Report: Israeli warplanes strike Palestinian base in Lebanon
BEIRUT (AP) 26 Aug — Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency says Israeli warplanes have attacked a Palestinian base in the country’s east, near the border with Syria. The report says there were three strikes early on Monday, minutes apart, that struck a base for a Syrian-backed group known as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — General Command. There was no immediate comment from Israel on the strike, which the agency said hit near the Lebanese village of Qusaya in the eastern Bekaa Valley. The strike comes amid heightened regional tensions and a day after one alleged Israeli drone crashed in a Hezbollah stronghold in southern Beirut while another exploded and crashed nearby. Airstrikes by Israel against Palestinian factions in Lebanon, such as this one, have been rare in the past years.
Israel agrees to withhold less Palestinian tax money
Al Jazeera 22 Aug — Accord allows Palestinian Authority to collect fuel tax directly, but only partially resolves its financial crisis — The Palestinian Authority (PA) says it has reached an agreement with Israel to restore some of the tax funds that Israel withheld in recent months. Under Thursday’s agreement, the PA says Israel will stop collecting about $60m in monthly fuel taxes on behalf of the PA and instead permit the PA to collect the funds directly. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh says the additional revenue will ease a financial crisis and let him increase civil servants’ partial salary payments. The 160,000 PA employees will receive 60 percent of their August salaries, in addition to what they are still owed from February, according to the official Wafa news agency. Earlier this year, Israel began withholding some of the $200m in monthly tax transfers that the Palestinians give to families of people killed or imprisoned during conflicts with Israel. The funds withheld are approximately five percent of the total collected on behalf of the PA, but the Palestinians in protest refused to accept any tax revenues from Israel. Israel says the payments encourage violence, while the Palestinians argue they assist distressed families.
PLO calls on UN to accelerate UNRWA corruption probe
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Aug — Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Saeb Erekat, today, called upon the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, to accelerate the ongoing investigation into suspicions of corruption within the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In the meantime, Erekat sent identical letters to the foreign ministers of the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland in which he expressed his regret of these countries’ decisions to halt aid to the UNRWA based on unconfirmed reports of corruption in the UN agency. He called for not politicizing humanitarian assistance to the UNRWA, which he said would drag the region into further tension and instability. “Half a million Palestinian children who depend on your regular contributions cannot suspend their classes until the results of the investigation,” Erekat said in the letters….
Palestinian president fires advisers, orders return of bonuses
Al Jazeera 19 Aug — Moves believed to be part of efforts to cut costs and recuperate funds after Israel stopped delivering tax revenues — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has sacked all of his advisers and ordered a former prime minister and other past cabinet ministers to return tens of thousands of dollars from a pay rise he secretly approved two years ago. The decisions, announced in official statements on Monday, came as part of efforts to cut costs and recuperate funds after Israel stopped delivering tax revenues earlier this year, Palestinian officials were quoted as saying by The Associated Press (AP) news agency. Abbas’s office did not provide further details on the number of advisers or the costs involved, pointing only to a brief statement issued through the official Palestinian news agency WAFA. The cash-strapped Palestinian Authority (PA), which governs parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, has long faced charges of corruption and mismanagement. Abbas, 83, has cycled through dozens of advisers over the years, with many continuing to receive salaries and benefits after leaving office. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the officials told AP that Abbas would reinstate some advisers in the coming days….
Palestinians foil attempt by US embassy to convene a meeting for youth in Ramallah
RAMALLAH, Monday, August 19, 2019, (WAFA) – Palestinians foiled an attempt by the US embassy in Israel to hold a meeting for Palestinian youth in the West Bank city of Ramallah after the hotel where the meeting was supposed to take place has informed the embassy that it cannot host it, today said Issam Baker, coordinator of the National Forces in Ramallah. The National Forces, a coalition of political factions in the occupied territories, and Fatah movement came out strong against holding the meeting sponsored by the US-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) planned for Wednesday, urging invitees to boycott it … The Palestinians are boycotting all US-sponsored activity after the US recognized Jerusalem as capital of Israel and moved its embassy to the city, closed the Palestinian representative office in Washington, stopped funding Jerusalem hospitals, cut off funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and cancelled the term occupied territories from the West Bank, among other anti-Palestinian steps.
PA slams US for removing Palestinians from list of countries
JPost 25 Aug by Khaled Abu Toameh — Palestinian officials on Sunday condemned the US State Department for deleting the Palestinian Authority from the list of countries on its website. Until recently, the State Department’s list of countries and areas included the “Palestinian Authority.” Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesperson for the PA presidency, said that the removal of any reference to the Palestinians from the list of countries is “consistent with the ideas of the Israeli extreme Right and an unprecedented descent in American foreign policy.” The US move, he said, “comes in the context of desperate attempts to wipe out the Palestinian cause and people.”… The PA spokesperson added that the US administration’s move “emphasizes its isolation in wake of international recognition of the Palestinian state.”
NGOs slam Palestinian police move to block LGBTQ group
JERUSALEM (AFP) 21 Aug — A move by Palestinian police to “stop all activities” of an LGBTQ association sparked criticism Wednesday from rights groups, which said it had led to threats. Police on Saturday announced the decision against the Al-Qaws Foundation, which campaigns for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Palestinians. The Foundation’s work was “a violation of the ideals and values of Palestinian society,” police said. The statement triggered a wave of hate messages which “pose a serious threat to the Palestinian LGBTQ community and to the Al-Qaws community,” the Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council said Wednesday. The social media messages included “incitement to violence reaching the level of incitement to killings” according to a statement from the Council, signed by 11 Palestinian NGOs. “The PHROC calls on the Palestinian Authority to provide protection to Palestinians without discrimination,” it said. Police subsequently rescinded their original statement, according to the Council. But legal rights group Al-Haq, one of the 11 NGO signatories, said that did not go far enough. A police spokesman told AFP on Tuesday that Al-Qaws had failed to comply with a legal requirement to notify the authorities in advance of a gathering. Last month Al-Qaws announced plans to hold a camp for “young men and women, aged 18 to 24”, with different sexual orientations. The event would explore various aspects of their sexuality and “their relationship with society”, according to the group which did not detail where or when it would take place. The association reported receiving numerous hate messages after the invitation was published, several of which were seen by AFP. Omar al-Khatib, a member of Al-Qaws, told AFP late Tuesday that the campaign against the group had intensified after the police threat. “The police bear a great responsibility if something happens to us,” he said. Al-Qaws is based in Haifa, Israel, and works in Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah, among others. Homosexuality is a taboo subject in Palestinian society, but is not illegal in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority is based. In the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, however, it is a crime which can be punished with up to 10 years in prison.
Over 1.3 million students begin new school year in Palestine
RAMALLAH, Sunday, August 25, 2019 (WAFA) – About 1,300,000 Palestinian students went to their schools today throughout the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip as the new school year begins. About 854,390 students will be studying in public schools and around 100,000 in schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). The rest of the students, estimated at 150,000, will be studying at private schools. Spokesman for the Ministry of Education, Sadeq Khdour, told WAFA that despite the current financial crisis affecting the Palestinian government, the ministry was able to appoint new 1,800 and 116 principals to make up for those who have retired from public service as well as to accommodate the growth in the number of students enrolled. He added that 24 schools were built this year while new sections were added to existing ones.
