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Israeli courts are now complicit in 2015 arson-murder, Dawabshe family says

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Court actions / Prisoners

Palestinian family slams Israeli plea deal in 2015 arson attack
Al Jazeera 14 May — A Palestinian family has denounced a plea deal to clear an Israeli settler from murder charges in a 2015 arson attack in which a Palestinian baby and his parents were burned alive in the occupied West Bank. Saad Dawabshe, 31, his wife, Reham, 27, and their 18-month-old son Ali were killed in the attack when settlers set on fire their home in the village of Duma in Nablus in July 2015. Their firstborn son, then four-year-old Ahmad, was the sole survivor and sustained severe burns to over 60 percent of his body. On Sunday, the Central District Court in Lod (known as al-Lydd to Palestinians) approved a plea deal between the settler’s lawyers and the state prosecutor’s office under which he was cleared of the murder conspiracy charges. As part of the plea bargain, the suspect – whose name has been withheld – pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit a crime motivated by racism. The indictment was modified to specify the crime as arson, and not murder, as had originally been the case. Under the deal, the settler, who was a minor at the time of the attack, would not serve more than five years in prison in connection with the murder. He is still facing charges in relation to three other ideologically motivated incidents, including the torching of a Palestinian taxi in Kafr Yussuf, the burning of a warehouse in Aqraba and vandalism in Beit Safafa.
“This deal proves the complicity of the Israeli judiciary in this horrible crime,” Nasr Dawabsheh, a spokesperson for the family, told Anadolu Agency. “This deal is unfair and encourages the settler gangs to commit more crimes,” he warned….

Israeli court convicts mother of slain Palestinian
IMEMC 17 May — An Israeli military court convicted, Thursday, Wafa’ Na‘alwa, for what it alleged was “her failure to prevent her son from carrying out a deadly shooting attack.” The court claimed that Wafa’ “knew of her son’s intention to carry the shooting attack out,” in Burkan Colony, near Salfit, in the West Bank. It added that Wafa’ failed to stop her son, and “did not do her best in trying to prevent the shooting.” According to the court verdict, her son, Ashraf Na‘alwa, told his mother he had a weapon and intended to sell it, and that he later allegedly told her that he instead intends to carry out a shooting attack. It is worth mentioning that Ashraf Na’alwa was killed by Israeli soldiers on December 13th of last year, two months after he reportedly killed two Israeli settlers, and the army demolished his family’s home as an act of illegal collective punishment, on December 17th.  It is worth mentioning that, prior to killing him, the army repeatedly abducted members of his family, including his father, mother, sisters and brothers.

Israeli army closes case in death of disabled Gaza protester, citing no evidence soldiers shot him
[behind paywall] Haaretz 15 May by Yaniv Kubovich — Ibraheem Abu Thuraya was killed in border protests in December 2017 and medical records show he was shot in the head — The Israeli army’s criminal investigation division has decided to close its probe into the death of Ibraheem Abu Thuraya, a disabled Gazan demonstrator who was killed in December 2017 in protests near the Israeli border. The Israeli army spokesman said Wednesday that the division had questioned soldiers and commanders who had witnessed the incident and also examined video footage of the incident, but found no evidence that Abu Thuraya was killed by direct Israeli army fire … Abu Thuraya’s legs had been amputated in 2008 after he was wounded in an Israeli military operation in Gaza. He was confined to a wheelchair as a result. On December 15, 2017, he took part in a protest along the Israeli border over U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In the course of the demonstration, he was shot and killed. Eyewitnesses said that shortly before he was shot, Abu Thuraya waved a Palestinian flag and shouted at the soldiers …  Abu Thuraya was a resident of the Shati refugee camp and was married with three children….

Court overturns Palestinian’s incitement conviction over poem
+972 Mag 16 May by Oren Ziv — An Israeli court partially overturned the conviction of Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour on Thursday, ruling that a poem she wrote, which landed her in prison last year, does not constitute incitement to violence. The Nazareth District Court accepted an appeal by Tatour, who spent four months in prison and nearly three years under house arrest for a poem she wrote during the so-called “Knife Intifada” in 2015. The court accepted that the poem, “Resist My People, Resist Them,” which she published on her personal Facebook page, did not constitute incitement, despite the discomfort it might cause the public. Meanwhile the court let stand her conviction over two other social media posts, which included support for Islamic Jihad, a proscribed group … In the 54-page ruling, the three justices wrote that it was important to note that Tatour’s writing was part of a work of art. “The fact that this is the work by a poet must be taken into account when examining the principle and status of freedom of expression,” they wrote….

Israel will free Araqeeb village head on condition of deportation
MEMO 16 May — The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) yesterday rejected the demand to release prisoner Sheikh Sayyah Al-Turi and return him to the Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb. Prison services had conditioned his release on his forcible transfer and deportation from Al-Araqeeb. Al-Turi refused the terms, preferring to stay in jail and, his release has been postponed for a further 60 days. Al-Turi is being held in the Ramla Prison; its administration had said that the decision to release Al-Turi is contingent on his consent to change his residence from the village of Al-Araqeeb to the city of Rahat in neighbourhood No. 25 at the request of the Israeli police. The conditions also stipulated that Al-Turi be prevented from changing his home address without the approval of the responsible Israeli police unit, and that he must attend the police station 48 hours after his release and every fortnight indefinitely …
On Tuesday morning, Israeli bulldozers demolished Al-Araqeeb and displaced its residents for the 144th time….

Two Palestinian prisoners in Israel on hunger strike for 41 days
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 12 May– Two Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli administrative detention, without a charge or trial, completed today 41 days of hunger strike protesting their unfair detention, said the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS). Odeh Hroub, 32, from Deir Samet village in the Hebron district in the south of the West Bank and a father of 10, was detained in December, and Hasan Awawi, 35, a father of three also from Hebron, was arrested on January 15 of this year. Both have been on hunger strike for 41 days demanding an end to their administrative detention. The PPS said the Israel Prison Service has attempted to break their strike by moving them from one prison to another hoping to fatigue them. The two prisoners are suffering from severe headaches, low visibility and continuous vomiting as a result of their hunger strike, added the PPS.

Prisoners face inhumane treatment in Israel: report
MEMO 12 May — An official report on Sunday found that inhumane treatment of prisoners was widespread in Israeli prisons, according to The Times of Israel newspaper. The report published by the Public Defence Office found that inmates were often kept in facilities “unfit for human residence” and sometimes faced illegal punitive measures. According to the report, prisoners were being strip-searched without cause to suspect wrongdoing and without the inmates’ consent – as required by regulations – but purely as a punitive measure or “deterrent.” The official report found that prisoners were tied to their beds for long hours or even days at a time as a punitive measure, citing the case of an inmate in need of medical care, who was tied by all four limbs to a bed for 38 hours at Ayalon Prison. Other cases were cited at Eshel Prison and Givon Prison where prisoners were tied to their beds and having to defecate on themselves….


Health Ministry: ‘Israeli soldiers injured 65 Palestinians, including 22 children, in Gaza
IMEMC 16 May — The Palestinian Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip has reported that Israeli soldiers injured 65 Palestinians, including 22 children and five women, and added that one of the injured Palestinians suffered serious wounds during the protests marking the Palestinian Nakba, in several parts of the coastal region [on Wednesday]. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, said one of the injured Palestinians is in a serious condition, in addition to 15 who suffered moderate wounds and 49 who were mildly injured. He added that 22 of the wounded Palestinians are children, and five are women, and said that the soldiers also targeted medics, wounding three with rubber-coated steel bullets. Dr. al-Qedra stated that 16 of the wounded Palestinians were shot with live rounds, 14 with rubber-coated steel bullets, 4 were injured by shrapnel from bullets, 15 suffered cuts and bruises, 4 suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, and 12 were injured by shrapnel from gas bombs …  It is worth mentioning that the soldiers also abducted one Palestinian who crossed the perimeter fence.

In Pictures — Nakba Day: 71st anniversary of Israel’s takeover
Al Jazeera 15 May — Thousands of Palestinians rallied on Wednesday to mark Nakba  Day, what Palestinians call “the catastrophe” that befell them in the war that led to the establishment of Israel in 1948. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their homes. For more than a year, Palestinians in Gaza have been holding weekly protests along the fence, calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to the territory, as well as for an end to a 12-year blockade imposed by Israel. Scores of demonstrations to mark the day of mourning were planned throughout the country on Wednesday.

