Two children die in house fire after army delayed fire trucks
IMEMC 6 Mar — The mayor of Hebron, Taysir Abu Sneina, held the Israeli army responsible for the death of two children, who died in a fire in their home, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, after the military delayed Palestinian fire trucks and Red Crescent ambulances, at two roadblocks in the city. Spokesperson of the Palestinian Police in the occupied West Bank, Lieutenant Luay Zreiqat, said a child, identified as Wa‘el Rajabi, four years old, and his infant sister, Malak, 18 months of age, died in the fire. Lieutenant Zreiqat added that a third brother of the two deceased siblings suffered serious burns and remains in a critical condition [he has since died]. The house is in an area that is under full Israeli control and separated by the rest of the occupied city by many military roadblocks. Hebron Fire Chief, Ayman Nassereddin, said that the fire department received a call at 10:35 on Tuesday at night, regarding a fire at the Palestinian house, in the Old City of Hebron. Nassereddin added that the fire trucks, and ambulances, were instantly dispatched to the scene, but the soldiers stopped them on two different military roadblocks; one is called 160, and the other is Ja’abra roadblock. He also stated that the Palestinian District Coordination Office contacted the Israeli counterpart, and it took at least twenty minutes for the fire trucks and the ambulances to be allowed through.
Toddler succumbs to burn injuries after Israeli military block fire brigade
HEBRON (WAFA) 8 Mar – A Palestinian toddler succumbed to his severe burns two days after Israeli forces blocked the entry of a fire brigade to rescue a Palestinian family trapped in their burning house in the Old City of Hebron. Police spokesman Loai Irzeiqat confirmed that the three-year-old toddler succumbed to his severe burns he sustained two days ago in a blaze at al-Rajabi’s house in al-Salaymeh neighborhood of Hebron city after Israeli forces prevented a Palestinian fire brigade from reaching the scene and containing the fire in time. The fire has claimed the life of two other toddlers. Four-year-old Wael Rajabi was burned to death in the fire, and his 18-month-old sister, Malak, succumbed to her burns after receiving treatment at the nearby Hebron government hospital. A video filmed at the scene shows a fire engine trying to drive down a narrow street when it was stopped by a roadblock. The local residents pleaded to the Israeli soldiers to “open the gate quickly, for the children.” However, the Israeli soldiers did not yield to the onlookers’ pleas, delaying the emergency services’ response and preventing them from reaching the property.
Israeli forces shoot, kill 2 Palestinians, injure another in Ramallah
[with photos] RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — Israeli forces opened fire at a Palestinian vehicle, killing two Palestinians and injuring a third in the Kafr Nimeh village, west of the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, early Monday morning. While locals reported that the incident was a “normal” car accident, Israeli soldiers claimed that it was a vehicular attack. Locals identified the two killed Palestinians as Amir Mahmoud Jumaa Darraj, 20, from the Kharbatha al-Misbah village, and Youssef Raed Mahmoud Anqawi, 20, from Beit Sira. The third youth, who was injured, was identified as Haitham Bassem Jumaa Alqam, 20, from the Safa village. Sources added that the three were workers and were on their way to their workplace, when they were surprised by Israeli soldiers, their vehicle slipped on the wet road hitting the soldiers’ military vehicle. Two soldiers were injured, including one critical injury, before Israeli soldiers opened heavy fire at the vehicle. Kafr Nimeh’s Mayor, Khaldun al-Dik, said that the shooting occurred at around 3:00 a.m. in an area with rough roads, which raises the probability that it was a car accident. Clashes erupted between locals and Israeli forces afterwards, during which the soldiers heavily fired tear-gas bombs. Following the incident, Israeli forces sealed off the village, preventing students from reaching their schools and assaulting others. Hebrew-language news outlets reported that according to initial reports the Israeli soldiers’ vehicle had broken down, which forced them to pull over on the side of the road, before being attacked by a Palestinian vehicle.
PCHR refutes Israeli claims about alleged car-ramming
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Mar — An investigation conducted on Tuesday by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) has refuted Israeli claims about the alleged car-ramming attack in western Ramallah, describing what happened as a “new crime of excessive use of force.” “At early dawn hours of Monday, 04 March 2019, in new crime of excessive use of lethal force against Palestinian civilians, Israeli forces killed two Palestinian civilians in Kafr Ni‘mah village, west of Ramallah, and wounded another one,” PCHR started, its investigative report. “The Israeli forces claimed that the three civilians carried out a run-over attack, which resulted in the injury of two Israeli soldiers. Other Israeli soldiers opened fire at them, killing two of them and wounding another one,” the report added, according to Days of Palestine. However, “investigations and eyewitnesses’ statements refute the Israeli forces’ claims. The eyewitnesses said that the three civilians were heading to their work at a bakery, where they should be at early hours. While the civilians were on their way to work, they were surprised with Israeli vehicles and crashed one of them. As a result, the civilians’ car hood was damaged,” the report elaborated … The Israeli soldiers immediately opened fire at the civilians, killing two of them and wounding another one….
Israeli forces injure 5 Palestinians in protest near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 8 Mar — Five Palestinians were shot and injured, including a critical injury, during clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian youths in Beit Sira village, west of the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. According to local sources, Israeli forces injured five Palestinians as they attempted to suppress a Palestinian protest which demanded the release of the bodies of two killed Palestinians whose bodies have been withheld by Israeli authorities. Two Palestinians, Amir Mahmoud Jumaa Darraj, 20, and Youssef Raed Mahmoud Anqawi, 20, were shot and killed by Israeli forces after their vehicle hit the soldiers’ military vehicle. In addition, a third youth, who was injured, was identified as Haitham Bassem Jumaa Alqam, 20. Sources confirmed that Israeli forces fired live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear-gas bombs, and sound grenades towards Palestinian protesters, causing clashes to erupt. Palestinian protesters showered Israeli forces with rocks….
36 days after killing her, Israeli army transfers corpse of child to her family
IMEMC 9 Mar — The Israeli authorities handed, late Friday evening, the corpse of a Palestinian child to her family, 36 days after killing her and holding her body. Media sources in Ramallah said the soldiers delivered the corpse of Samah Zoheir Mubarak, 16, to the Palestinian Red Crescent, before it was sent to a local hospital. Her body was transferred from the Israeli side to the Palestinians at the Ofar military roadblock, west of Ramallah, in central West Bank. It is worth mentioning that Mubarak was killed by Israeli soldiers, on January 30 2019, after the soldiers claimed that she attempted to stab them. Samah was walking in an area of the military roadblock only designated for vehicles and not pedestrians when she was fatally shot from a close range. The Border Police examined her schoolbag, which was filled with books and school stationery. She was left bleeding on the ground and died from her wounds. She is from Nusseirat in Gaza, but her family moved to Umm ash-Sharayet neighborhood in the central West Bank city of Ramallah and she was an eleven-grade school student.
