61st Friday of Great March of Return and Breaking Siege
PCHR 14 June — On Friday, 14 June 2019, in excessive use of force against peaceful protesters on the 61st Friday of the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege, Israeli forces wounded 92 Palestinian civilians; 28 of them were children and four were paramedics, including a female paramedic, in the eastern Gaza Strip. One of the wounded was a child, who was hit with a live bullet to the chest and sustained a serious wound. According to observations by PCHR’s fieldworkers, the Israeli forces who were stationed in prone positions and in military jeeps along the fence with Israel continued to use excessive force against the protesters by firing bullets and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, dozens of the protesters were hit with bullets and teargas canisters without posing any imminent threat or danger to the life of soldiers. During this week, Israeli forces have escalated their attacks against the medical personnel in the field, wounding 4 members of them with rubber bullets and direct tear gas canisters in eastern Rafah. This indicates that there is an Israeli systematic policy to target the medical personnel and obstruct their humanitarian work that is guaranteed under the rules of the international humanitarian law.
On Friday, 14 June 2019, the incidents were as follows:….
Palestinian medic dies from wounds suffered in Gaza
IMEMC 10 June — The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has confirmed that a medic, identified as Mohammad Sobhi al-Jodeili, 36, died from serious wounds he suffered, on May 3, 2019, when Israeli soldiers shot him with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the face in the Gaza Strip. The PRCS stated that the medic, from the al-Boreij refugee camp in central Gaza, suffered fractures in his nose, face and skull. The soldiers shot him in Abu Safiyya area, in Jabalia, in the northern part of the coastal region, while he was providing medical care to wounded Palestinians during the Great Return March processions. He received treatment at one of the makeshift hospitals before he was moved to a medical center in Gaza, and later was moved to the al-Ahli hospital in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, due to the seriousness of his wounds.
Weapon malfunction kills a Qassam fighter in Gaza
IMEMC 15 June — The Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas movement, has reported that one of its fighters was killed, Saturday, due to a malfunction in his weapon. In a statement, the Brigades identified the fighter as Mohammad Farid Kalloub, 25, from the Shati’ [Beach] refugee camp, in Gaza city. The Palestinian was apparently instantly killed, before Palestinian medics moved him to the Shifa Medical Center, in Gaza city. Al-Qassam did not release any more info about the fatal accident, but stated that he was one of its senior members.
Israeli jets hit Gaza after rocket fire into Israel
Al Jazeera 17 June — Israeli warplanes have attacked several Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip following a Palestinian rocket attack in the south of Israel, the Israeli military has said. The incident comes after Israel and Hamas exchanged rocket fire on Thursday, in the first serious cross-border escalation since a surge in fighting in May. In a statement on Friday, the Israeli military said fighter jets struck “infrastructure in military compounds and a Hamas naval force military compound as part of a strike on a number of Hamas terror sites throughout the Gaza Strip”. The statement said the attack came in response to a rocket launched from Gaza which hit a Jewish seminary in the town of Sderot. The seminary was empty at the time of the attack as students had left to celebrate the Jewish Sabbath with their families. “If the rocket had hit a few hours earlier there would have been a disaster,” former Defence Minister Amir Peretz, a Sderot resident, said in an interview with Israeli public radio on Friday. No casualties were reported on any side.
‘We will respond’ — Speaking from the Gaza Strip, Abdellatif al-Qanoo’, a spokesman for Hamas, told Al Jazeera the rocket fire was in response to Israeli aggression. “The occupation [Israel] is bearing the fruit of its own escalation, continuous attacks [on Gaza] and its stalling in implementing agreements between us. “Our people will continue to challenge the occupation. We will respond to this behaviour [Israeli attacks] by continuing to gather and march,” added al-Qanoo’ in reference to planned protests along the Israeli-Gaza border on Friday. The latest escalation followed Israel’s closure of offshore waters to Gaza fisherman on Wednesday….
Israel closes Gaza fishing zone, blames ‘incendiary balloons’
Al Jazeera 12 June — …”Due to the continuous launching of incendiary balloons and kites from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, it has been decided tonight not to allow access to Gaza’s maritime space until further notice,” a spokesperson for COGAT, a unit of Israel’s defence ministry, said in a statement on Wednesday. The move came after COGAT said on Tuesday it had reduced the extent of the fishing zone to six nautical miles offshore from 10 nautical miles, having downscaled it from 15 nautical miles a week ago. A spokesman for the Israeli fire service said incendiary balloons from Gaza caused seven fires on Tuesday. In the past year, Palestinians have succeeded in setting fire to large areas of farmland in southern Israel. Israel had only restored the fishing limit to 15 nautical miles on June 4, after a previous reduction in response to fire balloons. 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….
Plenty of fish in Gaza sea, but not for Palestinians
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 14 June by Entsar Abu Jahal — In a dangerous development June 12, Israel announced a full naval closure on the Gaza Strip until further notice, denying Palestinian fishermen access to the sea … Since April, Israel has reduced and expanded the fishing zone between 6 and 15 nautical miles about 10 times by linking it to the continuous firing of balloons from Gaza. The recurrent changes in this zone have resulted in substantial losses for the fishermen …Fishermen are usually informed of zone restrictions in the middle of the night by the Ministry of Agriculture, and sometimes the changes are made while fishermen are on the open sea, Ayyash said.“They get shot at by the Israeli navy and are forced to leave their boats and nets behind. Some boats have been sunk, and nets lost,” he said. “Add to this the deliberate shooting at the headlights of boats and electrical engines to cause them material losses.”… Fisherman Shaer al-Amoudi told Al-Monitor the changes are “ruining our lives.” “We can’t adapt to this situation. Every time we hear of the expansion of the fishing zone, we prepare our nets, boats and fish bait, but the next day this zone is reduced,” he said. “We are suffering financial losses, not to mention being targeted by [Israeli] fire and arrested. We have nothing to do with politics; we’re just trying to earn a living.” Amoudi said the real reason Israel keeps changing the fishing zone isn’t because of the return marches. Rather, Israel just wants Palestinian fisherman out of the sea….
Gaza’s Health Ministry warns of ‘unprecedented’ lack of medical supplies
Palestine Chronicle 13 June — The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza yesterday warned of deterioration in conditions in its hospitals due to the “unprecedented” lack of medicines, Shehab.ps reported … Fifty-two percent of basic medicines and medical supplies have now run out in the Strip, the statement said, adding that this “undermines” the ministry’s ability to offer its services. The Ministry of Health in Ramallah has not dispatched any shipment of medicines or medical supplies to the Gaza hospitals and has reduced the number of patient transfers to the Israeli hospitals without offering alternatives, the statement continued.
