Israel launches global initiative to protect its image from BDS activists

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Hasbara / Media war

Israel launches massive recruitment drive for social media warriors
MEMO 23 May — Israel has embarked on a massive recruitment drive to support the country’s online propaganda campaign one day after its companies were exposed for spreading disinformation and meddling in the elections of several African, Asian and Latin American countries. The new initiative, which would see the government funding pro-Israel groups overseas, was unveiled by Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, a government arm set up to combat the global rise of pro-Palestinian activism and Israel’s poor global image. Launching the initiative, Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, who is also the public security minister, was quoted by the Times of Israel saying: “I’m proud to launch the first [government] program to support pro-Israel organizations and activists around the world.” The plan will “encourage grassroots events and online initiatives against the BDS [boycott] movement and in support of Israel. I’m certain that this program will give a significant boost to all our supporters around the world who are battling this anti-Semitism and the boycott activists,” added Erdan. Details of the tendering process for recruiting pro-Israeli activists was published in the Jewish Chronicle on 17 May a day after Israeli firms were kicked out by social media giant, Facebook, for spreading disinformation by posing as local journalists and influencers working in several African, Asian and Latin American countries….

Israeli incite against Arabs [Palestinians] on social media every 66 seconds – report
JPost 22 May by Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman — In total, in 2018, there were some 474,250 inciting posts against Palestinians on Israeli social networks — A new report by 7amleh: The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media shows an increase in inciting posts by Israelis against Palestinians on Israeli social networks. The report, shared Tuesday by the NGO Al-Shabaka – The Palestinian Policy Network, also claims Israel is using predictive social media policing systems to increasingly limit Palestinians’ freedom of expression. The report was authored by Nadim Nashif, 7amleh’s executive director. Inciting content was posted every 66 seconds in 2018, up from every 71 seconds in 2017, according to the report. Further, one out of 10 social media posts against Arab Israelis denies Palestinian identity, contains hate speech or calls for such violence as rape and murder. In 2017, it was one out of nine. In total, in 2018, there were some 474,250 inciting posts against Palestinians on Israeli social networks, according to the report. The main catalyst for these posts was the passing of the Nation-State Law, which was passed on May 1, 2018 …  A few months before the law was passed, more than 115,000 posts went live that included insults, racism and calls for violence against Palestinians. “This shows how politicians influence the escalation and de-escalation of hatred,” explained Nashif in a summary of the report. The report notes that the majority (66%) of incitement against Palestinians is on Facebook, especially on the pages of Israeli news sites and right-wing groups….

Amnesty urges action against Israeli firm behind WhatsApp breach
IMEMC/Agencies 21 May — Amnesty International says that the Israeli firm behind a recent security breach that targeted human rights activists using the WhatsApp messenger app must be held to account for its close ties with repressive regimes. In a statement, Amnesty urged the Israeli regime to revoke export licenses of the notorious Israeli IT firm NSO, which designed the spyware linked to the WhatsApp breach. The London-based rights group told Reuters that the company’s deeds “resulted in human rights abuses.” PNN reports that WhatsApp, a unit of Facebook, admitted that hackers had managed to use the security breach on its messaging app to target human rights activists. Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity at San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, said WhatsApp had informed human rights groups that the spyware was likely developed by Israel’s NSO. This was also confirmed by another person familiar with the matter. In an emailed statement to Reuters, Amnesty asserted that NSO has “again and again demonstrated their intent to avoid responsibility for the way their software is used.” It said only the Israeli regime at its highest ranks could intervene and stop the company….

 Family separation

Amnesty: Palestinian photojournalist at risk of being separated from family
IMEMC/Agencies 24 May — Amnesty International, yesterday, called upon Israeli authorities to grant Palestinian photojournalist Mustafa al-Kharouf, who is at imminent risk of deportation and being taken away from his wife and young child, permanent residency in East Jerusalem. Al-Kharouf has been arbitrarily detained at Givon prison in Ramle, in central Israel, since January 22, 2019. His arrest came after the Israeli Ministry of Interior Affairs refused his application for family unification on alleged security grounds, and ordered his immediate deportation to Jordan, where he has no legal rights to reside and will remain stateless … He must be released immediately and granted permanent residency in East Jerusalem so he can resume his normal life with his wife and child,” said Saleh Hijazi, the Head of Amnesty International’s Jerusalem Office. “The arbitrary detention and planned deportation of Mustafa al-Kharouf reflect Israel’s long-term policy to reduce the number of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, while denying them their human rights.”….

Foreign spouses of West Bank residents in constant state of limbo
BETHLEHEM (CNS) 21 May by Judith Sudilovsky — What was meant to be one of the happiest of occasions for the Zoughbi family became a nightmare because of Israeli policy on family reunification for foreign spouses of Palestinians. For almost 30 years, American-born Sandra Elaine Lindower, 56, has been married to Zoughbi Zoughbi, founder and director of the Wi‘am: The Palestinian Conflict Transformation Center and a well-known and internationally respected Catholic Palestinian peace activist. They have raised their four children together in the ancestral Zoughbi home compound in Bethlehem. Lindower was scheduled to return from a trip to the United States in April in time to help begin planning the wedding of her son — the first of her children to be married. Instead, the family was thrust into a whirlwind of Israeli regulations when Lindower was denied entry at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport for overstaying her visa; she was deported back to the U.S. On May 15, following a Catholic News Service inquiry into her case, the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories, which oversees the visa process for foreign spouses of Palestinians, informed Lindower that she would be permitted to enter if she places a bond. She must enter through the Allenby Bridge Crossing along the border with Jordan and will receive a three-month visa. The agency said the “entry of holders of foreign citizenship … is not a given right.” “We just want her back in time for the wedding” May 26, said Zoughbi, 56. “Love can’t be based on borders and politics or on countries. It is a basic human right to create a family together.” Lindower and other foreign spouses of West Bank Palestinians say their requests to receive a permanent status based on the right of family reunification are being denied, leaving them in a constant state of limbo. Essentially, the opportunity for a foreign spouse to obtain status through family unification has been frozen since 2009…..

West Bank / Jerusalem

Illegal colonists injure a Palestinian shepherd, soldiers abduct one
IMEMC 25 May — Several fanatic illegal Israeli colonists invaded, Saturday, Palestinian grazing lands in the West Bank’s Northern Plains, wounding one shepherd, before Israeli soldiers arrived in the area, attacked the shepherds and abducted one. Aref Daraghma, a Palestinian human rights activist, said the illegal colonists chased several Palestinian shepherds in Khallet Hamad area. He added that the colonists assaulted one shepherd, identified as Rabea‘ Mahmoud Awwad, causing cuts and bruises. Israeli soldiers also invaded the area during the attack, and abducted a Palestinian shepherd, identified as Bassem Mahmoud Awwad. The soldiers did apprehend any of the illegal Israeli colonists who attacked the Palestinian shepherds.

Video shows Israeli settlers started West Bank fires, contradicting army statement
MEMO 24 May — Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem has released a video showing illegal Israeli settlers setting fire to fields in the occupied West Bank, contradicting the Israeli army’s claim that the blaze was started by Palestinians. The Spokesperson’s Unit of the Israeli army was yesterday forced to change its original statement, in which it claimed to have extinguished “a fire set by Palestinians”. The fires were started last Friday [17 May] near the occupied West Bank villages of Burin, ‘Urif and ‘Asira Al-Qibliya, all located off Route 60 south of Nablus. Illegal Israeli settlers from the nearby settlement of Yitzhar had attacked Palestinians from these villages, with both groups subsequently blaming the other for causing the fires which followed. Contradicting the Israeli army’s claim of Palestinian culpability, video footage released by B’Tselem showed “two Israeli [settlers] — one of them armed with a Tavor assault rifle — entering grasslands, crouching down and walking away. Moments later, flames can be seen in the area where they’d been standing,” the Times of Israel reported.  B’Tselem added that “[Israeli] soldiers who were standing next to [the settlers] did not arrest them and prevent[ed] the Palestinians from reaching their burning lands”. In a separate video, settlers can also be seen throwing rocks at nearby Palestinian homes while four Israeli soldiers stand idly by….

