Two Palestinian teens killed by Israeli forces in Gaza
Al Jazeera 8 Feb — Two Palestinian youths were killed by Israeli fire on Friday during the weekly protest near the Israeli fence east of the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian health ministry in the besieged enclave said. Hasan Shalabi, 14, “was killed by Israeli occupation live fire to the chest east of Khan Younis” in the southern Gaza Strip, the ministry said, as thousands of Palestinians demonstrated along the heavily fortified frontier with Israel for the 46th week running. Hamza Shteiwi, 18, was also killed after he was shot in the neck by Israeli forces, the ministry added. Another 17 Palestinians were shot at different protest sites along the fence, including two journalists and four medics. According to Palestinian news agency Ma‘an, Israeli forces shot tear gas canisters at an ambulance and sprayed demonstrators with chemically enhanced sewage water east of Khan Younis. The Israeli army declined to comment on the death, but said 6,700 “rioters and demonstrators” had been protesting along the frontier … Palestinians have for nearly a year gathered weekly near the Israeli fence for unarmed protests, as part of the Great March of Return rallies which began on March 30. Protesters are also demanding Israel to end its 12-year blockade of the coastal strip….
Palestinian succumbs to wounds in Gaza
IMEMC 4 Feb — A Palestinian man succumbed, Sunday, to critical wounds he sustained last week, as Israeli forces attacked the “Great Return March” protests along Gaza’s borders. Ahmad Ghazi Abu Jabal, 30, died of critical wounds he sustained last week, after being shot by Israeli forces offshore the town of Beit Lahia, north of Gaza. Abu Jabal, from the Sheja‘eyya neighborhood east of Gaza city, was shot and seriously injured, on January 29 2019, during a naval procession along Beit Lahia Sea and shore, in northern Gaza. The soldiers who shot him with live fire were stationed at the Zikim military base, near Gaza’s northern border. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) issued a statement mourning his death, and declaring that he was one of its members.
Israel targets Hamas post in Gaza in response to rocket fire
Xinhua 7 Feb — The Israeli army fired artillery shells at a Hamas post in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday night after a rocket fired from the besieged enclave hit southern Israel. “An IDF (Israel Defense Forces) tank targeted a Hamas military post in the southern Gaza Strip,” an Israeli military spokesperson said in a statement. The attack came in retaliation for an earlier rocket fire from Gaza, the spokesperson added. Meanwhile, the sources in Gaza told Xinhua that the Israeli tanks shelled several militant lookout posts close to the border with Israel. There were no immediate reports of casualties from both sides. The heightened tension between Israel and the Gaza Strip came after a Palestinian prisoner from Gaza, who spent 28 years in Israeli jails, died earlier in the day in his cell over medical negligence, according to the Palestinian Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs….
Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian fishermen, farmers, in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Rafah City in the southern besieged Gaza Strip, on Friday. Witnesses told a Ma‘an reporter that Israeli war boats opened fire targeting Palestinian fishermen off the coast of western Rafah City, forcing the fishermen to head back to shore in fear for their lives.
Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers deployed in military watchtowers in the al-Fukhari area in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, opened fire towards Palestinian farmers in nearby agricultural lands. No injuries were reported.
Court sets new precedent against flotillas used to break IDF Gaza blockade
JPost 6 Feb by Yonah Jeremy Bob — The Haifa District Court has ruled that the state can confiscate ships used in flotillas attempting to break the IDF’s naval blockade of Gaza, setting a precedent which could deter the flotilla tactic. On Wednesday, the Haifa District Attorney’s Office announced the decision issued earlier in the week by Haifa Court Deputy President Ron Sokol, approving the state’s request to seize the Zaytouna-Olivia, which sailed from Barcelona in a September 2016 “women’s flotilla” to break the blockade. The sailboat was taken over by the IDF in October 2016. The state has maintained a blockade of Gaza for over a decade, saying it has a right to do so under international law because of the ongoing state of war with Hamas, which controls Gaza. The IDF used female soldiers to take over the ship to reduce the possibility of friction with the all-female crew…..
B’Tselem: Israel killed woman and child protesters at significant distance from Gaza fence
MEMO 8 Feb — Israeli forces killed a woman and child during protests in the occupied Gaza Strip on 11 January while they were at a “significant distance” from the perimeter fence. The findings were published yesterday by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. Amal A-Taramsi, a 44-year-old resident of Gaza City, was attending a mid-afternoon protest on the day in question, helping those “hurt by tear gas inhalation by spraying their faces with a saline solution”, B’Tselem stated. At around 4pm, as she stood about 200 metres away from the perimeter fence, Amal was shot in the neck with a live bullet fired by an Israeli sniper. Sustaining a critical injury, Amal was pronounced dead by doctors at Al-Shifaa Hospital.
On the same day, B’Tselem continued, 13-year-old child ‘Abd a-Ra’uf Salahah, from Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, “attended a different demonstration held east of the camp”. At around 3pm, ‘Abd a-Ra’uf “and some other teens approached the fence, hung a flag on it, and retreated to a distance of about 150 meters”. At that moment, the boy was struck in the head by a tear gas canister fired directly at protesters by Israeli forces. ‘Abd a-Ra’uf was taken to al-Shifaa Hospital, “where he remained in the ICU until the early hours of 14 January 2019, when doctors pronounced him dead”, B’Tselem added.
The human rights organisation noted how both slain protesters “were hit at a significant distance from the fence. Clearly, neither posed a threat to anyone”. According to B’Tselem, “the high number of casualties” amongst Palestinians since the start of the “Great Return March” protests in March 2018 “is a direct outcome of the open-fire policy that Israel is employing along the Gaza perimeter fence, including during demonstrations held nearby”…. [Report contains interviews with relatives and witnesses]
Lebanese TV airs footage of Gaza sniper shooting IDF officer in helmet
Times of Israel 3 Feb by Judah Ari Gross & Adam Rasgon — A Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese news outlet on Sunday broadcast previously unaired footage of the moment a Palestinian sniper in the Gaza Strip shot an Israeli officer in the helmet last month, causing him light injuries. On January 22, a gunman from the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group fired at the Paratroopers Brigade company commander during a riot along the southern Gaza border. The bullet struck the officer’s helmet, which saved his life … Speaking to the pro-Hezbollah news outlet, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad confirmed suspicions that the terror group’s military wing Saraya al-Quds was behind the attack….
In video — Israel starts building massive barrier along Gaza border
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Feb — Israel began the construction of the over-ground portion of the Gaza border barrier that will connect to the under-construction sea barrier aimed at preventing the movement of the Hamas military wing out of the coastal enclave and into Israel. The Israeli Defense Ministry confirmed, on Sunday, that the over-ground section of the barrier will be 65 kilometers (40 miles) long and will be six meters (20 feet) high. The Israeli Defense Ministry’s border administration said, “The border is uniquely suited to the threats from the Gaza Strip and will give a comprehensive solution to preventing entry into Israel.” The barrier is meant to prevent underground tunnels from Gaza. The barrier, estimated to cost 3 billion shekels ($833 million), will include a concrete wall fitted with sensors and reaching dozens of meters deep into the ground and standing six meters high from ground level.
