West Bank / Jerusalem
Update: ‘Army kills one Palestinian near Bethlehem’
IMEMC 16 Aug — The Palestinian Health Ministry and the District Civil Coordination Office have reported that the Palestinian who was killed by Israeli soldiers near Etzion, Friday,south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, has been identified as Ala Khader al-Hreimi, 26. The Israeli army claimed the soldiers fired many live rounds at his car after he reportedly deliberately rammed two Israeli colonists near Etzion illegal colony. The Palestinian, a construction worker, is a former political prisoner who was detained by Israel for two years and was previously shot by Israeli soldiers. Following his death, the soldiers summoned his brother, Abdul-Salam al-Hreimi, for interrogation at Roadblock #300, south of Bethlehem. Israeli sources said the two wounded settlers are Noam Navis, 19, who was moderately injured, and her brother, Nachum, 17, who suffered a serious head injury and has been hooked to a respirator, from Gush Etzion.
Updated From: Two Settlers Injured, Palestinian Driver Killed Near Gush Etzion Aug 16, 2019 @ 15:13 Israeli sources have reported that two colonialist settlers were injured, Friday, after being rammed by a Palestinian driver, near Gush Etzion colony, north of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. The sources said the Palestinian driver was “neutralized.” .. Israeli Ynetnews said “it remains unclear whether the incident was a deliberate attack, or a traffic accident…
One child killed, one seriously injured by Israeli police following alleged stabbing in Jerusalem
IMEMC 16 Aug — Two 14-year old boys were shot Thursday evening near the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem after an alleged stabbing of an Israeli police officer that resulted in a light injury. Israeli sources reported, Friday, that one of the two Palestinian teens who were shot and seriously injured near al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem Thursday, died of his wounds. He was identified as Nassim Abu Roumi, 14, from the al-‘Ezariyya town, east of occupied East Jerusalem. The other child who was shot Thursday evening, Hammouda Khader Sheikh, 14, from al-Walaja, south of Jerusalem, is believed to still be in critical condition in an Israeli hospital. Some Palestinian media sources have reported that Hammouda also died of his wounds, but that was not confirmed by IMEMC reporters. The army and the police fired many live rounds at the two teens, and several Palestinians in the area, moderately wounding two bystanders. It is worth noting that Nassim is the son of Mokafih Abu Roumi, a political leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), in Jerusalem. Israeli soldiers stormed his father’s home, and abducted him shortly after the reported stabbing incident. The Israeli army also summoned the Abu Roumi and Sheikh families for interrogation in a security center between al-Ezariyya and East Jerusalem.
Updated from: Israeli Troops Open Fire on Jerusalem Crowd After Alleged Stabbing of Police Officer Aug 15, 2019 @ 20:36 A number of Palestinians were reportedly injured by live ammunition, including a guard for the Al Aqsa Mosque, when Israeli forces opened fire on people in and around the mosque following the alleged stabbing of an Israeli police officer by two unknown assailants. Israeli media sources report that the two suspects in the stabbing were both teenagers, and were both shot by Israeli troops, and one was killed. They have not been identified. The Israeli police officer who was injured is reported to be 40 years old, and was taken to the hospital with light injuries….
Army shoots a young man and his wife near Tulkarem
IMEMC 13 Aug — Israeli soldiers shot, Tuesday, a young Palestinian man and his wife, near the Annexation Wall, west of Zeita village, north of the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers, stationed at the gate of the Annexation Wall in that area, opened fire at Yahia Abu Khater, 25, and his wife, while they were walking near it. The Palestinian couple were both injured, before the soldiers abducted the husband and took him in an Israeli ambulance, while his wife was transferred by Palestinian medics to a governmental hospital in Tulkarem. There were no protests or incidents taking place when the soldiers opened fire at the Palestinian husband and his wife, and it remains unclear why the soldiers opened fire in the first place.
