Soldiers assault a blind man in his home near Bethlehem
[interview (Arabic) with the injured man] IMEMC 20 Feb –Israeli soldiers assaulted, on Wednesday at dawn, a blind Palestinian man who also suffers from a kidney disease, after invading his home in Doha town, south of Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian, Monther Mezher, told WAFA News Agency the soldiers stormed his home and started a violent search of the property, before beating him up on his head, shoulders and other parts of his body. From his hospital bed, Mezher said that, besides his visual impairment, he cannot walk without help, and that he also has a kidney disease, requiring dialysis. He stated that he lost his eyesight fifteen years ago and has been undergoing dialysis for the last eleven years. “We heard some noises inside our house, my wife and I thought it was one of our kids who might have woken up, we had no idea who was inside our home and what they were doing,” he said, “We first thought that they were thieves, and they started beating me up while shouting at me ‘we are the Israeli Defense Force’.” … Mezher’s sister told WAFA that she rushed to the property to see her brother and his family and was shocked to see how her blind brother was beaten up and all bloody, and how the home was ransacked. “When I saw what they have done to my brother, his family and home, I saw how those soldiers were behaving… like wild beasts, not human beings,” she added….
Photos: Protest in Hebron
HEBRON, WEST BANK – FEBRUARY 22: Palestinians stage a protest marking the anniversary of Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in 1994 when Jewish extremist Baruch Goldstein gunned down 29 Palestinian worshippers, in Hebron, West Bank on February 22, 2019. (Mamoun Wazwaz – Anadolu Agency)
Injuries among Palestinians as Israeli settlers storm Joseph’s Tomb near Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 20 Feb – Ten Palestinians were injured early Wednesday from Israeli gunfire as hundreds of Israeli settlers forced their way into Joseph’s Tomb in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, said security sources. Israeli forces escorted a convoy of buses packed with hundreds of fanatic Jewish settlers into the site, located in the Palestinian-controlled area, sparking confrontations with Palestinian residents. Soldiers opened fire on Palestinians protesting the raid and attempting to block settlers’ access to the site, injuring two Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets. One of the casualties, identified as Mutasem Saqf Al-Heit, a journalist, was hit with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the abdomen. Both casualties were rushed to Rafidia Hospital for treatment. Soldiers also showered protesters with tear gas canisters, causing eight protesters to suffocate. All suffocation cases received first aid treatment at the scene.
West Bank school attacked by settlers, the second time in one week
NABLUS (WAFA) 21 Feb – For the second time in one week, Israeli settlers today attacked with stones ‘Urif secondary school, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and soldiers joined in the attack, according to Adel Amer, from the ‘Urif village council. He told WAFA that a group of settlers threw rocks at the school shortly after classes were over while soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the students as they were leaving the school. This is the second time on one week settlers attack Urif school, he said. The settlers also attacked homes in the area leading to confrontations with the local residents. There were no reports of injuries.
Opinion: A violent gang of young settlers haunts a Palestinian village / Gideon Levy & Alex Levac
[behind paywall] Haaretz 21 Feb — Nothing prevents Palestinians from returning to their lands in this area of the West Bank – except for the so-called hilltop youth that was supposedly expelled from the area 14 years ago — …From the front door of his home, shepherd Mufid Shakehr Abu Hussein  gazes fearfully at the hill looming above, forbidding and foreboding. The intruders could be spotted lurking behind a row of trees. Since the violent assault he suffered in December he hasn’t dared graze his flock on the hillside pasture land. Dozens of sheep and goats are locked in the pen in the yard of an adjacent structure, a centuries-old stone ruin. Burqa should be a heritage site instead of a poverty-stricken, partially neglected village that lives in fear of settler terror. Mufid and his wife Yusra, 64, have eight children. He speaks Hebrew from the days when he built homes in Ramat Aviv, an upscale Tel Aviv neighborhood…. December 26, a Wednesday, is etched deeply in Abu Hussein’s memory … A volley of stones rained down from high up on the hill, one of them striking the shepherd in the head. He fell to the ground and blacked out for a few minutes. The settlers fled; Abu Hussein says he’s certain they ran off because they thought they had killed him … Yusra, seeing the flock return without the shepherd, was seized by panic and rushed out, finding her husband slowly descending, bleeding from his head. She helped him get home and called their son Amar, the principal of a local school, who called a taxi to take his father to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, where he underwent surgery. The medical report by the Palestinian Health Ministry states that Abu Hussein suffered serious skull fractures. He was hospitalized in intensive care for two days and spent another two days in a regular ward before being discharged. About a week later, he began to suffer from convulsions and a tingling sensation in his left leg; he was hospitalized again for four days. Since then, he has been taking medication to control the convulsions but is experiencing dizzy spells….
Shepherds chased out of herding pastures in Jordan Valley
OUJA, JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA) 21 Feb – Shepherds herding their sheep in the Ouja area of the Israeli-occupied Jordan Valley were chased out of the open pastures by Israeli forces for no apparent reason, according to a local source. Aref Daraghmeh, a rights activist, told WAFA that soldiers forced the shepherds, who were accompanied in their herding by solidarity members, out of the pastures and prevented them from herding in that area. He said that soldiers’ harassment of shepherds has become a daily occurrence in the Jordan Valley, which Israel is trying to empty of its Palestinian residents while increasing its Israeli settler population
UPDATE: Israeli settlers attack Palestinian greengrocer in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian, on Sunday, near the Burqa village, in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, according to local sources. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Homish pulled up next to a group of Palestinian greengrocers in front of the settlement and attacked one of them with wooden sticks. Sources pointed out that the Israeli settlers wore masks over their faces and drove a Citroen vehicle. Following the attack, the settlers quickly drove off back into the Homish settlement. The Palestinian greengrocer’s identity and medical condition remained unknown. Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that the kidnapping is part of the increased Israeli settler violence towards Palestinians in the area.
OCHA: Israeli settler violence continues to rise in occupied Palestine
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — The uptrend in Israeli settler violence against Palestinian civilians and property in the occupied West Bank recorded in recent years has continued since the beginning of 2019, with a weekly average of seven attacks resulting in injuries or property damage, compared with an average of five in 2018 and three in 2017, according to OCHA’s report. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its bi-weekly report on protection of civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory covering the first two weeks of February that “vandalism of Palestinian property and uprooting of trees were carried out by both Israeli settlers and authority.”….
