Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Palestinians warned of accelerated demolitions in Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 18 June — The Jerusalem Center of Socio and Economic Rights, Monday, warned of the escalation of Israeli demolitions in occupied Jerusalem, noting it bears the nature of a collective form of punishment. The director of the center Zeyad al-Hamouree warned, in a statement, that the Israeli municipality and civil administration are carrying out demolitions in Qalandia, Sur Baher, Silwan and al-Bustan neighborhoods. He explained that Israel plans to demolish wide parts of Palestinian facilities to build Israeli facilities, noting the Israeli plans to establish the so-called National Park in Arrababh neighborhood. He stressed, according to Al Ray, that the next phase in Jerusalem is so difficult, especially regarding residential buildings. He said that dozens of demolition orders are carried out without warning. He called upon the international community for immediate action in stopping the illegal and collective demolition process in occupied Jerusalem, noting that Israel aims to evict all Palestinians from the city and to settle Israelis instead of them.
Hundreds perform Friday prayer in threatened Wadi al-Hummus area in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM, Friday, June 21, 2019 (WAFA) – Hundreds of Palestinians performed Friday prayer outdoors today in Abu al-Hummus area, in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher, in protest of Israel’s decision to demolish dozens of homes in the area under the pretext of their proximity to the Israeli segregation barrier. Sheik Ekrema Sabri, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine, led the Friday prayer and sermon, during which he condemned the planned Israeli move. Yesterday, Israeli occupation authorities gave Palestinian residents in Wadi al-Hummus until the 18th of the upcoming month of July to implement an Israeli Supreme Court’s order of demolishing 100 residential apartments, or they would face the large demolition costs and fines charged by the occupation’s municipality.
After court orders demolition of 100 flats, Israeli police demand removal of protest tent in Jerusalem
IMEMC 17 June — Dozens of Israeli police officers invaded, Sunday, Sur Baher Palestinian town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, and demanded the Palestinians to remove a tent, which was installed to protest a Supreme Court ruling to demolish 16 residential buildings of more than 100 flats. The Israeli decision came after the City Council in the occupied city claimed that the buildings are close to the illegal Annexation Wall, which was installed on Palestinian lands. Hamada Hamada, the head of the Services Committee of Wad al-Hummus, al-Mintar and Deir al-Amoud neighborhoods in Sur Baher town, said the neighborhoods are in Areas A, B and C, and the lands are owned by the Palestinians, including the Local Government of the Palestinian Authority. Hamada added that the targeted Palestinian buildings are 25 apartment buildings of around 250 flats, and said that Israel issued various demolition orders, in addition to orders halting the construction of most buildings in that area alone. 16 of the apartment buildings, which contain altogether more than 100 flats, are under the immediate threat of demolition. He also stated that, a week ago, the Israeli Supreme Court denied the appeal, which was filed by the residents, and ordered the immediate demolition of the buildings, but without setting a date. The Palestinians then decided to install a protest tent, and remain there, and the police has since been ordering them to remove it and leave the area.
Muslim cleric describes Israeli demolitions in occupied Jerusalem as ethnic cleansing
JERUSALEM, Tuesday, June 18, 2019 (WAFA) – The Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Muhammad Hussein slammed the Israeli occupation authorities’ decision to demolish 16 Palestinian residential buildings in an occupied Jerusalem neighborhood as ethnic cleansing. Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, who is the highest Muslim religious cleric in Palestine, slammed the Israeli High Court’s decision to demolish 16 residential buildings in the Wadi Hummus neighborhood, located on the edge of Sur Baher, in the southeast of Jerusalem, as “heinous practice of racist ethnic cleansing” against the Palestinian people. Hussein warned that the Israeli court’s approval of the demolition of the buildings, composed of some 100 apartments, under flimsy pretenses would result in the displacement of scores of Palestinian families with the purpose of Judaization of Jerusalem. He cautioned against the recent display of an image depicting Al-Aqsa Mosque compound without the Dome of the Rock at an event attended by Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu….
Israel plans to entrench annexation of East Jerusalem
Al Jazeera 15 June — Concerned that Jerusalem will soon have a non-Jewish majority, Israel may excise Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem — If current demographic trends continue, Jerusalem could become a minority-Jewish city as early as 2045, according to a report by the Jerusalem and Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG). And to stop this trend Israel may excise Palestinian neighbourhoods located east of its separation barrier, entrenching its de facto annexation of most of occupied East Jerusalem, according to the report. Palestinian-populated areas that are part of the Jerusalem municipality, but beyond the barrier (Kafr Aqab, Shuafat refugee camp/Anata, al-Sawahra and al-Walaja) may be removed and placed in separate Israeli administrative units outside of Jerusalem’s jurisdiction after a new coalition government forms following the Knesset election on September 17. For Palestinian inhabitants, the excision would put at risk their status as Israeli residents. They – like Palestinians in the rest of the occupied West Bank would be required to obtain permits to enter East Jerusalem or Israel.
Despite all the extensive construction for Israeli Jews in both West and East Jerusalem and “severe impediments” imposed on the growth of Palestinian neighbourhoods, the Jewish-majority population has continued to shrink over the decades. In 1967, the population ratio of Israeli Jews to Palestinians in Jerusalem stood at 74:26. In 2016, this ratio for Israeli Jews declined to 62:38, ICG wrote. Israel’s neglect of East Jerusalem has failed to push Palestinians – forced to pay municipal taxes, yet receive almost no municipal services – to leave … According to Jerusalem expert Nadav Shragai, excision would turn the demographic ratio to 69 percent for Jewish Israelis and a 31 percent Palestinian population. Political analyst of the ICG Ofer Zalzberg told Al Jazeera that if a Netanyahu-led right-wing government emerges from the upcoming elections, then it is likely they will pursue excision….
Soldiers invade orphanage school in Jerusalem, to stop ‘Yes to Peace, No to War’ festival
IMEMC 22 June — On Friday evening, Israeli soldiers, including undercover officers, invaded the Islamic Industrial School for Orphans, in the Old City of occupied Jerusalem, and stopped an educational activity held by the General Union of Palestinians Writers. Media sources said the school was about to hold a poetry festival, dubbed as “Yes To Peace, No To War,” and shut it down. The activity was organized by several Palestinian poets in occupied Jerusalem, and was meant to encourage the students to read and write, and to help them realize their potentials and talents. The sources added that the soldiers, accompanied by undercover police officers, stormed the school just minutes before the festival was supposed to start, and shut it down. The Israeli Police said that it has a direct order, signed by the Israeli Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs, Gilad Erdan, preventing any activity, organized or linked in any way shape or form, with the Palestinian Authority.