Soldiers injure many Palestinians, including a medic, abduct three in Al-Aqsa Mosque
IMEMC 12 Aug — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Sunday afternoon, the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem and injured several Palestinians, including a volunteer medic, in addition to abducting three others. Media sources said the soldiers assaulted many worshipers in al-Aqsa and hurled a concussion grenade at a medic trying to provide them with medical treatment, wounding him in the arm. The sources added that the soldiers abducted three young men, one of them has been identified as Mo’ab Abu Khdeir, 22, who was also assaulted and injured, while they were in the courtyard near the Dome of the Rock. It is worth mentioning that the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) earlier reported that its medics provided treatment to 37 Palestinians, including 14 who were moved to the al-Makassed hospital, after the soldiers assaulted them, and fired gas bombs and concussion grenades at them, earlier Sunday.
A Bedouin family gets evicted by Israel, and their baby gets killed
(behind paywall) Haaretz 17 Aug by Amira Hass — In her 2-month life, her tent was demolished twice. She died in an accident and her mother was seriously injured, the day after the family was ordered out. For 50 communities in the Jordan Valley, evictions are common — Sarah Ka‘abneh, 24, doesn’t know yet that her 2-month-old daughter Hana has died. For nearly two weeks the mother has been unconscious in intensive care at Jerusalem’s Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem. When the accident happened on the morning of August 5, she had the baby in her arms. She was sitting in a cart harnessed to a tractor driven by her father-in-law. Her eldest son Khaled, 2, her mother-in-law and her parents-in-law’s young children sat to each side, among the family’s meager belongings. Sarah’s husband, Odeh Ka‘abneh, took the sheep out to pasture and knew nothing until 9 A.M., when his cousins found him in the hills and told him. He was always a man of few of words, and since he buried his tiny daughter and saw his wife badly bruised on the face and then linked up to various IVs at the hospital, he has been saying even less. This Bedouin family is no stranger to seasonal wandering between two permanent sites and searching for food for the sheep. But this time the wandering was premature, forced. On August 4, a day before the disaster, a Civil Administration inspector appeared at the family’s encampment near al-Hadidiya in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank. He ordered the family to move away from the place where they and their herd stay several months each year during the warm weather. About half an hour earlier, Odeh says, a settler from the settlement of Ro’i showed up and also ordered them out. They decided to spare themselves what they had undergone in May and July this year – the destruction of their tents and sheep pen….
Water series: Hail of tear gas on peaceful villagers protesting settler theft of water supply in Kafr Malik
KAFR MALIK, occupied Palestine (ISM) 16 Aug — The residents of Kafr Malik, a town northeast of Ramallah, marched towards the Ain Samia area today to protest Israel’s theft of the village’s water supply, which has been diverted to a new illegal settlement. Protesters told ISM that 20 hectares of land had also been stolen from the village, where almost 3,000 Palestinians live, and handed to just five settler families. Hundreds attended the march and prayer – organised jointly by Fatah and the National and Islamic Parties – including the head of the Roman Catholic monastery in Palestine Abdullah Yolio. The peaceful protest was immediately bombarded with rounds of tear gas (seen in video below) fired by occupation forces as well as hundreds of rubber-coated steel bullets and sound bombs. Israeli soldiers also tried to confiscate Palestinian flags from protesters and targeted journalists, interrupting their filming and forcing them to move if they refused to comply with what appeared to be entirely arbitrary orders. The Red Crescent treated several people for tear gas inhalation including an ISMer who had to be carried to an ambulance. He said that Israeli soldiers: “…came up the hill behind us, and fired directly at journalists filming on the hill above the protest.”…
Being cut off from the local water supply has severe implications for local Palestinian communities and is used as a means of oppression across the West Bank, from the Jordan Valley to the South Hebron Hills. The cutting of Palestinian water resources is not just a matter of preferential treatment, or discrimination. It is an active effort to force Palestinians out of their homes by applying psychological and economic pressure to the communities there….