Settlers in Kfar Etzion blame neighboring Palestinians after crop destroyed
Times of Israel 17 Feb by Jacob Magid — Israelis from the Kfar Etzion settlement were accusing neighboring Palestinians on Sunday of having chopped down some 200 of their grapevines and cherry trees planted in a field adjacent to the community, south of Jerusalem. Leaders of the West Bank kibbutz referred to the incident as a hate crime. Police said they were investigating. The land, owned by the nonprofit KKL-JNF Jewish National Fund, is worked by residents of the kibbutz. Pointing a finger at the residents of the neighboring village of Beit Ummar as responsible, Gush Etzion Field School head Yaron Rosental said that residents of the settlements have been abandoned by the government and municipality in their fight to maintain control of Jewish-owned lands in the area … The incident came three days after an apparent hate crime was reported in the town of Iskaka outside the northern West Bank Palestinian city of Nablus. There, residents discovered some 20 cars spray-painted with the Hebrew phrase “Traitors cover up terror attacks.” Other vehicles were daubed with the name of terror victim Ori Ansbacher, as well as those of Hadas Tapuhi and the Kaduri family, whose families charge they were victims of Palestinian terrorism.
At least 40 Palestinians detained, including 26 from Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 20 Feb – Israeli forces detained last night and this morning at least 40 Palestinians from various parts of the West Bank, including 26 from occupied East Jerusalem, 22 of them arrested last night at Al-Aqsa Mosque during confrontations, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a press statement. Israeli police attacked Palestinian Muslim worshippers inside Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during a protest against Israeli closing of a section of Al-Aqsa Mosque known as Bab al-Rahmeh and detained 22 worshippers, including the director of the PPS Jerusalem office, Nasser Qaos. Hamza Qutteineh, an attorney, confirmed that 14 of the detainees were referred today to the Israeli Magistrate Court in Jerusalem in order to decide whether to keep them in prison or release them. Four other Palestinians from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Eissawiya were also rounded up, said the PPS.
Meanwhile, Israeli military vehicles raided Qalandia refugee camp and al-Eizariya town, north and east of Jerusalem respectively and one from each area. In Hebron district in the south of the West Bank, PPS said eight Palestinians were detained, six of them from ‘Arroub refugee camp, north of Hebron.…
In bid to ease Palestinian mobility, Israel upgrades West Bank checkpoint
The Media Line 22 Feb by Dima Abumaria — Israel has overhauled with new technology the Qalandiya checkpoint—the main crossing between the northern West Bank and Jerusalem—in a move expected to significantly enhance the daily commute of about 7,000 Palestinians. Israel’s Civil Administration, in conjunction with the military, started the $11-million project a year and a half ago. “We aim to ease the burdens on the Palestinians entering Israel with new technological mechanisms,” Ala’ Saad, head of the Jerusalem Suburbs Office, said at a press conference to unveil the upgraded passage. The ultimate goal is to reduce wait times for both Palestinian workers and Arab residents of eastern Jerusalem, he explained. “We have planned for this project for years now, and for its second phase we aim to increase the lanes around the crossing to ease traffic … Another worker made clear his preference would be to remove barriers altogether, before qualifying that “the enhanced crossing is going to make our lives much easier and effective. I lose a lot of time at checkpoints and at least this will help.” …
According to Nabeel Shaath, a high-ranking Palestinian official, the upgrade “proves that Israelis don’t have any intention of withdrawing from the West Bank” and that “the new crossing point reflects Israel’s hegemony over Jerusalem, to a point that the borders won’t be clear anymore … Qalandiya now contains two reserved areas for the sick or elderly, and also has more entryways for those opting to cross on foot.
Inspired by Cuba: Palestinian doctor helps refugees in the West Bank
BETHLEHEM (PNN) 20 Feb by Alethea Kanas — Even though “Project Cuba” is only four month old, it was still enough to offer 300 free medical visits for Palestinian refugees living in ‘Aida camp in Bethlehem, home to 5,000 Palestinians who were expelled from their homes after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and the place where Dr. Mohammed Abu Srour was born and raised. Despite all the difficulties, he got a scholarship, traveled to Cuba and made the dream of studying medicine at the University of Medical Sciences of La Habana, one of the most prestigious in the area. For eight years he lived far from the family, faced barriers such as the language and the sacrifice of his parents, who with great sweat managed to cover his son’s health and food expenses during this time. After finishing his specialization and residency in Pediatrics, Mohammed returned to live in Palestine and today works at the Baby Caritas hospital, which is in the same city where he was born. But the pediatrician felt that he needed to do a little more for where he was born and suffered during childhood and adolescence with a rather precarious health system. That is why in October 2018 Mohammed materialized the idea of the project, which alone would provide medical care to those who need it. “The idea came especially from my love for Cuba’s health system, which is based on family medicine. I learned this during my studies and wanted to put into practice attending the Palestinians who really need it, “he said. Between shifts at the hospital where he works professionally and a few sleepless nights, Mohammed manages to reconcile the agenda and visit the families served by the project….
Study says attacks on infrastructure in Gaza and West Bank exact human cost
Duke Today 18 Feb — Israel’s targeting of agricultural, water and energy infrastructures in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has had dire impacts on human welfare and livelihoods in both locations, a new report by researchers at Duke University and the University of New Hampshire shows. The report is based on an original database that identifies 982 incidents between 2006 and 2017 in which Israeli forces, agencies or settlers damaged, destroyed, disabled or restricted access to sites and structures that provided food, clean water and other essential services to Palestinians …
The systemic use of legal restrictions, permit denials and other indirect forms of oppression is an example of “slow violence,” Sowers explained, referring to a term Princeton University scholar Rob Nixon coined in 2011 to describe environmental damage that unfolds gradually and largely out of sight of the public. “Slow violence has been especially widely used in the West Bank,” Sowers said. “It includes a range of practices, from the theft of electrical generators to the denial of construction permits to build water systems for Palestinian villages, as well as refusals to connect them to existing systems. Collectively, such actions have contributed to the fragmentation of the Palestinian population into a series of isolated, donor-dependent enclaves.”….
History graduate shows West Bank off the beaten track
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 21 Feb by Aziza Nofal — The culturally rich landscape of the West Bank has long attracted local and international hikers, but Mohammed Abu Hashhash, a history graduate, wants to cast the spotlight on 144 lesser-known routes that showcase the natural and cultural landscape of his country. For the last seven months, Hashhash has been working on a guide book that he plans to call “An Expert Trek Guide of the West Bank,” hoping it would be instrumental in boosting eco-tourism in the region….