Illegal colonists pump wastewater into Palestinian lands near Nablus
IMEMC 21 May — On Monday, several illegal Israeli colonists invaded Palestinian agricultural lands, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and flooded them with wastewater [sewage]. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors Israel’s colonialist activities in the northern West Bank, said the assailants came from the illegal Aliyah colony, which was built on Palestinian lands. He added that the colonists flooded agricultural lands owned by Palestinians from the as-Sawiya, al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya, Yitma and Qaryout villages, devastating dozens of trees and plants.

Israeli soldiers abduct a child near Jenin
IMEMC 24 May — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Friday morning, a Palestinian child in Sielet al-Harithiyya town, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin. The child’s father said the soldiers stopped his son, Amjad Ziad Zyoud, 15, on the main Jenin-Haifa Road, and maced him with pepper spray before repeatedly striking and punching him. The child suffered many cuts and bruises to several parts of his body, before Palestinian medics rushed him to Jenin Governmental Hospital. It is worth mentioning that the army has recently increased its deployment on main roads leading to various villages and towns in Jenin governorate, in addition to installing many roadblocks.

Child suffers a fracture after Israeli soldiers assaulted him in Hebron
IMEMC 23 May — A Palestinian child suffered, late on Wednesday at night, a fracture in one of his arms, after Israeli soldiers invaded his home in Hebron city, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. Medical sources in Hebron said the soldiers invaded and ransacked many homes in Jabal Johar area, south of Hebron city, and constantly assaulted a child, causing fractures in one of his arms, in addition to several bruises. They added that the child, identified as Khaldoun Emad Da‘na, 13, was rushed to Hebron Governmental Hospital, and received the needed treatment.

Army abducts three, injures two, in Deheishe
IMEMC 22 May — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday at dawn, the Deheishe refugee camp, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, abducted three Palestinians and injured two others. The soldiers invaded the refugee camp, and opened fire at dozens of protesters, wounding two young men with live fire, and caused several others to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. Medical sources said one of the wounded Palestinians was shot with a live round in his knee, and the other in his right thigh; both were rushed to a hospital in Bethlehem, suffering moderate wounds. Furthermore, the soldiers invaded and searched several homes in the refugee camp, and abducted Wisam Shawabka, in addition to Mohammad Abu Hadrous and his brother Shadi.

Two masked suspects break into settlement, flee after encountering patrol
Times of Israel 18 May by Jacob Magid et al. — Two masked suspects broke into a northern West Bank settlement Friday overnight, a resident of the town told The Times of Israel, before encountering an IDF patrol and fleeing. An alarm went off in Migdalim at 1:30 a.m. Residents were told to remain in their homes with the doors locked, said the resident, who serves on a security squad. Security camera footage retrieved by The Times of Israel shows two suspects inside the settlement of Migdalim after cutting through a perimeter fence. The resident said he believed the two were Palestinians planning to carry out an attack. The IDF confirmed the incident, saying the two suspects fled when soldiers shined a light on them before they fled. It did not comment on their motive.

Minor among 21 Palestinians Israel detained in West Bank
RAMALLAH, Thursday, May 23, 2019 (WAFA) – Israeli forces detained 21 Palestinians, including a minor, and injured another during multiple overnight raids across the West Bank, said the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS). Israeli forces detained four Palestinians, including two brothers, after ransacking their houses in al-Mazra‘a al-Sharqiya village, northeast of Ramallah. Local sources told WAFA that soldiers seized a villager’s vehicle during the raid. Israeli military troops also detained a Palestinian after storming his family home in Kafr Ni‘ma village, west of Ramallah. The detainee was identified as an undergraduate student enrolled in Birzeit University….

Israeli soldiers shoot and abduct a child near Bethlehem
IMEMC 22 May — Several Israeli army jeeps invaded, on Tuesday evening, the town of al-Khader, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and shot a Palestinian child before abducting him. Media sources said the soldiers invaded the town, and fired many live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs at Palestinian protesters, and surrounding homes. They added that the soldiers shot Mahmoud Salah Amro, 16, in his legs, before abducting him, and took him to an unknown destination. The soldiers also closed some surrounding areas, before stopping and searching cars, and interrogated several Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards.

Israeli forces raid shop in Hebron, assault elderly Palestinian
IMEMC/Agencies 21 May — Israeli forces raided a shop in the old town of Hebron, destroyed its contents, and assaulted and injured an elderly person, said the shop owner, Ghassan Abu Hadid. Israeli forces reportedly raided the shop, smashed the refrigerators’ glass doors and destroyed some shelves before ordering the owner to close the shop, warning him of the consequences of reopening it again. According to WAFA, an 83-year-old elderly man who was present at the shop, at the time of the raid was physically assaulted and inured. The elderly man sustained bruises and cuts to his face and hands. Director General of Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, Imad Hamdan, said Israeli forces’ attacks on Palestinian shops located near al-Ibrahimi mosque have escalated recently; a few days ago Israeli forces raided and destroyed the contents of a pottery exhibition.

Palestine’s first solar station preparing to produce
IMEMC/Agencies 23 May — Palestine’s first ever solar power station is getting ready to produce 7.5 megawatt (MW) of electricity setting the ground for the construction of many other solar power stations throughout Palestine. The Noor (light) Jericho Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Park, the largest so far solar park in Palestine built on a 100-dunum plot of land in the wilderness of Nuwimeh, Jericho, was established by Massader, a company of Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) at a cost of $10 million. It is only a fraction of the much larger Noor Palestine project, which when completed in eight years will produce 200 MW of electricity from solar energy, equivalent to 17 percent of Palestine’s power needs, said Mohammad Mustafa, PIF Chairman of the Board …  The Ministry of Education gave Massader the right to use the rooftops of the public schools to build solar panels on them mainly due to shortage of open land in light of the Israeli military control over two thirds of the Palestinian land in the West Bank, referred to as Area C. Israel does not allow Palestinian construction or to benefit from the land in Area C….

Video: Illegal cannabis production in West Bank rises as economy tanks
23 May — Drug raids in West Bank rise by 30 percent as struggling Palestinians turn to growing cannabis for Israeli market. Palestinian police say illegal drug production is increasing across the occupied West Bank, much of it destined for use inside Israel. As Palestinians face worsening economic conditions, more are turning to cultivating cannabis for some desperately needed cash. Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid reports from the occupied West Bank.


Soldiers abduct, injure several Palestinians trying to reach Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem
IMEMC 24 May — Israeli soldiers abducted and injured , on Friday morning, several young Palestinian men in Qalandia area, north of occupied East Jerusalem, while trying to enter the city for prayers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, on the third Friday of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. Media sources said the Palestinians were trying to enter Jerusalem through gaps in the illegal Annexation Wall, after Israel rejected their permit applications to enter the city to pray. The army abducted many young men, and took them to their nearby military base, in addition to causing dozens of Palestinians to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation, in addition to cuts and bruises. They added that the army has deployed dozens of soldiers and military vehicles in large areas near the illegal wall in that area. It is worth mentioning that Palestinians below the age of 40 are not granted access to occupied Jerusalem for prayers.