UPDATE: Israeli forces abduct secretary ot Fatah movement in ‘Issawiya
RAMALLAH, Thursday, August 15, 2019 (WAFA) – An Israeli special force abducted the secretary of the Fatah movement in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-‘Issawiya, Yasser Darwish, said local sources. Witnesses said an Israeli special force abducted Darwish during a raid into the town of al-‘Issawiya. Darwish was released by Israeli forces a few days ago and was banned from entering his hometown for a period of one week. He was detained dozens of times under flimsy security pretexts.
Settlers attack Nablus-area village; Israeli forces intervene in support of settlers
NABLUS, Thursday, August 15, 2019 (WAFA) – Israeli settlers attacked the village of ‘Orif, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, after failing to set fire to local farmers’ land, said a local activist. Ghassan Daghles, an official in charge of the settlement file in the northern West Bank, said settlers attacked the village of ‘Orif after residents managed to fend off their attempts to set fire to their land. Clashes reportedly broke out in the eastern part of the village between residents and Israeli forces who intervened in support of the settlers and attacked the former with live ammunition and tear gas canisters. No injuries were reported.
Armed colonists invade an archaeological site near Nablus, conduct training
IMEMC 13 Aug — Several armed illegal Israeli colonialist settlers, accompanied by soldiers, invaded the al-Mas‘udiyya area, on Palestinian lands in Burqa village, northwest of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and conducted training. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors Israel’s illegal colonialist activities in northern West Bank, said the colonists were armed with assault rifles, and conducted training in the archaeological site. He added that the soldiers closed the area and surrounded it, before allowing the colonists in, and prevented the Palestinians from entering. Daghlas stated that the colonists were mainly women and children, and almost all of them were armed. Al-Mas‘udiyya area is a destination for internal Palestinian tourism and is known for once having the railway station during the Ottoman era. When the railway lines were functional during the Ottoman era, they linked the area with Haifa, and all the way to Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Israeli forces abduct six Palestinians in pre-dawn raids Thursday
IMEMC 15 Aug — Israeli forces invaded three different parts of the West Bank on Thursday before dawn, abducting six young men who were asleep in their beds. According to the Palestinian Wafa News Agency, before dawn on Thursday, Israeli occupation forces invaded the ‘Aida refugee camp north of Bethlehem, located next to the Israeli Annexation Wall around Bethlehem. Local sources report that the occupation forces abducted Faris Khader Zarina (22 years), after ransacking his parents’ home. In the area of Beit Ta‘mer, east of Bethlehem, the Israeli army raided an apartment owned by Khaled Ahmed Hamri, breaking down the doors using explosives. In the northern West Bank, Israeli occupation forces invaded Qalqilia at dawn on Thursday, and abducted two young men. Witnesses told the Wafa News Agency that the occupation forces abducted two young men: Mohammad Abdul Rahim Dawood (24 years), and Mohammad Afif Turkish (23 years), after raiding and searching their family homes. And in the central West Bank, Israeli occupation forces on Thursday abducted three citizens of occupied Jerusalem. Local sources said that the Israeli special forces raided the house of political prisoner Jaram Nasser and abducted his son Khalil (20 years), after invading his family home, attacking and beating members of his family, and searching the house. Two Palestinians were abducted from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, when Israeli forces invaded before dawn and began harassing local residents and ransacking homes.
Including a paralyzed man, army abducts four Palestinians in Jerusalem
IMEMC 12 Aug — Israeli soldiers abducted, Monday, four Palestinians, including a paralyzed man and his son, in two separate incidents in the al-‘Issawiya town, in occupied East Jerusalem. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers invaded al-‘Issawiya, on Monday evening, before breaking into and searching homes and stores, and abducted Mohammad Ibrahim Obeid, 18. They added that the soldiers also abducted Mohammad Amin Khallaf, 27, while walking in the Schools Neighborhood in the town. On Monday afternoon, the soldiers invaded and searched homes in Abu Ryala neighborhood, in al-‘Issawiya, and abducted a paralyzed man, identified as Jarrah Mohammad Ali Nasser, 52, in addition to his son, Essam, 22.