From checkpoint to counterpoint: on tour with the Palestine Youth Orchestra
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 22 Aug by Stephen Farrell, Nidal al-Mughrabi — Most international musicians would baulk at the notion of a two-day journey to final rehearsals past military checkpoints on alert for weapons smugglers – but for 19-year-old viola player Ibrahim Masri it’s an occupational hazard. He’s part of the Palestine Youth Orchestra, which has been touring Europe for three weeks and whose 76 members – crossing borders and religious divides – include Muslims, Druze and Christians. They say they cannot gather the full orchestra at home because Israeli restrictions make it too hard to bring together members from Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem and refugees abroad. “We can play but it is hard to travel,” said Ibrahim, who had to travel two days from Nablus in the West Bank through neighbouring Jordan to reach Oslo, where the tour convened. “When we go to (the West Bank’s) Birzeit or to Ramallah we pass through checkpoints. And especially when you have your musical instrument and get searched, you get asked ‘What is this, why is this with you?’” he told Reuters TV.
Pictures: On tour with the Palestine Youth Orchestra
Reuters 22 Aug by Eva Pleiver (23 photos)
Al-Quds University harvests 2nd place in 2019 Asian science competition hosted in China
CHINA, Sunday, August 25, 2019 (WAFA) – Al-Quds University harvested second place for the best research project on environment at the Asian Science Camp (ASC( that was held in Shantou, China, between July 28th and August 3rd, 2019, according to a university press statement. Selected by Al-Quds University (AQU) from several Palestinian schools, the participants from Palestine joined their international counterparts in the ASC’s 13th annual event to present unique solutions that address today’s environmental issues. Representatives from over 40 countries around the world participated in the camp in Shantou, along with five Nobel laureates in various natural sciences as lecturers at the camp and 10 other distinguished Asian scientists. Some 60 projects with feasible solutions for a range of issues that are deemed real dilemmas in the world, particularly in Asia, were submitted….
Battir, a West Bank village, holds annual eggplant festival despite loss of land to Israel’s barrier
BETHLEHEM, Saturday, August 17, 2019 (WAFA) – Battir, a Palestinian village six kilometers south of the southern West Bank biblical city of Bethlehem and on the UNESCO world heritage list since 2011 due to its terrace farming and 2500 years old Roman spring, bath and irrigation channels, opened today its annual eggplant festival attended by Palestinian officials, farmers and dozens of guests. This festival that will go on for two days is very important for the eggplant farmers in Battir, said the village’s mayor, Taysir Qattoush, at the opening ceremony. The municipality is doing all it can to help the farmers cultivate their land through the opening of roads to help them with the land reclamation process, he explained. Qattoush said that the festival came to shed light on the areas where the eggplant is grown, which are considered these days as hazardous areas because of their proximity to Israel’s military separation barrier that devours a large part of Battir land thus destroying the historic stone terraces that are more than 2,500 years old and which are planted with the famous Battir eggplant….
Israeli firms facilitating abuses of press worldwide
IMEMC/Agencies 25 Aug — The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has accused Israeli surveillance companies of paving the way for attacks on media freedom around the world, by easing rules governing the export of offensive cyber weapons, despite grave concerns by human rights and privacy groups that the technologies are used by some governments to spy on political foes and to crush dissent. PNN/Press TV reports that the New York-based committee, which seeks to promote press freedom and defends the rights of journalists, stated that Israeli officials had confirmed that, under a rule change by the ministry of military affairs a year ago, Israeli surveillance companies “are able to obtain exemptions on marketing license for the sale of some products to certain countries.” The CPJ stated that Israeli-exported technology undermined press freedom globally by allowing authorities to track reporters and potentially identify their sources. The group then highlighted that the Mexican government had deployed super-stealth Pegasus spyware, developed by Israeli cyberarms firm NSO Group, in order to infiltrate the mobile phones “of at least nine journalists.” “Over and over again, we see Israeli technology facilitating press freedom abuses around the world, by lending a hand to governments that want to track and monitor reporters,” CPJ Advocacy Director, Courtney Radsch, said in Washington, D.C….
Jordan summons Israeli envoy over Jerusalem ‘violations’
Al Jazeera 18 Aug — Jordan says Israel’s attempts to change the historic and legal status quo of Al-Aqsa Mosque site should stop — Jordan has summoned Israel’s ambassador in protest over “clear violations” at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the Arab country’s foreign ministry said. On Sunday, Jordan summoned envoy Amir Weissbrod to voice its “condemnation and rejection of Israeli violations” at the highly-sensitive site, where Israeli security forces fired tear gas, rubber bullets and sound grenades at Palestinian worshippers last week. Jordan, the only Arab country apart from Egypt to have a peace agreement with Israel, supervises Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem. It condemned the closure of the mosque’s gates and restrictions placed on worshippers’ entry under any circumstances. Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s foreign minister, tweeted that he met European Union representatives earlier on Sunday to “stress urgency of effective Int’l steps against Israeli’s violations of Holy Sites in occupied Jerusalem” … Jordan’s diplomatic protest came days after Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan reportedly told a radio station that Tel Aviv should work towards allowing Jews to pray at the holy site. But he added that the change should come through “political agreements and not by force,” according to the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz….
Group accuses FIFA of turning a blind eye to Israel’s disruption of Palestinians’ football match
GENEVA, Thursday, August 22, 2019 (WAFA) – The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor (Euro-Med) today accused the International Federation of Association Football’s (FIFA) of turning a blind eye to the Israeli authorities’ disruption of the final football match of the Palestine Cup for the second consecutive month, which was supposed to be held between two teams from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, expressing its deepest concern over this. The Israeli authorities prevented 30 individuals representing the Khadamat Rafah team from traveling from Gaza to the West Bank to play in the finals of the Palestine Cup against Balata Youth Center in Nablus. Euro-Med said in a statement that this is a clear violation of international law and contradicts FIFA’s principles, which assert the “right to play for everyone.” The human rights organization rejected the Israeli claim of security concerns behind the prevention, which it said “is merely a cover for its policy of collective punishment against the people of the Gaza Strip.”….
Shooting Jerusalem: A glimpse into life in a segregated city
Al Jazeera 18 Aug by Awad Jumaa — Filmmaker reflects on the making of his documentary and his bid to find out what it means to live in and identify with the city of Jerusalem — US President Donald Trump’s policies on Palestine have sharpened the existing divisions stemming from the world’s longest modern occupation. His controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 and the relocation of the US embassy there were met with protests … The film A Rock and A Hard Place was born out of that historical development back in 2017. I wanted to explore why so many people worldwide are so attached to the city of Jerusalem. More importantly, I wanted to find out what the people who live there have to say about the challenges facing their city. What does it mean to live in and identify with the city of Jerusalem? What I found was a deeply segregated city. There is one set of rules that applies to Jews and another that applies to Palestinians. Jerusalemites who have been living there for decades told me ancient Jerusalem as people know it is disappearing …
‘One human family’: Omar Harami and Mustafa Sway — In Jerusalem, I met Omar Harami, a Christian Palestinian with two children who works for the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre, a civil rights-based organisation working for a peaceful resolution to the occupation in Jerusalem. Harami’s passion, openness and frank opinions, as well as his deep commitment to peace in the city, caught our attention. He took us on a rather epic journey around Jerusalem to meet Israelis, Palestinians of all faiths, the UN special envoy to Jerusalem, as well as the South African ambassador. He introduced us to religious and non-religious folks, young and old, including former Israeli soldiers. One day, we filmed a conversation between Harami and Mustafa Sway, a professor of philosophy and Islamic studies at Al Quds University, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Sway had just come from Friday prayers in his traditional garments when Harami met him at one of the holiest churches for Christians worldwide. The tourists and pilgrims could not conceal their amazement and confusion when they spotted him. What was this man doing in a church? What they didn’t know is that Sway is a son of Jerusalem, that the church and its vicinity is where he played as a child. Today, he comes here in solidarity with his Christian Palestinian brethren who have been excluded from their own church, as Harami puts it….