Israeli soldiers force out Al-Aqsa worshipers at gunpoint
IMEMC/Agencies 22 May — Israeli authorities, last night, broke into the Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound and drove out Palestinians performing Iʿtikāf [seclusion in a mosque for the final 10 nights ot Ramadan] inside its courtyards, at gunpoint. Jerusalemite Al Ray sources reported that Israeli forces stormed the mosque, and forced worshipers out. They also photographed them and demanded their IDs. The sources added that worshipers were prevented from capturing the event with mobiles, and seized the passport of a Swedish worshiper, there, after he had refused to hand it over. For over a week, Israeli forces have deliberately been targeting people performing Iʿtikāf in the courtyards of the compound, during the holy month of Ramadan, and ejecting from  its courtyards by force.

Photo Gallery: Second Friday prayer of Ramadan at Al-Aqsa
1st photo: Palestinian man cools people with water who gather to perform the second Friday Prayer of Islamic holy month of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Ramallah, West Bank on May 17, 2019. The passing of Palestinian men, who are under age 40, haven’t been allowed by the Israeli forces. ( Faiz Abu Rmeleh – Anadolu Agency )

220,000 Palestinians perform Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa
AA 17 May — Tens of thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and from Palestinian villages inside Israel have converged on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque to mark the second Friday of the Ramadan fasting month. Men over 40, children under 12, and women of all ages were allowed by the Israeli authorities to enter occupied East Jerusalem without permits. “An estimated 220,000 Palestinian worshipers showed up to pray at Al-Aqsa for the second Friday of Ramadan,” Firas al-Dibs, a spokesman for the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf (a Jordan-run agency responsible for overseeing the city’s Islamic and Christian sites), told Anadolu Agency. According to al-Dibs, some 100,000 worshipers are expected to stay at the site to attend Taraweeh (night) prayers.

Prisoners / Court actions

Israel to pay photographers attacked by IDF soldiers in Nabi Saleh
[with video] +972 Mag 23 May by Oren Ziv — Israel has agreed to pay compensation to two photojournalists who were attacked by two Israeli soldiers, including a commissioned officer, in the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh four years ago. The state had initially claimed that the pair had led violent riots that day, despite clear video evidence to the contrary, first published by +972 Magazine, and despite the fact that the army convicted and punished the two officers involved back in 2015. As part of the settlement, the state has retracted its claims that the two were involved in any riot … “What was unique about this case was that the state went too far and claimed that the photographers led the riots, and that claim wasn’t backed up by any [evidence],” Eitay Mack, the attorney representing the two said after the settlement was reached. Despite winning damages for the two photographers, Mack said the result was not encouraging….

Israel charges Palestinian official, lawyer over shootings
JERUSALEM (AFP) 20 May — Israel has charged a Palestinian Authority official and a prominent Palestinian lawyer over shooting attacks on Israeli vehicles in the occupied West Bank, authorities said Monday. Zakaria Zubeidi and Tareq Barghout were accused of carrying out the shootings between November 2016 and January 2019, said Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security agency. It said in a statement that the pair used Zubeidi’s official PA vehicle for transportation in the Ramallah area in the shootings, which left three people slightly wounded. The statement said that in November 2018 and January 2019 they fired at Israeli buses travelling near the Jewish settlement of Beit El. In December, it added, the two men fired at a bus on its way to Psagot settlement but missed. Shin Bet also said that Barghout confessed to shooting and damaging a police vehicle at a crossing point between the West Bank and east Jerusalem in November 2016. Zubeidi, a former head of a militant group who later became an official with the PA commission for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, was arrested by security forces in February. “He will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law, including for previous activity, and will be tried for all of the various terrorist attacks in which he has been involved,” Shin Bet said … Zubeidi, from the Jenin Palestinian refugee camp in the northern West Bank, was formerly head of the Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades militant group. In 2007 he pledged to disarm in returning for Israel’s agreement to remove him from its list of wanted militants.

‘I’m starting to forget what my brother looks like’: Israel still imposing harsh restrictions on Gazans wishing to visit relatives imprisoned in Israel
B’Tselem 21 May — At the end of April 2019, Israel had in custody 5,152 prisoners and detainees (hereafter: prisoners) who are being held on what it terms “security” grounds. Most are incarcerated in prison facilities within Israel’s sovereign territory. The state exploits this fact to severely restrict family visits to Palestinian prisoners. In addition to limiting the number of visitors and the frequency of visits, since July 2017 Israel has also banned all visits to 1,329 Hamas-affiliated, most of whom are from the West Bank and some from Gaza. The declared purpose of this ban is to pressure Hamas into returning the Israeli civilians Avera Mengistu and Hisham a-Sayed it is holding captive and the bodies of soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin. As “security” prisoners are not allowed to use phones, this restriction makes it impossible for them to maintain any form of contact with their families. Even when families are permitted to make prison visits, the journey – organized by the Red Cross – is exhausting and long, leaving home before dawn and returning late in the evening …  In 2007, Israel issued a complete ban on family visits to prisoners from Gaza. As of 2012, it has been allowing visits, but subject to draconian limitations. Among other things, only the parents, spouses and children – under 16 – of prisoners are allowed to visit. They are allowed to make visits only once every two months, as opposed to once a month for prisoners from the West Bank. Siblings are permitted to visit only if their parents are deceased or gravely ill and if the prisoner is unmarried. Even then, visits are allowed only once every six months, subject to special coordination and submitting medical records, and only if the visitors are not defined as “barred entry into Israel for security reasons” – an arbitrary definition that cannot be appealed.
In testimonies given to B’Tselem field researchers, men and women from Gaza who have relatives imprisoned in Israel described the pain of being kept from meeting their loved ones:….

Report: 67% of Palestinian detainees see their detention renewed
MEMO 23 May — Two-thirds of the 490 Palestinian prisoners under administrative detention inside Israeli jails see their jail term renewed at least once while in Israeli jails. Sentences range between two and six months, Palestine Centre for Studies said yesterday. In a report, the Centre said that the Israeli occupation aims to lock down the Palestinian prisoners for the longest time possible inside prisons without trials. The Centre described the situation of these prisoners, who are incarcerated based on secret information kept by the Israeli intelligence, as “political hostages.”….

Detainee suspends hunger strike

IMEMC 23 May — The Palestinians Detainees’ Committee has reported, Wednesday, that a detainee who started a hunger strike 50 days ago has suspended his strike after reaching an agreement with the Israeli Prison Authority. The Committee stated that the detainee Odah al-Hroub, 32, from Doura city, southwest of Hebron, is currently held in solitary confinement at the Ramla Prison. It added that the agreement struck between the prison authority and al-Hroub state that he will be released on August 29th, and his current arbitrary Administrative Detention without charges or trial, will not be renewed. It is worth mentioning that al-Hroub, a married father of ten children, was abducted in December of 2018, and has been held under Administrative Detention orders.


IOF injured sixteen Palestinians in Friday protests
GAZA (Gaza Post) 25 May — Gaza Ministry of Health  reported that Israeli occupation forces injured, on Friday, sixteen Palestinians during the Great Marches of Return and Breaking the Seige Protests, ongoing for the 59th week, in the besieged Gaza Strip. The Health Ministry in Gaza said the injuries varied between rubber-coated steel bullets and gas inhalation, including some who were shot with high-velocity gas bombs. It added that a journalist and a female medic volunteer were among the injured Palestinians .All the wounded Palestinians received the needed treatment in make-shift clinics, without the needed to move them to hospitals. Israeli occupation forces have killed 307 Palestinians, including medics and journalists, and injured more than 29000, since the Great March of Return Protest started in the Gaza Strip, on Palestinian Land Day, March 30th, 2018.