Gaza organizers cancel Friday border protests
GAZA CITY (AFP) 17 May — Organizers cancelled the main weekly protests along the Gaza-Israel border on Friday, for only the second time in more than a year. They said a large demonstration had already been held in Gaza on Wednesday to commemorate what Palestinians call the Nakba, or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands were expelled or fled from their homes during the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel. “Today there are no activities in the ‘Return Camps’ in the east of the Gaza Strip, due to the high temperature and to provide a break to citizens, who held a large protest two days ago,” the organising committee said in a statement …  Friday protests were cancelled just once before – after a flare-up between Israel and Hamas in March….

Israel reduces Gaza’s permitted fishing zone, attacks fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 May — Israeli authorities have decided to drastically reduce the permitted fishing zone off Gaza’s coast “until further notice,” on Thursday. Head of the Palestinian Fishermen Union in Gaza, Zakariya Bakr, told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities reduced the permitted fishing zone from 12 nautical miles to only five. Bakr said that the Israeli naval forces prevented Palestinian fishermen from retrieving their fishing nets seven nautical miles off Gaza’s coast. Bakr also pointed out that the Israeli navy opened heavy fire at fishermen who attempted to pass the five nautical miles, forcing them to sail back to shore in fear for their lives … It is noteworthy that only six days ago, Israeli authorities allowed the expansion of the permitted fishing zone to 12 nautical miles.

In video — Incendiary balloons spark fires in southern Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 May — Nine fires broke out, on Thursday, in the Israeli communities surrounding the besieged Gaza Strip, due to incendiary balloons launched by Palestinians from Gaza. According to Hebrew-language news outlets, nine fires broke out in agricultural lands in southern Israel as a result of a number of incendiary balloons launched from Gaza. Sources added that Israeli firefighting crews managed to control the flames and later extinguish them. No injuries were reported.
According to The Times of Israel, The Gaza-based Sons of Zouari, which has been behind most of the balloon-based attacks on southern Israel in the past year, also threatened in a statement that the terror group would be “more active than ever” on Wednesday.

Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian fisherman in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 May — A Palestinian fisherman was shot and injured by Israeli naval forces while working off Gaza’s coast, on Wednesday. The Palestinian Fishermen Union in Gaza told Ma‘an that Mourad al-Hasi, 22, was shot and injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet fired by Israeli naval forces. The union confirmed that the Israeli navy repeatedly opened heavy fire towards Palestinian fishermen within the permitted fishing zone of 12 nautical miles. The fisherman’s medical condition remained unknown.

Egyptian navy detains 4 Palestinian fishermen in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 May — Egyptian naval forces detained four Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Rafah, south of the besieged Gaza Strip bordering Egypt, on Sunday. Head of the Palestinian Fishermen Union in Gaza, Zakariya Bakr, told Ma‘an that Egyptian naval forces detained four fishermen from two fishing boats off the coast of Rafah. Bakr added the Egyptian forces confiscated the two fishing boats and sailed them to an unknown location. Bakr identified the four fishermen as Muhammad Ziyad Sayad, 22, Ahmad Omar al-Bardawil, 30, Ibrahim Muhammad al-Bardawil, 22, and Ibrahim Khalil al-Bardawil, 42. Egypt upholds an Israeli military blockade on Gaza, keeping borders largely closed and limiting imports, exports, and the freedom of movement of its residents.

Qatar distributes Gaza funds after flareup
Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) 13 May — Qatar began distributing millions of dollars in aid in the Gaza Strip on Monday in a fresh bid to restore calm after a flareup with Israel, a Qatari official said. Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas, along with an allied militant group, fired hundreds of rockets at Israel on May 4 and 5, saying they were frustrated by the slow implementation of a previous ceasefire deal. A new agreement was brokered which reportedly includes tens of millions of Qatari aid to Gaza as part of a package to ease Israel’s crippling blockade of the strip. The Gulf state, a rare Hamas ally in the region, has been providing millions in aid to the strip monthly since November. Qatari envoy Mohammed al-Emadi entered Gaza early Monday, the Qatari source told AFP on condition of anonymity. “This morning, the distribution of a cash aid of 100 dollars per poor family began,” he said, adding it was destined for 108,000 families. Hundreds of Palestinians waited at post offices in Gaza City to receive the $100 cash payments, an AFP photographer said … Around 80 percent of Palestinians in impoverished Gaza are reliant on international aid, according to the United Nations.

Israel reopens border crossings with Gaza
GAZA (WAFA) 12 May – Israeli occupation authorities reopened today their border crossings with the blockaded Gaza Strip after closing them during the Israeli aggression on the coastal enclave earlier this month. Both the Erez crossing for passengers and Karm Abu Salem crossing for goods were open and operating in accordance with the previously established mechanisms and timelines. Both had been closed on May 4 when Israel launched massive air and artillery strikes on Gaza killing 25 Palestinians, mostly civilians. At least four other Israelis were killed in retaliatory rocket fire from Gaza by Palestinian resistance groups.

UNRWA: More than one million people in Gaza may not have enough food by June
GAZA (WAFA) 13 May – The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) expressed real concern today that unless it secures at least an additional $60 million by June, its ability to continue providing food to more than one million Palestine refugees in Gaza will be severely challenged. “At a time when Muslims around the world are observing the holy month of Ramadan, often characterized by the festive nature of its iftars, in Gaza, more than half the population depends on food aid from the international community,” UNRWA said in a statement. “Unless UNRWA secures at least an additional US$60 million by June, our ability to continue providing food to more than 1 million Palestine refugees in Gaza, including some 620,000 abject poor – those who cannot cover their basic food needs and who have to survive on US$1.6 per day – and nearly 390,000 absolute poor – those who survive on about US$3.5 per day – will be severely challenged.”….

Gaza’s wounded recall last year’s deadly May 14 protests
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 15 May by Maram Humaid — Saleh Ashour lay silently on his bed, as sunlight coming through the nearby window touched his permanently closed eyes. Three friends sat beside him, as well as his parents, who spend almost every waking moment with him. “All what I want is to see again,” the 16-year-old said, wiping his eyelids with a tissue. A year has passed since Salah lost his sight. On May 14 last year, he had made his way, along with tens of thousands of Palestinians, to the areas close to the Israeli fence to protest against the US decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem … On that day, Saleh and his friend made their way to a protest congregation point east of al-Bureij. It was their first time attending the weekly rallies. “I was about 150 metres away from the fence,” Saleh recalled. “I remember an Israeli drone came and hovered above us before dropping a barrage of tear gas canisters. All the people in the area ran away, including my friend.” At the same moment, Saleh was shot in the head with a bullet that entered behind his right ear and exited from his left eye. “I didn’t realize what had happened,” he said. “My eyes were closed, but I thought it was because of the tear gas.”  Saleh lost consciousness …  The doctors said that Saleh suffered a brain haemorrhage. A week later, he obtained a medical permit and travelled to the King Hussein Medical Centre in Jordan with his father. Saleh underwent surgery to remove infections and shrapnel from his eyes, but the doctors were frank with Usama and told him there was no hope his son could ever see again. With the help of the doctors in Jordan, Usama, who had until then hidden the truth of Saleh’s medical condition from him so as to not affect his psychological state, gradually explained to his son that he had lost his eyesight. “It was a great shock to me. I thought it was just a temporary state,” Saleh said weakly….

Gaza: One year after the bloodiest day of the March of Return demonstrations
Doctors without Borders 17 May — On May 14, 2018, more than 1,300 Palestinian protestors were shot by the Israeli army on the bloodiest day of the March of Return demonstrations near the border fence between Gaza and Israel. Sixty people were killed. A year later, many of the wounded are still struggling with the devastating consequences of their injuries. Gaza’s health system is unable to provide the necessary care to these patients, many of whom will need complex surgeries and extensive rehabilitation if they ever hope to return to their normal lives. In a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) clinic in Gaza, 26-year-old Murad struggles to describe the sensations in his wounded leg to his doctor. Since he was shot, his leg is racked by shooting pains that hit like electric shocks. “The injury has destroyed me,” he says. “I was going out to work before, repairing satellite dishes, but now I can’t, and no one has reached out to help me.”…  A farmer, Ahmed delights in describing the animals he looked after, the plants he grew, the yogurt and cheese he made—all impossible now, with a leg still missing about an inch of bone even after multiple operations. “I just want to sleep, to take medication, that’s all I can do.”….