Hamas: No Egypt delegation set to visit Gaza
MEMO 12 June — Hamas has denied reports that an Egyptian delegation is planning to visit Gaza, Quds Press reported yesterday. “Hamas supports any Egyptian efforts aiming to arrange the internal Palestinian home and achieve the national unity that makes us stronger against challenges,” Hamas spokesman Abdel-Latif Al-Qanou said. He added that the internal reconciliation needs practical measures that the Palestinians can feel on the ground, including the formation of a national unity government. The spokesman stressed that the ball is now in Fatah’s court.
Gaza: Isolation and control
Al Jazeera 10 June by Ben White — This summer marks an important but often overlooked anniversary in the history of the Gaza Strip. Thirty years ago, in June 1989, Israel imposed for the first time a magnetic-card system to restrict the exit of Palestinian residents. Anyone denied a card would be prevented from leaving. While Israel‘s blockade of Gaza is often seen to have originated in 2006-2007 as a response to Hamas’s rise to power, the isolation of the enclave in fact goes back three decades – and for many analysts, this historical perspective is essential for understanding today’s developments. “I think it is incredibly important to look at the wider context to understand what’s going on today in Gaza,” Tania Hary, executive director of Israeli human rights NGO Gisha, told Al Jazeera. “Most people mistakenly believe that what’s happening is a result of Hamas being in power, and that while the humanitarian crisis is an ‘unfortunate’ side effect, ultimately Israel has no choice.” In fact, human rights activists and scholars point out, the Israeli-imposed restrictions on the Gaza Strip are part of a sequence going back decades, predating Hamas control and rocket fire. “The blockade is not an isolated event in Israel’s policy towards Gaza,” Sara Roy, a senior research scholar at Harvard University’s Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, told Al Jazeera. “From the beginning of the occupation in 1967, Israeli policy towards Gaza has been shaped by political considerations that deliberately restricted domestic economic development and structural reform in order to preclude the emergence of a Palestinian state,” she added. “The blockade can be understood as a part of this policy continuum.”….
Bombs made by Chicago company killed Gaza civilians
EI 13 June by Maureen Clare Murphy — Israel used “bunker buster” bombs made by a US arms company in two attacks on Gaza in which civilians were killed last month. The deadly strikes occurred in intense violence between 4 and 6 May during which 25 Palestinians, half of them civilians, and four civilians in Israel were killed. Remnants of the GBU-39 series guided “small diameter” bomb manufactured by Boeing were found by Human Rights Watch at the site of the Zoroub building in Rafah, southern Gaza. Three civilians were killed in an Israeli attack on the six-story commercial building on 5 May. Ahmad Zoroub, a relative of the building’s owner, was sitting in a basement cafe with two friends when the building was hit by three munitions. Ahmad survived but his companions, Mousa Muammar, 35, and Hani Abu Shaar, 37, did not. Also killed in the attack was Ali Abd al-Jawad, an English teacher who had been present at the tutoring center he operated on the ground floor of the building when it was hit … “Three local residents said that Islamic Jihad had a media office on the second floor, but one noted that the office had moved to a different location months before,” Human Rights Watch states … The 1997 Leahy Law, named for the senator who sponsored it, prohibits the US from providing military assistance to units of foreign militaries when there is credible information that those units violated human rights with impunity.
Despite risks, Gazans dream of life away
Khan Yunis (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) 12 June — At a modest dwelling open to the winds next to a landfill in the Gaza Strip, only the women, children and an old man remain. Angham Zorab’s two brothers along with her husband fled the blockaded Palestinian enclave in June 2014 — like many others who see no hope in remaining. “He sold the house and left with the $5,000,” the frail 23-year-old woman said of her husband. “They passed through tunnels” to reach Egypt, she added from the house where she now lives in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip … There are no official figures on the number of Palestinians leaving the Gaza Strip permanently, said Samir Zaqout of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Mezan … Zaqout says the reasons young people seek to leave include unemployment and poverty, low pay, lack of freedom of expression under Hamas and the impossibility of free travel under Israel’s blockade. “In the past, the idea of emigrating was considered a betrayal (of the Palestinian cause),” he said at his office in central Gaza City. “Today it is a source of pride. Even those who are engaged in politics, in the resistance (to Israel), are preparing to emigrate.” The will to leave crosses all social classes, from the rich to the poor, he said….
Photos: 15 Gaza families forced to live in UN medical centre
MEMO 10 June by Mohammed Asad — About 15 Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip have been living in a health centre for the past two months after UNRWA stopped paying their rent allowances. The families, whose houses were destroyed by Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza, have been living in a number of room of the UNRWA-run Saftawi Clinic, including in the director’s office. They were forced to move out of their rented accommodation after they accrued rent arrears of over 12 months. Talks to resolve the stalemate between the families and UNRWA, and have them move out of the clinic have so far failed.
Israeli navy intercepts smuggling vessels off Gaza coast
TV 7 Israel News 10 June – -It has been cleared for publication that the Israeli Navy had intercepted two Palestinian vessels that deviated from the designated fishing zone off the southern Mediterranean coast of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. According to Israel’s Shin Bet Security Agency, “the vessels were on their way from the Palestinian enclave towards Egypt’s Sinai coast, as part of an attempt to smuggle prohibited means into the Gaza Strip” – “including materials used by the Hamas terror organization to manufacture missiles.” In response, the Israeli Navy’s 916th fleet launched an operation against the Palestinian boats, which were captured shortly thereafter. It is important to note that while the incident occurred on May 11, a gag-order had been placed on the incident until this past weekend due to security considerations. The four Palestinians who operated the vessels have been indicted on charges of active membership in a terror organization, conspiring to commit murder, training and guiding for terror purposes and attempting to provide services to a terror organization, in addition to other charges.
[It is unclear whether these are the same two vessels, and the same four men, that the Ma‘an news agency said Egypt captured off Rafah on May 12 – reported in our compilation on May 19.]
WHO: 3 children a month in Gaza left disabled for life
MEMO 3 June — At least three children in the Gaza Strip are left permanently disabled every month as a result of armed conflict and Israeli violations, data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed. The report by the WHO, released on Friday, cited data collected between March 2018 and March 2019, and stated that in the past year alone, a total of 172 Gazans were injured in such a way that they were left disabled for life, 36 of whom were children, meaning that one person is affected every other day. Amputations make up an overwhelming proportion of permanent disabilities, with the most common cause being high-intensity gunshot wounds resulting in 121 amputations. Health agencies and organisations have warned that the number could rise if Gaza’s medical services are not urgently upgraded. The report stated that these upgraded health services would cater for between 1,209 and 1,746 patients who have required specialised tertiary treatment in order to recover from their injuries, and warned that “without this treatment being made available in Gaza, the number of amputations may drastically increase in 2019.”….