In video: Palestinians open Al-Aqsa gate sealed since 2003
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 22 Feb — Palestinian worshipers and activists were able to break the seal-off imposed on al-Rahma Gate (Gate of Mercy) in the eastern part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, on Friday noon, which has been sealed off since 2003 by an Israeli decision. Palestinians raised the Palestinian flag as they called slogans in support of Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Hundreds of Palestinians performed Friday prayers inside the al-Rahma Gate building and in the compound. Israeli forces detained at least four Palestinians, on Thursday night, while dozens performed prayers in the compound in rejection of the seal-off. The four detainees were identified by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) in Jerusalem as activists Fadi Matwar, Jihad Qaws, Murad Misk and Hijazi Abu Sbeih.
The al-Rahma Gate is a big building that lies to the east of the Al-Aqsa compound; the Israeli authorities sealed the building in 2003 as it was the headquarters of the Islamic Heritage Committee; Israel had said at the time that the building was being used for political activities. In 2017, an Israeli court ordered that the building be closed until further notice. Earlier this week, Israeli forces had previously assaulted Palestinian worshipers performing prayers at the gate in protest of the seal-off.
For third day in a row, Palestinians remove metal gate at Al-Aqsa
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 20 Feb – Palestinians removed tonight a metal gate Israeli police had placed at the entrance to a building in Al-Aqsa Mosque’s Bab al-Rahmeh on Sunday and held prayer in the area, according to witnesses. Dozens of worshippers held the prayers at Bab al-Rahmeh, one of the gates of Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem’s Old City in a show of defiance to Israeli attempts to prevent Muslims from being in that area and after calls were made to hold all five daily prayers at Bab al-Rahmeh. Palestinians fear Israel is planning to turn that area and the building into a Jewish temple in the heart of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam, after Jewish fanatics were seen in recent days and weeks holding religious rituals in that area under police protection. Police had also attempted to keep Muslim worshippers away from that area at all times, provoking as a result the strong Palestinian reaction to the closure of the metal gate….
Jordan MPs demand expulsion of Israeli envoy over Al-Aqsa dispute
Al Jazeera 20 Feb — A committee within Jordan’s parliament called for the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador from the country in response to the latest measures taken by the Israeli army in occupied East Jerusalem. On Monday, Israeli soldiers placed locks and metal chains on al-Rahma gate of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and prevented hundreds of Palestinian worshippers from entering the site, while several were arrested inside the compound. In a statement read to Jordan’s parliament on Tuesday, the Palestine Parliamentary Committee also called for the return of Jordan’s ambassador from Tel Aviv … The move to counter the latest Israeli measures has yet to garner an official response from Jordanian officials…
Israeli police installed locks on the gate in response to members of Jerusalem’s Religious Endowments Authority performing prayers there last Thursday [14 Feb], spokesperson Firas al-Dibs of the endowments authority told Palestinian news agency Ma‘an on Monday. On Tuesday, Israeli forces reopened [the] gate, located on the east side of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The Jordanian MPs’ statement acknowledged “royal efforts” that led to the removal of the chains. According to local media reports, Palestinians performed their prayers outside the gate to pressure Israeli police into reopening the gate. In videos circulated in local media, Israeli police were seen beating and physically assaulting Palestinian worshippers as they attempted to enter the site.
Israeli police detain senior Fatah members in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 23 Feb – Israeli police detained early this morning senior Fatah member, Nasser Qous, after raiding his home inside the Old City of Jerusalem, according to local sources. They told WAFA that police also raided the home of Ali Ajaj, 65, and detained him. Ajaj and Qous led the effort to reopen the gate to Bab al-Rahma building inside Al-Aqsa Mosque compound where thousands of Palestinians performed the Friday Muslim prayer inside it after it was closed at police orders for 16 years. Police arrested more than 60 Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem over the last few days, most of them Fatah activists, for defying Israeli police orders and reopening Bab al-Rahma building for Muslim prayers.
Israeli soldiers kill one child, injure 41 Palestinians, in Gaza
[with video] IMEMC 22 Feb — 48th Friday of the Great March of Return: …Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, has reported that a child, identified as Yousef Sa‘id ad-Daya, 14, suffered a life-threatening injury, after the soldiers shot him with a live round in the heart. He said that the child’s heart stopped, and the urgent care physicians managed to revive it, but he remained in a critical condition until he succumbed to his wounds. Yousef was from the Zeitoun neighborhood, in Gaza city.
Dr. al-Qedra stated that the soldiers shot 26 Palestinians with live fire, and added that two other Palestinians suffered serious injuries. One of the wounded Palestinians is a volunteer medic, identified as Fares al-Qedra, who was shot with a gas bomb in the head, east of Khan Younis, in southern Gaza Strip. Media sources in Gaza said the soldiers fired a barrage of live rounds at random, in addition to firing high-velocity gas bombs against the protesters on Palestinian lands across the eastern parts of the coastal region, in Gaza city, Jabalia, al-Boreij refugee camp, Khan Younis and Rafah, in northern, central and southern Gaza Strip.
Israeli forces injure 6 Palestinians, including child, in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Feb — Six Palestinians were injured as Israeli forces suppressed protesters during night protests, on late Thursday, east of Rafah, in the southern besieged Gaza Strip. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, five Palestinians were injured with Israeli live ammunition, including one child who sustained critical injuries. In addition, a 16-year-old Palestinian was injured with a tear-gas canister. The ministry added that injured Palestinians were transferred to hospitals nearby to receive necessary medical treatment. Dozens of Palestinians gathered near the Israel-Gaza security border fence and launched incendiary balloons towards southern Israel. The past month, 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 loud speakers, while marching towards the border with Israel. These protesters are also known as the “Night Confusion” unit.
Israeli forces injure fisherman, detain four others in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Feb — Three Palestinian fishermen were injured when Israeli navy boats attacked them while sailing south of the besieged Gaza Strip, according to the fishermen. Head of the Palestinian Fishermen Union in Gaza, Zakariya Bakr, told Ma‘an that the Israeli navy detained four Palestinian fishermen 11 nautical miles off the coast of Khan Younis City in the southern Gaza Strip. Bakr identified the detainees as Khader Marwan al-Saidi, Muhammad Said al-Saidi, and brothers Haitham and Awni Tareq Bakr. Israeli forces confiscated the fishermen’s two boats after heavily opening fire at them. Meanwhile off the coast of Rafah, a Palestinian fisherman was injured after an Israeli naval forces boat ran into his fishing boat, causing damages to the boat as well. The injured fisherman, identified as Abdullah Hatem Abu Sulaima, was transferred to a hospital for treatment.