US Rep. Tlaib condemns West Bank attack, urges nonviolent approaches to end to Israeli occupation
i24NEWS 24 Aug — The Palestinian-American congresswoman embroiled in recent controversy over Israel’s curtailing her entry (along with fellow Democratic House Representative Ilhan Omar) called Friday’s West Bank attack that killed an Israeli teenager “tragic and horrible”, instead advocating “nonviolent approaches to ending the Israeli occupation.” “This is absolutely tragic & horrible. My heart goes out to Rina’s family. More than ever we need to support nonviolent approaches to ending the Israeli occupation and guaranteeing equal rights for all. Extremism that puts innocent lives at risk moves us no closer to peace,” Tlaib wrote on Twitter….
West Bank / Jerusalem
Family of Palestinian boy wounded in head wants answers from Israel
RAMAT GAN, Israel (AFP) 23 Aug — The nine-year-old Palestinian boy lies in a hospital bed without speaking, his wounded head wrapped in bandages, and his father says he wants answers from Israel over how it happened. “He wasn’t in protests or anything. What was his fault? What is this young child’s guilt?” Yassir Shtewi told AFP at the Israeli hospital where his son Abdelrahman is being treated. It has been more than a month since the family and Palestinian officials say the boy was shot in the head by Israeli forces during clashes in his home village of Kufr Qaddum in the northern West Bank. His doctors say he hasn’t spoken since. The UN envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has joined the family’s call for a thorough investigation, while two people who said they witnessed it say he was not near the clashes when hit on July 12. An Israeli military official who agreed to speak about the incident on condition of anonymity said the army was investigating, but insisted no live fire was used that day and the boy was not targeted. He suggested he may have been hit by a stray rubber bullet, which Israeli soldiers fire regularly during clashes with Palestinians. “At no stage did any soldier aim at that specific boy and we understand that he appears to have been wounded by a rubber bullet,” the official said. Palestinian officials allege he was hit by live fire. His family fears he could suffer permanent brain damage and his father keeps watch over him next to his hospital bed. “Standing at the door of a house and you shoot him?” his father said … Around 300 metres from the main confrontations, a few Palestinians were throwing stones towards four soldiers on a hilltop, two people who said they witnessed it said. Abdelrahman Shtewi was watching from below, standing by a gate leading to a relative’s house, they said. Riyadh Shtewi said he was watching on a street with his two young sons 150 metres away from the youths and noticed Abdelrahman near him. Another witness, also called Abdel Rahman Shtewi, said the boy was eating grapes he had picked. He was wearing a black shirt and flip flops, CCTV footage said to have been taken shortly beforehand in the village’s main shop shows. The owner said he had bought a one shekel ($0.30) orange and pineapple ice cream. A little after 2 pm, Riyadh Shtewi said he noticed one soldier with a rifle turn towards him, so he ran with his children. “We were going down the hill and then I saw Abdelrahman was hit,” he told AFP at the site of the incident. “There was blood like a waterfall.” … Israeli rights organisation B’Tselem says its investigation concluded Abdelrahman was hit with live ammunition. The family believes that to be the case, though says doctors have not said definitively. A Palestinian doctor who first operated on the boy, before his transfer to Sheba, told AFP his finding was that a bullet entered the top of his forehead and fractured into dozens of pieces inside his head. The doctor, Othman Mohammed Othman, called the injury unique in his 17 years of work, but declined to speculate on the bullet type….
Death is only the beginning of suffering for family in Ezariyya
Ezariyya, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 23 Aug — “My son was killed 5 days ago…all I want is to bury him. But they are keeping his body, they will not give him to us.” Mokafih Abu Roumi spoke with ISM on Tuesday, August 20, about the death of his son, 14 year old Nassim Abu Roumi, and the harassment and collective punishment he and his family have received from Israeli authorities since. On Thursday, August 15th, Nassim Abu Roumi, 14, and Hammouda Khader Sheikh, 14, attempted a knife attack on Israeli police blocking one of the entrances to the Al-Aqsa Mosque (Dome of the Rock). After trying to stab an Israeli police officer, Nassim was repeatedly shot and died at the scene; Hammouda was shot multiple times before being taken in custody. His current condition is unknown. One Israeli police officer was treated for “light wounds”. Video footage of the attack shows Nassim was initially shot in the leg, after which Israeli officers continued firing at him. Mokafir believes that his son was executed, as he no longer posed a threat to the police, stating that “They [the police] could have stopped him without killing him. These soldiers (police) are very well trained, they had…years of experience, they could control a little boy. They wanted to kill him.”
Immediately after Nassim’s attack, his father was arrested and held in a cell for 2.5 hours, after which he was interrogated by Shin Bet agents. He was forced to watch the video of Israeli police repeatedly firing bullets into his son, whilst surrounded by Israeli Occupation Forces demanding that he identify Nassim. Mokafih describes Nassim as a “…friendly, honest child. He was popular at school and had many friends. He was in the 7th grade at [a branch of] the Al Aqsa school in Ezariyya, he had no social or psychological problems. He liked football and Internet.” He remembers his son being deeply angered by the brutality of the IOF towards Palestinian worshipers at the Al Aqsa Mosque on the first day of Eid, one of the most important Muslim festivals of the year. In particular, the images of women and children being violently assaulted deeply affected him. His father also maintains that his son acted alone, and the attack was not sanctioned or planned by any political party or movement.
On August 11th, the IOF used tear gas, rubber coated steel bullets and flash grenades to clear tens of thousands of Palestinian Muslims from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, to allow 1,300 Jews into the compound. 61 Palestinians were injured, 15 of which had to be hospitalized. 4 days later, at 4:00PM in the afternoon, Nassim left the house without telling anyone where he was going. Later that night, Mokafih received word that his son was dead. Israeli intelligence service Shin Bet continues to hold the body of Mokafih’s son. Mokafih’s requests for his son’s body have been repeatedly rejected on the grounds that the police investigation into the cause of death is still ongoing, even as footage of police shooting Nassim is widely shown in international media and online. Police are also demanding Mokafih agree to preconditions regarding the funeral before returning his son’s body….
Settler runs over 6-year-old girl in Bethlehem district
IMEMC/Agencies 23 Aug — An Israeli settler ran over a six-year-old Palestinian girl in the village of Jaba‘a to the southwest of Bethlehem, the southern occupied West Bank, said eyewitnesses. Eyewitnesses said a settler ran over Jana Abu Loha, age 6, as she was passing near the entrance connecting between the villages of Jaba‘a and Surif, which necessitated her transfer to a hospital, for medical treatment. The entrance was previously closed by the Israeli authorities by an iron gate, which forced the child, as is the case for other Palestinian residents there, to take an alternative road heavily used by vehicles, which puts their lives at risk of being run over. The girl’s medical condition remains unknown until the moment, WAFA reports.
Homemade bomb kills Israeli, wounds two others in West Bank
Jerusalem (AFP) 23 Aug by Michael Blum — A rare homemade bomb attack in the occupied West Bank killed an Israeli teen and seriously wounded her father and brother Friday as they visited a spring near a Jewish settlement, officials said. Israeli security forces deployed throughout the area where the attack took place near the settlement of Dolev, northwest of Ramallah, to search for suspects. Israeli medics had earlier reported that a 17-year-old had been critically wounded in the attack and officials later announced her death, naming her as Rina Shnerb from the central Israeli city of Lod. Medics from the Magen David Adom rescue service initially gave the ages of the two wounded as 46 and 20, before amending to 21 in the latter case. The army said the three victims were a father and his two children. The two wounded were taken by helicopter to hospital, the army said. “Three civilians who were in a nearby spring were injured in an IED (improvised explosive device) blast,” it said in a statement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “harsh terrorist attack” and sent condolences to the family, while pledging to continue building settlements … United Nations envoy Nickolay Mladenov condemned the “shocking, heinous” attack, saying there was nothing heroic in Shnerb’s “murder”, calling it a “despicable, cowardly act”. “Terror must be unequivocally condemned by ALL,” Mladenov wrote on Twitter. Israeli forces meanwhile entered the Palestinian village of Beitunia, south of the spring, to take footage from surveillance cameras. An AFP reporter said Palestinians clashed there with Israeli soldiers, but no casualties were reported.
