Media Analysis

Israeli forces kill a Palestinian paramedic volunteer, 18, in Bethlehem

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West Bank / Jerusalem

Paramedic’s father: ‘My son thought he wouldn’t be shot wearing his vest’
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Mar — A young paramedic volunteer [said to be 18 years old] was killed by Israeli fire, Wednesday morning, during violent confrontations that broke out in Deheisheh refugee camp, in the south of Bethlehem, while wearing his medical relief uniform. The father of Sajed Abdel Hakim Helmi Mezher, Abdul-Hakeem Mezher, narrated to PNN the last moments of the young man’s life and his determination to extend a helping hand to the wounded youth. Abdul-Hakeem said that he woke up at dawn and was preparing his sons to go to their schools. Among them was Sajed, who was studying for a university exam. At the outbreak of confrontations, Sajed insisted on going out and helping the injured with the paramedic crews. “I begged him not to leave, I told him that the soldiers wouldn’t care if he was wearing a medical vest or not, but he insisted on going. He thought they wouldn’t shoot someone wearing a medical vest,” the father said. “He told me that he cannot abandon the wounded at this moment, saying he was trained to provide humanitarian aid at times like this. He told me not to worry and that he was protected under international law wearing his official uniform… but, he was still shot and killed.”
Popular committees announced a general strike following the killing of Mizher, who was buried in his final resting place at the Martyr’s Cemetery, in Irtas village. Further confrontations broke out at the northern entrance of Bethlehem, following the funeral. The Palestinian Medical Relief Society, in a statement, said that Sajed was shot in the abdomen with live ammunition as he was performing his duty dressed in his first aid uniform, during a raid by Israeli forces on the camp.

[The World Health Organization (WHO) strongly condemned today the Israeli army killing of Sajed Mezher, a first responder working with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society in the occupied West Bank.]

Israeli forces shoot, injure 8 Palestinians in Birzeit protest
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 Mar — Eight Palestinians were shot and injured as Israeli forces suppressed a peaceful march in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners, in front of Birzeit University, in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, on Wednesday. According to local sources, Israeli forces attacked Palestinian protesters who took part in a peaceful march in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners, following recent violence at Israeli prisons. Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, sound bombs, and sound grenades towards protesters. Sources confirmed that eight Palestinians were shot and injured with rubber-coated steel bullets, while dozens of others, including a WAFA photojournalist, suffered from tear-gas inhalation. Sources mentioned that Israeli forces repeatedly fired tear-gas bombs towards medical crews and journalists in the area. Palestinian protesters managed to ignite an Israeli military jeep on fire after throwing a Molotov cocktail towards it, forcing Israeli soldiers to abandon the vehicle. No injuries were reported among Israeli soldiers.

Army attacks children while leaving their school in West Bank city
HEBRON (WAFA) 27 Mar – Israeli soldiers attacked today Palestinian schoolchildren while they were leaving their school in the Israeli army-controlled part of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, reported WAFA correspondent. She said that soldiers threw stun grenades at Hebron Elementary School for Boys and harassed the students in the street after leaving their school causing panic and fear among the children as well as suffocation from the gas. Previously, Palestinian children going to or leaving their schools in the Israeli–controlled area of Hebron, known as H2, were accompanied by members of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), an international civilian monitoring force, until Israel canceled in February their mandate and kicked them out of the West Bank after 22 years of service. As a result, Israeli settlers and army harassment of Palestinian school children has become rampant.

Israeli army explosive remnant leaves five Palestinian minors injured in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM,(WAFA) 25 Mar – At least five minors were injured after unexploded ordnance left behind by Israeli army went off in Rashaydeh area, southeast of Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank, said Palestinian police spokesperson Loay Zreqat. The Israeli army usually conducts drills in the occupied West Bank, especially in the Jordan Valley; Palestinian families often receive notices ordering them to leave their homes for various periods until the drills are over. Palestinians living in these areas have to worry about unexploded ordnance left behind by the Israeli army after the drills, which have led to the death of many Palestinians, including children, over the past years.

Israeli gas bomb causes fire in a home in Tubas
IMEMC 2 Mar — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday at dawn, Tubas city in northeastern West Bank, and attacked local protesters by randomly firing gas bombs in several directions, causing a fire in one home. The head of Tubas Department of Civil Defense, Hilal Hammad, stated that the soldiers fired many gas bombs at protesters and many surrounding homes. He added that one of the bombs smashed the window of a room rented by Hamada Abu Nasiriya in a home owned by Mohammad Rayeq Daraghma, and caused fire in the furniture. Firefighters rushed to the scene and extinguished the fire before it spread to the rest of the property.

Israeli forces raid emergency service center, house, near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 26 Mar – Israeli forces raided an emergency medical service center and a Palestinian resident’s house on the road between Ramallah and Nablus, said local sources. Sources told WAFA a number of Israeli military vehicles stormed an area located adjacent to the al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah city, and raided Fadi Kareem medical service center and house, and ordered them to hand over the security cameras’ recordings.  Israeli forces held the emergency staff inside the center and prevented people from leaving or entering.

Video: Children denied entry to mosque – Hebron
Al-Khalil (Hebron) 18 Mar by ISM Al-Khalil Team — A group of small school children are stopped by the Israeli Defense forces for over an hour at an illegal checkpoint on their way to a school field trip to their local Mosque, in Al-Khalil. Tourists and other Palestinians alike are also held and denied entry. This is the daily life for the youth in Hebron.

