West Bank / East Jerusalem / Israel
Dawabshe arson survivor marks his birthday and tragedy in the same month
NABLUS, Wednesday, July 31, 2019 (WAFA) by Zahran Maali – Ten days ago, Ahmad Saad Dawabshe celebrated his ninth birthday and today he is completing his fourth year in laser treatment to recover from the effects of burns to his body. Ahmad was the only survivor of the July 31, 2015 arson by Jewish settlers of his family’s Duma village home southeast of the northern West Bank city of Nablus. His father, Saad, 32, his mother, Riham, 27, and his infant 18-month-old brother, Ali, were all burnt alive and perished in the terrorist attack. For the fourth consecutive year, the only survivor of that terrorist attack celebrates his birthday with his relatives and friends. This year, however, he was given a small-scale celebration confined to his uncle Nasr Dawabshe and grandparents following the death of his uncle.
The arson, which took place in the same month Ahmad was born, turned this month into one of pain and agony instead of festive and celebration, not only for Ahmad but for his extended family and village. Seeing his family burnt alive in an arson that almost killed him after Jewish terrorists from the illegal settlement outpost of Yesh Kodesh threw incendiary bombs inside the room where the family was sleeping is not something he can forget easily, particularly with the scares that the arson has left on his body and mind. Arson is one of the most important tools used by Jewish terrorists against Palestinian civilians. It includes burning farms, trees, mosques, churches, schools and homes … For the last four years, the family has been shuffling between Israeli court hearings on the arson and hospitals for the treatment of Ahmad’s severe burns, said Dawabshe….
Palestinian family warned against holding banquet in memory of son killed by Israelis
JERUSALEM, Saturday, August 03, 2019 (WAFA) – The family of Mohammed Samir Obeid in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiyeh was warned today by the Israeli authorities against holding a banquet in memory of their son, killed by Israeli forces, according to Mohammed Abu al-Hummus, a local activist. He told WAFA that the Obeid family was surprised when it was contacted by the Israeli intelligence services warning them against holding the banquet. Obeid, 21, was shot dead by Israeli police in his neighborhood on June 28 in what his family said was cold blooded murder.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights calls on Israel to conduct thorough investigation into shooting ot Palestinian child
GENEVA, Tuesday, July 30, 2019 (WAFA) – Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, called on the Israeli authorities to conduct a thorough, effective, impartial and independent investigation into the Israeli forces’ shooting of nine-year-old Palestinian child Abdul Rahman Shteiwi on 12 July, and to make sure that those responsible for any wrongdoing are held accountable. “We are very concerned by the critical condition of a nine-year-old Palestinian child, Abdul Rahman Shteiwi, after he was shot in the head by the Israeli Security Forces (ISF) on 12 July, in what appears to have been an example of excessive use of force.” The incident occurred during a weekly protest in the village of Kafr Qaddum, near Nablus. While protesters were burning tires and throwing stones at the ISF, Israeli soldiers — after initially responding with rubber bullets and stun grenades – reportedly resorted to using live ammunition, without apparent reason to justify the move to use of lethal force, said the spokesman in a press briefing note. According to several credible sources, this nine-year-old child, Abdul Rahman, was not taking an active part in the protest. He was reportedly over 100 metres away from the clashes, and manifestly did not present an imminent physical threat to Israeli forces.
The shot to his forehead resulted in a large hole and multiple skull fractures. Initially taken to a hospital in Nablus, he was later transferred to an Israeli hospital, where he remains alive but in a critical condition. Scans show dozens of fragments in the child’s head resulting in serious brain damage, from which he is unlikely to recover, even if he survives. …
‘Death to Arabs’: Police probe apparent hate crime in Kafr Qassem
Times of Israel 28 July by Jacob Magid — Police opened a probe into an apparent hate crime overnight Saturday in the central Arab Israeli town of Kafr Qassem, where vandals damaged several trucks and spray-painted Hebrew hate messages such as “Death to Arabs.” Some of the trucks targeted had their tires slashed and others had their windshields smashed, police said Sunday morning, though they were unable to provide an exact number. Other graffiti messages daubed on the vehicles as well as on adjacent walls included “End assimilation,” “Racism or assimilation” and “The nation of Israel lives.” Kafr Qassem was targeted in a similar crime last December, when the tires of 30 vehicles were slashed and one truck was spray-painted with the slogan “Jews will not be silent.” Still, it was a rare incident targeting an Arab Israeli town in the context of the hate crimes that regularly target Palestinian villages in the West Bank, where suspects are almost never apprehended by police. In June, police opened six probes into suspected hate crime in various West Bank villages. None have so far seen a suspect arrested … In December, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released a report that showed a 69 percent increase in settler attacks on Palestinians in 2018 compared to 2017.
Israeli settlers destroy olive trees in northern West Bank
IMEMC/Agencies 28 July — Israeli settlers destroyed 80 olive trees belonging to Palestinian farmers in the village of Yasouf, east of the northern West Bank city of Salfit, today reported Yasouf mayor, Khaled Abbieh. He told WAFA that the land where the trees were cut down is located near the illegal Israeli settlement of Rahalim, and that it is owned by two brothers who are residents of the village. The act came as Palestinian farmer prepare for the olive harvest season, which is done in the autumn. Thousands of families live by harvesting olives.
Israeli police intercept in Jerusalem a bus of children on a field trip, detains instructors
JERUSALEM, Thursday, August 01, 2019 (WAFA) – Israeli police intercepted today in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiyeh a bus carrying summer camp children going on a field trip and forced the bus to go to a nearby border guards base, according to sources in the neighborhood. They told WAFA that the police stopped the bus and steered it to the base where the children were later allowed to leave while detaining the instructors. ‘Issawiyeh, visited yesterday by foreign diplomats to check on its situation, has been for weeks under constant harassment by the Israeli police, which included police summoning of two children age 4 and 6 years for interrogation.
Israeli army raids West Bank village, holds residents for hours at a nearby camp
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 1 Aug – Israeli soldiers raided early this morning the Ramallah-area village of Deir Nitham, searched homes and held several residents for hours at a nearby army camp, reported witnesses. They told WAFA that a large army force raided their village in the pre-dawn hours while residents were still asleep, broke into several homes and forced entire families to go out before taking 21 people to a nearby army camp where they were interrogated and held for several hours after which they were allowed to return to their homes. No reason was given for the raid and detentions, but Deir Nitham has been a target of Israeli measures, including closure of its access roads, and raids for a while.
Jerusalem minor moved to hospital after he’s beaten up by Israeli police
JERUSALEM, Sunday, August 04, 2019 (WAFA) – A Palestinian minor from the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan was moved to hospital last night after he was brutally beaten by Israeli police officers who raided his family home to arrest him, local sources said. Heavily armed police forces raided the home of the family of Jamal Ali al-Ghoul in Silwan and severely beat him, causing him to sustain bruises across his body. He was then moved to hospital for medical treatment, but was later brought to court by the police while being handcuffed and with chains on his ankles.
Movement interrupted as Israeli army closes gate on West Bank road connecting villages with Ramallah
RAMALLAH, Monday, July 29, 2019 (WAFA) – Movement of thousands of Palestinian residents living in villages west of Ramallah was interrupted today when the Israeli army closed a metal gate placed on a main road connecting these villages with the city of Ramallah, said local sources. They said that they were surprised to see that the metal gate the Israeli army had set up in March near the villages of Deir Ibzi and Kufr Nimeh was closed when they reached it and therefore were forced to turn around and look for alternate and very long routes to reach area villages, towns and the city of Ramallah. No reason was given for closing the gate, said the residents. In a similar act, the Israeli army set up road blocks at the entrance to the village of Hizma, southeast of Ramallah, and interrupted movement of residents in and out of the village, said sources. Soldiers inspected identity papers of commuters, some of whom had to take dirt roads to get in and out of the village.
Two children lightly hurt in West Bank stoning attack
Times of Israel 28 July — Two Israeli children were lightly injured when their car was hit by stones outside the northern West Bank settlement of Karnei Shomron late Saturday night. An 11-year-old boy suffered a head wound and a 8 year-old-girl had cuts to her face from glass shards, the Hatzalah rescue service said. They were treated by Israel Defense Forces medics, according to the rescue service. A baby in the car was also hit by flying glass but did not require treatment. Police opened an investigation into the suspected attack, the Walla news site reported. Earlier in the day, a Palestinian landowner from the village of Yasuf, also in the northern West Bank, reported that at least 70 of his olive trees had been intentionally damaged, the Yesh Din rights group said.
