Israeli tourism ministry to begin offering grants for hotel construction in West Bank settlements

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Settlement hotels part of ‘detrimental’ West Bank expansion policy, says HRW
The New Arab 8 May by Florence Dixon — News that Israel’s tourism ministry will begin offering government grants for hotel construction in settlements in the occupied West Bank has been met with ire from human rights defenders, who have called the move “a violation of the most basic notions of international law”. Such grants have until now only been available for hotel projects within the state of Israel, while those in settlements required government approval. However the change in policy reflects a loosening of restrictions that demonstrate the Israeli government is continuing “full-bore” with settlement expansion, Human Rights Watch’s Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir told The New Arab….


Israel gunfire kills Palestinian in Gaza days after ceasefire
Al Jazeera 10 May — Israeli fire has killed a Palestinian in Gaza during demonstrations by the Israeli fence, Gaza officials said, despite a ceasefire agreement reached on Monday that ended days of fighting. Abdullah Jom‘a Abdul ‘Al, 24, was shot in the stomach on Friday near the Israeli fence east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Gaza’s health ministry said, in the first protests there since a deadly flare-up last week. The ministry said that a total of 30 Palestinians were injured in the protests on Friday, including four children and one field paramedic, who was moderately wounded by an Israeli gunshot to the head. The Gaza Health Ministry said that since the start of the weekly Great March of Return protests last year, the Israeli army has killed more than 275 demonstrators and wounded 17,000 others, who were officially referred to hospitals.
This week’s demonstrations were seen as a key test for a fragile truce agreed between Gaza and Israel mediated by Egypt and the United Nations. Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza fired hundreds of rockets at Israel beginning on Saturday, May 4, after Israeli forces killed four Palestinians in two separate incidents on May 3. From Saturday, Israeli artillery-shelling was directed at 200 civilian landmarks inside the strip and Israeli warplanes carried out about 150 raids according to the government media office in Gaza. Over three days, 25 Palestinians were killed along with four Israelis. The truce agreement was announced by Palestinian factions early on Monday.

Israeli forces moderately injure Palestinian farmer in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 May — A Palestinian farmer was shot and injured with Israeli live ammunition while working in agricultural lands, east of Gaza City, on Friday. According to medical sources in Gaza, an ambulance transferred the injured Palestinian farmer to the al-Shifa Hospital, west of Gaza City, to receive necessary treatment. Sources confirmed that the farmer, whose identity remained unknown, was shot and injured in his foot, while working in agricultural lands near the return camps, east of Gaza City. Sources added that the farmer is in moderate condition. The shootings comes several hours prior to the start of the weekly “Great March of Return,”

Israel allows entry of fuel into Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 May — Israeli authorities have reopened the Kerem Shalom border crossing and allowed the entry of fuel into the besieged Gaza Strip, on Friday. According to Hebrew-language news outlets, Israeli authorities decided to reopen Gaza’s main commercial crossing, known as Kerem Shalom, in order to allow the entry of fuel.

Israel lifts restriction on Gaza fishing zone as truce holds
Al Jazeera 10 May — Israel lifted a ban on Friday on Palestinian fishing boats operating off the Gaza Strip, ending a measure imposed during a deadly flare-up of violence earlier this month. The fishing union in the Gaza Strip confirmed the lifting of the ban, saying the new limits imposed by Israel were 12 nautical miles in the southern half of Gaza and six nautical miles in the north. Zakaria Bakr, an official with the fishing union, said a number of boats began fishing on Friday, the first in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The measure is seen as a first step in implementing a fragile truce meant to avert a new conflict between Israel and Palestinian armed factions. Under the Oslo Accords signed in 1993, Israel is obligated to permit fishing up to 20 nautical miles, but this has never been implemented. In practice, Israel only allowed fishing up to 12 nautical miles until 2006, when the fishing zone was reduced to six and later to three. A tentative truce was reached on Monday with Palestinian officials saying Israel had agreed to ease its crippling decade-long blockade of the impoverished enclave in exchange for calm. Hazem Qassem, a spokesman for Hamas – the group that governs the Strip – said Egyptian mediators, along with officials from Qatar and the United Nations, helped reach the ceasefire deal. Israel did not publicly confirm the deal. A Hamas official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he considered the reopening of the fishing area “the first step the (Israeli) occupation must take as part of the implementation of the understandings.” An Egyptian security delegation arrived in Gaza late on Thursday to monitor implementation of the Cairo-brokered truce, he said. COGAT’s statement late on Thursday did not mention any reopening of the border crossings between Gaza and Israel.

Israeli navy fires live rounds at fishing boat in Gaza
IMEMC 10 May — Israeli soldiers attacked, on Friday evening, several Palestinian fishing boats with live fire, in Gaza territorial waters, forcing the fishermen to return to the shore in fear of further violations. Eyewitnesses said the navy ships attacked the fishing boats near the shore of the Sudaniyya area, northwest of Gaza city. The attack is part of ongoing violations against the Palestinian fishermen, in addition to the farmers and workers on their lands near the perimeter fence across the eastern parts of the coastal region.