Israeli bulldozers level farmland in Bethlehem-district town
BETHLEHEM, Wednesday, June 19, 2019 (WAFA) – Israeli military bulldozers leveled Palestinian farmlands in Battir town, west of Bethlehem, said a municipal source. Mayor of Battir, Tayseer Qattush, said that an Israeli military force stormed al-Khimar area, and provided protection for a military bulldozer as it leveled a large tract of farmland belonging to Khalil Abu Ni‘meh, Omar al-Qaisi, and Jawad al-Qaisi. Battir, six kilometers west of Bethlehem, is on the UNESCO world heritage list due to its ancient terraces and Roman-era irrigation system which is still used by villagers to irrigate their crops. It is home to a Roman spring and bath, an eco-museum and some hiking trails. Its old town is known as the Seven Widows Quarter.
Israel to destroy 2000 olive trees southeast of Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM, Sunday, June 16, 2019 (WAFA) – Israeli occupation authorities approved the destruction of thousands of trees between the western entrance of the town of Taqou‘ and the entrance of the village of al-Minya, southeast of Bethlehem, the occupied West Bank, said a local activist. Hasan Brijiyeh, a local anti-settlement, anti-wall activist, told WAFA around 2000 fully grown olive trees planted in an 80-dunums of land located along a 1600-meters long and 50-meters wide street between Taqou‘ and al-Minya areas will be cut down by Israeli authorities. Israeli forces have recently stepped up their arbitrary measures against the town of Taqou‘, including the expropriation of land, closure of main entrances, and arrest of children and youth.
Illegal colonialist settlers occupy a Palestinian store in Hebron
IMEMC 15 June — Several illegal Israeli colonialist settlers invaded and occupied, Saturday, a store owned by the Palestinian Ministry of Waqf and Religious Affairs, near the Old Vegetables Market in the Old City of Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. The head of the Hebron Construction Committee, Lawyer Tawfiq Jahshan, told the WAFA Palestinian News Agency that the store, owned by the Waqf Ministry, is rented to Abu Khaled Abu Aisha, and is located behind the Al-Aqtaab Mosque. He added that the store is also near the illegal Avraham Avino colony, which was installed on private Palestinian lands and property. After storming the store, the colonists changed its locks, and started altering its appearance. Representing Abu Aisha, Jahshan stated that he tried to file a complaint with the Israeli Police, but they kept coming up with excuses, and added that he will file complaints with Israeli courts and follow-up on the matter using all available legal options.
Army demolishes greenhouses, razes land in south of West Bank
HEBRON, Wednesday, June 19, 2019 (WAFA) – Israeli forces demolished two greenhouses and razed land in the town of Tarqoumia in the south of the West Bank, local and Palestinian security sources told WAFA today. They said the greenhouses and razed land belonged to two different people from the town. The soldiers also blocked rural roads in the same area to prevent farmers and land owners from reaching their lands.
Netanyahu administration asks court for Khan Al-Ahmar extension
JPost 18 June by Hagay Hacohen — The State of Israel will not evacuate the Bedouin West Bank herding village of Khan al-Ahmar at least until the September election is over, the right-wing NGO Regavim reported on Monday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has repeatedly promised voters that he would demolish the village that is home to 180 members of the Jahalin Bedouin tribe, previously said that Khan al-Ahmar will be evacuated by June 2018. The Jahalin Bedouin have resided in Khan al-Ahmar illegally since they were forced to move out of Tel Arad by the IDF in 1952. They consider themselves to be Palestinian Bedouins. A portion of their community resides in Arab al-Jahalin near Jerusalem. As far back as 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that there is no reason to prevent the demolition of homes in Khan al-Ahmar. Since many among the Jahalin are recognized as refugees by UNWRA, the plan to evacuate the village led to condemnation by the EU.
Israeli forces demolish four residential shacks in south of West Bank
HEBRON, Monday, June 17, 2019 (WAFA) – Israeli forces demolished today four residential shacks made of brick and metal siding in the area of Khillet al-Dabe‘ in Masafer Yatta in the south of the occupied West Bank, under the pretext they were built in Area C, which is under full Israeli military control, without a permit, according to a local official. Rateb al-Jabour, coordinator of the popular committee against the separation wall and settlements, told WAFA that the forces demolished the four shacks and a solar energy panel belonging to Mohammad Dababseh. He noted that 10 people lived in them. He also said the soldiers assaulted one member of the Dababseh family who apparently attempted to prevent the demolitions from taking place.
Violence — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian from Jerusalem dies from serious wounds suffered two weeks ago
IMEMC 19 June — A Palestinian man died, Wednesday, from serious wounds he suffered two weeks ago, when several undercover Israeli soldiers repeatedly assaulted and struck him, in Shu‘fat refugee camp, in occupied East Jerusalem. The Palestinian, identified as Mousa Abu Mayyala, 60, was assaulted by the undercover soldiers while standing in front of his home in the refugee camp. Abu Mayyala suffered various serious injuries, including fractures in his ribs, due to the violent assault against him, before he was rushed to a hospital in occupied Jerusalem. Various Palestinian human rights groups, and national factions, strongly condemned the fatal attack against Abu Mayyala, and denounced the seriously escalating Israeli violations against the Palestinian people, including children and the elderly.
Child released a month after losing his leg when Israeli soldiers shot him with expanding bullet
[includes video by Watar Broadcast Network] IMEMC 19 June — Israeli soldiers released, Tuesday, a Palestinian child from the al-Khader town, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, a month after they shot him with an expanding Dumdum bullet in the leg, leading to an amputation. The Palestinian child, Mahmoud Hussein Salah, 14, was abducted by the soldiers who shot him, and was later moved to Shaare Zedek Israeli Medical Center, where his left leg was amputated, due to the severe injury he sustained. Salah said his dream was to become a famous soccer player, before the soldiers shot him with a Dumdum expanding bullet, in direct violation of International Law. Commenting on his injury after his release, the child told the Palestinian Watar Broadcast Network (WBN) that he and his friends were playing soccer, and the ball was kicked out of the field before he ran after it. “I located the ball and carried it before I heard a soldier shouting at me and almost instantly started shooting,” Salah said, “I ran just a few feet, then I fell, and the soldiers ran towards me and started kicking and beating me up, and later took me behind the (Annexation) Wall where I was kept for about two hours, until an ambulance came and took him to the hospital.”….
Israeli settlers attack Palestinian civilian, set fire to fields in north of West Bank
SALFIT, Wednesday, June 19, 2019 (WAFA) – Israeli settlers attacked today a Palestinian civilian and set fire to fields in two different locations in the north of the West Bank, local officials said. In Kufl Haris village, north of Salfit, settlers threw rocks at a Palestinian house in the village injuring 64-year-old Mahmoud Bouzieh in the hand, according to Abdul Rahim Bouzieh, director of the village’s municipality. In the village of Madama, south of the city of Nablus, settlers set fire to olive fields, said Ghassan Daghlas, a local official. He said the settlers had earlier razed village land and when the residents stopped them and pushed them away, the settlers set fire to the olive fields in a revenge act.