Ten people arrested from Beit Kahel: the village targeted with violent night raids and demolition threats
BEIT KAHEL, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 25 Aug — As part of a targeted collective punishment towards the village of Beit Kahel following the death of an Israeli settler in Gush Etzion, ten individuals from the village have been arrested by Israeli Occupation Forces. Seven of the detainees are all part of the Asfara family, and include brothers Ikriah and Naseer Asfara (28 and 23 years old), their brother, their cousin Qassam Asfara (30 years old), his two brothers, and his wife Dnas Nabeel Asfara (27 years old). Qassam – who has a permit to work in Israel which requires a background check for security clearance – and Dnas have two very young children, of just 3 and 5 years old. The children have now been without their parents since they were arrested during preparations for Eid Al-Adha, on Saturday 10th August 2019.
The Israeli military have announced that Ikriah, a journalist, is not under suspicion in relation to the death, but they have not released him. Relatives of the detainees have heard nothing since the arrests, except that they have been taken to an Israeli prison north of Gaza. Their lawyers have been unable to have any dialogue with Israeli authorities about the individuals or the case; the only news that family members have had has come from Israeli media about the incident. The Asfara family are very concerned for the arrested individuals, as Israeli prisons are well known to employ torture methods in an attempt to coax ‘admissions’ from accused parties. All of these torture methods are made legal under the title of “Moderate physical pressure,” and include: solitary confinement in high temperatures; being forced to stay awake for days or weeks on end; starvation; and enduring incredibly loud sounds and music 24 hours a day.
Prior to the arrest, members of the Asfara family, and other residents of the village of Beit Kahel had been subject to daily harassment by the Israeli military, and when they came on the Saturday 10th before Eid Al-Adha at 2am, 30 soldiers broke into and terrorised two buildings they raided as they carried out the arrests. “We were sleeping peacefully in our homes, they (IOF) broke in and started beating everybody up. It was the Saturday before Eid at 2am while everyone was asleep … The brothers Naseer and Ikriah were sleeping on the roof of the other home raided, and they were woken up by security dogs. Israeli military broke in and raided both houses. “It was terrifying for the children sleeping inside,” said Mr. Asfara, “They and the women were screaming.”…
The IOF returned the next day on Sunday 11th, during Eid Al-Adha celebrations, at around the same time of 2am. Again, they entered the village with incredible violence, raided both homes, confiscated Qassam’s car, and horrified the residents. They searched both buildings for 2.5 hours before taking photographs and sketches of the properties, measuring them up for demolition, despite having no demolition order from the court …
As a further punitive measure, 9 members of the family have had their Israeli work permits blocked, so in addition to their being unable to earn a living, they are also unable to pass through checkpoints. Qassam’s 57 year old father Aref has also been returned from checkpoints, unable to pass through the country. This renders the entire Asfara family without their livelihood, trapped in Beit Kahel, soon to be made homeless….
Israeli army detains three youths from villages near Ramallah, seizes surveillance cameras
RAMALLAH, Saturday, August 24, 2019 (WAFA) – The Israeli army detained early this morning three Palestinian youths from villages near Ramallah and seized street surveillance cameras in these villages, according to local sources. They said soldiers raided homes in the village of Ein Arik, near Ramallah, and detained two youths after raiding and ransacking their homes. Soldiers also detained a third youth, a student at Birzeit University and a former prisoner from the village of Ein Qinya, also near Ramallah, after raiding his family home. The sources said the soldiers seized tapes from the street surveillance cameras installed by shop and homeowners in these villages. The arrests and seizure of the cameras are believed related to the Israeli army investigation into the explosion from yesterday near the village of Ein Arik that killed one Israeli settler and injured two others.
Israeli security summons 10-year-old Palestinian child for questioning
JERUSALEM, Wednesday, August 21, 2019 (WAFA) – The Israeli security services summoned 10-year-old Mohammad Najib, from Jerusalem’s Old City, for questioning, according to the child’s father Yasser Najib. He told WAFA that this is the fourth time Israeli intelligence summons his sons for questioning. The security services called Yasser today and ordered him to appear with his son, Mohammad, at the Jaffa Gate police station in Jerusalem on Sunday.
Eight Palestinians detained, including 13-year-old girl: Prisoner Society
RAMALLAH, Wednesday, August 21, 2019 (WAFA) – Israel detained last night and this morning eight Palestinians, including two women and a 13-year-old girl, said the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS). It said soldiers detained the 13-year-old girl from Qalqilia after she was stopped for inspection near a settlement and allegedly a knife was found in her possession. Israeli also detained Hiba Ahmad Labadi, from Jenin district in the north of the West Bank, upon arrival at Karama/Allenby/King Hussein Bridge crossing coming from Jordan. No reason was given for her detention. In addition, Israeli security detained four Palestinians from Shu‘fat refugee camp in occupied Jerusalem, including a young woman who was not identified. A 17-year-old boy was also detained from Bidya village in Salfit district in the north of the West Bank and another 20-year-old from al-Zawiyeh, also in Salfit district.
Israeli settlers invade Joseph’s Tomb, several Palestinians injured
IMEMC/Agencies 20 Aug — Several Palestinians were injured by Israeli gunfire overnight Monday, as hundreds of illegal Israeli settlers forced their way into Joseph’s Tomb near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, security sources told WAFA. Israeli forces escorted a convoy of buses packed with hundreds of extremist Jewish settlers into the site, located in the Palestinian Authority-controlled area, sparking confrontations with Palestinian residents. Soldiers opened fire on Palestinians protesting the raid and attempting to block settlers’ access to the site, injuring several protestors with rubber-coated steel bullets. At the time of writing, the number of injured is unknown. Soldiers also showered protesters with tear gas canisters….
21 Palestinians abducted by Israeli forces in pre-dawn raids on Monday
IMEMC 19 Aug — The Israeli military abducted 21 Palestinians from various parts of the West Bank on Monday, 15 of them from the Ramallah governorate, in the central West Bank. Local sources told the Palestinian Wafa News Agency that the Israeli occupation forces arrested the previously released prisoner Awad Abu Ein from Ramallah. The same sources added that the Israeli occupation forces abducted Mohammed Najeh Ayyad, Mohammed Raed Hamed, Fakhri Abdel Raouf Hamed, Jamil Hamed, Musa Mohammed Hammad from the town of Silwad in the east, Issam Ahmed Abu Alia from al-Mughayer and Luqman Hamayel from Kafr Malek….
Police raid Bab al-Rahma, seize furniture
IMEMC/Agencies 18 Aug — Israeli occupation police, on Saturday evening, stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque’s Bab al-Rahma prayer area and confiscated some furniture items. Local sources said that Israeli police officers desecrated the Bab al-Rahma prayer area and embarked on carrying away shoe cabinets and patterned wood panels. The sources added, according to Days of Palestine, that the officers threatened Aqsa guards with arrest if they tried to prevent them from carrying out the confiscations. The Israeli police had already removed furniture from the same prayer area recently, raising fears among the Jerusalemites about Israeli intents to re-close the place and turn it into a synagogue.