Egypt to increase trade with Gaza
MEMO 2 Feb — The Egyptian authorities have pledged to increase commercial trade with Gaza and keep Rafah crossing open, regardless of an absence of Palestinian Authority (PA) staff, Hamas sources told MEMO today. The sources said that Egypt would develop the work of Rafah crossing on both the Egyptian and Gazan side, pledging to increase trade to fulfill the economic needs of the besieged Gaza Strip. The move also aims to afford enough revenue for Hamas – which governs the Gaza Strip – to be able to pay its staff and avoid Israeli pressure on its finances. In addition, the sources said that the understandings between Hamas and Egypt – which were reached during meetings in the Strip yesterday – have been supported by the UN, which asked Egypt to increase the number of truckloads entering Gaza.
A delegation of Egyptian intelligence and the UN representative for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, had met with leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, yesterday to discuss the political situation and the Great March of Return, which has been ongoing in the Strip since March. Meanwhile, the Egyptian delegation confirmed that Rafah crossing would remain open, despite the position of the PA and the absence of its staff. However, the Egyptians also stressed that Hamas must maintain calm in the Strip and slow the Great March of Return, including preventing the burning of tyres and cutting the Israeli border fence.
For second time in months, CRS forced to cut funding to Gaza
Catholic News Service 5 Feb by Judith Sudilovsky — Catholic Relief Services cut its services to needy people in the Gaza Strip by closing a U.S. government-funded program because of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act. This was the second CRS program in Gaza affected the U.S. government decisions in recent months: The first was the administration’s freeze on funding to medical and humanitarian aid providers and the second is ATCA, said Hilary DuBose, CRS country representative for Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza. The Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, signed into law last fall by the U.S congress, would allow Americans to sue any entity receiving American funding for alleged collaboration in acts of terrorism. Since there has not been any clear exception for humanitarian funding, USAID asked CRS to shut down the Gaza 2020 project, which provided temporary job placements, food vouchers, entrepreneurship training and grants, and emergency preparedness training. The program ended Jan. 31….
Gaza launches job creation programme
MEMO 5 Feb — The Palestinian Ministry of Labour yesterday launched a job creation programme which will employ 5,000 unemployed between 18 and 34 years within three years, Safa news agency reported. The $17 million programme, called “Gaza Emergency – Money for Work”, is funded by the World Bank and carried out by Palestinian NGOs in cooperation with the labour, financial and social welfare ministries. Labour Minister Mamoun Abu-Shahla said it is funded by the World Bank because of the increasing poverty and unemployment rate in Gaza, which were a direct outcome of the Israeli siege. He cited information from the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics pointing out that there are 400,000 unemployed Palestinians, including 220,000 in the Gaza Strip, in addition to the 320,000 families living under the poverty line.
90% of homes in Gaza destroyed by Israel ‘have been rebuilt’
MEMO 4 Feb — The Palestinian Housing Minister announced on Sunday that 90 per cent of the houses destroyed by Israel during the 2014 military offensive against Gaza have been rebuilt, Safa News Agency has reported. Mofeed Al-Hasayneh also announced the start of construction of 111 housing units funded by the German government at a cost of $23 million. Al-Hasayneh told a press conference in Gaza that he was directed by the Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to give priority to the rebuilding of homes in the besieged territory. “We have rebuilt 9,308 housing units at a cost of $347m and repaired 100,000 partially destroyed units for $205m,” explained the minister. “We have repaired 17 multi-storey residential buildings and rebuilt the whole residential neighbourhood of Al-Nada in Beit Lahiya. We are waiting for funds to rebuild the Italian Mall.” The Palestinian official added that his ministry has carried out new housing projects worth $200m that include residential areas as well as housing repairs for poor families. The latter project is valued at $19m. Meanwhile, he said that the ministry has spent $48m to pave 93 roads in the southern and northern governorates of Gaza, along with 120 projects to repair government premises at a cost of $103m.
Gaza patients’ painful journey to cancer treatment
World Health Org. 4 Feb – After being diagnosed with cancer, patients in Gaza may often have to wait for months before being able to receive treatment. Getting a permit to access the health care needed outside can be a stressful and unpredictable process, and many apply multiple times before being able to exit. Even then, some patients are never able to secure the permits they need to access care. The ability of Gaza’s hospitals to provide adequate diagnosis and treatment to cancer patients is severely limited due to chronic shortages of medicines and lack of medical equipment. Nuclear medicine scanning needed for staging cancers, radiotherapy equipment and some specialized surgeries are unavailable….
Israel prevents Fatah officials from leaving Gaza
GAZA (WAFA) 6 Feb – Israeli authorities Wednesday prevented members of the Fatah Revolutionary Council (FRC) from leaving the Gaza Strip to attend a council meeting in Ramallah scheduled for today. FRC secretariat told WAFA that Israeli authorities refused to issue permissions for most FRC members in Gaza to leave the besieged Strip to Ramallah through Beit Hanoun/Erez crossing. It said the deputy secretary general was among those denied permission.
Haaretz editorial: Bombing and worrying
[behind paywall] 8 Feb — It’s not the fate of the ill and wounded in Gaza that concerns the most moral army in the world. It’s the fear that the situation will prevent plans for war — In a briefing for members of the security cabinet, senior defense officials painted a threatening picture of the impending collapse of the Gaza Strip’s health system. According to reports of the briefing (Yaniv Kubovich, February 5), some 6,000 people wounded by live bullets are still awaiting urgent operations. About a quarter of them have developed serious infections, and without suitable care, will have to undergo an amputation. Tens of thousands of other wounded need medical treatment unobtainable in Gaza due to the severe shortage of equipment, medicine and specialists. These descriptions aren’t new … This time, however, defense officials presented a new and particularly outrageous facet of the problem. “It will be hard to wage war in Gaza and obtain international support for the operation,” they warned. They even said international intervention would be likely because so many people, primarily the wounded, would be unable to obtain medical help….
Israeli soldiers kill one Palestinian, injure another near Jenin
IMEMC 5 Feb — Israeli soldiers killed, on Monday evening, one Palestinian teen and injured another, near the entrance of the al-Jalama village, northeast of Jenin in northern West Bank. The army claimed that Palestinians were riding a motorcycle and “hurled an explosive at the soldiers,” and did not report any injuries. Mahmoud Sa‘adi, the director of the Emergency Department of the Palestinian Red Crescent in Jenin, said the slain Palestinian has been identified as Abdullah Faisal Omar Tawalba, 19, from the al-Jalama village, and added that Omar Ahmad Hanana, 15, was injured but is in a stable condition. Palestinian medical sources said the medics moved the slain Palestinian, and the wounded teen, to Jenin Governmental Hospital. They added that Tawalba was shot with several live rounds in the head and legs. Eyewitnesses said the two were riding a motorcycle near the village, when the soldiers opened fire at them, and denied the Israeli military allegation, stating that the army will say anything to justify murdering Palestinians. They added that the two Palestinians were riding their motorcycle back home, in al-Jalama and ‘Arrana villages near Jenin, while returning from work. The Israeli army did not report any injuries among the soldiers, and only issued a brief statement regarding the incident, alleging that the two Palestinians “arrived at the checkpoint riding a motorcycle, and hurled an explosive at the soldiers, causing no injuries.” It is worth mentioning that the army holds the corpses of slain Palestinians suspected of attacking soldiers or colonialist settlers but did not hold Tawalba’s body, and local medics moved his corpse to Jenin Governmental Hospital. Jenin Governor Akram Rajoub said the Israeli army “seems to have ready justifications for murdering Palestinians, in order to pass these crimes as acts of self-defense by the soldiers,” and added that “these lies, and fabrications are encouraged by the political leaders in Israel.”