Illegal colonists attack a Palestinian man in Jerusalem
IMEMC 2 Mar — A group of illegal Israeli colonialist settlers attacked, on Friday evening, a Palestinian man from Beit Hanina neighborhood, north of occupied East Jerusalem. Media sources said the man, identified as Amin Natsha, was walking near his work in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, in the center of the occupied city. They added that the colonists assaulted the man, by kicking and punching him, causing various lacerations and bruises, before fleeing the scene. The wounded man was then rushed to a Palestinian hospital in Jerusalem.
For 11th time, Israeli settlers attack ‘Urif school
[with photos] NABLUS (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Israeli settlers attacked and surrounded a Palestinian high school in the ‘Urif village, in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, injuring a student and damaging several vehicles, on Tuesday. Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that 50 Israeli settlers from the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Yitzhar raided the eastern area of ‘Urif, forcing the school to dismiss classes for the 11th time since the beginning of the school year. Daghlas confirmed that one student was injured with rocks thrown by Israeli settlers; he was treated on the spot. Israeli settlers attacked damaged three vehicles belonging to teachers at the school. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli military vehicles raided the village at the same time of the attack, which caused clashes to erupt between Israeli soldiers and locals. Israeli forces fired tear-gas bombs and stun grenades; no injuries were reported.
Israeli army, settlers ‘routinely harass’ Nablus students
NABLUS (Al Jazeera) 4 Mar by Jaclynn Ashly — West Bank school’s staff documented 65 Israeli violations during first semester, at least three more since January 24 — School principal Mohammad Jaser presses a button to open the intercom system and makes a routine announcement. “The Israeli army has been spotted near the premises,” Jaser says, his voice blaring from speakers and into the classrooms of the al-Sawiyeh al-Lebban school near Nablus in the northern West Bank last month. “Stay inside your classrooms, away from the windows, and lock the doors,” he instructs the students. “Prepare for an evacuation.” The students and teachers at the mixed school, located between the villages of al-Sawiyeh and al-Lebban, have been trained to respond to incidents like this. The school is often the target of Israeli army activity in the area and has faced numerous incidents of armed settlers entering the premises and threatening students … Students, for instance, receive training on how to lessen the effects of tear gas and some are trained to provide first aid to their injured peers during confrontations, he says….
Illegal colonists attack Palestinian shepherds in northern plains
IMEMC 8 Mar — A group of Israeli colonialist settlers living illegally on Palestinian lands in the West Bank’s Northern Plains attacked many Palestinian shepherds, Friday, in several areas, and chased them away. Palestinian nonviolent activist against Israel’s illegal colonialist activities, Aref Daraghma, said the colonists attacked the shepherds, and chased them along with their sheep out of the areas of Shwei’er, al-Farisiyya and al-Himma. In addition, Burhan Bisharat, a local of Khirbat Makhoul village, in the Northern Plains, said many colonists gathered near a water well, used by the shepherds for their livestock, raising fears among the residents that the colonists might have poisoned the water, similar to previous incidents. It is worth mentioning that the colonists frequently assault the shepherds, and in some cases kill their sheep, in order to force them out of the grazing lands.
Infant injured as Israeli forces detain 13 Palestinians in West Bank
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Israeli forces detained at least 13 Palestinians across the occupied West Bank during predawn raids, on Thursday. Palestine Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said that Israeli forces detained two Palestinians in the southern West Bank district of Hebron. They were identified as Ashraf Salah al-Badarin and Ahmad al-Badarin. In Dheisheh refugee camp, in the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem, another two Palestinians were detained. They were identified as Amar Qawar and Muhammad Raed Shamroukh. Following the raid, clashes broke out among Israeli forces and Palestinians, during which Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition and tear-gas bombs throughout the refugee camp . A 40-day-old Palestinian infant suffered from tear-gas suffocation and was taken to a nearby hospital for necessary medical treatment….
Jerusalem / Al-Aqsa
40,000 worshipers pray at Al-Aqsa after Israeli decision to close gate
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 8 Mar — Israeli police forces were deployed across the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, while Muslim worshipers gathered to perform prayers, after an Israeli decision to reseal the al-Rahma Gate (Gate of Mercy), one of the Al-Aqsa Mosque gates, on Friday. A Ma‘an reporter said that more than 40,000 worshipers gathered for Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Sources added that Israeli police forces, including snipers, were deployed across the compound, in case of clashes. It is noteworthy that throughout February, the al-Rahma gate was sealed off and reopened several times due to ongoing peaceful protests carried out by Palestinian activists and worshipers in front of the gate. Israeli forces assaulted dozens of Palestinians during such protests and detained a number of them, in addition to banning top Waqf officials, who played an important part in the reopening of the gate, from entry to Al-Aqsa up to 40 days. The al-Rahma Gate is a big building that lies to the east of the Al-Aqsa; 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.
Palestinians banned from Al-Aqsa perform prayers at Lions Gate
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 8 Mar — Dozens of Palestinians who were banned entry into the Al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli authorities performed Friday prayers at the Lions Gate, in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, in rejection of their ban. A Ma‘an reporter said that dozens of Palestinians arrived at the Lions Gate after being banned from entry to the compound and began to perform prayers, as Israeli police forces surrounded them. Sources added that banned Palestinians, including women and teens, said that being banned from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque will not keep them away from the mosque or the Old City.
Israel bans top Palestinian Waqf officials from Al-Aqsa
Al Jazeera 3 Mar — Move follows Waqf Council’s decision to defy a 16-year Israeli ban and reopen the Bab al-Rahma building in Al-Aqsa — Police in Israel have extended bans on top Palestinian officials who oversee Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa compound from entering the holy site, in a move analysts warned could further escalate tensions. The decision on Sunday came weeks after the Islamic Waqf Council, a religious body appointed by Jordan to oversee the Al-Aqsa compound, defied a 16-year Israeli ban on the Bab al-Rahma building within the site and reopened it to Muslim worshippers. Following the council’s decision on February 14, its head Sheikh Abdel-Azeem Salhab and his deputy, Sheikh Najeh Bkerat, were briefly detained and hit with a one-week ban. Israeli police extended the bans on Sunday by 40 days for Salhab and four months for Bkerat, a spokesman for the Waqf Council told Anadolu news agency … Israeli authorities had shut down Bab al-Rahma in 2003, claiming the site was being used by members of the outlawed Islamic Movement in Israel Northern Branch for political activities, an allegation the Waqf Council denies. Since its reopening, some 100 Palestinian activists and religious figures have been detained “in an effort to put an end to Palestinian defiance of Israeli orders”, according to Wafa, a Palestinian news agency….