Sick Gaza child caught in Israeli permit system dies alone
[Photos] JERUSALEM (AP) 12 June by Isabel Debre & Fares Akram — When Palestinian preschooler Aisha a-Lulu came out of brain surgery in a strange Jerusalem hospital room, she called out for her mother and father. She repeated the cry over and over, but her parents never came. Instead of a family member, Israeli authorities had approved a stranger to escort Aisha from the blockaded Gaza Strip to the east Jerusalem hospital. As her condition deteriorated, the child was returned to Gaza unconscious. One week later, she was dead. A photo of Aisha smiling softly in her hospital bed, brown curls swaddled in bandages, drew an outpouring on social media. The wrenching details of her last days have shined a light on Israel’s vastly complex and stringent system for issuing Gaza exit permits. It is a bureaucracy that has Israeli and Palestinian authorities blaming each other for its shortfalls, while inflicting a heavy toll on Gaza’s sick children and their parents … So far this year, roughly half of applications for patient companion permits were rejected or left unanswered by Israel, according to the World Health Organization. That has forced over 600 patients, including some dozen children under 18, to make the trek out of the territory alone or without close family by their side….
Egypt company launches VIP travel service for Gaza Palestinians
MEMO 11 June — An Egyptian private travel company has launched a new “paid service” for the residents of the occupied Gaza Strip via the Egypt-Palestine Rafah crossing. The company, Hala for Tourism Services, would provide the service through its newly-established VIP lounge inside the Egyptian side of the crossing. Official source at Hala told the [Turkish] Anadolu Agency that the company would start accepting applications from those wishing to benefit from its new VIP service tomorrow. He added that the company had two branches, one in the Egyptian capital of Cairo and the other in Palestinian Rafah city. The VIP lounge, the source explained, would serve travellers through the Rafah border crossing in both directions, “while ensuring speedy and safe transportation is being provided.” “This new service will provide the Palestinians with full travel assistance, starting from the transfer of the traveller from the Strip to their final destination and vice versa,” the official source said, continuing that the chargeable service would include “the cost of a transit visa as well as the transportation fare.” “The service for outbound travellers from Gaza will cost $1,200 per person, $600 for minors aged from eight to 16 years old, younger children will be exempt from any fees,” the source pointed out. “VIP service for inbound travellers to Gaza will cost $600,” he said.
Wife impregnated by sperm smuggled from her imprisoned husband gives birth to her second child
JENIN (WAFA) 12 June – Wife of a Palestinian prisoner impregnated by sperm smuggled from her imprisoned husband gave birth to a second child. Filistin, wife of the prisoner Samer Mahroum, said she gave birth at Jenin Hospital in the north of the West Bank to a healthy baby girl she named Yasmin, who was born by artificial insemination using a sperm smuggled by her husband from his prison cell. Yasmin is her second child born. Her first born, Adam, was born in 2016 also from smuggled sperm. Mahroum, from Jenin, was released from prison in 1986 in a prisoners’ exchange deal with Israel after serving 27 years in prison. After his release, he got married to Filistin but was re-arrested five years after his release before having any children….
Half of Israel is in favor of removing the blockade on Gaza: study
JPost 13 June by Anna Ahronheim — Academic Institute for Structural Reforms found blockade increases radicalization against Israel more than military operations — Close to half of Israelis are in favor of removing the 12-year-long blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, a new study by the Academic Institute for Structural Reforms has found. The study, carried out by Panel Project, surveyed a sample of 608 Jews and Arabs, examining their attitudes towards Gaza and its economic situation in relation to violence, the effectiveness of Israel’s policy towards the Strip and possible solutions for the economic and humanitarian crises. According to the study’s findings, 80% of respondents think that the economic situation in Gaza is “difficult to severe,” while another 61% agree that the difficult economic situation in Gaza is directly related to the violent conflict between Hamas and Israel. The survey found that 65% of respondents view Hamas as responsible for the economic crisis, and another 7% blamed the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas, while only 4% held Israel accountable. According to the survey, 51% of respondents believe that Israel should care about the economic and humanitarian situation in the coastal enclave – but are more hesitant when it comes to steps that the government should take, preferring that private businesspeople or other countries step in instead of the Jewish state….
West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli soldiers surround a Palestinian security center in Nablus, shoot one officer
IMEMC 11 June — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and surrounded a center run by the Palestinian Preventative Security Force before opening a barrage of live fire at it, wounding one officer and causing property damage. Nablus Governor, Lieutenant Ibrahim Ramadan, said dozens of soldiers surrounded the Palestinian Preventative Security building in Nablus, and fired dozens of live rounds at it, wounding one officer, in addition to smashing many windows and causing damage to vehicles. He added that the Israeli military claims about its soldiers coming under fire while invading an area near the security center are fabrications, and that this attack is not the first, and won’t be the last, especially amidst the current serious escalation against the Palestinians, their homes and lands. The governor also stated that the army’s bullets were meant to kill, as the soldiers fired dozens of live rounds into the buildings through their windows, and many of their bullets struck various offices and dorms. The soldiers later withdrew from the city, without abducting any of the officers, and fired many live rounds at random while driving away.
Surgeons successfully remove Israeli bullet from head of Palestinian baby
IMEMC 15 June — The Palestinian Health Ministry has reported, Friday, that American surgeons, in cooperation with Palestinian counterparts, managed to remove a bullet from the head of a Palestinian baby who was shot with a live Israeli army round. The Health Ministry stated that the American surgeons, in cooperation with the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, conducted the surgery at Rafidia Governmental Hospital in Nablus, in northern West Bank. The surgery was successful, without any complications, and the infant was discharged and sent home. Palestinian Health Ministry, Dr. Mai al-Kaila, saluted the excellent work of the surgeons, and all the work of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, and added that the close cooperation between the ministry and the fund has been very beneficial as they have managed to bring hundreds of surgeons and specialists to perform various types of surgeries in the Palestinian hospitals.
It is worth mentioning that the baby was shot near her home in the al-Mazra‘a village, northwest of the central West Bank city of Ramallah. She was shot while sitting on her mother’s lap, and remained in the intensive care unit for three weeks before her surgery.
Child among four injured by Israeli forces in Kafr Qaddum
QALQILIA (WAFA) 14 June – At least four Palestinians, including a child, were injured by Israeli occupation forces as they attacked the weekly anti-settlements protest in the village of Kafr Qaddum, near Qalqilia city in the northern West Bank, local sources said. Morad Shtewi, coordinator of the popular resistance in the village, told WAFA that Israeli soldiers attacked the protesters by rubber-coated rounds, injuring four protesters and causing many cases of suffocation from gas inhalation. Two injured were treated at the scene by the Palestinian Red Crescent staff. Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers assaulted journalists who were covering the weekly protest in the village and reportedly used some of them as human shields while they attacked the protesters.