Video: A farewell look after IOF handed over their father’s body
Days of Palestine 2 Feb — The sons of the martyr Mu‘ammar al-Atrash gave him a farewell look after the Israeli occupation forces handed over his body which held for more than 100 days. The occupation had executed Al-Atrash near Al Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, on 22 October. 2018.
Israeli settlers open fire at Palestinians in al-Mughayyir
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 0 Feb — Israeli settlers opened fire at Palestinians in the al-Mughayyir village, in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah and al-Bireh, late Friday. Locals reported that they were able to prevent Israeli settlers from raiding the village; however, Israeli settlers opened fire at them. No injuries were reported. Israeli settlers had shot and killed a Palestinian father from the village two weeks ago in a similar attack. Residents of al-Mughayyir organize weekly protests in rejection of Israel’s confiscation of the village’s lands and against continuous attacks by Israeli settlers against villagers and locals.
Israeli paramilitary settlers post threats to Palestinian farmers
IMEMC 5 Feb by Celine Hagbard — The residents of Tekoa village, near Jenin in the northern part of the West Bank, were shocked to find placards posted around their village on Sunday by Israeli military settlers threatening their livelihoods if they associated with members of Israeli and international peace groups. The placards included a ‘hit list’ of photos of some of the leaders of the organizations in question, which include Rabbis for Human Rights and the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements. The statement also included a caveat that if residents worked with or talked to lawyers to secure their legal rights to their land, they would be targeted by the paramilitary colonial settlers. The posters stated that if any residents of the area choose to associate with any of the listed people or organizations, they would never be able to work again in the Israeli settlements in the area. The publications included pictures of a member of the National Council and the Central Council of Fatah, Sheikh Dawood al-Zair, human rights lawyers and Nasri Suleiman, a member of the municipality of Janata responsible for monitoring the land threatened with confiscation….
Video: Anat Cohen assaults ISM volunteers in Al-Khalil (again)
Al-Khalil/Hebron (ISM, al-Khalil Team) 8 Feb — ISM volunteers were detained by Hebron Police for over 8 hours after Anat Cohen assaulted them outside the Qurtuba school checkpoint on Thursday. In direct response to the violence waged against Palestinians at the hands of settlers (and the military that protects them), a neutral observer force had been present in Hebron (Al-Khalil) for the past 22-years, in part, to ensure that children walking to/from school would not be harmed, harassed, or murdered by settlers. This observer force was called TIPH. Unfortunately, the Israeli government expelled TIPH from Hebron last week.
One of the more dangerous checkpoints for Palestinian children in Al-Khalil exists outside the Qurtuba school–which is juxtaposed immediately adjacent to the Beit Hadassah settlement. Another independent observer group, EAPPI, had been peacefully monitoring this checkpoint until last week–when their head offices announced that their team would also withdraw from Hebron following a targeted campaign of harassment by the right-wing fascist group Im Turtsu.
To fill this void, ISM volunteers have been monitoring the Qurtuba checkpoint in mornings and afternoons to provide an international presence to ensure the safety of Palestinian schoolchildren. As a result, ISM has become the target of harassment by settlers. On Thursday, this ordinary verbal abuse escalated to physical assault when Anat Cohen–a particularly violent settler with a history of attacking peaceful observers–assaulted ISM volunteers at the Qartuba checkpoint. ISM captured the assault on video: Minutes after Cohen assaulted the ISM volunteers, she called the police. When the local Hebron Police arrived, they detained the ISM volunteers and informed them that Cohen was pressing charges against the ISM volunteers for assault….
Israeli forces detain 2 internationals working on behalf of TIPH
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 7 Feb — Israeli forces detained two members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), on Thursday, in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron while securing movement of Palestinian elementary school students. Locals reported that Israeli forces detained the two international activists while near the Qurtuba School, adjacent to an illegal Israeli settlement, securing students’ way out of their school. The internationals were identified only as an American and an Italian activist, who were doing the work of members of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) as the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had decided last week not to extend their mandate, expelling them from the city.
Security forces apprehend Palestinian suspected of murdering Israeli teen
[behind paywall] Haaretz 9 Feb by Yaniv Kubovich et al. — Israeli security forces said a suspect in the murder of 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher near Jerusalem was apprehended in the Ramallah area on Saturday. The suspect is from the West Bank town of Hebron and is currently being questioned, the Shin Bet said in a joint statement with Israeli police. A gag-order has been placed on details of the investigation, which is focusing on the suspicion the murder was politically motivated….
Hate crime suspected as West Bank mosque graffiti’d
Ynet 4 Feb by Elisha Ben Kimon — Unknown assailants daub ‘Here they incite to murder Jews’ in front of a mosque in the West Bank village of Deir Dibwan; local residents say the shoe rack at entrance to the mosque also smelled of inflammable material. In response, the Tag Meir Forum, an NGO that fights hate crimes and racism, said in a statement that the vandalism was “Jewish terrorism.” “The mosque desecration in Deir Dibwan must be condemned,” the NGO said. “What begins with desecration of prayer houses ends with the desecration of human lives. The Israeli government must put an end to this Jewish terrorism.” Last week, three vehicles were vandalized in the Palestinian village of Al-Lubban al-Gharbi near Ramallah in the West Bank. Malicious graffiti and the Star of David were sprayed on the vehicles there, and their tires were punctured.
Ayman’s last picnic: Palestinian teen’s death shatters West Bank haven
MEE 5 Feb by Shatha Hammad in Ramallah — The green slopes of Mashariya have long been a refuge for Silwad residents – but the Israeli army’s killing of a teenager is the latest reminder of the absence of safe spaces for Palestinians — Flipping through the pages of her eldest son’s schoolbooks, Inas Hamed stops to read the notes he scribbled in the margins, encouraging himself to finish his final year of high school. A moment later, the 35-year-old mother of six reaches for his closet, rummaging through her son’s clothes and other belongings to inhale his lingering scent. “I still cannot believe it. My son had just been with me,” Inas told Middle East Eye. On 25 January, Ayman Hamed was shot and killed by the Israeli army one kilometre from his home in the village of Silwad, east of Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. That was the last day the 17-year-old spent with his family, his mother said. It was a Friday, and Ayman, his parents and his siblings decided to take advantage of sunny skies to have a picnic in one of the village’s lush areas, known as Mashariya. Inas said she prepared Ayman’s favourite lunch for the occasion … On that calm Friday, after only a few hours in the area, the group of boys was approached by at least three Israeli soldiers. The soldiers fired live ammunition and Ayman was shot in the chest and fell to the ground. One of his friends was shot in the arm, while the others fled. Less than 15 minutes later, the Israeli army said Ayman was dead, accusing him of throwing stones towards Highway 60….
Israeli soldiers abduct 17 Palestinians in West Bank
IMEMC 4 Feb — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Monday at dawn, at least seventeen Palestinians from their homes, in several parts of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported. The PPS said the soldiers invaded and violently searched many homes across the West Bank, and interrogated scores of Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards. The soldiers also installed many roadblocks in several parts of the West Bank, especially in Ramallah governorate, in central West Bank, and in Hebron, in southern West Bank. The soldiers stopped and searched dozens of cars, and interrogated scores of Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards. .. The soldiers also invaded the family home of a slain teenage girl, identified as Samah Mubarak, 16, in Qaddoura refugee camp, in Ramallah, and violently searched it, in addition to storming the home of Yahia Rabea‘, the head of the Students’ Senate at Birzeit University. It is worth mentioning that Samah, was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers at the Zaim military roadblock, east of occupied Jerusalem, after she refused to remove her face covering….