Vulnerable Palestinian homes come under attack by Jewish settlers in Hebron area
HEBRON (WAFA) 23 Mar – Jewish settlers armed with guns and protected by Israeli soldiers attacked early today vulnerable Palestinian homes near the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba east of the occupied city of Hebron in the south of the West Bank, according to WAFA correspondent. He said the Kiryat Arba settlers threw rocks at the Palestinian homes and cars in an area referred to as Wad Hussein causing panic and concern of a possible rampage and massacre. He said the neighborhood that came under attack is located near the settlement and near a building recently occupied by hardcore settlers and on a road settlers use to reach the Ibrahimi mosque, also called Cave of the Patriarchs, in Hebron. Palestinian families in this area complain of regular attacks by settlers, particularly as the settlers celebrate Jewish holidays such as Purim, which coincided this weekend, and on Saturdays, when Jews supposedly mark the Sabbath.

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian woman, son, in Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 23 Mar – Israeli settlers attacked this afternoon a woman and her son in Tel Romeida neighborhood of the occupied city of Hebron in the south of the West Bank, according to local and Palestinian security forces. They told WAFA that settlers from an illegal settlement outpost in the neighborhood attacked the woman and her son while they were in their home, located near the settlement. The settlers beat the woman and her son and verbally attacked them.

Settlers raid two elementary schools
IMEMC/Agencies 27 Mar — A group of Israeli settlers attempted to raid two Palestinian elementary schools on Tuesday afternoon, in the Tuqu‘ village, southeast of the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem. Locals told Ma’an News Agency that heavily armed Israeli forces escorted a group of Israeli settlers who were gathered, holding Israeli flags, near the two mixed elementary schools, and attempted to break in. Sources mentioned that teachers and school staff prevented Israeli settlers from entering the premises and closed the main gates. The attack caused panic among the students, forcing the two schools to dismiss them early, in fear that the settlers would become violent. No injuries were reported.

Israeli settlers vandalize vehicles, spray racist graffiti in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 25 Mar — Israeli settlers vandalized and spray painted racist, anti-Arab slogans, on the walls and doors of a Palestinian-owned home, on Monday, on Mount Scopus, in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem. Bassam Abu Leil, one of the owners of the vandalized vehicles, said that Israeli settlers punctured the tires of 28 Palestinian-owned vehicles. Abu Leil mentioned that one of the slogans spray painted on the home read, “revenge,” and the Star of David was painted on vehicles. The vandalized vehicles belong to four Palestinian families, which were identified as al-Abidi, Abu Leil, Shenk, and Odeh. Abu Leil added that Israeli police arrived to the scene, took fingerprints and immediately removed all the graffiti.

Israeli settlers vandalize Palestinian vehicles in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 25 Mar — Israeli settlers Monday morning scrawled racist graffiti and slashed the tires of some thirty Palestinian vehicles near the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Residents of the Ard al-Samar area told WAFA that suspected Israeli settlers slashed the tires of 28 vehicles and spray-painted racist and anti-Palestinian slogans on vehicles. The Star of David and slogans threatening revenge against Palestinians were scrawled in Hebrew on one of the vehicles.

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian cars near Nablus with stones
NABLUS (WAFA) 24 Mar – Israeli settlers Sunday attacked with stones Palestinian-registered vehicles passing near the village of Jit, south of Nablus, in the occupied West Bank, said WAFA correspondent. Dozens of settlers gathered near the village and proceeded to attack Palestinian cars with stones, causing damages to two cars. No injuries were reported.
Forces reportedly intensified their military measures in the vicinity of Nablus, blocking off Qalqilia-Nablus road and setting up flying checkpoints at Beita town to the south of Nablus after an Israeli settlers’ bus caught fire.

Rocks thrown at Israeli settlers’ vehicles near Ramallah
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Mar — Rocks were thrown at Israeli settlers’ vehicles in northern al-Bireh in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah and al-Bireh, on Friday noon. Hebrew-language news sites reported that Palestinian youths reportedly threw rocks at Israeli settlers’ vehicles on the road between the illegal Israeli settlements of Psagot and Beit El. The glass of one vehicle was smashed; however, no injuries were reported.

Israeli settlers chop down trees in Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 25 Mar – Israeli settlers chopped down Palestinian trees in the southern West Bank area of al-Bweira, east of Hebron. Khalifa Da‘na, a local landowner, told WAFA that settlers from the illegal Israeli settlements of Kiryat Arba and Kharsina took chance of the rainy weather to uproot his forest and almond trees. Israeli settlers and forces have repeatedly attacked al-Bweira area, which is considered one of Hebron’s richest areas in plants and trees.

Settlers chop off olive trees near Nablus
Nablus (WAFA) 29 Mar – Israeli settlers on Friday uprooted and chopped down dozens of Palestinian-owned olive trees near the village of Burin, to the south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, according to Palestinian security sources. Jewish settlers from the illegal Yitzhar settlement, nearby, uprooted and chopped down the olive trees belonging to local Palestinian citizen Majed Zeben.

Jordan Valley: Settlers plant olive trees on Palestinian-owned land
IMEMC/Agencies 30 Mar — Israeli settlers planted olive trees in pasture land belonging to Palestinians in al-Farisya village, east of Tubas, in the northern Jordan Valley, raising fear among the Palestinian residents of an impending seizure of their land for the benefit of settlers. Aref Daraghmeh, a local rights activist, said a number of settlers stormed the pasture area in al-Farisiya village, which is located near the illegal Israeli settlement of  ‘Rotem’, and proceeded to plant dozens of olive trees, there….

