West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian detainee dies in solitary confinement in Nitzan Israeli prison
IMEMC 16 July — The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) reported, Tuesday, that a Palestinian detainee from Beit Fajjar town, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, has died in solitary confinement in Nitzan Israeli Prison. The PPS said the detainee, Nasser Majed Taqatqa, 31, was taken prisoner by Israeli soldiers on June 19 2019, and has been under interrogation since then. This was his first arrest by the army. It also denied allegations by the Israel Prison Authority about his death and confirmed that the Palestinian did not have any preexisting health conditions. The PPS held Israel fully responsible for his death, especially while under interrogation, as Palestinian detainees are frequently physically and psychologically tortured, in addition to the very bad living conditions they face, and the lack of medical treatment. The PPS stated that the death of Taqatqa brings the number of detainees who were killed or died in Israeli prisons since 1967 to 220. The International Red Cross sent its condolences to the family and stated that although it does not take part in investigation committees or autopsy, it will be following the case closely with the Israeli authorities and the family. It added that it is following the detainee’s death with great concern and advised refraining from publishing sensitive information for the privacy of the family.
In a statement, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) called for an immediate and impartial investigation into Taqatqa’s death while in solitary confinement in Nitzan (al-Ramla) Prison. It quoted his family stating that the detainee did not have any health issues and was a completely healthy young man when he was taken prisoner….
Report: ‘Taqatqa died due to abuse, lack of medical treatment’
IMEMC 18 July — Updated: The Palestinian Detainees Committee has confirmed that the autopsy results in the death of Nassar Taqatqa, 31, from Beit Fajjar town, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, revealed that he died due to abuse by Israeli interrogators and soldiers, and added that he suffered severe pneumonia without treatment. The Committee held Israel fully responsible for his death, especially by failing and refusing to send him to a hospital when his skin started showing signs of disease, and his body became very weak. It added that Taqatqa was left alone in his prison cell, suffering from pneumonia, and from exhaustion due to constant interrogation. The Committee also said that the corpse of the detainee showed signs of torture, with clear marks on his skin, especially from metal cuffs and shackles on his arms and legs….
VIDEO: From the house of the martyr Nassar Taqatqa, who was martyred this morning in an Israeli jail
BETHLEHEM (PNN) 16 July — Through tears, the mother of martyr Nassar Taqatqa expressed her devastation at the loss of her son who died in solitary confinement in an Israeli prison. In an interview [Arabic] with the correspondent of the Palestine News Network (PNN) at her home in the town of Beit Fajjar, southwest of Bethlehem, she spoke about the martyrdom of her son who died at dawn today. Taqatqa’s mother said that she was waiting for her son’s body to be returned to her, his sisters and the rest of his family. She added that she wished she could take the place of her son so that she died instead of Nasser.
Seven-year-old Palestinian child killed by Israeli settler in hit-and-run
IMEMC 16 July — A Palestinian child who was riding his bicycle near his village in the southern part of the West Bank was hit by an unknown Israeli settler and killed on Monday. Tariq Zebania, 7 years old, was from Tarqumia, west of Hebron, and was riding his bicycle by the settlement road near his town. He was struck by a car driven by an Israeli settler who headed into the ‘Adhoura’ settlement after hitting the boy. Eyewitnesses called the Israeli security forces, who sent a military ambulance to transport the child to an Israeli hospital, where he was pronounced dead from his injuries. Local sources report that no efforts were made by the Israeli authorities to apprehend the driver who killed the boy.
Contrary to military statement: ‘Abd a-Rahman a-Shteiwi, 9, was shot in the head with live ammunition
Open-Fire Policy 19 July — B’Tselem investigation published today proves a soldier fired live ammunition, hitting ‘Abd a-Rahman a-Shteiwi, 9, in the head. A-Shteiwi was injured last week while playing in the entrance to a home in Kafr Qadum during the weekly demonstration in the village. Now hospitalized in critical condition, he is the latest victim of the reckless open-fire policy that allows soldiers to use live fire even when neither they nor anyone else is in any danger.
At about 1:30 PM on Friday, 12 July 2019, the regular weekly demonstration against the closure of the main access road from Kafr Qadum to the regional capital Nablus took place. During the demonstration, a few dozen youths threw stones at a number of soldiers deployed along the ridge on the outskirts of the village, several dozen meters from the demonstrators. The soldiers fired rubber coated metal bullets at the protestors, but, in a departure from previous practice in Kadum protests, this time, they also fired a large number of live rounds in the air. At a distance of about 200 meters from the main protest, about ten protestors threw stones at four soldiers who were a few dozen meters away from them, on another hill on the same ridge. About 100 meters away from this group, further down the road, a resident of Kafr Qadum was sitting under an olive tree with his two 10-year-old children. Opposite them, about 10 meters away, ‘Abd a-Rahman a-Shteiwi, 9, was sitting at the entrance of one of the homes on the edge of the village playing with a piece of wood. At about 2:20 PM, as the main demonstration, some 200 meters away from ‘Abd a-Rahman a-Shteiwi, began to disperse, a soldier fired a live bullet. It hit the boy’s head and he immediately fell to the ground … In its statements to the media, the military denied that soldiers used live fire, and even rejected any responsibility for the incident….
Israeli colonist rams Palestinian with car, flees the scene
IMEMC 18 July — An Israeli colonialist settler rammed, on Wednesday evening, a young Palestinian man from the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, causing fractures and bruises, and fled the scene. The Maan Palestinian News Agency said the young man, identified as Adnan Samer Mojahed, 19, suffered various fractures, in addition to cuts and bruises to several parts of his body. It added that the young man was driving to his work when his car broke down in Abu Ghosh Street, and when he stepped out to try to fix it, a speeding Israeli colonialist settler rammed him with his car and fled the scene. The Palestinian was rushed to Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem.
Israeli army wounds 40 Palestinian protesters
MEMO 19 July — Israeli army forces on Friday used rubber bullets and teargas shells to disperse Palestinian protesters in the occupied West Bank, injuring at least 40 protesters, a Palestinian official said, Anadolu Agency has reported. “The Israeli army attacked the weekly march [in the Kafr Qaddum town], using rubber bullets and teargas shells,” Murad Shtewi, a protest organiser, told Anadolu Agency. Shtewi said the injured persons are being treated in the field. The Friday weekly protest has witnessed the participation of Palestinian leaders from the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), he added.
Soldiers invade Beit Ummar
IMEMC/Agencies 14 July — Palestinian residents of the southern West Bank town of Beit Ummar confronted Israeli soldiers who stormed into the town, today, according to a local activist. Mohammad Awad told WAFA that, after the soldiers invaded several neighborhoods in the town, residents pelted them with stones. The soldiers fired back with a heavy barrage of teargas and rubber-coated metal bullets, causing several suffocation cases which were treated on the location. Awad said the protests took place in a part of the town close to the illegal Israeli settlement of Karmi Tsur, built on expropriated Beit Ummar land.