Israeli settlers vandalize vehicles, spray paint racist graffiti in West Bank village
SALFIT, Tuesday, June 18, 2019 (WAFA) – Extremist Israeli settlers vandalized several vehicles and spray-painted racist graffiti in the village of Deir Istiya, northwest of the occupied West Bank city of Salfit, according to local sources. Saeed Zidan, mayor of the Deir Istiya, told WAFA today that settlers sneaked into the village during the night, slashed tires of about 20 Palestinian vehicles and spray-painted in Hebrew racist anti-Palestinian graffiti on about 23 vehicles and walls of homes. [a similar attack occurred the day before in the village of Kufr Malik, east of Ramallah]
Five days after demolition: Picking up the pieces
SOUTH HEBRON HILLS (ISM) 21 June — Palestinian flags fluttered over the rubble of Mohammad al Dababsh home in the South Hebron Hills yesterday as local activists helped the family put up a temporary shelter. Pots and pans lay scattered amongst bricks, metal and dust – the only remnants left of the two-roomed house which was demolished on Monday. ISM joined activists from the Protection and Sumud committee – a group that protects locals from attacks by settlers – to the village of Khalet al Dabeh where they helped the Dababsh family to erect a tarpaulin tent. The house was the first of four homes to face the bulldozers on June 17 as occupation forces went on a demolition spree across two villages, as reported by ISM. ISM spoke to Jaber Dababsh, the brother of Mohammad about the impact the demolition has had on his family. “They are completely destroyed because they lost everything at once – their electricity, their home, their stuff,’ Jaber Dababsh replied through a translator. “The situation is very hard, now they’ve got this tent and hopefully they can move in it soon because all their stuff is outside and mostly they are outside.” The tent was cold and dark, the solar panels that once supplied energy to the house now destroyed and confiscated by soldiers during the demolition. In stark contrast, the illegal settlement of Havat Maon glared in the distance. ‘The settlers have big homes, running water and electricity,’ a member of the committee told ISM. ‘This family just has a tent….
South Hebron Hills: Settlers wielding sticks launch night attack on Palestinian home
SOUTH HEBRON HILLS (ISM) 17 June — Settlers bearing sticks from the notorious Havat Maon illegal outpost tried to attack a Palestinian home two nights ago in the village of At-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills – the latest in a stream of attacks against the same home. The Zionist attackers ran towards the house on June 15, which belongs to the Rabai family, bearing sticks but retreated after children playing nearby called out to their parents. The group of around 8 settlers were seen running back into the line of trees encircling the illegal settlement, situated just 300m from the Palestinian home. Due to the close proximity of the Rabai house to the outpost, it faces near constant assaults, with settlers often breaking the windows and even attacking members of the family. A member of the Rabai family told ISM that he has had to replace the windows at least five times. Occupation forces, called by the settlers, marched to the house shortly after the incident, claiming that 49 Palestinians had attacked the initial aggressors with stones. However, not only was it clear that Palestinians had not started the assault, it was also clear that there were nowhere near 49 villagers at the scene. Four IDF soldiers tried to enter but were prevented by the presence of other villagers, local activists and international observers … One member of the family, who prefers not to be named, told ISM that the settlers had previously thrown stones at his mother and wife while she was carrying their child. ‘My house can never be empty,’ he tells ISM. ‘My daughter is crying in the middle of the night, if she sees the gun of the soldier she will shout, ‘they will kill us, they will kill us!’….
Israeli settlers attack Palestinian workers in central Hebron
HEBRON, Sunday, June 16, 2019 (WAFA) – Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian construction workers and residents in Tal Remedeh neighbourhood, in central Hebron, the occupied West Bank, said WAFA correspondent. A number of Israeli settlers from the illegal West Bank settlements of Ramat Yishai and Beit Hadassah, under the protection of Israeli forces, attacked construction workers while they were building a wall in the said neighbourhood, causing damage to the wall. Settlers further attacked residents in the area and tried to attack them. No injuries were reported.
Israeli soldiers abduct sixteen Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 17 June — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Monday at dawn, sixteen Palestinians during extensive and violent searches of homes, in several parts of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported. The PPS office in Bethlehem said the soldiers abducted eight Palestinians, identified as Fayez Mousa al-‘Amour, 37, ‘Aahed Mohammad al-‘Amour, 20, Mouhammad Ahmad al-‘Amour, 40, Mousa Mahmoud al-‘Amour, 19, Zaki Mahmoud al-‘Amour, 38, Yazan Majed al-‘Amour, 19, Amin Ali Khalaf Jibreen, and Khalil Daoud Abu Mfarreh, 27. In Hebron, in southern West Bank, the soldiers abducted three Palestinians, identified as Yousef Ahmad al-‘Allami, 25, Raed Mohammad ‘Aadi, 25, and Ahmad Karim Ekhlayyel, 17. In Jenin, in northern West Bank, the soldiers abducted Bilal Taleb Abu Bakr, 22, from his home in Ya‘bad town, after searching and ransacking his home, and the homes of many of his relatives while interrogating them. The army also abducted Shadi ‘Oweiss, from Jenin refugee camp, while he was at his parents’ home in Kafr Qud village, west of Jenin.
Israel says it thwarted Iran spying attempt in West Bank
Ynet 20 June by Yoav Zitun — The Shin Bet domestic security service said Thursday that it has arrested a Jordanian businessman who attempted to set up an intelligence-gathering operation in the West Bank on behalf of Iran. The businessman, who was named as 32-year-old Taer Shaafut, was arrested in April and was indicted 10 days ago by the military prosecutor for allegedly making contact with the enemy, making contact with a hostile organization, and conspiring to bring enemy funds into the area … “The link between Shaafut and Iranian intelligence began in Lebanon when he met two Arab-speaking operators from Iranian intelligence who introduced themselves as Abu Sadek and Abu Jaafar,” the Shin Bet said. Shaafut, who is originally from Hebron, held meetings with the Iranians in Lebanon and Syria over the past two years. He was instructed to establish business ties in the West Bank and Israel in order to gather information. “As part of his contacts with his Iranian handlers, Shaafut proposed and even received approval for the establishment of a factory in Jordan that would employ Shi’ite workers for future Iranian activities,” the Shin Bet said….