Soldiers attack father and his son, confiscate money, in Hebron
IMEMC 15 June — Israeli soldiers invaded, Saturday, a Palestinian home in Bani Neim town, east of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, assaulted the father and his son while violently searching their home, and confiscated cash from the property. Media sources said several army jeeps invaded the town, before the soldiers stormed and ransacked the home of Abdul-Hamid Abu Jarour. They added that the soldiers assaulted the Palestinian, and his son Soheib, repeatedly hitting them with their weapons and batons, before confiscating a sum of cash from the property.
PPS: ‘Israeli soldiers abduct 37 Palestinians during Al-Fitr feast
IMEMC 9 June — The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society has reported that Israeli soldiers abducted 37 Palestinians, including three women, during the [3-day] Al-Fitr Muslim Feast [holiday]. The abductions took place within three days, including Sunday at dawn. The PPS said that eleven of the abducted Palestinians were taken prisoner from their homes in several parts of Jenin governorate, in northern West Bank, and added that two of them are women. It stated that the soldiers also abducted six Palestinians, including a young woman, from several parts of occupied East Jerusalem. Five other Palestinians were abducted from Qalqilia governorate, five in Bethlehem, four in Ramallah, three in Tubas, one in Tulkarem, in addition to two, including a child, from Hebron.
Young Palestinian shot by Israeli forces in north Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 9 June — Israeli occupation forces, last [Saturday] night, shot a young Palestinian man near the Shuyukh al-Aroub area, north of Hebron, in the southern West Bank. Witnesses reported that a young man was moderately wounded by a live bullet in the back, during confrontations that broke out with the occupation forces in Al- Shuyukh area. Witnesses also pointed out, according to Al Ray, that he had been taken to a nearby hospital.
Israeli settlers vandalize Palestinian village
IMEMC 14 June by Ali Salam — illegal Israeli settlers vandalized Palestinian homes in Einabus village, south of Nablus city, in the northern West Bank, as well as a local mosque, and clinic, WAFA reported. Local sources described 2 Palestinian owned vehicles with slashed tires, the star of David spray-painted on the mosque, clinic, and homes, along with racist, anti-Palestinian slogans spray-painted in Hebrew. According to Ghassan Daghlas, an observer of settlement activities, a group of Israeli settlers entered the village early Thursday morning, from the nearby illegal Yitzhar settlement.
For the third consecutive day, illegal colonists burn olive trees near Ramallah
[with video] IMEMC 8 June — For the third consecutive day, illegal Israeli colonialist settlers burnt more than 100 olive trees owned by a Palestinian family in al- Mughayyir Palestinian village, northeast of Ramallah in central West Bank. The colonists invaded large areas of farmlands and orchards, and burnt more than 100 trees, owned by members of the Na‘san family, the Palestinian TV has reported. The family said they planted the trees on their own lands more than ten years ago, and has been since then tending to their orchards and fields despite the Israeli restrictions and constant violations, especially since they are in Area C of the occupied West Bank, under full Israeli control. Palestinian firefighters tried to reach the lands, but the Israeli military restrictions prevented them from performing their duties. Many villagers rushed to the lands to help the family, and managed to extinguish the fire using branches and sticks, preventing it from spreading to more lands, including wheat fields.
Watch: Illegal Israeli colonists caught on video attacking school, burning lands. near Nablus
IMEMC 14 June — In an attack that took place, on Wednesday June 5th, illegal Israeli colonialist settlers were caught on surveillance recordings attacking a Palestinian school and burning olive orchards, in Jaloud village, southeast of the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The cameras show around 10 colonists throwing stones and invading a Palestinian school in the village, before smashing the windows of its small canteen. The children in the school are also seen running away for shelter, to protect themselves from the invading colonists. It is worth mentioning that the school is located near Palestinian orchards that separate it from an illegal Israeli colony. The assailants attacked the school approximately at 10:30 in the morning, when they started throwing stones, before invading it and damaging the small canteen in the school, while the Palestinian children as seen trying to escape the assault.
Shortly after attacking the school, the colonists invaded nearby Palestinian lands, and set them ablaze. The fire spread fast before the Palestinian firefighters rushed to the area, and started extinguishing it. Resident Malek Mahmoud Fawzi, who is one of the family members who own the orchards, said the trees were planted 65 years ago, and that the area contained around 1500 trees; nearly 500 of them were burnt. He added that he filed a complaint with the District Coordination Office, but the Israeli army or police did not even come to the area to inspect the damage, and stated that this is the second time the colonists burn his trees. Israel later sent a firefighting aircraft to aid in extinguishing the fire, especially since they spread to areas close to the illegal colonies of Shvut Rachel and Ahiya, which were built on private Palestinian [land].
It is worth mentioning that Israeli colonists hurled stones at Palestinian cars in Yasuf village, southwest of Nablus, in addition to smashing the windows of a home while the family was inside, and also broke the windows of their cars and attempted to burn property.
A high-tech facelift takes the sting out of an Israeli checkpoint — but not out of the occupation
QALANDIA, West Bank (Washington Post) 12 June by Ruth Eglash — Inside the airy hall, people step calmly up to the electronic barrier and allow their ID cards to hover for a second over a green laser before an automatic gate pops open. It could be one of today’s more-advanced airport terminals, a biometric border crossing with speed lanes, but it’s not. It’s Qalandia — the notorious Israeli military checkpoint known for its reviled metal turnstiles and caged tunnels … The place that sparked a thousand protests and endless clashes has been given a facelift. It is a multimillion-dollar renovation that Israelis hope will improve lives — on both sides … “The principle of checkpoints, and all that means in terms of a system of control making life difficult, is still there,” said Ghassan al-Khatib, a political science professor at Birzeit University in the West Bank. “Improvements are good, but does it improve life overall?” He pointed out that most Palestinians still need permits from Israeli authorities to cross the checkpoint, which, he highlighted, is in a part of East Jerusalem that international law considers occupied territory. The checkpoint should not be there at all, Khatib said … Sameh Abu Omer, 59, who works at an archaeological site in Israel, recalled fondly the days when he could drive to his job in Israel with no checkpoints and no permit … Hanna Barag has spent the past 18 years monitoring human rights violations at the checkpoint for the Israeli organization Machsom Watch, or Checkpoint Watch … She said the system of permits for traversing the checkpoints is the real story. “If you ask the average Palestinian, they will say that finally Israel is using a high-tech system and everything is great,” Barag said. “What no one is talking about is who is allowed to pass and who is not.”