Soldiers abduct a child from his home in al-‘Issawiya
IMEMC 8 Aug — Many Israeli soldiers and police officers invaded, Thursday, a Palestinian home in the al-‘Issawiya town, in occupied East Jerusalem, after destroying the main door of the property, and abducted a child in front of his brothers. Mohammad Abu al-Hummus, a member of the Follow-up Committee in al-‘Issawiya, said the soldiers used tools to damage the front door of a home owned by Wa‘el Abu Hadwan al-Fakhouri, and invaded it, causing severe anxiety attacks among seven children who were alone in the property without their parents. The children were trying to open the heavy door for the soldiers to enter the property without causing damage, but the army went ahead and destroyed it. The soldiers then abducted Saleh al-Fakhouri, 13, after placing him in a car driven by undercover officers.
Police stop bus full of Palestinians en route to Israel to go to the beach
Times of Israel 15 Aug — Border police officers on Thursday said a busload of Palestinian men, women and children illegally sought to enter Israel from the West Bank, apparently en route to the beach. Guards at the az-Za‘ayyem checkpoint east of Jerusalem said they flagged down the private bus for a security check after deeming it suspicious. The bus driver, who is a resident of East Jerusalem, and the passengers, among whom were numerous children, were detained for questioning at the crossing. “The troops who stopped the bus for a check were surprised to find that all of its passengers, 56 children, women and men, didn’t have permits at all to enter Israeli territory,” a statement from the Border Police said, adding that the Palestinians were residents of the West Bank city of Ramallah and its surrounding villages. “In a search of the bus, items of clothing and other effects were located that strengthen the suspicion that it was a group making its way to one of the beaches in Israel,” police said. The Border Police force praised its officers for a job well done, though the group did not appear to pose a security threat.
Video: Israeli forces storm Al-Aqsa Mosque in the middle of holiday prayers
IMEMC 11 Aug — While tens of thousands of Muslim worshipers were praying in the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem Sunday for Eid al-Adha, one of the most sacred holidays in the Muslim year, Israeli forces attacked the mosque, forcing the worshipers to flee in panic. The Israeli forces were accompanied by a large group of right-wing Israeli Jewish settlers, many of whom are part of an ideological network whose express aim is to destroy the mosque and replace it with a Jewish temple. This provocation against the mosque on one of the most sacred holidays of Islam is just the latest in a series of provocations conducted by Israeli authorities against the mosque, its staff and its worshipers in recent months. Video of the attack, posted on Twitter:
Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, told the Palestinian Wafa News Agency, “The storming of Al Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem by Israeli occupation forces this Eid morning is an act of recklessness and aggression, designed to provoke religious and political tensions in the City and across Palestine”. “We condemn this aggression, which is reprehensible and dangerous and hold the Israeli political establishment fully responsible for its grave consequences,” she said in a statement. “To score points in election season, Israeli politicians are competing on who can exhibit higher levels of aggression and hostility against the Palestinian people during this important religious holiday, including the endorsement of Israeli settler plans to storm Al Aqsa Compound….
Violent Israeli raids spoil Eid festivities in Jerusalem village
MEMO 14 Aug — Violent raids by Israeli occupation forces have continued through Eid Al-Adha in ‘Issawiya village, spoiling festivities for local residents. According to a report in Haaretz, during one incident, “while most of the village’s inhabitants were sitting down to a festive meal, a large police force arrived, entering the Masri family’s parking lot and shooting point blank at a person’s leg” with a sponge-tipped bullet. The paper adds that “a video recording of the incident shows policemen running into the parking lot and pushing Karim Masri”. Although the shooting is not seen in the video, it “can be heard clearly”. In later videos, Haaretz reported, “children are seen crying due to the violence and police presence”. “We were having a party, my brothers, our children and wives,” relates Masri, a 32-year-old teacher. “[The policeman] didn’t let me speak. Someone shoved me and the other shot me point blank. Then they started beating everyone there, my brothers, my mother, everyone.”…
Israeli authorities have targeted ‘Issawiya with a campaign of harassment, “law enforcement”, and violent arrest raids for two months. Police have been entering the village daily, writing reports, searching and detaining residents. Many businesses remain closed. “People are afraid, you think twice before leaving home,” said Abeid.