Prominent anti-occupation activist assaulted in Tel Aviv
+972 mag 8 July by Oren Ziv — A prominent left-wing activist was physically assaulted by two unknown assailants as he left work in Tel Aviv on Sunday. The attackers reportedly yelled “leftist asshole” as they beat him before one of them pulled out a knife and lightly wounded him in the face and arms. Jonathan Pollak, who has long been active in the anti-occupation movement in Israel and the West Bank, was attacked as he left the Haaretz building in south Tel Aviv where he works as a graphic designer … “I won’t file a complaint with the police because I will be arrested, but I wouldn’t have filed one anyway,” Pollak said. “I refuse to go to court because my Palestinian friends and I are put on trial in different legal systems, and I refuse to use the police services which are responsive to me as opposed to Palestinians who never get a response.”….
Daily life under occupation: military denies ambulance access to Palestinian neighborhood in Hebron
HEBRON (B’Tselem) 15 July — A week after soldiers, Border Police officers and settlers harassed the Abu Shamsiyeh family, on 16 June 2019, ‘Imad Abu Shamsiyeh suffered a sunstroke. At around 3:00 A.M., after his fever went up dramatically, Fayzeh Abu Shamsiyeh called for an ambulance to take her husband to hospital. In a testimony she gave B’Tselem that day, Fayzeh Abu Shamsiyeh, 45, a married mother of five, described what happened next: When I called for the ambulance, it was exactly 3:00 A.M.. I waited and waited, but the ambulance didn’t come. In the meantime, I put cold compresses on my husband to bring down the fever. I was very worried. I thought about going out to the street, but there were a lot of soldiers there, and I was afraid. In the end, I called the call center again, and the operator told me they were trying to get to us, but the army was holding up the ambulance near a-Sahala Square (Gross Square), near Tel Rumeidah …
In a testimony he gave on 27 June 2019, Samer Zahdeh, 33, married and father of four, a security official in the Old City, said: The ambulance got to the checkpoint at around 4:00 A.M.. Sami, the paramedic, and I took the gurney out and asked the soldiers to let us cross on foot to get the patient. They were hesitant at first, but after a short argument, they let us through. We pushed the gurney up the street to ‘Imad Abu Shamsiyeh’s house. By the time we got there, it was about 4:15 A.M. ‘Imad had a very high fever, and he was hallucinating. We transferred him from the bed to a chair, carried him out on the chair, and put him on the gurney. His wife and son, Saleh, came with us. Walking back to the checkpoint on the steep slope wasn’t easy. We proceeded very carefully. Sami was holding the gurney at the top, and I was holding it at the bottom. We kept worrying it would slip out of our hands and roll down the street. We took the gurney through the narrow gate and put it in the ambulance. Radwan, the ambulance driver, was waiting for us there. ‘Imad Abu Shamsiyeh was taken to ‘Aliya Hospital in Hebron, where he received treatment to bring his fever down and released at around 5:30 A.M…..
Israeli forces arrest 13 Palestinians in West Bank
Prensa Latina 17 July — Israeli forces arrested on Wednesday at least 13 Palestinians, including a minor, from various parts of the occupied West Bank, several local sources reported here. The Ramallah authorities confirmed that the military arrested two former prisoners from the city of Beitunia, and a third in the Rantis village. Sources added that Israeli troops conducted a raid that led to clashes in the al-Jalazoun refugee camp north of Ramallah, resulting on the arrest of a resident.
In Jerusalem, media reported that a large police force raided the Shu‘fat refugee camp, where a Palestinian minor was arrested and four houses were looted. The clashes at the site were violent; Israeli police fired rubber-coated steel bullets at residents, as well as gas cans and stun grenades at youths who tried to block their entrance; but no injuries were reported.
In the Bethlehem district of the southern West Bank, Palestinian security personnel confirmed that Israeli military appeared in the ‘Aida refugee camp, where they arrested two residents after looting their homes.
In the northern West Bank, Israeli troops arrested a Palestinian after entering and searching his parents’ home in the town of Qalqiliya; while in the Jenin district, occupying forces detained two Palestinians from the village of Umm al-Tut. Other raids were confirmed in the city of Ya‘abad and in the villages of Faqqua, Deir Abu Daif and Jalaboun, also in Jenin district; however, no arrests were reported.
Two Palestinian women, one a mother of two, arrested in West Bank
BETHLEHEM/HEBRON (WAFA) 15 July – Israeli forces detained today two Palestinian women in Bethlehem district and Hebron in the south of the occupied West Bank, said local sources. Army units detained Shorouq Mohammad al-Badan, 25, after raiding and searching her parents’ home in the town of Tuqu‘, southeast of Bethlehem. Badan is married and a mother of two. No immediate reason was given for her detention. In Hebron, soldiers detained Rawan Abu Sneineh, 17, as she passed a military checkpoint near the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba and took her to an undisclosed location, said the sources. She was claimed to had a knife in her possession.
Arab Israeli convicted over fatal stabbing of rabbi in West Bank
Times of Israel 11 July — The Lod District Court on Wednesday convicted Abed al-Karim Assi, an Arab Israeli man, for the murder of Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal at the Ariel Junction in the West Bank last year. On February 5, 2018, Assi, who was 19 at the time, stabbed Ben-Gal, 29, at a bus stop outside Ariel. Assi then fled the scene, leading security forces on a month-long manhunt that ended with his arrest in the Palestinian city of Nablus. Attorney Haim Bleicher, from the right-wing Honenu legal aid organization representing the Ben-Gal family, said he will ask for the maximum possible sentence….
Israel fights to reinstate Palestinian poet’s conviction
+972 mag 18 July by Oren Ziv — Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour sat in prison for a poem she published on Facebook. After an Israeli court ruled that the poem does not constitute incitement to violence, the prosecution is now appealing the partial reversal of her conviction — The prosecution submitted a formal request two weeks ago to appeal the decision, which was handed down by the Nazareth District Court in May, to the Supreme Court. The District Court accepted in May that the poem in question, “Resist My People, Resist Them,” published on Tatour’s personal Facebook page, did not constitute incitement despite the discomfort it might cause the public, while also recognizing her as a poet. Meanwhile, the court let stand her conviction over two other social media posts, which included support for Islamic Jihad, a proscribed group. Following the prosecution’s submission, Tatour launched an online petition asking the general public for support in the next stage of her legal battle … “I was surprised they submitted an appeal,” said Tatour. “I think it is a question of principle for them: they don’t want a Palestinian woman to ‘defeat’ the state. They want to scare people, so they are returning to the courts.”….
Israel accuses Hamas of building explosives lab in West Bank
Al-Monitor 16 July by Adnan Abu Amer — The Shin Bet revealed July 3 that it had arrested 35-year-old Fadi Abu al-Sabeh in the Israeli city of Tayibe in May. The intelligence service said Abu al-Sabeh entered Israeli territory under the pretext of receiving medical treatment, but that the Palestinian explosives expert trained by Hamas’ armed wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades was sent to set up an explosives lab in Israel. The news comes amid a wave of arrests in the West Bank. On July 8, the Israeli army arrested 32 Palestinians, including Hamas leaders and members as well as former prisoners, in Qalqilya, Bethlehem and Jenin. On April 28, Israel announced that it foiled a bombing operation that a Hamas cell had planned in the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim near Jerusalem following the Israeli elections on April 9, noting that the cell had received instructions from Hamas in Gaza….