Israeli soldiers destroyed 130 residential units, damaged 700, in three days
IMEMC 6 May — The Palestinian Ministry for Public Works and Housing has reported that the Israeli shells and missiles, carried out against the Gaza Strip in less than three days of escalation, have destroyed 130 residential units and caused damage to 700 … The army fired missiles and shells into hundreds of structures, including homes and residential buildings, in addition to roads, agricultural lands, naval structures and various public facilities.
During the military onslaught on Gaza, Israeli soldiers killed 27 Palestinians, including children, a baby and women, among them a baby and her mother who was also pregnant, and injured more than 160 Palestinians, after the army fired missiles at homes, residential towers and various other buildings and structures. Less than a handful of the slain Palestinians were resistance fighters. Workers of the Public Works Ministry are still trying to remove the rubble and reopen roads, in coordination with the Civil Defense, various municipalities, the Red Crescent and the United Nations Relief And Words Agency (UNRWA).
List of the confirmed casualties, (including 3 Israelis and one Palestinian Bedouin from the Negev): –
19 Palestinians killed on May 5, 4 on May 4:
Maria Ahmad al-Ghazali, 4 months
Ahmad Ramadan al-Ghazali, 31 (Maria’s father)
Eman Abdullah Mousa al-Ghazali, 30 (Maria’s mother) [CONTINUED)
[See photographs of and short articles about those killed at the following site:]

Life returns to normal in Gaza, but wounds are still open
GAZA CITY (Al Jazeera) 9 May by Maram Humaid — Normal life has trickled back onto Gaza‘s streets after a three-day escalation in the besieged enclave last week that saw at least 25 Palestinians and four Israelis killed. Following a ceasefire agreement between Gaza and Israel, stores have reopened, students have headed back to schools, and people have resumed work … Yet, while a shaky calm has returned to Gaza, those who lost loved ones in the recent Israeli air raids are in mourning, their lives changed forever. Several members of three families, including a pregnant woman, were killed during the escalation. On Sunday afternoon, the al-Madhoun family, which lives in the northern Gaza Strip, was sitting at home when it was struck. Palestinian officials said it was hit by an Israeli air raid. “A few minutes after I went outside in the garden, a big explosion shook our house,” Ahmad al-Madhoun, 34, told Al Jazeera. “I ran inside screaming hoping to save my family. I found my wife, Amani, who was pregnant in her ninth month bleeding under the rubble. She was killed by shrapnel in her belly.”  In total, five members of the al-Madhoun family were killed in the strike, five others were wounded and the family home was destroyed …  “My wife was preparing clothes for the new baby,” Ahmad said, his eyes glistening with tears. “My children were happily playing with the Ramadan lanterns their grandfather brought them.”….

Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian worker in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 May — A Palestinian was shot and injured by Israeli forces, east of Beit Hanoun in the northern besieged Gaza Strip. According to local sources, Israeli forces opened fire at a group of Palestinians workers near a waste collection site east of Beit Hanoun. Sources confirmed that one of the workers, whose identity remained unknown, was shot and injured in his foot. Medical sources said that the Palestinian, in his twenties, was transferred to the Indonesian Hospital, in northern Gaza, to receive medical treatment. The reason for the shooting remained unknown.

In video – Israeli warplane targets 2 Palestinians on motorcycle
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 May — Two Palestinians were injured after an Israeli warplane targeted them on a motorcycle, on Sunday, and fired a missile at them while riding through Jabaliya town, in the northern Gaza Strip. According to local sources, an Israeli warplane targeted two Palestinians riding on one motorcycle through the streets of Jabaliya, resulting in critically injuring one of them, while the other suffered moderate injuries. The two Palestinians, whose identity remained unknown, were immediately transferred to the Indonesian Hospital, in northern Gaza, for necessary medical treatment. Sources confirmed that another six Palestinians were injured after Israeli warplanes fired a missile towards a group of Palestinian youths, east of Gaza City….

Israeli forces destroy Gaza office of Turkish Anadolu news agency
BEIRUT, 9 May —  The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned the Israeli bombing of Turkish-stated owned news outlet Anadolu Agency’s Gaza office on May 4. Israeli warplanes fired five missiles into the building housing the Anadolu Agency office, destroying the building but causing no casualties, according to a report by Anadolu Agency, other news reports, and the regional press freedom group Skeyes. “It is completely unacceptable for Israel to bomb and destroy the Gaza office of Turkey’s Anadolu Agency and endanger the lives of journalists, who are civilians and guaranteed protection under international law,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “Israeli authorities know where media outlets are housed in Gaza, and must ensure that journalists can do their jobs safely, without fear of being injured or killed.”….

Israeli government ordered Israeli army to end Gaza fighting before Eurovision
[behind paywall] Haaretz 6 May by Yaniv Kubovich & Noa Landau — Israel’s political leadership ordered the Israeli army to “achieve the necessary operational goals” in the recent flare-up in Gaza before the upcoming Independence Day and Eurovision Song Contest, defense officials said Monday, despite the military’s position that it should show its willingness to keep fighting. The security establishment’s position, supported by intelligence sources, is that if Israel doesn’t make progress in implementing the agreements with Gaza, the fighting will resume within days or weeks. Leaders of Palestinian factions echoed this assessment Monday, saying if Israel fails to do its part, fighting would resume within the next few weeks …  As occurred at the end of the dozens of rounds of fighting over the past few years, it seems as if the cease-fire agreement resembles the understandings reached by the two sides after Operation Protective Edge and Operation Pillar of Defense. This has repeatedly made it possible for both sides to claim that the situation “has returned to the status quo ante” from before the escalation, instead of having to admit to signing a new memorandum of understanding and holding negotiations. These agreements generally include six primary clauses that the parties commit to implementing gradually, one after the other, on condition that complete quiet is maintained: A comprehensive cease-fire; the transfer of funds from Qatar and the UN; opening the crossings and increasing the fishing zone; medical and humanitarian aid, preparing an arrangement for the POWs, MIAs and prisoners; and a broad rebuilding of the infrastructures with foreign funding and the opening of talks on building air and sea ports. Generally the violence resumes during implementation of the earlier stages….