Israel foils attempt to mail ‘dual-use’ military equipment into Gaza
Times of Israel 16 May — Israel announced Thursday that it had foiled an attempt to smuggle 172 mailed packages containing military equipment into the Gaza Strip via the Erez Crossing from Israel a day earlier …  For the past several years, Israel has heavily restricted the entry into Gaza of products that it labels “dual-use,” meaning that they can be utilized for both civilian and military purposes. Palestinians in Gaza have long been required to receive special permits to import goods that Israel categorizes as dual-use … Last month, a senior Hamas official said Israel had agreed to lift restrictions on importing into the Gaza Strip many “dual-use” goods as a part of ceasefire understandings with terror groups there. According to a World Bank report last month, there are 118 goods that Israel classifies as dual-use in relation to Gaza and 56 to the West Bank. Those pertaining to Gaza include several chemicals, machinery including drilling equipment and jet skis.  The report said World Bank estimates found that “easing dual-use restrictions could bring additional 6 percent growth in the West Bank economy and 11 percent in Gaza by 2025, compared to a scenario with continued restrictions.”….

Opinion: The BBC’s sophisticated distortion of Palestinian protest and Israeli power / Ahmed Abu Artema
MEE 17 May — The BBC [and PBS’s Frontline] recently aired a documentary titled One Day in Gaza, which concentrated on the terrible events of 14 May 2018, during the Great March of Return. Although more than 60 unarmed demonstrators were shot dead by Israeli army snipers that day and more than 2,000 injured, the documentary clearly and demonstrably leans towards the Israeli version of events, showing blatant disregard for the experiences and testimonies of the thousands of Palestinians in Gaza who participated that day. To my undying regret, I took part in this programme – and for this reason, I feel I have a right to make clear exactly how and where the narrative of that day was twisted in the hands of those very skilful at rewriting Palestinian history.  I do not write this lightly. To justify – even in a nuanced way that appears to give voice to both sides of events – the aggressor’s version of the story is an act of incitement. This is not about whether the film reflects voices and stories on both sides. It’s about how those stories are being told. In other words, it is the framing and the angle selected to tell that story.

West Bank / Jerusalem

Israeli forces attack, injure Palestinian youths in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 17 May — Israeli forces physically attacked and injured two Palestinians, in Jerusalem City, in the central occupied West Bank, on late Thursday. According to local sources, Israeli forces handed over two injured Palestinian youths to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) crews after beating them and taking them in for interrogation at an Israeli military center. No reason was provided for the attack. Sources added that the PRCS crews transferred the two youths, who remained unidentified, to Ramallah Governmental Hospital to receive necessary medical treatment. Medical sources described their medical condition as moderate.

Rights group: Israel arrested 100 Palestinians in first ten days of Ramadan
MEMO 17 May — A Palestinian human rights organisation said it has documented the arrest of 100 Palestinians; including 18 children and four women, by Israeli occupation forces during the first ten days of the holy month of Ramadan. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Centre for Studies said in a statement yesterday that the Israeli army forces stormed Palestinian areas in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, raiding Palestinian homes and arresting dozens of civilians. The centre explained that the detainees included 18 minors, the youngest of whom was nine-year-old Mousa Ramadan. He was arrested at a military checkpoint on Hebron Street. The detainees also included twin brothers Mohammed and Ahmed Abu Adi (13 years old) who were arrested after occupation forces stormed their home in the village of Kafr Niʻma, west of Ramallah.
Five Palestinians from the besieged Gaza Strip were also held during Ramadan, the organisation added, including three fishermen who were arrested while doing their job.
Three prisoners from Hebron are continuing their open hunger strike to protest against the extension of their administrative detention without legal justification.

Israeli soldiers demolish a residential tent near Hebron
IMEMC 16 May — Israeli soldiers invaded, Thursday, invaded Susiya village, in Masafer Yatta, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and demolished a residential tent for the second time in less the two months. Rateb Jabour, the coordinator of the Popular Resistance Committee in southern West Bank, said the soldiers invaded the village and demolished a residential tent, owned by Hussein Radi Nawaj’a, before confiscating it. Jabour added that this is the second time the soldiers demolish and remove the residential tent, and said that the soldiers threatened to “revoke his work permit,” if he installs it again although it is on his own land. The army prevents the Palestinians in Masafer Yatta from living on their lands, in addition to denying them the right to dig wells and install tents, under the allegation that the lands are “for military training,” in addition to declaring them as “state lands.”

Israel to demolish building in Shu‘fat Refugee Camp
IMEMC 15 May — Israeli soldiers and personnel of the Interior Ministry in occupied East Jerusalem invaded, on Wednesday morning, Shu’fat refugee camp, and delivered an order for the demolition of a building, used for weddings and other social events. Mahmoud Sheikh, the head of the Popular Committee in Shu‘fat refugee camp, said the City Council intends to demolish a section of the building, which will render it all unsafe. He added that the soldiers informed him that, if the building is not demolished by this coming Monday, the city will destroy it and bill the Palestinians for the costs in addition to higher fines and fees. Sheikh also said that the section targeted with the demolition order was constructed nearly 20 years ago, and was recently rehabilitated to allow the Palestinians to use the building for their social events …  Sheikh said the new order is part of Israel’s ongoing policies, targeting the refugees in occupied Jerusalem, in addition to targeting the UNRWA to end its aid services, including its clinics and schools.

Israeli settlers and military intensify attacks against Palestinian shepherds in the village of al-Farisiyah in the northern Jordan Valley
B’Tselem 15 May — In recent months, shepherds from the Palestinian community of al-Farisiyah in Tubas District, the northern Jordan Valley, have reported an upsurge in the frequency and severity of attacks by settlers. The settlers threaten shepherds, chase them, physically assault them, drive headlong into the flocks to scatter the sheep, and even run over or steal sheep. These attacks are now virtually a daily occurrence. Soldiers are usually present during these attacks and sometimes even take part, demanding that the shepherds get off the pastureland, citing various arguments, e.g., that the area is a closed military zone or belongs to one of the settlers. Soldiers detain shepherds and, in some cases, even arrest them on a variety of pretexts. These are no isolated incidents, but rather part of the policy Israel has been implementing in the Jordan Valley. Its goal is to take over as much land as possible, while getting Palestinians to leave….

Illegal Israeli colonists burn Palestinian farmlands near Nablus
IMEMC 17 May — A group of fanatic illegal Israeli colonists invaded, Friday, Palestinian agricultural lands in ‘Aseera al-Qibliya village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and burnt them. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian authority official who monitors Israel’s colonialist activities in the northern West Bank, said more than 60 illegal colonists invaded the farmlands, in the southern area of the village, and set them ablaze. He added that the colonists also hurled stones at several nearby homes, before the locals intercepted them. In related news, a group of colonists hurled stones at many cars and homes in Marda village, north of Salfit, in central West Bank, causing damage, and wrote racist graffiti on several cars and walls.

Video — Hebron’s silent war: no peace in sight for Israelis and Palestinians
Euronews 10 May by Monica Pinna — Tour of Hebron led by Achiya Schatz of Breaking the Silence — Hebron is the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank. The only one where Israeli settlements are inside the city itself. Hebron has been split in two since 1997. 80% of the city is under Palestinian control; the remaining 20% —also called H2— is administered by Israel. 40,000 Palestinians live in H2 among 800 settlers. The close proximity between the two communities creates frictions on a daily basis. The cave of the Patriarchs is not only a holy site to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but also a site charged with historical symbolism … “The 1929 massacre was a massacre in which 67 Jews were killed,” he says. “The 1994 massacre was a settler coming in shooting and killing 29 Palestinians praying inside the Mosque. But the ’29 massacre is now feeding the narrative of the settlers’ movement, saying like Jews were killed here, we are Jews, we are allowed to do whatever we want inside this place. The ‘94 massacre’ shaped the reality of the Palestinians here.”… More than any other place on the West Bank, Hebron shows the difficulty of sharing the land between Palestinians and Israelis, and the remote possibility of finding peace.


Israeli police evacuate worshipers from Al-Aqsa after Ramadan prayer
MEE 13 May — Israeli police and special forces evacuated Palestinian worshipers from the Al-Aqsa mosque on Sunday for the second consecutive night during the holy month of Ramadan, Quds news site reported … “In a normal day, after the Isha prayer [the fifth prayer of the day], the Israelis inspect all the praying areas of Al-Aqsa compound to make sure no one stays inside,” Hatem Abdel Qader, an official with the Waqf council, which oversees Al-Aqsa and other Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, told Middle East Eye on Monday. “In Ramadan, they have informed the Waqf that no one should stay after the Tarawih prayer or sleep inside the compound. Everyone is meant to be evacuated one hour after Tarawih.” He added: “It is a provocative act, and an escalation to impose the Israeli will on the Waqf during Ramadan.” … Most of the people forced to leave were families who had made a difficult journey from towns in the occupied West Bank to pray at Al-Aqsa, Abdel Qader said. To reach Jerusalem for Ramadan prayers at night, Palestinians from the West Bank must start their journey at dawn and wait for hours to pass through the Qalandiya military checkpoint. Others use ladders to climb over the Israeli separation wall to reach Al-Aqsa during the holy month. Qader said that the Israeli police used a “security excuse” to evacuate the worshippers, while their practice was “at its heart political”….

