron, and shouted insults.
Israeli settlers slash car tires, spray-paint racist slogans in West Bank village
SALFIT, Thursday, February 14, 2019 (WAFA) – Israeli settlers Thursday spray-painted racist slogans and slashed vehicles’ tires in the village of Iskaka, to the east of the city of Salfit in the north of the occupied West Bank, according to Abdel Qader Abu Hakmeh, head of village council. He told WAFA that settlers raided the village during the night, slashed tires of 20 vehicles and spray-painted racist, anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab slogans on the cars, the wall of the village mosque and some homes. Rights groups said settler violence against Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank has been on the rise in recent years due mainly to failure of Israeli government’s prosecution of the attackers. In one instant last month, settlers murdered a Palestinian civilian during an attack at the village of al-Mughayyer, north of Ramallah. The murderer was not arrested.
Israeli settlers attack Palestinian school in West Bank
MEMO 11 Feb — A number of Israeli settlers yesterday [Sunday] attacked a Palestinian school located in the village of ‘Urif in the West Bank’s northern occupied city of Nablus. “A group of Israeli settlers had attacked the ‘Urif village’s high school under the protection of the occupation forces” the head of the village’s council, Mazen Shehada, told Quds Press. Shehada explained that violent clashes broke out between the illegal settlers and the school students, as the Israeli forces fired live and rubber-coated steel bullets, and tear gas at the minors. A number of suffocation and tear gas inhalation cases were reported as a result of the conflict. Shehada noted that the injured students were “immediately treated” at the scene, adding that the school’s campus was later evacuated. This is not the first time for the ‘Urif high school to be attacked by Israeli settlers.
IOF raids homes, shops & confiscate money during West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (PNN) 12 Feb — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Tuesday dawn arrested 16 Palestinians from different parts of the West Bank, and confiscated sums of money. IOF raided the home of the freed prisoner, Ma‘rouf Hamdi in the village of Beit Fourik and stole sums of money from the house. IOF also raided Al-‘Ain refugee camp and set up a flying checkpoint in the area. IOF then raided the house of the prisoner Wadah ‘Abd al-Jabbar Abu Jhaisha in the town of ‘Idna, west of Hebron, southern West Bank. Israeli occupation forces arrested Wahid Abu Mariya village in Beit Ummar. In addition, IOF arrested Ahmed Mohammed Khalifa and Yazan Harafsha after they stormed the houses of their families in Shu‘fat refugee camp. IOF meanwhile raided al-Jarashi printshop and proceeded to vandalize its contents, in the town of Beit Jala, west of Bethlehem. In Hizma, northeast of occupied Jerusalem, soldiers raided homes and opened fire into the air following a raid on the town. In the Jenin refugee camp, Israeli forces arrested Ashraf al-Qaisi, Najib Hawil, Abdullah Abu Zamireh and Mohammed al-Asmar.
Updated: PPS: Israeli soldiers abduct 21 Palestinians in West Bank
The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has confirmed that Israeli soldiers abducted, on Monday at dawn, 22 Feb, twenty-one Palestinians from their homes, in several parts of the occupied West Bank. In Occupied Jerusalem, the soldiers abducted Mahmoud Abul-Latif, 28, from his home in the Old City. Abdul-Latif is a former political prisoner who was also banned from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque several times, for protesting repeated invasion by the soldiers and colonialist settlers into the holy site’s compound. The Jenin office of the PPS, in northern West Bank, said the soldiers invaded and searched homes in the city and in Jenin refugee camp, and interrogated many Palestinians, before abducting three Palestinians. It stated that the soldiers abducted two young men, identified as Abdullah Sa’id Eghbariyya and Ahmad al-Bashar, from Jenin city, in addition to Mahmoud Ali Sa’adi, from Jenin refugee camp. The soldiers also invaded the al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, searched a few homes, before abducting Ramzi Hamed ‘Oweis, 18, and Ziad Kamal ‘Oweis, 20. In Tulkarem, in northern West Bank, the soldiers abducted Aseed Mohammad Ka’biyya, 25, Khaled Metye’ Harsha and Omran Ayman Harsha, all from Qaffin town. In Hebron governorate, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, the soldiers searched many homes and abducted Mahdi Abdul-Jawad Bader, 36, and Rami Issa Ashour, 35, from Hebron city. The army also abducted a child, identified as Wahid Samir ‘Aadi, from his home in Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, in addition to Yasser Mohammad Rajoub, from Doura town, and Bader Mohammad al-Hawamda, from the as-Sammoa‘ town, south of Hebron. In Bethlehem, the soldiers abducted Ibrahim Hasan Issa, 14, Karim Mohammad Da’dou, 14, and a former political prisoner, Ahmad Ali Issa, 18, from their homes in the al-Khader town, south of the city….