Roadblocks erected in northern West Bank following shooting incident
IMEMC/Agencies 1 Aug — The Israeli army set up roadblocks this afternoon, in the north of the West Bank, mainly on the road between Nablus and Jenin, following an alleged shooting incident. The Israeli army claimed that shots were fired, by a man on a motorcycle, at an army patrol near the village of Beit Sharaf, to the north of Nablus, and that he was able to get away. No one was injured in the alleged attack, said the army. Immediately after, WAFA reports, soldiers began a manhunt for the alleged attacker and set up roadblocks from Beit Sharaf further north to the village of Burqa.
Photo gallery: Protest in West Bank
NABLUS, West Bank (AA) 2 Aug by Nedal Eshtayah — Israeli forces intervene in a protest against the construction of Jewish settlements and the separation wall in Kafr Qaddum village in Nablus, West Bank [never mind the ‘Gazans flock to fence’ in the address below –AA got its addressed mixed up somehow]
Israeli police summon Palestinian father for 4-year-old’s alleged stone throwing
[with video] MEE 30 July by Chloe Benoist — Israeli police summoned a Palestinian man for interrogation on Tuesday, claiming that his four-year old son threw stones at officers. Israeli forces issued a warrant for interrogation against Rabiaa Elayyan on Monday over his toddler son Mohammad’s actions. Mohammad and his father Rabiaa went to the Israeli police station on Salaheddine Street in East Jerusalem on Tuesday morning, accompanied by fellow residents of Issawiya, who came to protest the interrogation. Official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa reported that Rabiaa Elayyan was briefly interrogated by police without his child present and released shortly thereafter. Local media reported that the warrant for interrogation was issued in Mohammad’s name, but a researcher at Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) told Middle East Eye that the organisation had seen the warrant and confirmed it was addressed to Rabiaa Elayyan. Speaking to MEE, Rabiaa Elayyan said Mohammad was near the family home on Monday when police approached the house, at which point his son threw stones at the officers. “They sent a warrant to summon both the father and the son,” Elayyan said, rejecting reports that the warrant had been issued to him alone. “Today, when we went to [the police station], they denied that there was a warrant for the son, and that only the father had been summoned. They saw the media attention and that it would become a scandal for them, so they retracted.” Elayyan added that during the interrogation at the police station, he was told he “should confine the boy to the house”. “I don’t know if it’s allowed to prevent him from leaving home,” he told MEE. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told MEE that “a four-year-old boy threw stones at policemen, only his father was summoned” – adding that no police officers were injured by the toddler’s stone-throwing. Rosenfeld added that summoning parents for alleged infractions committed by minors was “standard procedure”, adding: “It’s an educational process and at the same time community policing to deal with that incident.” Elayyan said Mohammad did not fully understand what was happening, but had become “fearful”, particularly given the crowd and atmosphere on the way to the police station on Tuesday morning….
The third of its kind, Israeli authorities summon Palestinian child for interrogation
HEBRON, Thursday, August 01, 2019 (WAFA) – The Israeli authorities summoned last night an 8-year-old girl from the southern West Bank city of Hebron for interrogation, reported Palestinian security sources, the third such summons of children in recent days. The sources told WAFA that Israeli soldiers raided the home of Shadi Sadr in Hebron city center and handed him a summons for his daughter Malak, 8, to appear at an interrogation center for allegedly harassing the heavily-guarded Israeli settlers in the occupied part of the city. Israeli police summoned two days ago 4-year-old Mohammad Ilian and yesterday summoned 6-year-old Qais Obeid, both from ‘Issawiyeh neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, for interrogation on claim the former threw a stone and the second a beverage at a police vehicle in the neighborhood.
De-mining of baptismal site, area churches completed; report presented to Minister of Tourism
BETHLEHEM, Wednesday, July 31, 2019 (WAFA) – The Palestinian Mine Action Center (PMAC) completed in cooperation with the British Halo Trust de-mining of 136 dunums of land in and around the West Bank area of the Jordan River known as Qasr al-Yahud and presented its report today to the Palestinian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Rola Ma‘ayaa, who praised the work of the center and the clearance of mines and remnants of war from the lands of seven area churches. Head of PMAC, Brigadier Osama Abu Hananeh, met today with Ma‘ayaa at the ministry in Bethlehem and presented her with the report on the completion of the work that took more than seven months to finish and was carried out by Halo Trust, a British anti-mine organization. Ma‘ayaa praised the Palestinian achievement, which she said will create geographical link between the churches and the Jordan River, stressing the need to intensify Palestinian efforts to promote tourism to this region locally and internationally in order to attract as many tourist groups as possible …
Israel had planted the entire area bordering Jordan with thousands of land mines after its 1967 occupation of the West Bank and had for years declared the area a closed military zone, thus preventing visits to the baptismal site, where Jesus was believed baptized by John the Baptist and which was a very popular destination for Christian pilgrimage from all over the world before the Israeli occupation. Interest in revisiting the site took force after the visit of Pope John Paul II in 2000, but public access was not allowed until 2011 after part of the area was declared safe to visit. However, with the clearance of all mines from the area, thousands of visitors will be expected to reach the sites….
Row over electricity bill leaves West Bank village powerless
Ynet 30 July by Ekior Levy — In the heat of the Middle Eastern summer, a village in the West Bank has been caught in the middle of a row between Israel and the Palestinian Authority over an unpaid electricity bill. The approximately 1,600 residents of Fasayil in the northeastern West Bank have seen their power grid collapse, leaving them without electricity as temperatures climb as high as 40 degrees Celsius, and the Electric Corporation won’t fix it until the debt is paid. In 1993, the village was connected to electricity, but since the infrastructure has not been upgraded even though the number of residents has doubled. As a result, the electricity infrastructure has collapsed and residents are enduring lengthy power outages, unable to cool their homes or use simple electrical appliances such as refrigerators, ovens and televisions. “The heat is onerous, people are trying to turn on their air conditioners and then the electricity in the entire village collapses for hours,” Nawawara says. “At night, everyone sleeps on the roofs, because sleeping inside our houses is inhuman.” For years, the Palestinian Authority has been responsible for paying the village’s electricity bill, but it has also accrued massive debt and a necessary system upgrade in the village has not been carried out. The residents tried to talk to officials from Israel’s Civil Administration to find a solution, and even raised funds to pay for a high-capacity electricity system costing NIS 500,000, but the Israeli authorities are not ready to connect it to the main infrastructure. In the meantime, Fasayil’s residents are buying food on a day-by-day basis as their refrigerators are not working and seek shelter from the heat in the shade of trees rather than turn on their air conditioners. The village is not too familiar to the Israeli public as its residents have actively refrained from becoming involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “We are people of peace. Our lives are entirely intertwined with the Jews – we live next door to them and work together with them,” says Samih Nawawra, one of the village’s representatives. But for the last month, the residents have protested the situation every Friday at noon, blocking Route 90, a central artery that runs past the village … “Even our neighbors from Moshav Tomer, who are like our brothers, tried to talk to the authorities, but could not get through. If this problem were in an Israeli municipality, would they tell them to wait a year or two as well?”
Israel invests in high-tech upgrades at West Bank crossings
QALANDIA CROSSING, West Bank (AP)29 July by Ilan Ben Zion — It’s just after 6 a.m. and a Palestinian man’s face is momentarily bathed in crimson light, not by the sun rising over the mountains of Jordan, but by a facial recognition scanner at an Israeli checkpoint near Jerusalem. The Israeli military has installed the face scanners as part a multimillion dollar upgrade of the Qalandia crossing that now allows Palestinians from the West Bank with work permits to zip through with relative ease. But while the high-tech upgrades may have eased entry for Palestinians going to Israel for work, critics say they are a sign of the ossification of Israel’s 52-year occupation of the West Bank and slam the military’s use of facial recognition technology as problematic. Qalandia is one of the main crossings for the thousands of Palestinians who enter Israel each day for a variety of reasons, including work, medical appointments or family visits. Among Palestinians, the heavily fortified crossing is seen as a symbol of Israeli occupation and has long been notorious as a human logjam, where workers would wait for as much as two hours in order to pass into Israeli-controlled Jerusalem. Palestinian laborers from around the West Bank who had permits to work in Israel would wake up in the middle of the night to arrive at the crossing before daybreak. Metal fenced entryways were often packed with people before dawn, waiting for the gates to open. Human rights groups deplored the conditions at Qalandia. Israel’s Defense Ministry poured over $85 million into upgrading Qalandia and several other major checkpoints between Israel and the West Bank in recent years — part of a strategy it says is meant to maintain calm by improving conditions for Palestinians. Thanks to the upgrades, crossing through Qalandia takes roughly 10 minutes, even during the early morning rush hour, and has the feel of an airport terminal. While much of the rest of Jerusalem is still asleep, hundreds of Palestinian laborers stream through each morning on foot or riding bikes, buses and cars into Israel for work. Jamal Osta, a 60-year-old from the northern West Bank city of Nablus, works as a blacksmith in an industrial park in east Jerusalem not far from Qalandia. The new system is substantially better but is another indication that Israel’s occupation has no end in sight, he said. “Qalandia today looks like an international crossing. You feel like you are entering a new country,” Osta said. “This is not an interim thing, apparently it’s final.”….