Lose the evidence, close the case twice: How a Palestinian’s complaint was handled
(behind paywall) Haaretz 14 Aug by Yotam Berger — ‘Comedy of errors’ by Israeli police in the West Bank reflects amateurishness at best, a human rights lawyer says — The state admitted that the Israeli police mishandled a Palestinian’s complaint that a settlement’s road-building work in the West Bank damaged his land, but claimed too much time has elapsed to reopen the case. The State prosecutors’ response to the petition by the Palestinian, Ibrahim Rashid Ahmed Alam, showed that the police closed the case twice and that the case file was lost when it was passed from the police to the Military Police. Alam complained to the police that nine olive trees had been destroyed and a large wheat field damaged at the village of Kafr Thulth in the West Bank. He said the road-building work also destroyed a large well that the construction workers intentionally filled with sand and rocks. The security coordinator of the settlement of Ma’aleh Shomron in the West Bank took part in the destruction and tried to drive Alam off his own land, he added. The police said this week they could not comment on a case still being heard in court. The saga began in 2014 after an Israeli girl was hurt by a firebomb thrown near the settlement of El Matan, and the army began building a road to pass through Palestinian land in the area. The work commenced one evening at 10:30 P.M., and five hours later an order arrived for it to stop, but it continued….
Walking a different path – West Bank, Palestine
The Province (BC, Canada) 12 Aug by Marlene Friesen — Tourism not terrorism rules — When we first started telling people that we were going to hike in the West Bank, Palestine, they were incredulous. You’re going where? You’re doing what? Over a 3 week period, starting in Rummana at the northern Israeli/ Palestine border and ending in Beit Mirsim southwest of Hebron, the 330 km trail would take us over rocky hills and mountains, through green and fertile canyons, along olive groves and flowering pastures, across vast and dry deserts, each of these landscapes stunning and unique. The next comment we often heard was one of fear….aren’t you afraid? William Ury, who developed the vision of the path, talks about it helping to change the world view of Palestine from one of hostility to hospitality, and from turning terrorism to tourism. “The opposite of terrorism is to take in innocent strangers and treat them as friends, to welcome them into your home and to show and create an understanding of respect and love.” That is exactly what we experienced. We were welcomed like royalty in places that rarely see tourists. “Welcome to Palestine! Please enjoy our country! Can you come and sit and have coffee? If you wait a few minutes, we will bring you tea.” These were comments we heard continually and we were perfect strangers….
Palestinian minor arrested for alleged rape of Israel girl
MEMO 15 Aug — A Palestinian minor has been arrested in Nablus on suspicion of raping an Israeli girl in Tel Aviv, the third arrest of its kind in the past two months. Israel Border Police announced yesterday that it had arrested an underage Palestinian from the village of Qabalan, off Route 60 south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank. The minor – who has not been named – is suspected of serial sexual assault, which includes raping an underage Israeli girl he encountered in Tel Aviv and “indecent acts” towards other women and girls. Police claim that the Palestinian entered Israel illegally last month, proceeding to carry out the alleged crime in Tel Aviv. They did not, however, provide further details about how the minor had made the journey from Qabalan to Tel Aviv and back again, which would require crossing multiple heavily-manned checkpoints …
Yesterday’s arrest marks the third such case in the past two months, after Israel Police wrongly arrested 46-year-old Mahmoud Katusa in connection with the alleged rape of a seven-year-old Israeli girl from the Haredi settlement of Modi’in Ilit, near Israel’s Separation Wall. Katusa – who hails from the West Bank village of Deir Qadis – was arrested and detained for 55 days in connection with the suspected incident, with the charges against him claiming he had groomed the girl while working as a maintenance worker at her school. The case also claimed that on the day of the alleged incident, Katusa dragged the girl in question to a nearby apartment where he was working and, with the help of Palestinian friends who held her down, raped the child. However, after multiple discrepancies appeared in the case and Israel Police found to have withheld crucial evidence which could have exonerated Katusa, the charges against him were eventually dropped. Katusa is now suing Israel Police for the time it kept him in detention and for the authorities’ negligent handling of the case. Two more Palestinians were subsequently arrested in connection with the case, but were released just days later without charge. The case remains ongoing, with an Israeli police official saying earlier this month that, “in the coming weeks, they will be seeking to question all Palestinians that were in the ultra-Orthodox city-settlement in the central West Bank during the period they believe the girl had been raped”. The official hastened to add that “they have not ruled out the possibility that a fellow Jewish resident could have been the perpetrator”.