Palestinian immigrant drowns near Greek coast
IMEMC 21 May — The Greek Coastguards have announced locating the corpse of a Palestinian immigrant who went missing 17 days ago after trying to immigrate to Greece from Turkey, without documents. The Palestinian has been identified as Mahmoud Hasan Awadallah, 22, from the Gaza Strip; his corpse was found near the shore of Samos Island in Greece. His family said they lost contact with him nearly 17 days ago, after he left Turkey in an attempt to reach Greece. Two weeks ago, another Palestinian, identified as Mohammad Bahissy, from Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, died under similar circumstances near the Turkish coast.

Palestinian dies from wounds suffered in April of 2018
IMEMC 21 May — A young Palestinian man died, on Tuesday morning, from complications resulting to wounds he suffered in April of the year 2018, after Israeli soldiers shot him during the Great Return March processions in the Gaza Strip. His family said their son, Mohammad Abdul-Jawad Zo‘rob, 30, from Rafah in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, was shot by Israeli army fire on April 27th, 2018. They added that he suffered various complications since then, and developed tumors that eventually led to his death, especially amidst the lack of medical supplies in the besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip. He was shot with an expanding bullet, and underwent several surgeries, but also suffered several infections in the wound area, leading to cancer.

At least four Palestinians injured in tunnel collapse in Gaza
IMEMC 24 May — Medical sources said at least four Palestinians were injured, including one who suffered serious wounds, in a tunnel collapse accident in northern Gaza. The sources said medics, and rescue volunteers rushed to the collapsed tunnel, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, and managed to locate the four Palestinians. The Palestinian Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip has reported that one of the wounded young men suffered a life-threatening injury. Although some of the tunnels are used by armed resistance factions in Gaza Strip, many tunnels are used for smuggling, among several other materials, food supplies, medicine and fuel into the besieged and impoverished coastal region.  In February of this year, two Palestinians were killed, and nine were injured in a tunnel accident on the border with Egypt, in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip….

Youth injured by Israeli forces at Gaza
KHAN YOUNES, Saturday, May 18, 2019 (WAFA) – A Palestinian youth was shot and injured by Israeli forces at the east border of the Gaza Strip, according to medical sources. Israeli soldiers stationed at borderline watchtowers opened gunfire towards a group of civilians to the east of Khan Younes, south of the region, and injured one of them by gunshots in his hand. He was moved to hospital for medical treatment. There were no details about the reason for the shooting.

Gaza exit permits: Aisha’s lone journey for cancer treatment
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 22 May by Maram Humaid — Last month, five-year-old Aisha came home from nursery vomiting and saying she had a headache. Her condition deteriorated, so her family took her to hospital, where, after undergoing medical checks, they had every parent’s worst fear confirmed. Aisha was diagnosed with brain cancer. “The news hit me like a thunderbolt,” Mona Lulu, Aisha’s mother, told Al Jazeera from her home in the al-Bureij refugee camp. Aisha underwent urgent surgery in al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City but she needed a medical transfer to go to the Augusta Victoria Hospital in occupied East Jerusalem for further treatment. But when it came time to decide which of her parents would go with her, the family found the decision was out of their hands. “Her mother and I applied and we both were rejected,” Aisha’s father Wesam said … The Lulu family were in a race against time as Aisha’s condition deteriorated day after day. An elderly friend of Aisha’s aunt volunteered to accompany Aisha. Her application was approved by the Israeli authorities. “They allowed a stranger, an old woman who is suffering from health problems herself, to accompany my daughter but we, her own parents, were not permitted,” Wesam said. “What kind of law allows this to happen?” he added bitterly … At the Augusta Victoria Hospital, Aisha had the surgery to remove part of the tumour from her brain … When Aisha woke up, her family were on the phone, eagerly waiting to talk to her. The little girl only had one question: “When are you coming?” she repeated, over and over. “She just cried over the phone,” Mona said, openly weeping. “If I was by her side, I would have comforted her, held her to my chest, taken care of her.”….

Israel to return 65 confiscated boats to Gaza
MEMO 22 May — Israel announced yesterday that it would return 65 confiscated fishing boats to fishermen in the Gaza Strip, the Wafa news agency reported. This comes after NGOs Gisha – Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement, Adalah – The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights filed a petition on behalf of Gaza fisherman Abdel Ma’ati Habil whose boat was confiscated by the Israeli occupation’s navy in September 2016. The petition was submitted after the Israeli military agreed to return Habil’s boat by land and at his own expense, without mention of what happened with the fishing equipment which was on board when it was confiscated … In its preliminary response to the petition, the state said that it intended to “work within the next several months to return the boat to the Gaza Strip, as well as the other fishing boats from the Gaza Strip that were seized by the navy… in accordance with security and political considerations and in line with a security assessment.” “Israel routinely seizes boats from fishermen in Gaza and holds them for months, even years, without any legal authority and in violation of international law,” said Gisha Attorney Muna Haddad, according to Wafa….

Israel cuts Gaza fishing limit after fire balloons
JERUSALEM (AFP) 23 May — Israel reduced the offshore fishing limits it imposes for vessels operating out of Gaza from Thursday after Palestinians floated balloons fitted with incendiaries over the border, officials said. The cut came just two days after Israel restored the limits to those set in April ahead of an Israeli general election. “A decision was taken this Wednesday evening to reduce the fishing zone off the Gaza Strip to 10 nautical miles until further notice,” said COGAT, the defence ministry unit that oversees such regulations. “The decision was taken after the launch of incendiary balloons from Gaza towards Israel,” it added … The 15-nautical-mile limit that had been restored on Tuesday was the largest allowed in years by Israel, which has fought three wars with Palestinian militants in the enclave and has blockaded it for more than a decade. But human rights activists note that it still falls short of the 20 nautical miles agreed under the Oslo accords of the 1990s. Israeli authorities have not said whether the 15-mile limit was one of the understandings reached as part of the May 6 ceasefire in Gaza but Israel media reported on Monday that it was.

Israeli accused of helping sneak balloons into Gaza, possibly for arson attacks
Times of Israel 22 May by Judah Ari Gross — David Cohen arrested on charges of illegally purchasing hundreds of thousands of balloons on behalf of a Palestinian businessman, with plans to send them to the Strip … The latex balloons imported by Cohen’s company were colored red, green, black and white — the colors of the Palestinian flag. “The special police unit of the Ashdod customs office collected intelligence that indicated the company DC Logistics, Ltd., which is owned by the suspect, planned to import a massive quantity of balloons and deliver them immediately to a Hebron resident, who — according to the suspicion — would eventually transfer them in batches to Gaza,” the Tax Authority said in a statement. Cohen was brought in for questioning on Monday. According to the Tax Authority, during his interrogation, he “implicated himself in the crime.”…  The Tax Authority said it believed that the purchasers hoped that by failing to disclose the ultimate destination of the balloons and due to Cohen’s Israeli citizenship it would be able to avoid security inspections.