Israeli Arab shot by soldiers at West Bank checkpoint; official says wounded in family dispute
[behind paywall] Haaretz 16 July by Yotam Berger & Ido Efrati — An Israeli Arab man was shot by Israeli soldiers at a military checkpoint in the West Bank on Monday, but an Israeli official claimed the soldiers only aimed at his car and that his moderate wounds are the result of “a family dispute.” Israeli troops initially said they opened fire because they suspected 35-year-old Faris Azzam tried to run them over. However, he was not arrested and told Haaretz he was wrongfully shot after not hearing a soldier telling him to stop. The military first said it was investigating the incident, which took place near the West Bank city of Tul Karm. On Tuesday the army stated that it “was not classified as a terrorist incident,” which was also why Azzam was not detained. Azzam, a citizen of Israel from Taybeh, was driving to visit his father when the shooting occurred at a temporary checkpoint, which was erected the day before. “I arrived at the checkpoint. I was listening to music. The air-conditioner was on. The car windows were closed,” Azzam said from his hospital bed in Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva. “I think [a soldier] called at me to stop. I didn’t notice. I braked. I took a bullet. Then I floored it. They gave me everything, [they shot at] the car, the wheels, everything. I drove for a kilometer, something like that. Then I called for an ambulance.”….
Photos: The artist who preserves landscapes and portraits in sand on the West Bank in pictures
The National 18 July by Emma Day — It’s a painstaking process, where every coloured grain must be poured into the glass in the right order to capture an accurate likeness. The practice of sand art is something craftsman Mohammed Al-Awawda has spent years fine-tuning from his workshop in Hebron, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The artist creates everything from landscapes to patterns to even portraits, which can be commissioned by customers. Scroll through the gallery above to see more from Al-Awawda’s shop.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israeli demolition order on Jerusalem outskirts stokes Palestinian fears
SUR BAHER, West Bank (Reuters) 18 July by Rami Ayyub & Ali Sawafta – Israeli plans to demolish Palestinian homes near a military barrier on the outskirts of Jerusalem have drawn international criticism, amid Palestinian fears that a precedent would be set for other buildings along the barrier route. The deadline for residents of Sur Baher to remove the buildings expired on Friday after Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in June that the structures in question violated a construction ban. Sur Baher is a Palestinian community that lies southeast of Jerusalem’s city centre in an area that Israel captured and occupied in the 1967 Middle East War. A sprawling village, it straddles the line between East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Its political geography is further complicated because parts of Sur Baher lie inside the West Bank – but on the Israeli side of the barrier. Israel says it built the barrier to stop Palestinian militant attacks; Palestinians call it a land grab designed to annex parts of the West Bank. As the deadline’s expiry approached, Sur Baher residents expressed dismay, some saying that they would be left homeless. “I don’t have any other place to live. I don’t have an alternative,” said Ismail Obeideh, a father of six. He said he had spent 1.2 million shekels ($338.8 million) building the family house that is now under threat. Obeideh and other Sur Baher residents told Reuters they did not need Israel’s permission to build their homes because they had received it from the Palestinian Authority, which since the Oslo interim peace deals of the 1990s exercises limited self-rule over parts of the West Bank. “Everyone here is panicking – they put all of their savings into buying an apartment or building a house,” said Idris Abu Tair, 62. The pending demolition is the latest round of protracted wrangling over the future of Jerusalem, home to more than 500,000 Israelis and 300,000 Palestinians, and sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity….
Can Israel’s courts deliver justice for Palestinians?
Al Jazeera 17 July by Ben White — Critics question merit of engaging with Supreme Court after it allows demolition of buildings under Palestinian control — The demolition of Palestinian-owned buildings by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem is a routine occurrence. But in Sur Baher, a neighbourhood southeast of Jerusalem, an unprecedented mass demolition is looming – with the approval of Israel‘s top court. Ten inhabited and under-construction buildings, containing dozens of apartments, are marked for destruction, after falling foul of a 2011 Israeli military order prohibiting construction within a 100-300-metre buffer zone of the separation wall. While most of Sur Baher lies within Israel’s unilaterally-annexed East Jerusalem municipal boundary, part of the community’s land lies in the West Bank – land that has nevertheless ended up on the “Israeli” side of the internationally-condemned wall that has been deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice. Last month, Israel’s Supreme Court gave the green light for the demolition in Sur Baher – even though the buildings in question were built on land designated under the civilian control of the Palestinian Authority (PA), from whom construction permits were duly obtained.
‘Record speaks volumes’ — The Supreme Court’s decision sits awkwardly with its international reputation as a defender of human rights … But Hagai El-Ad, executive director of human-rights NGO B’Tselem, told Al Jazeera that in order “to form a meaningful view regarding the Supreme Court, one needs to examine its record. “And that record speaks volumes, demonstrating unequivocally how the court routinely rejects petitions filed by Palestinians – while providing a stamp of legal approval to systematic human-rights violations, including forcible transfer, collective punishment, blanket impunity to Israeli security forces and torture”, he added….
UN officials call on Israel to halt Sur Baher demolitions
IMEMC/Agencies 19 July — UN officials, on Wednesday, called on Israel to halt plans for mass demolitions in the neighborhood of Sur Baher, East Jerusalem. This came in a statement by Jamie McGoldrick (Humanitarian Coordinator), Gwyn Lewis (Director of West Bank Operations for UNRWA), and James Heenan (Head of OHCHR in the occupied Palestinian territory), according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). “We are following very closely developments in the Sur Baher area of the Jerusalem governorate. Seventeen Palestinians, including nine Palestine refugees, face the risk of displacement, and over 350 others risk massive property loss, due to the Israeli authorities’ intention to demolish 10 buildings, including around 70 apartments, due to their proximity to the West Bank barrier. One month ago, following the exhaustion of almost all domestic legal remedies, Israeli forces sent the residents, a “Notice of Intent to Demolish” which will expire tomorrow, 18 July,” the UN officials said in their statement. “Demolitions and forced evictions are some of the multiple pressures generating a risk of forcible transfer for many Palestinians in the West Bank. Residents of East Jerusalem and adjacent areas have been particularly affected, with a significant rise in demolitions there in 2019….