Minors among 19 Palestinians detained by Israeli forces
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 Mar — Israeli forces detained at least 19 Palestinians, including minors, across the occupied West Bank, on predawn Wednesday. Palestine Prisoners Society (PPS) said that Israeli forces detained three Palestinians in the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem. They were identified as Maali Maali, Mahmoud Walid al-Laham, and Muhammad Razeq Hamash. In the central West Bank district of Jerusalem, PPS said that six Palestinians were detained. They were identified as Muhammad Naju Abu Jumaa, Nayef Wassim Abeed, Muhammad Mashhour, Khalil Sari, Muhammad Mushahra, and Hussam Zaatir. In the central West Bank district of Ramallah, seven Palestinians were detained. PPS identified them as Ahmad Mansour Atta, 19, Adel Haitham Dar Atta, 17, Akram Nafaa Zahran, 19, Mahmoud Ibrahim Nafaa Zahran, 20, Yousef Nadmi Atta, 17, Muhammad Rashad Zahran, 25, Muhammad Ahmad Salah, 31. In the northern West Bank district of Nablus, one Palestinian was detained and identified as Abada Awad. In the northern West Bank district of Jenin, another two Palestinians were detained. PPS identified them as Qassam Muhammad Jabarin and Sultan Muayed al-Amar.
According to prisoners rights group Addameer, there are 5,440 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli prisons, including 209 minors, 46 of whom under 16 years old.

Fatima spreads hope for integrating people with disabilities (Photo Story)
IMEMC/Agencies 27 Mar — Meet Fatima, she is working at the “Community Based Rehabilitation” (CBR), an organization that advocates for the rights of people with disabilities in the north of the West Bank … Fatima and her colleagues Fayha, Samah and Deema monitor Human Rights violations, support their clients’ claims to governmental assistance and advocate for a more inclusive society. Here they are on their way to visit 4-year old Nour in his home in Jenin … Through their advocacy, Fatima and her team encouraged the Haddad Hotel to become the first barrier free hotel in the northern West bank. They are working hard to multiply this success and to make more public spaces accessible for people with disabilities.


Israeli police detain Palestinian woman for lecturing at Bab al-Rahma prayer area
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 24 Mar – Israeli police detained today a woman after she had left the Dome of the Rock mosque in Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, according to witnesses. They told WAFA correspondent in Jerusalem that police detained Sima Dkeidek after chasing her when she was at Bab al-Rahma prayer area inside the walled holy compound where she was lecturing about the history of the area and Al-Aqsa Mosque in general. Israel is trying to prevent Muslims from using Bab al-Rahma prayer area, which is part of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site, while Palestinians insist on using it at all times. Police meanwhile released last night one of the guards of Al-Aqsa Mosque after holding him for one day….

Israel bans Fatah secretary from Al-Aqsa
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 26 Mar — The Israeli intelligence banned the Fatah movement’s secretary in occupied East Jerusalem, Shadi Mutwar, on Tuesday, from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Sources told Ma‘an that the Israeli police released Mutwar, on Tuesday noon, on the condition of being banned from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for one week. Mutwar was also requested to show up for interrogation next week to be handed an administrative ban order. Israel had previously banned Mutwar from entering the Al-Aqsa compound for 6 months, which has ended on Tuesday, to be immediately renewed.
Mutwar was detained by Israeli forces, on February 1st, while at the Israeli-controlled Allenby Bridge crossing between the West Bank and Jordan, on his way back from a visit to refugee camps in Syria, along with secretaries of the Fatah movement in districts of the West Bank.


Entrance to northern West Bank town blocked, residents forced to take alternate routes
QALQILYA (WAFA) 28 Mar – Israeli forces sealed off the main northern entrance to ‘Azzun town, located to the east of Qalqilya in the north of the occupied West Bank, forcing residents to take longer alternate routes to reach their destination, according to Mohammad Radwan, a local activist. He told WAFA that Israeli forces used large cement cubes to completely block off the town entrance, apparently as a collective punitive measure after a metal gate the army had placed at the entrance was sawed.

Punitive demolition

Israel to demolish family home of Ariel attack suspect
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 26 Mar — Israeli forces delivered a demolition notice, on Tuesday, to the family of killed Palestinian Omar Abu Leila, 19, who carried out a stabbing and shooting attack near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel, in the northern West Bank district of Salfit. The demolition notice against the family home, in the al-Zawiya town in western Salfit, allows the family until the 31st of March to appeal against the order.  Israeli forces delivered the notice to the family after raiding the town on predawn Tuesday. Two Israelis were killed as a result of the attack, while a third was critically injured. Israeli forces had shot and killed Abu Leila, 19, in the Abwein village, north of the central West Bank district of Ramallah, on March 22nd. Israel always demolishes family homes of Palestinians, who were involved in attacking Israelis as part of its collective punishment policy against the Palestinian people.


Palestinian succumbs to wounds sustained in Gaza night protests
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — A 20-year-old Palestinian succumbed to wounds, on Saturday morning, that he had sustained during Friday night protests, also known as “Night Confusion,” east of Gaza City in the central besieged Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed, in a statement, that Muhammad Jihad Saad, 20, was injured in the head with bullet shrapnel, and transferred to the al-Shifa Hospital for medical treatment, where he was pronounced dead on Saturday morning. At least 11 Palestinians were injured alongside the eastern border fence of the Gaza Strip during “Night Confusion” protests.