This Israeli face recognition startup is secretly tracking Palestinians
(behind paywall) Haaretz 15 July by Amitai Ziv — Anyvision Interactive Technologies is one of Israel’s most curious startups. It has shown extraordinary growth, and its technology is being used by the army to monitor West Bank Palestinians at checkpoints on the way into Israel — while using a network of cameras deep inside the West Bank. The company’s co-founder and chief executive, Eylon Etshtein, told TheMarker that his company is sensitive to racial and gender bias and only sells to democracies …
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 … Anyvision’s involvement in the West Bank is being revealed amid a lively debate around the world on the use of biometric technology, especially facial recognition. About a month ago, San Francisco became the first American city to outlaw facial recognition technology. And camera maker Axon recently decided to eliminate its products’ facial recognition capacity, based on the recommendations of an ethics committee that it had formed….
On the 69th Great March of Return 66 civilians injured by Israeli forces: 28 children, 2 journalists, and 4 women, including a paramedic
PCHR 3 Aug — Twenty-seven civilians were shot with live bullets and 2 children were deemed in a critical medical condition. While this week’s protests saw a decline in the number of civilian injuries, PCHR fieldworkers documented many cases of live bullets targeting civilians’ upper bodies. Despite the absence of a real threat to Israeli soldiers’ lives; the occupation forces continued the systematic use of excessive force against protestors. For the first time since the Great March of Return started in March 2018, there were no injuries reported in eastern Gaza City. The deployment of Palestinian security forces in official apparel along “Jakar” street, who denied civilians from approaching the border fence, contributed to the decline in injuries. Today’s protest, which lasted from 16:00 to 19:00, was titled “Solidarity with Crimes against Wadi al-Humus,” 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 following is a summary of today’s incidents along the Gaza Strip border:….
Updated: Israeli forces kill Palestinian at Gaza border
IMEMC 1 Aug — A young man from Gaza was shot dead before dawn on Thursday by Israeli troops after he allegedly crossed the border between Gaza and Israel. Israeli forces claim that the young man fired a gun at Israeli soldiers before they fired numerous live rounds, killing him. The Palestinian was later identified as Hani Abu Salah. According to a statement issued by the Israeli army, the young man came across the border and clashed with the soldiers. It is worth mentioning that Hani is the brother of Fadi Abu Salah, 20, who was killed by the Israeli army during on May 14, 2018. He was a wheelchair user who lost both of his legs during the Israeli war on Gaza in 2008.
According to the military, one officer sustained a moderate injury, and two other soldiers were slightly injured, and were transferred to the “Soroka” Hospital in Beer Sheva. The Israeli army also announced that in the aftermath of this killing, they decided to begin firing tank shells toward the Palestinian city of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, which led to exchanges of fire with Palestinian fighters in which no injuries were reported. Eyewitnesses in Gaza reported that the Israeli occupation army fired two shells and light bombs at the border area east of Khuza‘a town in Khan Younis after hearing the sound of gunfire. Others also spoke of Israeli planes flying in the area .[Ynet: Israeli military said the perpetrator – Hani Abu Salah – who was killed during a shoot-out with the soldiers, belonged to a Hamas unit responsible for restraining border violence along the security fence, including unauthorized launching of rockets and trespassing into Israeli territory.]
Fire forces Gaza pilgrims out of their hotel in Mecca
MEMO 30 July — Palestinian pilgrims in Mecca were forced to evacuate their hotel this morning after an electrical fault caused a fire. Saudi Civil Defence Forces (CDF) were called to the hotel and brought the fire under control, Ma’an reported. The fire broke out in the electricity room, causing widespread smoke on the ground floor, forcing the hotel administration to evacuate the pilgrims. Thousands of Palestinians have travelled from the Gaza Strip to Mecca to complete the Hajj pilgrimage this year, with Egypt facilitating their travel through the Rafah crossing, which is normally closed. The pilgrims then flew to Saudi Arabia and landed in Jeddah airport before heading to Mecca to complete the Hajj.
Israel arrests 2 Palestinians near Gaza buffer zone
GAZA CITY (AA) 29 July by Mustafa Haboush — Israeli forces arrested two Palestinians near the security fence with the Gaza Strip, according to the military on Monday. In a statement, the army said the two had sneaked into the Zikim settlement near the security fence before being arrested. No weapons were found in their possession, the statement said. Israeli forces frequently arrest Palestinians for allegedly attempting to sneak into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army prohibits Palestinians in the Gaza Strip from approaching the Gaza-Israel buffer zone, frequently arresting — or opening fire on – anyone who does.
Israel arrests 2 Palestinian children ‘trying to cross Gaza fence’
MEMO 2 Aug — The Israeli army said it had arrested yesterday two Palestinian children who tried to cross the Gaza fence. In a statement it said: “The Israeli army has arrested minors (11 and 15), who infiltrated through the security fence south of the Gaza Strip.” The statement added: “A knife was found in the possession of the minors, and they were transferred for interrogation by the Israeli army.” The Israeli army has announced in recent months the arrest of many Palestinians on the pretext of crossing the fence separating the Gaza Strip and Israel.
In next Gaza war, Israeli army eyes crippling Hamas but not toppling it
[behind paywall] Haaretz 31 July by Yaniv Kubovich — Revamped battle orders call for high-intensity campaign, with plans to inflict damage to civilian infrastructure and target members of Palestinian groups — The Israeli army has revamped combat procedures for the Gaza Strip, updating battle orders so that in a possible war Hamas and its forces would be delivered a severe blow that would weaken the organization, but still leave it with the ability to govern the enclave. The preparation process ended this week with a maneuver by the Israel Defense Forces’ Gaza Division, its largest since the 2014 Gaza war, with the participations of brigade headquarters, hundreds of reserve soldiers, the Israeli air force and navy. “There has been a most significant upgrade here,” IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said while visiting the military exercise. “I get the impression that there is very high readiness for a possible campaign in Gaza. We will continue preparing, on the assumption that a conflict could erupt any day.” Since assuming office in January, Kochavi has made preparing forces for Gaza fighting a top priority, with an emphasis on amping up the IDF’s “lethal” force. New battle orders call for a high-intensity campaign, which would be concluded much quicker than previous operations and wars in Gaza. To this end, special weaponry has been procured, including some designed for fighting in underground tunnels, and firing plans have been developed to inflict damage to civilian infrastructure in the Hamas-controlled enclave. The IDF’s Gaza target bank has also been updated to include more members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad….
Israel is battling Gaza’s Hamas on a new front — the post office
Ynet 28 July by Yoav Zitun — In past year, IDF troops have intercepted more than 1,600 items ordered from abroad and destined for the Strip that have been designated as ‘dual purpose’; the army’s list of banned objects now includes drones, night vision goggles and compasses, and is only getting longer — Five years after its last war with Israel, the military wing of Hamas has become more exacting, more focused and even more surprising. It is investing considerable resources in psychological warfare, at the expense of real military achievements. IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi recently defined Hamas as a “terrorist army,” as opposed to a terrorist organization. The decision to use the post office to smuggle items into Gaza is testimony to the change taking place in the military wing. While the items being posted are not rifles or anti-tank missile launchers, they can often cause more damage than live ammunition. The items do include drones, which can photograph strategic facilities on the Israeli side of the border from the air, and can hurl grenades at IDF troops. The packages sent by post also contain minute hidden cameras that can be placed on the perimeter fence during disturbances in order to provide intelligence to Gazan snipers or terrorists planning to cross the border. Other items include encrypted radios and advanced diving equipment – some of the best in the world – for the hundreds of Hamas naval commandos who have made massive advances since their failed mission to infiltrate Israel by sea during the 2014 war….
Hamas: PLO factions rejected municipal elections in Gaza
MEMO 30 July — Hamas yesterday said that PLO factions had rejected carrying out municipal elections in Gaza, Al-Watan Voice reported. Hamas MP Yahya Moussa said that freedom of opinion and choosing representatives is guaranteed for all. Hamas, he continued, suggested carrying out municipal elections in Gaza for the Democratic and Popular Fronts, as well as Fatah, but they rejected this suggestion. He also said that prior to nominating a municipal head for Gaza City, Hamas proposed the post to several officials, including technocrats, but they all rejected the proposal. The Hamas MP said that the new municipal head of Gaza Dr Yahya Al-Sarraj was the head of trustees of the University College of Gaza for years and he was nominated by academic figures, businessmen and technocrats.