PPS: ‘Israeli soldiers abduct 33 Palestinians in West Bank’
IMEMC 5 Feb — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Tuesday at dawn, 33 Palestinians from their homes after invading and violently searching them, in several parts of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported. The PPS office in Ramallah, in central West Bank, said the soldiers abducted thirteen Palestinians, including two women, in several parts of the governorate. The soldiers abducted Soheir Barghouthi, the mother of Saleh Barghouthi, 29, who was killed by the army on December 12, 2018. It is worth mentioning the Soheir also has three sons who are imprisoned by Israel, identified as Assem, Assef and Mohammad Barghouthi. The soldiers also abducted the wife of detainee Omar Barghouthi, and her brothers Zahi, and Saher Ismael Barghouthi. It is worth mentioning that, on Monday, the head of the Central Command of the Israeli army in the occupied West Bank, Major General Nadav Padan, signed an order authorizing the demolition of Assem’s home, while the soldiers handed the family an order for the demolition of Saleh’s home, after Israeli courts denied their appeals. Also in Ramallah, the soldiers abducted Yousef Husam Hneini, Firas as-Sayes, Mo’tasem Saqfelheit, Samer Abdul-Salam, Ahmad Abdul-Hafeth, Ismael Soheil Harb, Hotheifa Lutfi Barghouthi, Hamza Awwad, and a teen with special needs, identified as Ehab Ayman Khweira, 17….
NGO: Palestinians face ‘new and imminent eviction threats in the Old CIty
MEMO 4 Feb — Palestinians are facing “new and imminent eviction threats” in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli NGO Ir Amim warned yesterday. The organisation highlighted “three concurrent cases” which together “give strong evidence of rapidly escalating new facts on the ground – promoted by settlers with the benefit of legal and political support from the state – to further entrench Israeli control in and around the Old City”. One example cited by Ir Amim is the pending eviction of the seven-member Abu Asab family, who have until 12 February before they will be displaced in the Muslim Quarter, following a settler-initiated court process. Just 100 metres away, Ir Amim added, “the Ghaith-Sub Laban family is under renewed threat of eviction”. Last week, “more than two years after the Supreme Court decision, the family received notice that the settler-managed Gengel Trust has filed a new eviction demand in the Magistrate Court based on the claim of home abandonment”….
Jerusalem archbishop: ‘Everything Palestinian is targeted by Israel’s occupation’
MEMO 2 Feb — The Palestinian Archbishop of Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox Church, Atallah Hanna, said yesterday that “everything Palestinian in Jerusalem is targeted by the Israeli occupation”. During a meeting with a delegation from Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders, MSF), Hanna explained the dangers threatening Palestinians’ existence and identity in the Holy City, Al-Wattan Voice reported. “Everything is in danger in Jerusalem,” Hanna said, adding: “The Islamic and Christian holy sites and endowments are targeted in order to change our city, hide its identity and marginalize our Arabic and Palestinian existence.” Hanna added that “recently, the Israeli occupation cancelled a planned celebration on the 50th anniversary of establishing Al-Maqased Hospital,” noting that the Israeli occupation had cancelled many other Palestinian events planned to take place in Jerusalem….
Israel surfaces plan to seize land in southeastern Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 6 Feb — Head of the committee for the defense of East Jerusalem land, Bassam Bahr, says there is an Israeli plan to seize more than a thousand dunams of agricultural land, including olive trees and houses belonging to Palestinian citizens, in Khallet Abed, southeastern Jerusalem. Bahr referred to the Jerusalem Municipality’s announcement of the settlement plan for the construction of a settlement road from Al-Quds University in the town of Abu Dis, in East Jerusalem, to the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, thus seizing the lands of Khallet Abed, owned by the residents of the area. He pointed out, according to the PNN, that the aim of the plan is to link settlements via a road network such as Kedar and Ma’aleh Adumim.
Israeli forces take down Palestinian flag off mosque in ‘Issawiya
[with photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — Israeli forces attempted to raid a mosque in the ‘Issawiya neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, on Friday morning. Member of a local follow-up committee, Muhammad Abu al-Hummos, said that Israeli forces attempted to raid the mosque in order to confiscate picture of, Fares Baroud, a Palestinian prisoner who died inside Israeli prisons on Wednesday, and raised Palestinian flag. Israeli forces were deployed in the area surrounding the mosque. Abu al-Hummos added that Israeli soldiers then went up the outer walls of the mosque, without going inside the mosque, and eventually took down the picture and flag.
Israel orders demolition of five buildings in ‘Issawiya
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — Staff members of the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem delivered demolition notices to Palestinian-owned buildings in the ‘Issawiya neighborhood, in occupied East Jerusalem, on Wednesday. Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, member of a local follow-up committee, told Ma‘an that staff members from the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem escorted by Israeli forces stormed ‘Issawiya and delivered demolition notices to several Palestinian-owned buildings, under the pretext of being built without a permit. Israeli forces also took photographs of five housing and commercial buildings to be demolished. Israel uses the pretext of building without a permit to carry out demolitions of Palestinian-owned homes on a regular basis. Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in East Jerusalem, though the Jerusalem municipality has claimed that compared to the Jewish population, they receive a disproportionately low number of permit applications from Palestinian communities, which also see high approval ratings.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements/ Judaization
Israeli court enables, validates Palestinian home demolitions
Al Jazeera 6 Feb — Israel’s Supreme Court has been enabling the state to ‘cement occupation’ in occupied West Bank, a new report reveals — Israel‘s top court enables and validates the disposition of Palestinians and the demolition of their homes in the occupied West Bank, a new report has found. According to the report, which was released on Wednesday by Israeli rights group B’Tselem, Israel’s Supreme Court has been enabling the state to continue implementing illegal policies while ignoring the defects in Israel’s “planning policy” in the West Bank. The report, “Fake Justice”, details how the state’s policy minimises Palestinian construction and aims to expand the building of illegal Jewish settlements. “When, faced with no other option, Palestinians are forced to build without permits, the structures are deemed ‘unlawful’ and Israel issues demolition orders,” B’Tselem said. The report is based on careful examination of hundreds of Supreme Court cases, judgments and decisions regarding the demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank. According to B’Tselem, in none of these cases did the judges accept the arguments of the Palestinian petitioners who attempted to overturn demolition orders. B’Tselem figures from 2006 through to 2018 reveal Israel demolished at least 1,401 Palestinian residential units in the West Bank alone, leaving more than 6,000 people without a home. “The fact that the judges choose, time and again, to approve and validate Israel’s policy, played a pivotal role in further cementing the occupation and the settlement enterprise and in dispossessing Palestinians of their land,” Yael Stein, a B’Tselem researcher and author of the report, told Al Jazeera….