Army injures 33 Palestinians, including a medic, near Jerusalem
IMEMC 17 Aug — Israeli soldiers injured, Friday, 33 Palestinians, including a medic, during protests, which took place after the army invaded al-‘Ezariyya and Abu Dis towns, east of occupied East Jerusalem. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said its medics provided treatment to 33 Palestinians in both towns, among them twelve who were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, 18 who suffered the effects of teargas inhalation and three who suffered burns from gas bombs and concussion grenades. The PRCS said one of its medics was injured while performing his humanitarian duties, trying to help wounding Palestinians in Abu Dis. The invasions were mainly focused in Rad Kabsa area, between the two towns, in addition to neighborhoods in the two communities after the soldiers invaded them. It is worth mentioning that the protests started after the soldiers invaded al-‘Ezariyya, and installed a roadblock at its main road, before preventing the Palestinians from entering or leaving it.
‘Arabs=Enemies’ scrawled on wall in suspected West Bank hate crime
[behind paywall] Haaretz 21 Aug by Yotam Berger — Hateful graffiti was scrawled and five vehicles were vandalized overnight Tuesday in the West Bank Palestinian town of Haris. Graffiti reading “Arabs=Enemies,” and “The solution to terror attacks is expulsion or death to Arabs,” was spray-painted on walls of buildings in Haris. Vandals slashed the tires of five vehicles in the town. The police launched an investigation into the incident. A week ago, graffiti reading “Jews don’t stay silent” was scibbled on a building in the West Bank town of Yatma. The Yesh Din human rights organization said the phrase was scrawled on a building near the entrance of the town. Stars of David were also sprayed on several cars, which also had their tires punctured, Yesh Din said….
Israeli forces close Bethlehem’s major checkpoint from both sides
BETHLEHEM, Sunday, August 25, 2019 (WAFA) – Israeli forces Sunday evening closed the Container checkpoint, northeast of Bethlehem, from both sides, said security sources. Sources told WAFA forces manning the Container checkpoint, that controls the only major road connecting the southern West Bank districts of Hebron and Bethlehem to the central and northern West Bank, closed the checkpoint from both sides for no apparent reason, causing heavy traffic congestion.
Israeli military closes all roads west of Ramallah
IMEMC 24 Aug — According to local sources, Israeli Forces on Friday closed the main roads to all Palestinian villages west of Ramallah, and reinforced their military presence at the entrances to Ramallah and Al-Bireh. Local sources for the Palestinian Wafa News Agency reported that the Israeli occupation forces closed the road to Ein Ayoub, and the entrance to the village of Ras Karkar. The troops invaded Ras Karkar and raided a number of homes and businesses, and detained journalist Hisham Abu Shakra. The raids and closures followed the death of an Israeli teenager [17-year-old Rina Shnerb] in a colonial settlement in the area, presumably by a Palestinian perpetrator, when an explosive device detonated near her. The Wafa News Agency reported that the Israeli forces stationed themselves at the northern entrance to the city of Ramallah, in the road leading to the village of Sarda, and stopped all vehicles and searched them. In addition, Israeli occupation forces are stationed at the Ein Sinaia junction north of Ramallah, where they are searching all vehicles entering and leaving the governorate. Israeli forces also invaded Beitunia village, west of Ramallah. They positioned themselves at the main roundabout in the center of the town and prevented vehicles from going back and forth.
Israeli forces remove vegetable stands in Hebron
WAFA/IMEMC 22 Aug — Israeli forces, Thursday, removed by force, Palestinian vegetable stands and vendors at Wadi al-Khalil military crossing, south of Dhahriyeh in the southern occupied West Bank, according to WAFA correspondent. He reported that the removal of the stands, will result in the vendors and their families losing their sole source of income, estimated in the thousands of dollars. The stands used to serve hundreds of Palestinian workers who daily cross the military checkpoint to work in Israel and return home in the afternoon, buying their home needs from the vendors. The occupation army instructed the vendors not to return to that area.
Israeli forces seal off entrance to northern West Bank town
QALQILIYA, Monday, August 19, 2019 (WAFA) – Israeli forces today sealed off the entrance to ‘Azzun town, east of Qaqiliya city. Witnesses confirmed that Israeli forces installed a metal gate to block the town entrance, preventing passage in both directions and forcing Palestinians to take longer routes to reach their destinations. ‘Azzun is surrounded on all sides by areas under Israeli military control and an Israeli settlement bloc sits directly to the south.
Israeli warplanes hit Gaza after Palestinian rocket fire: army
JERUSALEM (AFP) 26 Aug — Israeli warplanes hit the Gaza Strip’s ruling Hamas movement early Monday in response to earlier rocket fire from the territory into Israel, the army said in a statement. Israeli authorities also announced a punitive reduction in the flow of fuel to the strip’s main power station, meaning a deep cut in the already rationed electricity supply. Three rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel on Sunday night, the Israeli army said. “Three launches were identified from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory,” it said in a statement. “Two of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defence system.” “In response, a short while ago, (Israeli air force) fighter jets struck a number of terror targets in a Hamas military compound in the northern Gaza Strip, including the office of a Hamas battalion commander,” a statement Monday morning added. A Palestinian security source said there were no casualties.
A separate statement from Israeli defence ministry unit COGAT said the latest fuel cut [reportedly 50%] was personally ordered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also defence minister. “The prime minister and minister of defence, Benjamin Netanyahu, ordered to downsize the transfer of fuel through the Kerem Shalom (border) crossing to the power station in Gaza by half, effective this morning and until further notice,” it said in English. Netanyahu is fighting for reelection in a potentially tough general election on September 17 with critics from his right-wing power base calling for tougher action against the Islamist Hamas. Nevertheless, analysts say, he is anxious to avoid escalation ahead of the polls … Fuel deliveries, which are coordinated with the United Nations and paid for by Gulf state Qatar, were part of the truce agreement. They have improved electricity supply in the enclave, where until the latest cut residents were getting around 12 hours of power a day, according to the UN….
Israeli attack kills three Palestinians in Gaza
IMEMC 18 Aug — Local sources report that three Palestinians were killed near the border with Israel in northern Gaza early Sunday morning before dawn. The three men have been identified as Mahmoud Adel al-Walayda, 24, Mohammad Farid Abu Namous, 27, and Mohammad Samir at-Taramisi, 26, [all from Beit Lahiya]. A fourth Palestinian was seriously injured. All were taken to the Indonesia Hospital in Beit Lahia. Israeli media reported that the Israeli military targeted a ‘Hamas observation post’ with artillery fire and a helicopter, killing three. Palestinian sources report that the bodies of three men were recovered in the morning, after Israeli forces prevented medics from reaching the site for hours after the attack took place. Earlier that night, Israeli sources report that three rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel but two were intercepted by the ‘Iron Dome’ defense system, and no damage was reported. The details of the attack are not yet clear, but the Israeli military confirmed targeting ‘Hamas infrastructure’. Initially, the Israeli army reported killing five Palestinians who had exchanged fire with them near the border, but later changed their report to three. [Photos of the three men killed can be seen here]
PCHR Press Release: 71st Great March of Return
24 Aug — On the 71st Great March of Return, 149 civilians were injured as a result of the Israeli military’s continued use of excessive force against peaceful protests along the Gaza Strip’s eastern border; 66 children, 7 paramedics, including a female paramedic, were among those injured this Friday, 23 August 2019. This week’s protest marked a spike in the number of civilian injuries especially ones caused by live bullets and shrapnel; as well as, targeting medical crews in an indication of the Israeli military’s escalated use of excessive force against protesters. Seventy-seven civilians were shot with live bullets and shrapnel, and 6 civilians were deemed in a critical medical condition. This escalation came despite that the Supreme National Authority of Great March of Return and Breaking Siege issued instructions for civilians to maintain the peaceful nature of the protests and stay away from any areas open to soldiers and snipers and avoid friction in today’s protest, titled “Protests for al-Aqsa Mosque.” This week also witnessed an increase in number of participants compared to last week’s, knowing that the organizers widely mobilized for the protests. The protests lasted from 15:00 to 19:00, and involved activities such as speeches by political leaders and theatrical performances. Dozens of civilians protested at varied distances from the border fence across the Gaza Strip. The protestors threw stones, fireworks and balloons at Israeli forces while the latter used excessive force in response.