Cluster of incendiary balloons lands in southern Israel
TEL AVIV (Ma‘an) 19 May — A cluster of 30 incendiary balloons, launched from the besieged Gaza Strip, landed in an Israeli military base in southern Israel, on Saturday. According to Hebrew-language news outlets, a cluster of about 30 balloons with explosive objects attached to them, were found in an Israeli military base by Israeli forces and claimed that Palestinians launched them from Gaza. Sources added that Israeli forces immediately called the explosives unit team to transfer and handle it in a secure location. No injuries nor damages were reported.  Palestinians in Gaza view the incendiary kites as a form of protest against Israel’s 12-year blockade of Gaza and for Palestinian refugees right of return to their homes and lands which are now known as Israel.

Gaza farmers celebrate access to harvesting farm lands
Citizen Truth 23 May by Rami Almeghari — In April 2018 Palestinian farmers resumed cultivating lands the 2007 Israeli blockage formerly prohibited, thanks to a Red Cross project. Mahmoud Abu Snaima shed tears as he and more than 200 other farmers started to once again sow wheat seeds on the farmland, just outside the village of Shuka near the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, right alongside the border with Israel. It’s the first time Abu Snaima and his neighbors have been able to work the land in the past 12 years. In 2006, the farmers of Shuka were forced to abandon the land after the Israeli army invaded the 14,000-resident village along with other nearby border areas in accordance with an Egypt-Israel agreement. The Israeli army destroyed the brothers’ crops, water management systems and greenhouses, worth an estimated $300,000. As you see, in this area, which is very close to the Israeli barbed wire fence, my four brothers and I own land of around 17 acres, but this is the first time that we are able to reach it in the past 12 years,” said 47-year-old Abu Snaima to Citizen Truth….

Report: 35,000 Palestinians left Gaza for good last year
RAMALLAH (Asharq al-Awsat) 20 May — A report published in the Haaretz Hebrew newspaper on Sunday revealed that 2018 witnessed the departure of 35,000 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, through the Rafah crossing, in the largest voluntary migration of its kind from Gaza during the past years. The new study confirmed earlier reports that most of the departures were among young people with university degrees, and come from families whose annual income is high, including 150 doctors from hospitals in Gaza. It noted that migrants were usually deported to Turkey through local intermediaries arranging their travel and their transfer by boats to Greece, and then to other European countries. Among the dozens of people killed when a boat capsized off Turkey last month were 13 Palestinians who fled the Gaza Strip, the report said. This is not the first study to highlight migration from the Gaza Strip, as a result of economic deterioration and lack of opportunities …  According to data from international relief organizations related to the United Nations, in 2018, 60,907 people left the Gaza Strip to Egypt through the Rafah crossing, while only 37,075 of them returned to Gaza. The cost of traveling to Turkey, the most popular destination for those leaving the Gaza Strip, is estimated at $4000. Those leaving usually collect money from their families and sometimes receive loans to finance their departure. Other favorite destinations are Germany and Sweden.

1,700 youths face amputation in Gaza due to Israeli sniper violence
22 May by Phyllis Bennis — My friend Andrew Rubin is an amputee. He’s lost his right hand, lower arm, right foot, and lower leg. He used to be an avid runner and cyclist. He can’t do much of that anymore, although his walking is getting much better. Soon he might be able to run with his artificial leg. Andrew is incredibly lucky. The medical catastrophe that left his hand and foot so terribly damaged didn’t kill him. But when his limbs never healed even after a decade, he decided to undergo the amputations. It was his choice, and it was made much easier because he knew what lay ahead: the most advanced artificial limbs ever imagined. Andrew is lucky for another reason: He doesn’t live in Gaza. According to the United Nations, 1,700 young Gazans are facing amputation, mainly of their legs, in the next two years. They’re among the 7,000 unarmed Palestinians in Gaza shot by Israeli snipers over the last year. More than 220 Palestinians have been killed so far. Stunningly, more than 29,000 have been wounded — including those 7,000 by live fire. So far, 120 have had to endure amputations — including 20 children. Anyplace else, their limbs might’ve been saved. But Gaza has been under Israeli military siege for more than 10 years. Hospitals are massively under-equipped, many of them seriously damaged by Israeli bombing. The delicate surgery needed to save shattered bones is virtually impossible there, and the surgeons have no access to the most up-to-date methods. Andrew had a choice about his amputations. Gazans don’t. The UN needs $20 million to fill the immediate health funding gap in Gaza. Otherwise, those 1,700 young Gazans face the catastrophic loss of arms and legs, or risk dying of infection. They’ll have virtually no access to the advanced artificial hands, legs, and feet that my friend Andrew uses….

For Gaza grooms, crippling debt overshadows marital bliss
GAZA CITY (AP) 23 May by Fares Akram — Two years ago, Gaza resident Saleh Abu Serdanah took out a small loan in order to get married and start a family. These days, the 31-year-old construction worker is on the run, hiding from police in a tiny rental apartment and unable to repay the money he borrowed. Abu Serdanah is among hundreds of young men who have turned to Gaza’s small industry of wedding lenders for help, only to fall onto hard times because of crushing debt and lack of jobs in the impoverished Palestinian territory. Many have been forced to renegotiate their debts, and others have gone into hiding. Some have even ended up in jail. “I have never been into a police station and have never made troubles. Now I’m like a fugitive crook,” Abu Serdanah said. Wedding lenders have filled an important need in Gaza’s conservative society, where young men and women are typically expected to marry in their late teens or early 20s. Facing a nearly 60% unemployment rate, many young Gazan men have been forced to put off their dreams of marriage because they cannot afford it. Over a decade ago, a number of wealthy people launched charities to help young couples to pay for their weddings and settle post-marriage debts. The initiative was promoted through ceremonial mass weddings that thrived after Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza after the Hamas militant group took power in 2007. These charitable efforts, which still continue, paved the way for a profitable private industry to emerge….

Video: Gaza artist transforms destroyed building with murals
Reuters 23 May 1:13 minutes

US$15 million to scale up municipal services for Palestinians in Gaza
WASHINGTON 23 May — The World Bank announced today an additional US$10 million to scale up ongoing efforts to improve municipal services for Palestinians living in Gaza. In addition to the new grant, the Third Municipal Development Project will also benefit from US$5 million in donor co-financing from the Partnership for Infrastructure Development Trust Fund. With the additional US15 million grant, the project will expand its operations to improve municipal performance and the delivery of services that millions of Palestinians in Gaza rely on … The grant will enable continuity and expansion of local services through labor-intensive, sub- projects in 25 Gaza municipalities. The new funds will finance sub-projects in roads, wastewater, solid waste management, parks and open space development, public markets, solar energy, and more. It is estimated that the expanded project will make a significant contribution to job creation efforts by generating about 5,000 much needed jobs.

Anadolu’s Gaza bureau demands explanation for airstrike
23 May — Anadolu Agency’s bureau in Gaza City has sent a letter to the Israeli army demanding an explanation for an airstrike early this month that destroyed the building in which the agency’s office was located, Anadolu Agency reports. On May 4, Israeli warplanes targeted the building with at least five rockets, after firing a salvo warning shots. Although the strike did not cause any deaths or injuries, the entire building was levelled. Prepared by Anadolu Agency’s lawyers, the Thursday letter to the Israeli military requested an explanation for the attack and asked if the agency was “considered a target” by the Israeli army.