Israel plan to settle 1m new Jewish settlers in West Bank
MEMO 4 Feb — Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin has revealed that the goal of the upcoming Israeli government is to settle an additional one million Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, Quds Press reported yesterday. The Arabic site said Israeli news website 0404 revealed that Levin made his remarks during a meeting with the Chairman of Samaria Regional Council Yossi Dagan in the occupied West Bank. “We agreed on reinforcing settlement, accelerating building and creating a situation where settlement does not grow, but develop very fast in order not to meet the needs of the settlers, but to meet the developing settlement,” Levin said. He added: “Our goal is to settle one million more settlers in Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank] and this must be achieved in a very short time….
After violence, court asked to halt legalization of Adei Ad outpost
JPost 4 Feb by Tovah Lazaroff — The left-wing group Yesh Din petitioned the High Court of Justice to halt the legalization of the Adei Ad outpost in the West Bank. It turned to the court in the aftermath of a violent incident on January 26 that involved the Adei Ad security team, during which 38-year-old Hamdi Taleb Na‘san, a Palestinian father of four, was killed on the edge of his village of al-Mughayir. The IDF has alleged that he was killed by a settler. Yesh Din’s petition follows one it filed in 2014, asking the High Court to force the state to evacuate the unauthorized outpost, which was built in 1998 with a NIS 1.45 million grant from the Housing and Construction Ministry, but without the proper permits or approvals. It was built in the Shiloh bloc, partially on state land and partially on private Palestinian property, according to the 2005 government report on outposts by Talia Sasson.
Israelis to turn historic mosque into museum
MEMO 5 Feb — The Israeli authorities in Tiberias have broken into the historic Al-Bahr Mosque in order to start turning it into a museum, Al-Resalah reported on Monday. The move violates a 2000 agreement between the authorities and the Palestinian community in Israel to maintain the status quo at the mosque, which has been closed ever since. One fifth of all Israeli citizens are Palestinians, the so-called “Arab-Israelis”, and face institutionalised discrimination at the hands of the state. Israel has demolished hundreds of Palestinian mosques, cemeteries and other religious sites since the state’s creation in 1948. Dozens have been turned into bars and night clubs in Jaffa, Lod, Al-Ramla, Ashkelon and other cities with no regard for their religious significance. According to Arab48.com, the agreement reached in 2000 has been violated several times, with attacks on the building, including arson. Largely left unguarded, it has been used by drug addicts. “We have to go to Tiberias and stop the desecration of the holy site which aims to erase any Palestinian symbols in the city,” insisted Mohammad Baraka, the Chairman of the High Committee for Arab Citizens….
West Bank archaeological site altered to suit Israeli settlers, says official
NABLUS (WAFA) 6 Feb – Khirbet el-Qasr, an archaeological site to the south of the village of Jaloud in the north of the occupied West Bank, has repeatedly been tampered with by Israeli settlers to a point its historical structures and landscape have been altered, Ghassan Daghlas, an official monitoring Israeli settlement activities in the north of the West Bank, said on Wednesday. He told WAFA that recent photos of the site showed the extent of alterations the settlers have made to it, particularly its landscape … The site is 800 meters above sea level and has relics from the Canaanite, Roman, Byzantine and Ayyoubi periods. It is composed of several buildings that represent the various periods in history as well as wells, water basins and caves. Daghlas noted that Israel has been preventing Palestinians from entering that area since 2001 under the pretext it is located near the settlements.
Illegal West Bank settlers celebrate Trump administration for allowing surge in growth
The National 6 Feb — A settler group that resides in the illegal Israeli settlement enterprise in the occupied territories of West Bank and East Jerusalem have lauded the Trump administration for allowing their numbers to surge at a more rapid rate than expected. In the first two years of his presidency, US president Donald Trump has refused to condemn Israel for building settlements on territories earmarked by Palestinians for any future sovereign state. ‘It’s just simply opened up. There’s no longer this cloud looming over it,” Barush Gordon, director of West Bank Jewish Population Stats, told the Associated Press….
Israel says no to West Bank medical school
JTA 7 Feb by Marcy Oster — Israel’s Council for Higher Education voted not to allow a medical school at a West Bank university. Thursday’s 3-2 decision overturns a vote held in July that approved the medical school at Ariel University. The attorney general ordered the second vote in January after it was discovered last year that one of the voting members had a conflict of interest. The rejection means Israel will not accredit any graduates of the medical school nor will the government provide any funding. The university said it would still open the school in October, as planned, with an inaugural class of 70 students. American casino magnate and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson donated $20 million to the university in 2017 to expand, including building the medical school that is to be named for him and his wife, Miriam, a physician who was born in Israel. The couple attended the inauguration ceremony for the medical school in August. Ariel had fought for many years to be considered a full-fledged university, and faced opposition from Israel’s other public universities, which feared splitting government funds more ways and an increase in calls for academic boycotts of all Israeli professors because of its West Bank location. There are five other medical schools in Israel, which are insufficient to train the number of doctors needed in the country.
Israeli forces uproot olive trees in West Bank in favor of settler colonization
teleSUR 5 Feb — “The daily terrorism directed against Palestinians in the West Bank is reliant on the despair Palestinians have for the Israeli justice system,” wrote Yossi Gurvitz. Israeli forces and settlers uprooted hundreds of olive trees Tuesday in the village of Bardala in the Jordan Valley and Yatta in the south of the West Bank, local sources said. The Palestinian National Authority’s news agency, WAFA, reported that, according to sources, the Israeli army uprooted roughly 450 olive trees belonging in Bardala under the pretext that they were planted in state land. Israeli settlers, meanwhile, uprooted over 23 olive saplings in an area east of Yatta in the south of the occupied West Bank. Settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’on uprooted the trees in an attempt to force Palestinians to leave their lands in favor of settlements projects and expansion, Rateb Jabour, coordinator of the National and Popular Committee in southern Hebron, told WAFA…..
Palestinian citizen of Israel forced to demolish his home
MEMO 6 Feb — A Palestinian citizen of Israel was forced to demolish his house yesterday to avoid being fine demolition fees by Israeli occupation forces, Arab48 reported. Hassan Othman, who lives in the Arab-Israeli city of Sakhnin, had to demolish his property for the second time to avoid having Israeli bulldozers doing the work and charging him for it. Othman’s house was first demolished 18 months ago under the pretext that it lacked the necessary building licenses. Othman then took the issue to court in the hopes that it would issue the necessary paperwork. In a statement, Othman said: “I lost my first house and now I am losing the second one after I had fallen in the trap of the [Israeli] municipality of Sakhnin.”….
Prisoners / Court actions
Israel renews administrative detention of sick Palestinian prisoner
MEMO 6 Feb — Israeli occupation authorities renewed the administrative detention of Palestinian prisoner Mu‘taz Abedo, who is in urgent need of medical care, one day before he was due to be released, Arab48 reported yesterday. In a statement, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club (PPC) said: “Abedo has been suffering critical health conditions since he was shot with a live bullet by Israeli occupation force when he was arrested in 2011. The bullet caused severe injuries to his intestines, paralyzed his left leg and weakened his right one.” The 38-year-old was sentenced to three years in jail and was held in Al-Ramleh Prison. He was rearrested in February last year and has been held under administrative detention ever since. According to the PPC statement, Abedo has lost the ability to use both legs and his fellow detainees are taking care of him in Al-Naqab Prison.