Basketball Stars Academy: Inside Gaza’s new sports club for girls
The National 27 July by Ashleigh Stewart & Fady Hanona — When Haya Skaik, 16, arrives at Basketball Stars Academy each week in Gaza, she feels like she’s with one big extended family. For an afternoon, she’s surrounded by young girls like herself who simply love basketball and other sports. Haya says that in Gaza, more girls than ever before are taking up sports such as basketball, football and tennis. “I feel the society in Gaza has begun to change and there is an opportunity for us girls to flourish in all aspects, such as sport, art and work.” It’s almost as if there isn’t a conflict going on outside the walls of the school’s compound. Basketball Stars Academy moved into its permanent home in March and is housed in the British International School in Gaza City. Its founder, Ibrahim Skaik – who isn’t directly related to Haya – was a basketball player, once competing in tournaments with the Gaza Sports Club. But in 2015, he chose to focus on the next generation, and young female players, in particular. “I decided to open this academy and send a message to the world that we can and we have the ability to be like anyone in the world, but we simply need the opportunity,” he tells The National. … Skaik says he dreams of one day having a purpose-built headquarters for the academy, with a covered hall and perhaps a stadium built to international standards. He says he also wants the girls to be able to travel abroad to represent Palestine in the sport. But for now, he is focused on developing basketball in Gaza and maybe even bringing through a player or two who go on to play for Palestine.
Inside Palestine’s new equestrian club: ‘Riding helps me run away from the problems of life in Gaza’
The National 28 July by Ashleigh Stewart & Fady Hanona — A happy scene of young people dressed in jodhpurs and chaps, sitting on beautiful horses as they prance around a yard, is not what you’d usually associate with Gaza. But thanks to a group of locals, it is a common sight at several equestrian clubs that offer young people a distraction from the plight of living in Palestine. Haitham Shurrab, 49, owns a private pharmaceutical company and is a major distributor of medicine in the Gaza strip. He is also the head of the recently revamped Friends Equestrian Club. People can learn how to ride at the centre, which now has 160 members, while it also houses privately owned horses. (Look through the photo gallery above to see inside the club.) Last year, Shurrab joined a group of four others, comprising businessmen and amateur riders, to fund the construction and redevelopment of the club, with the project costing $350,000 (Dh1.29 million). But Shurrab says every last dollar was worth it … Some of the horses are local, while others, largely privately owned, have been brought in from countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands. Club horses are purchased through merchants and brokers, and horses coming from Israel enter through the main commercial crossing between Gaza and Israel at Kerem Shalom. But, as with the Palestinian people, life in Gaza is not easy for a horse. For a start, there are no vets specialising in equine health. Medicine has to be imported, while Google is often used to help deal with diseases or injuries. “We lose a lot of special horses to injury and death,” Shurrab says. “And here comes the problem of the lack of alternative horses and the difficulty of getting more. In just one year we lost seven….
Feature: Disabled children overcome psychological problems in summer camp in Gaza
[with photos] GAZA (Xinhua) 1 Aug — Tough memories are still haunting Thaers Jouda every single day when he reacts with that moment when his house was destroyed over heads of all his family members in the latest Israeli war in 2014. “I was playing with my siblings at our house garden, but suddenly I heard a huge explosion followed by a cloud of thick dust,” Jouda said, adding that it is the last thing that he remembered before entering a coma. Days later, he woke up at the hospital, finding that he lost his mother, two brothers, two sisters and his leg. The life seemed dark in his eyes after losing his family and he can no longer do the things that he used to do, such as playing football, riding bikes and flying the kites. “I hate to meet people, especially the children at the same age as me,” he said, adding that when he saw the sympathy in other people’s eyes, he felt that he was not a complete child. “I became a lonely boy without mother, sisters, brothers with unknown fate” Jouda said with breaking voice.
Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), a non-governmental organization, provides physical and psychological services for disabled children in Gaza Strip since 1987. “Thousands of disabled children had received our physical helps” Abed Al-Aziz Abed, spokesman of PCRF told Xinhua, adding that “but they also need the psychological support.” So, the organization has launched on Monday the first summer camp in the Middle East, which called “Camp Ability” for children with amputations, in Khan Younis city in the southern Gaza Strip. The camp targeted 53 children who lost their limbs because of the Israeli wars and congenital malformations….
VIDEO: Palestinian dabke dance troupe in wheelchairs
Al Jazeera English 31 July – Meet Abeer Al-Hirakli and troupe.
PHOTOS: Palestinians celebrate Traditional Dress Day in Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 31 July — The Ministry of Culture in Gaza on Tuesday commemorated the Palestinian “Traditional Dress Day” which falls on 25 July of every year. Dozens of men, women and children marched in central Gaza City while waving Palestine flags and wearing traditional dresses and clothes. Many participants wore Palestinian keffiyehs and carried old photographs of their grandparents wearing traditional clothes in their homes and lands from which they were expelled in 1948. Dabkeh and folk music and songs were present in the celebrations too. Nour Abdul-Ati, 27, said that she decided to take part in the event to help revive and protect the Palestinian cultural heritage. “We celebrate our culture today by wearing our traditional dress which Israel has repeatedly tried to obliterate,” she added.
Journalists / Media
Gaza’s media feel the squeeze
EI 26 July by Sarah Algherbawi — When Sami Mushtaha and Reem Abu Hassira presented the 20 January edition of “Youth Hour,” a programme on Al-Quds TV about the problems and hopes of young people in Gaza, they did not expect that they too would soon feel the despondency they had been reporting on for four years. The episode would be their last. The very next month, Al-Quds TV announced that it was shuttering its doors, unable to service a $7 million debt … But Al-Quds TV is just one of several media organizations that have closed in recent months and years. It was the second TV channel to close after Al-Kitab in 2017. Both of these channels were affiliated to Hamas, but media affiliated to other parties have also suffered. Ma‘an – seen as close to Fatah – shuttered its offices in Gaza in May [and dropped its English service altogether]; Npaa Press, affiliated with Islamic Jihad, effectively closed in January 2019 though a formal announcement has yet to be made; and the private Hona al-Quds ended operations in April 2016.
Nevertheless, media aligned with Hamas have fared the worst. The Hamas-affiiliated Palestinian Information Center has had to dramatically curtail its operations, closing its physical office and slashing salaries for remaining employees by 50 percent, while Alresalah newspaper has ended its print version and undergone a series of terminations to survive. Hamas’ Al-Aqsa channel was also about to close its doors in December 2018 before Ismail Haniyeh, a leading member of Hamas, intervened to secure funding….
Israeli forces injure journalists covering protests
GAZA, Palestine (AA) 3 Aug by Nilay Kar — Israeli forces injured three journalists as they were covering protests in Jerusalem and Gaza on Friday, according to the Journalist Support Committee (JSC) in Palestine. They attacked AP photographer Iyad Hamad, who was covering protests in the Wadi al-Hummus area of Jerusalem, breaking his foot, said Saleh al-Masri, a representative of the committee. Local reporter Osama Al-Kahlut was shot in the foot with a live bullet and Hatem Omar, working for China’s Xinhua news agency, was injured by a rubber bullet, al-Masri said. A total of 49 people were injured by Israeli soldiers in Gaza on Friday, he said. Since the Gaza rallies began in March last year, two journalists have been killed and 353 others injured by Israeli forces, the JSC official said.
Israel court extends detention of Anadolu Agency journo
JERUSALEM 1 Aug by Abdelraouf Arnaout — An Israeli court on Thursday extended the detention of an Anadolu Agency photojournalist until Sept. 1. In late July, Israeli authorities returned Mustafa Kharouf, 32, to a detention center where he has been held for the last six months after failing to deport him to Jordan as Amman has refused to receive him. The court held Thursday’s hearing at a deportation center in Ramla city, his lawyer, Ady Lustigman told Anadolu Agency. The lawyer said the court set Sept. 1 as the time limit for Israeli authorities to deport Kharouf. Lustigman pointed out however that the court may release Kharouf if the Israeli authorities failed to deport him to Jordan or Algeria — which has no diplomatic relations with Israel — through a third country. Kharouf was detained by Israeli police in East Jerusalem in January and held in prison in advance of his planned deportation to Jordan. Israeli authorities say that Kharouf, who has lived in Jerusalem with his family since he was 12, was born in Algeria. For the last 20 years, Israeli authorities have consistently refused to grant Kharouf a long-term residency permit, forcing him to obtain fresh tourist visas each year. While Kharouf holds a Jordanian passport that allows him to travel to neighboring Arab states, it does not give him citizenship or residency rights in Jordan. Kharouf has worked for Anadolu Agency as a photojournalist since last August.