Land theft / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Netanyahu reaffirms West Bank annexation despite ex-security officials’ petition
MEMO 22 May — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has doubled down on his commitment to annexing the occupied West Bank, after almost 300 former security officials signed a petition urging him to reconsider. In a letter to Netanyahu, “Commanders for Israel’s Security” (CIS) – a self-described nonpartisan body of nearly 300 retired security officials – urged the prime minister to hold a public referendum before annexing the West Bank to Israel, claiming the move would endanger security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and leave a power vacuum in the territory. The letter wrote that CIS is “united in the conviction that a two-state agreement with the Palestinians, as part of a regional security framework, is essential for Israel’s security, as well as for its future as the democratic home of the Jewish people”. “Each of us shares the view,” the signatories wrote, “that the application of [Israeli] law in [the West Bank] – in whole or in part – outside the framework of an agreement, will trigger a chain reaction that will seriously damage Israel’s economy, its regional and international standing, but mainly the state’s security.” … Netanyahu, however, has slammed CIS’ letter, writing on Twitter that “land in [the West Bank] is not only a guarantee of Israel’s security – it is also the heritage of our forefathers.”….

West Bank demolitions and displacement | April 2019
OCHA-oPt  22 May — Overview: In April, 71 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished or seized, displacing 75 people and affecting the livelihoods of over 300 others. This month’s total is the highest number of structures demolished in a single month in more than two years. All but four of the structures were demolished due to the lack of building permits, which are virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain, due to the restrictive planning regime applied by Israel in Area C and in East Jerusalem. This month’s increase was driven by demolitions in East Jerusalem, where 58 structures (see map below), or around 80 per cent of all structures, were demolished … By contrast, April recorded the lowest number of demolitions in Area C, nine, since June 2018….

Settler who helped score West Bank outpost victory loses home
JPost 22 May by Tovah Lazaroff  — He said that the “family, who has lived there for the past 20 years, built a new home on land that they were led to believe was okay. That is now being demolished.”–  One month after Moshe Herzlich paid the tax bill on his new home in the Tapuah West outpost, security forces arrived at his door and demolished his pink stucco one-story structure, nestled on a Samaria hilltop. Within hours on Tuesday, the home Herzlich had lived in with his wife, Rivka, and their nine children was reduced to rubble. The sofa sat on the rocky earth, next to the washing machine.   “They don’t treat terrorists this way,” said Herzlich, who was surprised to find a large contingent of IDF soldiers and border police at his door in the morning. He had not been served with a demolition order, he said – the security forces said that one had been faxed to him. “I don’t own a fax,” said Herzlich. “This is a diplomatic decision [made by the upper echelon] – it has nothing to do with the court. There is no court order here; if someone has one I am willing to give him a million dollars.” He added that he had no legal recourse by which to halt the demolition. Herzlich’s new home was located in what’s left of the small West Bank community of Tapuah West, most of which was destroyed by security forces in June 2018 after the High Court of Justice ordered the removal of 10 illegal structures. It did so in response to a petition by the left-wing NGO Yesh Din….

Palestinian police awaiting Israeli approval for West Bank station house
JPost 24 May by Khaled Abu Toameh, Tovah Lazaroff — Palestinians are waiting for Israeli authorization to begin operating a new police station near the entrance to Eizariya, though the Civil Administration is unlikely to give the green light. The station is already built, but police need permission from the Civil Administration before they can move into the building. It is located a few kilometers from the Israeli police station on the edge of Ma’aleh Adumim. Eizariya is located mostly in Area C of the West Bank and partially in Area B. Palestinian police stations, under the terms of the Oslo Accords, are supposed to be located in Area A, which is under the full civil control of the Palestinian Authority. Stations have also been built in Area B, but the Civil Administration is not expected to authorize the Eizariya station. A governmental order would be needed for it to become operational. Israel Police also have a large regional station a short distance away, on an unbuilt hilltop in E1 just west of Ma’aleh Adumim. A PA security official told The Jerusalem Post he hoped the station would be inaugurated in the coming weeks. The stone station will replace the one in the nearby village of , which was too small to handle the security forces needed to fight crime there.


Palestinian FM condemns Germany’s vote to define BDS as ‘anti-Semitic’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 May — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates condemned, on Sunday, the German Bundestag (parliament) for voting in favor of defining and condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) as “anti-Semitic.” In a move welcomed by Israel, a majority of German legislators in the Bundestag voted in favor of the resolution, entitled “Resisting the BDS movement decisively – fighting antisemitism,” to label BDS as an entity that uses anti-Semitic tactics to fulfill its political goals …  The Palestinian Foreign Ministry commented on the voting in a statement, saying that “the decision came under the pretense that BDS aims to strip Israel of its right to self-defense, which reflects first that the role and action of the organization is so influential that Israel and its supporters began to look for a pretext or justification for attacking the organization and distorting its image.”….

Opinion: Eurovision turns out to be a big hit for Palestine / Yvonne Ridley
IMEMC/Agencies 22 May — Despite the organisers describing the Eurovision Song Contest as a non-political event, the issue of Palestine took back, front and centre stage in Tel Aviv over the weekend, which may make Israel come to regret its weaponisation of culture and the whitewashing of its discrimination against the Palestinian people. Reaching a global audience that the pro-Palestine lobby could only dream of, Eurovision gave the Palestinian cause a platform and exposure to an audience of millions not normally confronted by Middle East politics. When you get the headline act Madonna including the Palestinian flag on the back of one of her dancers, as well as Icelandic band Hatari displaying Palestinian banners on live television, it’s hard to ignore the policies and practices of Israel, which these days are likened — with good reason — to the abhorrent apartheid system of racial segregation which once dominated life in South Africa. Iceland’s Eurovision act could now face some sort of disciplinary action for displaying Palestinian flags during their live showpiece, according to officials who said that the issue will be discussed by the contest’s executive board. To make matters worse for the organisers, Hatari also waved Palestinian flags on screen while their public vote was being announced …  The Eurovision Song Contest 2019 was clearly affected by the international BDS campaign and yet, paradoxically, delivered a major propaganda victory for the Palestinian people. That is why, in my opinion, they are the real winners of Saturday night’s event.

Another company withdraws from Israeli light rail project
IMEMC 25 May by Ali Salam — Alstom, a French transport company, has announced their withdrawal from an Israeli light-rail project that is being used to annex illegal Israeli settlements into Jerusalem, citing potentially harmful human rights violations and French law. According to activists campaigning against the light-rail line, Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem, rapid development of settlements, and forced transfers of its Palestinian population, constitutes a plethora of international law violations …  The existing light rail line was build on illegally seized Palestinian land, and the planned expansion is meant to connect West Jerusalem with Israeli settlements constructed on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank, in violation of international law …  The number of candidates for the second phase of the Jerusalem light rail project, has decreased from seven to two …  One French company, Egis, a subsidiary of the publicly funded company, Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC), remains involved in the Jerusalem light rail project.

Palestinian refugees / UNRWA

Report: 605 Palestinian refugees tortured to death in Syria regime prisons
MEMO 24 May — Some 605 Palestinian refugees have been tortured to death in Syrian regime prisons since the civil war began in 2011, the Action Group for Palestinians in Syria said in a report yesterday. The group said it has documented the death of as many as 80 refugees under torture in 2018 compared with 13 refugees documented in 2017, and 77 victims were identified through images leaked from Syrian regime prisons. According to the group, the Syrian regime’s security services have handed over the victims’ personal documents to their families, however, the families refuse to reveal the victims’ names for fear of retaliation by the Syrian security forces. The group said the victims include doctors, engineers, university students, artists, media professionals and volunteers. The detention of 1,757 Palestinian refugees in Syrian prisons, including children, women, elderly people and infants in the arms of their mothers whose fate is unknown, has also been documented.  According to testimonies obtained from former detainees, the Palestinian refugees in the Syrian security branches are subjected to all forms of torture and humiliation including beating, electrocution and rape.