Last month, another unnamed Palestinian was arrested on suspicion of raping a 13-year-old Israeli girl in the city of Ashdod, on Israel’s Mediterranean coast. In a case which bore striking similarities to that of the false allegations against Katusa, Israel Police claimed the Palestinian had established a relationship with the teenager while carrying out renovation work at her boarding school in Ashdod. The police also claimed the man then fled to the West Bank, prompting a manhunt which eventually led to his arrest. However, the police were subsequently forced to open a separate investigation into the incident after it was revealed that the accused Palestinian had reported to as many as five police stations – of his own volition – in order to give testimony and refute the allegations against him, but was repeatedly turned away and told he wasn’t wanted for questioning….
Lone Palestinian killed at Gaza border by Israeli forces on Sunday
IMEMC 11 Aug — On Sunday morning, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian identified as Marwan Nassar, 26, was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers near the border between Gaza and Israel. Nassar was not associated with any Palestinian resistance groups, but the Israeli paper Ha’aretz has reported that relatives of Nassar told them that he was a part of the armed wing of Hamas. The relatives also told the Israeli paper that he was not acting as a representative of Hamas when approaching the border on Sunday, but was acting independently. Hamas did not take responsibility for the incident. According to Ha’aretz, the unnamed relative of Nassar told them that he had participated in the weekly protests at the Gaza border, and had been going through a rough period with his family when he decided to carry out an attack against the Israeli military. No soldiers were reported injured in what Israeli sources claim was an attack against a military border post.
It came one day after four Palestinians were killed on the eastern border of Gaza in what Israeli forces claim was a coordinated attack against the Israeli military. A Facebook page managed by the family of one of the slain Palestinians said the four have been identified as Ahmad Ayman Tarabin, Abdullah Ismael Hamayda, Abdullah Ashraf al-Ghamri and Rashad al-Bodeini.
PCHR: ’70th Great March of Return: 66 civilians injured by Israeli forces, including 20 children, 3 women and a volunteer paramedic’
PCHR 17 Aug — On the 70th Great March of Return, 66 Palestinian civilians were injured due to the Israeli military’s continued use of excessive force against peaceful protests along the Gaza Strip’s eastern border. At least 20 children, 3 women and a volunteer paramedic were among those injured this Friday, 16 August 2019. Twenty-nine civilians were shot with live bullets; 2 of them were deemed in a critical medical condition. It should be noted there were no protests last Friday in observance of the Muslim holiday “Eid al-Adha”. Today’s protest, which lasted from 16:00 to 19:00, was titled “Palestinian Youth’s Friday” 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 and threw stones at Israeli force who used excessive force against them. 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, 13,463 were wounded, including 2,797 children, 415 women, 222 paramedics and 210 journalists, noting that many had sustained multiple wounds on multiple occasions …
The following is a summary of today’s incidents along the Gaza Strip border: Northern Gaza Strip: Israeli forces’ attacks against protesters participated in Abu Safiyah area protests, northeast of Jabalia, resulted in the injury of 24 civilians, including 10 children and a woman. Among those wounded, 15 were shot with live bullets and shrapnel, 5 with rubber bullets and 4 were directly hit with tear gas canisters, noting that they were present 100-250 meters away from the border fence….