Israeli soldiers abduct seven women near Al-Aqsa
IMEMC 8 Mar — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Thursday evening, seven Palestinian women while trying to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied East Jerusalem, and took them to detention and interrogation centers in the city. Media sources in occupied Jerusalem said the abducted women have been identified as Montaha Amara, Nour Mahameed, Islam Mahameed, Raeda Es’ied and Su’ad Obeydiyya. The women were trying to enter the mosque compound, but hundreds of soldiers and police officers have been deployed in its surroundings, the Old City and many areas, before preventing dozens of Palestinians from entering it … Media sources in Jerusalem said the soldiers also abducted at least two guards of the holy site, while more troops, on foot and mounted officers, have been deployed in the area, while the soldiers installed many iron barriers and military roadblocks. It is worth mentioning that, late on Thursday at night, dozens of illegal colonialist settlers gathered around the Al-Aqsa Mosque, ar-Rahma Graveyard, and Bab al-Asbat, before chanting slogans against the Palestinians while dancing and raising Israeli flags.
Palestinian killed, 48 others injured during weekly Gaza protests
[with photos] GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Mar — Israeli forces shot and killed at least one Palestinian and injured 48 others, including four paramedics and two journalists, as they suppressed “The Great March of Return” weekly protests across the eastern border fence of the besieged Gaza Strip, on its 50th Friday. Spokesperson of the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, Ashraf al-Qidra, identified the killed Palestinian as Tamer Khalid Mustafa Arafat, 23, from Rafah City in the southern Gaza Strip. The ministry said that at least 48 Palestinians were injured as Israeli forces fired live bullets, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas canisters at protesters who gathered at the borders. Among those injured were four paramedics, two journalists, two women and 15 children. The ministry identified the injured paramedics as Ghaleb Abu Khater, who was injured with a live bullet in the arm, Bahjat al-Qassas, who was injured with a tear-gas bomb in the face, Muhammad Abu Juzr, 24, who was also injured in the face with a tear-gas bomb and woman paramedic Rasmiya Abu Mustafa who suffered from severe tear-gas suffocation. Large Palestinian crowds gathered alongside the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip to take part in the weekly march to break the ongoing Israeli siege. [IMEMC: The soldiers also fired a high-velocity gas bomb at a Palestinian ambulance belonging to the Health Ministry, east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza Strip, causing damage.]
Israeli soldiers kill a Palestinian child in Gaza
IMEMC 7 Mar — A Palestinian child died, on Thursday at dawn, from serious wounds he suffered late on Wednesday evening, after Israeli soldiers shot him with a live round, and injured several others, during protests on Palestinian lands, close to the perimeter fence, east of Gaza city. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, said the child has been identified as Saifeddin Emad Abu Zeid, 15, from the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza city. He added that the child was seriously injured after being shot by the soldiers with a live round in the head, east of Gaza city. Medics rushed the child to the Shifa Medical Center in Gaza city, before was moved to surgery, but succumbed to his serious wounds a few hours later. Dr. al-Qedra also stated that the soldiers shot at least five other Palestinians and caused many to suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation.
Killed Palestinian teen laid to rest in Gaza
[with photos] GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Thousands of Palestinians marched, on Thursday afternoon, in the funeral of a Palestinian teen, who succumbed to his wounds in the early morning, in the besieged Gaza Strip. Saif al-Din Imad Abu Zayd, 15, was shot in the head by Israeli forces during protests along the eastern borders of northern Gaza, on Wednesday evening. The funeral set off from the al-Shifa Hospital in western Gaza City towards Abu Zayd’s family home before prayers at a mosque in the city and finally burial at the al-Shuhada Cemetery in central Gaza City.
3 Palestinians shot, injured in Gaza protests
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Mar — Israeli forces shot and injured three Palestinians during the “Night Confusion” protest, east of Khan Younis, in the southern besieged Gaza Strip, on late Thursday. According to local sources, three Palestinians were shot and injured with live ammunition. They were immediately transferred to nearby hospital for medical treatment. Hundreds of Palestinians gathered along the eastern borders of Khan Younis to protest against the nearly 12-year Israeli siege. Sources added that protesters ignited a number of rubber tires on fire near the security border fence with Israel and threw rocks at Israeli forces. Israeli forces repeatedly fired live ammunition and tear-gas bombs towards the large groups of protesters.
Egypt allows Mecca-bound Palestinians to exit besieged Gaza Strip
Al Jazeera 3 Mar — For the first time in five years, Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip have been allowed to cross over into Egypt via the Rafah border crossing to begin their initial stage of a pilgrimage to Mecca, known as Umrah. The first convoy of 800 Palestinians passed into Egypt early on Sunday, according to an official at the crossing in the Gaza Strip, heading towards the Egyptian capital where they were expected to catch flights to Mecca, Islam’s holiest city in Saudi Arabia … Egypt halted the Umrah programme for Palestinians in Gaza in 2015 over instability in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula that borders the Palestinian enclave, but still allowed transit for the main annual Hajj pilgrimage. Umrah is the lesser pilgrimage to Mecca that can be completed throughout the year, as opposed to the annual Hajj pilgrimage….
Hamas leader says Egypt is renewing Gaza mediation efforts
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 4 Mar — The leader of Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement says Egypt is launching a new round of mediation to secure a cease-fire between the militant group and Israel. Speaking to reporters Monday, Ismail Haniyeh accused Israel of “opting out of short and long term understandings” aimed at alleviating the humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave. Haniyeh said that last year Israel and Hamas reached understandings for Israel to extend Gaza’s fishing zone, increase the territory’s electricity supply and allow cash into Gaza for Hamas public servants. But he said a botched Israeli undercover raid in Gaza last fall undermined understandings on broader issues “as if they never existed.” Hamas expects Egyptian mediators to arrive this week to restart reconciliation efforts.