UN agency for Palestinians rejects US call to dismantle it
GAZA CITY (AFP) 23 May — The head of the United Nations organisation for Palestinian refugees on Thursday rejected a US call to dismantle the agency, saying it cannot be blamed for stalled peace efforts. UNRWA’s commissioner general Pierre Krahenbuhl rebuffed the criticism from US envoy Jason Greenblatt during a visit to the Gaza Strip. “I unreservedly reject the accompanying narrative that suggests that somehow UNRWA is to blame for the continuation of the refugee-hood of Palestine refugees, of their growing numbers and their growing needs,” he said in response to a question about Greenblatt’s comments. “The fact that UNRWA still exists today is an illustration of the failure of the parties and the international community to resolve the issue politically — and one cannot deflect the attention onto a humanitarian organisation,” he told a press conference in Gaza City. The United States last year cut off its roughly $300 million annual donation to UNRWA, and administration officials now argue the agency has run its course. Speaking to the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Greenblatt said the “UNRWA model has failed the Palestinian people.” He said it was time to hand over services assured by the UN agency to countries hosting Palestinian refugees and NGOs … UNRWA provides education, health and other key services for the refugees with funding from international donors. The US and Israel say the agency perpetuates the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in particular by classifying refugees’ descendants as refugees too. UNRWA argues it is simply providing services until a political solution is found….

UN Palestine refugee agency faces $200mn budget deficit
GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) 23 May by Ali Abo Rezeg — The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)’s budget deficit currently stands at $200 million, according to an agency official. At a Thursday press conference in Gaza City, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl vowed the agency would nevertheless “continue to provide services to Palestinian refugees as mandated by the UN” … Krahenbuhl, for his part, says UNRWA is sparing no effort to raise desperately-needed funds. Last year, he asserted, 42 countries and organizations had helped UNRWA overcome its acute funding crisis. Continued financial assistance, Krahenbuhl added, “remains crucial to maintaining refugees’ safety and dignity”….

Other news

Palestinians confirm will not attend US-led meeting in Bahrain
RAMALLAH (AFP) 22 May — The Palestinian leadership confirmed Wednesday they would not attend a US-led peace conference in Bahrain next month. The White House announced Sunday it would co-host the June 25-26 conference in Manama focusing on economic aspects of President Donald Trump’s long-delayed Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, with the declared aim of achieving Palestinian prosperity.  The Palestinians had already said they had not been informed about the event and were expected not to attend but confirmed the stance late Wednesday. “Palestine will not attend the Manama meeting,” a statement on the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) website said. “This is a collective Palestinian position, from President Mahmud Abbas and the PLO Executive Committee to all Palestinian political movements and factions, national figures, private sector and civil society.”

Rejecting taboos, Palestinian businessman welcomes US plan
JERUSALEM (AP) 22 May by Isabel Debre — A Palestinian businessman who flouts political taboos by working with Israeli settlers in the West Bank could soon have a role in President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan. While Palestinian officials have swiftly rejected next month’s planned Mideast conference in Bahrain, Ashraf Jabari says he will be thrilled to attend. Jabari has forged close ties with U.S. diplomats but is viewed with deep suspicion by his fellow Palestinians. That has raised questions about U.S. attempts to cultivate him and other businessmen as alternatives to the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority.
The U.S. has not yet released an official list of attendees at the June 25-26 conference, which seeks to use economic development to lure the Palestinians to the negotiating table. U.S. officials have said it would convene individual business leaders, including some Palestinians who live outside the Palestinian territories. “Our economic plan is an ambitious but achievable vision; it presents an alternative path with the potential to unlock a prosperous future for the Palestinian people if they choose to follow it,” said Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Mideast envoy. The Palestinian Authority has said that any plan focusing on economic development at the expense of people’s political aspirations is unacceptable. Well-known Palestinian business magnate Bashar Masri, for one, has declined his invitation, vowing not to attend anything that flies in the face of the “Palestinian national consensus.”….

Qatar says economic conditions for Israeli-Palestinian peace require fair political solutions
DOHA (Reuters) 24 May – Qatar said on Friday that economic development needed for Israeli-Palestinian peace could not be achieved without “fair political solutions” acceptable to Palestinians, referring to a U.S. plan set to be unveiled next month. The White House will lay out the first part of President Donald Trump’s long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan when it holds an international conference in Bahrain in late June. The plan, touted by Trump as the “deal of the century,” is expected to encourage investment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by Arab donor countries before grappling with thorny political issues at the heart of the conflict. Palestinian officials have rebuked the U.S. effort, which they believe will be heavily biased in favor of Israel. Qatar’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement, commented on the upcoming conference: “Tackling these challenges requires sincerity of intent, concerted efforts from regional and international players and appropriate political conditions for economic prosperity. “These conditions would not be achieved without fair political solutions to the issues of the peoples of the region, especially the Palestinian issue, in accordance with a framework acceptable to the brotherly Palestinian people,” the statement said …  Chief among the Palestinians’ concerns is whether the plan will meet their core demand of calling for them to have an independent state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip — territory Israel captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Opinion: Kushner’s squeeze play on Jordan’s King Abdullah
Al Jazeera 22 May by Bill Law — Trump’s son-in-law will likely use Jordan’s economic and water crises to force the king to accept the ‘ultimate deal’ —  In March of this year, King Abdullah of Jordan met the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington. By all accounts, the closed-door meeting with the Jordanian monarch, a staunch ally of the United States, was somewhat of a bumpy ride. King Abdullah is said to have expressed his deep frustration about being kept almost completely in the dark about the “ultimate deal” that is supposed to secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians … King Abdullah, whose country is home to nearly two million Palestinian refugees, has, it seems, been given no opportunity to contribute to or influence the Kushner deal. As a Jordanian official told the Axios news website: during the meeting, “His Majesty was asked about the plan and said he did not yet see it and therefore cannot comment. He also believes that an economic plan without a political one is not sufficient.” Behind that succinct and acerbic statement lies a great deal of anxiety. Jordan is being pushed towards accepting a disastrous deal that will give the Israelis virtually everything they want in exchange for a chunk of the economic aid that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries are supposed to provide. The Palestinians and their regional supporters will be bought off with the promise of a bright economic future and, in the process, the issue of Palestinian statehood will be buried….

Interpol declines PA’s request to arrest Dahlan, again
MEMO 22 May — Interpol has rejected a request by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to issue an arrest warrant against dismissed Fatah leader Mohammad Dahlan, Al-Resalah newspaper revealed yesterday. Interpol said that the basis of the PA’s complaint against Dahlan was political or classified under the term of “political rivalry” and as such it would not be eligible for the issuance of an arrest warrant. This is the second time the PA’s request for Dahlan’s arrest has been rejected by Interpol. The PA joined the international police body in 2017 and monitors accused PA President Mahmoud Abbas of seeing membership to use its power to against his political rivals.

Palestinian Authority: Israeli archaeological digs in West Bank a ‘crime’
JPost 22 May by Maya Margit/The Media Line — The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called archaeological digs carried out by Israel in the West Bank a “crime” and asked UNESCO as well as the World Travel & Tourism Council to establish an international fact-finding committee to look into the issue. In a statement released Tuesday, the PA ministry warned archaeologists around the world against taking part in such excavations, arguing such a move “would expose them to legal accountability” and mar their academic record. The PA further asked museums and international institutions to examine all artifacts originating in Israel and refuse to accept any piece “stolen from occupied Palestinian land.” The PA statement comes after Israel’s Supreme Court last week rejected an appeal submitted by two nongovernmental organizations and ruled that the state was under no obligation to release information about excavations in the West Bank. The names of the archaeologists involved can also remain secret.  In its ruling, the court stated that there was a “clear and genuine concern” over “real” damage that could be inflicted on the professional and economic interests of the diggers, as well as the academic institutions they are affiliated with, due to the threat of an academic boycott….