Gaza needs cement to rebuild, but Israel dominates the market
(Bloomberg Businessweek) 15 Aug by David Rocks & Yaacov Benmeleh — Mohamad al-Assar was asleep when his factory was bombed. On a steamy night in August 2014, he was awakened not by the explosion but by a phone call from the security guard at the plant. The concrete-mixing factory, 2 miles north of his home and adjacent to the only highway in the Gaza Strip, had been attacked in the final days of the seven-week war between Israel and Islamist militants. When al-Assar got there at dawn, he saw nothing but devastation. Two neighbors were dead. The offices had been reduced to rubble. The storage silos were heaps of metal. An 18-wheel concrete-pumping truck had been thrown across the road. “I just sat in the ruins and cried,” al-Assar says, scrolling through photos of the destruction on his phone. He knew he had to open again; the plant provided a living for al-Assar and his 40 workers. But building any kind of factory requires tons of cement. In al-Assar’s case, about 100 tons. Problem is, sales of cement are strictly regulated in Gaza, and al-Assar had little time. Buying cement legally would have required detailed plans and myriad approvals, and he had customers who needed to rebuild. So in January 2015 he did what almost everyone in Gaza has gotten accustomed to after decades of Israeli occupation and blockade: He went to the black market. He paid about double the going rate of just over $100 per ton, but he managed to restart production by that March. “I needed to get things moving,” he says in the factory’s crowded control room, where an ancient computer monitors the combination of ingredients to make concrete. Gaza needs concrete, and lots of it. In the 2014 war, some 11,000 housing units were destroyed, and an additional 160,000 sustained some damage, according to the Gaza Chamber of Commerce—affecting more than a quarter of the families in the territory. Today, five years after the fighting ended, some 16,500 people remain in temporary housing, according to the United Nations. Gaza’s streets are lined with half-built structures, where a handful of floors are occupied but the rest are windowless shells….
Israel intercepts Gaza rocket after weeks of calm
Jerusalem (AFP) 16 Aug — Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket at southern Israel on Friday night in what the army said was the first such attack in over a month. A military statement said the projectile was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system, after air raid sirens sounded in the southern town of Sderot and its surroundings. An army spokesman said it was the first attack since July 12.
Israeli warplanes attack targets in Gaza; no injuries
GAZA, Saturday, August 17, 2019 (WAFA) – Israeli warplanes attacked early this morning several targets throughout the Gaza Strip causing damage but no injuries, according to a WAFA correspondent. He said the targets included open areas east of Tuffah suburb of Gaza City as well as farms east of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. Missiles fired by the warplanes caused big holes in the ground and damage to areas but there were no immediate reports of injuries. Israel claims the attack came after its Iron Dome missiles intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza into southern Israel.
Israel planning ‘security wall’ on Gaza border
Arutz Sheva 13 Aug by Ben Ariel — Israel’s defense establishment has decided to build another barrier in the Gaza envelope, this time a security wall against infiltration of terrorists into towns and communities located near the Gaza border. According to a report Monday on Channel 12 News, the wall will be six meters high and nine kilometers in length. It will run adjacent to localities in the Gaza envelope and along Highway 34 between Yad Mordechai and Nahal Oz. The wall is supposed to be another barrier in the space between the Gaza border and the localities, which should delay terrorists during an attempted infiltration if they are able to cross the border on their way to carry out an attack. The cost of the project is tens of millions of shekels. Discussions are taking place between the Ministry of Defense and the Prime Minister’s Office, focusing on finding a budget source for the construction of the wall.