Palestinian indicted in rape of 7-year-old Israeli girl in West Bank
Haaretz 17 June by Yotam Berger — A West Bank Palestinian has been charged with kidnapping and raping a 7-year-old Israeli girl whom he had met at the school where he was employed as a maintenance worker, the police said. The defendant, a resident of the West Bank village of Deir Qadis, worked at an Israeli school in the Mateh Binyamin region in the central West Bank. The suspect developed a relationship with the child over an extended period, according to the indictment, engaging her in conversation and giving her candy. One day, the suspect took the child to a house near the school, according to the charges, and after “holding her hand forcefully, causing her to fall,” he then raped her. The child “cried and called for help,” according to the indictment, and was released by the defendant following the rape. The indictment was filed by the Israeli military prosecutor’s office following an investigation that lasted several months.
Israeli authorities reopen rape case in the West Bank
i24NEWS 19 June — Palestinian man charged with raping 7-year-old girl claims he is innocent. Israeli police and military authorities – who are responsible for judicial affairs for Palestinians living in the West Bank – decided to reopen the investigation into the alleged rape of a young girl by a Palestinian man in a settlement. This comes as the suspect’s lawyer now claims that his client had an alibi for the day of the offense, and that he is the victim of anti-Arab sentiment. The rape caused outrage in Israel, and was under-reported in the Palestinian press. It is now subject to a gag order, with circumstances surrounding the case still hazy. According to a court indictment, a 46-year-old man employed as a janitor in a school attended by the victim lured the 7-year-old girl away with sweets before raping her on a construction site. The event allegedly happened between February and April of this year, but was only reported late to police, and therefore is devoid of forensic evidence. The family’s lawyer, who works for Honenu, a legal defense NGO that has previously courted controversy for representing Jewish terrorists, was quick to label the rape as nationalistically motivated. His vision of events was quickly relayed by the Israeli right, with many labeling the incident as a terrorist act. Secular nationalist Avigdor Liberman called for the death penalty, while far-right MK Motti Yogev called for the suspect’s house to be destroyed….
Israel using any means possible to frame Palestinian accused of rape, locals say
[behind paywall] Haaretz 22 June by Amira Hass — The police arrested Mahmoud Qatusa at his place of work, a school in a large West Bank settlement, on the morning of May 1. Qatusa works for an Israeli cleaning company. He supervises 80 other Palestinians, sending them out to jobs at various schools in the settlement. Everyone present was shocked by his arrest, said M.S., who works under Qatusa. I met M.S. when he left work on Wednesday. “We asked around about what happened, what’s the reason, and we heard from the settlers that ‘there’s a girl who’s afraid of him,’” he said. M.S. didn’t utter the words “suspected of raping a child,” but he repeatedly said that the company’s owners and other residents of the settlement “don’t believe the accusations against Qatusa.” One of them is undoubtedly the person who told Haaretz’s Roy Arad the important detail that a lawyer from the right-wing group Honenu originally represented the girl’s family and thus influenced the investigation by the local police. A relative who works with Qatusa called his wife, Nisreen, on the afternoon of the day he was arrested. “He began hemming and hawing and asked if Mahmoud had called me,” Nisreen said Wednesday, speaking at her home … A few days later, the police summoned Nisreen again. This time, she was shown an aerial photo of their village, Deir Qadis, on a computer and asked to point out their house. “I was puzzled,” she said. “After all, they know Deir Qadis, they know all the houses. What did they need me for?” That was on the Thursday of the second week of Ramadan. She had a permit to go to Jerusalem to pray at Al-Aqsa. “When I left the Al-Aqsa Mosque, they called me from home and told me the police had come to the house, asked my son Qusai questions about his father and searched the apartment,” she said. But they didn’t examine the computer and didn’t confiscate anything. “Gradually, we figured out that they suspected him of bringing a Jewish girl to our house,” she said. Then, pointing to the nearby houses, she added, “Everyone lives close by, the brothers and cousins, one house next to the other. It’s impossible to enter the house without everyone knowing who entered and when. Later, they retracted that accusation.” But Qatusa remained in detention. “After about 20 days, we realized they were trying to indict him by any means possible,” Nisreen said. She realized that their lives would never be the same….
Photos: 79 Palestinians injured by Israeli forces in Great March of Return
IMEMC/Agencies 21 June — Israeli forces have once again opened fire on Palestinians taking part in the 63rd Friday of the peaceful “Great March of Return” protests, along the separation fence between the besieged Gaza Strip and occupied territories, injuring at least 79 peaceful protesters.
German author/journalist shot by Israeli forces in Gaza
IMEMC 17 June by Ali Salam — Jürgen Todenhöfer, German author and journalist, was in Gaza on June 14, participating in the weekly ‘Great March of Return’ demonstration, in solidarity with Palestinians, Days of Palestine reported. Todenhöfer was videotaped holding a sign with the words, “Dear Israelis, please treat the Palestinians the same way you want to be treated!” In a show of outright disregard for human rights, an Israeli sniper shot this peaceful foreign activist with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his back. Todenhöfer wrote on his Facebook page afterward, stating “Dear friends, one cannot ‘demonstrate’ more peacefully than I tried to do today at the border fence of Gaza.” Readers are encouraged to watch the video of this peaceful protester, here. He then said “There is no other constitutional state in the world where you are shot at for such a conciliatory sentence. It can’t go on like this.” Not only does he report being a few hundred meters from the border, but that the Israeli soldier shot him in the back with a rubber bullet. The question is, what type of threat was this older gentleman, a few hundred meters away from the fence, with his hands up, facing away from the soldiers?
A Jerusalem hospital where Palestinian babies die alone
The Guardian 20 June by Oliver Holmes in Jerusalem and Hazem Balousha in Gaza — Israeli blockade on Gaza means parents are separated from critically ill children — At first glance, nothing appeared out of place at the children’s intensive care unit. Nine beds were filled with nine tiny newborn babies, all with tubes attached to their wiry bodies. Monitors emitted the sounds of steady electronic blips. Nurses walked from bedside to bedside. A tired-looking pediatrician filled out paperwork. Yet something was missing: there were no parents. Some had been sent home to rest, or might be anxiously drinking coffee in the cafeteria downstairs. But for two babies at this Palestinian hospital in Jerusalem, their mothers were trapped an hour and a half away behind an Israeli-enforced blockade in Gaza. Both infants would later die, one without seeing her mother again. Critically ill Palestinian infants taken from impoverished and war-battered Gaza to the better equipped Makassed hospital are suffering and dying alone. Israel allows temporary exit from Gaza for medical reasons in some cases, but not all. At the same time, it prevents or seriously delays many parents of patients from leaving, and others never apply in the first place, fearing that extensive security checks for adults will hold up their child’s exit permit and lose vital time. Since the beginning of last year, 56 babies from Gaza were separated from their mothers and fathers, six of whom perished without a parent present, according to the hospital….