UN: Health funding gap means 1700 in Gaza may face amputations
MEMO 8 May — A lack of health funding in Gaza means 1,700 people shot by Israeli security forces may have to have amputations in the next two years, Jamie McGoldrick, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for occupied Palestinian territory, told reporters on Wednesday, Reuters reports. McGoldrick said 29,000 Palestinians had been wounded in protests in the past year, and 7,000 of them had gunshot wounds, mostly in the lower legs. “You’ve got 1,700 people who are in need of serious, complicated surgeries for them to be able to walk again,” McGoldrick said. “These are people who have been shot during the demonstrations and who are in need of rehabilitation, and very, very serious and complex bone reconstruction surgery over a two year period before they start to rehabilitate themselves.” Without those procedures, all these people are at risk of needing an amputation, he said. The UN is seeking $20 million to fill the gap in health spending….

Opinion: Gaza has made its choice: It will continue to resist / Haidar Eid
Al Jazeera 6 May — We have spent sleepless nights under Israeli bombs before – in 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2018. On Saturday, apartheid Israel decided to launch yet another murderous campaign of bombardment against one of the most densely populated areas on earth. Again, the victims were children and women. Fourteen-month-old Palestinian toddler, Siba Abu Arrarwas killed along with her pregnant aunt, Falastine, who succumbed to her wounds shortly after American-made, Israeli warplanes targeted their home in Zeitoun neighbourhood. On Friday, like all the previous 57 Fridays, I joined thousands of peaceful protesters at the eastern fence of the Gaza concentration camp, where Israeli snipers shot and killed four Palestinians and injured 51, including children. One of those killed was 19-year-old Raed Abu Teir, who was walking on crutches, having been injured during previous protests … As with previous truce initiatives, this time once again Israel and the Palestinians – the oppressor and the oppressed – were equated as “two sides to a conflict” and what constitutes legitimate resistance under international law was put on the same level as a brutal illegal occupation. The fact that Israel has an actual army, disproportionately bigger firepower and is an occupier was neglected as usual, and so was the stark difference in the death toll: 24 Palestinians and four Israelis …  We, the Palestinians in Gaza, have already made our choice. We will not die dishonourably a slow death while thanking our killers under the self-deception that portrays slavery to the occupier as a fait accompli….

Israel’s Gaza blockade under scrutiny after latest violence
JERUSALEM (AP) 6 May by Josef Federman — For 12 years, Israel has maintained a blockade over the Gaza Strip, seeking to weaken the territory’s militant Hamas rulers. And for 12 years, Hamas has remained firmly in power, developing a thriving homegrown weapons industry along the way. This weekend’s violence, the worst in a string of flare-ups since a 2014 war, provided the latest illustration of the limitations of the blockade and fueled calls Monday in Israel for a rethinking of the longstanding policy, which many see as ineffective and even counterproductive. “Israel, similar to the leaders in Gaza, must look forward. Only an economic solution to the Gaza Strip, and orderly work, will bring quiet and money and dignity,” Smadar Peri, a veteran Israeli defense commentator, wrote in the Yediot Ahronot daily. “It would be a very good idea, in tandem with the umpteenth talks on a cease-fire, to decide to steer toward a businesslike dialogue.” This will be no easy task … Israel considers Hamas, which seeks Israel’s destruction, a terrorist group, while Hamas sees Israel as an illegal occupier. They do not speak to one another, communicating through Egyptian, Qatari and U.N. mediators. The Israeli blockade has been a driving factor in the three wars, numerous smaller battles and countless rounds of negotiations over the years as Hamas demands an easing of the closure in exchange for a halt in rocket fire.

Israel MK calls for 1 Palestinian to be killed for each rocket fired
MEMO 7 May — Right-wing Israeli National Union Member of the Knesset Bezalel Smotrich yesterday called for killing a Palestinian in return for every rocket launched from the Gaza Strip, Quds Net reported. On Twitter, Bezalel wrote: “From a tactical view, the battle in Gaza must end after killed 700 terrorists — one terrorist for each rocket.” Smotrich refers to the number of Palestinian rockets allegedly launched at Israel from Gaza. The minister, who is looking to become the country’s next justice minister, heads the National Union party which made an alliance with the Jewish Home and Jewish Power (Otzma Yehudit) parties to run under the Union of Right Wing Parties alliance in Israel’s elections last month. The alliance has since joined the coalition government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is serving his fifth term in office.

Stories of devastatingly normal suffering in Gaza
+972 Mag 6 May by Tania Hary —  I got an email from a man asking if we could help him and his family escape Gaza if war broke out. It seems so reasonable, until you realize there is no precedent for evacuating Palestinian civilians in time of war. — …I heard many stories yesterday from our friends, clients, partners and other contacts in Gaza. They weren’t necessarily the most dramatic stories; they didn’t make it to the nightly news. They were the devastating but normal stories of the lived experiences of so many people in Gaza. They were the stories of the new normal of Groundhog Day in Gaza …  A young man, just 29 years, sent us photos, before and after, of his destroyed clothing shop. He shared that he’d sunk his meager life savings into the shop and pre-ordered clothing for Eid-al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan when people who can afford it buy new clothes. The ground-floor store was reduced to a pile of rubble and all his merchandise destroyed in one of the strikes that took down an entire building. A missile strike put him and his two employees out of work and plunged him into the abyss of unmanageable debt in just a split second. They were maybe lucky to have escaped alive, rendering their story almost unremarkable …  We’re stuck in a loop not just because the ceasefire agreements aren’t being implemented, but because Israel and many of its allies refuse to acknowledge that civilians make up the vast majority of the population of the strip.

In Photos: After airstrikes and funerals, Palestinians in Gaza celebrate Ramadan
Mondoweiss 8 May — After a weekend of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and rocket fire into Israel, Palestinians began the holy month of Ramadan amid clearing rubble from destroyed buildings and holding funerals.