Military steps up use of live 0.22 bullets against Palestinian stone-throwers
B’Tselem 18 Jan — West Bank military commander recently confirmed shift to use of live fire instead of crowd control weapons — Recent months have seen a dramatic rise in Israeli security forces’ use of live 0.22 inch caliber bullets (Ruger rifle bullets, also known by the nickname Two-Two) in clashes with Palestinians in the West Bank. The firing of this ammunition is an almost weekly occurrence in the West Bank in sites of protests and clashes. Most of those injured have been young Palestinians, including minors. Yet, in the last two months, one Palestinian woman, at least three photographers, and a foreign national who was taking part in a demonstration were also hit by these bullets. B’Tselem does not have the full data on the number of people wounded this type of ammunition. Two-Twos are live ammunition whose impact is less severe than that of “ordinary” bullets (5.56 mm caliber), yet even so they can be lethal and inflict serious injuries. Two-Twos are fired with a 10/22 Ruger rifle, which is often equipped with an integral suppressor, or from a specially converted M4 rifle (“a shortened M16”). Use of this weapon has elicited controversy even within the Israeli military: in 2001, the head of the security department in the Operations Directorate wrote that the Ruger cannot be considered a non-lethal weapon and may be used only in circumstances that justify live fire….
Palestinian farmers check out seeds from West Bank library
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Al-Monitor) 14 Feb by Aziza Nofal — Vivien Sansour’s quest to restore the rare seeds of Palestine started with a search for Palestinian red carrots. Stuffed red carrots used to be her favorite dish from her childhood in the 1980s, so when she returned from the United States to Palestine in 2013, she went to the local market to buy a few. “I searched all over the market in Beit Jala but was told that red carrots were no longer available anywhere. I finally came across a vegetable peddler, who told me that I have to order them beforehand so he can get them from another vegetable peddler who sold them on demand,” she told Al-Monitor. “Finally, I returned home with two because that was all they had.” She continued, “I had two options — either to stuff and cook the carrots and enjoy my favorite stuffed red carrots, a Jerusalemite dish popular in the West Bank, or to plant them and extract seeds.” The two carrots in her hand demonstrated to her, beyond statistics, how some of the plants and seeds of Palestine were on the way to extinction. “Their loss would mean the [end] of the tastes and colors of my heritage, my own Palestinian identity. Growing crops and farming are a central theme in Palestinian culture. So I decided to protect what I could get my hands on,” she said. Within a year, Sansour founded the Palestine Heirloom Seed Library to work with Palestinian farmers to ensure that the vegetables of her childhood would reach the coming generations….
Working toward food sovereignty in Palestine
RAMALLAH, occupied Palestine (Al Jazeera) 15 Feb by Tessa Fox — The Om Sleiman farm in the village of Bil‘in is part of a burgeoning movement of agroecology and community supported agriculture (CSA) in the occupied West Bank. Depending on the season, the farm grows broccoli, ginger, turmeric, kale and watermelon, as well as other fruits and vegetables. It claims to be the only farm in the West Bank to grow organic sweet potatoes. Currently, on four dunams (4,000sq metres[or about 1 acre]) of village land, Mohab Alami and Yara Duwani – the farm’s cofounders – work with volunteers and Palestinian trainees in the field of agroecology to promote principles of co-creation, efficiency, resilience and shared economy. Alami said he and Duwani chose Bil‘in as their location to continue its tradition of non-violent resistance … Agroecology is an approach to farming which tries to minimise its environmental impacts. In the West Bank, agroecology farms and initiatives are established by Palestinians, for Palestinians. One aim of the ventures is to reclaim food sovereignty and move away from Israeli produce, which is ubiquitous in local markets….