Israeli soldiers shoot two Palestinians in southern Gaza
IMEMC 21 Feb — Israeli soldiers shot, on Wednesday evening, two Palestinians near the perimeter fence, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the coastal region. Media sources said the soldiers, stationed across the perimeter fence, fired many live rounds at protesters on Palestinian lands, east of Khan Younis, wounding two young men in their legs, before they were rushed to Nasser Hospital in the city, suffering moderate wounds. The soldiers also fired many high-velocity gas bombs, causing many Palestinians to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. In related news, Israeli army drones fired missiles into agricultural lands, a motorcycle and a structure, east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza, causing property damage. According to Israeli sources, the army struck “a Hamas site in southern Gaza, after some Palestinians launched flammable balloons.”
Army injures 20 Palestinians in Gaza
IMEMC 20 Feb — Israeli soldiers attacked, Tuesday, the naval procession in the northern parts of the Gaza Strip, by firing many live rounds, high-velocity gas bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets at the nonviolent protesters, wounding at least twenty Palestinians. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, has confirmed that the soldiers injured twenty Palestinians, and caused many others to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. He added that the Palestinians who were shot with live rounds received the needed treatment before being moved to nearby hospitals, while the residents who suffered cuts and bruises, or the effects of teargas inhalation, received treatment in makeshift clinics. Like previous weeks, hundreds of Palestinian protested at shore areas in northern Gaza, while many boats sailed in territorial waters, to protest Israel’s ongoing siege on the coastal region.
Multiple arson balloons launched from Gaza; IDF hits Hamas post in response
Times of Israel 20 Feb by Judah Ari Gross — Arson balloon attacks continued for a second day on Wednesday, as at least three balloons launched from the Gaza Strip landed in Israel or exploded en route, according to one Gaza-bordering local council. In response, IDF aircraft fired at a group of Palestinians launching the incendiary devices, the Israeli military said Wednesday evening, calling the target a Hamas post from which the airborne devices were launched. No injuries were reported in the strikes east of the el-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza. A large bundled cluster of balloons carrying a cardboard model of a drone landed in a field in the Eshkol region on Wednesday afternoon, a spokesperson for the local council said. It was one of the largest airborne devices to reach Israel from the Palestinian territory in months….
First balloon-arson fire since November hits forest near Gaza
Haaretz 20 Feb by Almog Ben Zikri & Jack Khoury — A balloon-borne incendiary device sent from Gaza started a fire Tuesday in the Kissufim Forest near the Gaza border, the first such incident since November. The fire was fairly small and was put out quickly. The incendiary balloon comes a few days after Hamas approved a renewal of these attacks in light of stalled talks on lifting the closure of the Gaza Strip … Senior Hamas official Fathi Hamad said on Tuesday at a rally on Gaza’s northern beach that the continued closure on Gaza would lead to “an explosion.”….
Army injures seven Palestinians in Gaza
IMEMC 19 Feb — The Palestinian Health Ministry has reported that Israeli soldiers shot, on Monday evening, seven Palestinians, during protests on Palestinian lands near the perimeter fence, east of Gaza city. The Ministry started that the soldiers fired a barrage of live fire, wounding seven Palestinians in their lower limbs, in addition to causing many others to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. The seven injured Palestinians were moved to the Shifa Medical Center in Gaza, and their wounds have been described as moderate.
Israeli soldiers injure 19 Palestinians in Gaza
IMEMC 18 Feb — Israeli soldiers fired, on Sunday at night, several missiles and artillery shells into areas in northern Gaza and injured 19 Palestinians during protests near the fence; the Israeli army said one soldier was hurt by an explosive. The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said the 19 young men, were injured during protests near the fence, east of Jabalia, in northern Gaza. It added that the wounded Palestinians were moved to the Indonesian hospital, among them one who suffered life-threatening wounds. The army claimed that several Palestinian protesters “rolled burning tires at soldiers across the perimeter fence.”….
Qatar says it will no longer give controversial funds for Gaza electricity after April
The National 19 Feb — Qatar has told Gaza’s rulers Hamas that it will stop its monthly payments for the enclave’s electricity bill, largely regarded as an attempt to buy Palestinians’ silence for Israel, after April. Doha’s envoy to Gaza, Mohammad Al Emadi, told Hamas leaders that the Gulf state will not continue to fund power in the territory because Hamas was delaying work on infrastructure projects, Israeli media reported on Monday. The payments have been criticised by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gazan residents as a bid to buy Gaza’s silence amid weekly mass protests against Israel’s siege of the territory. The Qataris are seeking more progress on a power line from Israel into the strip that could double its power output. But Hamas is reticent to accept resources that enter from Israel because it gives the country, with which it has fought three wars since 2008, the ability to cut power whenever it wants. It appears that Doha is trying to pressure Hamas into going ahead with projects that come from Israel….
Palestinian Authority suspends pay for hundreds in Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 18 Feb — Hundreds of Palestinians have demonstrated in Gaza City, as protests proceed against the Palestinian Authority’s decision to suspend their salaries, as Abbas’s arbitrary procedures against Gaza continue. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has decided to stop paying salaries and social welfare to hundreds of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including many Fateh members, local sources say. Abbas and senior PA officials recently warned that they would impose severe sanctions on the Gaza Strip unless Hamas agreed to relinquish security and civilian control over the coastal enclave, under his conditions. The salaries of 400 hundred ex-detainees and 20 detainees being held in Israeli jails were suspended by the PA, in Ramallah, the Palestinian Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Commission in Gaza said. The salaries of 262 employees of the Ministry of Health were also slashed by the PA without reason, the Ministry of Health in Gaza reported….
Hamas takes control of Gaza goods crossing with Israel
GAZA CITY (AFP) 17 Feb — Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas took control of the Palestinian side of the enclave’s main goods crossing with Israel, the strip’s interior ministry and an official news agency said Sunday. Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 in a near civil war with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’ Fatah party. But it agreed to hand control of the crossings to the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in 2017, as part of a since-failed reconciliation attempt between the two parties. The PA administration at the goods crossing said Sunday that Hamas had “expelled (its) employees and banned them from entering the crossing”. Known to Israelis as Kerem Shalom and to Palestinians as the Kerem Abu Salem, the crossing in the south of the poverty-hit enclave has been a lifeline for Gazans, who have lived under a crippling Israeli blockade for more than a decade. Hamas confirmed PA employees had left the crossing. Security forces “put in place procedures dictated by security imperatives”, Gaza’s interior ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bozum said in a statement. “Palestinian Authority employees at the crossing have refused to cooperate on these procedures for a few days and today we were surprised by their departure,” he added. He said goods continued to pass through the crossing as normal….