Video: Gaza’s first food truck rolls on
Al Monitor — Two years ago, Moath and Mahmoud al-Hasnat inaugurated Gaza’s very first food truck. They named their mobile food business Karmoshty. Al-Monitor accompanied the Karmoshty food truck on one of its daily routes….

Italy contributes €1.9m to UNRWA’s health program in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 May — The Government of Italy contributed 1.9 million Euros to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to support the provision of primary health care at six health centers in the besieged Gaza Strip for a period of six months in 2019. According to an UNRWA press release, this contribution will help provide some 450,000 medical consultations and benefit approximately 340,000 Palestinian refugees….

West Bank / Jerusalem

Army injures six Palestinians, including one who suffered eye injury, in Jerusalem
IMEMC 10 May — The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has reported that Israeli soldiers shot, on Thursday evening, six young Palestinian men with rubber-coated steel bullets and concussion grenades, including one who suffered an eye injury. The PRCS stated that its medics provided treatment to six Palestinians, including four who were rushed to hospitals in the occupied city. It added that one of the wounded Palestinians was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his eye, another with a similar bullet in his leg, and one in the shoulder, in addition to a fourth Palestinian who suffered burns from the concussion grenades.  Two other Palestinians suffered cuts and bruises, and received the needed treatment by Red Crescent medics …  The incidents took place after the soldiers assaulted many Palestinians who were sitting in Bab al-Amoud area following evening prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and forcibly removed them.

Israeli forces prevent Palestinian Muslims from evening prayers
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 8 May — Israeli police forces sealed off the Silwan neighborhood, in occupied East Jerusalem, at the same time of Tarawih evening prayers and Iftar, after which Muslims break their daily Ramadan fast, on Tuesday. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that Palestinian residents were surprised to find that Israeli forces sealed off the Silwan neighborhood and set up iron barriers on the roads. Israeli forces prevented Palestinians from passage on foot and via vehicle as it was time for Muslims to return home for Iftar on the second day of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. The center confirmed that the seal-off resulted in a major traffic jam. The center added that Israeli forces also sealed off the al-Ayn Street and the street leading to the Moroccan Gate, which is one of the gates in the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, as Muslims made their way to the Al-Aqsa Mosque to perform Tarawih prayers.

Israeli police assault medics in Old City Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 11 May — Israeli police, today, assaulted medics from the Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC) while they were trying to help a patient outside the Lions Gate area of Old City Jerusalem. PRC said, in a statement, that the assault occurred when its staff were trying to drive an ambulance into the Lions Gate area to help a patient who was in need of first aid. The staff only sustained minor bruises and none of them was hospitalized, according to WAFA.

Israel seals off vital road for Ramallah-area villages
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 9 May — Israeli forces sealed off a major and vital road connecting the northwest villages of the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah and the town of Birzeit, on Thursday, in addition to imposing a general closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Local sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces closed the metal gate that is set up at the entrance of the village of Nabi Saleh, which residents of several Ramallah-area villages usually use to travel to Ramallah and other towns nearby, forcing them to look for alternative roads. Sources pointed out that Israeli forces imposed this closure in order to allow Israeli settlers to hold celebrations near the illegal Israeli settlement of Halamish, which was built on Palestinian lands, marking the 71st anniversary of the establishment of Israel, which is also known as the 1948 Nakba or “catastrophe” to the Palestinians.

Israeli bulldozers uproot 120 Palestinian olive trees near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 May — Israeli bulldozers uprooted about 120 fruitful olive trees, on Sunday, in the al-Lubban al-Gharbi village, west of the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. Fawwaz Salem, the former head of the village’s council, said that the uprooting of 120 trees came a month after Israeli forces delivered a military order to a local resident, Shafiq Abu Salem, informing him of confiscation of his private land near the al-Lubban al-Gharbi village, in order to pave a settler-only road in the area for the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Beit Aryeh. The 120 olive trees were planted across a plot of land of three dunams (0.74 acres).

Israeli settlers raze Palestinian lands for settler-only road
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 6 May — A number of bulldozers belonging to Israeli settlers razed and leveled Palestinian-owned agricultural lands, on Monday, in Madama village, in the south of the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus. Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that bulldozers belonging to Israeli settlers started to raze and level Palestinian lands in order to pave a settler-only road in the area. Daghlas added that the Israeli settlers were from the illegal settlement of Yitzhar and that the settler-only road would enable Israeli settlers to reach spring water in the area.

Israel orders evacuation of 15 Palestine families from Jordan Valley
MEMO 8 May — Israeli forces forced 15 Palestinian families to evacuate from their homes in the northern occupied Jordan Valley yesterday in order to make way for active military training. Mutaz Bisharat, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity in the Jordan Valley/Tubas district, said that Israel ordered 15 families, consisting of 98 individuals, mostly women and children, to evacuate the Hamsa Al-Fawqa area, in the Jordan Valley, Ma‘an reported. The families are being forced to vacate their home for three days a week for the next four weeks; on Sunday from 1pm, on Monday from 4pm to Tuesday 10am, and on Wednesday from 7am to 2pm. Palestinian residents of the Jordan Valley regularly face evacuations and interruption due to Israeli military exercises on or near their land. The district of Tubas, meanwhile, is one of the occupied West Bank’s most important agricultural areas.