Palestinian dies from serious wounds he suffered in Gaza
IMEMC 24 Mar — The Palestinian Health Ministry in the besieged Gaza Strip has reported, on Sunday at dawn, that a young man died from serious wounds he suffered, on Saturday at night, after Israeli soldiers shot him in the northern part of the coastal region. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, has reported that the Palestinian has been identified as Habeeb al-Masri, 24. He added that the Palestinian was shot during a protest near the perimeter fence, east of Beit Hanoun in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, after the soldiers targeted many protesters with live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets and high-velocity gas bombs. The Palestinian suffered a very serious injury after a soldier shot him with a live round in the chest, and was rushed to the Indonesian Hospital, in Jabalia, before he was moved to the Shifa Medical Center in Gaza city, due to the seriousness of his wounds. Dr. al-Qedra said that, despite all efforts to save his life, the Palestinian succumbed to his wounds at dawn, Sunday. The soldiers also injured at least two other Palestinians with live fire and caused many to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation….

800 Palestinians protest at Gaza border; 11 wounded as Israel amasses tanks
IMEMC 29 Mar — In an update from an earlier report, in which IMEMC reported that 2 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli gunfire on Friday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health has now reported that 11 Palestinian protesters were wounded, including one who was shot in the chest in a protest east of Rafah, in southern Gaza. Additionally, on Friday evening, Israeli forces fired two shells at a building in Juhr ad-Deek area southeast of Gaza City, causing damage to the building …  The protests were smaller than the usual weekly protests have been, as Palestinians in Gaza gear up for major protests on Saturday to commemorate the 43rd Palestinian Land Day. It was Land Day 2018 that sparked the weekly protest movement known as the Great March of Return, which has taken place every week since March 30, 2018  … Friday’s protests took place in four locations along the eastern border of Gaza, with Israeli tanks and troops lined up on the other side of the border. The troops and tanks have been amassing there since Monday, apparently planning for a land invasion of Gaza to accompany the airstrikes that have been ongoing all week, and have destroyed at least thirty buildings, including high rise apartment and office buildings….

Cease-fire talks continue ahead of Gaza anniversary rally
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 29 Mar by Fares Akram & Isabel DeBre— Cease-fire talks between Israel and Hamas progressed Friday, the leader of the Islamic militant group said, as the Gaza Strip braced for renewed violence on the eve of the first anniversary of its weekly protests along the frontier with Israel. The anniversary event could prove combustible, coming days before the Israeli elections and following a round of heavy cross-border fighting, ignited by a rocket launched from Gaza that slammed into a house in central Israel earlier this week. Egyptian mediators shuttled between Gaza and Israel throughout the day, according to the main Gaza factions, relaying messages and proposing solutions to tamp down the scale and intensity of the expected rally. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement that the militant group is “at a crossroads” in the latest round of talks with Egyptian officials. Haniyeh said Hamas is demanding the delivery of aid and goods to the blockaded Gaza Strip, an end to water and electricity shortages, and job creation programs to mitigate the territory’s 50 percent unemployment rate…
Hamas has been mobilizing its resources and urging Palestinians to come out in force to five locations along the Israeli security fence on Saturday. Protest organizers installed tents near the border equipped with electricity and internet connection for demonstrators. The main Gaza City hospital has erected a triage tent in anticipation of a massive influx of casualties. Israel bolstered its forces around the enclave in advance….

11 Palestinians shot, injured in Gaza’s night protests
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Mar — Eleven Palestinians were injured with Israeli live fire during night protests in the central and northern Gaza Strip, on late Thursday. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza confirmed that five Palestinian protesters were injured east of Jabaliya, in northern Gaza, while another six were injured east of Gaza City, in central Gaza. The ministry added that the 11 Palestinians suffered various injuries. However, their medical condition remained unknown. Israeli forces repeatedly fired live ammunition and tear-gas bombs towards the large groups of protesters, as Palestinians ignited dozens of rubber tires on fire.

Losses exceed $2 million for Gaza in latest Israeli aggression
IMEMC/Agencies 30 Mar — The Palestinian Ministry of Public Works and Housing in the Gaza Strip, on Thursday, said that the recent Israeli military aggression on the besieged enclave resulted in complete destruction of 30 houses and partial damage to 500 others. Deputy minister Naji Sarhan announced, during a press conference, that the estimated losses following the Israeli shelling of homes and civil institutions over the past few days exceeded $2 million. Sarhan accused the Israeli occupation army of deliberately using excessive force, which caused serious damage to residential buildings and civilian facilities. The destruction also affected the surrounding buildings, which led to the displacement of hundreds of Palestinian citizens.

Electricity cuts off, leaving thousands without heating in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Mar — Large areas in the besieged Gaza Strip had its electricity cut off since predawn Friday due to failure of a second power generator. The Electric Distribution Company in Gaza confirmed that a second power generator has stopped working, since 4 a.m., leaving thousands of Gaza residents battling the recent cold weather, without any means of heating. The electricity cut off in Gaza City, in central Gaza, as well as Khan Younis and Rafah in southern Gaza. The company added that electricity is expected to operate normally as soon as the generator is fixed.

Israeli navy opens heavy fire at Gazan fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Mar — Israeli naval forces opened heavy fire, on Friday, towards Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the southern besieged Gaza Strip. A Ma‘an reporter said that Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinians fishing boats within the permitted fishing zone, near Khan Younis, forcing the fishermen to head back to shore in fear for their lives. No injuries were reported.