Israeli navy detains 4 Palestinian fishermen in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Mar — Israeli naval forces detained four Palestinian fishermen and forced them to strip off their clothing, on Friday morning, off the northwestern coast of the besieged Gaza Strip. Head of the Palestinian Fishermen Union in Gaza, Zakariya Bakr, told Ma‘an that the Israeli naval forces surrounded a Palestinian fishing boat with four fishermen aboard and opened heavy fire towards them. Bakr pointed out that prior to the detention, the Israeli navy forced them to strip from their clothes and swim in freezing cold water to the navy ships. Bakr identified the four detained fishermen as Walid Muhsein Bakr, Yasri Zakariya Bakr, and two brothers, Yasser and Tamer Suleiman Bakr. Following the detention, the Israeli navy confiscated the fishing boat and sailed it towards the Israeli Ashdod seaport.
Israeli airstrikes target Hamas sites across Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 3 Mar — Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes targeting resistance sites belonging to the Hamas movement, on late Saturday, in the southern and central besieged Gaza Strip. Local sources said that Israeli warplanes targeted two resistance sites, in southern and central Gaza. No injuries were reported.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinians arrived at the eastern borders of southern Gaza to participate in “Night Confusion” protests against the nearly 12-year Israeli siege. Sources added that protesters ignited dozens of rubber tires on fire near the Israel-Gaza electric security fence. According to Hebrew-language news outlets, loud explosions were heard by residents in the Israeli communities surrounding Gaza, which reportedly were explosive devices thrown by Palestinians towards Israeli forces situated along the border.
Incendiary balloon explodes in southern Israel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — An incendiary balloon landed and exploded, on Monday afternoon, in the Eshkol Regional Council area along the borders of the besieged Gaza Strip. According to Hebrew-language news outlets, an incendiary balloon landed between two Israeli houses in the Eshkol Regional Council and exploded on the scene. No injuries or material damages were reported. Sources added that the incendiary balloon was launched by Palestinians from the Gaza Strip.
Israeli airstrikes target Hamas sites across Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Mar — Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes across the besieged Gaza Strip, on Tuesday, allegedly in response to mass protests organized by Palestinians along the border, according to a statement by the Israeli army. Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes, targeting two Hamas movement sites, located in central and southern Gaza. An Israeli army spokesperson said that the airstrikes “came in response” to alleged incendiary balloon launches by Palestinians from Gaza towards southern Israel. The spokesperson added that the Hamas movement “is fully responsible for the situation in Gaza.” The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza confirmed that no hospitals were hit during the Israeli airstrikes.
WATCH: IDF hammers Hamas naval commando base in Gaza
World Israel News 7 Mar — Israeli fighter jets launched an airstrike on Thursday on a Hamas naval post in the Gaza Strip, responding to mortar fire from the coastal enclave, which triggered the IDF’s Iron Dome system.
Israeli airstrikes target several sites across Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Mar — Israeli warplanes carried out several airstrikes across various locations in the besieged Gaza Strip, on predawn Saturday. A Ma‘an reporter said that the airstrikes targeted resistance sites of the Hamas movement; no injuries were reported. The targeted sites were mostly in the northern and eastern Gaza Strip; an agricultural land in eastern Juhr al-Dik area in the central Gaza Strip was among targeted sites, in addition to an empty land in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. The airstrikes come after a day of protests alongside the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip, during which a Palestinian youth was killed and at least 48 others were injured.
2 Palestinian children detained after crossing Gaza border fence
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Mar — Israeli forces detained two Palestinian children, on Friday, after they were caught crossing the border fence into Israel from the southern besieged Gaza Strip. An Israeli army spokesperson said in statement that the Palestinian children were searched and that three knives were found in their possession. The spokesperson added that the children are part of a recent increase of Palestinians youths attempting to cross into Israel to “escape the reality in Gaza.” The two children were then taken in for questioning by Israeli security forces. However, their identity remained unknown.
Women pay the highest price for Israel’s Gaza blockade, report says
[behind paywall] Haaretz 4 Mar by Jack Khoury — A new report published by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel ahead of International Women’s Day finds that Israel’s blockade of Gaza exacts a higher price in health from Palestinian women than from Palestinian men. The report looked at three categories: Female cancer patients traveling from Gaza to Israel for treatment; the withholding of treatment from patients on the grounds of kinship with Hamas members; and the withholding of treatment from patients on the grounds that a family member is in the West Bank without permission. The data show that among the 201 cases in which medical treatment for cancer patients was withheld or delayed in 2017 and 2018, 129 were women, compared with 72 men. Oncologists volunteering with PHRI wrote an opinion saying that the probability of recovery for Gazans with cancer has been significantly impaired by Israel’s policy on handling their requests to leave the Strip for treatment….
Trump’s cuts to aid for Palestinians have totally disrupted women’s breast cancer treatments
GAZA CITY (Buzzfeed) 4 Mar by Megha Rajagopalan & Abu Bakr Bashir — More than 1,000 women who had mammograms done through a US-funded program and were flagged for follow-ups have had to seek other treatment options — …Among the programs stopped as a result of the cuts is one that was optimistically dubbed Gaza Health Matters 2020, a $50 million project that was supposed to run for five years, providing prenatal care for Palestinian women, treating the injured in Gaza, and funding mammograms and biopsies for women. “For the women who needed biopsies, we did 5 or 6 but then just stopped,” said Eman Shanan, the founder of an organization called Aid and Hope, a local NGO that works to help Gazan women seek breast cancer treatment and diagnosis, and was the primary NGO implementing the Gaza Health Matters program with USAID funds along with the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza….
In Gaza, women walk thin line between hope and despair
GAZA (Reuters) 8 Mar by Nidal al-Mughrabi — Amid the poverty and deprivation of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian women struggle to find a taste of normality that is taken for granted in much of the rest of the world. Nada Rudwan used to work in digital marketing, but as her work slowed – unemployment in Gaza stands at nearly 50 percent – she decided to put her tech skills towards one of her passions: cooking. “It was difficult to find a job, so I thought of doing something I like and that will make me money at the same time,” said Rudwan, 27, who posts cooking tutorials to social media platforms under the name “Nada Kitchen”. Rudwan said she earns income from YouTube proceeds and that several companies in Saudi Arabia recently purchased her videos. “It is an attempt to beat the physical blockade of Gaza by finding a job that just needs some talent, a camera and internet connection,” she said….