WATCH: Caught in Israel’s permit system, Gaza children fear for their lives
+972 Mag 20 June — What happens when children in Gaza need to leave the strip for medical care that is unavailable there? Filmmaker Jen Marlowe gives us a look into the lives of the families as they navigate the often Kafkaesque process of getting permission from the Israeli army to leave the besieged strip for medical treatments.
Civilians deliberately targeted in Gaza attacks, reports find
+972 Mag 14 June by Oren Ziv — Two separate investigations by B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch determine that the Israeli army and Palestinian armed groups unlawfully targeted civilian populations during the most recent Gaza escalation — Israel killed 13 Palestinian civilians who weren’t involved in hostilities or affiliated with militant groups in its latest military campaign in Gaza, according to a new report by B’Tselem released Wednesday. Two of the casualties were children and three were women, one of whom was heavily pregnant. “These deaths are the foreseeable outcome of Israel’s unlawful, immoral policy of bombing homes in Gaza,” determined B’Tselem. Based on B’Tselem’s investigation, from May 3 to May 6, Israel launched airstrikes and fired shells at more than 350 targets in Gaza, wounding 153 people. The rights group also found that none of the strikes “were preceded by any suitable warnings that might have given the inhabitants the opportunity to seek shelter or save their belongings.”….
Hamas opened fire on IDF special force operating in Gaza
Ynet 17 June by Yoav Zitun — Palestinians media reports Hamas opened fire Sunday on a special IDF Unit operating in the vicinity of the Gazan city of Khan Yunis causing their retreat. The reported incident comes hours after Qatari envoy Salah al-Arouri entered the Gaza Strip to deliver financial aid.
Hamas chief details terms for calm with Israel
GAZA (Reuters) 20 June — Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said on Thursday that two industrial zones, a new power line and a hospital would be built for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as part of truce understandings between his Islamist group and Israel. The deal, brokered by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations, has not been publicly acknowledged by Israel, which deems Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement a terrorist organization and shuns direct negotiations. In a briefing to foreign media, Haniyeh accused Israel of failing to comply fully with the understandings and of repeatedly reducing the size of Gaza’s fishing zone, which he said was to be widened to 18 miles under the deal. Israel, which cites security concerns for its naval blockade of Gaza and strict border controls, has temporarily narrowed or closed the zone in recent weeks in what it said was a response to incendiary balloons launched from the Palestinian enclave. Haniyeh accused Israel of non-compliance with the ceasefire and of delaying any launching of the projects stated in the deal. “The understandings are in danger because of the non-compliance by the occupation to implement the required obligations,” Haniyeh said. But he said Palestinian factions in Gaza were committed to maintaining calm by stopping the balloon launchings and night-time demonstrations along the border that have led to clashes with Israeli forces.“We want to afford a dignified life for our Palestinian people and we want to spare our people repeated aggressions (by Israel),” said Haniyeh. He did not say when construction of the two industrial zones and the hospital would start, but he noted that funds from Qatar would be used to purchase a new power line from Israel and create new jobs.
Mohamed Morsi was a true friend to Palestinians in Gaza / Adnan Abu Amer
MEE 19 June — Shock is rippling through the Gaza Strip over the sudden death of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. It is as though Palestinians have lost a leader, one who paid attention to them and aided them. Many considered him morally responsible for this geographical area adjacent to Egypt, and that responsibility translated into practical, positive political changes. Palestinians in Gaza feel that Morsi repeatedly paid a price for his political and moral positions in favour of them, despite a presidency that lasted less than a year. They feel indebted to him for calling for the lifting of the unjust Israeli siege. And his words were not just words: Morsi ordered Egyptian authorities to permanently open the Rafah crossing, the gateway for Palestinians in Gaza to the outside world. During Morsi’s time in office, the Israeli siege was eased, and many were able to travel through Rafah without obstacles. The so-called “black lists” were cut down. I was able to travel dozens of times, only to be trapped inside the territory – along with thousands of others – since his 2013 overthrow. Morsi’s support did not end there. During his term of office, trade between Gaza and Egypt increased, after years of rejection and prohibition. In the context of Israel’s repeated wars on Gaza, Palestinians have been comparing the differences between the official Egyptian positions in 2008 under Hosni Mubarak, in 2012 under Morsi, and in 2014 under current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The results are difficult, bitter and painful….
Documentary lifts veil on life in Gaza
CJN 19 June by Michael Fraiman — Andrew McConnell was first drawn to Gaza by the surfing. The Irish photographer, himself a surfer, was so fascinated by the subculture that he crossed the Egyptian border in 2010, stayed for a few weeks, photographed the local surfers and published the resulting photo essay around the world. That caught the eye of Garry Keene, a documentary filmmaker. Keene was working on a project about conflict photographers at the time, and had long been intrigued by life in the secluded Mediterranean strip. When Keene contacted McConnell, they hit it off instantly. For starters, they grew up 40 kilometres apart in Ireland. But it was more than that: both men wanted to make a film showing a different side of this Arab slice of the world that few outsiders ever get to see. The result is Gaza, a feature-length documentary that took the duo four years, 250 hours of footage and three visits to the strip to finish … Their film showcases a tapestry of different lives. Viewers meet a gifted cellist, a teenage fisherman and his 40 siblings, an exuberant theatre director, an undersupplied paramedic and a singing cabbie, among others. The narrative weaves between each, occasionally touching on Hamas and Israel (most people don’t like either), but mainly sticking to the stories of their lives, stitched together with long, beautifully composed shots of food markets, seaside sunsets and bustling kitchens. “We wanted to make sure it was all about the people, let them speak for themselves,” Keene says….
Qatar distributes funds to Gaza families
Al Jazeera 20 June — Qatar has distributed $100 grants to thousands of families in Gaza as part of an understanding with Israel intended to restore calm in the blockaded Palestinian enclave. Under the agreement, gas-rich Qatar will make regular payments to impoverished families as part of an informal truce agreed between Israel and Gaza’s rulers, Hamas, in November. Qatari envoy Mohammed al-Emadi said on Wednesday that 60,000 families would receive the grants from post offices in the latest disbursement. The Gulf country, a long-standing ally of Hamas, had previously said the disbursements would reach 100,000 families, but Emadi amended the figure on Wednesday, saying the $4m saved would be allocated to “executing other sustainable projects that will be announced in the future”. Emadi told AFP news agency that he had brought $25m in cash to Gaza on Sunday night, but that unspecified “technical issues” delayed the distribution of the grants. Several hundred people were waiting to receive the money at a post office in central Gaza City on Thursday, according to an AFP journalist….