Egyptian mediators rush to Gaza Strip as cease-fire holds
AP 27 Mar — Egyptian delegation enters Gaza, will attempt to extend truce and end Friday border protests; Haniyeh urged Palestinians to come out in force to the Saturday demonstration — Egyptian mediators rushed to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday and Hamas’ supreme leader emerged from his hideout as an unofficial cease-fire between Israel and the Islamic militant group appeared to take hold.  The Egyptian delegation sought to cement the truce that ended two days of heavy fighting between the bitter enemies. They face a key test on Saturday, when Hamas is planning a mass demonstration to mark the one-year anniversary of weekly protests along the Israeli border. In a sign that both sides had stepped back from a major conflagration, Hamas’ supreme leader Ismail Haniyeh made his first public appearance since violence with Israel erupted earlier this week. During times of fighting, Hamas leaders typically go underground, fearing assassination by Israel. Standing before the rubble of his Gaza City office, which was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike on Monday, he declared that “the Israeli occupation got the message.” Haniyeh urged Palestinians to come out in force to the Saturday demonstration. The Israeli military bolstered its forces along the Gaza frontier in advance … Palestinian media reported that the Egyptian mediators would offer Hamas economic incentives in exchange for its commitment to end the protests.,7340,L-5485569,00.html

Gaza tense after Israel, Hamas exchange heavy fire overnight
JERUSALEM (AP) 26 Mar — Israeli aircraft bombed targets across the Gaza Strip and Gaza militants fired rockets into Israel early Tuesday, the second day of cross-border fighting that erupted in the last stretch of a closely contested race for Israeli prime minister between the long-serving incumbent and an ex-army chief. The latest violence was triggered by a surprise rocket fired early Monday from Gaza, a territory ruled since 2007 by the Islamic militant group Hamas. The rocket slammed into a house in central Israel and injured seven people. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would cut short a visit to Washington, Israel sent troop reinforcements to the Gaza border and Hamas leaders went into hiding — signals that both sides are heading into perhaps the most serious confrontation since a 2014 Israel-Hamas war.  Late Monday, Hamas announced a cease-fire had been brokered by Egyptian mediators, but the cross-border strikes continued into early Tuesday … Israel opened public bomb shelters in most major cities and civil defense authorities canceled sports events and public transportation in southern Israel. The Israeli army said several dozen rockets had been fired into Israel on Monday and Tuesday, as air raid sirens wailed across southern Israel. The army said nearly all rockets were either intercepted or landed in open areas. Israeli airstrikes hit military sites for Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad group. Gaza’s Health Ministry said seven Palestinians were injured in the airstrikes. Targets included the office of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh … Haniyeh issued a statement warning Israel against heavy retaliation. He said the Palestinian people “will not surrender” and its militant factions “will deter the enemy if it exceeds the red lines.” Another blast destroyed a multistory building in Gaza City that Israel said had served as a Hamas military intelligence headquarters. The airstrike was so powerful it sent debris flying onto the roof of The Associated Press bureau on the 11th floor of a nearby high-rise….

Rafah crossing continues to operate as normal
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 26 Mar — Palestinian security sources confirmed, on Monday, that the Rafah border crossing, on the Egyptian-Palestinian borders in the southern besieged Gaza Strip, is operating as normal in both directions. Sources added that the crossing would continue to operate as normal as they have not received any notices of closure. Security sources at the crossing reported that 317 Palestinians traveled from the Gaza Strip to Egypt, on Monday, while 83 Palestinians crossed from Egypt to Gaza.

Israel closes Kerem Shalom, Erez border crossings
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Mar — Israeli authorities decided to close Kerem Shalom, Gaza’s main commercial crossing, on Monday. Raed Fattouh, an official responsible for the entry of goods into Gaza, confirmed that Israeli border authorities informed him regarding the closure. Fattouh said that the crossing would be closed until further notice. Israeli authorities also decided to close the Erez (Beit Hanoun) crossing, in northern Gaza. The closure of the two border crossings came after a Gaza rocket struck an Israeli house, north of Tel Aviv City, in central Israel, injuring seven Israelis.

Israeli military fires missile toward motorcycle, injuring three Palestinians, in Gaza
IMEMC 23 Mar by Celine Hagbard — The Israeli airforce targeted a motorcycle carrying three Palestinians on Saturday, injuring all three, in Central Gaza Strip. According to the Palestinian news agency Al Ray, a military aircraft targeted a motorcycle belonging to a citizen near Jaker Street, east of al-Boreij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed that three wounded Palestinians were transported to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the central part of the Gaza Strip for treatment. The al-Boreij camp is located in the central eastern part of the Gaza Strip, and is a frequent target of Israeli military attacks.

Gaza protests one year on: Almost 3,000 children injured in Gaza protests required hospital treatment
Save the Children 28 Mar — Save the Children and its partners have spoken to more than a thousand children impacted by the protests many of whom are struggling to come to terms with life-changing injuries … At least 49 children have been killed at the Gaza border fence since the start of the protests one year ago, confirmed by the WHO.(2) According to the UN over 6,000 children have so far been injured in Gaza protests by a combination of injuries including those hit by live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas.(3) According to WHO, 2,980 children were so badly wounded that they required hospital care.(4) The UN mandated Commission of Inquiry reported that children had been shot at by Israeli soldiers with live ammunition and rubber bullets and have been treated for tear gas inhalation fired across the parameter fence. (5) Many of those who survived have suffered life-changing injuries and have been denied, or unable to gain access to, adequate medical care to address their needs. The demand for specialist medical support has far exceeded Gaza’s health system, which has been crippled by years of the blockade. According to WHO data, 80% of children injured at the protests who applied to leave Gaza to receive emergency medical treatment in Israel over the last year have had their permits rejected or delayed. (6)….