13 attacks by Israel settlers on Palestinians over two-week period
MEMO 10 May — Israeli settlers carried out 13 attacks against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank over a two-week period 23 April-6 May, reported United Nations OCHA. According to the monitoring body, the attacks “resulted in the injury of three Palestinians” as well as in “damage to Palestinian property across the West Bank”. In one incident, “a group of Israeli settlers, some of whom were armed, physically assaulted and injured three Palestinian men, who were surveying land” in Kafr Ni’ma village near Ramallah. Meanwhile, “Israeli settlers, accompanied by the Israeli army, vandalized Palestinian property in Ein Harrasheh water spring and a public park in Area B of Al Mazra‘a Al Qibliya village” near Ramallah on five separate occasions over the two-week reporting period in question. OCHA added that, “according to local community sources, Israeli settlers threw stones at two houses, harassed Palestinians, and vandalized water pipes and park infrastructure.” In ‘Urif village near Nabuls, settlers stoned the boys’ school and surrounding houses, leading to confrontations with local residents, the settlers, and “the Israeli forces accompanying them”. Israeli settlers also vandalised 51 olive trees, punctured the tyres of 12 Palestinian vehicles, sprayed so-called “price tag” graffiti on four Palestinian houses and caused damage to a shop in Burqa (Ramallah), Isla (Qalqiliya), Huwwara (Nablus), Al-Ganoub (Hebron) and in the H2 area of Hebron.  OCHA noted that “since the beginning of 2019, the bi-weekly average of settler attacks resulting in Palestinian casualties or property damage has witnessed a 40 and 133 per cent increase, compared to the biweekly average of 2018 and 2017.”

Dozens of Israeli settlers raid, damage ‘Urif high school
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 5 May — Dozens of Israeli settlers raided a Palestinian high school in ‘Urif village, in the south of the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, overnight on Saturday. Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that Israeli settlers from the illegal settlement of Yitzhar raided the high school by throwing rocks towards it and breaking the windows of several classrooms. Daghlas said that the Israeli settlers fled the scene immediately afterwards. Daghlas also confirmed that the raid caused moderate material damages to the school. The ‘Urif high school has been a target of a number of attacks carried out by both Israeli forces and settlers, forcing the staff to shut down the school eight times in the previous semester and six times in the current semester….

Right-wing Israelis storm Solomon’s Pools near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 May — Dozens of right-wing Israeli settlers entered and held religious prayers at the Solomon’s Pools area south of Bethlehem, in the central occupied West Bank, on Thursday, under the protection of heavily armed Israeli forces. According to Palestinian security sources, Israeli forces sealed off the area as the settlers stormed Solomon’s Pools and surrounded the three pools where they performed Jewish religious rituals. Sources added that such incursions have increased in the past few months. Visits by Israeli Jews to sites across the West Bank often cause tensions with local Palestinians, as these visits are accompanied by large armed escorts. Solomon’s Pools are three large cisterns — each more than 100 meters long — that were historically part of an ancient aqueduct system connected to Jerusalem. Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent repaired the cisterns in the 17th century and built a fortress beside them, which still stands today. Many Jews, however, believe that the pools are named for the Biblical Solomon.

Israeli forces detain 16 Palestinians in West Bank
RAMALLAH (WAFA) Sunday, 5 May – Israeli forces last night detained 16 Palestinians, including two brothers and a doctor, from several areas across the occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS said in a statement that Israeli forces detained eight, including two brothers from Jerusalem, five, including a dentist, from Nablus, two from Hebron and one from Tulkarm.

Israeli forces detain 11 Palestinians across West Bank
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) Monday, 6 May — Israeli forces detained at least 11 Palestinians across the occupied West Bank on predawn Monday, and delivered summons notices to two Palestinians. According to Palestine Prisoner’s Society (PPS), Israeli forces detained one Palestinian in the southern West Bank district of Hebron. He was identified as Hussam Atef Sweilem, 24. In the ‘Issawiya neighborhood, in the central West Bank district of Jerusalem, three Palestinians were detained. Two of the three were identified as Amar Alyan, 24, and Yazan Abeed. PPS said that the third detainee was physically assaulted by Israeli forces after Tarawih Muslim prayers and then detained. In the Silwad village, in the central West Bank district of Ramallah, Israeli forces detained one Palestinian and identified him as Muad Abed al-Nasser Hamad. In the central West Bank district of Jericho, one Palestinian was detained and identified as Muhammad Taysir Daras.  In the northern West Bank district of Tulkarem, another five Palestinians were detained….

Minor among 3 Palestinians detained from Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 8 May – Israeli forces Wednesday overnight detained at least three Palestinians from the southern West Bank district of Hebron, confirmed security sources. One Palestinian, identified as a resident of Yatta city, south of Hebron, was detained after being summoned by the Israeli intelligence in Etzion detention center. A 15-year-old Palestinian was rounded up from al-Fawwar refugee camp in the Hebron district, while another Palestinian, identified as a resident of Hebron district, was detained while in Bethlehem.
Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers stormed a family house in Wadi al-Hasin area, located near Kiryat Arba’ settlement. Soldiers showed up at the house of the Abu Is’ifan family in Wadi al-Hasin, assaulted and locked the family, comprised of 50 members, inside a room for over two hours, and ransacked the house, turning it upside down. By the time the incident was over, several members of the Is’ifan family required medical treatment. They were treated for contusions and bruises. Soldiers raiding homes in the middle of the night has become a common part of life not only for the Karamah family, but across the West Bank….

Israeli government postpones demolition of West Bank Bedouin village
i24NEWS 10 May — Israel’s High Court of Justice on Friday accepted the state’s request not to move forward with evacuating and demolishing the highly contested Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank until a new government has been formed. Recently re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently in coalition talks with right-wing parties about the formation of a new government. Netanyahu has vowed to demolish the Bedouin village and evacuate its 180 Palestinian residents, saying “it’s the decision of the (High) court, it is our policy and it will be fulfilled,” in October last year. Israeli authorities say the small village, located east of Jerusalem along a road leading to the Dead Sea, was built illegally. Activists say it was established without permits after the Jahalin Bedouin tribe, originally from the Negev desert, were expelled from the area by the Israeli military in the 1950’s and then again from Kfar Adumim, where they leased land….