Addameer’s lawyers visit three prisoners on hunger strike for 32 days in Nitzan-Ramle Prison
4 Aug by Ali Salam — On Wednesday 31 July 2019, Addameer’s lawyers visited three prisoners who had reached day 32 of their hunger strike. These prisoners include Huthayfa Halibia, Muhammad Abuakkar, and Mustafa Hassanat, who are being held in Nitzan-Ramle prison. The prisoners reported to the lawyer that they will continue their hunger strike until they achieve their demand to end their administrative detention. They only drink water, refuse to undergo medical examinations, and languish alone in their cells with a dungeon-like door that is closed at all times. Muhammad reported that he also suffers under the procrastination of the prison authorities when he asks for water as they are always late when they come. They lawyer confirmed that the three prisoners had difficulty moving, and they attended the lawyer’s visit in a wheelchair. He also reported that they suffer from nausea and stomach pain. Addameer condemns the persistent intransigence of the occupation authorities and their refusal to meet the demands of the three prisoners after a month of their hunger strike and as a result, putting their lives in danger. Addameer holds the occupying state fully responsible for the safety of the prisoners striking to obtain their legitimate right to freedom and an end to their arbitrary administrative detention.
Administrative detention orders issued against 100 Palestinians in July, says commission
RAMALLAH, Thursday, August 01, 2019 (WAFA) – The Israeli military authorities issued in July administrative detention orders against 100 Palestinians, some new and others extensions, the Prisoners Commission said today. It said the orders were between two and six months and can be indefinitely extended. Nine Palestinians held in administrative detention are currently on hunger strike, some of them for one month, to protest their detention without charge of trial and to demand their release. Many other detainees have secured their release after observing a long hunger strike, seen as the only way to get Israel to end extending indefinitely their detention. A total of 530 Palestinians are currently held in administrative detention, considered illegal in international law, for resisting the Israeli occupation, said the commission.
A nasty, brutish dream: Palestinian youth in detainment
IMEMC/Agencies 28 July by Isaac Scher — On a hot afternoon last August, Mohammed, 13, and Ahmed, 14, sat and watched from afar as a scuffle broke out between Israeli forces and local youth in their West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. Young villagers threw stones; Israeli soldiers responded with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition. An Israeli military jeep pulled up to Mohammed and Ahmed, neither of whom were participating in the clash, according to Mohammed’s father, Abed Tamimi. Soldiers stepped out and beat the two boys, then dragged them into the vehicle and took them to a detention center. Interrogators threatened the children, Tamimi said, demanding they give up the names of the youth who participated in the clash that day. They were told they would be imprisoned if they did not comply. Neither boy implicated themselves or any others and both were released shortly before midnight. Mohammed and Ahmed were lucky to be held captive for only a few hours, but the abuse they withstood was entirely ordinary. Over 75 percent of Palestinian children arrested in 2018 said they were physically abused while in Israeli captivity, according to a 2018 survey of 120 Palestinian child detainees by Defense for Children–Palestine (DCIP), an advocacy group. The vast majority of Palestinian children facing prosecution are charged with throwing stones at Israeli soldiers or settlers, who have illegally occupied the West Bank since the state wrested it from Jordan in 1967. If intent to harm can be proven, Palestinians as young as 12 can be given 20 years in prison. If not, they can nonetheless be sentenced up to 10 years. In the rest of the occupied West Bank, which falls under Israeli military law, Palestinians also face up to 20 years in prison for stone-throwing. Palestinian youth imprisoned in Israel are held in conditions that are so poor they constitute a “grave violation of prisoners’ rights,” the Israeli public defender’s office stated in a 2017 report. It found that inmates are crammed into 2–3 square meter cells, smaller than the minimum standard in many Western countries. Additional findings included poor air quality, uncleanliness and a lack of adequate medical treatment. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Public Security reduced prisoners’ water allotment and installed phone-jamming devices that some inmates say cause headaches….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
What Israel’s demolition of 70 Palestinian homes was really about / Gideon Levy
[behind paywall] Haaretz 3 Aug — The devastation is vividly visible through his office window: the scene of an explosion. The remnants of a blasted apartment building, his life’s enterprise, a house of cards that imploded. He had planned to build 13 stories here, and had completed nine, but last week the forces of destruction swept across the site and brought down it and nine other buildings. They left only the bottom two floors intact, but the blast wrought above them by soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, with crates of explosives scattered on every floor that produced a tremendous aftershock, makes it impossible to use the remnant of the bottom floors. The building’s owner casts a sad gaze over the ruins, his eyes damp and red from a lack of sleep, and he says softly, not for the first time: “I’d like to ask Meni Mazuz how this is this going to help security” – referring to the judge who wrote the High Court of Justice’s decision letting the demolition proceed. The question hangs ruefully in the air. The whole world of Muhammad Abu Tair, who owned the building that was toppled, lies in ruins along with the structure itself. “There is no justice at the High Court of Justice,” he says. “For years I’ve heard people say this, and now I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I will never go the High Court again. Its rulings are written by the IDF and the defense establishment, not by the court.”… In the name of security, Israel violated the Oslo Accords, its own planning and construction regulations, and the principles of natural justice. The buildings were too close to the separation fence to Israel’s liking, and the High Court acceded tacitly to the wrongdoing. Abu Tair’s suggestion – to build, at his expense, a high concrete wall to maintain Israel’s security and dot the area with security cameras, also at his expense – was rejected outright by Israel. But the breaches in the fence created by the soldiers and the police who took part in the demolition were still there this week, without anyone bothering to repair them: mute evidence of the “security concern” lie. Every child in Sur Baher knows that this destruction had nothing to do with security. Israel only uses this as an excuse to implement its policy of a silent population transfer in Jerusalem….
Opinion — Encountering peace: Have we no shame? / Gershon Baskin
JPost 24 July — As I watched the video of the Israeli soldiers and police blowing up one of the 13 residential buildings demolished this week in the Wadi al-Hummus neighborhood of Sur Bahir in east Jerusalem, I wanted to bury myself in shame. When the building imploded and the soldiers laughed as we heard the screams and cries from the Palestinians who became homeless, my shame turned to pure outrage and the urge to be violent. But I will not step down to that level. I will not be violent. But I will not hold back, I will not forget and I will not forgive. What we did, what the State of Israel did, what we do in the name of the Jewish state is becoming pure evil. My first thoughts about what I see in the daily reality of east Jerusalem, and the West Bank and Gaza – things such as the Sur Bahir home demolitions; the removal of Palestinians from their homes in Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, and the moving in of Jewish settlers in their place; settlement expansion and building at a faster pace than I have seen in many years; unauthorized settlements being built, budgeted and hooked up to Israeli infrastructure; massive police presence all over the West Bank ticketing hundreds of Palestinian cars (not cars of settlers); and the ongoing strangling the Palestinian economy in full coordination with the US government – all of these actions and more are leading to a definite explosion. My thought: Maybe that is exactly what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants? This is the perfect backdrop for Election Day. Could even Netanyahu be so cynical? I thought to myself – this can’t be …
SOME OF MY right-wing friends criticize my posts on Israel’s shameless and criminal behavior. They tell me that Israel does it under the rules of Oslo. They say that the Palestinians agreed to give up their authority in Jerusalem in the Oslo Accords. They say that the Palestinians agreed to give us Area C – 62% of the West Bank. They say that Israel has the legal right to demolish those homes in Area A, and that this, too, is part of Oslo. All of these claims are lies and false. Let us all remember the truth – Oslo was an interim meant to last five years, not 25 years. The designation of Area A, Area B and Area C were temporary. Even Area C, where Israel took full civil and security authority, was supposed to be a very small part of the West Bank, including only those areas designated as connected to permanent status negotiations (meaning the settlements), which then constituted about 2% of the West Bank, and “specified military locations” constituting about 1% of the West Bank. According to Oslo, Israel was supposed to withdraw from all of the rest of the territories and transfer them to the Palestinian Authority. That never happened and that was Israel’s most fundamental breach of its commitments to the Oslo Accords. Israel did not implement what it took upon itself to implement – that is pure and simple fact.