Israeli deputy minister demands halt to Palestinian ‘takeover’ of West Bank land
MEMO 17 July — Israel’s deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) toured the southern occupied West Bank Tuesday, attacking what she described as a “takeover” by Palestinians. According to a report by right-wing news outlet Arutz Sheva, Hotovely’s visit was organised by right-wing activist group Regavim, which campaigns against Palestinian construction. “It’s important to stop the illegal construction and agricultural takeover by the Palestinians, which is taking place in areas under Israeli control”, said Hotovely, in a reference to Palestinian communities living in ‘Area C’ – roughly 60 percent – of the occupied West Bank. Palestinians living in Area C must seek building permits from Israeli occupation authorities, permits that are routinely denied. “We must break the [former Prime Minister Salam] Fayyad plan to establish a Palestinian state by setting facts on the ground and stop Palestinian expansion before it’s too late”, Hotovely added. Regavim recently carried out a PR stunt in the West Bank, hanging Palestinian flags at various intersections used by settlers. According to the group, the goal was to warn settlers about ‘illegal’ construction by Palestinians in Area C, which, the right-wing activists believe, could lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Irrigation pool demolished by Israeli forces in southern West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 17 July — Israeli forces, on Tuesday, demolished a pool used for irrigation in Wad al-Ghroos, an area close to the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba, to the east of the occupied southern West Bank city of Hebron, reported WAFA correspondence. A large unit of Israeli forces, accompanied by bulldozers and other heavy machinery, raided the area and demolished a 4,500 cubic meter pool owned by local resident Ziad Jaabari, and used for the irrigation of fields and crops in the area, under the pretext that it was built in Area C of the occupied West Bank, which is under full Israeli military rule. He added that Israeli forces verbally insulted and physically attacked residents, journalists and activists while they were at the scene. Jaabari said the pool was used to collect rain water in order to use it during the summer season, to irrigate their farms, expressing fear that without the pool and the water, many crops, particularly, tomatoes and cucumber, may be ruined. Several houses in the same area have been given notices of demolition by Israeli soldiers, and for the same reason, which is construction without a the impossible-to-get permit in Area C.
Army demolishes four stores in Silwan, abducts one child
IMEMC 17 July — Israeli soldiers invaded, Wednesday, Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, and demolished four stores owned by a Palestinian, identified as Mohammad al-Abbassi, and abducted one child. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) said dozens of soldiers, including undercover officers, and the police, invaded Abu Tayeh neighborhood, in Ein al-Louza area, in Silwan, after surrounding and isolating it. Silwanic added that the soldiers then demolished the four stores, under the pretext of being built without permits. The soldiers also assaulted many Palestinians before, during and after the demolitions. It is worth mentioning that al-Abbassi was only informed of the demolition orders a day ago and started removing their contents with the help of his family.
Israeli army suspends seizure of Palestinian land to expand West Bank checkpoint
[behind paywall] Haaretz 15 July by Yotam Berger — The Israeli army has suspended a plan to seize 29 dunams (about 7 acres) of land owned by individual Palestinians near the Gilboa crossing point on the northern border of the West Bank after the owners of the land challenged the move in the High Court of Justice. The army announced on Thursday that it is looking at other alternatives, and while it examines the options, it will not carry out a seizure order issue on the land in question in October. The army, which said its decision to look at other options is unrelated to the High Court petition, had intended to use the land to accommodate trucks loaded with rock from quarries and other construction material from the West Bank in the vicinity of the checkpoint. The checkpoint, which lies between the West Bank city of Jenin and the northern Israeli city of Afula, is currently inadequate to accommodate the trucks passing through it. The Palestinian owners said a representative of the army toured the land with them and told them he didn’t understand their opposition, since the initiative to expand the crossing point originated with businessmen on both the Israeli and Palestinian side of the border….
97 Palestinians, among them paramedics and journalists, wounded in Gaza-border clashes with Israeli army
Haaretz 19 July by Jack Khoury — Ninety-seven Palestinians were wounded during altercations with the Israeli military along the border between Israel and Gaza, the Strip’s Health Ministry reported Friday. Forty-nine of those wounded were hit by live fire. Among the wounded are four paramedics and two journalists. Last week, 55 Palestinians were wounded in clashes along the border fence; 33 of the protesters were hit by live fire….
PMH: Gaza facing unprecedented shortage of medical supplies
GAZA (PNN) 18 July — The Palestinian Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip said that it was facing an “unprecedented” shortage of essential medicines and medical supplies, on Tuesday. “The medical crisis in hospitals and health centers is the most difficult during the years of the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip,” a statement from the ministry read. The ministry’s annual requirement of medicines and medical supplies amounts to $40 million but only $10 million was available for medicines and medical supplies in the last 6 months, PNN further reports. The statement noted that the shortage deprived 50 per cent of patients in the Gaza Strip from treatment. It called on all parties to take urgent and effective measures to provide essential medicines for patients with cancer, blood diseases, kidney failure, neurological and psychological illnesses, as well as chronic diseases….
VIDEO: Gazans deprived of seaside recreation by pollution
GAZA (WAFA) 15 July by Zakaria al-Madhoun – Hassan Qassem’s family failed to find a safe and clean swimming area along the shore of Gaza City to swim in because of the pollution of the sea with sewage. The seashore is the only natural relief for the two million people living in the Gaza Strip in light of the continuing electricity crisis and the 13-year-long Israeli siege. Despite encouraging reports of a drop in the rate of pollution in the sea after increasing the hours of electricity supply, this, however, has not been achieved and the problem persists. Qassem, 39, from Sheikh Radwan, east of Gaza City, brought his seven-member family, mostly children, to the Sudaniyeh seashore but where shocked to see that the color of the water was dark brown and it smelled bad. “The children insisted that we go to the sea for the summer vacation and due to the heat and power outages,” he said. “But the disaster was the pollution of the sea and therefore I prevented my children from swimming for fear for their safety and health,” Qassem told WAFA. The problem of the sea pollution with sewage is mainly due to the continuation of the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip since 2006, and thus the municipalities pump thousands of liters of untreated sewage into the Mediterranean Sea. Some people do not care that the sea is polluted with sewage and they go for a swim along with their children because they cannot afford to rent private cabins placed along the shore. The beaches of Gaza are crowded with thousands of vacationers every day to escape the heat of the summer and the long hours of interruption of electricity from their homes. Health authorities warn of the transmission of bacteria, parasites and viruses to vacationers because of the pollution of the sea….
For a few Gazans, a trip to a chalet offers an alternative to the heavily polluted seaside
GAZA CITY (Arab News) 15 July by Hazem Balousha — During the summer, middle-class Palestinians in the Gaza Strip head for chalets [small villas] and swimming pools for a short break, rather that the seaside. The prospect of a trip to the beach is not so attractive when the waters are heavily polluted after years of raw, untreated sewage being pumped into the sea. Demand for the chalets has been growing since that start of the siege that was imposed on the Gaza Strip in 2007, and has increased particularly sharply in the past few years as a result of the total pollution of more than 60 percent of the waters along the coast and the partial pollution of the rest, extending to about 40 kilometers offshore … Ibrahim Abu Dibaa work worked as a beach lifeguard for several years and loved it, but gave it up five years ago over fears of disease from the pollution. Unofficial estimates suggest that hospitals in the Gaza Strip treat dozens of people daily, children in particular, for intestinal infections and skin diseases caused by swimming in contaminated sea water. Dibaa said he takes his family on a one-day chalet vacation so his children can play and swim safely. “I have a lot of memories with the sea, and when I see it like this I almost cry and I deeply grieve for the thousands of Gazans who have no alternative to the sea, despite the danger of swimming in it,” he said. … Salah Abu Hasira, the head of the Palestinian Authority for Restaurants and Tourist Services, said there are about 300 holiday chalets in the Gaza Strip, and competition is high during the summer season to attract people who want to avoid the pollution of the sea and the difficulties that come with trying to travel to other countries. He added that the chalets have become a common “respite” for those with the financial ability to rent them.