Gaza engineer builds bricks from rubble and ashes
Designer Edge – posted in 6 Mar by Tom Spendlove — Majd Mashharawi lived in Gaza and witnessed thousands of homes destroyed in the 2014 war. She wanted to help the rebuilding effort but the building materials used for those homes were not readily available. She tried to use paper in place of the aggregate filler used in previous bricks, and then attempted to make blocks out of mud. Those processes did not work but while burning the mud blocks and observing the ashes she was inspired to take ashes and refuse from destroyed houses to create building bricks. In her TED Talk How I’m making bricks out of ashes and rubble in Gaza, Mashharawi discusses her methods and inspiration for her ongoing building project. Majd and her team took rubble from the Gaza Strip and mixed it with ashes from landfills before baking the bricks and using steam for curing. The new bricks are called Green Cake and as of 2018 fifty apartments had been built, each with room for eight people. She also began to develop a solar energy company called SunBox, focused on helping people to become energy independent. It’s said that more than two million people live with three hours a day of electricity in Gaza, and the SunBox team hopes that providing 1 kiloWatt hour of energy per day will support basic needs….
Israel brands Hamas TV channel a terrorist organization
JERUSALEM (AFP) 6 Mar — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu designated Al-Aqsa television channel of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas a “terrorist organisation” on Wednesday. Netanyahu, who is also defence minister, “signed an order declaring the Hamas Al-Aqsa television channel to be a terrorist organisation”, the premier’s office said. It said the decision was made on the advice of Israeli security services, which were said to have discovered Hamas’s “use of the Al-Aqsa satellite channel to recruit militants to its ranks” … During a flare-up in November, Israel destroyed the offices of Al-Aqsa in Gaza City, though the channel has continued to broadcast.
Ibrahim Daher, general manager of Al-Aqsa TV, condemned what he called a “dangerous decision” that could endanger his staff. “We will work to bring cases in local and international courts and call on international organisations to highlight this new crime against media freedom,” he told AFP. In mid-February, Israel’s Shin Bet security service accused Hamas of using agents inside the channel to recruit militants in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, including using the channel to communicate with potential recruits. It gave the example of an Al-Aqsa presenter who put a mug on his desk at the start of a show, allegedly confirming to a recruit that he was actually in contact with Hamas agents.
Gazans reluctant to import from Egypt despite Hamas’ encouragement
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 25 Feb by Rasha Abou Jalal — As Hamas seeks to bolster trade between the Gaza Strip and Egypt through the Rafah border crossing to improve returns for its treasury, Gazan traders seem reluctant to import Egyptian merchandise. Hamas’ treasury has been weighed down by an ongoing economic crisis since 2015, in part due to Egypt’s destruction of underground tunnels between Gaza and Sinai that began in 2013. This means goods are no longer smuggled through such tunnels. Gaza traders are instead importing Egyptian goods through an informal gate near the Rafah border crossing run by Hamas. A high-ranking source in the Hamas-run Ministry of National Economy in Gaza told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “Gaza traders are increasingly reluctant to import Egyptian merchandise. As a result, revenues that Hamas makes through taxes on merchandise have dwindled.” … The source said Gaza traders’ reluctance to import from Egypt stems from the fees imposed by Egypt on Gaza traders for transferring Egyptian merchandise and ensuring their arrival to Gaza through Sinai, where security conditions are volatile….
Once a vibrant natural reserve, Gaza’s coastal wetland is now a health hazard
+972 Mag 5 Mar by Amjad Yaghi — Ahmed Hilles, an expert with the Palestinian Environmental Quality Authority, makes sure to pinch his nose when crossing the bridge over Wadi Gaza. Also known as Gaza Valley, the wadi lies in the middle of the Gaza Strip. Almost two decades ago, Palestinians from Gaza would come here to enjoy the view, the natural habitat, and the wildlife. Today it’s a dumping site for construction debris and sewage, letting off pungent odors and posing a public health risk to Gazans. In June 2000, the Palestinian Ministry of Environmental Affairs declared Gaza Valley a nature reserve due to its significance as a natural ecosystem. The only coastal wetland in the Palestinian territories, the valley used to support a rich variety of plants and animals. A convergence of developments over the past few years, however, transformed the once-vibrant reserve into an environmental disaster … Gaza Valley was historically one of the main water sources in southeast Palestine, says the director of research at the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Gaza, Hiam al-Bitar. Archeological excavations in the area have revealed evidence of life along the banks of the valley dating back to the Bronze Age, he explained….
Palestinian prisoners rearrested after Shalit deal petition high court for release
[behind paywall] Haaretz 3 Mar by Jack Khoury — During the search for three kidnapped Jewish teenagers in the West Bank in 2014, Israel re-arrested 60 prisoners released in the Gilad Shalit deal — Thirty-one Palestinian prisoners who were freed in the 2011 deal that returned captured soldier Gilad Shalit, and who were re-arrested by Israel in 2014, petitioned the High Court of Justice on Sunday demanding to be released. Attorney Avigdor Feldman, who submitted the petition, argued that Israel incarcerated the petitioners for political reasons even though they hadn’t committed any security offense, and posed no threat to state security. Sources in the Palestinian Prisoners Club told Haaretz that the petition could lead to the release of the prisoners for legal and not diplomatic reasons, thus allowing for negotiations on the Israeli MIAs and prisoners held in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has made any such negotiations conditional on the release of Shalit-deal prisoners who were re-arrested. The petition cites a Facebook post last month by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked that said the arrests were meant “to hurt the terrorists and to pressure their families.”….
Spent 17 years in prison;- army abducts a Palestinian one week after his release
IMEMC 5 Mar — Israeli soldiers abducted, Monday, a former Palestinian political prisoner from occupied Jerusalem, just one week following his release after spending a prison sentence of 17 years. Media sources said the soldiers abducted Abdul-Rahman Mahmoud, from the al-‘Issawiya town in occupied Jerusalem, after summoning him for interrogation in Ofer prison, near Ramallah. Mahmoud is a former political prisoner who was released just a week ago, after spending a prison sentence of seventeen years, and received an order exiling him from Jerusalem for ten days, before he was sent to Jericho. Following his Monday abduction, the detainee was remanded for 24 hours, and will be sent to the District Court, in Jerusalem, Tuesday.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israeli government denies building permits to Palestinian property owners in Jerusalem
IMEMC 4 Mar by Ali Salam — The Israeli Planning and Building Committee in occupied Jerusalem on Sunday rejected twenty Palestinian residential building applications in occupied East Jerusalem, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz. In making its decision, the Committee refused to recognize the well-established Palestinian system to indicate land ownership in East Jerusalem, the ‘mukhtar protocol’. Without proof of ownership, Palestinians cannot apply for building permits. In these situations, the ‘mukhtar protocol’ has traditionally been the solution. The main barrier for Palestinian property owners is that 90 percent of East Jerusalem is unlisted in the Israel Land registry. City council members Aryeh King and Yehonatan Yosef led an offensive against the mukhtar system, claiming corruption of Arab leaders. The secular zoning board member Elad Malka from Hitoretut, told Haaretz that “the claims were that the system had become a tool for corruption.” The architect for 12 of the rejected building plans, Mohammed Abu Ghanem, described the decision as a “catastrophe”. He stated, “we [Palestinians] have no other ownership documents to present, and 90 percent of the land is not registered.”… Laura Wharton, city councilwoman and head of the Meretz party said “It’s too bad that committee members want to deny Palestinians in any way possible, the possibility of living securely on their land”….