UK aid to support struggling hospital ‘near breaking point’ in Gaza
Department for International Development Press Release 28 Mar — Struggling hospitals across Gaza will receive critical support through a new package of UK aid announced today (28 March), which will provide urgently needed medicines and surgical supplies. The funding, confirmed by the International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, will help to keep Gaza’s hospitals functioning as they face increasing demand from the number of trauma patients. Hospitals in Gaza are under extreme pressure, after trauma patients requiring treatment increased month-on-month to more than 29,000 over the last year. Rising demands on hospitals have reduced general access to healthcare, with consistent shortages of medicines and supplies leading to increased rates of infection, and a growing risk of amputations and antibiotic resistance. UK aid will support the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) to deliver urgently needed surgical equipment, medicines, wound dressing kits, prosthetic limbs and post-surgery physiotherapy. It will also help to provide physical rehabilitation services for up to 3,000 disabled people … DFID will provide £2 million [US$2.6 million] to the International Committee for the Red Cross’s (ICRC) 2019 Israel and Occupied Territories (ILOT) Appeal.

PHOTOS: Capturing 24 hours in Gaza, one hour at a time
GAZA (Reuters) 29 Mar 30 images — In the build-up to the one-year anniversary of the Gaza border protests that opened up a deadly new front in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Reuters photographer Dylan Martinez visited Gaza for the first time. As someone who had never set eyes on Gaza, his assignment was to use those unfamiliar eyes to record life beyond the daily drumbeat of violence in the blockaded Palestinian territory … Martinez did not know what to expect after he crossed through Israel’s fortified checkpoint and past a long caged walkway and parallel road leading to a dilapidated Palestinian checkpoint at the other end. “We have a great team of photographers and journalists in Gaza whose main task, really, is to photograph the protest, the clashes between Israel and Gaza,” said Martinez, 49, a 28-year Reuters veteran who has covered Europe, Asia and the Americas and is currently based in London. “My remit, I think, was to do pretty much anything but that. Because everyone has seen that side of Gaza.”….

Gaza graduate challenges unemployment by planting flowers
[photos] IMEMC/Agencies 27 Mar — In her new world, Rewaa al-Najjar, carrying the watering pot, moves among the beautiful flowers which she has decided to make the plan that will save her from unemployment. The 22-year-old graduate, living in Bani Suheila town in the southern Gaza Strip province of Khan Younis, spends most of her day in a greenhouse neighboring her home where over 20 varieties of flowers and roses are planted … Rewaa told the PIC reporter that her decision was not easy given that the profession in the Gaza Strip is exclusive to men. The circumstances did not prevent her from doing what she wanted. Rewaa graduated from the faculty of nursing at the University of Palestine and found no job opportunity except to volunteer in a number of health institutions in the Gaza Strip. She later decided to launch her own project. “I saw an advertisement by Save the Future Society offering to adopt agricultural ideas and initiatives. I registered and was accepted three months later. After that I received practical training in agriculture,” Rewaa said.

Palestinian journalist wins appeal over Gaza corruption report
Al Jazeera 25 Mar — A Palestinian journalist has been acquitted on appeal over an investigative report about corruption in the besieged Gaza Strip on Monday, according to Amnesty International and local media reports. Hajar Harb, a 34-year-old Palestinian journalist from Gaza, revealed in 2016 investigation that doctors in Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry were writing false medical reports to allow healthy people to leave the enclave for treatment in exchange for money. One of the few reasons Israeli authorities permit Palestinians to leave the blockaded strip is to seek medical treatment abroad. In October of that year, two doctors launched legal proceedings accusing her of defamation and “publishing false information,” Amnesty International said in February. The investigative journalist was tried while away in neighbouring Jordan receiving treatment for breast cancer.  On June 4, 2017, she was sentenced to six months in prison and fined with 1,000 shekels ($276), but the appeals court overruled the decision….

Palestinian writer has fingers smashed in Gaza beating
The Guardian 23 Mar by Oliver Holmes in Jerusalem and Hazem Balousha in Gaza — A UK publisher has condemned an attack by masked men in Gaza on a Palestinian writer and political figure, Atef Abu Saif, accusing the assailants of deliberately breaking his fingers. Comma Press, a not-for-profit publisher that worked with Abu Saif, said that the beating on Monday night had almost killed him. “He was hospitalised with a broken leg, broken arm, fractured skull, and lacerations to his face and upper body. Most notably, the assailants broke his fingers in right arm – a recognised punishment for writers,” Ra Page, founder of Comma Press, said in an email. “We’re all shocked and appalled by this turn of events,” he added. No group has claimed responsibility for the assault, which happened during the peak of several days of protest in Gaza against tax hikes by its rulers, Hamas, whose forces have been accused of violently suppressing the rallies. Abu Saif has worked for Fatah as a spokesperson for more than a year, but Hamas denies it sent men to beat him. Author of The Drone Eats with Me, a diary of the 2014 war between Hamas and Israel, Abu Saif is also a frequent opinion writer, with articles in the Guardian and the New York Times

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

On eve of Land Day, Israeli continues expropriation of Palestinian land
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 28 Mar – As Palestinians mark the 43rd anniversary of Land Day, Israel’s expropriation of Palestinian land in the occupied territories continues unabated, according to a report by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) published today. On 30 March 1976, thousands of Palestinians inside Israel demonstrated against Israeli government confiscation of 21,000 dunums (1 dunum equals 1000 square meters) of their land. Israeli police responded violently to the demonstrations killing six young Palestinians. Since then, Palestinians at home and in the Diaspora have been marking Land Day with rallies and remembrance. On the eve of this Land Day commemoration, Ola Awad, president of the PCBS, highlighted Land Day in statistical figures, as follows: Israel occupies more than 85% of the total area of the historical land of Palestine, which totals about 27,000 square kilometers. Palestinians, the original population of the land and who comprise 48% of the total population of historical Palestine, utilize only 15% of their ancestral land….