Palestine’s other open-air prison
Al Jazeera 13 Feb by Jalal Abukhater — Here is what a West Bank Palestinian resident has to go through every time s/he tries to get out of home — Under a debilitating siege for more than a decade, Gaza has been rightfully declared the biggest open-air prison in the world. But there is another, similar, prison in Palestine that is less obvious because it suffers from a different kind of siege, undeclared and indirect: the West Bank. Every Palestinian who resides there and holds official Palestinian identification papers is a prisoner in their own home. Freedom of movement is non-existent for the vast majority of the population because of a myriad of Israeli policies aimed at restricting it to the bare minimum. This is certainly shocking yet seems to be largely ignored by the world, especially by our Israeli neighbours. Movement and life in the West Bank are governed by the whims of the Israeli security apparatus, which has set up hundreds of checkpoints, gates, artificial barriers, forbidden and segregated roads and of course, the 700km separation wall, as the Israelis call it, or apartheid wall, as we call it….
Love in times of Israeli apartheid
Al Jazeera 14 Feb by Yara Hawari — Israeli restrictions on Palestinian entry, movement and settlement constitute deliberate community engineering — …Indeed, on Valentine’s Day, there will be many partners and lovers who will suffer, being forcefully separated by racist policies and colonial borders. For Palestinians, this is just another fact of life that Israel enforces upon them. So many Palestinians are unable to build their lives with their loved ones because they are simply banned from being in the same place. One of the primary ways in which Israel prevents Palestinians from being together is through its racist and colonial ID system. Colonial and settler colonial entities have long employed different tiers of identification in order to divide and conquer native and indigenous peoples. Israel imposes several different forms of identification on Palestinians which regulate how much mobility they have, where they can live and essentially what rights they have access to. In addition, a series of legislations and Israel’s total control over all Palestinian borders make their power over various aspects of Palestinian lives absolute. Although the Israeli regime has been putting restrictions on Palestinian lives, which has inevitably affected intimate relationships for decades, the situation got much worse after the Second Intifada. In 2003, the Israeli Knesset passed the “Citizenship and Entry Law” which effectively denied legal status in Israel to Israeli citizens’ spouses who come from the West Bank and Gaza. Moreover, applications for family reunification of Palestinians with Israeli passports with their partners holding Palestinian papers are routinely denied to such couples….
Two tales of a city: Jerusalem tour guided by a Palestinian and an Israeli
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 12 Feb by Rami Ayyub & Stephen Farrell — On a Jerusalem plaza looking up at the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock, a crowd gathers in front of two guides, listening attentively, a common sight in a city packed with pilgrims and tourists visiting its religious landmarks. What is unusual is that one of the guides is Palestinian, one is Israeli, and they are taking turns to give their perspectives on the city known to Jews as Yerushalayim and to Arabs as al-Quds. “We are in Jerusalem, which is the capital of the Jewish state. We are in one of the holiest places in the world for Christianity. And the keys are held by Muslim families,” said Israeli guide Lana Zilberman Soloway, who spoke first as the group reached the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where Jesus is believed to be buried. “And all three coexist at the same time.” Her counterpart, Noor Awad, from Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank just a few km (miles) away, took a different view of the status quo, noting that Muslims and Christians from the West Bank or Gaza need Israeli travel permits to worship here. “For Palestinians, this is the capital of Palestine and the capital of their country,” said Awad, 28. “If you don’t get that permission, you can’t come actually here to pray. So the place is being used, and plays a lot into the two narratives and the conflict we have today.” The two guides heard each other out politely, with the occasional quip or raised eyebrow….