Some Palestinians up in arms over weapons proliferation
Al-Monitor 10 June by Adnan Abu Amer — Palestinians have been plagued in recent weeks by a series of shootings in the West Bank — a clear sign of weapons proliferation. Armed clashes among families and tribes were to blame for many shootings in May, including six in Nablus and one each in Sebastia and Salem, all on May 19; one incident in Hebron between two families in mid-May lasted several days. On May 22, armed family violence broke out in al-Eizariya and in al-Fara refugee camp. Authorities also have been targeted. Given what he says is a weak Palestinian judiciary, Palestinian police Spokesman Louay Zreikat told Al-Watan Radio on May 27 that security services seize 600 to 1,000 weapons annually in the West Bank as they focus on smuggled weapons used in family disputes and for intimidation. Zreikat said Israel turns a blind eye to some smuggling and actually facilitates the entry of some weapons to the Palestinian territories as long as the weapons don’t appear to be for military use….
Army assaults and abducts a guard of the Al-Aqsa Mosque
IMEMC 8 June — Israeli soldiers assaulted, Saturday, a civilian guard of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in occupied East Jerusalem, and abducted him. Media sources said the soldiers assaulted Mohannad Edrees, causing various cuts and bruises, before abducting him. He was taken prisoner in the eastern area of Bab ar-Rahma mosque in Al-Aqsa, after he intercepted several colonists and officers who entered the mosque without removing their shoes, in violation of Muslim traditions. They added that the guard is a former political prisoner who was abducted and imprisoned in various previous invasions into the holy site, during provocative tours by soldiers, officers and illegal colonialist settlers.
Army abducts three Waqf employees in Jerusalem
IMEMC 13 June — Israeli soldiers abducted, Thursday, three employees of the Palestinian Waqf and Islamic Endowment, including the head of the Construction Committee, in Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, the WAFA Palestinian News Agency has reported. The soldiers abducted the head of the Construction Committee of the Waqf Department, Engineer Bassam Hallaq, in addition to the department’s employee Mohammad al-Hadra. In addition, the head of the media department of Waqf committee in occupied Jerusalem, Firas ad-Dibis, said the soldiers later abducted Engineer Taha Oweida, who works at the construction committee. It is worth mentioning that al-Hallaq and al-Hadra were taken prisoner while trying to fix the pedestrian walkways leading to the al-Aqsa near Bab al-Qattanin (The Cotton Merchants’ Gate).
Israel constructs barbed wire fence near Damascus Gate
IMEMC 14 June by Ali Salam — In occupied East Jerusalem, Wednesday, Israeli authorities constructed a metal fence with barbed wire on Sultan Suleiman Street, near the Damascus Gate of the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, Palestinian Shehab News agency reported. Eyewitnesses said that the fence was placed around the perimeter of the stairs leading to the ancient Damascus Gate; a bulldozer was also reportedly seen digging. Initial reports indicate that Israeli occupation forces will remove trees and tiles from the area, and continue construction inside the garden and close to nearby caves.
Hebron farmers struggle for existence in face of climate change
MEE 8 June by Megan Giovannetti in Hebron — The Eastern Slope of the Israeli-occupied West Bank was once fertile grazing land for Bedouin communities. Now it is parched desert — Bahjat Jabarin stands on a large hill with a local Bedouin farmer, Hassan Basayta, surveying the parched slopes of the Hebron hills. The view is partially blocked by an old Israeli military base adorned with graffiti. “Now we are in the middle of spring and you can see [only] desert,” says Jabarin, director of the Palestinian Environment Quality Authority (EQA) office in Hebron. Hassan Basayta, known as Abu Zeyad, is the local council head of four Bedouin communities – Azwadeen, Al Najada, Um al Kheir, and Khashm Aldaraj – in what is called the Eastern Slope, an area east of Yatta city under the Hebron governorate. One of five climate and geographical belts in historic Palestine, the Eastern Slope is also the region in the West Bank most affected by climate change … The entire Eastern Slope is classified as range land. Before the 1967 war, around 2.3 million dunums (2,300 square km) were “common land” for these tribal communities, Abu Zeyad says. Since the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967 until about 2005, access to these grazing-only zones was completely prohibited for the local Palestinian population. According to Abu Zeyad, maybe 300,000 dunums, or 30,000 hectares, are left for grazing in the entire West Bank. Most of this grazing land was confiscated and used as military bases, settlements and training camps. Because of the military use of bulldozers, tanks, and bombs, Abu Zeyad tells MEE, the once fertile layers of the soil have changed forever….
3 years, 119 court hearings, Mohammed Halabi continues to fight back against Israeli imprisonment
IMEMC/Agencies 14 June — Palestinian charity worker Mohammed Halabi has been brought 119 times to Israeli court during the three years of detention. Halabi, a manager in Gaza for World Vision, was seized by Israeli occupation forces on 15 June 2016. After being secretly detained for nearly two months, he was then the subject of a massive international propaganda campaign, largely spearheaded by Gilad Erdan, in August of that year. Erdan is a member of the Netanyahu government as both Minister of Public Security and Minister of Strategic Affairs, responsible for directing global campaigns of incitement against organizations that defend Palestinian rights. Benjamin Netanyahu himself contributed a video accusing Palestinians of not caring about their people on the basis of allegations that Halabi had diverted $43 million in funds for charity work in Gaza to instead support Palestinian resistance. This figure far exceeded any reasonable amount of World Vision’s budget; over seven years, World Vision’s entire budget in Gaza amounted to no more than $22 million. Despite the factual impossibility of the Israeli state’s claims, however, both the Australian and German governments initially suspended funding to the global Christian charity. Over 100 workers in Gaza lost their jobs amid an already extreme unemployment crisis in the besieged Strip … Anthony Loewenstein published an extensive report in 972mag reporting on the three years of the prosecution of Mohammed Halabi. By 2017, an official investigation carried out by the Australian government concluded that there was no basis to support the Israeli claim….
Official says crimes against Palestinian prisoners taking dangerous dimension
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 8 June – Qadri Abu Bakr, chairman of the Detainees Affairs Commission, has condemned the repeated crimes committed by Israel against Palestinian political prisoners in its jails, which he says have taken “a very dangerous and unprecedented dimension” designed to complicate their daily lives in prison. Abu Bakr said in a statement yesterday that Israel is mobilizing all its capacities to create new realities in the prisons. He stressed that Israel uses all available opportunities to crack down on prisoners and their families. He added: “There are daily incursions into prisons and detention centres, and a large number of detainees are transferred from one prison to another.” Abu Bakr argued that Israel does not want Palestinian prisoners to have stable conditions in jail, pointing to the instruction issued by Ashkelon prison last week not to allow prisoners to celebrate Eid El-Fitr as evidence that Israel is racist.