Analysis // Israel has created ten methods for deportation / Amira Hass
(not behind paywall) Haaretz 30 July — … Israel has created ten methods of deportation. One of them it has reserved for labor migrants and African refugees fleeing war and famine, while the rest have been assigned to the native Palestinians – children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of people who were born here. Most of the Israeli public views these methods as justified and supports – even if only by remaining silent – their continued implementation. We, the minority, scream against it inside a bell jar. There is the expulsion of people and chasing them out of the country, there is the forced displacement from homes and villages to enclaves of Area A, there is expulsion to the Gaza Strip and turning it into a penal colony, expulsion from Jerusalem to the West Bank and from agricultural land that provided a living for the family for hundreds of years. Official Israel is careful not to declare that its intention is to empty the land of its Palestinian natives. It has always relied on laws, regulations and military orders – seemingly respectable and proper – with a stamp of approval from the High Court of Justice … There is expulsion by virtue of the Israeli control over the Palestinian Population Registry, which turns Palestinians into permanent residents by the grace of Israel’s bad intentions. Until 1994, Israel revoked the residency status of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and in the Gaza Strip if they resided overseas for a long period, or were not here during the 1967 census … There is expulsion by drying people out. Israel controls the water sources. It sets low water quotas for the natives. Agriculture for Jews is expanding in the West Bank, while the water for the Palestinians – for drinking and agriculture – is shrinking … The Gaza Strip is cut off from the water in the rest of the country, as if it were an isolated island. Ninety-five percent of its water is unfit for drinking. Not everyone can bear this for a long time … There is expulsion by the banning of construction and connecting to infrastructure and by constant demolitions, blocking access to springs and grazing land, in what is called Area C, which covers most of the West Bank. Not everyone can bear it for a long time. People move to live in the Palestinian enclaves….
Water series (1): Israeli forces destroy farmland east of Hebron – ISM speaks to owner Ghassan Jaber
BIT ARAWA 30 July by ISM — This is the first of a series of reports documenting the control and devastation of water sources by Israel as a tool of oppression. On Thursday 18th July Israeli occupation forces came to the Al Baqa‘a area, east of Hebron, and destroyed an irrigation system that carried water to two agricultural fields, growing around 10,000 tomato plants each. Ghassan Jaber, 40, is the son of the owner of one of the fields. His family have been farming this land for generations. He told ISM that about thirty soldiers arrived in five military jeeps at 7am. Jaber asked the soldiers to show him a military order or permission form from Israeli authorities but they would not speak to him, instead forcefully evacuating him and his family away from the tomato fields. The soldiers cut the majority of the pipes that make up the irrigation system, crushing tomato plants in the process. They confiscated three of Jaber’s pesticide machines, each costing around 4000 NIS (1,100 USD). The family are currently watering the plants and administering pesticide by hand, which has greatly increased their workload. Since the incident, many of the tomato plants have died. This week, Jaber and his family are replacing the cut pipes. He estimates that this will cost about 40,000 NIS (11,000 USD), not including the additional labour costs. Jaber and his sons told ISM that they would be working for the next 24 hours to replace the pipes in time to save the crops. The military claims that Jaber’s farm is diverting water from the nearby illegal Israeli settlement Kiryat Arba. The farm has traditionally taken its water from a well owned by the Jaber family, situated on their land. In 2009, Israeli forces blocked the well with rubble rendering it unusable. It cost Jaber about 30,000 NIS (8,500 USD) to replace this well, and last winter the soldiers blocked it again. Jaber decided to build a hidden groundwater well so that the military would not be able to find and destroy it. This cost Jaber about 150,000 NIS (42,500 USD). It is this groundwater well that now supplies the irrigation system. On Thursday, Jaber told the soldiers that he is using his own groundwater but they went ahead with the destruction regardless….
Water series (2): ‘There’s no law in the world that says you can cut water from humans’
4 Aug by Ali Salam — Israel is escalating its war on water in the South Hebron Hills, demolishing wells, ripping out kilometres of pipeline and even confiscating trucks carrying emergency water tanks to parched villages. In the sweltering month of July, five demolitions targeting water infrastructure were carried out, leaving Palestinian farming villages without access to water. The latest took place on Wednesday July 31, when the Israeli Civil Administration – the body that governs Area C in the West Bank – cut pipes supplying water to houses and farmland in the area of al-Jaway near At-Tuwani. Tariq Hathaleen, a local activist from the South Hebron Hills, says that the number of demolitions on water sources has “more than doubled,” this year compared to previous years. He told ISM: “Now in the summer it sounds like the Civil Administration has a plan to restrict Palestinian access to water in the South Hebron Hills, in Area C in general, and that’s actually to put more pressure on those people to move them away from those villages. “Because the Civil Administration don’t have a direct excuse to expel those people from their land but the plan is to put more pressure to make them leave by cutting their water sources.” On July 4, bulldozers destroyed three water wells outside the town of Dkeika, a day after they came to the same area and uprooted over 500 olive trees. The destruction of the wells and trees have affected around 1,200 people, 60 per cent of them registered as refugees. according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Four water cisterns were also destroyed on July 24 in a park between the villages of Umm al-Kheir and Umm Daraj. “I know the reality of these people,” Tariq, who was at the demolition, adds. “I call them the enemies of life and they prove this by cutting trees, by cutting water pipes, by cutting the lives of people.” The Good Shepherd Collective, a group that advocates human rights predominantly in the South Hebron Hills, puts the escalation of demolitions down to the actions of far-right settler NGO Regavim….
Israel destroys tents, barracks belonging to Palestinians in West Bank
GAZA (Xinhua) 30 July — Palestinian sources on Tuesday said that Israeli forces destroyed Palestinian tents and herders barracks belonging to Palestinians in Ras al-Ahmar community in the Jordan Valley early morning. Sources told Xinhua that this is the second demolition operation by Israeli forces in the area since last June, explaining that an Israeli bulldozer that accompanied the army troop tore down three residential tents and several barracks, leaving 17 individuals displaced. Palestinian Authority’s Wall and Colonization Resistance commission officer Mutaz Besharat said that Israeli forces prohibited the access of relief aid to the victims. He added that on June 12, Israeli bulldozers tore down five herding barracks, a residential tent and 25 water barrels belonging to Palestinian families in the same area. According to official data, the Jordan Valley, to the east of the West Bank bordering Jordan, is home to about 65,000 Palestinians and the area is approximately 30 percent of the West Bank. Israel repeatedly said it will not give up control over the strategic area of Jordan Valley, while Palestinians believe it should be part of their future state.
Israel okays homes for Palestinians, settlers before Kushner visit
JERUSALEM (AFP) 31 July — Israel has given rare approval to Palestinian homes in the part of the occupied West Bank it fully controls while also backing a large settlement expansion before a visit by the White House’s Jared Kushner. An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity on Wednesday, confirmed the approval by the country’s security cabinet the previous day with US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser expected to visit this week. The approval is for 700 Palestinian homes and 6,000 for Israeli settlers. It was not immediately clear if all of the homes will be new construction or if some already exist and are receiving retroactive approval. The plan for Palestinians, though relatively small and far outweighed by the number of settlement homes, could allow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to argue he is making efforts in favour of Kushner’s long-awaited peace plan. Details on Kushner’s visit as part of a Middle East tour were not yet made available. He has said his plan will not mention a two-state solution because “it means one thing to the Israelis, it means one thing to the Palestinians.”….
UNRWA / Palestinian refugees
UN appoints acting deputy at agency being probed
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 1 Aug– Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday appointed a new acting deputy head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, whose top management is under investigation by the U.N.’s internal watchdog over allegations of abusing their authority. Deputy Commissioner General Sandra Mitchell of the United States resigned in July and denied all allegations in a confidential report by the ethics office of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, known as UNRWA. The report, obtained Monday by The Associated Press, claims the agency’s top management, including Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl, “have engaged in sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority.” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Guterres decided in coordination with Krahenbuhl to appoint Assistant Secretary-General Christian Saunders of the United Kingdom as the agency’s acting deputy commissioner general “to support UNRWA and ensure operational continuity.” The U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services is currently investigating allegations of misconduct in UNRWA, Dujarric said, and “the secretary-general is committed to acting, as appropriate, once he receives the findings and recommendations.” Dujarric said Guterres considers UNRWA’s work “essential to Palestinian refugees” and calls on U.N. member nations and others to continue supporting the agency’s “crucial work.” Guterres told reporters later that he has been “acting quite significantly to make sure that we strengthen UNRWA and UNRWA’s capacity to deliver.” He said he has been appealing to all countries to support UNRWA, stressing that “we should distinguish what are the revelations made, or accusations made, in relation to members of the management of UNRWA from the needs to preserve UNRWA, to support UNRWA, and to make UNRWA effective.”….
Hamas doubts graft charges against UNRWA
GAZA CITY (AA) 1 Aug by Yasser al-Banna — The Palestinian resistance group Hamas has said that it will not tolerate corruption in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), but cautioned against leveling such allegations. Established in 1949, the UNRWA is engaged in relief and human development works, supporting more than five million registered Palestinian refugees. A recent news report quoting a controversial document from the UN’s ethics department has alleged mismanagement and abuse of authority at the UNRWA, prompting Israel to ask the international community to defund the agency. Basem Naim, a leading figure in Hamas, said Palestinians would not support any corruption charges. But, he cautioned against a prejudgment. He said such an attitude of assumption serves the Israeli-American schemes, which aim to dismantle the UN agency’s efforts. He reminded that the U.S. President Donald Trump had stopped funding of the agency last year. Stressing that corrupt officials need to be held accountable, Naim rejected the use of the UN ethics report to target the Palestinian rights. “These reports are published only weeks before the UN General Assembly’s voting on renewing the mandate of the UNRWA, scheduled on Sept 2019,” said the Hamas official, suspecting foul play … Naim’s statement comes two days after the Swiss Foreign Ministry, announced that it was suspending its financial contributions to the UNRWA.