UK ‘stepping up’ aid efforts for Gaza with ‘medical support’ as focus
Jewish News 17 Feb — The Department for International Development (DfID) has said it is “stepping up” its aid efforts in Gaza, with a focus on providing “additional medical support”. The announcement from International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt came on Thursday in response to a question in the House of Commons from the senior Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael. The Scottish MP said Israeli forces had shot and killed three Palestinian health workers “whilst trying to reach, treat and evacuate wounded demonstrators”. He added that another 600 health workers had been injured. Mordaunt said the Government “have stepped up our offer [of humanitarian aid work] in particular looking at providing additional medical support”.
Boxed in: The struggles of Gaza’s technology entrepreneurs
undark 20 Feb by Josie Glausiusz — On January 2017, Bassma Ali, the cofounder and business manager of GGateway, an information technology company based in Gaza, was invited to Laos to take part in three weeks of training offered by Digital Divide Data, an organization that provides career development opportunities for underserved communities. On the day of her departure from Gaza — the embattled 25-mile-long strip of land currently under a decade-long blockade by Israel and Egypt — Ali had to pass through three checkpoints to reach Israel … Even though Ali had applied two months earlier for an Israeli permit to leave Gaza with the help of a representative from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), her permit only reached her at Khamsa-Khamsa at 2:57 p.m., just three minutes before the closure of Erez. “I was running to reach the Israeli gate” half a mile away, Ali recalls. “When they closed the gate, I was in tears.” She eventually managed to cross the border later that day after an UNRWA aide intervened, but her ordeal didn’t end there … For the 1.8 million Palestinians living in Gaza, freedom of movement is a routine challenge. And for technology entrepreneurs and business owners whose livelihoods depend on interaction with the outside world, that challenge is especially daunting. “Living in Gaza is like facing a wall, all the time,” says Ali. …
Gaza’s ICT industry exports software products worth an estimated $10 million to $30 million per year, according to the Palestinian Information Technology Association of Companies. That is possible because selling software on the internet sidesteps the blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel and Egypt since 2007, when Hamas took power in Gaza.
Every day is fry-day in Gaza
MEMO 19 Feb by Mohammed Asad — A specialist factory has been set up in the besieged Gaza Strip to peel, cut and back potatoes and provide chips to local and international restaurants, and it’s run entirely by women. Rosetta factory manager, Riham Al-Madhoun, said the idea for the factory was thought up from the need to provide jobs to locals and protect Palestinian farmers. She said only women work in the factory because they are more detail-oriented and it provides them with a source of income for their families. Most, she says, are university graduates unable to work because of Gaza’s struggling economy as a result of the 12-year-old Israeli siege….
Opinion: Gazans aren’t abandoning their children at the border; They’re earning a living / Amira Hass
[behind paywall] Haaretz 18 Feb — Army brass reprimands Palestinians who choose to stay outside Gaza without permits and let their children return home alone following medical treatment. But what if that’s the only way the parents can find work? — … Abandoning children is a real phenomenon, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon, warned about a week ago in a post on his Arabic Facebook page … It’s good to know that a high-ranking senior representative of the military understands that leaving a sick child with a stranger is shocking, because every month the system which he is responsible for prevents parents from accompanying their sick children. As a result, they get medical treatment in the company of strangers or relatives whom they don’t really know. We should hope that as a result of these expressions of concern, the phenomenon of sending Palestinian children for medical treatments all alone, or accompanied by a stranger with whom they are unfamiliar, will end … The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories intended to denounce and finds himself denounced. Who is responsible for the fact that there’s no work in the Gaza Strip, if not the policy designed to sever the residents of the Strip from the rest of the Palestinian population — and officers like Abu Rokon who faithfully implement it? Who caused the situation of the residents of the Strip to deteriorate to the point at which they become desperate, unemployed beggars, to the point at which there are also some people who disappear and whose families don’t know where they are?….
Israel won’t let Gazan visit stroke-victim father in West Bank. The reason? He isn’t sick enough
[behind paywall] Haaretz 16 Feb by Amira Hass — According to Israeli criteria, travel permits are only granted if first-degree relatives are either dead or dying — …Mohammed, 57, speaks with difficulty because he suffered a stroke in June. Since then, requests by his eldest son Shadi for an Israeli permit to leave Gaza and visit him have been rejected. Mohammed’s condition isn’t dire enough for him to be visited, according to the reply from the Israeli Coordination and Liaison Office, headed by Col. Iyad Sarhan. What is true is true: Mohammed isn’t dead, nor is he dying. He’s fully conscious. When the sun is out he’s brought out into the yard, which is full of plants. He needs to be lifted and taken to the bathroom and shower. His wife suffers from a slipped disc, so for lifting him she needs the help of two cousins who live in a nearby building. “We have no family but them, nor do we have any friends. It’s not like in Gaza where everyone helps you….
New soccer team gives hope to young cancer patients in Gaza
GAZA (Reuters) 20 Feb by Nidal al-Mughrabi — Fourteen-year-old Moatasem al-Nabeeh suffers from a brain tumor. A new youth soccer team set up in Gaza for young Palestinian cancer patients has given him new hope. “I am happier now, I play and I made new friends,” said al-Nabeeh. “They told us we can play, defy the disease and defeat it,” he added as he hit the pitch for push-ups in his bright yellow and blue uniform. Champions Academy, one of Gaza’s biggest soccer schools, began setting up the team up five months ago and in February “Team Hope” kicked off. Its 18 players, aged between 12 and 17, have all been diagnosed with cancer, and compete against other, non-patient teams in the academy’s league….
Israel sends ‘bugged shoes’ with microphones in the soles to Gaza to spy on Hamas
MAILONLINE 18 Feb by William Cole — Hamas have claimed Israel are sending bugged shoes to spy on people in a war-torn part of the country. The militant group, who control much of the Gaza Strip, found ‘secret electronic chips’ sewn inside the soles of shoes. They claim that an unknown number of the suspicious items were on their way to market in a nearby town. Faction members of political group Fatah said they stopped the boots coming through the Kerem Shalom Crossing at Gaza’s southern border with Israel. They sent the boots to Hamas for examination, who claim that they contain recording devices. Some Palestinian online news sources claimed Hamas said Israel was behind the shipment and was trying to spy on members of the ‘Palestinian resistance’….
Easing the suffering of pregnant women at Al Sahaba Clinic in Gaza
GAZA (ANERA.org) 21 Feb– Al Sahaba medical complex in Gaza City specializes in offering medical services to women at reproductive age and beyond … Providing proper maternity services in Gaza can present challenges. Dr. Siam points out that the Palestinian territory suffers from continual shortages of medicines and medical supplies. Should complications arise during pregnancy, patients have great difficulty in getting permits to access medical treatment outside of Gaza. Women in Gaza rely heavily on Al Sahaba, where a large percentage of staff are women. Given the conservative culture of many communities in the area, having access to female medical practitioners is vitally important. Staff are available to offer counseling and treatment around the clock.