A new property in the grip of settlers … arrests and injuries with suffocation
Silwanic 5 Mar — On Tuesday, settlers seized a property in Oqbat Darwish in the Old City of Jerusalem. The occupation forces arrested five youths in the vicinity of the house and provided full protection to the settlers. According to eyewitnesses, a group of settlers took advantage of the occupants’ exit from the house for several minutes. They broke in and closed it tightly. Then they began installing cameras and wires on the walls and the roof. The property belongs to several families of Jerusalem, some of which were leaked [leased?] (60% to settlers), while the Halabi family managed to maintain their share in it (40%). Two family members live in the property; the heirs of Jawdat Halabi. Eyewitnesses added that the settlers prevented the woman from returning to her house. During the attempt by some youths to open the door, the settlers sprayed pepper gas and water randomly in the area. Dozens of people were suffocated and the majority of them were students as the incident occurred concurrently while students were returning to their homes from their schools. The witnesses added that the occupation police and intelligence personnel broke into the perimeter of the house and arrested five youths and took them to Salah Al-Din street police station in Jerusalem.
Pictures: Dangerous landslides in Wadi Hilweh playground in Silwan
Silwanic 2 Mar — A dangerous landslide took place Saturday morning in Wadi Hilweh playground in the village of Silwan, a few meters from the southern wall of Al-Aqsa Mosque, as a result of Israeli actions to dig a “tunnels network” reaching the walls of Al-Aqsa Mosque and Al-Buraq square to the west. Jawad Siam, director of Wadi Hilweh Information Center, said that the residents of the neighborhood woke up this morning to a serious and new collapse in the neighborhood’s playground, wall and surrounding wires, in addition to a landslide in the same area and large cracks in the surrounding walls. He added that the work of the settlers in the vicinity of the playground and underneath does not stop, where they daily conduct excavation works using light and heavy tools, and the dust is emptied from the bottom of the earth and transported by designated trucks, which means that the occupation authorities are digging tunnels and emptying underneath the neighborhood in favor of settlement projects, totally neglecting the safety of the 5,000 inhabitants of the neighborhood, who live in real danger due to the expansion of cracks and landslides….
Israeli authorities demand ownership of Palestinian land in Silwan
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — The Israeli authorities issued court notices demanding ownership of a land on which a Jerusalem family owns a building in the Batn al-Hawa neighborhood in Silwan of occupied East Jerusalem. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center said, in a statement on Tuesday, that the Ateret Cohanim Israeli Jewish organization delivered the notices to nine members of the Maragha family; Hmeidan, Azziyeh, Salah, Fadwa, Munira, Naim, Rabia, Inaam and Itaf Maragha, demanding ownership to the land on which the family’s building was constructed. The building consists of five apartments and a parking lot, and houses 15 members of the family. The Maragha family said that their family has been living in this building in the Batn al-Hawa neighborhood for more than 100 years, adding that they have documents proving the family’s ownership of the land and the property….
Israel to demolish 4 greenhouses near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Israeli forces delivered demolition notices to four Palestinian greenhouses in the Shushahla village near al-Khader town in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, on Thursday. Locals identified the four greenhouses as belonging to Ali Mahmoud Salah, Munther Salah, Moussa Ahmad Salah and Habbas Khalil Salah. Sources added that the demolition notices stated the structures [would be demolished] under the pretext that they were not licensed. Israeli forces had sealed the road leading to the village several months ago, preventing locals from staying in their lands after 5:00 p.m. Israel uses the pretext of building without a permit to carry out demolitions of Palestinian-owned homes on a regular basis.
Israel delivers demolition notice to Palestinian home in Bir Ouna
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Israeli forces delivered a demolition notice for a Palestinian home in Bir Ouna area, in Beit Jala City in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, on Thursday. Hajj Walid Zreineh told Ma‘an that the Israeli authorities delivered him a demolition notice to his brother’s house, Ayman Rizq Zreineh and his sons Rizq, Muhammad and Saleh Zreineh, ordering them to demolish the house themselves. The notices state the the family should carry out [demolition of] the two-story house before April 10th, or the demolition would be carried out by Israel, which would force the family to pay demolition costs and fines. Zreineh added that Israeli forces held his brother Ayman as he refused to sign the self-demolition order, adding that the family was forced to pay 230,000 shekels ($ 63,575) as bail.
Israel demolishes housing structures in Masafer Yatta
[with photos] HEBRON (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Israeli forces demolished several housing structures in Masafer Yatta in southern Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank, on Thursday noon. Locals told a Ma‘an reporter that Israeli forces raided several areas in Masafer Yatta and demolished two housing structures belonging to Ismail al-Adra and Issa Abu Arram. Israeli forces also confiscated several tents belonging to Palestinian in the area, leaving several families homeless … Masafer Yatta residents were expelled at the time of the establishment of a firing zone in the 1970s and were eventually allowed back following a long court battle, but are under the constant threat of being expelled or seeing their homes demolished.
Israel to confiscate lands near Qalqilia
QALQILIA (WAFA) 2 Mar – Israeli authorities handed today notifications to confiscate 15 dunums of land in the village of ‘Azzun, to the east of Qalqilia in the occupied West Bank, a local activist said. Mahmoud Abul-Sheikh, an official who monitors Israeli settlements in the area, told WAFA that Israeli forces notified Palestinians from the village about their intention to confiscate the 15 dunums for the expansion of a bypass road serving illegal Israeli settlements.