Hamas: ‘Our struggle is against the Israeli occupation, not the Jews’
IMEMC 15 July — The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, the ruling party in the besieged Gaza Strip, said in a statement following a speech by Fathi Hammad, a member of its political bureau, that the movement’s official stance is to struggle against the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine, and not the Jews. The official stance by Hamas came after Fathi Hammad gave a speech, on Friday July 12th, just before the Great Return March procession started, and called for “killing the Jews wherever they are.” In response, Hamas issued a statement clarifying its stance that the struggle is not against the Jews anywhere, and not against Judaism as a religion, but against the ongoing illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine. It added that the statements of Hammad are his own, as they do not represent the official stances and policies of the movement, and said that it had repeatedly condemned attacks against Jewish places of worship around the world. Hamas also said that the Great Return March processions are popular in nature and aim at breaking the deadly Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip, and added that the protests are held by the people, and various Palestinian national and political factions, and institutions. It also called on the Palestinians, participating in the ongoing processions, to only abide by the statements and positions of the Higher National Commission of the Great Return March, as these processions are nonviolent in nature, and aim at breaking the deadly Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip … In addition, Ahmad Yousef, a senior political leader of Hamas, said in a statement addressed to Hammad: “I understand your anger regarding the ongoing Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people; however, what you said about killing the Jews violates our religion, and its moral values,” and added that “such statements even violate the official stances of Hamas.” “I urge the political leadership of Hamas, and the head of its political bureau to clarify our official stance to the public,” he said, “Such statements will only lead to suffering.” It is worth mentioning that the statements of Hammad were also denounced by various Palestinian political factions, and senior political, social and religious figures, who affirmed the official stances of the resistance against the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine, and the ongoing struggle for liberation and independence….
Egypt rejects Haniyeh’s foreign tour due to previous visits to Iran, Turkey, and Qatar
The New Arab 11 July — Egypt has rejected a request by the leader of Hamas, the ruling party in the besieged Gasza strip, to undertake a foreign tour, according to media reports on Thursday. Ismail Haniyeh hoped to visit a number of countries that support the Palestinian cause, including Iran, Turkey and Qatar, but the request was blocked by Egypt, sources told The New Arab. “After waiting a long time to respond to Hamas’ request, which Hamas made on more than one visit to Cairo, the Egyptian side refused,” the source said. Cairo cited regional conditions and security as factors in its decision without clarifying, the source added … A visit by Abu Marzouk to Moscow was postponed more than once in hope that Egypt would allow Haniyeh to go, the Hamas source also added.
Israeli navy attacks Palestinian fishing boats in southern Gaza
IMEMC 13 July — Israeli navy ships attacked, on Saturday morning, Palestinian fishing boats in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, abducted two fishermen, and confiscated equipment. The Palestinian Fishermen Syndicate said in a statement that the attack took place less than six nautical miles from the Gaza shore. It identified the two abducted fishermen as Mohammad Wael Bardaweel, and his brother Ahmad. The two Palestinians, and the confiscated fishing gear and equipment, were later transferred to Ashdod Port. It is worth mentioning that, on Friday at night, the navy fired many live rounds at Palestinian fishing in Gaza territorial waters.
Israeli spraying of herbicide near Gaza harming Palestinian crops
[with video] The Guardian 19 July by Miriam Berger — Israeli aircraft spraying herbicide beside the buffer zone along the Gaza strip is directly affecting the livelihoods of Palestinians in violation of international standards, a new report claims. The study tracked the drift of the herbicides on to the Gazan side and concluded it was killing agricultural crops and causing “unpredictable and uncontrollable damage”, according to the report’s main researcher. The report also concluded the spray is reaching more than 300 metres (980ft) into Gaza. The work was undertaken by Forensic Architecture, a research agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London, which spent 16 months investigating the potential effects of the spraying … The Israeli Ministry of Defense told the Guardian the spraying is necessary for security reasons, is “conducted only over the territory of the State of Israel” and is supervised by certified professionals. “The defence establishment conducts weed control in which the material is sprayed from the air for operational purposes, among them removing potential cover for terror elements, which may threaten the citizens of the State of Israel, particularly the communities living adjacent to the Gaza border, as well as [Israel Defense Forces] troops,” the ministry said in a statement. Farmers living and working in these areas, however, have long claimed that their crops and livelihoods suffer as a result. Using a video taken by Gisha, a Tel Aviv-based freedom of movement NGO, Forensic Architecture reconstructed the drift of the herbicide from a plane with the help of a fluid dynamics expert … “What was so significant from the Forensic Architecture [report] was that they show that the main effect of the spraying is inside of Gaza,” said Muna Haddad, an advocate with Gisha…..
Why are thousands of Gazans fleeing Gaza and heading to Turkey?
The New Arab by Rami Almeghari — Feature: An increasing amount of Gazans are leaving the impoverished Strip and heading to Turkey to be illegally smuggled into Europe, with hopes of a better life there … According to a recent public opinion poll conducted by Gaza-based Al-Aqsa University with a random sample of 2,800 youngsters in the Gaza Strip, around 51 percent had expressed their wish to migrate, citing economic hardships and a lack of prospects for a better future. Unconfirmed reports also suggest that around 35,000 Palestinians from Gaza have migrated from Gaza over the past year and a half, however around 17,000 of them returned after failing to make it to Europe.
Israel to allow 6-year-old to move from Gaza to West Bank to reunite with his family
[behind paywall] Haaretz 16 July by Amira Hass — Israel will allow a six-year-old boy to leave the Gaza Strip and move to the West Bank where his family lives, after two and a half years of denying the request. On Monday, the Jerusalem District Attorney’s office informed the Gisha human rights organization, which represents Adam Hemo and his mother Kawthar – and which filed suit on their behalf, that their request had been approved. The family hoped that Adam could leave Gaza immediately, but the state stipulated the move on Adam’s mother and three of his older siblings (16-year-old sister and 13-year-old twin brothers) undergoing a security check. Jerusalem District Court judge David Gidoni gave the government one month to conduct the security check and submit its results. Kawther is originally from the village of Kafr Malik in the West Bank, east of Ramallah, but lived in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip for 15 years. In early 2017, Kawthar, who lives separately from her husband, asked to return to the West Bank with her five children from Gaza. As Haaretz reported in June, Israel allowed her and her four oldest children to leave Gaza for the West Bank in 2017, but did not allow Adam, who was three and a half year old at the time, to leave. The explanation was that Adam was listed in the Palestinian population registry as living in Rafah, while his mother and siblings were registered as living in Kafr Malik …. Adam’s case is one of many, as Israel does not allow Palestinians to move from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank or change their addresses to the West Bank, except in exceptional circumstances….