To this date, PCHR has documented 208 killings by Israel since the outbreak of the protests on 30 March 2018, including 44 children, 2 women, 9 persons with disabilities, 4 paramedics and 2 journalists. Additionally, 13,629 were wounded, including 2,801 children, 419 women, 230 paramedics and 210 journalists, noting that many had sustained multiple wounds on multiple occasions.
The following is a summary of Friday’s events along the Gaza Strip border: ….
Israel warns Hamas further attacks risk more Gaza suffering
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 22 Aug — The Israeli army on Thursday warned the Gaza Strip’s residents and its Hamas rulers that further attacks on Israel could incur tougher conditions for the coastal territory. The warning came in a tweet from the army’s chief Arabic-language spokesman Avichay Adraee, hours after Israeli aircraft hit Hamas targets in retaliation for overnight Palestinian rocket attacks. Hamas launched two rockets at Israel late Wednesday [21 Aug]– bringing to six the number of strikes from Gaza in less than a week — the army said, adding that they caused no casualties or damage. In retaliation, the army said it struck “a number of military targets in a Hamas naval facility in the northern Gaza Strip”. A Palestinian security source told AFP a naval base west of Gaza City had been “targeted several times” by Israeli aircraft. The source said aircraft had also targeted “three sites in the central Gaza Strip and in Khan Yunis” in the south. He reported no casualties. “Those who carry out terrorist attacks will prevent improvement to the situation in the Gaza Strip,” Adraee said. “This will affect residents of the entire Strip.” Past flare-ups this year led Israel to block fuel deliveries to the Gaza Strip and limit fishing activity, only relaxing restrictions as part of a UN and Egypt-brokered truce in March.
Since early August, there have also been a series of deadly incidents on the ground along the Gaza border. The Palestinian health ministry said three people died as a result of Israeli tank and helicopter fire on armed Palestinians on Saturday. Another Palestinian was shot dead after firing at Israeli soldiers on Thursday, according to the army. The day before, the army said it shot dead four heavily armed Palestinians after one crossed the border and threw a grenade at soldiers. On August 1, a Palestinian seeking to avenge his brother’s death by Israeli fire was killed when he entered Israel from Gaza and opened fire on soldiers, the army said. Three soldiers were wounded in the incident.
Adraee said that some of the recent violence was the work of Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad. But he also reiterated Israel’s official view that Hamas is responsible for any attacks from the territory under its control.
Analysis // Infiltration under the influence: Israel believes Gaza youth attempting to cross border are using drugs
[behind paywall] Haaretz 23 Aug by Amos Harel — In four different incidents over the past few weeks, IDF soldiers killed armed Palestinians who tried to cross the border fence with the Gaza Strip and enter Israel. In some of these cases, IDF commanders in the field noticed something new: The Palestinians who approached the border looked “hyped up,” as if they were under the influence of strong drugs. Some of the young people who confront the soldiers along the border fence in the large Friday protests, and are taking unreasonable risks, have also demonstrated similar behavior. Addiction to drugs, and in particular painkillers, has been described as a real plague in the Gaza Strip today, mostly among young people. While Hamas is excusing the numerous attempts to cross the border into Israel and attack as acts of “angry young people,” it is possible that the drugs are playing a role here, too. The problem in Gaza is first and foremost socioeconomic. Two million people are still stuck in a crowded space, living in harsh daily conditions. In spite of a certain amount of improvement in the supply of electricity and water in recent months, the result is still a rise in the level of violence. A series of inquiries with military and intelligence officers in recent days shows that they are sticking with the explanation they provided for the events a week or two ago: Hamas is not behind these attempts, say the officials….
Qatari envoy says aid, contacts helping prevent new Gaza war
GAZA CITY (AFP) 25 Aug — Qatar’s envoy to Gaza says the Gulf emirate’s hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian enclave and its contacts with both Hamas and Israel are helping prevent another catastrophic war. Speaking in an interview with AFP in Gaza City, Mohammed al-Emadi said a new payment of $10 million is expected to be distributed on Sunday to 100,000 poor families in Gaza, which is run by the Islamist movement Hamas. It is the latest in a succession of aid payments for fuel for electricity, salaries and assistance for needy families in the Gaza Strip from Qatar, which has budgeted some $330 million for the programme launched last year. More than $150 million of that has been spent, on top of other large amounts of aid that Qatar has provided to Gaza in recent years, he said. “The money is essential… because otherwise Gaza will be a place where nobody can survive or live,” Emadi said from his office in Al-Mashtal Hotel late Saturday during one of his periodic visits to Gaza City. “We know the situation is very bad, so that’s why our money helps a lot, and it helps in preventing a new war.” He added that it is “not only the aid”. “The aid, the communication, the information… We are coordinating directly with the people who can take decisions.” … A series of violent incidents in August have again threatened the truce just ahead of Israel’s September 17 general election, but the new Qatari cash may help relative calm return, at least for now. The incidents have included rocket fire from Gaza, infiltration attempts by armed Palestinians and return fire by Israel, the Israeli army says. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is widely seen as wanting to avoid an escalation in Gaza before the polls due to the political risk involved, but he has faced calls for strong action from his electoral opponents….
Analysis // Hamas trapped between push for calm and public thirst for resistance / Jack Khoury
[behind paywall] Haaretz 20 Aug — A series of attempts by Palestinians to enter Israel from the Gaza Strip over the past two weeks have trapped Hamas between its desire to preserve the calm with Israel and the public support, and in some cases internal Hamas support, for such attacks. On Monday, Hamas called on Gazans to come out en masse for the Friday demonstration along the border fence with Israel, a call intended to enable Palestinians to let off some steam – and also a clear message to Israel that without an improvement in the Strip’s humanitarian conditions and a commitment to the ceasefire agreement reached in May, another blowup is imminent … Public pressure in Gaza has grown in light of the border infiltration attempts, the latest of which occurred on Saturday and ended in the death of three armed Palestinian militants. Hamas has found itself in a trap: It cannot allow such attempts, which are a threat to its control and rule of Strip – but the organization also cannot publically condemn the attacks and those who carried them out, who in most cases were themselves members of Hamas … The solution, as has been shown in past days, is to describe those who carried out the attempted border attacks as “angry young men” who oppose the Israeli blockade and transgression of the status quo in Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. At the same time, senior Hamas officials are not hiding their concerns, and a number of Palestinian and Arab media outlets have reported that Hamas has initiated internal inquiries into the organizing of attacks. Hamas activists confirmed to Haaretz that pressure on the organization has mounted in recent days. Wide public support for the attacks was shown at the mass funeral of the three young men killed on Saturday. Their bodies were wrapped in the flags of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah, a sight that is quite rare in the Gaza Strip. The message from the funerals is that their actions united the ranks of the different groups….