Palestinian detainee dies from medical neglect in Israeli prison
IMEMC 7 Feb — The Palestinian Detainees Committee has reported, on Wednesday evening, that a Palestinian detainee from Gaza, who has been held by Israel since 1991, died from serious complications resulting from being denied required specialized medical attention. The Committee stated that the detainee, Fares Mohammad Baroud, 51, from the Shati’ refugee camp, west of Gaza city, died shortly after being moved to Soroka Israeli medical center. It added that, although the details of his death remain unclear, Baroud has been facing several health conditions for many years and was not granted urgently needed professional medical treatment. On November 18, 2018, the detainee, who was also suffering from a psychological condition, suffered an internal hemorrhage and was moved to Soroka after losing consciousness. He later underwent a surgery where the doctors removed a part of his liver and a blood vessel leading to it. The Detainees Committee held the Ramon Prison administration and the Israeli government responsible for Baroud’s death, as it is just one example of the numerous and ongoing serious violations against the Palestinian detainees, depriving them from basic life-saving medical attention.
Ashrawi calls for international inspection of Israel prisons
MEMO 8 Feb — Member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Executive Committee, Hanan Ashrawi, has called for urgent action to inspect Israeli prisons and detention centres to ensure international law is applied to Palestinian prisoners. In a press release issued yesterday, Ashrawi said the death of 51-year-old Fares Baroud was a result of deliberate medical negligence and it has unveiled how serious the deterioration in conditions in Israeli prisons is. Baroud died of medical negligence in Israeli detention earlier this week. Detained in 1991 and sentenced to life in prison, in addition to 35 years for killing an Israeli settler, he suffered from a hernia, liver disease and asthma while in prison. She stressed that the Israeli government and its prison authorities bear full responsibility for Baroud’s death. Ashrawi called on the international community and human rights organisations to intervene quickly and open an international investigation into the causes of Baroud’s death and the conditions under which all prisoners and detainees are held by the Israeli occupation.
Israel judge suggests ‘plea deal’ for soldiers charged with brutal assault
MEMO 6 Feb — An Israeli military court has recommended that the prosecution and defence reach a plea deal in the case of five soldiers charged with the brutal assault of two Palestinian detainees. According to the Jerusalem Post, while the court’s suggestion of “a deal through arbitration” will be “taken seriously”, the army “is likely to demand some amount of jail time as part of the deal as well”. The soldiers’ defence team, however, may not agree to jail time, “in light of their initial claims that the indictment should never have been filed”. The five soldiers, part of the ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda Battalion, are suspected of having beaten a Palestinian father and son on 8 January with “fists and hard objects” while the pair were “handcuffed and blindfolded”. The soldiers were arrested two days later. “According to the indictment, the defendants filmed themselves while they beat the Palestinians all over, including intimate parts of the body,” the Jerusalem Post reported. “The accused are said to have removed the son’s blindfold and forced him to watch as his father was beaten,” the article added. “During the footage, one can hear cries of joy from the soldiers as the Palestinians are beaten and calling for help.”
Israel labels BDS activists ‘terrorists in suits’ in new smear campaign
MEMO 4 Feb — Israel has launched a smear campaign against activists affiliated with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, labeling them “terrorists in suits”. Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry launched the campaign this weekend with a series of posters depicting prominent BDS activists as “terrorists”, using the hashtag #TerroristsInSuits to smear the individuals’ professional credibility and the BDS movement as a whole. Among the activists targeted were French-Palestinian activist and research at Adameer Salah Hamouri, general-director of Al-Haq Shawan Jabarin, and Palestinian icon Leila Khaled. In one image, director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights Rani Sourani is shown smiling in a suit, juxtaposed with an image of a man armed with a machine gun and clad in a kuffiyeh (traditional Palestinian headdress) in an image meant to portray his “terrorist” alter ego … The campaign is being spearheaded by Israel’s Strategic Affairs and Public Security Minister, Gilad Erdan, who said it “reveals the true nature and goals of the BDS movement and its connection to terrorism and antisemitism,” the Jerusalem Post reported….
US federal judge dismisses lawsuit against BDS supporters
MEMO 7 Feb — Pro-Israeli groups have suffered a major defeat in a US court after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against the American Studies Association’s (ASA) resolution to endorse the call to boycott Israeli academic institutions as part of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. On Monday a district court in Washington threw out the lawsuit against ASA, which is the oldest scholarly organisation devoted to the interdisciplinary study of US culture and history. The federal judge ruled that the anti-BDS plaintiffs were unable to explain how they were injured by the boycott, a requirement for the lawsuit to go forward. The ruling is a significant victory for human rights campaigners and a blow to efforts by Israel lobby groups to use courts to harass, intimidate and silence supporters of Palestinian rights in US universities – a tactic known as lawfare. It’s also a major boost for Americans sacked from their jobs on the back of anti-BDS legislation, denounced by critics as unconstitutional….
Israel to deduct ‘terror salaries’ from PA tax money
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Feb — The Israeli Diplomatic-Security ‘Cabinet’ is expected to approve a major cut to the tax revenues Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA), with the amount the PA pays as stipends to the families of Palestinians killed or imprisoned by Israel deducted from the money Israel hands over to the PA, within two weeks. Israel Hayom news site reported that the Israeli Ministry of Defense has been assiduously collecting figures to determine the exact amount the PA pays out in “terror salaries,” for some weeks. The Israeli Ministry of Finance will reportedly carry out the deduction after a report on the “salaries” is presented. The reduction will be enacted under a law passed this past summer by Israeli members of the Knesset, Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) and Avi Dichter (Likud), which requires the Defense Ministry to provide the cabinet with data on the amount the PA pays terrorists and their families. The Finance Ministry will then withhold that amount from the tax funds….
Palestinian govt in Ramallah cuts stipends for martyrs, detainees
albawaba 8 Feb — The Ramallah-based Palestinian government has reduced monthly stipends paid to the families of Palestinians martyred or imprisoned by Israel, according to local sources. Daoud Shihab, a spokesman for the Islamic Jihad movement, said: “Cutting stipends for the families of martyrs, prisoners, former prisoners, and civil servants [in Gaza] is a crime against the Palestinian homeland and cause.” At a joint press conference organized by several Palestinian factions (and held near the Gaza City home of President Mahmoud Abbas), Shihab asserted: “Our prisoners [in Israeli jails] should not be exploited for political point-scoring.” Ramallah’s decision to reduce stipends for the families of prisoners and martyrs, he added, “specifically targets the Palestinian people and their struggle against occupation”. Leaders of other factions who attended Thursday’s press conference demanded that the move be reversed “as it contradicts the most basic principles and ethics of the Palestinian people”.
In a related development, the Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights, a Palestinian NGO, reported Thursday that Ramallah had also cut the salaries of more than 5,000 civil servants in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. According to the NGO, the move was predicated on the “political affiliations” of the targeted civil servants — a reference to the link many of them have with Hamas. Ramallah, for its part, has yet to issue a statement on the reported stipend and salary cuts.