Qatar Charity completes QR31mn fishing support project in Gaza
ReliefWeb 21 Feb — Qatar Charity’s (QC) office in the Gaza Strip celebrated the completion of the Emergency Support Project for the Fisheries Sector. This project comes within the framework of the Programme for the Promotion and Protection of Food Security in Palestine, in cooperation with the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture, at the cost of more than QR31mn, with funding from the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs … The project, which benefited more than 5,000 fishermen, managed to build four fish hatcheries with a capacity of 130 cubic meters.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
In photos: Israel evicts Palestinian family, hands over home to settlers
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — Israeli forces and police evicted a Palestinian family, on Sunday, from their home in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, after Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that the home was built on land that allegedly belongs to Israeli settlers. According to local sources, Israeli forces and police physically assaulted and forcibly evicted Hatem Abu Assab along with his family from their home in the Old City. Sources said that the Abu Assab family have been living in the stone-made home over 65 years, however, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that they did not own the plot of land on which their home was built upon and hence ruled for their eviction …
Hatem’s wife, Rania, told Ma’an “They (Israel) took my home, my memories, my dreams. They took my husband and my son. The Israeli settler is inside my home, while I’m thrown out.” Rania watched as Israeli settlers entered her home while soldiers assaulted her and held her back, and she said “Israeli forces raided my home with no prior notice. We thought they came to deliver a new notice regarding our home, but to our surprise, we were given little time to abandon our home.” Rania added that Israeli forces and police physically assaulted her family, particularly her husband and son, and detained them.
Palestinian family evicted from Jerusalem home to make room for settlers
+972 Mag 18 Feb by Aviv Tatarsky — The Abu Assab family home, located in Jerusalem’s Old City, is expected to be occupied by right-wing Jewish Israeli settlers. Nearly 200 Palestinian families in East Jerusalem are under threat of eviction by settler organizations — Israeli police evicted a Palestinian family from their home in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City Sunday morning. The Abu Assab family had lived in the home for nearly 70 years. Seven members of the family, including a four-year-old child, were evicted on Sunday, with police arresting two other family members. They will now be forced to find a new place to live. The Abu Assab family originally lived in the Baka neighborhood West Jerusalem, from which they were expelled by Israeli forces during the 1948 war. In the 1950s, the government of Jordan, which controlled the West Bank and East Jerusalem at the time, settled the family in a home in the Old City, which had been owned by Jews before the war. After the 1967 war, when Israel occupied and illegally annexed East Jerusalem, the family continued to live in the home as protected tenants. Five years ago, a settler organization initiated eviction proceedings against the family, and an Israeli court ultimately ordered their eviction. Under a 1970 Israeli law, Israeli Jews are allowed to sue to reclaim properties they owned in East Jerusalem that they were forced to abandon in 1948. Palestinians who owned properties in West Jerusalem and Israel who fled in 1948, however, have no legal avenue for reclaiming those properties — even if they live in Israeli-controlled territory today….
Israel seizes, razes land in north of West Bank for settlement expansion
QALQILYA (WAFA) 18 Feb — Israeli forces razed land in Siniria and Mas’ha villages, south of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilya, according to Siniria head of village council Mohammad al-Sheikh. He said Israel razed the land as a prelude to expanding the four illegal settlements built on land that belongs to the two villages. He said hundreds of dunums of land were razed without informing their owners of the decision to seize this land.
Israel razes large tract of farmland in north of West Bank for settlement expansion
NABLUS (WAFA) 18 Feb – Israeli military bulldozers razed today a large tract of Palestinian farmland belonging to Burin village, south of Nablus, said a local activist. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement construction activities in the northern West Bank, said that Israeli forces razed a large tract of farmland cultivated with almond trees belonging to Burin with the purpose of expanding the nearby illegal settlement outpost of Givat Runim.
Israeli forces seize 4000 square meters of tiles near Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 19 Feb – Israeli forces seized around 4000 square meters of tiles from inside an exhibition in the al-Mas’udiya area, northwest of Nablus city, in the occupied West Bank, under the pretext the exhibition is located in Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli military occupation. Khaled Tamimi, who runs the exhibition, told WAFA a number of Israeli military jeeps, accompanied by two trucks, raided the exhibition and seized around 4000-square-meters of tiles worth NIS 100,000 (approximately $27,600). Israeli forces reportedly raided the exhibition last Thursday and verbally ordered Tamimi to remove the tiles. They returned on Sunday and gave him 24 hours to [evacuate] the site, however, Tamimi said he was only able to remove 2000 meters out of the 6000 tiles there.
Settlement fires school’s Israeli Arab cleaning staff after threats from parents
Times of Israel 16 Feb — A school in a West Bank settlement recently fired its Israeli Arab cleaning staff after parents threatened to shut down the school if the workers remained employed. Parents in the settlement of Karnei Shomron appealed last week to the head of the local council, Yigal Lahav, and threatened to shutter the school until all Arab cleaners were removed, the Ynet news site reported. The threats materialized into a one-day strike, during which 40 children were absent from school. According to Ynet, one parent wrote in a WhatsApp group: “Unfortunately, Israeli Arabs have justifiably acquired a lack of trust toward them.” “Yes, we are racists,” another parent wrote. “The lives of our children come first, we are racists and we love the Jewish race.” The cleaning women who arrived for work were harassed by some children, Ynet reported. “The teacher gathered us and told us not to speak badly to the cleaning women and not to curse them, and that it does not matter that they are Arab,” one student told Ynet….
Reminder: Israel is still holding a Palestinian lawmaker as political prisoner indefinitely
[behind paywall] Haaretz 15 Feb by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Ghassan Jarrar says his life is meaningless without Khalida. In his office at the children’s toys and furniture factory he owns in Beit Furik, east of Nablus, its chairs upholstered with red fake fur, the face of the grass widower lights up whenever he talks about his wife. She’s been incarcerated in an Israeli prison for 20 months, without trial, without being charged, without evidence, without anything. In two weeks, however, she could be released, at long last. Ghassan is already busy preparing himself: He knows he’s liable to be disappointed again, for the fourth successive time. Khalida Jarrar is Israel’s No. 1 female political prisoner, the leader of the inmates in Damon Prison, on Mt. Carmel, and the most senior Palestinian woman Israel has jailed, without her ever having been convicted of any offense. The public struggle for her release has been long and frustrating, with more resonance abroad than in Israel. Here it encounters the implacable walls of the occupation authorities and the startling indifference of Israeli public opinion …
Reminder: On April 2, 2015, troops of the Israel Defense Forces raided the Jarrar family’s home in El Bireh, adjacent to Ramallah, and abducted Khalida, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. She was placed in administrative detention. In the wake of international protests over Israel’s arrest without charges of a lawmaker who was elected democratically, the occupation authorities decided to try her. She was indicted on 12 counts, all of them utterly grotesque, including suspicion of visiting the homes of prisoners’ families, suspicion of attending a book fair and suspicion of calling for the release of Ahmad Saadat, a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who has been in prison for years….