Qatar sends technical experts to Israel, eying new Gaza power line
GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) 18 June by Nidal al-Mughrabi & Dan Williams — A Qatari technical delegation held talks in Israel and the Gaza Strip this week about helping pay for a proposed new power line between them, officials on both sides said on Tuesday, marking a potential expansion of Doha’s aid efforts for Palestinians. Qatar has in recent years funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into relief projects in Hamas-controlled Gaza, which it views as helping stave off privation and fighting with Israel … Spearheading the Qatari drive has been envoy Mohammed Al-Emadi, who Palestinian officials said this week brought $10 million to Gaza, via Israel, to disburse to the poor. It was the third such Qatari cash infusion in three months, said the officials, who requested anonymity. But this time Al-Emadi was accompanied by Qatari electricity and water experts. They met with the Israel Electric Corporation in Tel Aviv on Sunday, and in Gaza with energy officials on Monday, to discuss a Qatari offer to pay for the completion of a new Gaza electricity line, Israeli and Palestinian officials said. Qatar had no immediate comment. Al-Emadi has previously spoken of Doha’s willingness to take part in the project, whose cost he put at around $60 million. The new line – known as Line 161 – would provide 100 megawatts to Gaza, which currently gets a total of 120 megawatts from Israel, short of the 500 megawatts to 600 megawatts that Palestinians say the blockaded enclave needs. Beside averting some of Gaza’s chronic blackouts, an improved electricity supply would also help power sewage pumps and prevent water contamination plaguing 2 million Palestinians. “It will make a difference,” said a Palestinian official. “Maybe we will not have electricity 24/7, but people may begin to feel there isn’t a power crisis anymore.”…
Israel lays fourth water pipeline to Gaza, the largest yet
Times of Israel 17 June — New pipe could up the amount of water Israel sends into the enclave, if its poorly maintained infrastructure can handle it — Israel’s national water company Mekorot has begun work on an upgraded pipeline to Gaza that will increase the flow of drinkable water into the blockaded enclave. The new pipeline will enter Gaza at its center, crossing over from the Eshkol Regional Council in Israel to connect to the Strip’s water system, the Ynet news site reported Monday. There are three pipelines currently carrying freshwater from Israel into Gaza at three sites along the border. In agreements with the Palestinians, Israel committed to transferring 10 million cubic meters (2.6 billion gallons) of water each year to Gaza, but in practice transfers a bit more, roughly 11.5 million cubic meters (3 billion gallons). The new pipeline will be the largest yet, and will run alongside one of the old pipes and work in tandem with it.
Israel to build new sewage pipeline to divert waste from Gaza
Ynet 19 June by Matan Tzuri — For two years, the residents of Sderot and the rest of the Negev have been dealing with a grim environmental hazard: waste water from Gaza flowing into the region; the solution – a new underground sewage pipeline costing NIS 15 million – will trap the waste water and prevent contamination — …On Tuesday, the Regional Committee for Planning and Building for the Western Negev gave final approval to the laying of a sewage pipeline that will divert waste coming from Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun in the north of the Gaza Strip. The pipeline will carry the waste directly to the Sderot sewage treatment plant. The difficult humanitarian situation in the Strip led to the collapse of the Gazan sewage treatment plant. Since then, Palestinians have been pouring the waste from the communities directly into Israeli territory via Hanoun River, next to Erez Border Crossing … The 12-inch pipe will run 15 kilometers, and cost more than NIS 15 million. The cost of the pipe will likely be deducted from the monies transferred by Israel to the Palestinian Authority. Work on the pipeline will be started in the coming days….
With funds from Japan, UNDP supports harnessing of solar power to treat wastewater in Gaza
GAZA, Tuesday, 18 June 2019 (WAFA) – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Japan, in partnership with the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture, Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority (PENRA) and the Costal Municipalities Water Utility inaugurated the Photo Voltaic Solar System for the Rafah Wastewater Treatment and Reuse Plants project. The project, worth $500,000, will provide more than 170,000 Palestinians, including farmers, in Gaza with improved access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. This will be done through the provision of 200 KWp of sustainable electricity supply that will allow the Rafah Wastewater Treatment and Reuse plants to treat the wastewater for irrigation and pump the treated water into farming areas … According to the United Nations “Gaza in 2020: A liveable Place?” report, some 90,000 CM of raw or partially treated sewage is being discharged daily into the Mediterranean Sea (almost 33 MCM per year). This is causing pollution and creating public health hazards.
World Health Organization brings solar energy to health sector in Gaza
RAMALLAH, Thursday, June 20, 2019 (WAFA) – The World Health Organization (WHO) and implementing partners inaugurated the newly installed solar power plant at Nasser hospital in the Gaza Strip. Funded by the Government of Japan, the solar plant as a source of alternative energy will reduce the reliance of the hospital on donated fuel for emergency generators and contribute to build resilience of critical departments providing life-saving interventions. Annually, the 250 KWp solar plant, providing 420 MWh of clean energy, is expected to save around 166,000 litres of fuel and reduce CO2 emissions by 185 tons. It will also improve the availability of essential health services for an estimated 19,000 people per month….
Gaza farmers grow lettuce without soil
[with photos] MEMO 19 June by Mohammed Asad — Azzam Abu Daqqa and his sister Safia both graduated with engineering degrees in Gaza. Finding a lack of job opportunities the siblings decided to use their skills to build a greenhouse and grow lettuce. The pair use the hydroponics method of agriculture which sees plants growing in mineral nutrient solutions in water with no soil. This, they say, reduces the use of fertilisers and chemicals and ensures less agricultural land is needed to provide the necessary yield. In the besieged Gaza Strip, where the water desalination plant has been badly affected by the fuel shortage, this new technique of agriculture also allows the pair to use less water than would be necessary in traditional farming methods. While the weather conditions in Gaza are now suitable for the growth of lettuce, the siblings are looking to introduce systems in which they can cultivate fruits and leaf crops for the local market, making this the first such project in the Gaza Strip.
Video: The Sand sculptor of Gaza
EI 19 June — Rana Ramlawi is a sand sculptor in Gaza City. She started carving surface drawings on sand and later developed her talent to create large sculptures that take days to complete. “I sculpt ideas,” Ramlawi told The Electronic Intifada. “Like the Palestinian issue and the issue of Palestinian tradition.” “I don’t make decorative sculptures,” she added. Ramlawi dreams of participating in international tournaments where she can represent Palestine. Video by Mohammed Asad.
From spying to lobbying, Israel’s fight against BDS intensifies
Al Jazeera 20 June by Linah Alsaafin — Israel uses a number of diplomatic and security tactics to counter the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement — Recent revelations confirming the involvement of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad in efforts to actively disrupt the growing movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel did not come as a surprise to pro-Palestine activists …
Counter-BDS measures — Akiva Eldar, a senior columnist for Al-Monitor, said Mossad’s involvement in the anti-BDS efforts was not limited to within Israel. “What we know is that there are tens of millions of dollars allocated for this project,” he told Al Jazeera. “The Mossad are in contact with the American secret service – the CIA – and European [intelligence] agencies and are trading information.” Eldar said that the Israeli diplomatic and security apparatus was involved in the operation. “The Israeli embassies, as part of their public diplomacy work, are now focusing on collecting information [about BDS activists and activities] and filing reports and complaints to foreign governments,” he said. “In the United States, BDS has been at the top of the agenda for Jewish organisations like AIPAC, which is cooperating with Israeli embassies, including military attaches,” added Eldar, referring to the powerful lobby group.