Court-sanctioned vengeance: HCJ upholds ban on family visits for Hamas prisoners from Gaza
B’Tselem 14 July — According to figures updated through April 2019, Israel is holding 303 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip in prison facilities with its sovereign territory. Two of them are minors. Israel makes it unbearably difficult for residents of Gaza to visit family members imprisoned within its territory. In defiance of international law, Israel completely prohibited such visits from 2007 to 2012. When prison visits were renewed in July 2012, the eligibility criteria were so strict that only parents and spouses were allowed to visit prisoners. Gradually, Israel began allowing children up to age 16 to visit incarcerated parents, as well.
Israel has banned family visits to Hamas prisoners from the Gaza Strip, numbering about 100, since 1 July 2017. The ban was instated following a government resolution to impose restrictions on Gaza residents, including downgrading prison conditions, in an alleged bid to put pressure on Hamas. The movement is illegally and immorally holding two Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham a-Sayed, and the remains of two Israeli soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, to be used as bargaining chips in negotiations for a prisoner exchange. Following the prison visit ban, in August 2017, four Hamas-affiliated prisoners from the Gaza Strip filed a petition with Israel’s High Court of Justice (HCJ). Nearly two years later, in June 2019, Justice Neal Hendel rejected the petition, with Justices Anat Baron and Yosef Elron concurring….
Israel and Hamas agree: Gaza to soon get new hospital
Al-Monitor 18 July by Shlomi Eldar — Surveying began this month for the erection of a 43,000-square-foot field hospital for Gaza Strip residents next to the Erez border crossing into Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had approved the preliminary work as part of understandings reached in Egyptian-mediated talks with Hamas. The hospital, like almost every other new project in Gaza, will be funded by the Qatari government. It will rely on the infrastructure, expertise, experience and resources of Friendship, an American NGO staffed by volunteers who provide humanitarian assistance to people in war zones and victims of natural disasters … The new facility will not replace Gaza City’s main hospital, Shifa, or the smaller hospitals in Rafah and Khan Yunis. Like most hospitals, it will have a maternity ward and pediatric and internal medicine departments, but most of its work will focus on diagnosing patients with hereditary conditions or life-threatening diseases … Israelis not interested in controlling the new hospital. Rather, it seeks to save and improve Gaza’s health care system. “Nonetheless,” the Israeli source said, “erecting a hospital on the Israel-Gaza border provides Israel with a ‘defensive shield.’….
Freedom flotilla to try to break Israeli siege again next year
IMEMC/Agencies 16 July — Chairman of the International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza, and a founding member of Freedom Flotilla Coalition, Zaher Birawi, has unveiled a new attempt, by the Freedom Flotilla, to break Gaza’s naval blockade. Birawi indicated, in press statements, that the new Freedom Flotilla might be carrying nominal relief items, considering that the core aim of the Flotilla is attempting to break Israel’s illegal blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip for more than 13 years in a row. Solidarity caravans which provide political and media support to Gaza and call for breaking the Gaza blockade are no longer allowed by Egyptian authorities; however, the authorities have maintained a bare minimum of the charitable and relief convoys that managed to enter the Gaza Strip a few times, during the recent years and months, Birawi said. Birawi pointed out that the Freedom Flotilla Coalition organized, during the current year, a number of anti-siege activities and projects which raise awareness and political pressure to break the blockade, and to expose its devastating impacts on the Palestinian people, particularly youth and children. The Chairman stressed, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, that the Freedom Flotilla Coalition is composed of a large number of civil society organizations which work in the field of political affairs, and focus on the Palestinian right to freedom of movement and the breaking of the siege.
Meet Jamil al-Baz, portraitist of the March of Return’s fallen
Mondoweiss 19 July by Ahmad Kabariti — “Posters of the world’s cinema heroes are pasted on the walls outside Gaza, but the martyrs of the March of Return have become the heroes of our real life cinema here in Gaza,” explains 16-year-old Jamil al-Baz, who has drawn the portraits of dozens of the protesters who has been killed in the 66 weeks of the protest in Gaza so far. His brother Muntaser, 18, was shot in the head during a protest near Bureij in central Gaza by an Israeli sniper, and died of his wounds in a hospital on October 23. His portrait is now in the young artist’s collection. “I think I have lost the second part of my life by losing him and he is now no more than an engraved picture here, and in my heart.” Jamil told Mondoweiss….
PHOTOS: Palestinian girl turns grape leaves into pieces of art
MEMO 20 July –Lin al-Hac, a 21-year-old Palestinian woman, colors grape leaves with oil colors, turning them into pieces of art, in Gaza City,on 16 July 2019 (Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency)
As Hamas shows restraint, security officials discuss allowing 5,000 Gazan workers into Israel
Ynet 16 July by Yoav Zitun — Secret negotiations between Israel and Hamas became known in recent days, as the Gaza Strip’s ruling terror group showed restraint after one of its men was killed by IDF soldiers on Thursday, later deemed by the IDF as a mistake in a near-apology. Hamas’ decision to launch two rockets into Israel, rather than firing a larger barrage or starting border-fence riots, is considered minor in comparison to earlier events. Changes in Israeli policy are also evident in modification to the IDF’s protocol for opening fire. Up until this year, every armed individual identified between 100-300 meters from the border fence with Israel was to be shot immediately, while now, orders have been changed to exclude “Hamas’ restraint forces” who can walk armed and undisturbed near the border-fence if they engage in dispersing Palestinians from the fence. In cases when such forces approach the fence, orders call for an arrest procedure rather than an order to fire. These newly established trust and coordination procedures are not likely to include direct communication between the two sides, as IDF and their the West Bank have during riots there. But they could be evidence for Hamas and Israel quietly working to maintain a long term arrangement.
Another meaningful step in this arrangement that is now being debated is allowing 5,000 Gazans, to work in agriculture and construction in Israeli Gaza border communities. Palestinians from the West Bank with work permits already work in construction in the city of Sderot, several kilometers from Gaza, while Gazan Palestinians have been barred from working in Israel since the 2005 detachment. “It’s cheaper than paying Thai workers,” said a security official who supports the move. “They won’t have to sleep inside Israel, and most importantly, they’ll have something to lose, they won’t go off and burn the field in which they work.” However, the Shin Bet is still reluctant to support such a move, despite COGAT and IDF support….
Data refutes claim Israel easing Gaza blockade
MEMO 19 July — Newly released data for June has provided a reality check to reported claims that Israeli authorities are easing restrictions on the occupied and blockaded Gaza Strip. According to Gisha, an Israeli NGO which monitors and campaigns on freedom of movement, there was a total of 15,471 exits of Palestinians via Erez Crossing, up from 12,361 in May. “The most significant increase was in the category of merchants,” Gisha noted. However, the NGO added, recent media reports that “the quota of trader, or merchant, permits has been increased to 5,000”, are “false”. “The quota was set at 5,000 permits following “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014 and has not changed since then. The quota has never been filled,” Gisha stated. Meanwhile, “the number of valid permits has also not increased” – though Gisha believed a report in Haaretz – that “increasing numbers of these ‘trader permits’ are actually held by day laborers from Gaza who enter Israel to work” – is likely correct. “This does not reflect an official change in policy,” Gisha stated. “The official ban on the entry of laborers from Gaza into Israel, in place since March 2006, remains in effect and it’s our understanding that laborers have been entering unofficially since late 2014 or 2015.” … Addressing reports about “developments on entrance and exit of goods”, Gisha pointed out that “Palestinian sources say they have not been notified of any changes to the ‘dual-use’ list.” “From what we can tell,” Gisha says, “no changes have been made to the list nor has an updated list been published.” “Recently, some steel cables and fertilizers were permitted to enter – but to a couple of select recipients – which does not mean that Israel has officially removed them from the list itself.”….