Palestinian families left homeless after Israeli demolition near Haifa
HAIFA (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Israeli bulldozers demolished two Palestinian family houses, on Tuesday, in al-Kabiyeh village near Haifa City, in northern Israel. According to local sources, heavily armed Israeli police forces stormed the village along with several bulldozers and forcibly evacuated two Palestinian families. Sources said that Israeli bulldozers demolished the two homes, belonging to Muhammad Khalil Kaabiya and Fadi Rashid Kaabiya, under the pretext that it was built without the nearly-impossible to obtain Israeli permit. While Israeli law guarantees Palestinians the same equality as other citizens, in practice there are claims of discrimination in government funding and a raft of other issues. Israeli Palestinian rights group Adalah says that only 4.6% of new homes built in Israel are in Palestinian towns and villages, even though Palestinians make up over 20% of the population. The difficulty for Palestinians in Israel to obtain building permits forces them to expand or build homes and structures without permits, which are liable to later be torn down.
Israeli forces demolish home of Palestinian prisoner
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 Mar — Israeli forces demolished the house of Palestinian prisoner Assem Omar al-Barghouthi, on predawn Thursday, in Kobar in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah and al-Bireh. Some 40 Israeli military vehicles at around 2:00 a.m. escorted the demolition bulldozer into Kobar, on predawn, before clashes erupted between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers until early morning hours. Israeli forces used tear-gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets to suppress youth during clashes. The bulldozer demolished the two-story house within two hours. The Israeli Supreme Court had approved the demolition order, last Monday, after an appeal by the al-Barghouthi family was rejected. Israel accuses Assem of carrying out an attack killing two Israeli soldiers near Ramallah on December 13, one day after his brother, Saleh, 29, was reportedly shot and killed by Israeli soldiers north of Ramallah….
UNRWA / Palestinian refugees – Lebanon, Gaza
Tale of Palestinian food truck draws Hollywood star to Beirut
BEIRUT (Reuters) 6 Mar by Imad Creidi — Entrepreneur Mariam Shaar’s idea of using Palestinians’ national cuisine to provide hope and opportunity for refugee women has succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. Shaar’s project “Soufra” – which means a table laden with food – drew the attention of Hollywood actress and social activist Susan Sarandon, whose documentary – also called “Soufra” – was screened for the first time this week in Beirut. The film tells the story of Shaar’s efforts to set up a food truck and harness the culinary talents of the women living in the refugee camp of Burj al Barajneh, which was established in a southern suburb of Beirut in 1948 and is still home to thousands of Palestinians. The documentary premiered at the El-Gouna film festival in Egypt in 2017 and created a stir that helped Shaar’s NGO, the Women’s Program Association (WPA), to raise funds to build a pre-school that will create jobs and educate about 100 children….
Afghanistan donates 1 million to UN agency for Palestinians
Agencies & Times of Israel 3 Mar — Afghanistan on Sunday gave $1 million to the main UN program for Palestinian refugees. Abdul Rahim Sayed Jan, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Turkey, presented the donation to Pierre Krähenbühl, commissioner of the UN Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, in an Istanbul ceremony. Turkey’s foreign minister, who hosted the meeting, congratulated Afghanistan for the donation. Mevlut Cavusoglu said that despite the hardships suffered by the Afghan people, their country has shown “the most beautiful example of international brotherhood with its noble act.”. Cavusoglu added that UNRWA would need more support in the future and promised Turkey would increase its aid to Palestinians….
Indonesia to contribute $1 million for Palestinian refugees
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Mar — Indonesia announced a $1 million contribution for Palestinian refugees, according to a press release by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), on Wednesday. The press release said that Indonesian Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi, visited the UNRWA headquarters in the Jordanian capital of Amman where she met with Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl, during which Marsudi announced a $1 million contribution for Palestinian refugees, representing a five-fold increase of Indonesia’s support to UNRWA. Marsudi said, “Palestine is at the heart of Indonesia’s foreign policy, and in the heart of Indonesian people. I know that UNRWA is facing another difficult year, so I wanted to come to you to show Indonesia’s support, hoping that this will attract increased support by other countries.”….
Abbas party backs candidate for new Palestinian PM: officials
RAMALLAH (AFP) 7 Mar — Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is expected to appoint long-time ally Mohammad Shtayyeh as prime minister in the next few days after backing by his Fatah party, senior officials said Thursday. Analysts view bringing in Shtayyeh to replace outgoing prime minister Rami Hamdallah as part of Abbas’s efforts to further isolate his political rivals Hamas, who run the Gaza Strip. The central committee of Fatah backed Shtayyeh to take over the post during a meeting earlier this week, the senior officials said on condition of anonymity. The recommendation is not binding on Abbas, but he is expected to back the decision, the officials said. Shtayyeh, born in 1958, is a long-term Abbas ally and member of the Fatah central committee. He would replace Hamdallah, who was politically independent. Shtayyeh has been part of a number of Palestinian negotiating teams in US-brokered talks with Israel, and is a former government minister. He is also an academic and economics professor….
Ashrawi: US Consulate-Embassy merge an act of political assault on Palestinians
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 3 Mar — Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Member, said, on Sunday, “The Trump Administration is intent on leaving no room for doubt about its hostility towards the Palestinian people and their inalienable rights as well as its abject disregard for international law and its obligations under the law.” Ashrawi issued a statement on behalf of the PLO Executive Committee on the eve of the scheduled merging of the United States Consulate in Jerusalem with the embassy, which is now “illegally situated” in Jerusalem, stating that merging the US Consulate in Jerusalem with the US Embassy to Israel is “not an administrative decision.” “It is an act of political assault on Palestinian rights and identity and a negation of the Consulate’s historic status and function, dating back nearly two hundred years.” Ashrawi stressed, “The US administration is subsuming Palestine under Israel and aligning itself with the racist Israeli right, which negates Palestinian identity, history, narrative, and national rights.” She continued, “It is positioning itself with rogue states that have no regard for international law or respect for the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, a founding principle of the international order as we know it.”….
Palestinian leader calls for boycott of new US embassy unit
JERUSALEM (AP) 7 Mar — The Palestinian leadership is urging the international community to boycott the newly created U.S. Embassy unit that will handle relations with Palestinians. Palestinian official Saeb Erekat issued a statement Thursday calling upon the diplomatic community “not to engage in any kind of formal relationship or collaboration” with the new Palestinian affairs unit, which will take over the responsibilities of the shuttered U.S. consulate. The U.S. move to close the consulate earlier this week was the latest decision from the Trump administration to infuriate the Palestinians, who view the closure as a “downgrade” and “new assault” on the prospect of a U.S.-brokered solution to the conflict. The U.S. move to close the consulate earlier this week was the latest decision from the Trump administration to infuriate the Palestinians, who view the closure as a “downgrade” and “new assault” on the prospect of a U.S.-brokered solution to the conflict.