Natural history, conservation and politics meet in West Bank museum
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (Al Monitor) 7 May by Amjad Yaghi — Located on three acres of land near Bethlehem, the Palestine Museum of Natural History is home to some 260 types of plants, rare butterflies and birds. It is also a place where Israelis and Palestinians work alongside each other to further research, education and conservation. “Israeli volunteers, who oppose colonialism, Zionism and Israeli occupation, work with us,” Mazin Qumsiyeh, founder and director of the museum and a well-known human rights activist, told Al-Monitor. “They are in favor of peaceful coexistence with Palestinians. They work actively with us to conserve the flora and fauna of Palestine.”… Local schoolchildren come to the museum to learn about ecology, while foreign delegations might visit to learn more about the political situation in Palestine and its effect on agriculture and ecology, Qumsiyeh said. Another mission of the museum is to explore Palestine’s biodiversity through ecotourism….


180,000 Muslims pray peacefully at Al-Aqsa Mosque on first Friday of Ramadan
[with videos] Times of Israel/AFP 10 May — Tens of thousands of Muslims, including many from the West Bank, prayed peacefully at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Friday, the first in Islam’s holiest month of Ramadan, officials said. The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf organization which administers the site estimated that there were 180,000 worshipers, some 50 percent higher than last year, when around 120,000 people attended the first Friday prayers. Israeli estimates varied between 135,000 and 180,000. Azzam al-Khatib, director general of Waqf, said the crowds reached the site “despite checkpoints and a large security presence.” The prayers ended without any major incident, he told AFP. Israel Police said that they had deployed hundreds of officers and Border Police “to ensure that tens of thousands of worshipers could reach the site and at the same time prevent any incidents throughout the day.”… An AFP photographer at the Qalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank saw thousands of Palestinians — including elderly people in wheelchairs — queuing to enter the city early Friday morning …  The IDF said some 75,000 people from the West Bank crossed into Israel for the prayers …  Men over the age of 40 and children under 12 will be allowed to enter the city on Fridays during Ramadan, while there are no restrictions on women, the Israeli army announced.

Israeli settlers raid Al-Aqsa Mosque on first day of Ramadan
MEMO 7 May — Scores of Israeli Jewish settlers desecrated Al-Aqsa Mosque yesterday, the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Al-Resalah newspaper reported. The settlers, who were protected by the Israeli police, raided the mosque through Al-Mughrabi Gate and then scattered around the yards of the mosque. They performed Talmudaic rituals inside the mosque and in front of the Dome of the Rock. Israel Police prevented Palestinian worshippers from entering the mosque’s courtyard while the settlers raided the mosque, placing barricades across the occupied city of Jerusalem. Today, scores more settlers raided Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Video: Israel forces attack Palestinian worshipers leaving Al-Aqsa
MEMO 9 May — Israeli occupation forces attacked worshippers leaving the old city through Damascus Gate after performing night prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque last night. In video footage which has circulated on social media, occupation officers could be seen assaulting Palestinians in the area before sound bombs and tear gas were used to disperse the peaceful crowds. No injuries were reported. Mounib Mahdi Abu Assab was arrested from his home in the Old City, with eyewitnesses saying he was taken in for interrogation. Thousands of Palestinians performed tarawih, night prayers held during the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan, at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Court actions

Israeli teen charged with killing Palestinian woman to be freed to house arrest
Times of Israel 7 May by Jacob Magid — Lod judge says despite severity of crime and ‘highly likely conviction,’ suspect can move to grandparents’ home in Kfar Saba given young age and psychological profile — A court on Tuesday okayed an Israeli teen charged with killing a Palestinian woman in a West Bank stoning attack last October to be released to house arrest. The 16-year-old suspect — who cannot be named because of privacy laws protecting minors — has been in a juvenile detention facility for the past four months after allegedly hurling a stone at that crashed through a vehicle’s windshield, striking and killing Aisha Mohammad al-Rabi, a 47-year-old mother of eight. Barring an appeal from the prosecution, the Lod District Court decision will go into effect next Tuesday. In the coming days, parole officers were ordered to inspect the home of the suspect’s grandparents in the central city of Kfar Saba to ensure its suitability as a place for him to serve house arrest. The suspect will be required to wear an electronic ankle bracelet; be under the 24/7 supervision of two adult family guardians; and have no contact whatsoever with non-family members. Judge Haggai Tarsi said he recognized the severity of the crime, highlighting that the teen likely faced a conviction given that his DNA was found on the stone that killed Rabi….

Palestinian refugees – Lebanon

VIDEO: A life displaced: Palestinian refugees overcrowd Lebanon’s camps
It’s been more than 70 years since the Palestinians who fled or were forced from their homes in 1948, after the creation of Israel, arrived in Lebanon. In the last of our series, A Life Displaced, we look at the plight of Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee population, who have been living in exile for more than 70 years. They are scattered throughout a number of camps, but in reality, those camps have become built-up neighbourhoods. Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr reports.

Lebanon to not ‘survive’ if Palestinian, Syrian refugees remain
BEIRUT (Ma‘an) 10 May — “Lebanon would never survive if half a million Palestinian refugees and 1.6 million Syrian refugees remained in the country,” according to the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun. Aoun’s remarks came during a meeting held at the presidential palace in Beirut, on Thursday evening, with a delegation from the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), headed by its Secretary-General, Souraya Bechealany. Aoun called on the MECC to help the Lebanese government resolve the Syrian refugee issue “by persuading western countries to accept the refugees return to their countries as soon as possible.”
He also pointed out that “Israel has declared that the Palestinian refugees would remain where they are,” and warned that if the refugees remained in Lebanon, “its demographics would change completely.” The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) said in a 2017 report that there are about 174,422 Palestinian refugees that currently live in 12 camps and 156 Palestinian communities across Lebanon’s five districts….