Palestinian prisoners at Asqalan to go on hunger strike on Sunday
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 13 June – Palestinian prisoners at the Israeli Asqalan prison have decided to go on hunger strike starting Sunday after the Israel Prison Service (IPS) rejected their demands for better conditions, the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS) said today. It said the decision was made after the IPS not only rejected their demands, but also threatened to take punitive actions against the prisoners if they go on strike … Often when prisoners go on strike in one prison, others follow suit in support. There are currently over 6000 Palestinians incarcerated in Israel for resisting the occupation of their homeland.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israeli forces uproot trees, demolish water well near Tubas
TUBAS (WAFA) 11 June – Israeli forces Tuesday morning uprooted dozens of olive trees and demolished a water well, to the east of Tammun town, south of Tubas city, in the northern West Bank. Morshed Bani Odeh, a local resident, told WAFA that Israeli forces stormed the farming area of Umm al-Kabbash, east of Tammun, where they demolished a water collection well and uprooted dozens of olive trees. Soldiers cordoned the area off, preventing journalists from reporting on the issue. According to Bani Odeh, there are about old 400 olive trees and four water wells belonging to several residents. Israeli forces have attempted to prevent local Palestinian farmers from tending to their lands and notified them of uprooting their trees, citing the designation of the area as a nature reserve as a pretext. Designating an area as a nature reserve may convey the impression that Israel wishes to protest the environment. In practice, however, Israeli has been using such designations for advancing the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
Israeli bulldozers demolish building under construction near Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 11 June – Israeli bulldozers Tuesday morning demolished a building under construction in the village of Sur Baher, to the south of the occupied city of Jerusalem. Witnesses told WAFA that Israeli police stormed and cordoned off Sur Baher as bulldozers proceeded to tear down a two-storey building purportedly for lacking a rarely-issued Israeli construction permit. The owner was identified as Wesam Jabour. The demolition was carried out just two days after so-called Israeli municipality staff ordered Jabour to halt the refurbishment of his house.
Meanwhile, Hassan Abu Kaff was forced Monday evening to demolish his own house in the same village upon order from the Israeli municipality….
Israeli army bulldozes Palestinian lands near Nablus
IMEMC 13 June — On Thursday, Israeli soldiers, accompanied by several armored bulldozers, invaded Palestinian lands in ‘Aseera al-Qibliya village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and bulldozed them in order to expand their nearby military base. Hafeth Saleh, the head of ‘Aseera al-Qibliya Village Council, said the army has bulldozed nearly five and a half dunams (1.35 acres), and is still operating in the area. He added that the lands are located near a military base, which was also installed on Palestinian lands, in the southern area of the village. Saleh also stated that the army intends to expand its military base, which means using more land as buffer zones around it.
Israel confiscates 20 dunams in northern West Bank
IMEMC 10 June — The Israeli occupation authorities have decided to illegally confiscate at least twenty dunams of privately owned Palestinian lands in northern West Bank to pave a new road for illegal colonies. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors Israel’s colonialist activities in northern West Bank, said the lands and the newly planned segregated road are east of Nablus. Daghlas added that the lands are owned by Palestinian farmers from Deir al-Hatab and Azmout villages, and will be used to pave roads leading to Elon Moreh illegal colony. More than 400 Palestinians will be impacted by the planned road, which could also lead to more illegal confiscations of lands, especially since Israel implements buffer zones and other security measures to segregate such roads.
Palestinians in south of West Bank told their land will be seized for settlement
HEBRON (WAFA) 13 June – Palestinian landowners in the south of the West Bank were told by the Israeli military government that a large chunk of their land will be seized, according to a local official. Rateb Jabour, from the anti-wall, anti-settlements committee, said that Israel informed landowners in the towns of Yatta and Bani Naim, southeast of Hebron, that 4800 dunums (1 dunum = 1000 square meters [or about 1/4 acre]) of their land will be seized. He said the residents were told to stop any kind of work they were undertaking on this land and that they have 45 days to object to this order starting May 25. Jabour said Israel wants to use this land to expand the illegal Bani Haifer Jewish settlement built on Palestinian land southeast of Bani Naim.
Israeli court upholds Orthodox church land sales to settlers
JERUSALEM (AP) 13 June — Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled against the Greek Orthodox Church in a long-running legal battle over the sale of three properties in predominantly Palestinian parts of Jerusalem’s Old City to a Jewish settler group. The ruling handed down on Monday was part of a protracted dispute over the 2004 sale of Old City properties, including two Palestinian-run hotels, to Ateret Cohanim, an Israeli organization that aims to increase the Jewish presence in Palestinian areas of the contested holy city. The church had claimed that its former patriarch secretly sold the buildings without authorization. Most Orthodox Christians in Jerusalem are Palestinian, and the sale of the properties to Israelis sparked outrage. Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war. Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as their capital of a future state.
Inside Israel’s million dollar troll army
EI 12 June by Asa Winstanley — A global influence campaign funded by the Israeli government had a $1.1 million budget last year, a document obtained by The Electronic Intifada shows. Act.IL says it has offices in three countries and an online army of more than 15,000. In its annual report, from January, Act.IL says its goal is to “influence foreign publics” and “battle” BDS – the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian rights. Through its app, Act.IL issues “missions” to this troll army in exchange for “cool prizes” and scholarships. The app directs comments towards news websites in support of Israeli wars and racism, while attacking Palestinians and solidarity campaigners. The leaked report claims Act.IL’s app completes 1,580 such missions every week….
Rapper Talib Kweli rejects German demand to denounce Israel boycott
EI 7 June by Tamara Nassar — American rapper Talib Kweli has refused to cave in to demands from a German festival that he denounce the BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – movement for Palestinian rights. As a result, he was disinvited from the July festival’s lineup. Kweli is saying that he refuses to “censor myself and lie about BDS for a check.” Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, recently passed a resolution equating BDS with anti-Semitism. The smear against a nonviolent movement that rejects all forms of racism prompted protests by Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip and denunciation from across Palestinian society. Modeled on the global solidarity campaign that helped end apartheid in South Africa, the BDS movement explicitly opposes all forms of bigotry, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia….
German firm escalates its war crimes against Palestinians
EI 10 June by Adri Nieuwhof — German construction giant HeidelbergCement is expanding its plunder of Palestinian resources, a war crime punishable under German and international law. HeidelbergCement operates a stone quarry in the occupied West Bank without permission of the Palestinians. After exhausting the Nahal Raba quarry, the Israeli army has now given the firm permission to exploit another 25 acres of occupied West Bank land. Most of the quarried products are used for the Israeli construction industry, including settlements in the occupied West Bank whose construction is also a war crime. The Palestinian people’s right to self-determination includes permanent sovereignty over natural resources, even while under occupation….