Israeli occupation forces arrest Palestinian children in Jerusalem
MEMO 14 May — Israeli occupation forces stormed through the holy city of Jerusalem on Sunday night and arrested two Palestinian children after the late night prayers held specifically during the month of Ramadan, Anadolu has reported. The children are both 16 years old. They were arrested in the Bab Al-Amoud Gate area, one of the entrances to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Eyewitnesses told Anadolu that the Israeli forces beat up other worshippers as well as the children. The soldiers also fired sonic grenades within and around the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa. Such bombs can cause damage to internal organs as well as the victims’ ear drums. Armed incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque and its environs occur frequently. Israeli occupation forces not only accompany armed settlers, but also carry out their own raids and eject Palestinians worshipping in the mosque, which is particularly busy during Ramadan.

Palestinian man dies at Israeli checkpoint near Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 17 May – A Palestinian man died today at an Israeli checkpoint at Bethlehem-Jerusalem road while he was in the way to Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, medical sources told WAFA. Sulaiman Jamal Hroub, 63, died from a stroke which resulted from the overcrowding caused by Israeli movement restrictions at the checkpoint. Israel bans entry of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank to the holy city of Jerusalem throughout the year, except on the Fridays of the holy month of Ramadan. This causes overcrowding of worshipers who gather in large numbers to get a chance to pray in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the city.

Land theft / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Nakba of the Jordan Valley: Israeli military exercises wreak havoc on Palestinians
KHIRBET HUMSA AL-FAWQA 15 May by Shatha Hammad — On the floor of a residential tent in Khirbet Humsa al-Fawqa, toys lay scattered. Playtime for the village’s children was cut short when the Israeli military declared the area a closed military zone and forced the Palestinian community to evacuate their homes in the early hours of Sunday. Following an eviction order four days earlier, the 98 residents were prevented from accessing their homes for three days. Throughout May and June, they will be evicted 12 times for three days each, the army informed them. Palestinians were told their homes would be within range of tank shells while the Israeli army uses the area to carry out military drills … Fasting amid displacement and temperatures that have reached 40 degree Celsius is doubly difficult this Ramadan, said Khadija Abu Qabbash as she prepared to leave …  “We escorted the children out this morning, and now the car is back to take us,” she told MEE with tears streaming down her face. “I won’t be able to cook anything for iftar. We’ll have to make do with canned food.”… Primarily a shepherding community, the families of Khirbet Humsa al-Fawqa wake at 3am to milk their sheep and prepare cheese ahead of their journey to the markets in the nearby city of Tubas. Harb Abu Qabbash, 40, told MEE that each family owns around 300 sheep. Since it is difficult to transport them out of the area, many of the younger sheep stay behind when the Palestinians are evacuated and often die of hunger with no one to attend to them….

Bedouin citizens of Israel fight plan for relocation to new Negev town
MEMO 16 May — Israeli authorities have approved a new town for Bedouin citizens who are set to be relocated from their current communities, reported Haaretz. The National Planning and Building Council gave the go ahead for the new town in the area of Avdat, which will have 500 housing units built on 1,500 dunams (371 acres) of land. “The plan will see Bedouin families residing in Ramat Tziporim, Wadi Aricha, and Nahal Hava moved to the Avdat area”, Haaretz reported, “where the majority of Bedouin population is concentrated”, adding that “several smaller Bedouin settlements will also be evacuated to the new community”. However, the report continued, “the residents of Ramat Tziporim, where a new community was initially planned to be built, are opposing the plan and have announced they would fight it.”….

Israel approves two major roads on Palestinian lands to link colonies in West Bank
[with map] IMEMC 14 May — The Israeli authorities have approved the paving of two new roads to link illegal isolated colonies built on private Palestinian lands in the southern and northern parts of the occupied West Bank. Israeli daily Haaretz said the approval was for two major roads in the occupied West Bank, and added that it sets the ground for the annexation of large areas of Palestinian lands. It stated that the “Civil Administration Office” has issued permits for paving the roads to the isolated colonies, and that the work is scheduled to begin this July …
Huwwara Bypass – For the purpose of the road, an expropriation order was issued for 406 dunams of private Palestinian land from the villages of Burin, Huwwara, Beita, Awarta, Yasouf, Yitma and as-Sawiya. The road is expected to serve only four settlements: Yitzhar, Itamar, Har Bracha and Alon Moreh, where just 7,132 settlers live. According to reports, the cost of the road, which is 5.5 kilometers long, is estimated at a quarter of a billion shekels ($69 million), or about NIS 35,000 per settler ($9, 750)….

Israel to demolish 13 Palestinian-owned buildings in ‘Issawiya
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 15 May — The Israeli Civil administration staff delivered a number of demolition notices and orders to the Palestinian neighborhood of ‘Issawiya, in occupied East Jerusalem, on Wednesday. Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, member of a local follow-up committee, told Ma‘an that staff members from the Israeli Civil Administration, escorted by Israeli forces, stormed ‘Issawiya and delivered demolition notices and orders to 13 Palestinian-owned buildings. The demolition notices and orders were issued under the pretext that the buildings were built without the nearly-impossible to obtain Israeli permit. Abu al-Hummus added that the staff members along with heavily armed Israeli forces raided several of the buildings and took photographs, as well as measurements of the premises. Most of the demolition notices and orders targeted Palestinian-owned buildings, including residential and cultural buildings, that have been built since five to twelve years ago.

Israel approves over 700 settlement housing units in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 May — The Israeli Civil Administration has approved the construction of hundreds of new housing units in two illegal Israeli settlement neighborhoods in Jerusalem, on Tuesday. According to Hebrew-language news outlets, the Israeli Civil Administration approved the construction of 706 units, including commercial buildings, in the Giafat Mishfat Israeli neighborhood. Another 235 units were approved to be built in al-Nabi Yacoub neighborhood, north of Jerusalem City, in addition to four large residential buildings, each one made up of 13-15 floors. According to settlement watchdog Peace Now, in the two years since President Trump took office some 14,454 units in the West Bank has been approved, which is more than three times the amount that was approved in the year and half before his inauguration (4,476 units).

Trump’s election has boosted Israeli settlement construction
JERUSALEM (AP) 14 May by Josef Federman — Israel’s government went on a spending binge in its West Bank settlements following the election of President Donald Trump, according to official data obtained by The Associated Press. Both supporters and detractors of the settlement movement have previously referred to a “Trump effect,” claiming the president’s friendlier approach to the settlements is leading to additional West Bank construction. While the new Israeli figures obtained in a freedom of information request do not prove a direct connection, they indicate this process may already be underway, showing a 39% increase in 2017 spending on roads, schools and public buildings across the West Bank.
Hagit Ofran, a researcher with the anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now, said it appears that Trump’s election has emboldened Israel’s pro-settler government. “They are not shy anymore with what they are doing,” she said. “They feel more free to do whatever they want.” Nabil Abu Rdeneh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, offered even sharper criticism. “This proves that the current U.S. administration encouraged settlement activities,” he said.

Israeli settlers set up new settlement outpost in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 12 May — A new illegal Israeli settlement outpost was set up, on Saturday, on Palestinian-owned lands belonging to the residents of the Deir al-Hatab village, in the east of the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus. A Palestinian official who monitors settlement activist in the northern West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, told Ma‘an that the residents of Deit al-Hatab were shocked to find out on Saturday noon that Israeli settlers had set up a new settlement outpost, in the form of three large caravans, on their lands. In August 2018, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that if Israeli settlers built a settlement on private Palestinian land with “good intentions” then it should not be removed. Therefore, allowing more Palestinian lands to be seized by Israeli settlers as they see fit….