Israel defends policeman who shot Palestinian couple through their window
[behind paywall] Haaretz 7 Feb by Nir Hasson — A policeman who shot and wounded two Palestinians while they were standing in their own home behind a closed window acted properly, the state told a court this week. The incident occurred in November 2015. Mazen and Nadia Abu Humus subsequently sued the state for 100,000 shekels ($28,000). In the defense brief it submitted this week, the state termed the policeman’s conduct “proportionate and reasonable.” On November 1, 2015, municipal inspectors backed by a large group of policemen entered the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiyah to collect debts. The police later said riots had erupted and people threw stones at them, but the plaintiffs said the street where they live remained quiet. Nadia and Mazen Abu Humus were watching from a first-floor window, which Nadia asked Mazen to close. Sometime after he did so, a black, sponge-tipped bullet shattered the window and hit him in the face. Fragments of glass hit Nadia in the face and inflicted deep cuts in her eye, which needed stitches.
Israel extends detention of Palestinian over teen murder
Jerusalem (AFP) 11 Feb by – An Israeli court Monday extended by 10 days the detention of a Palestinian over the brutal murder of an Israeli woman that has gripped the country, Shin Bet security services said. The body of 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher was found on Thursday south of Jerusalem and her suspected murderer Arafat Irfaiya, 29, was arrested on Saturday. The Israeli intelligence service Shin Bet has labelled it a “nationalist” attack, a phrase used to refer to violence related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Despite a court gag order, Israeli social media was abuzz over the weekend with what Yediot Aharonot newspaper called “graphic descriptions about the alleged nature of the murder”. His hands and feet in shackles, Irfaiya was escorted by Israeli policemen into a Jerusalem court packed with photographers on Monday, an AFP journalist said. The room was cleared before the start of the closed door hearing …
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Ansbacher’s parents on Sunday at the Israeli settlement of Tekoa in the West Bank, a territory occupied by Israel for more than 50 years. In response to the murder, which shocked and angered Israelis, Netanyahu, who is campaigning for re-election in April, vowed to block some funds to the Palestinian Authority.
Palestinians pay ‘shiva’ call to family of murdered Ori Ansbacher
JPost 12 Feb by Maayan Jaffe-Hofman & Khalid Abu Toameh — A group of around 30 Palestinians and Jews affiliated with the NGO Tag Meir paid a consolation visit to the home of terrorist victim Ori Ansbacher in Tekoa on Tuesday. “I wanted to comfort the family and let them know that killing Jews is no less awful than killing Palestinians,” said Ragi Sabeetin from Hussan in the West Bank. “When there is death, we all suffer.” Hussan is 12 km. west of Tekoa, where the Ansbachers live. Tag Meir helps fights against hate crimes, racism, terrorism, and price tag attacks, and encourages tolerance and peace. Sabeetin said the family welcomed the Palestinians with open arms, and that had the visit not centered on their pain, he thinks they would have felt like friends and guests in the Ansbachers’ home. “They were nice and calm and patient people. It hurts us all,” Sabeetin said, describing the Jews of Tekoa as his neighbors. He said that he does not see peace in the immediate future, but he hopes that his children will one day “get through this difficult period and live in a different way.”….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel to legalize West Bank settlements built on private Palestinian land
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 11 Feb — Israel informed the Jerusalem District Court that it will retroactively legalize structures built in part on private Palestinian lands in the illegal Israeli settlement of Alei Zahav in the occupied West Bank, and will for the first time invoke a legal mechanism approved in December 2018. Alei Zahav is an illegal settlement located close to Route 5, which links Ariel and Tel Aviv, and was built on Palestinian lands which Israel seized from residents of Deir Ballut and Kafr al-Dik villages in the northern West Bank district of Salfit. The legal mechanism states it is permissible to retroactively authorize illegal construction on private Palestinian land if the land was allotted “in good faith” if Israel incorrectly believed that the lands belonged to it at the time of its allotment … It is noteworthy that the Israeli Justice Ministry and the Civil Administration made estimates that a complete implementation of the new mechanism could be used to set the status of 2,000 structures in areas considered to contain “illegally built structures.”….