Israeli forces halt construction on water well near Tubas
TUBAS (WAFA) 25 Mar – Israeli forces Monday morning ordered a halt on the construction of a water well in the northern West Bank village of Tayasir, east of Tubas. Motaz Bsharat, who monitors Israeli violations in the Jordan Valley, told WAFA that Israeli forces handed Mohammad Debek, a villager, a notice allowing him only until April 10th to halt the construction of his water well purportedly for being built without a permit. Based on data provided by the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem (2006 statistics), Tayasir village occupies 26,000 dunums, including 500 dunums which are classified as ‘built up’ area, 5,000 dunums as agricultural,  and as much as 82 percent of the villagers were involved in agriculture for their livelihood, relying on livestock and farming.

Palestinian family demolishes own home near Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — A Palestinian family demolished their own home and steel structures, on Friday evening, in the Pisgat Zeev illegal Israeli settlement that is built on Palestinian lands of the Hizma village north of occupied Jerusalem, upon order by the Israeli High Court. Youssef Askar, family member, said that the family began to demolish their structures upon receiving an order by the Israeli High Court allowing them until mid-April to carry out the demolition themselves. The family would be fined by Israel and forced to pay demolition fees, if the demolition is carried out by Israel. Asmar added that the Israeli authorities have attempted to seize control over the land on which the family property is built for 35 years. The Israeli authorities reportedly claim that the land was previously confiscated, however, when the family proved ownership in Israeli courts, they were told that the land belongs to the Custodian of Absentee Property. Askar pointed out that they had built their home out of cement and steel on the 2-dunam land between 1982 and 1985, in addition to a warehouse and a steel structure used for agricultural purposes.

Israel orders stop-construction of 2 Palestinian homes in Idhna
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 25 Mar — Israeli forces delivered halt-of-construction notices to several Palestinian homes and agricultural structures in Idhna, west of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank, on Monday. The Idhna Municipality reported that Israeli forces delivered stop-construction notices to two houses belonging to locals Shihahdeh and Mahmoud Wajih al-Jayyawi; Shihadeh lives in the house along with his 12-member family. The municipality added that Israeli soldiers also delivered halt-of-construction notices to several agricultural structures in the area.
While Idhna’s built-up areas are predominantly classified as Area B under the Oslo Accords, the majority of its surrounding land is classified Area C.Under the Oslo Accord, building permits must be approved by the Israeli Civil Administration for construction to take place in Area C.  As a result of rarely approved permits, however, Palestinian residents are often forced to build structures without permits, which are liable to be torn down later by Israeli forces.

Video: Natural born settlers
NY Times Op-Doc 19 Mar by Dr. Iris Zaki — I’d never understood the Israeli settlers. So I moved in with them. (This video is part of a series by independent filmmakers supported by the Pulitzer Center.) To someone like me, the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories had always seemed like a burden, and an obstacle to peace. They annoyed me when I read the news and embarrassed me when I introduced myself as an Israeli. I had so many opinions about them. But, I realized, I’d never actually met a settler in person.   So I decided to move from my home in cosmopolitan Tel Aviv to the settlement of Tekoa in the West Bank for a summer. I wanted to make a film about my experiences as I got to know the settlers I’d formed so many conclusions about. These settlements are widely considered illegal under international law, and tend to be depicted in extreme ways that don’t seem realistic….


Israeli guards assault Palestinian prisoners after stabbing
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Mar — Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners were assaulted and injured by Israeli prison guards, Sunday night, in the Negev prison in southern Israel, after Hamas-affiliated prisoners stabbed two Israeli prison guards.  Sources told Ma‘an that hundreds of prisoners were assaulted and injured. Meanwhile, Israeli media reported that only nine prisoners were injured. Those injured were transferred to the Soroka Medical Center for treatment. Israeli news outlets reported Hamas-affiliated prisoners stabbed two Israeli guards, critically injuring one in the neck. Sources added that Israeli Prison Services (IPS) raided sections 5, 7 and 3 of the prison and assaulted prisoners. Prisoners told Ma’an that Israeli guards assaulted prisoners while they were being transferred from section 4 to sections 3 and 7, provoking prisoners who then attacked and stabbed two Israeli guards. Head of the Prisoners and Former Prisoners’ Affairs Committee, Qadri Abu Baker, told the Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa News and Information Agency that two Palestinian prisoners, identified as Islam Yusri Wishahi and Udayy Adel Salem, were critically injured.

Israeli authorities prevent families of Palestinian prisoners in Negev jail from visiting them
JENIN, Monday, March 25, 2019 (WAFA) – Israeli authorities Monday prevented families of Palestinian prisoners held inside its jail in the Naqab (Negev) desert prison, in southern Israel, from visiting them. The father of one of the prisoners, Nabil Abu Obaid, told WAFA that Israeli forces stationed at al-Jalama Israeli military checkpoint to the northeast of Jenin, in the northern West Bank, prevented over 10 families from crossing the checkpoint after being detained and interrogated.