Palestinian refugees – Syria

UNRWA: 4 Palestinian children killed in attack on Syria refugee camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 May — The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), on Thursday, condemned the killing of 10 Palestinian civilians, including four children, during rocket fire on the Palestinian refugee camp of Neirab near Aleppo City in Syria. Director of UNRWA Affairs in Syria, Amanya Michael Ebye, said, “On Tuesday night, as families gathered to break their fasts for the Ramadan Iftar meal, several rockets hit the densely populated Neirab camp for Palestine refugees in Aleppo, killing at least ten civilians and wounding more than thirty.” The statement added, “Among those killed were four children, the youngest just six years old. A number of the injured remain in critical condition.” …  Located about 13 km to the east of Aleppo, Neirab camp is one of the most densely populated camps for Palestine refugees in Syria, and it is home to 18,000 residents.

Two Palestinian children killed by landmine near Damascus
IMEMC 15 May — Two Palestinian children were killed, less than a week ago, after a landmine detonated near the al-Bahdaliya area, in the suburb of Damascus. The documentation team of the “Actions Group for the Palestinians In Syria” has reported that Omar Mohammad As‘ad, 10, and Mohammad Samir Hamamda, 9, from Sayida Zeinab refugee camp, were killed when a landmine detonated near them on May 10th. It added that the ongoing conflict in Syria has led to the dead of 241 Palestinian children….


Israel’s Eurovision webcast hacked with blast images
Video – Reuters 15 May — Israel’s webcast of the Eurovision Song Contest semi-final was hacked with animated images of explosions in host city Tel Aviv, which the national broadcaster blamed on Hamas militants. The Jerusalem Post has a photo of one message

Half of Eurovision tickets remain unsold days before finale
MEMO 14 May — Israeli TV Channel 12 reported yesterday that half of the tickets to the Eurovision Song Contest have yet to be sold, noting that this means losses estimated at two million shekels ($558,771), Al-Wattan Voice reported. “About 15,000 tourists are to arrive in Israel,” the channel said, adding that thousands of tickets to Saturday’s finale remain unsold. Eurovision was highly affected by the international boycott campaign, which is being spearheaded by famous international artists, including Roger Waters among others.

Gazavision: Palestinians hold music event in defiance of Israel’s Eurovision
GAZA CITY (MEE) 14 May by Motasem A. Dalloul — As Israel rolls out red carpets for the Eurovision music contest it’s hosting this week, Palestinian musicians in Gaza have taken to a much different stage. In the rubble of an eight-storey residential building destroyed in recent Israeli air strikes, the performers on Tuesday inaugurated Gazavision, an event they say aims to present a defiant and peaceful critique of Israeli policies – through song.  The venue was not chosen by accident. For the event’s organisers – a group called Jusour (Arabic for “bridges”) – the decision to hold the performance where the Abu Qamar building once stood was symbolic. “We want to send a message to the Israeli occupation that Gaza will not surrender. Like the phoenix when it is turned to ashes, Gaza will rise again,” 22-year-old Salem Harara, one of the organisers, told Middle East Eye.  “Music is an internationally recognised language of peace and love. We chose music because we wanted our peaceful message, laden with love, to reach all the people around the world,” he added. “We want to send a message to the world, which might have a negative image about Gaza and its people, that we love life.”
‘Art-washing’ — Kamel Musallam, another coordinator for the event, told MEE that the concert was part of a global campaign calling for the boycott of this year’s Eurovision contest … According to the members of Jusour, Eurovision is “art-washing … Israeli crimes” …  Another Gazavision event organiser, Sumayya al-Katari, 21, told MEE that Israel is using Eurovision to try “to tell the world that it is a stable country full of tourist attractions like any European country”. But, Sumayya said, “Israel is telling lies about itself …
While attendees at the event on Tuesday were supportive of the general message, the location of the concert hit some members of the public hard. One of them was Marwa Issa, 48, who sat listlessly by the side of the stage with two of her daughters. Issa and her nine children were one of more than 30 Palestinian families who lived in the Abu Qamar building before it was destroyed by an Israeli air strike on 5 May….

WATCH: Palestinians ‘Dare To Dream’ as Eurovision event in Israel nears
Activestills 10 May — In a play on the competition’s slogan for this year, “Dare to Dream,” Activestills asked Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza about their life and dreams while living under Israeli occupation. Some said they dream of becoming swimmers, or ballet dancers; all speakers said they strive to live a normal life, in safety, without oppression. A second video in the series focuses on the reality of the Israeli occupation and apartheid. It’s introduced as a “postcard” from Palestine — a reference to the short clips that precede each participating country’s performance. “Everything they will show you is very far away from the reality we live in Palestine,” says one of the interviewees, on the backdrop of police detaining a Palestinian child, then right wing protestors assaulting a cameraman.  Other scenes include the demolition of a Palestinian home, Palestinians waiting in long lines at a checkpoint, and a bulldozer uprooting an olive tree….

Germany votes to define BDS as anti-Semitic
MEMO 17 May — Germany today voted to define the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as anti-Semitic, becoming the first major European parliament to do so. The German parliament – known as the Bundestag – this afternoon voted to accept a motion defining BDS as anti-Semitic. The motion, “Resist the BDS Movement – Fighting Antisemitism,” was sponsored by the Bundestag’s two largest parties – Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian-Democratic Union and the Social Democrat party – as well as the Green Party and the Free Democratic Party. The text of the motion stated that “the German Bundestag is unwavering in its commitment to condemn and combat anti-Semitism in all its forms,” stressing it will oppose “anyone who defames people because of their Jewish identity […] questions the right of the Jewish and democratic state of Israel to exist or Israel’s right to defend itself.” On the BDS movement specifically, the motion claimed that “the arguments, patterns and methods of the BDS movement are anti-Semitic”. As evidence of this, the motion argued that BDS’ “don’t buy” stickers – which aim to identify products of Israeli origin so consumers can refrain from purchasing them – “arouse associations [with] the Nazi slogan ‘Don’t buy from Jews’” and are “reminiscent of the most horrific phase in German history”.  Although the motion is non-binding, its significance both within Germany and across Europe is likely to be profound …  On a European level, the motion could serve as a precedent for other parliaments to label BDS anti-Semitic….

Palestinians call for NGOs to reject donations from Airbnb
MEMO 17 May — A coalition of Palestinian NGOs is urging local and international organisations to reject donations from Airbnb, in light of the company’s ongoing listing of homes in Israeli settlements. According to a statement published on the site of Ramallah-based human rights group Al-Haq, the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organisations Network (PNGO-NET) issued the call after Airbnb reversed a previous decision to delist properties based in illegal settlements. PNGO-NET, which includes 145 organisations based in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) working on a range of issues from development to human rights, stressed the significance of Israel’s “unlawful settlement of Palestinian territory”. This policy, it stated, “is characterized by the confiscation of Palestinian land and natural resources, the obstruction of Palestinian movement due to checkpoints, the Annexation Wall, and other barriers, and the use of the OPT as a captive market for Israel.”….

Other news

Number of Palestinians worldwide increased 9 times since the 1948 Nakba – statistics bureau
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 13 May – Despite the displacement of more than 800,000 Palestinians following the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe), and the displacement of more than 200,000 Palestinians (the majority of them to Jordan) after the 1967 war, the Palestinian world population totaled 13.1 million by the end of 2018, which means that the number of Palestinians in the world has increased more than 9 times since the events of the Nakba of 1948, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said today. Marking the 71st Nakba anniversary, which coincides on May 15, the PCBS said more than half of the Palestinian population live in historic Palestine by the end of 2018, where their number reached 6.48 million, 1.57 million of them live in the territories occupied in 1948 currently called Israel, 2.95 million in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, and around 1.96 million in Gaza Strip. The data show that 49% of the Palestinian population lives in historic Palestine where Jews constitute 51% at the end of 2018. Nakba describes a process of ethnic cleansing in which an unarmed nation was destroyed and its population displaced systematically by gangs and individuals from all over the world….

Opinion: The return of Palestinian refugees is quite possible / Ahmed Abu Artema
Al Jazeera 13 May — Еvery year, a day after Israel marks its independence day on May 14, we commemorate with sadness and nostalgia the Nakba of 1948. The events of that year changed the Palestinian lot for generations to come, transforming them from a people living peacefully and comfortably off of the fruits of their land to refugees struggling in misery in overcrowded camps, forced to depend on charity for their daily bread. Every year, in our communities we count how many elderly Palestinians who witnessed the Nakba are left. Although their numbers shrink with every passing Nakba day, the memory of what happened seven decades ago is kept alive. The keys to the homes from which they were forcefully expelled are passed on to us, the younger generation, as we continue the struggle for the return of all Palestinian refugees.  Meanwhile, Israel continues to do everything it can not to abide by international law and implement the United Nations resolution 194 of 1948, which stipulates the rightful return of all Palestinians to their homes …
At this point, the only viable way forward that does not involve further violence and ethnic cleansing on either side is to re-arrange the current relationship between Palestinians and Israeli Jews on the basis of justice and equality as opposed to discrimination and dispossession. Part of this solution has to be the return of Palestinian refugees, which is neither an outlandish idea nor a dangerous one. In fact, it is quite realistic. Demographic studies indicate that more than 80 percent of the land Palestinian refugees were ethnically cleansed from is either empty or has very low population density, as the majority of the Israeli population is concentrated in large cities. There is enough land for all and with the cancellation of discriminatory policies that favour Jewish settlers, equal distribution of resources can be achieved….