Israeli ministers move forward with West Bank settlement plan
HEBRON (PNN) 10 Feb — Dozens of Israeli ministers and senior officials from the Likud political party and other right-wing parties have signed a petition to settle two million Jews across the occupied West Bank. Israeli Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and ministers Gilad Erdan, Miri Regev, Yisrael Katz of the Likud party, Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett, of New Right party, were among signatories on a petition to abandon the two-state solution and establish new Israeli settlements across the occupied West Bank. The signed petition was put forward by the Nahala Movement, an Israeli settler group, to promote an Israeli settlement plan introduced under the government of late Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir in the early 1990s….
Israeli forces destroy water pipelines south of Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 13 Feb – Israeli forces destroyed water pipelines supplying water to Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron, said a municipal source. Mayor of al-Tuwani Muhammad Rab’I said that a bulldozer escorted by Israeli forces destroyed the water pipelines that used to transport water to the collection of 19 Palestinian hamlets. Rab’i slammed the pipelines destruction as part of the Israeli measures intended to tighten the noose around the 1,500 Palestinian residents and displace them to make room for settlement construction. Masafer Yatta is composed of dozens of small communities, which rely heavily on animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, and is classified as Area C, which is under full Israeli military control and makes up around 60 percent of the area of the occupied West Bank. The area has been subjected to repeated Israeli violations by settlers and soldiers targeting their main source of living – livestock…. [See B’Tselem video of pipeline destruction]
Israeli forces destroy Palestinian road south of Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 13 Feb – Israeli forces Wednesday morning destroyed a recently rehabilitated road that connected Khallet Ad-Dabe‘ to Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron, said a local activist. Coordinator of the Anti-Wall and Anti-Settlement Committees in the southern Hebron Rateb al-Jabour told WAFA that Israeli forces provided protection to a military bulldozer that destroyed the road that was recently rehabilitated by the Anti-settlement and Anti-wall Committee and the village council of al-Tuwani. The road, Jabour noted, used to facilitate Palestinian farmers’ access to their farmlands and residential areas, was repeatedly destroyed to choke off Masafer Yatta. He slammed the road destruction as part of the Israeli occupation authorities’ practices aimed to displace Palestinians from the area to make room for settlement construction in the southern Hebron hills….
OCHA: Israel demolished or seized 40 Palestinian-owned structures in January
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 13 Feb — In January, 40 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished or seized by the Israeli authorities, almost the same as the monthly average recorded in 2018, displacing 44 people and otherwise affecting some 200 others, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory said on Tuesday. One of the demolitions took place on punitive grounds and the remaining occurred due to the lack of Israeli-issued building permits, which are almost impossible to obtain, it said in its monthly report on West Bank demolitions and displacement. Over 70 per cent of the structures targeted this month were in 11 communities in Area C of the occupied West Bank, which is under total Israeli military rule. In one of them, in Beit Iksa, Jerusalem area, the livelihoods of 50 people were affected by the demolition of four animal structures, a cesspool and the walls surrounding one home, with losses estimated at over 1.25 million shekels (app. 303,000 euro). Beit Iksa (app. 1,700 residents) is one of other “dislocated” Palestinian communities in the Jerusalem area that have been physically separated from the rest of the West Bank by the segregation barrier, but residents are not allowed to enter East Jerusalem….
West Bank council unanimously approves Ariel University medical school
[behind paywall] Haaretz 14 Feb by Or Kashti — ‘The good of the state triumphed over the petty politics of the university cartel,’ education minister says — Ariel University in the West Bank will be allowed to establish a medical school, the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria decided on Wednesday. All 11 of its members unanimously reached the decision, which comes after the Council for Higher Education in Israel’s Planning and Budget Committee, responsible for funding higher education in the country, objected to the plan.