Remains of Second Temple-area Jews reburied after their West Bank tombs damaged
Times of Israel 22 May — The remains of hundreds of Second Temple-era Jews who were buried in the Jericho area were re-interred on Tuesday in the nearby settlement of Kfar Adumim after they were found scattered outside tombs damaged by Palestinian agricultural work in the area.  The remains were found near the Hasmonean Palace in Jericho, one of the world’s oldest cities, after their tombs were said to have been looted. According to the pro-settlement activist group Regavim, the tombs were “looted by Arab grave-robbers.” The bones were reinterred at the Kfar Adumim cemetery in a funeral attended by hundreds that was organized by archaeologists from the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration and by the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council. Activists who keep watch over believed Jewish archaeological sites in the area discovered the destroyed tombs, which had apparently been partly demolished by Palestinian tractor drivers attempting to clear an area for planting several weeks ago….

Israel allows armoured vehicles into West Bank
MEMO 23 May — Israeli authorities have allowed the entry of 10 armoured vehicles to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the occupied West Bank, reported on Wednesday. The ten vehicles entered the West Bank after they were approved by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman and former Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot. Israeli reports said that the Israeli authorities agreed on the entry of the vehicles nine months ago, stating that this came under American pressure. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the vehicles were offered as a gift from the US to the PA and they were assembled in Jordan.

Farah Nabulsi: Palestinian investment banker turned activist filmmaker sheds light on Nakba
DUBAI (Arab News) 15 May by Tarek Ali Ahmad — Farah Nabulsi had started out on a clear career path. Born and raised in the UK to Palestinian parents, she studied business in London and became an institutional equity stock broker at JP Morgan Chase. But life changed totally, she said, after she visited Palestine and witnessed the everyday indignities that Palestinians endure. “It hit me like a ton of bricks how colossal this injustice is, and how 1948 is happening right now in the present day,” Nabulsi told Arab News, referring to the exodus of several hundred thousand Palestinians when Israel was established on their homeland. “That experience and first-hand knowledge changed me. I knew that charity and sympathy were certainly not enough.” Nabulsi swapped her business suits and briefcases for cameras and film scripts. She took it upon herself to shed light on the injustices meted out to Palestinians since their mass displacement in 1948, known to Palestinians as the Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe). So far, Nabulsi has made three short films on Palestine. One of them, “Today They Took My Son,” follows a mother as she copes with the trauma of her young son being taken away by the Israeli military. It was named an Official Selection at the Edinburgh Short Film Festival in 2016, and was a finalist at the International Short Film Competition at the USA Film Festival in 2017. The other films, “Oceans of Injustice” and “Nightmare of Gaza,” have similar themes of Israeli prejudices against, and abuses of, Palestinians….

Egyptian autopsy on Zaki Mubarak complete; body expected to move to Gaza
Al Arabiya 23 May — Egyptian forensic experts completed on Wednesday the autopsy that was being performed on the body of Zaki Mubarak [55]  in preparation for a detailed report on the cause of death. Mubarak, a Palestinian national, was arrested in Turkey on spying charges and died in mysterious circumstances. Sharif Sudqi, Mubarak’s lawyer, told Al Arabiya that forensics took around 30 samples from the body, including skin, internal tissues, fingernail scrapings, and hair from injured areas to determine the reason for injury. The lawyer of Mubarak’s family, Sherif Ghneim, said that they will attach the report, as soon as it is issued, to a lawsuit they will raise in France, adding that they will use it to demand that the Turkish officials involved in torturing and killing Mubarak be brought to justice. The body will be transferred to Gaza late Wednesday, as soon as all the transferring procedures are done, said Ghneim, adding that it will be accompanied by an envoy from the Palestinian embassy. Mubarak’s body arrived in Cairo from Turkey on May 16, along with a medical report from the Turkish authorities written in Turkish, English, and Arabic, according to Sudqi. Turkey claims that Mubarak committed suicide in prison …  “The body is completely empty. Even the tongue does not exist,” Mubarak’s brother Zakaria said after he received the body in Cairo.

Israel officer: We are struggling with Hamas to recruit spies
MEMO 23 May — An Israeli officer claimed that “Hamas and Israel are engaged in a war over the recruitment spies. This has prompted a crackdown by Hamas on those who collaborate with Israeli intelligence. During the recent round of violence, Israel revealed that it has important sources of information inside the Gaza Strip. However, this secret war peaked in November 2018, when Hamas discovered a special Israeli intelligence force in the city of Khan Yunis.” According to an article by Yoni Ben Menachem, published on the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs’ website, during the recent violence Israel targeted sensitive Palestinian sites. This raised Hamas’s concern about the increased risk of agents working for Israeli intelligence. This is because as much of the field information came from collaborators inside Gaza who work for the Israel Security Agency (ISA) … Ben Menachem, a former officer in the Directorate of Military Intelligence (Aman), revealed that “Israeli intelligence infiltrates the Palestinian society using cutting edge methods to the extent that some spies were unaware that they worked for Israel.” He pointed out that some of these spies are active on social media platforms, research websites, or work as traders. Thus, some are being integrated with media establishments, news websites, research institutes, humanitarian institutions, and international organisations so that recruitment is run through a third party….

Bid to stifle court akin to those of pre-Nazi Germany, 98 retired judges say
Times of Israel 23 May by Jacob Magid — Ninety-eight retired judges signed an open letter on Thursday that compared the current environment, in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly seeking to drastically curb the powers of Israel’s High Court of Justice, to the situation in pre-Nazi Germany. Referencing the words of the late German-born Israeli chief justice Alfred Witkon, the ex-jurists said that “there have been throughout history countries with democratic regimes where movements were established that used the rights granted to them in order to carry out destructive activities to protect themselves.”… The list of dozens of retired judges included ex-Supreme Court justices Elyakim Rubinstein and Ayala Procaccia as well as the former presidents of the National Labor Court and presidents of district courts. (listserv)

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BDS is hurting them. Why else would they keep pouring in millions of dollars to fight it? I guess the Hasbara trolls are going to multiply, and we have to put up with the usual lies, deflection, and the usual zionist BS, justifying a vicious occupation, theft of lands that were never theirs, and most disgustingly, the killing of unarmed youth, who continue to protest and resist their inhumane treatment. Might has never been right… Read more » “One million face hunger in Gaza after US cut to Palestine aid” “UN relief agency warns of crisis next month unless donor countries provide $60m” The Guardian, May 15/19, by Jennifer Rankin. “More than a million people in Gaza risk going hungry next month unless international donors fill a $60m (£46m) funding black hole largely created by cuts to Palestinian refugee aid by the Trump administration, a UN agency has said. “The United Nations… Read more »

Thanks for this, Kate. I can’t believe it took me a couple of days to read it and to try to digest the contents with the attention it deserves. I just read something that is so strange. imho: “Haredi Orthodox Passengers Sue El Al for Shabbat Disruption … … Haredi Orthodox passengers on an El Al flight in November that was forced to divert in order to allow Sabbath-observant passengers to get off the plane… Read more »