EU not to transfer any headquarters to East Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Mar — The European Union has affirmed the commitment of the Member States not to transfer any of its headquarters to East Jerusalem, in response to the recent American step of merging its consulate with its embassy in Jerusalem. Al Ray reports that EU spokesman Shadi Othman said, in a press statement, that the EU is committed to the position of European countries, which confirms that East Jerusalem is an occupied land, and that this position will not change….
‘Overwhelming’ opposition at UN for Israel’s tax deduction from Palestinians, Kuwaiti envoy says
AP & Reuters 8 Mar — An “overwhelming” number of UN Security Council members oppose Israel’s decision to deduct money that Palestinians transfer to the families of people killed, injured or imprisoned for attacks on Israel from their monthly tax revenue, Kuwait’s ambassador to the United Nations said Friday, as the United States accused Palestinians of manufacturing the crisis over the tax transfer. Mansour Al-Otaibi told reporters after a closed-door council meeting that Israel’s action was “in violation of existing bilateral agreements.” U.S. Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt came to New York from Washington to defend close ally Israel. He told the council that the Palestinian Authority‘s decision to reject the latest tax transfer was only hurting the Palestinian people because they were rejecting the 95 percent of the tax revenue that Israel is not withholding, according to a diplomat at the meeting. Greenblatt said it was “entirely inappropriate to focus on Israel,” which was withholding 5 percent to 7 percent of the monthly tax revenue because of the Palestinian Authority’s “abhorrent practice” of paying that money “to terrorists and their families,” a diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions were private….
IDF sought monetary support in Japan for Palestinians in West Bank, Gaza
Jpost 4 Mar by Tovah Lazaroff — Two top IDF officers were in Japan last week to seek financial support for humanitarian projects to help Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The visit by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Maj.-Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun and the head of COGAT’s Civil Department, Col. Sharon Biton, comes as the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations are struggling to make up for the loss of over $500 million of United States contributions. “They met with Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Kono and talked about ways to promote stability in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip. They emphasized projects in the industry, hi-tech and medical sectors,” a COGAT spokesperson said….
EU court upholds freeze on Hamas funds
Al Jazeera 6 Mar — A European Union court has rejected a challenge by Hamas against its 2015 listing as a “terrorist” organisation, a decision that made the Palestinian group liable to EU sanctions. The EU General Court’s ruling was the latest rejection of Hamas‘s efforts to be struck from an EU blacklist created in 2001 – a list based on a UN resolution following the 9/11 attacks in the United States. “In today’s judgment, the General Court looks into each of the arguments made by Hamas and rejects them in their totality,” the Luxembourg-based court said in a statement on Wednesday. As a result, said the court, “the decision to extend the freezing of Hamas funds is confirmed.” … Adding Hamas to the “terrorist” list was prompted by an order by the British home secretary and also by a decision from the US secretary of state, which has designated Hamas as a foreign terrorist organisation since 1997, according to the court….
Far-rightists cleared for Israel election, Arab party blocked
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 7 Mar by Dan Williams — Israel’s election board has approved far-right Jewish candidates accused by rivals of racism for next month’s election while disqualifying an Arab party that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said supported terrorism. The Central Elections Committee’s decisions, taken late on Wednesday, were unlikely to be implemented before court appeals, but stoked an already acrimonious race for the April 9 vote. Facing a corruption case and a merger of centrist parties that could defeat him, the conservative Netanyahu has allied with an ultra-nationalist list that includes the Jewish Power party to boost his chances. The elections committee, made up of members of the outgoing parliament, struck down motions that had sought to bar as racist Jewish Power’s Michael Ben-Ari and Itamar Ben-Gvir, who are adherents of late anti-Arab rabbi Meir Kahane … The committee also voted 17-10 to bar the joint Arab party Raam-Balad from the election in accordance with a motion filed by Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party. Likud says the Balad faction wants to eliminate Israel as a Jewish state and backs Palestinian and Lebanese militants….
Hamas leader warns Israel against launching pre-poll ‘adventure’ in Gaza
The National 5 Mar — Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against a military “adventure” in the Gaza Strip ahead of an early election in Israel next month. Mr Netanyahu faces corruption charges before the April 9 vote, but plans to defend himself, instead of standing down. Asked about a potential Israeli attack, Mr Haniyeh said: “If the [Israeli] occupation or Netanyahu think of an adventure, I think they will pay the price that will send them away.” Mr Haniyeh also said Hamas did not care who won the Israeli election. But Mr Netanyahu’s closest election rival is a man who led the Israeli military during the last Gaza war in 2014, in which more than 2,000 Palestinians were killed.
UN delays publication of report on firms linked to Israeli settlements
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Mar — The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights delayed the publication of the report and database of firms linked to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, causing outrage among activists who have campaigned for three years. According to Reuters news outlet, the issue is highly sensitive as firms appearing in such a database could be targeted for boycotts or divestment aimed at pressuring Israel over its illegal settlements in the West Bank, which 196 governments and the United Nations recognize as illegal. Goods produced in Israeli settlements include fruits, vegetables, and wine. Israel has criticized the database, whose creation was agreed by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2016, as a “blacklist.” Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that despite progress made since launching the study, further work was needed due to the “novelty of the mandate and its legal, methodological and factual complexity.” In a letter to the Human Rights Council, Bachelet said that her office aimed to finalize and issue the study “in coming months.”….
Texas state government says it won’t work with Airbnb over Israel policies
The Hill 7 Mar by John Bowden — Officials in Texas said Thursday that the state would end its relationship with home rental company Airbnb due to the company’s recent decision to delist residences in disputed territories including the West Bank. Texas officials told The Dallas Morning News that the decision was linked to opposition to the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which urges businesses and governments to avoid doing business with Israel due to Jerusalem’s treatment of Palestinians. The decision makes “very clear that our state stands with Israel and its people against those wishing to undermine Israel’s economy and the wellbeing of its people,” the state comptroller’s office told the Morning News. Airbnb announced last year that it would remove around 200 listings from Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which lie on territory disputed by Palestinian and Israeli authorities. The decision also caused controversy in Israel, which views the settlements as legal. On Thursday, the company argued that it “reject[s]” the BDS movement and made the decision as part of a larger policy to not list residences in disputed territories around the world on its site. Other territories affected by the policy reportedly include South Ossetia and Abkhazia. “We unequivocally reject and oppose the BDS movement and are disappointed by the decision,” Airbnb told the Morning News in a statement. “There are over 20,000 Airbnb hosts in Israel who open their doors and showcase the best of Israeli hospitality to guests from around the world.”