Top companies face UN blacklist over operations in settlements
Ynet 12 Feb by Itamar Eichner — A number of prominent Israeli and international companies — among them Coca Cola and Teva — have been threatened with inclusion on a United Nations blacklist over their operations in Israeli settlements. One of the Israeli companies warned of its potential inclusion has appealed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for government intervention. The UN Human Rights Council says it intends to release an updated blacklist of corporations operating directly or indirectly in West Bank settlements, East Jerusalem and on the Golan Heights. Major corporations including Africa Israel, Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Bezeq and Bezeq International, Coca Cola, Africa Israel, Teva, Egged, Mekorot and Elbit Systems have been informed they could be on the new list. Despite Israeli and American efforts to prevent it, the list is apparently set to be published at the 40th UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva in March….
Israel fights boycott movement as pro-Palestinian campaign gains global support
JERUSALEM (NBC News) 10 Feb by F. Brinley Bruton — Gil Sima doesn’t support Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. But that hasn’t stopped filmmakers from dropping out of his Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival to protest the country’s policies toward Palestinians. “We are a very human-rights-oriented film festival. Here in Israel, they think we’re left-wing queer weirdos,” Sima, its executive director, said. “But outside, it’s the same: ‘You’re from Israel, you’re right-wing, you’re an occupier.’” Like many other entertainment and cultural events here, the film festival has been targeted by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign. Founded in 2005, BDS calls for “recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.” It also advocates for the return of millions of Palestinians to the homes their ancestors left or were forced from when Israel was established in 1948. Israeli officials allege the BDS movement is anti-Semitic and seeks to destroy the country. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has spent at least $15 million on combating BDS since 2015….
85 percent of Palestinians killed by Israel were extrajudicially executed
Middle East Rising 16 Feb — The Detainees and Ex-Detainees Committee, said in a report published on Sunday, that 85 percent of Palestinians who were killed by Israel since the beginning of 2015; 179 Palestinians, were killed in extrajudicial field executions. It maintained that Israeli forces executed Palestinians in ‘cold blood’ and on the grounds of mere suspicion, maintaining that forces acted as both judges and executioners. The committee noted that based on a series of documented and publicized incidents, the majority of Palestinians, who assaulted Israelis or were suspected of doing so, were executed by Israeli forces despite that fact that they posed no immediate danger to the latter’s lives, stressing that forces could have restrained and detained them instead. The committee added that a large number of Palestinians were left to bleed to death, without providing them with the necessary first aid, or even allowing Palestinian ambulances’ access to them. It said that the majority of killed Palestinians were shot from a very close range with the intention to kill.
Israel refuses to let UN council visit Palestinian areas
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 13 Feb by Edith M. Lederer — Israel has refused to allow the U.N. Security Council to visit the territory that the Palestinians claim for a future independent state, U.N. diplomats said Wednesday. Last week, the council authorized Its current president, Equitorial Guinea’s U.N. Ambassador Anatolio Ndong Mba, to consult the Israel and Palestinian ambassadors about a trip. Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour immediately responded, saying a council visit would be viewed “in the most positive way.” But Kuwaiti Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi said Ndong Mba reported to a closed council meeting Wednesday that “Israel categorically refused the council visit,” though Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon said the government would welcome visits to Israel by individual ambassadors. A council visit requires support from all 15 council members and approval by the countries concerned. Several other members confirmed Danon’s rejection. Al-Otaibi, the Arab representative on the council, said he expressed regret that the visit won’t take place, noting there have been many requests for the U.N.’s most powerful body to visit the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as their capital — all unsuccessful….