Hamas fishing for intelligence on WhatsApp messaging service
Ynet 14 July by Yoav Zitun — When Hamas approached a paratrooper, they attempted to convince him they were not a risk by showing him information in their possession that was of a sensitive nature but the soldier on the Israeli side of the Gaza border, did not agree to reveal anything and alerted his commanders — Hamas has been increasing its efforts to obtain intelligence from Israeli troops stationed around the Gaza Strip. Identifying themselves as Israelis, Hamas cyber operatives have been contacting the troops via the WhatsApp messaging service, sometime presenting information they have already managed to get on troop movements … Most of these attempts have not been successful primarily due to an awareness in the IDF and a high level of alert but one effort in the past month was successful causing concern among military leadership.
Minister: West Bank settlements not part of post-Brexit trade deal with Israel
Jewish News (UK) 12 July — The UK Government has confirmed that Israeli settlements in the West Bank will not be part of any future UK-Israel free trade deal after Britain leaves the European Union. Middle East Minister Andrew Murrison clarified the position in the House of Commons this week, in an answer to a question from Labour’s Lisa Nandy MP. He said: “We do not recognise the Occupied Palestinian Territories as part of Israel and therefore they are not covered by the EU-Israel Association Agreement which currently governs our trade with Israel, nor the UK-Israel Trade and Partnership Agreement, which will govern our trade after the UK leaves the EU.” He added that products from Israeli settlements “do not receive preferential tariff treatment under either Agreement”. Settlement products are not banned from entering the UK, and labelling their settlement origin is optional….
Palestinian refugees – Lebanon
Video: Lebanon’s Palestinian refugees protest against labour crackdown
18 July — Critics have claimed that Lebanon‘s crackdown on unlicensed labour is part of a campaign directed at Syrian refugees, to force them to return home. Palestinian refugees, however, have not been excluded from the Ministry of Labor’s efforts and Palestinians are protesting what they call the “discriminatory” laws against them. Palestinian refugees have repeatedly pointed out that they do not want to settle in Lebanon, but Israel has prevented them, for 70 years, from returning home and the laws intended to discourage them from staying, as well as the latest crackdown, are just forcing them to suffer. Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr reports.
Palestinians celebrate high school exam results
[with photos] MEMO 17 July by Mohammed Asad — Palestinians across the occupied territories have been celebrating after high school exam results released today showed 70 per cent of students passed this year. Results of the final year exams were released this morning by the Ministry of Education. Some 75,150 Palestinian students sat the Tawjihi exams, also known as General Secondary Education Certificate Examination, in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Jerusalem. Of them, 52,108 passed, the ministry revealed. Palestinians in Gaza were particularly jubilant as their grades reflect their ability to overcome adversity and the electricity shortages – as a result of Israel’s 12-year siege – to complete their studies and attain top grades. Students can now enroll in university for further education.
Gaza fireworks and shooting in air for high school end
GAZA (ANSAmed) 18 July — Despite strict warnings in recent days from the Hamas interior ministry, numerous inhabitants of Gaza celebrated Wednesday evening with fireworks and shooting in the air after the publication of the ‘Tawjihi’ high school leaving exam results. Local sources say that many family celebrations included fireworks, which in at least one case resulted in a home catching fire. Blasts of automatic weapons were heard in the morning in some streets of Gaza City, despite Hamas’s threat to arrest anyone found with firearms in their possession and to hand down a 1,000-shekel fine, about 250 euros. Two years ago, three people were killed accidentally in Gaza during the Tawjihi celebrations. There were no reports of casualties this year.
Army abducts fifteen Palestinians celebrating high school graduation in Jerusalem
IMEMC 18 July — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Thursday evening, fifteen young Palestinian men in occupied Jerusalem, who were celebrating their high-school graduation using fireworks, after illegal Israeli colonists complained that the Palestinians are “firing live rounds.” Palestinian sources said dozens of Palestinians, including the graduating students, were celebrating the graduations, and using fireworks. They added that illegal Israeli colonialist settlers, living on Palestinian lands in and around the area, complained to the army and the police, and alleged that the Palestinians were also firing rounds of live ammunition. The colonists also alleged that “some of the bullets reached their homes and cars and endangered their lives.” The Israeli army and the police then invaded many Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank, and abducted fifteen young men, in addition to initiating searches trying to abduct more of them.
50% of Palestinian university graduates still unemployed
MEMO 15 July — Half of Palestinian students who graduated from university in 2018 are still unemployed, a study issued by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) revealed yesterday. According to the study, the unemployment rate among graduates reached 50 per cent at the end of 2018, compared to a 31 per cent overall unemployment rate in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The survey, which was conducted by the PCBS, shows that about 40,000 people enter the labour market every year. In contrast, the Palestinian labour market cannot absorb more than 8,000 workers each year. This means that there is a large gap between the number of young people with a diploma or higher degree and the jobs offered by the local market annually. The study also showed a significant decline in the quality of university education. Targeted training to meet the needs of the labour market is also lacking, the report continued.
Disarming Design from Palestine is first design school for the West Bank
Dezeen 12 July by Augusta Pownall — Design collective Disarming Design from Palestine has set up a design school in the West Bank offering courses for Palestinian designers, and residencies for international students to learn about craft from the region. The recently established Disarming Design School is based in the historic Hosh Jalsa building in Birzeit in the West Bank … Its founders do not intend for Disarming Design School to be a traditional design academy, rather for it to be alternative space for the study of design and craft … This summer, Disarming Design will run two weeks of workshops for 15 Palestinian and 15 international students, and Palestinian artisans and collective….
Israeli facial recognition start-up secretly tracking Palestinians
+61J 19 July — Concerns raised over cameras deployed by the army inside the West Bank to spot and monitor potential Palestinian assailants — This Israeli face-recognition start-up is secretly tracking Palestinians (Haaretz) Anyvision is Israel’s most high-profile biometric recognition firm, particularly in facial recognition. Israeli business website TheMarker has learned that Anyvision is taking part in two special projects in assisting the Israeli army in the West Bank. One involves a system that it has installed at army checkpoints that thousands of Palestinians pass through each day on their way to work from the West Bank. The product lets the army quickly identify whether the person passing through has an Israeli work permit, thereby shortening the wait at the border. Anyvision’s second project is much more confidential and includes facial recognition technology elsewhere in the West Bank, not just at border crossings. Cameras deep inside the West Bank try to spot and monitor potential Palestinian assailants. By providing face-recognition software, Israeli high-tech is on the wrong side of justice (Haaretz) AMITAI ZIV: The state may use Anyvision technology to catch terrorists, of course, but the technology is part of a project trampling Palestinian rights and wouldn’t just pass without criticism in a law-abiding nation. There are no such systems in the streets of Tel Aviv, for example, and if there had been, there would have been a justifiable howl of protest. Nor would a system of the sort be thinkable inside Jewish settlement in said territory, even if it had security benefits.