17 years since Palestinians deported following Church of Nativity siege
MEMO 13 May — A number of Palestinians yesterday took part in a rally organised in solidarity with 39 Palestinians deported to Europe and Gaza 17 years ago, after the siege on the Church of the Nativity, Arab48 reported. The rally, which took place at the gate of the church, included activists and family members of the deportees who carried pictures of their relatives. Palestinian governor of Bethlehem Kamel Hamid said: “The issue of the deportees is one for all Palestinians, not only an issue of them and their families.” He called for the international community to put pressure on Israel to allow their return to families. Fatah Secretary in Bethlehem Mohammad Al-Masri said: “We are here, in front of the church, to reiterate that we insist on their return to their beloved country.” He stressed that the families of the deportees are not alone, but all Palestinians stand with them.
Some 17 years ago, a group of Palestinian Fatah fighters hid inside the Church of the Nativity and after 40 days of continuous Israeli siege, during which eight fighters and two Israeli soldiers were killed, Israel, Palestinian and EU officials agreed to deport them to Gaza and a number of EU countries. Of them, 13 were deported to Europe and 26 were deported to Gaza. In a statement, the deportees said that their situation is increasingly deteriorating as they miss their family members and endure travel bans. They stressed, in the statement, that the Israeli measures against them amount to war crimes as they violate international law. The deportees called on PA President Mahmoud Abbas to file lawsuits at the ICC against Israel as it is preventing them from visiting their families and keeping them out of their homeland.

Israel stopped Gazan factory from selling in West Bank. Top court says it’s Palestinians’ fault
[behind paywall] Haaretz 15 May by Amira Hass — High Court backed up state’s claim that the factory hadn’t filed a formal request – despite admitting that there are no clear procedures for marketing of processed food from Gaza to West Bank … In their decision, the justices ignored the central problem raised by the petition, which is that Israel controls the Gaza crossings and in the absence of clear procedures regarding the movement of such goods, the Palestinian Liaison Committee cannot deal with a request to export goods. Sarayo al Wadiyeh factory, which makes wafers, cookies and potato chips, was marketing some 80 percent of its products in Israel and the West Bank before 2007, when Israel imposed stricter than ever restrictions on movement of goods and people from and to the Strip.  Though the constraints were partially eased in 2010, processed foods are not among the products allowed to be sold outside of the Strip such as textile, furniture and agricultural products.  Before 2007, processed foods constituted a third of Gaza’s sales to the West Bank.  As a result, Sarayo al Wadiyeh’s plant is operating at only 30 percent of capacity, and scaled back its staff accordingly. The owners say they know there is demand for their goods in the West Bank….

Gaza fisherman clings to dream of return to Jaffa home
GAZA (Reuters) 14 May by Nidal al-Mughrabi — Looking out across the Mediterranean, the elderly Gaza fisherman sits on a bench adorned with just one word – Jaffa. Mahmoud Al-Assi comes often to this blue bench. It is one of more than 120 such brightly-coloured concrete seats that line the Gaza seafront, each marked with the name of a town or village in Palestine, before Israel’s creation in 1948. Like many of Gaza’s 1.3 million refugees, Assi, 73, visits the coastal benches regularly, as an emotional link to the towns their families left behind or were forced to leave. He comes especially around May 15, when Palestinians lament what they call the “Nakba” or “Catastrophe” – their defeat in the war of 1948-1949 that surrounded the birth of the modern state of Israel. It is traditionally marked the day after Israel declared inde his father, a citrus merchant and fisherman, put him and his seven siblings on a boat to sail south from Jaffa to Gaza in 1950….

Palestine’s al-Maliki: US peace plan a ‘surrender act’
Al Jazeera 17 May — Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki has described the anticipated US Israel-Palestine peace plan as a “consecration” of Palestinian suffering. “The US ‘deal of the century’ is the consecration of our century-old ordeal: no independence, no sovereignty, no freedom, no justice,” al-Maliki said on Friday at the London-based Chatham House think-tank. “And if they do not think that this situation will have an impact on the future of Israel and the region, one way or the other, they are the ones that are delusional, not us.”  The foreign minister’s speech comes amid diplomatic efforts by the Palestinian administration to garner foreign support as the US prepares to release its peace plan, devised by Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump‘s son-in-law and senior adviser….

Palestinians criticize new booklet praising Abbas handed out in PA schools
Times of Israel 12 May — A move by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to insert a booklet praising him into the education system has been met with criticism and a petition signed by academics criticizing the “cult of personality.” The PA’s education ministry last week ordered the new book, “The Role Model, Our President,” handed out in schools. The move was welcomed by Abbas. The book, featuring speeches by Abbas, was compiled by high school students in Al-Bireh, a West Bank city near Ramallah, according to official PA new agency Wafa. Abbas last week hosted the students and the teacher who supervised them, saying the project was aimed at “strengthening the national Palestinian identity among students, from schools to [university] campuses.” On Thursday, PA Education Minister Marwan Awartani said the booklet would be printed and handed out as study material in all PA schools …  But the move has been resoundingly criticized since then on social media, with some Palestinians saying casting Abbas as a role model was reminiscent of tyrannical regimes, the Haaretz daily reported. A petition has been signed by dozens of Palestinian academics, urging Abbas to walk back the move….

Ex-IDF chief warned US envoy of ‘volatile W. Bank ahead of Mideast peace plan reveal
124NEWS 12 May — Former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot warned US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy about the situation in the West Bank being “volatile and sensitive” ahead of the release of Washington’s peace plan, Channel 13 reported on Sunday. Eisenkot reportedly met with Jason Greenblatt in the White House last week along with experts on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. “The situation in the West Bank is sensitive and volatile,” Eisenkot reportedly told Greenblatt who has worked on the Middle East peace plan for nearly two years alongside Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. “The West Bank is likely to ignite before, during, or after the presentation of the American peace plan. You must factor this into your considerations. From the moment this genie is let out of the bottle, it will take five years to put it back,” Eisenkot said….

Ex-Israel army chief: ‘Security coordination with PA prevents ‘clashes every day’
MEMO 16 May — Former Israeli military chief Gadi Eizenkot has stressed the importance from Israel’s point of view of the “security coordination” with the Palestinian Authority (PA), declaring that it prevents daily confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli occupation forces. Speaking for the first time since leaving his post earlier this year after four years in charge, Eizenkot told an audience in Washington D.C. that Israeli forces and the PA work together on a daily basis. “Without the coordination it will be a lot of friction,” Eizenkot said, adding that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “understands what will be the situation without coordination and cooperation”. “It’s a Palestinian interest and an Israeli interest,” Eizenkot said. “We want to allow them a better life, and to maintain the coordination between the IDF [Israel army] and the Palestinian forces. It’s a common interest.”….

Thousands in London take to the streets for Palestine
IMEMC/Agencies 13 May — Thousands of people marched through central London in a bid to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and the blockade on Gaza. “Free Palestine”,and “End Siege in Gaza”, protesters shouted, carrying pro-Palestinian placards, according to Andalou/Al Ray. The procession started in Portland Place, whereupon protesters marched through Oxford Circus and Trafalgar Square, to reach Downing Street, where the government offices are located. Palestinian resistance icon Ahed al-Tamimi was among the protesters who were organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Stop the War Coalition. The 17-year-old was arrested in late 2017, by Israeli authorities, and was later slapped with an eight-month jail term for “attacking” an Israeli soldier….

EU to examine ‘incitement to hate’ in Palestinian textbooks
BRUSSELS (Ma‘an) 16 May — Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, announced on Wednesday that the EU will examine new Palestinian textbooks for content that “incites hate and violence,” out of concern that EU aid funds are being used to promote hatred. Hebrew-language news outlets reported that the announcement followed after an investigation and campaign by IMPACT-se (Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education). IMPACT-se allegedly found that the new Palestinian textbooks, released in September 2018, are even more radical than previous editions, with hundreds of examples of extremism encouraging violence, demonization, and incitement against Israel….