PCHR calls on PA to withdraw decision to cease payment of salaries for 5,000 employees
GAZA (PNN) 7 Feb — The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) in a statement said it was strongly concerned over the Palestinian Government’s decision in Ramallah against the Palestinian Authority (PA’s) employees in the Gaza Strip to cease the payment of salaries for thousands of them without any legal basis and in violation of the amended Civil Service Law No. (4)/2005 and Law of Service in the Palestinian Security Forces No. 8 of 2005. PCHR said it is also concerned that the decision would be a prelude to PA’s abdication of its legal obligations towards the Gaza Strip. The decision came following the statement by ‘Azzam Al-Ahmed, Member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), who disclosed the Palestinian leadership’s intention to declare the Gaza Strip as “a rebel territory” in addition to the series of measures taken by the PA against the Gaza Strip for 2 years, including deducting from the employees’ salaries, minimizing the medical referrals and decreasing supplies of medicines and medical consignments. According to PCHR’s follow-up, on Tuesday, 05 February 2019, around 5043 PA employees from the Gaza Strip working in the civil and military sectors were surprised with not having their salaries in their bank accounts for January 2019 under the pretext of their support or affiliation with the Democratic Reform Trend in Fatah Movement headed by PLC Member Mohammed Dahlan, and with Hamas and al-Jihad Movements….
Abbas says US-Palestinian security ties endure despite aid halt
TImes of Israel 6 Feb by Adam Rasgon — In an interview published Wednesday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas confirmed that the PA continues to maintain its security ties with the US. Abbas made the comment less than a week after the State Department stopped providing aid to PA security forces at Ramallah’s request. “We still have a relationship with the [American] security services in order to fight terrorism in the world,” the PA president said in an interview with Sputnik, a Russian state-run news site….
Interpol issues arrest warrants against 2 Palestinian former officials
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Feb — The Arab Interpol of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers issued an arrest warrant, on Saturday, against two Palestinian former officials Khaled Salam and Walid al-Najab. The Arab Interpol pointed out that the warrant was placed at all Arab airports and land crossings. The two officials are accused of embezzling millions of dollars of public money when they served in former Palestinian administrations.
Abbas: We will hold elections when possible
MEMO 7 Feb — Palestinian Authority (PA), PLO and Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas said that the date of the upcoming elections is to be announced when holding “it becomes possible” in Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Sputnik reported yesterday. “We are forming a new government,” he told Sputnik. “According to a Constitutional Court decision, we have started organising legislative elections; we have instructed the central election commission to do this.” … In December, Abbas unilaterally and unconstitutionally announced the dissolution of the Palestinian parliament. Hamas and most of the Palestinian factions, including those who are members of his PLO, criticized the decision. Recently, Israeli officials said they would never allow Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem to take part in any Palestinian elections. Hamas said yesterday that it would take part in the elections if they were carried out based on the reconciliation agreement reached in 2017 in Cairo….
Fatah rejects Egyptian and Russian initiatives to meet Palestinian factions
MEMO 8 Feb — Fatah is reported to have rejected official invitations extended by Egypt and Russia to host Palestinian reconciliation meetings, Resala.net has reported. According to informed sources, Egypt has proposed a meeting in Cairo for the factions, but Fatah has declined as it does not want to meet Hamas anywhere. They added that the secular group which controls the Palestinian Authority will also inform the factions that it will not attend any meetings in Moscow, under the pretext that it does not want to hold new meetings with the Islamic Resistance Movement. The Palestinian factions have all received official initiations from Russia to visit Moscow in early April.
Meanwhile, Hamas and Islamic Jihad will meet with Egyptian intelligence officials to discuss the deteriorating situation, especially the PA’s cutting of its employees’ salaries in Gaza. The same sources added that the meetings will be attended by other Palestinian factions.
Israel agrees to reopen economic agreements with Palestinians
Globes 7 Feb by Dan Zaken — Palestinian source: French President Emmanuel Macron will host talks on revising the Paris agreements of 1994 governing economic relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority — Palestinian, international, and Israeli sources confirm that Israel has agreed in principle to a request by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to reconsider the Paris economic agreements signed by the PA and Israel in 1994. These agreements, which were an appendix to the Oslo Accords, have governed economic relations between Israel and the PA for the past 25 years….
New West Bank mall touts coexistence, sparks protest
RAMALLAH, (Al-Monitor) 1 Feb by Ahmad Melhem — A new shopping center in the Atarot Industrial Zone, between Ramallah and Jerusalem, has Palestinians grappling with how to respond to it. Atarot Mall, built by the Israeli supermarket magnate Rami Levy on the western side of the separation wall, is promising high-quality goods at low prices and jobs for Jews, Muslims and Christians. Many, however, see the mall as a threat to Palestinian-owned shops in East Jerusalem and have called for Palestinian merchants and consumers to boycott it. The shopping center, inaugurated Jan. 11, is part of a chain that also has branches in Israeli settlements on the West Bank and in Jerusalem. What differentiates the Atarot branch is its location on Route 60, the highway that separates the northern and southern parts of the West Bank and is used by Palestinians as well as Israeli settlers. Also of note is that Palestinian merchants from Jerusalem have purchased or rented space in the mall, which will have a reported 50 stores. The shopping center embodies Levy’s policy of promoting economic coexistence and normalization between Jews and Arabs….
Report: 57 violations against Palestinian press in January
MEMO 7 Feb — The Palestinian press was subject to 57 violations during January, 36 of which were committed by the Israeli occupation and 21 by Palestinian authorities, a reported issued yesterday revealed. The report, which was issued by the Palestinian Centre for Development and Press Freedoms, said that the violations against Palestinian press freedoms increased in January, compared to December, when 47 violations were recorded, including 32 committed by the Israeli occupation. According to the report, the Israeli occupation committed 22 violations against Palestinian press freedoms in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, while 14 were carried out in the Gaza Strip. In some cases, journalists were shot by the Israeli live fire. The report revealed that the Israeli occupation had used 11 Palestinian journalists as human shields in two separate incidents in the occupied West Bank….
Israeli PM Netanyahu’s rival talks of possible West Bank pullout
Al Jazeera 6 Feb — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s main rival in the upcoming April election has raised the possibility of pulling back from the occupied West Bank, saying his country should “find a way” to end its control over the Palestinians. Benny Gantz, a former armed forces chief of staff, spoke positively of Israel’s 2005 pullout from the Gaza Strip in an interview published on Wednesday, his first since launching his election campaign last week. The Gaza withdrawal had been “approved by the Israeli government and implemented by the army and settlers in a painful but good way,” he told the Yediot Aharonot newspaper. “[One should] learn from it and apply it to other places,” he said, adding: “We need to find a way in which we’re not controlling other people.” With peace talks frozen throughout most of Netanyahu’s decade-long rule, Gantz’s comments were welcomed by the Palestinians … Gantz did not explicitly mention the West Bank in his remarks and refrained from outlining conditions for any pullback from the Palestinian territory … He pledged to keep the strategic Jordan Valley area of the occupied West Bank under Israeli rule, along with the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights and occupied East Jerusalem. Although he did not say so in the interview, Gantz could support a withdrawal from wildcat outposts that are not approved by the Israeli authorities … Gantz’s comments drew criticism from right-wing Israeli parties….
Palestinians reject invitation to attend US Mideast meeting in Poland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) 8 Feb – Palestinian officials have been invited to a U.S. conference on the Middle East hosted by Poland next week, a senior U.S. official said on Friday, but top Palestinian officials said they would not attend. The senior administration official told reporters White House senior adviser Jared Kushner would discuss plans for peace between the Palestinians and Israelis at the event … “As noted we have asked the Palestinian Authority to send representatives to this event,” the U.S. official said … “We would very much welcome the Palestinian Authority’s perspectives during the discussion, but I do want to emphasize this is not a negotiation but a discussion, and we look forward to fostering a constructive conversation in Warsaw,” he added. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat quickly rejected the invitation, writing on Twitter: “Regarding statements that we have been invited, we can say that only today there was some contact from the Polish side. “Our position remains clear: We are not going to attend this conference and reiterate that we have not mandated anyone to talk on behalf of Palestine.”… In a separate tweet, Hussein Al-Sheikh, a senior Palestinian Authority official, also rejected the invitation, saying only the Palestine Liberation Organization could speak on behalf of the Palestinian people … The State Department has said more than 40 countries will attended the conference in Warsaw from Feb. 12 to 14.