NGO erases ‘Palestine’ and ‘Al-Quds’ from Arab sector civics textbook
Ynet 9 Feb by Adir Yanko — The Education Ministry is embroiled in a row with a right-wing NGO over the highly political content it is including in textbooks. The Kohelet Policy Forum has produced a civics textbook for Israel’s Arab sector in Arabic that does not include the terms “Al-Quds” and “Palestine.” As a result, the Education Ministry has ordered the Kohelet Policy Forum to change the terminology to be inclusive of the Arab sector’s history and beliefs, and ministry officials accused the NGO of using the new textbook to promote a conservative right-wing agenda. The textbook at the heart of the row is a new translated edition of “The Last Days in Israel: Understanding the New Israeli Democracy,” by Prof. Avraham Diskin. The book is set to be published in the near future after a delay of several years, while its Hebrew edition is already being taught in several schools….
2 Palestinian photojournalists win awards at prestigious competition
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Feb — Two Palestinian photojournalists based in the besieged Gaza Strip won awards at the 76th Pictures of the Year International (POYI) of the Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, Missouri, United States, one of the most prestigious schools of journalism worldwide. Muhammad Salem Jadallah, who works for Reuters, said that his picture of brothers of a Palestinian killed by Israeli forces along the Gaza border on June 18th 2018, who were weeping for their dead brother at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, won the Award of Excellence for the “Picture Story” category. Muhammad Asad, a freelance photojournalist, also won the Award of Excellence for his picture of Faris Sirsawi, 12, as he holds on to a stretcher while paramedics were trying to evacuate him after he was shot in the chest by Israeli forces. Sirsawi succumbed to his injuries shortly afterwards….
Iconic Palestinian robe fashions a new political symbol
JERUSALEM (AP) 12 Feb by Isabel Debre — The traditional brightly embroidered dress of Palestinian women known as the “thobe” was not the type of garment one would expect to become a pop political symbol. Now it’s gaining prominence as a softer expression of Palestinian nationalism, competing even with the classic keffiyeh — the headscarf donned by young stone-throwing Palestinian men protesting Israel’s occupation. The robe, adorned with elaborate hand-stitched embroidery, requires months of grueling labor. Some thobes fetch thousands of dollars. The traditional textiles call to mind a bygone era of Palestinian peasant women sewing on a break from the fields. Last month, Rashida Tlaib proudly wore her mother’s thobe to her historic swearing-in as the first female Palestinian American member of Congress, inspiring masses of women around the world, especially in the Palestinian territories, to tweet photos of themselves in their ancestral robes. The historic thobe conjures an ideal of pure and untouched Palestine, before the occupation,” said Rachel Dedman, curator of a recent exhibit at the Palestinian Museum focused on the evolution of Palestinian embroidery. “It’s more explicitly tied to history and heritage than politics. That’s what makes it a brilliant symbol.”… While Arab women across the region have worn hand-made dresses for centuries, the thobe has taken on a distinctly Palestinian character, particularly since the establishment of Israel in 1948. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians either fled or were expelled from their homes during the war surrounding Israel’s creation. Many took only their dresses with them into the diaspora, Saca added. The war, which Palestinians call their “nakba,” or catastrophe, transformed the thobe….
Dar al-Hikma Girls’ School wins first place at the ‘Know Europe’ contest in Palestine
EEAS 12 Feb — The European Union and Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education crowned today Dar Al Hikma Girls School from East Jerusalem after winning the first place at the “Know Europe” contest. European Union Representative Ralph Tarraf and Minister of Education Dr Sabri Saidam attended the final round of the “Know Europe” contest organised in Ramallah. For the second year in a row, the contest was organised in Palestine with the participation of 80 schools and over 500 students across the West Bank and Gaza. It took place in Ramallah, Jenin, Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus, Tulkarem, Qalqilia, Gaza city, and Rafah….