Israeli firm spying on Palestinians says it only worls with ‘democratic countries’
RT 15 July — An Israeli facial recognition firm secretly tracking Palestinians in the West Bank says it only works with ‘democratic countries’, ironically dismissing Israel’s own human rights abuses against the Palestinians. Anyvision Interactive Technologies is a company with Microsoft funding, a former head of the Defense Ministry’s security department as its president, and a former Mossad head as his adviser. Its facial recognition software is used by the Israeli Army at checkpoints in the West Bank, allowing soldiers to check whether Palestinians have work permits for Israel. It also has a more secretive project with the army that installs its software in cameras inside the West Bank to surveil Palestinians. Anyvision addressed concerns about facial recognition software by saying it “only works with democracies,” and doesn’t “operate in China” or “sell in Africa or Russia,” with CEO Eylon Etshtein explaining, “We only sell systems to democratic countries with proper governments,” Haaretz reports. Anyvision’s dismissal of countries like China and Russia is at odds with the fact that its software is secretly being used by the Israeli military to spy on Palestinians in the West Bank, which is under Israeli occupation and subject to Israeli checkpoints and surveillance, despite being Palestinian territory….
ARIJ: $270 million loss to Palestinians due to military checkpoints in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (PNN) 15 July — A study conducted by the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ) shows that Palestinians are losing 60 million hours a year due to restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation on movement of citizens between the cities and villages of the occupied West Bank. According to the study, the cost of the loss is estimated at 270 million dollars per year, as well as the consumption of 80 million liters of additional fuel per year which costs up to 135 million dollars. Israeli occupation forces have erected 92 permanent checkpoints and dozens of daily flying checkpoints that close down entire streets in the occupied West Bank. The study revealed that cars driving at very low speeds for long periods of time (between 1 and 10 km per hour) used between 0.035 and 0.049 liters of fuel per minute. As well as costing civilians millions of extra dollars, this also leads to an increase in carbon dioxide emissions by 196 thousand tons per year. The study monitored the movement of citizens through 15 major Israeli military checkpoints between the cities of the West Bank as well as 11 crossing points that control the passage of citizens to Jerusalem and Israeli territories. The study relied on the use of GPS technology to monitor and document movement at military checkpoints….
Shin Bet arrests network that transfers money from Gaza to West Bank
TEL AVIV (Asharq al-Awsat) 19 July — The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) has announced arresting a group of Palestinians who have established a network to transfer money from Hamas in Gaza to Ramallah and Qalqilya for the sake of funding acts against the Israeli army and settlers. In its statement, the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu office (in charge of Shin Bet) revealed that the network was operated by a civilian travel and passport-issuing agency named “Al-Haramain,” owned by the Hani brothers and Firas Blbiesi, along with a money exchanger named Mohammad Swesi, all of whom operated from the Gaza Strip.
Further, a number of recipients were arrested in the West Bank, especially in Ramallah and Qalqilya. According to the statement, the individuals of the network conducted big deceit that was covered by forged money transfers. Three suspected operatives of the Hamas-run cell in the West Bank were arrested: Ibrahim Muzaffar and his brother Khaled from the village of Al-Nubani near Ariel, and Mohammad Abu Salim from Rantis. Mazari and Abu Salim were both formerly incarcerated in Israeli prisons. The office added that large amounts of money transferred through this method was used for armed activity against the army and the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and for funding the salaries of Hamas operatives.
As Israel tightens entry rules, foreign profs at Palestinian universities forced out
[behind paywall] Haaretz 13 July by Amira Hass — Short-term tourist visas and refusals to extend them are routine obstacles, but the West Bank’s Birzeit University is now fighting back — Among the many problems at Birzeit University in the West Bank, foreign lecturers’ troubles haven’t received top priority. But as Mudar Kassis, an associate professor in philosophy, puts it, “suddenly I looked around and discovered that my colleagues were being deported.” He found that their visas aren’t extended and they’re required to leave before the end of the academic year, or they’re not allowed to return for the next year. Some decide not to abandon their students in the middle of the year and are left without a valid visa. In fact they’re imprisoned in the Ramallah enclave. They don’t leave for fear that a soldier at a checkpoint will check their passport will order their deportation … Each lecturer and accompanying lawyer – in many cases Lea Tsemel – was alone in conducting the battle for the right to teach at the university he or she chose, as if the problem were an individual one and didn’t stem from Israel’s policy. Now Birzeit University has decided to deal with the infringement on its academic freedom of choice as an institution. With the help of rights groups Al-Haq and Adalah, it’s demanding that the Israeli authorities respect this freedom and stop piling difficulties on the employment of foreign lecturers at Palestinian universities….
Netanyahu worried that Trump may connect Gaza and the West Bank
JOL 17 July — US President Trump has often been on the record saying that he wants to take a different path than his predecessors for resolving the decades-long Israel-Palestinian crisis. Although the political component of the Trump Plan has not yet been released to the general public, some aspects have been leaking out, including the intention to link the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. Reportedly, before the Bahrain summit, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was briefed in general aspects about the political aspect of the plan. The PM then spoke with two senior US officials and expressed his reservations about building a bridge between the two Palestinian territories. He explained that such a passage would be a high-risk move that would be used for terrorist purposes. Netanyahu is interested in keeping separate the territory controlled by Hamas and that controlled in part by the Palestinian Authority while the United States consider these two territories as a single entity. According to the Middle East Monitor, the US will meet out severe repercussions if either the Palestinian Authority, Hamas or Israel don’t accept the peace deal. The report says that if the Palestinian Authority refuses the deal, the US will not only pull back their financial support to them but will also pressure other countries to do the same. If Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signs the deal but not Hamas than the US will fully back Israel in a war on the Gaza Strip. If Israel refuses the deal, the US would cut off any financial support to the Jewish State.
Palestinians denounce Trump tweets against local hero
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 15 July by Mohammed Daraghmeh — Palestinians on Monday denounced President Donald Trump‘s attack on U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, accusing him of racism and saying it once again proves his bias against the Palestinian people. Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat and daughter of Palestinian immigrants, was one of four congresswomen of color who were targeted in a Trump Twitter barrage over the weekend. Trump said the women should go back to the “broken and crime infested” places they came from, ignoring the fact that all are American citizens and three, including Tlaib, were born in the U.S. Trump also accused them of saying “terrible things” about the U.S. and said they “hate Israel.” Although Tlaib has never lived in the West Bank, she still has relatives in the area and is widely seen as a local hero for making her way to the highest levels of American government. Bassam Tlaib, an uncle of the congresswoman who lives in the West Bank, called the president’s comments “a racist statement meant to target Rashida because she has Palestinian roots.” “This statement proves that Trump is anti-Palestinian, anti-Islam and completely biased toward Israel,” he added. He said “the main source of crime” in the West Bank is Israel’s half-century-long occupation….