Gaza Strip residents encouraged to emigrate by Israel
JERUSALEM (Irish Times) 21 Aug by Mark Weiss — Instead of flying Palestinians abroad, Israel must ‘stop punishing’ two million people — Palestinians have reacted angrily after Israeli officials confirmed that efforts have been made to encourage residents of the Gaza Strip to emigrate. Israeli officials , speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the security cabinet held at least five discussions on the plan, which involved providing financial assistance to residents of Gaza who wanted to leave and allowing them to depart via an airport in southern Israel. Efforts were made to persuade unnamed European and Middle East countries to accept the Palestinians but no country agreed, leaving the Israeli plan stillborn. Israeli ministers were briefed that last year at least 35,000 residents left the impoverished coastal enclave, most of them young and well-educated, via the Rafah crossing to Egypt, with no intention of returning. Most continued on to Europe, joining the flow of refugees from a host of Middle East and African countries, with the aim of making a new start away from war-torn Gaza. According to reports from Gaza, the Hamas authorities were so alarmed by the exodus of doctors that they imposed a ban on doctors crossing into Egypt. Hamas condemned the Israeli plan as a fantasy. “This is an old-new Zionist dream,” said Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem. “They want the Palestinians to leave and give up their land.” Mr Qassem said the Palestinians had already proven they were prepared to make sacrifices to preserve their land and not abandon it. A senior Palestinian Authority (PA) official in Ramallah said that instead of helping Palestinians leave the Gaza Strip, Israel needed to “stop punishing the two million residents living there”. He said the talk about encouraging Palestinians to emigrate was “extremely dangerous and requires a strong response from the international community”. The Palestinian foreign ministry in Ramallah accused Israel of seeking to force the Palestinians out of the Gaza Strip by maintaining a blockade and “committing crimes” against Palestinians living there. It noted that the talk about encouraging Palestinians to emigrate “coincided with Israeli threats to launch a large-scale military operation against the Gaza Strip”….
China funds water desalination project in southern Gaza
GAZA (Xinhua) 29 Aug — A Palestinian charity on Tuesday signed a deal with the al-Naser village in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, to build two China-funded water desalination plants to alleviate the shortage of potable water there. The agreement was signed by Give Palestine Association, a non-profit charity, and the municipality of al-Naser village to build the project, called “Life’s Drops 1.” Maamoun Abu Shahla, chairman of Give Palestine Association, told Xinhua that about 10,000 people, the majority of whom are unemployed and suffer from economic crisis, will benefit from the project. He noted that the plants were scheduled to begin operation in the next five months, adding that the water produced will be provided for free.
Qatar – QRCS provides vital medical equipment for Gaza health centers
(MENAFN – The Peninsula) QNADoha: Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) provided 14 new ultrasound machines to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip as part of its project to support and develop radiological services in these centers. In a statement released today, QRCS said that this supportive project, which costs about QR1,190,000 and includes the implementation of training for medical staff, comes to ensure the provision of quality services. Director of the Women’s Center at the Primary Health Centers in Gaza Dr Nahla Halas said that care services for pregnant women are provided in 28 health centers in all governorates of the Gaza Strip. She pointed out that the recent years have witnessed great suffering as a result of the lack of “ultrasound” machines … With QRCS’s latest project, Dr Halas expected lower fetal morbidity and mortality rates…
Displaces again: Palestinian refugees from Syria struggle to survive in Gaza
+972 Mag 21 Aug by Amjad Yaghi — With surging unemployment rates and high rents, Palestinian refugees who fled the Syrian war for Gaza are struggling to climb out of poverty. Like many Gazans, they hope to leave the strip in search of a better life — In mid-2012, Egyptian police arrested Omar Odeh for violating the conditions of his residence permit and overstaying his visa. After realizing he was a Palestinian refugee from Syria, they deported him to Gaza. Today he is one of hundreds of Palestinian refugees from Syria who fled the civil war there only to find hardly-endurable living conditions in the strip. Odeh, 63, is originally from the destroyed Palestinian village of Majdal, near present-day Ashkelon. Today he lives in Beit Lahia, a town in northern Gaza, with his family of six, who joined him after his deportation. Alongside a group of Palestinian refugees from Syria, he helped established the Follow-Up Committee for Palestinians from Syria in Gaza, which works with governmental and non-governmental organizations, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and international groups to secure a dignified life for them in Gaza. When Palestinian refugees from Syria began returning to Palestine, the Palestinian leaderships in the West Bank and Gaza promised to help them in their resettlement process. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas, however, have yet to deliver on their promises, said Odeh….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
With eyes on ‘erasing’ Green Line, Yamina introduces plan to fix housing crisis
[with map] ETZ EFRAIM, West Bank (Times of Israel) 21 Aug by Jacob Magid — Ayelet Shaked’s proposal seeks to relocate half a million Israelis to northern West Bank, claims central Israel is nearly as crowded as Gaza and as expensive as New York — Yamina party leaders on Wednesday introduced their plan to solve Israel’s housing crisis, proposing the construction of over 110,000 new apartments in the northern West Bank that would serve as home to half a million Israelis. “The Tel Aviv metropolitan area is almost as crowded as Gaza and as expensive as New York,” Yamina chairwoman Ayelet Shaked claimed at an event inaugurating the housing plan in the northern West Bank settlement of Etz Efraim. Israel has seen skyrocketing housing prices over the past 15 years, which the government has attempted to rein in while keeping the real estate market from experiencing a sudden steep drop. Nearly half of the Israeli population lives in the broader Tel Aviv metropolitan area, while another 450,000 reside in the West Bank … Yamina’s plan would see the construction, within five years, of 113,000 housing units on roughly 8,650 acres of what Israel has declared to be state land in the northern West Bank, between the cities of Rosh Ha’ayin and Ariel.
30 Palestinian homes to be demolished in Negev
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Aug — Israeli occupation forces, on Tuesday, stormed the village of Lqiya, in the Negev desert, and handed out demolition and evacuation notices to 30 buildings and facilities. Most of the notices were given to the Abu Mutair family, while some belonged to the family of the former Arab member of Knesset, Juma al-Zabarqa. PNN further reports that this step comes as part of occupation authorities’ efforts to force the residents to relinquish their land, taking advantage of the ongoing housing crisis due to ongoing confiscation and displacement attempts in order to expand settlements.
Army destroys irrigation tank in Jordan Valley
IMEMC/Agencies 18 Aug — Israeli occupation forces, today, destroyed a large water tank used for irrigating farmlands near the village of Bardala, in the northern Jordan Valley region of the occupied West Bank. Mutaz Besharat, who monitors Israeli settlement activities in the Jordan Valley, told WAFA that Israeli army destroyed a 1000-cube water tank which was used by Palestinian villagers in the area for the irrigation of farmlands. The Israeli army claimed that the tank was built without Israeli permission, a pretext that Israel has used for years to prevent Palestinian development in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the Jordan Valley.
Israel to demolish over 20 Palestinian structures north of Jerusalem
JERUSALEM, Wednesday, August 21, 2019 (WAFA) – Israeli forces and staff of the so-called Israeli Municipality of West Jerusalem today ordered the demolition of over 20 Palestinian structures in al-Matar neighborhood, north of Jerusalem. Security sources confirmed that Israeli forces and municipality staff stormed Al-Matar neighborhood, opposite to Qalandiya refugee camp, where they handed demolition orders for over 20 Palestinian structures purportedly for being built without licenses. Meanwhile, Israeli police escorted a bulldozer to the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, where they using heavy machinery demolished a house. The demolished structure belonged to the Rajabi family. Using the pretext of illegal building, Israel demolishes houses on a regular basis to restrict Palestinian expansion in occupied Jerusalem….