Israel settlement goods should be labelled, EU court advised
Luxembourg (AFP) 13 June — A senior advisor to the EU’s top court said Thursday it was his legal advice that products from Israeli-occupied territories must be clearly labelled as such to avoid misleading consumers. The European Court of Justice is not obliged to follow Advocate General Gerard Hogan’s advice, but the former Irish judge’s legal opinions are seen as highly influential in the bench’s deliberations. The ECJ is considering a request from France’s top tribunal for clarification of rules on labelling goods from the West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem, which the international community considers occupied Palestinian land, as well as the Golan Heights, which Israel took from Syria in 1967. In legal advice to the court, Hogan said that, under EU rules, labels must make it clear if products originate in the occupied territories, and in particular if they come from Israeli settlements in those areas….
President Abbas lauds Palestinian refugee who tackled suicide bomber
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 7 June – President Mahmoud Abbas today phone-called and praised Palestinian refugee Saber Murad, who has been shot in the head after throwing himself in front of crowds when a gunman opened fire in the northern Lebanon city of Tripoli on Monday. Murad, 33, is reportedly in a “stable condition” despite being shot in the head after throwing himself in front of crowds when a gunman opened fire. The assailant, identified as Abdul-Rahman Mabsout, launched the “lone wolf” attack shooting at police and army vehicles in different parts of the city while riding a motorcycle, killing two security officers and two soldiers … According to his Murad’s father, Nasser, his condition is improving but the bullet lodged in his head may cause him problems with his sight. “Thank God that the bullets in his back did not hit his spine,” his father added….
Over 76,000 students start general high school matriculation exams
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 8 June – A total of 76130 students started today the high school general matriculation exams known as Injaz (formerly tawjihi) in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, according to the Ministry of Education. It said a total of 468 examination halls are in the West Bank and 180 are in the Gaza Strip. In addition to sitting for the exam at home, Palestinian students in Qatar, Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria can also take the exam in halls set up especially for Palestinians in those countries. The exams allow the students who pass to enter colleges at home or abroad. The usual pass/fail rate is around 60/40 percent. Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who registered and studied for the Injaz exams are also expected to sit for the exam but at a different time and in only some prisons.
The ‘money mountain’: Israel holding millions in Palestinian deposits, promises now to finally pay it back
[behind paywall] Haaretz 10 June by Amira Hass — $16 million have accumulated in the accounts of Israel’s Civil Administration since the 1990s, all of it guarantees collected from Palestinians — “The money mountain” (jabal al-mal, in Arabic) is the tempting name of a website created by Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. You get to it through the Arabic homepage of the Coordinator of Government Activities’ website, Al-Munasek. There is a hyperlink in the form of a box on the upper left side of the homepage, declaring “Your money is your right,” with an icon of an outstretched hand with a dollar sign above it. Anyone clicking on the box gets to the “money mountain” page, whose main image looks at first glance as if it were drawn by a child … Behind the money mountain, or to be more exact inside of it, are some 58 million shekels ($16 million) as of last week, an Israeli security source told Haaretz. These funds are guarantees that Palestinian residents of the West Bank paid the Israel Police, mainly deposits paid by people suspected of traffic violations, or bail paid to the military courts upon conditional release to ensure the suspects would show up in court if and when an indictment would be filed against them. An unknown amount of this mountain of money was supposed to be returned to those who paid up – for example, in cases where the traffic fine was lower than the deposit; where the person was arrested, released on bail and not charged within two years of the arrest; or where the fine was less than the amount of bail that was posted. The money mountain website invites people to find out whether they are due a refund and send their details to the Civil Administration … The source noted that from early 2018 through last week, the administration returned 5 million shekels to 3,000 Palestinians – compared to 2.4 million shekels in 2017 (according to the state comptroller’s new report) and just 400,000 shekels in 2016….
Dancing gives us freedom
EI 11 June by Jaclynn Ashly — Around a decade ago, Abdullah Damra – aka Vertex – was learning to memorize the Quran when an underground breakdance scene emerged in the refugee camps of Nablus city in the occupied West Bank. “I come from a very religious family, so I wasn’t allowed to watch movies or even listen to music,” Abdullah, 22, told The Electronic Intifada. “So the first time I saw this dance, it was super new to me. I didn’t even think humans could move like that.” Breakdancing took hold in the refugee camps of Nablus around the mid-2000s, and 13-year-old Abdullah “quickly became obsessed,” along with dozens of other teenagers who now form part of a dynamic breakdance scene in the northern West Bank city … Unknown to the young breakdancers in Nablus, a similar scene emerged in the Gaza Strip at around the same time. Ahmed Alghariz – aka Shark – told The Electronic Intifada that his brother, Muhammad – aka Funk – was the first breakdancer in Gaza and introduced the dance style to children and youth around their home in Nuseirat refugee camp. … In 2009, the group participated in a project with Save the Children where it used breakdancing as psychological treatment following Operation Cast Lead – the Israeli military offensive on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009 that killed at least 1,383 Palestinians, including 333 children, according to the UN. Ahmed, now 29, said the experience made the dancers realize the power of dance as a tool to overcome trauma….
Israel’s top judge chides Netanyahu’s new justice minister
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 13 June by Jeffrey Heller — Israel’s top judge said on Thursday that its new right-wing justice minister was putting the country on a course towards anarchy by suggesting that not all court rulings must be obeyed when security is at stake. The Supreme Court has been in the crosshairs of members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rightist government. They accuse it of a liberal tilt and excessive intervention in legislative matters. With a new election scheduled for September, after Netanyahu failed to form a government following the previous poll in April, debate over the powers of the country’s highest court has been gaining speed. The justice minister, Amir Ohana, raised Chief Justice Esther Hayut’s ire after he did not disavow, in a television interview on his inauguration on Wednesday, past comments in which he said it was permissible to disobey Supreme Court rulings if they endangered lives….
Palestinians say US ambassador helps Israel to annex part of West Bank
WARSAW (Reuters) 10 June by Alan Charlish — The Palestinian foreign minister said on Monday that comments by the U.S. ambassador to Israel were intended to help Israel annex parts of the occupied West Bank, underscoring the Palestinians’ distrust of the Trump administration. The New York Times on Saturday quoted ambassador David Friedman as saying that under certain circumstances, Israel had the right to retain some of the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in April he intended to annex Jewish settlements built on land the Palestinians hope will form part of an eventual independent state. “It seems that Friedman with his statement is trying to help Netanyahu to have the courage to take such a decision,” Riyad al-Maliki said during a visit to Warsaw. “This is really something that the international community has to stand up, has to respond,” he said….