Belgium suspends UNRWA funding over leaked ethics report
Al Jazeera 2 Aug — Netherlands and Switzerland already put their funding on hold after report alleged mismanagement by agency’s leadership — Belgium is suspending its contribution to the UN relief organisation for Palestinian refugees, becoming the third country to do so after a leaked report alleged mismanagement at the agency. The findings in the internal ethics report, first published by Al Jazeera on Monday, include allegations of misconduct, nepotism and discrimination by UNRWA’s leadership … In a statement to Al Jazeera on Wednesday, UNRWA spokesperson Tamara Alrifai said the organisation “regrets” the decision by Switzerland and the Netherlands. “There is an ongoing investigation concerning UNRWA, and nothing that is being disseminated or discussed are findings of the investigation, only allegations and rumors.” She appealed to the public to “wait for the actual conclusions of the investigation.” In the meantime, she appealed to donors to “keep their funding in place” for the Palestinian refugees. In early July, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl said in a statement to Al Jazeera that he “unreservedly” rejected the report’s characterisation of the agency and its senior leadership….
China contributes 1 mln USD to UN relief agency’s food program
RAMALLAH (Xinhua) 30 July — China on Tuesday signed an agreement with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to contribute 1 million U.S. dollars to the UN agency’s food program in the Gaza Strip. The deal was signed between Guo Wei, director of the China’s Office to the State of Palestine, and Marc Lassouaoui, a senior official of the UNRWA. The UNRWA hailed the agreement as a generous support by the government of China, expressing gratitude for the financial support in the light of the financial crisis it has suffered after the United States cut more than half of its aid. Guo reiterated China’s unwavering position toward the support of Palestinian refugees through bilateral and multilateral channels….
Clashes in Palestinian camp in Lebanon after man shot dead
BEIRUT (AP) 2 Aug — Lebanon’s state-run news agency says gunmen have exchanged fire in the country’s largest Palestinian refugee camp, located near the southern port city of Sidon. The National News Agency said Friday’s clashes broke out in Ein el-Hilweh after the son of a former official with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah group was shot dead. Witnesses said a masked gunman killed Hussein Alaa-Eddine while he was participating in a protest against new Lebanese labor rules forcing Palestinians to get work permits to be able to work in Lebanon. Ein el-Hilweh is notorious for its lawlessness and clashes are not uncommon in the camp, which the U.N. says is home to some 55,000 people. It was established in 1948 to host Palestinians displaced by Israeli forces during the establishment of Israel.
Maxine Peake ‘cancels’ fake play at Amnesty HQ in solidarity with Gaza theatre
Jewish News 30 July by Jenni Frazer — Actress Maxine Peake has ‘cancelled’ a fake London performance of a show written by a Palestinian playwright as a stunt to support people in Gaza. Peake, a well-known as a supporter of Palestinian causes, was due to appear in a scheduled one-person play written by Ahmed Masoud, called Obliterated. It was to be held at Amnesty International’s London headquarters on August 9. However, in an email sent to those who had reserved free tickets, Masoud wrote: “There was never a play or a show, I didn’t write it and Maxine never rehearsed it..”…
Peake announced the one-night-only performance was cancelled, declaring that “art should not be targeted by soldiers”. It was due to be held to mark the first anniversary of the destruction by an Israeli airstrike of the Mishal Cultural Centre in Gaza, which they described as “the only working theatre in Gaza”. Masoud said his his email to ticket-holders, he wanted to invite “the 2529 people who booked, to be part of this experience, to be angry at this injustice. “I would like to thank Maxine Peake and Amnesty International UK for supporting this creative response”…
The IDF said — after the five-storey building was flattened last August– that the centre was being “used by the Hamas terror organisation for military purposes”. The attack prompted an open letter to the Guardian from a number of leading writers and directors in British theatre, including the playwright Caryl Churchill and the artistic directors of the Royal Court Theatre, the Royal Lyceum Theatre and the English Touring Theatre.
Is B.D.S. anti-Semitic? A closer look at the Boycott Israel campaign
JERUSALEM (NY Times) 27 July by David M. Halbfinger et al. — In a matter of months, a campaign to boycott Israel has moved from the margins of politics — liberal college campuses and protest marches — to Congress, where the freshman representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan have become its most vocal backers, drawing fire from the White House. On Tuesday, the House overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning the campaign, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. With its adherents prominent in the British Labour Party and critics fighting it in Washington and dozens of state capitals, B.D.S. has become a proxy for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the United States and Europe, with all the emotion the conflict stirs. The movement’s supporters are routinely accused of anti-Semitism. Opponents are accused of trampling on free speech. Yet B.D.S. is often misunderstood and misrepresented by people on both sides. Is it a legitimate, nonviolent protest to protect the rights of Palestinians, or a movement that aims to eliminate Israel and traffics in anti-Semitism? Here are answers to some of the most difficult questions….
Canadian court rules West Bank wines are not a ‘product of Israel’
NPR 30 July by Sasha Ingber — A federal judge in Canada has ruled that wines made in Jewish settlements in the West Bank should not carry labels that say “Product of Israel.” Justice Anne Mactavish said that labeling the wines as products of the Israeli state was false and misleading, and prevented Canadian consumers from making informed purchasing decisions. “Whatever the status of Israeli settlements in the West Bank may be, all of the parties and interveners agree that the settlements in issue in this case are not part of the State of Israel,” Mactavish said in the ruling on Monday. She described the labeling as “false, misleading and deceptive,” saying that it “interferes with the ability of Canadian consumers” to make informed decisions “to ‘buy conscientiously.’” The judicial review came after David Kattenburg, a self-described wine lover and descendant of Holocaust survivors who has long protested the plight of Palestinians, complained to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency about the labeling in 2017. “I found this to be outrageous, because the settlements are illegal under international law,” he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that year. Initially, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency took the position that the wines were mislabeled. It then reversed course following criticism by Jewish groups, citing the free trade agreement between Canada and Israel. It said Israel referred to territories where the country’s customs laws were applied. The judge did not decide how the wines should be labeled. Instead Mactavish said CFIA must make the determination….
Palestine in pictures: July 2019
EIectronic Intifada 1 August
Palestine declares August 11 first day of Eid al-Adha
JERUSALEM, Thursday, August 1, 2019 (WAFA) – The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, declared today that Friday, August 2, is the first day of the Muslim month of Dhu al-Hijjah, meaning that Eid al-Adha (Holiday of Sacrifice) will be on Sunday, August 11. The Mufti congratulated the entire Muslim people in all Muslim and Arab countries across the world on this glorious occasion.
New Palestinian poll reveals ‘wait and see’ view of Trump peace plan
Wash. Inst. 29 July by David Pollock — A new poll by the Palestine Center for Public Opinion, taken June 27-July 19, indicates that the majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza oppose their leaderships’ preemptive rejection of the Trump administration’s peace plan—despite widespread popular disapproval of the current U.S. president. The survey also shows a dramatic rise in the proportion supporting an enhanced role in peacemaking for the Arab states. More specifically, however, only a minority voice a favorable attitude toward the June regional economic workshop in Bahrain, with many saying they have not heard or read enough about it. Surprisingly, given the very negative Palestinian official and media commentary on the Trump peace plan, only one-third of respondents in either the West Bank or Gaza agree that the Palestinian Authority “should reject it now.” Instead, a larger percentage advocate a more measured position: around one-quarter in each territory say “the PA should not reject the plan, so Israel won’t be able to take advantage” of that; and an additional one-quarter say “the PA should look at the plan when it is officially released, before taking any position on it.” In the West Bank, 23% admit they too “haven’t heard or read enough” about the peace plan to venture an opinion about it. Among Gazans, the comparable figure is just 12%. Moreover, on the related issue of the U.S. push for a broader Arab role in regional peacemaking, Palestinian public opinion has taken a sharply positive turn since the previous poll in October 2018. Today, 61% of West Bank respondents, and an astonishing 86% of those in Gaza, agree that “Arab states should take a more active role in Palestinian-Israeli peacemaking, offering both sides incentive to take more moderate positions.” Last year, only about half agreed with that idea….