Second longest Palestinian political prisoner from Jenin begins 19th year behind Israeli bars
JENIN (WAFA) 23 Feb – Mohammad Sharqiyeh Freihat, from the town of Yamoun, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, entered today his 19th year behind bars in Israeli jails, making him the second longest-serving Palestinian political prisoner from the Jenin area, according to the Prisoner Society. Freihat, who was arrested in Ramallah during the Israeli invasion of the city in 2000, was sentenced to 23 in prison for resisting the Israeli occupation, said Muntaser Sammour, director of the Jenin office of the Prisoner Society. He said Freihat was denied family visits for a long time and was often put in solitary confinement for long periods as a punishment. He also has serious health issues.
Palestinians to cut civil servant salaries after Israeli tax freeze
RAMALLAH (AFP) 21 Feb — The Palestinian finance minister on Thursday announced salary cuts for civil servants, days after Israel said it would withhold tens of millions of dollars in tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority. Israel’s security cabinet on Sunday approved the freezing of $138 million (122 million euros) over the PA’s payments to the families of prisoners, or prisoners themselves, jailed for attacks on Israelis. Israel, which collects taxes on behalf of the PA, says the payments encourage further violence. The PA claims they are a form of welfare to families who have lost their main breadwinner. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Wednesday he would not accept anything but full payment of the tax transfers owed by Israel. The PA, which is already running a deficit, will “pay the salaries of civil servants in time, but they will be reduced”, said PA finance minister Shukri Bishara after a meeting with EU representatives in Ramallah. The cuts will not apply to salaries “paid to pensioners and families of martyrs, wounded or prisoners”, he added, adding that wages below 2,000 shekels ($550) would also not be affected….
Palestinians move to ban Israeli goods in West Bank following tax freeze
i24NEWS 21 Feb — Palestinians on Thursday announced a series of measures, including the prevention of Israeli goods into the West Bank in response to the Israeli decision to withhold $140 million in funds to the Palestinian Authority over so-called “terror salaries.” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ deputy called on Palestinians to take action “to confront the Israeli decision to freeze funds on the ground” including to prevent the entry of Israeli goods into the West Bank and to “reexamine continued economic and security cooperation.”… The tax revenue cut amounts to approximately $138 million, (over NIS 500 million) and according to media reports will likely be deducted incrementally over a 12-month period …. The recently resigned Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said the move amounted to a “theft of Palestinian public money” and showed “Israel’s enactment of racist laws in support of the occupation” which “undermined the two-state solution.” On Wednesday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lashed the Israeli move and said his government would refuse to accept all tax funds from Israel in response … Israel collects funds from imports into the West Bank and Gaza, and other taxes, and forwards a large part of it to the PA, after deducting some payments for water and electricity. This constitutes the largest part of the Palestinian government’s budget….
PA rejects Israeli offer to be part of regional railway network: official
RAMALLAH (Xinhua) 15 Feb — A senior Palestinian Authority (PA) official unveiled on Friday that the PA has rejected an Israeli offer to be part of a regional railway network that links the West Bank with Israel and other Arab capitals. Hussein al-Sheikh, minister of civil affairs in the PA, tweeted on his Twitter page that the Israeli offer includes establishing a railway line that connects the northern West Bank city of Jenin with Haifa in Israel and then goes to several Arab capitals. “We totally rejected the Israeli offer and we said we are against normalization with Israel before the end of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank,” said al-Sheikh, adding “We also said no for economic solutions that empower the occupation.” He went on saying that “a piece of bread can never be an alternative to the freedom of homelands,” referring to the Palestinian rejection to any economic solutions to the Palestinian cause. The Palestinian leadership, which signed a series of peace accords with Israel since 1993, insists that any peace process should guarantee an end of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in 1967….
UN envoy says risk of Israeli-Palestinian war looms large
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 20 Feb by Edith M. Lederer — The prospect of peace between Israel and the Palestinians is fading by the day as violence and radicalism grow — and “the risk of war continues to loom large,” the U.N. Mideast envoy warned Wednesday. Nikolay Mladenov also told the U.N. Security Council that a negotiated two-state solution is drifting further away. “What is needed, first and foremost, is the necessary leadership and political will for change,” he said. “Until that will can be found, Palestinians and Israelis will continue to slide into increasingly hazardous territory.” Mladenov stressed that leaders must believe peace is possible through negotiations — and that leaders and the international community must be committed to support Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peace deal based on U.N. resolutions and bilateral agreements. He said the international community must also understand “that the weaker party — the Palestinian people who have lived under occupation for more than 50 years — need our support more than ever.”….
New poll: 60 percent of Israelis oppose annexation of West Bank
Algeheimer 18 Feb by Benjamin Kerstein — A new poll has revealed that 60 percent of Israelis oppose the annexation of the West Bank, with only 24 percent supporting such a move. The idea has recently crept on to the national stage, with the New Right party calling for a partial annexation of the West Bank as part of its election campaign. According to Hebrew news site Mako, the poll — conducted by Commanders for Israel’s Security, which opposes annexation — found that 60 percent of those surveyed were against the concept, while 24 percent supported it and 16 percent were undecided. Commanders for Israel’s Security commented on the poll, saying, “The data attests to what everybody already knows: the majority of the public resolutely opposes annexation and supports a plan of disengagement from the Palestinians.” Pro-annexation politicians, it asserted, were “not interested in the public’s stance.”….
NGO to launch campaign to thwart Israeli West Bank annexation
JPost 22 Feb by Tovah Lazaroff — “The extreme right,” the NGO Commanders for Israel’s Security said, “is preparing the ground for the annexation of millions of Palestinians. We are determined to lead a large-scale public campaign that will thwart this annexation plan.” The NGO is made up of some 300 retired IDF senior officer, including admirals, brigadier-generals and major-generals, who support a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict … CIS has also published a video in which it warns that an annexation plan would mean that 2.6 million Palestinians in the West Bank would be given Israeli identity cards and the ability to live anywhere within the country, including in Tel Aviv and Haifa. In the video, Aryeh Feldman, former division head and deputy director of the Shin Bet, warned that an annexation plan would mean a one state solution….