Tremors across Jordan as Trump Mideast peace plan revives old fears
AMMAN (Reuters) 14 June by Suleiman Al-Khalidi — Jordan’s King Abdullah reacts angrily to any suggestion that he might accept a U.S. deal to end the Arab-Israeli conflict that would make his country a homeland for Palestinians. Speaking to the armed forces in March, he rejected the idea of Jordan as an alternative state for Palestinians, saying: “Don’t we have a voice in the end?” Already facing economic discontent at home, Abdullah must navigate diplomatic moves by his U.S. allies that are upturning a regional status-quo that has underpinned Jordan’s internal politics and foreign relations for decades. After Israel’s creation in 1948 Jordan absorbed more Palestinians than any other country, with some estimates that they now account for more than half the population … Despite the U.S. denials, Jordanians fear that Trump is returning to an old Israeli theme: that Jordan is Palestine and that is where the Palestinians of the West Bank should go….
UN to send deputy envoy to US Mideast peace conference
United Nations (United States) (AFP) 12 June — After weeks of hesitation, the United Nations announced Wednesday that it is sending its deputy Middle East coordinator to attend the unveiling of the economic component of a new US peace plan. Jamie McGoldrick, who is also the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territories, will travel to Bahrain for the June 25-26 conference, said UN spokesman Farhan Haq … Several UN resolutions have enshrined the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the path to a peace settlement. The Palestinian Authority has already said it will boycott the Bahrain conference after it cut ties with the US administration over Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The United Nations said in late May that it was not planning to send a representative to the Bahrain conference.
Palestinians urge ‘Arab masses’ to oppose US peace workshop
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 12 June — A senior Palestinian decision-making body has condemned the decision by Arab countries to attend a U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace conference, calling for the “Arab masses” to act against the gathering. The Fatah Revolutionary Council issued its statement Wednesday, a day after Jordan, Egypt and Morocco said they would attend the Bahrain conference later this month. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab countries are also attending the workshop, which is to focus on the Palestinian economy. The Palestinians have rejected the conference, accusing the U.S. of being biased and ignoring Palestinian political aspirations. “The participation of some of the Arab brothers in this workshop is condemned and unjustified,” the statement said. It called on Palestinian “masses” to demonstrate. “We also call on our Arab masses to act against it,” it said.
Iraq, Lebanon to stay away from Mideast peace conference
BAGHDAD (AP) 12 June — An Iraqi foreign ministry spokesman says his government will stay away from a Mideast peace conference expected to take place in late June in the tiny Gulf Arab state of Bahrain … Ahmad Sahhaf, the Iraqi spokesman, told The Associated Press Wednesday that the rights of the Palestinian people “must be protected.” His comments came a day after Lebanon’s foreign minister said the country would also stay away from the conference because the Palestinians were not participating.
Arab League: Israel-Palestinian peace must have 2 states
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 13 June — The head of the Arab League is warning against any peace plan that ignores a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit also warns against any proposal that creates an alternative economic track that perpetuates Israel’s occupation of territory the Palestinians want for their independent state. Aboul Gheit never mentioned the United States in his briefing to the U.N. Security Council on Thursday but his message appeared aimed at the long-awaited U.S. plan to end the decades-old conflict. Its economic provisions are scheduled to be rolled out at a workshop in Bahrain June 25-26. Aboul Gheit was highly critical of “the attempt to resolve the Palestinian question outside the framework of international law and to ignore the established final status issues that are based on the two-state solution.”
Qatar will support any Middle East peace plan approved by Palestinians – foreign minister
LONDON, June 9 (Reuters) – Qatar will accept any Middle East peace plan that is acceptable to the Palestinians, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said on Sunday, warning that any U.S.-led solution cannot be imposed on Palestinians. “As far as we see, right now there is a disconnect between the Palestinians and the U.S.,” he told reporters in London. “Our position remains very firm: We are going to support any plan that the Palestinians are willing to accept.”….
Virginia man home again as deportation fight continues
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) 14 June — A northern Virginia man whose deportation to Israel was reversed last week is home again. Immigration attorney Patrick Taurel says Abdelhaleem Ashqar was home in Alexandria on Friday following his release from a detention center in Bowling Green, Virginia. The 60-year-old recently served 11 years in prison for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Last week, a judge’s order forced immigration authorities to return him from Israel before he got off the plane. Ashqar fears he would be tortured in Israel. Taurel said he’s trying to get government attorneys to allow Ashqar to relocate to a country where he feels safe. In 2005, Ashqar ran to succeed Yasser Arafat as president of the Palestinian National Authority. He finished fourth out of seven.
Jordan stops cooperation with US deportations of Palestinians
EI 13 June by Ali Abunimah — Jordan has unilaterally stopped cooperating with the Trump administration’s deportations of Palestinians to Israel and the occupied West Bank. This was revealed in an affidavit from Michael Bernacke, unit chief for “removal and international operations” at ICE, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. A copy of the document, filed in the US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit on Tuesday, has been seen by The Electronic Intifada. Bernacke’s affidavit was attached to a government motion opposing a petition by Abdelhaleem Ashqar asking for an emergency stay of US efforts to deport him. The affidavit states that the “Common procedure for ICE to remove Palestinians is to fly into Jordan, then transport the alien to the West Bank by transiting through Jordan, then with permission from the Government of Israel, the alien enters the West Bank.” The document adds that the US and Jordan had an “MOC” – a memorandum of coordination – governing these operations. It does not say when the MOC with Jordan was signed … The affidavit does not shed light on why Jordan, normally a reliable ally of the United States and Israel, canceled the memorandum of coordination….
52nd anniversary of Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty
FPJ 8 June by Paul Craig Roberts — It was 52 years ago today that Israel attacked the USS Liberty, killing 34 American sailors and wounding 174, yet the US government coverup persists. Two days ago, the US celebrated the 75th anniversary of D-Day with accolades to the armed forces and thanks to surviving veterans. The country stood strongly with the military. But today two days later is the 52 anniversary of a day of shame when Washington turned its back on the US Navy. It was June 8, 1967 when the USS Liberty, a surveillance ship stationed off the coast of Egypt, was attacked by Israeli fighter aircraft and torpedo boats. The Israelis were unable to sink the Liberty, but managed to kill 34 American sailors and wound 174. Seventy percent of the crew were casualties of the Israeli attack. The White House, fearing the Israel Lobby, prevented the US Navy from going to the defense of the Liberty, thus sacrificing American lives, and further dishonored the US Navy by ordering Admiral McCain, father of the former US Senator John McCain, to orchestrate a cover-up. The surviving crew were threatened with court-martial and imprisonment if they spoke about the event. It was 20 years before one of the surviving officers wrote a book about the greatest act of shame the US government ever inflicted on the US military….