Trump’s peace plan rings alarm bells in Jordan
AMMAN (AFP) 28 July by Mussa Hattar — A controversial US plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace could spell the demise of Jordan and turn it into a “Palestinian state,” Jordanians and analysts warn. The initiative launched by US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner at a June conference in Bahrain dangles the prospect of $50 billion in investment into a stagnant Palestinian economy. But it fails to address key issues and demands of the Palestinian side, such as the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, Israel’s occupation in the West Bank, and the Palestinians’ claim of a right to return to homes within Israel from which they fled or were expelled after Israel’s creation in 1948 …
The largely desert country — which has few resources and relies heavily on international donors, including $1 billion a year from Washington — is home to 9.5 million people, more than half of them of Palestinian origin. Two-thirds of them are Jordanian citizens, while the others are considered refugees who many Jordanians fear will be settled permanently and given citizenship as well if the Kushner plan goes through. More than two million Palestinians in Jordan are UN-registered refugees. “Jordan is worried because the deal ignores the idea of an independent Palestinian state,” said Oraib Rintawi, who runs the Al-Quds Center for Political Studies in Amman. As a result, he said, “this will mean that the sustainability of a Palestinian nation would be conditioned to it being linked somehow with Jordan and that will open the gates of hell for Jordan.”….
US prevents UNSC from holding Israel accountable for ‘crimes’: Palestinian envoy
RAMALLAH (Xinhua) 3 Aug — A Palestinian diplomat accused the United States on Saturday of preventing the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) from holding Israel accountable and prosecuting it for the crimes it committed against the Palestinians. Reyad Mansour, the permanent ambassador of the state of Palestine in the UN, told official radio station Voice of Palestine that “holding Israel accountable is absent because the U.S. vetoes any resolution that holds Israel guilty.” The UN Security Council held on Friday night a session that devoted its debates to discussing the issue of children in armed conflicts, where the council’s members referred to the UN secretary general’s report on children. According to WAFA news agency, the UN report has clearly shown Israeli violations against Palestinian children in 2018, recording the highest percentage of killing, where 59 children were killed and more than 2,000 injured. The children were either killed or wounded in their participation in the weekly anti-Israel popular protests and rallies better known as the Great March of Return and Breaking the Israeli blockade, which started in late March last year. According to the UN report, 203 children are imprisoned in Israeli jails, most of them are without a trail under administrative detention. Mansour expressed anger that the report of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had excluded Israel and didn’t put it in the blacklist that includes countries that mistreat children.
Israel’s latest attempt to erase Palestine
EI 25 July by Ilan Pappe — The attempt to suppress official documentation of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948 is not new. But efforts by teams from the Israeli defense ministry to remove sensitive documents from Israeli archives – as reported by the Haaretz newspaper recently – must be understood in a new political climate and are not simply an attempt to spare Israeli governments embarrassment, as some have suggested. Those of us working with Nakba documents – Nakba means “catastrophe” and is the term Palestinians use for the expulsion in 1948 of some 800,000 people from their lands and homes in what became Israel – were already aware of the removal of these documents. For many years, for instance, historians were unable to revisit “the village files,” which formed an important proof in my argument that the 1948 war was an act of ethnic cleansing. Some of the crucial material Benny Morris used on the Deir Yassin and al-Dawayima massacres could also not be not re-opened. They all detailed a more honest Israeli version of the causes leading to what was termed the “Palestinian exodus” in 1948. Why are these files being hidden? In 2016, the journalist Lisa Goldman assumed that the reason was that the works of the “new historians” embarrassed the government and undermined Israel’s international standing. The documents certainly challenged the official Israeli version of a voluntary Palestinian flight and exposed war crimes committed by Zionist and later Israeli forces. But I think the reasons are far more profound and alarming. They are part of a new assault on Palestine and the Palestinians.
Eliminating the native — Israeli and American intentions combined with the vulnerability of the Palestinians bring us to a dangerous historical juncture. Israel is now in a position to attempt once more to act according to the logic of the “elimination of the native” (the anthropologist Patrick Wolfe’s characterization of the motives behind setter colonial movements such as Zionism). Israel succeeded only partly in implementing this aim in 1948. The Palestinian national movement and people struggled succesfully then, and continue to struggle now, against the completion of the ethnic cleansing of 1948. But this is a difficult moment. Abroad, efforts to shield Israel from criticism have intensified. Pro-Palestinian politicians are defamed as anti-Semites. Legislation is being introduced in different countries to protect Israel from criticism and activism, including boycotts. Removing archival material and the possible destruction of documents expose the deeper ideological motives behind this current assault on Palestine and the Palestinians….
Jordan closes tomb of Prophet Harun in Petra after Israeli tourist transgressions
AMMAN (Asharq al-Awsat) 3 Aug by Mohammed Kheir Al-Rawashdeh — The Jordanian authorities decided to close the Tomb of Prophet Harun [Aaron] in Petra, south of Jordan, after a video of Israeli tourists holding religious services in the place emerged on social media in contravention with visitor instructions. Social media activists shared the video of the tourists, spurring a chain of comments on holding accountable anyone responsible for these transgressions. The Tomb overlooks the West Bank and is a registered heritage of the historic city Petra, which is classified among the Seven Wonders of the World … In an official statement, Jordan said the decision to close the holy site was made because of the “illegal entrance of the tourists, without the knowledge of the Ministry.” The statement issued a condemnation of the group’s behavior and said that an investigation of the incident will be launched …
The closure of the Tomb comes amid a national rejection of a movie that US production companies sought to shoot in Petra. The story claims that Jews lived in southern Jordan, and a huge number of them resided in Petra. The film “Jaber” aims to claim that the sacred land to Jews is not only Israel and Palestine but also Jordan.
Facebook defeats appeal in US claiming it aided Hamas attacks in Israel
NEW YORK (Reuters) 31 July by Jonathan Stempel — Facebook Inc on Wednesday defeated an appeal by American victims of Hamas attacks in Israel, who sought to hold the company liable for providing the group a social media platform to further its terroristic goals. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”), a 1996 law regulating internet content, shielded Facebook from civil liability. It also declined to consider the plaintiffs’ foreign law claims, noting that most plaintiffs, including relatives and estates of victims, said they were Americans living in Israel. The plaintiffs originally sought $3 billion (£2.47 billion) in damages from Facebook, for allowing Hamas to use its platform to encourage terrorist attacks in Israel, celebrate successful attacks, and generally support violence toward that country. Their complaint described Hamas attacks against five Americans, four of whom died, in Israel from 2014 to 2016. Lawyers for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Facebook, based in Menlo Park, California, did not immediately respond to similar requests. Wednesday’s decision is a fresh setback to efforts to hold companies such as Facebook and Twitter Inc liable for failing to better police users’ online speech….
Opinion: When the ‘squad’ goes to occupied Palestine / Daoud Kuttab
Al Jazeera 3 Aug — Following President Donald Trump‘s racist suggestion that they should “go back” to “the broken and crime infested” places that they came from, one of the four freshman democratic congresswomen of colour, known widely as “the squad”, is planning to pay an official visit to her ancestral homeland. Rashida Tlaib, a Detroit native born to a family of Palestinian immigrants, is expected to visit the occupied Palestinian territories in the coming weeks. It is pretty common for freshman members of the US Congress – Democratic and Republican – to visit Israel. Usually, the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC organises and sponsors these visits to make sure US representatives start their tenure with a positive perception of Israel and view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from an Israeli perspective … Throughout their time in Israel, these representatives rarely get to hear any Palestinian voices or witness the devastation caused by Israel’s unlawful occupation. Of course, Tlaib’s visit, which she plans for August together with her fellow “squad” member Ilhan Omar and other US officials, is going to be significantly different from these AIPAC-organised visits. First, they may not even be allowed to travel to the occupied Palestinian territories; this is because as supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, they could be barred by the Israeli government from entering Israel and occupied Palestine….
Israeli NGO petitions to bar Ilhan Omar from entering Israel
IMEMC/Agencies 1 Aug — A right-wing Israeli NGO filed, on Wednesday, a petition to have US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar barred from entering Israel, when she arrives for an upcoming tour, because she supports the international boycott of Israel (BDS). The organization, Shurat HaDin, asked the Israeli Jerusalem District Court, on Tuesday, to demand that Interior Minister Aryeh Deri exercise his power to deny Omar entry. Omar expressed, during recent weeks, her desire to visit occupied Palestine, along with Palestinian-American Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan. Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, stated, according to Al Ray, that Israel will not prevent Omar Tlaib from entering Israel, when they arrive for a planned tour, in August. Shuran HaDin said that its petition included proof of Omar’s activities supporting the BDS movement, including her sponsorship of a bill to allow the boycotting of Israel, earlier this month. The NGO also cited a recent tweet by US President Donald Trump, calling on Omar and Tlaib to apologize to Israel, the White House and the American people, due to their “horrible statements’….