Gaza artists urge Eurovision singers to boycott Israel
Al Jazeera 8 May — Palestinian artists called on Eurovision song contestants to boycott the international music competition that Israel is hosting next week. The Gaza Strip-based Palestinian Artists Association said Wednesday that Israel is using the event to “perpetuate oppression, promote injustice or whitewash a brutal apartheid regime”. The artists cited the killing of more than 60 Palestinians during protests in Gaza along the Israeli fence on May 14 last year, the same day Israel won the Eurovision.  The association held a sit-in outside the EU‘s Gaza office and wrote a letter of protest….

Israeli Apartheid Week: An even bigger success in 2019
IMEMC/Agencies 11 May — Thanks to your support, Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) was an even bigger success this year!  IAW featured more than 200 events, across 30 countries, on five continents, all under the theme “Stop Arming Colonialism.” Events included big panel discussions at universities, concerts, film screenings, protests, poetry readings, comedy gigs, street art, sponsored hikes, fashion shows and more! Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an international series of events that seeks to raise awareness about Israel’s apartheid regime over the Palestinian people and build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Israel is able to maintain its illegal occupation and apartheid regime over Palestinians partly due to its arms sales and the military support it receives from governments across the world. Some highlights include:

Other news

Israel newspaper publishes terms of ‘deal of century’
MEMO 8 May — The main points of US President Donald Trump’s much-derided plan for the Middle East, the so-called “deal of the century,” were leaked by a Hebrew-language news outlet in Israel yesterday. Israel Hayom published the main points of the deal from a leaked document circulated by the Israeli Foreign Ministry. The US has said it will reveal its deal after the Muslim month of fasting comes to an end in early June. The main points of the agreement put together by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner — who has extensive interests in Israel and its settlements — and proposed by the US administration are as follows:
A tripartite agreement will be signed between Israel, the PLO and Hamas, and a Palestinian state will be established that will be called “New Palestine” and will be established in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, with the exception of the settlements. Israel would release Palestinian prisoners gradually over the course of three years under the deal. The settlement blocs in the occupied West Bank, which are illegal under international law, would form part of Israel. Jerusalem will not be divided but is to be shared by Israel and the “New Palestine” with Israel maintaining general control….

US crafting surrender document not a peace plan: Palestine FM
Al Jazeera 9 May — The United States is crafting a surrender document, not a peace plan, and the Palestinians will not accept it regardless of how much money is offered, Palestine‘s foreign minister said addressing a United Nations meeting. Riyad al-Maliki was on Thursday expressing the Palestinian stance on the proposed plan by the Trump administration to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “This is not a peace plan but rather conditions for surrender,”  al-Maliki said as the US’s Middle East peace negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, listened. “And there is no amount of money that can make it acceptable.” “Some ask us, ‘what if they surprise you’; we tell them we would have been more hopeful had they not been deaf to our appeals, blind to Israeli violations and mute, at best, on the fundamentals of peace, when not actively undermining them,” he added …  “When the US, prior to announcing its plan, recognises Jerusalem as the so-called ‘capital of Israel’ and claims they are entitled to take such a sovereign decision that is in blatant violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions and pretend it has no implications on peace, it is not possible to have faith in such efforts,” Maliki said.

Palestinians hope EU can help thwart Trump ‘deal’
MEMO 8 May — The Palestinians are “asking the European Union to pick up the mantle in defence of the two-state solution” in light of the upcoming Trump administration’s “peace plan”, reported AFP, citing remarks by Palestinian diplomat Riyad Mansour to journalists yesterday. UN envoy Mansour “told reporters that he urged European officials during recent meetings in Brussels to seize the initiative and not allow the United States to be the preeminent player in the Middle East peace process”. “We are engaging them,” Mansour said about his meetings with EU officials. “They have to act.” “We would be extremely happy to show that there is more than one player in the field, trying to determine how we move forward.” Mansour told the media that the Palestinians have “a global consensus with us” supporting a two-state solution, and suggested the EU could call an international conference “to see how we can open ways to move forward” based on that consensus. The ambassador also said the EU could help save the two-state solution by having members such as France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Belgium and Luxembourg recognise the state of Palestine. Other options, according to Mansour, would be for Russia to host an international conference in Moscow, or for a meeting of the Quartet (UN, US, EU and Russia).
“Some in the [US] administration think, yes, what will help peace is break the legs of the Palestinians and one arm, and five teeth … and when they are on their faces on the ground crawling, they will come crawling to you for anything that you can offer them,” Mansour added. “Those who think that way — they don’t know the Palestinians,” he said.

Netanyahu bars all Palestinian participants from attending joint Memorial Day ceremony
[behind paywall] Haaretz 1 May by Yotam Berger & Noa Landau — The unique joint Memorial Day ceremony brings Israelis and Palestinians on both sides together to mourn and acknowledge each other’s grief for loved ones killed in the conflict — Israel turned down all 181 applications of Palestinians from the West Bank invited by the organizers of a joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony in Tel Aviv. Sources told Haaretz that the order banning the Palestinians came from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister. Netanyahu’s bureau declined to comment. The ceremony is organized by Combatants for Peace, an organization of former Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants and the Parents Circle Families Forum, a group of bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families that work together for reconciliation….