US abruptly cuts millions in scholarships to Palestinian students between semesters
albawaba 28 Jan by Ty Joplin — On Jan 23, a representative from the U.S. government-funded Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), a body that awards full scholarships to students from the Middle East, told a gathering of Palestinian recipients from the American University of Beirut AUB) that their funding was being cut off, effective Jan 31. The passage of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act at the end of 2018 has mandated organizations like MEPI to halt funding for initiatives that benefit people from Gaza and the West Bank by Feb 1, when the law goes into effect. The decision primarily affects AUB, the Lebanese American University (LAU) and the American University of Cairo (AUC). As of press time, AUB is the only university that has committed to finding alternate means of funding Palestinian students’ educations. Others are now being forced to consider dropping out and returning home with no guarantee they will be able to finish their degrees …
The abrupt announcement has sent shockwaves of panic and uncertainty for dozens of Palestinian scholars: many recall being horrified that funding for their education was being used as a political tool. “It was then that I was informed of one of the worst news I have ever been affected by. My Palestinian friends and I have been cut from the Middle Eastern Partnership Initiative – Tomorrow’s Leaders scholarship,” recalls Jude Al Qalawi, a scholarship recipient, in a lengthy Facebook post detailing the meeting and its aftermath. “The scholarship of my dreams. The one I spent all my academic life trying to land, and when I did I had rested knowing I’ve made it… and now they cut any form of higher education aid to Palestinians; one being the scholarship I am a part [sic] of,” she added. “Hearing this deprived me of hope, vision, goals and potential. I had felt like I am done trying with this world. It felt as though, wherever I went, wherever I tried, the life will be sucked out of me for being, what I feel so honored to call myself, Palestinian.”….
Israel lobby fakes campus anti-Semitism, say US journalists
MEMO 8 Feb — Details of how pro-Israeli lobby groups have fabricated accusations of anti-Semitism on US college campuses in order to incite official crackdowns against Palestine solidarity activism were revealed earlier in the week during a political talk show hosted by prominent American journalist Chris Hedges. The author and a visiting Princeton university lecturer discussed the Israeli lobby with co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah and journalist Max Blumenthal, on his talk show “On Contact”. Discussing the Al Jazeera documentary on the workings of the Israeli lobby, the journalists described what they said was a “false crises” created by a network of pro-Israeli lobby groups working with Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Israeli embassies “to lay a factual basis to make federal civil rights complaints or lawsuits that can then be used to force university administrations to muzzle students and teachers.”…. Watch part one of the show here and part two here
Partly-animated Gaza film wins best documentary at Paris awards
i24NEWS 5 Feb — An Italian-made documentary on a Palestinian family from the Gaza Strip that saw many of its members killed during the territory’s 2009 war with Israel came in first at a foreign press film awards in Paris on Monday. Director Stefano Savona’s “Samouni Road” won best documentary at the annual ceremony after receiving glowing reviews at the Cannes Film Festival last year. It took Savona nine years to research what is now referred to as the “Zeitoun incident,” where 29 Palestinian civilians in Gaza were killed in an Israeli special forces operation….
‘Gaza’ documentary wins 33rd Spain Goya Award
MEMO 5 Feb — A Spanish film about the situation in the besieged Palestinian enclave, Gaza, won the prestigious Goya Award 2019 on Sunday. “Gaza” which was directed by Julio Pérez del Campo and produced by Carles Bover Martíne, is a documentary which highlights the plight of Palestinians in the occupied enclave as they go about their everyday lives and try to survive. The film takes viewers on a journey through Gaza’s streets, introduces them to its people and gives details of his history under occupation. In his acceptance speech, del Campo dedicated the win to “all the people who have kept alive the struggle of the Palestinian people. For those who are among us and those who are not.” “I believe that many things can be done from the world of culture, but the first is not to legitimise countries that systematically violate human rights.””Long live the struggle of the Palestinian people,” he added.
‘They threatened us’: award-winning ‘Gaza’ filmmakers faced censorship from Jewish groups
RT 7 Feb — The director of a Goya Award-winning documentary ‘Gaza: A look into the eyes of barbarism’ says members of the Jewish community repeatedly used threats to get screenings scrapped in a bid to suppress the film. “Israel uses its Jewish organizations which tried to censor our film… they tried to do it at various festivals and sometimes they succeeded, even when the film was already on the shortlist. We received many threats,” director Julio Perez told RT. “We started planning to make this film after the last Israeli army invasion when lots of people in Gaza were killed.” The film faced adversity from the beginning and the production crew had to beguile Israeli authorities just to gain access, under the pretense that they were conducting research into Gaza’s agricultural industry. “That’s how we got there, but that wasn’t easy at all,” Perez explained. “The thing is, there’s a total legitimization of Israel’s actions and Israeli apartheid.”….
FMs of 5 countries express regret at Israel’s decision to expel TIPH
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 2 Feb — The Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), Antonio Guterres, noted on Saturday a joint statement issued by the Foreign Ministers of Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey following Israel’s decision not to renew the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH). A statement issued by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, said “He is grateful to the TIPH’s contributing countries and the service of their respective observers over the past 22 years. He further hopes that an agreement can be found by the parties to preserve the TIPH’s long-standing and valuable contribution to conflict prevention and the protection of Palestinians in Hebron.” … The statement continued “We are concerned that the Israeli government’s decision undermines one of the few established mechanisms for conflict resolution between Israelis and Palestinians and may therefore have a negative impact on the situation. In this regard, we stress Israel’s obligations under international law to protect the people in Hebron and in other parts of the occupied Palestinian territory, and its duty to ensure accountability for violations thereof.”….
US blocks UN Security Council’s statement on Israel’s ending TIPH
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Feb — Members of the United Nations Security Council, with the exception of the United States, expressed regret in a closed session held on Wednesday at Israel’s decision to end the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), an international civilian observer mission based in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron. While the United States has argued that it is the right of both sides not to renew the mandate of the mission, established over 20 years ago following a massacre by an Israeli settler of some 30 Palestinian civilians while praying in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, Kuwait and Indonesia, sponsors of a statement expressing regret of the Council members at the Israeli move, argued that it is not Israel’s right to end the TIPH mission….
Mayor with Palestinian roots becomes president of El Salvador
Days of Palestine 4 Feb — Nayib Bukele, whose family is originally from the occupied Palestinian territories, won El Salvador’s presidential elections, getting more votes than his three rivals combined to usher out the two parties that dominated politics for a quarter century in the crime-plagued Central America nation. Born in 1981, Bukele was elected as the mayor of San Salvador in 2015. His family had migrated to Latin America from occupied Jerusalem in the early 20th century. His father Armando Bukele Kattán is a prominent imam in San Salvador…. [Antonio Saca, president of El Salvador from 2004 to 2009, is also of Palestinian descent.]