Arab leaders play down Palestinian issue in leaked video
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on Thursday released a video of a closed meeting in which senior Gulf Arab officials play down the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, defend Israel’s right to defend itself, and describe Iran as the greatest threat to regional peace. The video, bearing the insignia of Netanyahu’s office, gave a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes contacts the Israeli leader frequently boasts of, but which are rarely seen in public. The video was recorded on a mobile device and it was not clear who took it. Netanyahu’s office briefly made the YouTube video available to a small group of journalists traveling with him before quickly removing it. It was unclear whether Netanyahu, who is running for re-election, intended to leak the information or distributed it mistakenly. But the decision to take the video down indicated the Gulf officials, whose governments do not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, had not consented to its release…
Saudis give Palestinians diplomatic boost before Warsaw meet
JERUSALEM (AP) 12 Feb — The Palestinians have received a boost of support from Saudi Arabia ahead of a planned Mideast conference in Warsaw organized by the Trump administration. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with King Salman in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Tuesday. The official Saudi news agency reports that the king expressed his “permanent stand” in support of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital. Abbas adviser Majdi Khaldi says the Palestinian leader “affirmed the Palestinian position rejecting” Trump’s anticipated “Deal of the Century” to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The conference in Poland is officially billed as promoting regional peace and stability, but is widely seen as focusing on isolating Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Arab leaders are attending, but the Palestinians are not.
Saudi Arabia transfers $60 million to Palestinian treasury
CAIRO (WAFA) 13 Feb – Saudi Arabia announced Wednesday that it has transferred $60 million to the Palestinian Finance Ministry. The Saudi ambassador to Egypt, Osama bin Ahmed al-Nugali, said in a statement that the $60 million, transferred from the Saudi Development Fund, makes up its monthly contribution to support the Palestinian Authority’s budget for November and December 2018 as well as January 2019. He affirmed that this contribution is part of his country’s permanent support to the Palestinian question at the political, economic and humanitarian levels.
Netherlands to allow Palestinians to list West Bank, Gaza as birthplaces
Ynet 11 Feb — The Netherlands will allow Palestinians born after the establishment of the State of Israel to list their official birthplace as the West Bank, Gaza Strip or East Jerusalem, Dutch State Secretary Raymond Knops said Saturday. While the Netherlands doesn’t recognize Palestine as a state, the Dutch civil registry will now recognize the West Bank and Gaza as the birthplace for those born there after May 15, 1948—the day the British Mandate officially ended and the State of Israel was established. So far, Palestinians living in the Netherlands were only able to list “Israel” or “unknown” as their their official birthplace, with the latter option only added in 2014 following protests from the Palestinians. According to a statement by the Dutch Interior Ministry, the move was in line with “the Dutch viewpoint that Israel has no sovereignty over these areas,” as well as the Netherlands’ commitment not to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state….
Analysis // One thing Netanyahu said this week may have killed Trump’s peace plan
[behind paywall] WASHINGTON (Haaretz) 14 Feb by Amir Tibon — The Trump administration’s plan for peace in the Middle East is once again making headlines after a long absence from the news cycle. President Donald Trump’s senior advisers Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt are currently in Warsaw to promote the plan, during the international summit on the future of the Middle East. And later this month they will travel to several Arab countries to discuss the plan with respective leaders there. At the same time, though, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a statement this week that all but ensures the plan’s failure. Speaking to a group of right-wing and religious-Zionist pundits in Jerusalem, Netanyahu promised that if he wins the upcoming Israeli election (which for now remains the most likely scenario), he will form a religious, right-wing governing coalition and won’t offer a partnership to his centrist challenger, Benny Gantz. This statement could be more significant for the future of Kushner’s peace plan than anything other leaders in the Middle East have said about it so far. If following the April 9 election Netanyahu does indeed form a coalition similar to the one he had over the past four years, there is absolutely zero chance of him making even the slightest concession for peace, since he won’t have support for such concessions within his own government….
Israel wants Dutch case against ex-army chief dropped
JERUSALEM (AP) 11 Feb by Josef Federman — The Israeli Justice Ministry on Monday said the government has asked a Dutch court to dismiss war crimes allegations against Benny Gantz, an ex-military chief who is challenging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in April elections. A Dutch-Palestinian man originally from the Gaza Strip is suing Gantz and Israel’s former air force chief, Amir Eshel, for their roles in an airstrike on his family’s home that killed six relatives. The dead included a 72-year-old woman and a 12-year-old child. The airstrike on the Zeyada family home took place during a 2014 war between Israel and Gaza militants….