Netanyahu announces site of Trump settlement in Golan Heights
MEMO 13 May — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed yesterday that a site has been allocated to establish the Trump Settlement in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, local media reported. On Twitter, Netanyahu wrote that the site where the Trump Settlement is to be built has now been designated and construction has already started. This came weeks after US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Israel’s annexation of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. “This week we mark a year since the US embassy was opened in Jerusalem,” Times of Israel reported Netanyahu saying at the weekly cabinet meeting.

US denies veteran Palestinian diplomat Hanan Ashrawi’s travel visa
MEE 13 May — Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestinian negotiator and academic, says the United States has denied her a travel visa to enter the country, a move she said was retaliation for her criticism of President Donald Trump and Israel. In a series of tweets on Monday, Ashrawi said that the US did not provide a reason for the visa denial, but said she believed it was because of her “no tolerance for the Israeli occupation in all its manifestations as a most pervasive form of oppression, dispossession & denial”. “This administration has decided I do not deserve to set foot in the US. I just hope someone can explain this to my grandchildren & all the rest of my family there,” Ashrawi said … Speaking to Reuters, Ashrawi said she had applied for a B-1/B-2 visa, which is for either business or tourism travel to the US. She described the rejection as a first for her. “Most of my life, I’ve been going back and forth, meeting people, speaking everywhere. This is new,” she told the news agency … Ashrawi also is not the only Palestinian leader barred from entering the US in recent weeks. Last month, Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian human rights activist and co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, said he was refused entry into the US despite holding valid travel documents. (listserv)


American; political science major, M.A.; former ISM volunteer in the West Bank

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8 Responses

  1. pgtl10 on May 19, 2019, 1:11 pm

    Palestinian writing a poem and makes Facebook posts gets worse treatment than a serial arsonist who kills people because of racism.

  2. just on May 19, 2019, 3:07 pm

    Thanks for all of your reporting, Kate. It never gets easier to read, and I cannot for the life of me comprehend why or how Israel, the IOF, the government, the media, etc. get an iota of support. What in the world do they offer or provide those who support them???

    “Israeli courts are now complicit in 2015 arson-murder, Dawabshe family says”

    With all due respect to the mourning Dawabshe family, it is nothing new. It was to be expected. Israelis do not get punished. There is no justice in the courts, none in activities of daily living. There is none from the IOF, Israeli police, border goons, the Knesset, and in most Israeli hearts and minds.


    “Germany votes to define BDS as anti-Semitic”

    Gideon Levy has this to say:

    “Germany, Shame on You and Your anti-BDS Resolution

    Germany has just criminalized justice. A blend of warranted guilt feelings, orchestrated and taken to sickening extremes by cynical and manipulative Israeli extortion, caused the federal parliament on Friday to pass one of the most outrageous and bizarre resolutions since the end of World War II. The Bundestag has defined the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel as anti-Semitic. Benjamin Netanyahu and Gilad Erdan rejoiced. Germany ought to be ashamed.

    From now on, Germany will consider every supporter of BDS to be a Jew-hater; saying “the Israeli occupation” will be like saying “Heil Hitler.” From now on, Germany cannot boast of its freedom of speech. It has become an agent of Israeli colonialism. While some are indeed anti-Semites, the majority of BDS supporters are persons of conscience who believe that an apartheid state deserved to be boycotted. What’s anti-Semitic about that? The majority of parties in the Bundestag supported the resolution, including that of Chancellor Angela Merkel, the conscience of Europe. How sad. So paralyzing are the guilt feelings, so effective the propaganda.

    Does Merkel think that Daniel Barenboim – the musical director of the Berlin State Opera and the principal conductor for life of its orchestra, the Staatskapelle, a prime example of an artist who is committed to conscience and morality, a proud Jew and embarrassed Israeli, the co-founder of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, an Israeli patriot, yes patriot, who fears with every fiber of his being for the future of the country of his youth – is also an anti-Semite? Barenboim may not explicitly support BDS, but for years he has quietly boycotted Israel’s concert halls. He cannot bring himself to play for Israelis when, less than a one-hour drive from the auditorium, a nation is groaning under the occupation. That is his noble way of expressing his protest. Merkel is his friend. She undoubtedly admires his sense of justice. What will she say to him now?

    What will the German legislators say about those who call to boycott the products of sweatshops or of the meat industry? Will they criminalize them as well? What about the sanctions on Russia, over its invasion of Crimea? Why is one occupation worthy of a boycott and another of cheers? What did Germans think about the sanctions on South Africa? What is the difference?

    It’s permissible to call for a boycott against a tyrannical regime; in fact, it’s obligatory. It’s also permissible to think differently, to think there is no Palestinian people and no occupation, only a chosen people in the promised land. But to criminalize justice-seeking Germans as anti-Semites? I know a few of them, and they have absolutely nothing in common with anti-Semites. One more push from the Erdans, and BDS will be designated as a terrorist organization. …”

    It would be nice if the US Congress and state legislatures and governers would care more about upholding the laws and Constitution of the US instead of eroding and criminalizing free speech and other rights in favor of apartheid Israel and the influential Lobby and appointed gremlins…

  3. Kay24 on May 19, 2019, 6:29 pm

    The illegal terrorists attack, burn, stone, and kill, with impunity. They are the convenient front line thugs that Israeli leaders seem to want there, to continue their terrorist acts against helpless Palestinians. The story about the Dwabsheh family is heartbreaking, and it does seem Israel is complicit in these crimes. Imagine the whining in the media by the zionists, and the continual reminder of this brutal crime, had it been the other way around.

  4. Misterioso on May 20, 2019, 9:45 am


    Major Kudos for this posting. It will take me all day to read.

    On a positive note, credit where credit is due:

    During her performance at Eurovision in Tel Aviv, Madonna initiated something totally unexpected and brave that really angered the Zionists.

    “Madonna Surprises Eurovision With Palestinian Flag on Dancer’s Back”

    “Singer also raises eyebrows for including dancers wearing gas masks” by Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz, May 19/19

    “The Israeli organizers of this year’s Eurovision feared that some of the competitors, under pressure from the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, might inject politics into their performances.

    “In the end, however, it was Eurovision’s special guest star, Madonna, who used her performance to make a political statement.

    “In her second song, ‘Future,’ sharp eyes could see that when two of her dancers turned their back, one had a Palestinian flag pinned to their back, while the other featured an Israeli flag, holding hands in a gesture of coexistence.

    “An official Eurovision statement said this was not part of rehearsals and had not been cleared with the European Broadcasting Union or public broadcaster Kan. ‘The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event and Madonna had been made aware of this,’ the statement said.

    “Madonna and her entourage, which numbered over 100 people, was flown into Israel by Canadian-Israeli billionaire businessman Sylvan Adams, who made the investment hoping that her participation would increase the positive impact of Israel hosting Eurovision, raising interest in the event in North America.

    “Adams said last week that Madonna was ‘a genuine friend of Israel, and she knows firsthand what our detractors — the lunatics from the BDS world — say is not true. She’s well aware about Eurovision and was keen to give it a boost.'”

  5. Misterioso on May 20, 2019, 9:56 am

    For the record:

    The Forward, May 13/19

    “Michael Oren’s Train wreck Interview Shows Israelis No Longer Care What We Think.” by Raphael Magarik

    “On Saturday, Isaac Chotiner at the New Yorker tried to interview Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the United States. He failed. After a series of tense arguments, Oren hung up, claiming that Chotiner was ‘not interested in anything I have to say’ and asking him to ‘withdraw’ the interview.

    “I am not surprised that the New Yorker and Michael Oren do not get along, any more than I am that Oren said some awful things. In the past, he has claimed that Obama’s supposed anti-Israel stance resulted from his ‘abandonment’ by his father and stepfather; he called no less than Leon Wieseltier a self-hating Jew; and he advanced bizarre conspiracy theories about a Palestinian teenager arrested by the Israeli army.

    “No, what surprises me is that a center-right Israeli politician—a man who worked professionally in public relations and diplomacy for several decades—can no longer have a coherent conversation with a liberal American journalist.

    “It’s not just that Oren and Chotiner disagree. It’s worse than that. Repeatedly and embarrassingly, they cannot even understand what the other is talking about.

    “Take the question of West Bank settlements, for instance. Chotiner asked whether Oren is disturbed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ‘promising annexation of West Bank settlements.’ Oren replied that, ‘to be right wing in Israel today, which is to say just about everybody, because the left is pretty moribund, you have to support annexation.’