However, the Sovereignty Movement spearheaded by Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Mater has been careful to have a broad platform that does not necessarily include giving citizenship to 2.6 million Palestinians. Those who support the application of sovereignty have a broad range of opinions. It runs the gamut from offering Palestinians in the West Bank full Israeli citizenship to possibly offering them Jordanian citizenship. It could include some form of local autonomy for Palestinians that includes limited residency rights. There are also those who hold that only Area C of the West Bank – where all the Israeli settlements are located – should be annexed….
US envoy urges tighter business ties between Israeli settlers, Palestinians
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 21 Feb by Rami Ayyub — The U.S. ambassador to Israel on Thursday urged deeper business ties between Israeli settlers and Palestinian businessmen in the occupied West Bank, angering Palestinian leaders. David Friedman, who was appointed by U.S. President Donald Trump, was speaking in Jerusalem at a forum to encourage business links between Israeli settlements and Palestinians. “There are many, many Palestinians that would like to be freed up to engage in business ventures with Israelis, and they’re entitled to that opportunity,” Friedman told Reuters at the two-day forum attended by Israeli government officials, international businessmen and a handful of Palestinians. Friedman’s remarks were immediately attacked by Palestinian officials as encouraging settlement activity in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, territory captured in a 1967 war and which Palestinians seek as part of a future state….
US Palestinian mission to merge with Israeli embassy in March
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 19 Feb – The United States Consulate General in Jerusalem, which serves Palestinians, will be absorbed into the new U.S. Embassy to Israel in March, a U.S. official said on Tuesday, giving a date for a merger that has been condemned by Palestinians. The decision to create a single diplomatic mission was announced last October by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who did not say at the time when this would take place. At the time of Pompeo’s announcement, senior Palestinian leader Saeb Erekat denounced the decision to eliminate the consulate as the latest evidence the Trump administration is working with Israel to impose a “Greater Israel” rather than a two-state solution….
Palestinians’ lawsuit in US vs. Adelson, others is revived
Reuters 19 Feb by Jonathan Stempel — A U.S. appeals court has revived a $1 billion lawsuit by Palestinians seeking to hold billionaire Sheldon Adelson and more than 30 other pro-Israel defendants liable for alleged war crimes and support of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. In a 3-0 decision on Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said a federal district judge wrongly concluded in August 2017 that all of the plaintiffs’ claims raised political questions that could not be decided in American courts. The plaintiffs, including 18 Palestinians and Palestinian-Americans as well as a Palestinian village council, alleged a conspiracy among many defendants to expel non-Jews from the disputed territories, and accused the defendants of committing or aiding in genocide and other war crimes….
Future rabbis plant with Palestinians, sow rift with Israel
AT-TUWANI, West Bank (AP) 19 Feb by Isabel Debre — Young American rabbinical students are doing more than visiting holy sites, learning Hebrew and poring over religious texts during their year abroad in Israel. In a stark departure from past programs focused on strengthening ties with Israel and Judaism, the new crop of rabbinical students is reaching out to the Palestinians. The change reflects a divide between Israeli and American Jews that appears to be widening. On a recent winter morning, Tyler Dratch, a 26-year-old rabbinical student at Hebrew College in Boston, was among some two dozen Jewish students planting olive trees in the Palestinian village of At-Tuwani in the southern West Bank. The only Jews that locals typically see are either Israeli soldiers or ultranationalist settlers. “Before coming here and doing this, I couldn’t speak intelligently about Israel,” Dratch said. “We’re saying that we can take the same religion settlers use to commit violence in order to commit justice, to make peace.” … The program is run by “T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights,” a U.S.-based network of rabbis and cantors….
Israeli right slams TV host who said IDF returns children as ‘human animals’
i24NEWS 17 Feb — Israel’s Channel 13 TV anchorwoman Oshat Kotler is under an onslaught of criticism from right-wing politicians and media personalities after she said Israeli soldiers sent to the West Bank come back “human animals” on a Saturday night broadcast. Her remarks were in response to a report on a group of Israeli Defense Force soldiers who were charged in the revenge beating of a number of Palestinian detainees after two soldiers in their battalion were killed. “They send children to the army, to the territories, and get them back human animals. That’s the result of the occupation,” Kotler said. Over 2,000 complaints were filed by viewers in response to the well-known TV host’s comments. Kotler will also reportedly meet with Channel 13’s CEO in order to further clarify her statements. After receiving a number of death threats, Kotler has been assigned a security detail. Later in the show, Kotler referenced her previous remarks: “I would like to stress: my children, and their friends, they’re all combat soldiers in the territories. My criticism was directed only at those soldiers led by our control over the Palestinians to hurt innocent people.”….
Palestinian rights activists demonstrate outside U Chicago Hillel
Chicago Maroon 18 Feb — On Wednesday, the University of Chicago branch of If Not Now, a progressive Jewish organization that advocates for Palestinian rights, held a protest outside UChicago Hillel, after they issued a set of demands regarding its upcoming Birthright trip earlier this week. If Not Now is a national group of American Jewish progressive activists established to oppose Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. The University of Chicago branch of If Not Now was founded last year. Wednesday’s action was If Not Now’s largest demonstration to date, according to second-year organizer Dikla Taylor. The demonstration was part of If Not Now’s #NotJustAFreeTrip campaign, which argues that Birthright—a non-profit organization that offers free trips to Israel for Jewish youths—unfairly presents a picture of Israel that excludes the Palestinian point of view. Birthright “curates an experience that deliberately obscures the Occupation and the truth about Israel from view,” the campaign website reads….
Jewish leaders tour Israel-Gaza, view Air Force’s F35 fighter squadron
JNS 22 Feb — Delegates from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations visited the Israel-Gaza border and the Israeli Air Force’s F-35 fighter squadron on Thursday during the group’s 45th annual leadership mission to the Jewish state. The participants started by being the first tour by a foreign party to witness the barrier that Israel has been constructing along the Gaza border. They also got an in-depth briefing about the Hamas threat of digging tunnels to infiltrate and attack Israel, in addition to the unrest at the Gaza-Israel border, where the delegates were told that more than half of the rioters killed since the turmoil began in May have been Hamas members….
Facebook gives nod to secret pro-Israel campaign
Electronic Intifada 21 Feb by Ali Abunimah — Facebook has banned several pages belonging to such viral media outlets as In the Now because they are affiliates of the Russian-funded network RT – even though these media outlets violated none of the social network’s rules. Yet The Electronic Intifada can exclusively reveal that Facebook has given a nod of approval to a network of secretive and deceptive pages set up by The Israel Project, a lobby group that collaborates with the Israeli government and with Israel’s military establishment to influence public opinion against Palestinians….