Settlers plant trees on Palestinian land in prelude to takeover
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Aug — Jewish settlers planted forest trees on Palestinian land to south of Bethlehem, as a prelude for taking it over, said Diab Mashaleh, head of Jabah village council where the targeted land it located, today. Mashaleh told WAFA that residents of the village were surprised to see the settlers, under army protection, planting forest trees in a hilly area about 300 meters away from the nearest home in the village, and without any prior notice. He said that the land amounts to thousands of dunams, and that part of it has been planted with olive trees for decades. Mashaleh explained that the army had closed most of that area and would often prevent local farmers from reaching their land to cultivate it, even after coordinating their visit to their land with the army. He said Israel’s intentions in taking over the land were clear when they would not allow farmers to reach it, and after closing a road to the nearby town of Sourif with dirt, since the year 2000, which was later replaced by a metal gate, making movement of Jabah villagers, mainly high school students seeking to reach their schools in Sourif, very difficult and arduous.
Opinion: Netanyahu faces dilemma over Hebron settlers’ property claims
Ynet 21 Aug by Elisha Ben Kimon — As Jewish residents of West Bank city press for resettlement of land abandoned after massacre of dozens of local Jews in August 1929, premier caught between threat of renewed Palestinian protests and prospect of alienating right-wing voters in next month’s election — The settlers in Hebron have demanded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allow Jews to resettle what is now the city’s old abandoned market, days before the 90th anniversary of the riots in the West Bank city in which dozens of local Jews were killed. The settlers raised the demand ahead of the upcoming anniversary of the 1929 Arab riots, which will be held on September 4 – a week and a half before Israel goes to the polls for second time this year….
Opinion: The decades-old war on Palestinian workers / Ramzy Baroud
Al Jazeera 23 Aug — Over the past month, the Lebanese authorities have unleashed a brutal crackdown on Palestinian workers. In June, Lebanese Minister of Labour Kamil Abu Sleiman decreed that Palestinian refugees in Lebanon must obtain work permits like other foreign workers. This move added to the already precarious situation of many Palestinian workers who are not only barred from employment in 72 professions in Lebanon, but over the past few years have also been forced to compete with Syrian refugees, equally desperate to find jobs. In response, Palestinian refugees protested en masse in Beirut and throughout the refugee camps, not only against what they rightly saw as an unfair decision, but also against Lebanon’s decades-old official policies which have contributed to Palestinian economic and political alienation. It is important to see these developments not only in the context of the current political climate in Lebanon, but also within the broader context of the Palestinian workers’ historic struggle against colonialism, capitalist exploitation, and domestic feudalism. The battles Palestinian workers have fought across multiple frontlines – from Israel to the Occupied Territories, Lebanon and elsewhere – have always been at the heart of the Palestinian struggle for basic human rights….
Israeli company fined for paying Palestinian workers 9 shekels an hour
[behind paywall] Haaretz 22 Aug by Tali Heruti-Sover — The Tel Aviv Regional Labor Court fined a manufacturer 507,000 shekels ($144,000) for paying its Palestinian workers as little as 9 shekels ($2.55) an hour, and for obstructing a labor inspector. Minimum wage is currently 29 shekels an hour. Yahalom Cleaning Materials Industries imports, exports and sells cleaning materials, and operates in the Karnei Shomron industrial zone, across the Green Line. The Labor and Social Affairs Ministry investigation found that the company employed 10 Palestinian workers at less than minimum wage. Some of the workers were getting only 9 shekels an hour for over a decade … The chief prosecutor, Gali Levi of the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry, said the case shows the importance of criminal enforcement. “These are vulnerable workers who didn’t succeed in standing up for their rights, which is why it’s important for the state to intervene,” she said. “I hope that the decision to pay the workers compensation will be an incentive for workers to complain against employers who commit labor violations.”
Israel uses controversial technology to screen Palestinians in the West Bank
NPR 21 Aug (audio with transcript) — DAVID GREENE, HOST: Palestinian workers are getting through some Israeli checkpoints quicker these days, but it’s because of a technology that’s got some concerned. It’s facial recognition. That is debated in the United States. It is used in China, and now the Israeli military is using it to screen Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. NPR’s Daniel Estrin went to one crossing where it’s in use. DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: It’s about 5:13 in the morning. This is rush hour for thousands and thousands of Palestinian workers – day laborers. You can see them walking – dozens of them – through this main Israeli military checkpoint to leave the West Bank and to go into Israel to work. We’re watching people stand. They stare at this tiny black camera. It’s – green light lights up their face. They’re identified and they walk through. ELISHA HANUKAYEV: (Speaking Hebrew). ESTRIN: The new system’s called Speed Gate. Israeli defense official Elisha Hanukayev says it lets Palestinians zip through the checkpoint a lot more quickly. One of them we spoke to, construction worker Imad Khalil, says it’s better than individually getting checked by soldiers….
Dozens of Palestinian workers detained by Israeli forces
IMEMC/Agencies 18 Aug — Israeli occupation forces, on Sunday at dawn, detained dozens of Palestinian workers from the West Bank, in raids on occupied Palestine, pre-1948. The official in General Federation of Palestinian Trade Unions, Riad Kamil, said, according to Al Ray, that Israeli occupation police erected many checkpoints at most streets and searched all cars and buses that Palestinian workers had boarded. He said that more than 30 Palestinian workers were detained after forces searched the buses near the illegal Keryat Jad settlement, under the pretext that they didn’t have work permits.
Israeli forces attack pro-prisoners protest at Ofer military camp, detain one
RAMALLAH, Thursday, August 22, 2019 (WAFA) – The Israeli forces crushed this morning a protest by Birzeit University students outside the Israeli Ofer military camp and prison near Ramallah held in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, reported WAFA correspondent. He said soldiers based at the camp fired teargas and stun grenades at the students forcing them to scramble and detained one person after beating him up. The Birzeit student council called for the demonstration in support of several prisoners who are on hunger strike demanding their release from an open-ended administrative detention which keeps them behind bars without charge or trial.
According to the Palestinian Prisoner Society, eight Palestinians held in administrative detention are currently on hunger strike, the longest is Huthayfa Halabieh, 28, from Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem, who has been on strike for 53 days, followed by Ahmad Ghannam, 42, from Dura in the Hebron district, who has been on strike for 40 days, Sultan Khlouf, 38, from Burqin in Jenin district, 36 days, Ismail Ali, 30, from Abu Dis, 30 days, Wajdi Awawdeh, 20, from Dura, 25 days, Tareq Qadan, 46, from Jenin, 23 days, Nasser al-Jada, 30, from Burqin, 16 days, and Thayer Hamdan, 21, from Beit Sira near Ramallah, 11 days.
Egypt’s arrest of Palestinian official’s son ‘linked to activism’
Al Jazeera 22 Aug — Egyptian security forces arrested Ramy Shaath on July 5 and accused him of ‘assisting a terrorist group’, family says — Prominent Palestinian politician Nabil Shaath has broken his silence since Egyptian security forces arrested his son last month. Ramy Shaath, 48, was taken from his Cairo home on July 5 at 12:45am (22:45 GMT), his family said in a statement on Facebook on Wednesday. “At least a dozen heavily armed security agents stormed and searched his residence without presenting any legal document,” it added. Speaking to The New Arab on Thursday, Shaath said the arrest was related to his son’s activism in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, as well as his criticism of Egypt’s participation in a United States-led economic workshop in Bahrain, billed as the first part of Washington’s controversial plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Shaath said Ramy’s detention has been renewed every two weeks for another two weeks … Ramy Shaath, who used to serve as an adviser to Palestinian Liberation Organisation head Yasser Arafat, has been living in Egypt since 1977. He quit politics in the late 1990s and is now the general coordinator for the BDS branch in Egypt….