Waxman agreed, saying that in addition to funding domestic and foreign NGOs in the fight against BDS, another tactic used by Israel was the lobbying of foreign governments and international organisations in cracking down on the movement. “Diplomatically, it has promoted a definition of anti-Semitism that has often been used to define the BDS movement as inherently anti-Semitic because it is anti-Zionist,” he said … Last month, Germany became the first European Union country to vote on a motion labelling the BDS movement as anti-Semitic….
Anti-Palestinian activists guilty of harassment
EI 19 June by Asa Winstanley — Two infamous anti-Palestinian activists in London pleaded guilty to charges of harassment and threatening behavior on Wednesday. Jonathan Hoffman, a former leader in the Zionist Federation, and Damon Lenszner changed their earlier not-guilty pleas in exchange for government prosecutors dropping related assault charges. The incident took place in October last year when the pair attacked Palestine solidarity protesters calling for the boycott of a Puma store in Carnaby Street, central London. Hendon Magistrates’ Court, in Northwest London, imposed a fine and costs totaling $350 on Hoffman, and about $300 costs and charges on Lenszner, whose lawyer said he was unemployed. The court also imposed an eight-week community sentence of a curfew on Lenszner, meaning he must stay at his Hendon home between the hours of 9pm and 6am. The order is to be enforced with an electronic ankle tag. In addition, the court imposed an “indefinite” restraining order on the pair, barring them from any contact with three activists from the Palestine solidarity group InMinds. Hoffman and Lenszner are barred from coming within 10 meters of the three and face a potential maximum prison term of five years should they violate the order….
Palestinians call for international day of action against Puma
Al Jazeera 15 June — Activist groups in more than 20 countries have joined an international day of action against the German sports brand Puma, urging it to cancel a deal with Israel’s football association. The groups on Saturday heeded the call of more than 200 Palestinian football clubs and sports organisations to boycott Puma until it withdraws its sponsorship from the Israel Football Association (IFA). Israel’s football governing body includes six teams based in Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are illegal under international law. “When companies like Puma sponsor and profit from illegal settlements, they give a nod to Israel’s far-right regime that its criminal land grabs and attacks on Palestinian sports can continue unabated,” a statement by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) said….
Palestinian refugees / UNRWA
Jordan to head UNRWA
IMEMC/Agencies 19 June — Turkey has handed over the chairmanship of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to Jordan, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday. “The Chairmanship of the Advisory Commission will be assumed by Jordan as of July 1, 2019,” the ministry said in a statement, Days of Palestine reports. It said that the final meeting of the commission, under Turkey’s chairmanship, took place over June 17-18, in Jordan. Turkey provided strong support and vital services to Palestinian refugees, including mobilizing political and financial assistance from the international community, it added. “Turkey’s solidarity with UNRWA will continue in the coming period,” it noted.
UN agency for Palestinians appeals to donors for $1.2 billion
UNITED NATIONS, New York (Agencies and ToI staff) 22 June — The head of the controversial UN agency for Palestinian refugees and their descendants said Friday he hopes donors will be as generous this year as they were last year after the United States cut all funding for the $1.2 billion program for some 5 million Palestinians. Pierre Krahenbuhl said at a news conference that 42 countries and institutions increased their funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency last year. He called that “unprecedented,” adding that it was also “very remarkable” that every single pledge in 2018 was honored. He praised the strong mobilization of funds for UNRWA from Europe, the Gulf countries, Asia, the Americas and beyond, adding that “we’re very inspired by that result.” Krahenbuhl said the agency is pursuing the same appeal for $1.2 billion this year and hopes donors will pledge that amount at a conference Tuesday at UN headquarters.
Palestinian refugees constitute almost half of the Palestinians in the world, says statistics bureau
RAMALLAH, Thursday, June 20, 2019 (WAFA) – UNRWA records indicated that the number of registered Palestinian refugees in 2018 amounted up to about 6 million and those figures represented the minimum number of Palestinian refugees, where they constitute almost half of the Palestinians in the world (about 13 million), said the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) on the occasion of the International Day of Refugees. PCBS said Palestinian refugees in the West Bank who are registered with UNRWA as in 2018 accounted up to 17% of the total refugees registered with UNRWA against 25% in Gaza Strip. At the level of the Arab countries, the percentage of Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in Jordan, amounted up to about 39% of the total Palestinian refugees while the percentage of Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in Lebanon and Syria reached about 9% and 11% respectively.
Palestinian finances on brink of ruin: Reuters
Al Jazeera 18 June — Palestinian finances are on the brink of ruin after the suspension of hundreds of millions of dollars of United States aid, the governor of the Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) said on Tuesday. The mounting financial pressures on the Palestinians’ self-ruling entity have sent its debt soaring to $3bn and led to a severe contraction in its estimated $13bn economy for the first time in years, PMA head Azzam Shawwa told Reuters news agency. “We are now going through a critical point,” Shawwa said with respect to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA), which exercises limited self-government in the occupied West Bank. “What’s next, we don’t know. How we are going to pay salaries next month? How are we going to finance our obligations? How will daily life continue without liquidity in the hands of people?” asked the head of the PMA, which is the Palestinians’ equivalent of a central bank. “I don’t know where we are heading. This uncertainty makes it difficult to plan for tomorrow,” Shawwa said during a visit to neighbouring Jordan … Worsening the PA’s plight, Shawwa said, is the fact that Arab countries had failed to honour their donor pledges, providing just $40mn a month, which barely dented the PA’s financing gap. Half of that sum came from Saudi Arabia. The PA has had to increase borrowing from 14 banks to weather the crisis, Shawwa said. Around a third of the $8.5bn in bank loans and facilities is owed by the PA, and the remainder by the private sector. “Without that (borrowing) there would have been a financial collapse. I have worries for the first time over financial stability,” Shawwa said. The once-flourishing West Bank economy, which saw 3.3 percent average growth in recent years, has now gone into the red, Shawwa said….