    “From that, Chotiner assumed that Oren opposes annexation but was defending Netanyahu’s choice as politically necessary. But he was wrong.

    “Oren went on to explain. ‘My position has always been annexation, but only within the framework of an American-brokered peace arrangement,’ he said. Later, when Chotiner asked Oren what he thought about settlements, Oren responded, ‘I have to distinguish between what’s right and what’s smart.’ Chotiner had no idea what he was talking about (‘Increasing settlements is which?’), and Oren didn’t immediately clarify: ‘Again, you want to put this in black-and-white terms, but it is not black and white.’

    “Chotiner was obviously confused, and rightfully so; Oren wasn’t making sense.

    “Part of the problem is the widening gap between American liberals and Israeli conservatives. Chotiner and Oren could not even agree on whether an Israeli Left exists or what that would entail. Oren said that ‘Our military and industrial élites are left wing,’ and Chotiner replied, ‘Left wing? Not just center left?’ Oren didn’t want to argue: ‘Let’s not parse it. They are not right wing.’ But Chotiner was incredulous:

    “‘They are not right wing historically? They are not right wing in whether they wanted Bibi to be Prime Minister? They are left wing in some sort of ideological sense? I know previous heads of the military have come out more for peace than politicians have, but is it fair to call them left wing?’

    “The gap in worldviews is painfully obvious. Chotiner, who recently interviewed Bhaskar Sunkara, the socialist editor of Jacobin, lives in a country in which the Left is newly vibrant and radical. Oren lives in Israel, in which a center-‘left’ candidate runs campaign ads boasting about flattening Gaza.

    “But the problem runs deeper. Oren assumes that he, as the Israeli authority, gets to interpret the murky Middle East for a passive American audience. He constantly condescends to Chotiner, answering his questions not with clear arguments but with ‘explanations’ of Israeli society. Pressed on settlements, he says, ‘Remember, this is a deeply traumatized generation. This is a generation that—virtually everyone in it has lost friends and family members to terror.’

    “This pablum has nothing to do with the real disagreements between Chotiner and Oren. Rather, Oren is working as a high-class tour-guide, answering Chotiner as if he were a naive college student on a Birthright bus, giving him vague stereotypes about Israeli society.

    “Oren cannot argue with Chotiner, because he does not really believe that an American journalist will seriously challenge him. Oren believes his job is to explain, to pronounce, to pontificate. ‘Let me finish this,’ he insists, cutting off Chotiner’s question. ‘If you want to understand this, you have to let me finish.’

    “Chotiner needs to understand, to have things clarified.

    “Oren has spent decades speaking to American Jews who eat up this act. I remember when I was a seventeen-year-old, he came to speak to a summer trip I was in, dressed in his military uniform. Here was the military officer who had also written respected histories; who was going to challenge him?

    “But since Trump’s election, this problem has gotten far worse. For in the Trump administration, the Israeli right has found, not only allies and supporters, but also people looking for exactly these condescending, pandering, non-answers.

    “More alarming than the fact that Trump leans right on Israel is that he clearly does not want clear answers. He did not understand previous American policy on Jerusalem, and he did not care to understand. He has deputized Jared Kushner to negotiate, but he has given no explanation of what the plans or strategies for negotiations will be.

    “For his ambassador to Israel, Trump selected David Friedman: not only a right-wing funder of settlements, but also a man with no knowledge of or expertise in the conflict, a man who learns his politics at his Shabbos table.”

  6. Mooser on May 20, 2019, 2:11 pm

    ” a man who learns his politics at his Shabbos table.”

    Raphael Magarik says that like it’s a bad thing.

  7. just on May 20, 2019, 11:27 pm

    “Gaza boy killed by explosive grenade fired at his face

    A Palestinian boy killed by Israeli occupation forces during protests in March was fatally injured by an explosive grenade, an investigation by the human rights group Al-Haq has found.

    Adham Nidal Amara, 17, was directly injured in his face, killing him, as he took part in the rallies marking the one-year anniversary of the Great March of Return protests east of Gaza City on 30 March.

    Two other teens, Tamer Hisham Abu al-Khair, 19, and Bilal Mahmoud Shaban Najjar, 16, were shot and killed by Israeli forces while protesting in Gaza that day. A fourth person, Faris Yusif Faris Abu Hijris, 26, succumbed to wounds sustained during the protests two days later.

    Unprecedented injury
    The injuries to Amara’s face, destroying his lower jaw, had not been seen before, even during a year of protests in which Israeli forces had inflicted what doctors said were typical of war wounds. …

    The “severity of the deep injury which completely disfigured [Amara’s] jaw” made it difficult for the pathologist who performed an autopsy on the boy to determine what caused it, according to Al-Haq.

    Amara was standing 150 meters from the Gaza-Israel boundary fence when he was shot. An eyewitness told Al-Haq that he saw Amara fall to the ground and recorded video of the injured boy.

    “The boy’s lower jaw and mouth were completely shattered with blood profusely flowing from the wound,” the witness said. “I did not notice any traces of smoke emanating from the wound, so I thought at the time that the cause of his injury was an explosive bullet in the face.”

    When Amara’s body was washed for burial, his uncle “documented that a solid light-green object had been found inside [Amara’s] mouth,” according to Al-Haq.

    The rights group stated that the bullet “is consistent with a 40 mm grenade cartridge, which may be launched from a direct-fire weapon.”

    Al-Haq added that the ammunition may be a type of explosive grenade prohibited under international law. The Israeli military’s use of such weaponry “may amount to war crimes,” the group stated.

    Military weapons used against protesters
    Amnesty International has previously documented Great March of Return protest injuries “caused by high-velocity military weapons, including Israeli-manufactured Tavor rifles and US-manufactured M24 Remington sniper rifles that shoot 7.62mm hunting ammunition, which expand and mushroom inside the body.”

    The use of “weapons designed to cause maximum harm against protesters, medics and journalists who did not pose an imminent threat to life, is simply criminal,” according to Saleh Higazi, deputy director of Amnesty’s Middle East program.

    Al-Haq has previously documented the Israeli military’s “use of unusual weapons during the [Great March of Return] such as a new type of tear gas causing seizures and fainting.”

    During protests on 4 May 2018, Israeli forces dropped tear gas from drones “in areas where the wounded were being treated,” Al-Haq stated last year. The rights group “documented cases of fainting and seizures caused by tear gas inhalation, requiring treatment on location by paramedics as well as in hospitals across the Gaza Strip.”

    A humanitarian worker interviewed by an independent commission of inquiry formed by the UN Human Rights Council claimed that the gas fired at protesters by Israel “appears more like a nerve agent.” …”

  8. just on May 23, 2019, 6:49 am

    Thank heavens for B’Tselem:

    “Israeli Army Blamed Palestinians for Arson by Settlers. Then a Video Emerged …

    The Israeli military admitted on Thursday that Jewish settlers set West Bank fields on fire last Friday, changing its version after it originally blamed the arson on Palestinians.

    Clashes broke out on Friday in the area between the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar and the nearby Palestinian villages of Burin, Urif and Asira al-Qibliya, with settlers and Palestinians accusing each other of setting farm fields on fire.

    In one video taken by Palestinians during the confrontations, settlers are seen standing close to a home in a Palestinian village and throwing rocks at nearby houses. Four soldiers can be seen standing among the settlers and doing nothing to stop them.

    In a written statement, the Israeli army originally said that together with Border Police troops and civilian volunteers, it had worked to extinguish “a fire set by Palestinians near Asira al-Qibliya” that was “approaching Yitzhar and a military outpost.”

    The Israel Defense Forces’ Spokesperson’s Unit confirmed that settlers, too, were responsbile for the blazes after Israeli human rights nonprofit organization B’Tselem published on Wednesday a video clip that shows that the settlers took part in igniting the fires.

    B’Tselem’s video shows that at least two settlers set fields on fire. Another video shows settlers at Yitzhar fields, lighting fires that quickly spread.

    Changing its version following the videos’ publication, the Israeli military stated that “several fires were set and quickly spread” in the West Bank, and that at the same time, “about 20 residents went down to the outskirts of the village of Asira al-Qibliya and began throwing stones.”

    The IDF also said it put up a fence between Yitzhar and Urif after settlers assaulted villagers on April 13. In that incident, settlers were filmed throwing rocks at a vehicle driven by a Palestinian family. In addition to the fence, the Border Police increased its presence in the area.”

    (videos @ link)

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