13 Israeli violations against journalists in April
IMEMC/Agencies 9 May -by Tareq Astal — 13 violations against journalists in the Palestinian territories by Israeli occupation forces were recorded during April. In its monthly report on Israeli violations against journalists, published today, WAFA said that 11 journalists were injured from rubber-coated metal bullets, live bullets and tear gas canisters, fired by Israeli soldiers, as well as from severe beatings. At the same time, one journalist was detained and another had his press papers seized … On April 5, Israeli forces shot Amad News Agency correspondent Safinaz al-Louh, with a teargas grenade, in her right foot, and Noor News photographer Mohammad Issa with a gas bomb, in his leg, while covering the March of Return protests, east of the Gaza Strip. On April 10, Israeli forces raided the home of Ra’ed al-Sharif, in Hebron, holding his family in one room before embarking on a thorough search of the house and tampering with its contents. On April 12, Israeli forces shot Filistin al-Hadath photographer and correspondent Ahmed al-Zurei with a rubber-coated bullet in the abdomen, while he was covering protests east of al-Bureij, in the central Gaza Strip….(continued)

Attacks on Palestinian press up by 60% in 2018, press freedom organization reports
i24NEWS 3 May — New Palestinian government has vowed to make press freedom a priority. A Palestinian press freedom monitor rang alarm bells on World Press Freedom Day, as statistics show that attacks on Palestinian media workers were up by 60% in 2018. According to a report published on Thursday, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) said it monitored a total of 584 violations against media freedoms in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem. The Ramallah-based NGO is part of several reputed international coalitions of press freedom advocates, and has acted as a reference for international actors seeking to understand the situation of media workers in the Palestinian territories. 455 of the violations documented were committed by the Israeli government, MADA said, and 129 by Palestinian authorities.

Qatar to send money to West Bank, Gaza after Israel truce
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) 7 May by Jon Gambrell — Qatar on Tuesday said it is sending $480 million to Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip after a cease-fire deal ended the deadliest fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants since a 2014 war. Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said $300 million would support health and education programs of the Palestinian Authority, while $180 million would go toward “urgent humanitarian relief” in U.N. programs and toward electricity. The Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip suffers from chronic electricity shortages … The energy-rich, small nation of Qatar has become a major donor to the Palestinians …  This marks the first time in recent years that Qatar has funded the Palestinian Authority directly. In recent years, its money has only gone to Gaza, where it opened a hospital just last month … Omar Shaban, a Gaza economist, said the latest funding was extraordinary. “This decision boosts Qatar’s role in the coming phase and makes it as acceptable in Ramallah as it is in Gaza,” he wrote on Facebook.

Canada provides $2.4m for 128,000 Palestinians in Gaza, West Bank
MEMO 9 May — The Government of Canada has provided the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) with a contribution of CAD$3.2 million (approximately US $2.4 million) to support 128,000 vulnerable Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, on Thursday, Ma’an News reports. According to a press release, WFP will use the funds to meet basic food needs of 91,000 food-insecure non-refugees in Gaza through electronic vouchers for around one and a half months and 37,000 vulnerable Bedouin and herders in the West Bank for three months…..

New Zealand pledges $2m to support UNRWA’s vital programs
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 May — The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Pierre Krähenbühl, and the Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, Craig Hawke, signed a three-year commitment, for the period between 2019 and 2021, of $2 million to support core UNRWA programs, on Thursday. Hawke reaffirmed New Zealand’s commitment to UNRWA saying, “UNRWA continues to play a unique and vital role ensuring that the humanitarian, development and protection needs of Palestinian refugees are met in the absence of a lasting political solution to their situation.” He added, “With this three-year un-earmarked contribution, New Zealand is proud to continue our long-standing commitment to UNRWA and to Palestinian refugees.” This multi-year agreement is critical in enabling predictable funding that will allow UNRWA to continue to provide uninterrupted services to Palestine refugees, including education to 532,000 Palestine refugee boys and girls in 715 UNRWA schools across the Middle East.

US may review ties with countries deemed anti-Israel: envoy
MEMO 5 May — The United States may review its ties with countries it deems as being anti-Israel after what a US envoy said on Sunday was a shift in policy towards equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, Reuters reports. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a March speech that anti-Zionism – opposition to Israel’s existence as a homeland for the Jewish people – was a form of anti-Semitism, or hostility toward Jews, that was on the rise worldwide and that Washington would “fight it relentlessly”. The State Department’s special envoy for monitoring and combating anti-Semitism, Elan Carr, said this US position could spell reviews of ties with foreign governments or leaders. “The United States is willing to review its relationship with any country, and certainly anti-Semitism on the part of a country with whom we have relations is a deep concern,” he told Reuters during a visit to Israel. “I will be raising that issue in bilateral meetings that I am undertaking all over the world,” he said. “That is something we are going to have frank and candid conversations about – behind closed doors.”  Carr declined to cite specific countries or leaders, or to elaborate on what actions the Trump administration might take….

Rashida Tlaib sets dates for congressional visit to West Bank
WASHINGTON (JTA) 8 May — Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., has set the dates for her congressional visit to the West Bank. Tlaib, a Palestinian American, proposed the trip last year after she was elected to Congress for the first time, as a counterbalance to Israel trips organized by the American Israel Education Foundation, an affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee …  Reps. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the minority leader, are set to lead the AIEF trips for their respective parties’ freshmen this summer.

Professor faces backlash after asserting Israel’s right to annex West Bank
JPost 4 May by Zack Evans — The Faculty Council at DePaul University [a Catholic univ. in Chicago] voted to condemn an article written by professor Jason Hill, in which he advocated for Israel’s moral right to annex the West Bank … The council resolution did not censure Hill himself. Hill, a professor of philosophy, has faced a surge of backlash and even death threats since the article’s publication in the Federalist on April 16, according to Fox News.  In addition to asserting Israel’s right to annexation, Hill wrote that the Palestinians “have no moral authority” and that they “have never come into their own as a people largely because they have never explicitly held a philosophy that can support freedom, the basic liberal principles of individual rights, and a free market economy.”…. (listserv)