Shin Bet chief met with Abbas over PA tax money held by Israel — report
Times of Israel 15 June — Nadav Argaman reportedly tried to convince Palestinian Authority head to accept funds collected by Jerusalem, amid fears of a financial collapse in the West Bank — The head of the Shin Bet security service, Nadav Argaman, met recently with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in an attempt to persuade him to agree to accept tax money collected by Israel on the PA’s behalf, according to a Saturday report by Channel 12 news. Abbas has refused to accept the funds because Israel was withholding money to match the sums the PA pays to the families of terrorists. It wasn’t immediately clear exactly when the meeting took place. The Shin Bet refused to comment on the report….
In rebuff to Trump, Palestinian businesses call for freedom, not cash
RAMALLAH (Reuters) 20 June — Palestinian businessmen boycotting the Trump administration’s Bahrain workshop designed to encourage investment in the territories say only a diplomatic path to statehood can end decades of conflict with Israel. The United States has billed the June 25-26 gathering in the Gulf kingdom as an economic overture to its long-delayed Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, widely referred to as President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” … “Our case is political, 100 percent. It’s not economic,” said Palestinian tech company executive Murad Tahboub. Tahboub, managing director of ASAL Technologies, echoes arguments made by other members of the Palestinian business community in the West Bank and Gaza – territory Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East War and where Palestinians want to build a future state. “How (can you) build an economy if you don’t have sovereignty? If you don’t have access to natural resources, like water, like electricity, like borders?” Tahboub says his company’s growth has lagged due to Israeli restrictions. “I have 350 engineers because I don’t have a state, right now. If I was in Romania or Ukraine, it’d be 3,500.”….
Top Trump envoy backs Friedman on West Bank annexation
MEMO 17 June — US Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt has stood behind comments made by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, in which the latter stated Israel has “the right” to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. Speaking yesterday at a conference held by Israel’s English language daily the Jerusalem Post in New York, Greenblatt said: “I will let David’s comments stand for themselves. I think he said them elegantly and I support his comments.” Greenblatt was referring to an interview with Friedman in the New York Times last weekend, in which the ambassador claimed that, “under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank”. Friedman was understood to be referring to Israel’s illegal settlement blocs, several of which extend deep into the occupied West Bank and which Israel seeks to formally annex under any future peace settlement. Though the US has since stressed there has been “no change” to its West Bank policy, Friedman’s comments have been seen as evidence of the current administration’s willingness to support Israel’s ambitions.
Annexation: How Israel already controls more than half of West Bank
MEE 18 June by Jonathan Cook — Annexation would only formalise a situation in which almost two-thirds of Palestinian territory is controlled by Israel and settlers live as Israeli citizens — A state of de facto annexation already exists on the ground in most of the occupied West Bank. Almost two-thirds of the Palestinian territory, including most of its most fertile and resource-rich land, is under full Israeli control. About 400,000 Jewish settlers living there enjoy the full rights and privileges of Israeli citizens. At least 60 pieces of legislation were drafted by right-wing members of the Knesset during the last parliament to move Israel from a state of de facto to de jure annexation, according to a database by Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group. Yesh Din points out that the very fact that some of these bills have passed as laws constitutes a form of annexation: “The Israel Knesset [now] regards itself as the legislative authority in the West Bank and the sovereign there.” … Support in Israel for annexation is growing, with 42 percent backing one of several variants in a recent poll, as opposed to 34 percent who were behind a two-state solution. Only 28 percent of Israelis explicitly rejected annexation. Behind the scenes, debates about formally annexing the Palestinian territories have been rife in Israel since it occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza in 1967….
Palestinian official sacked after Israeli settlers attend son’s wedding
The National (UAE) 16 June — The political party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has expelled a mayor after Israeli settlers were filmed dancing at the wedding of his son. Radi Nasser lost his membership of the Fatah Party and was removed from his job at the Education Ministry of the Palestinian Authority, the body that has limited self rule in the occupied West Bank. He was the council chief of the West Bank village of Deir Kadis, which is located near the Palestinian city of Ramallah and six miles northeast of the Israeli settlement of Modiin. Video footage posted on social media showed four settlers dancing at a wedding and getting on the shoulders of those in attendance. The footage prompted outrage on Palestinian social media, with some accusing the official and his son of treason. The uproar promptly spread to Palestinian diplomatic circles. Fatah spokesperson Osama Qawassmeh said that the participation of “terrorist settlers in Palestinian social events is a cowardly, condemnable, despicable and reprehensible act”. The Fatah leadership expressed its opposition to any form of normalisation with Israel and the damage that such acts have on Palestinian national customs. Most Palestinians are vehemently anti-settler because of the network of illegal settlements built across the West Bank that are the core of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land. Settlers have also been responsible for murders of Palestinians, attacks against Palestinian farmland and other crimes under the protection of Israeli soldiers, according to rights groups.
London to host world’s largest exhibition on Palestine
RAMALLAH, Friday, June 14, 2019 (WAFA) – This year, London will once again host the world’s biggest exhibition on Palestine, bringing together culture, history, entertainment and exhibitions. Organized by UK-based charity Friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA), Palestine Expo aims to bring awareness to the Palestinian cause during the two-day event which is to be held on July 6-7 in the iconic Olympia Exhibition Centre. Fifty renowned speakers, authors, scholars, campaigners and political figures are expected to take part in the event along with chefs, artists, comedians and spoken work performers….
First Palestinian museum in Washington, DC opens
WASHINGTON, DC (Al Jazeera) 15 June by Samira Sadeque — The first Palestinian museum in Washington, DC, is set to open on Saturday, exhibiting artwork and historical and cultural documentation of Palestine through contributions from Palestinians around the world. The Museum of the Palestinian People (MPP), with the motto “Many Stories, One Heart ” features two sections. The temporary exhibit currently holds work from five artists with the theme “Reimagining a Future”. The permanent exhibition, curated by Nada Odeh, depicts the history and culture of the Palestinian people through four segments: “A Remarkable People”, “Nakba and the Diaspora”, “Occupation” and “A Resilient People”. Saturday’s opening comes a little more than a year after the first Palestinian museum in the United States opened its doors in Woodbridge, Connecticut….
North Carolina universities to be probed over ‘anti-Israel’ Gaza conference
JTA/TOI 20 June — Objections include ‘hate speech’ during satirical performance by Arab Israeli rapper, and ‘minimizing of Hamas’s role in perpetuating the crisis’ — The US Department of Education will investigate a Middle East conference on Gaza co-sponsored by two North Carolina universities over allegations that it was biased against Israel. Rep. George Holding (Republican, North Carolina), called on the department to check into the late March conference co-sponsored by Duke University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill held at the latter campus. Holding said he had seen “reports of severe anti-Israeli bias and anti-Semitic rhetoric at the taxpayer-funded conference,” The Raleigh News & Observer reported. The universities budgeted $5,000 in Education Department funding from a four-year grant paying $235,000 annually for international and foreign language education programming. UNC told the newspaper on Tuesday that it spent less than $200 of the grant money….