Palestinian detainees launch mass hunger strike
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Mar — The Palestinian Captive Movement, from inside Israeli jails, has announced the launch of an open-ended mass hunger strike in protest of the recent and vicious attacks on Palestinian prisoners, by Israeli authorities. In a statement on Thursday, the Captive Movement urged all prisoners in Israeli jails to take part in the hunger strike, which was dubbed “The Battle of Dignity”, according to Days of Palestine. The statement, which was signed by representatives of prisoners from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, the Popular Front and the Democratic Front, affirmed that the hunger strike was a necessary step to respond to Israel’s escalation of its punitive measures against the prisoners and its persistence in violating their rights.

Other news

How would the decision to stop referral to Israeli hospitals affect patients?
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 28 Mar by Imad Freij – The decision of the Ministry of Health to stop medical transfers to Israeli hospitals raised a number of questions among people regarding alternative hospitals the patients will be transferred to if they cannot be treated in Palestinian hospitals, whether governmental or private, or in Jerusalem hospitals. The spokesman of the Ministry of Health Osama Najjar said that the decision comes in the context of the decisions of the Palestinian leadership to define the relationship with Israel in light of the piracy of the Palestinian clearing funds, explaining that the current patients who received medical transfers to Israeli hospitals will continue to receive treatment until completion and will not be affected by the decision. According to data from the Ministry of Health, the bill for the transfers to Israeli hospitals amounts to about $100 million annually….

French consulate employee convicted of smuggling weapons from Gaza
Ynet 28 Mar by Itamar Eichner — A French Jerusalem consulate worker was convicted Thursday of several weapons – related offences, including smuggling arms into the West Bank.  The man, Romain Franck, used an official car to transport guns from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. He was arrested at the Erez border crossing a year ago after he attempted to smuggle some 70 pistols and two assault rifles from Gaza into the West Bank using his French consular vehicle. The State Attorney asked judges to sentence Franck to seven years imprisonment and a penalty.,7340,L-5486166,00.html

Israel group publishes ‘racist’ videos against annexing West Bank
MEMO 22 Mar — An Israeli group which promotes “separation” from the Palestinians has been slammed for publishing a series of “racist” videos, warning against the annexation of the occupied West Bank. Writing in Local Call, Meron Rapoport took to task a series of election-related clips released by The Commanders for Israel’s Security (CIS), a so-called non-partisan group of former army commanders and intelligence officials. According to Rapoport, the videos “can be defined in no other way but racist”. One video portrays Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem “living in filth, among mountains of garbage”, and moving into Jewish settlements such as French Hill and Givat Ze’ev as a result. “To emphasise the danger,” Rapoport describes, “an anonymous Jewish interviewee tells us that on the opposite street, in Givat Ze’ev, ‘everyone there are Arabs’.” “Below is a picture of the West Bank painted red, and then, this red stain extends beyond the West Bank and gradually spreads and covers the entire State of Israel. This is the image chosen to explain what will happen on the day when ‘the Palestinians will receive blue identity cards and choose themselves where to live’.” … According to Rapoport, “the crescendo of the campaign is reached in the next video in which a series of Jewish interviewees are asked what they think about annexation. Here all the dark prejudices hidden by the politically correct public discourse in Israel come out.” “Why annex people who are our enemies,” says the interviewee, “that is like putting cancer into the body.” These words “fill the whole screen”, Rapoport writes. “The Arabs are cancer. Loud and clear.”

Israeli election 2019: Jewish Lawmaker kills Arab colleague in campaign video
IMEMC/Agencies 24 Mar — Knesset member (MK) Jamal Zahalka, the chairman of the Arab-majority Balad party, filed a complaint with the police on Tuesday against MK Oren Hazan (Likud) for incitement to murder, according to Haaretz Israeli daily. Zahalka, who is currently still a member of the Joint List, will also file a separate complaint with the Central Elections Committee, requesting a ban on a video clip posted on Facebook by Hazan’s Tzomet, the new party he launched ahead of the general election on April 9.  The clip features a scene from the Western “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” with Hazan and Zahalka’s heads replacing those of two of the movie’s characters, in which Hazan shoots and kills Zahalka. Zahalka also asked Facebook to remove the clip, citing its racist, violent and inciteful content.

Brazil reneges on Jerusalem embassy move
IMEMC/Agencies 30 Mar — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will apparently not move his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Instead, he may announce the opening of a “business office” in West Jerusalem, during his upcoming two-day visit to Israel, on Thursday. In January, Bolsonaro promised to follow in the footsteps of United States President Donald Trump in relocating the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The move would be a sharp shift in Brazil’s foreign policy, which has constantly backed a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, Bolsonaro and other Brazilian officials recently appeared to have backtracked on the embassy promise, saying the issue “continues to be under consideration,” and would instead open a “business office” in Jerusalem …
Up until now, the US and Guatemala are the only two countries that have transferred their embassies to Jerusalem.

US planning to redraw map of Syria after Golan Heights move: report
AMN 29 Mar — The US State Department says the administration is preparing to redraw all government maps of Israel and the surrounding region to include the Golan Heights as a part of Israel, a department spokesperson told VOA Persian on Thursday. The new maps will be “consistent” with the recent change in US policy, which recognises the occupied Syrian territory of the Golan Heights as a part of the state of Israel, the spokesperson said. This was confirmed by Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, who also said the State Department would “redraw” the maps and publish them “as soon as they are ready”, The Times of Israel reports. (listserv)