Hamas chief warns Israel against waging new war on Gaza
GAZA, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) — Islamic Hamas movement’s chief in the Gaza Strip warned Israel on Tuesday against waging a new war with his group’s militants. “We will break the defeated occupation army if it enters the Gaza Strip and shower the Israeli cities with barrages of rockets, if the occupation (Israel) tries to engage in a war with us,” Yahya Sinwar told reporters in the Hamas-ruled Palestinian enclave. Earlier this month, six Hamas militants were killed by Israeli soldiers while heading to the border area between eastern Gaza Strip and Israel for carrying out armed attacks. “Yes … the operation in eastern Khan Younis, which was carried out by Hani Abu Sallah on August 1, was a heroic commando one,” Sinwar confirmed. He warned Israel against waging a new war on the Gaza Strip, amid reports that Israeli troops could launch an attack. “If a war occurs, we will strike on the occupation army and break its power once and forever,” Sinwar said, adding “we are not joking.” Asked about the weekly anti-Israel March of Return and Breaking the Israeli Siege held by Palestinian protesters near the border with Israel, Sinwar said “our march will go on until it achieves its goals.”….
Increased restrictions on the movement of humanitarian staff in and out of Gaza
UN OCHA oPt 9 Aug — Since early 2018, citing security concerns, the Israeli authorities, and to a lesser extent Hamas, have imposed various measures which further tightened restrictions on the movement of humanitarian staff in and out of Gaza. Combined, these procedures have increased uncertainty, delays and logistic challenges. The UN continues to conduct negotiations with all relevant actors in Israel and Gaza to alleviate these restrictions.
Denial of exit permits for national staff The requirement to obtain Israeli-issued permits is a long-term challenge for the Gaza-based national staff of both international NGOs (INGO) and UN agencies. Since early 2018, there has been a continued increase in the number of such staff prohibited from re-applying for permits for a period of one year: this is a condition imposed on national staff following rejection of their initial permit application to access East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, citing security reasons. Approximately 40 UN national staff received such a ban in 2017, rising to 140 UN personnel and 73 INGO staff banned by the end of 2018. As of June 2019, 150 UN personnel, and 111 INGO personnel were prohibited from applying for permits for one-year. As a result, approximately, half of Gaza-based UN national personnel, excluding UNRWA, are effectively prevented from implementing any mission outside of Gaza for a year. Although some UNRWA staff have been also banned, the majority of its approximately 11,000 national employees in Gaza are education and health personnel, who are not required to leave the territory on a regular basis….
Israel projects aim to export the Gaza problem to Egypt’s Sinai
MEMO 14 Aug by Dr. Adnan Abu Amer — There has been an increase recently in Israeli projects seeking solutions to what it calls the “Gaza problem”. They have been focusing on Egypt’s Sinai, and appear to be foreshadowing a potential population transfer of Palestinians to the Sinai peninsula. Such a move would relieve Israel from the security burdens of managing Gaza and instead transfer it onto the Egyptian authorities. The Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, run by Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and former Director-General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, revealed a plan to solve the Gaza problem. This plan calls for a seaport and an airport in the Sinia thus facilitating travel for people and goods to and from Gaza. It also aims to establish a power plant and a water desalination project to meet the needs of the Palestinians in Gaza, as well as a train track extended from Al-Arish to Gaza and hotels and entertainment facilities. This Israeli project was put together by Shimon Shapira, who served as the former Military Secretary to the Prime Minister and as Israel Foreign Ministry chief of staff, and by Shlomi Fogel, one of the proposers of the regional initiatives between Israel and its Arab neighbours. This relies on keeping economic and tourism projects under the responsibility of the Egyptian government. The inhabitants of Gaza will also be under Egyptian security supervision. This project is a continuation of the past Israeli government projects that call for extending Gaza south, towards Sinai….
Gaza review (includes trailer) – Human stories in a city under siege
The Observer 10 Aug by Wendy Ide — A beautifully shot documentary focuses on everyday life in the Middle East’s ‘open prison’ — The headlines are stripped back and the political brinkmanship sidelined in this sober documentary about life for ordinary civilians in Gaza … The film, an Irish-Canadian co-production, acknowledges the turbulent recent history that has lead to the creation of what amounts to a city under siege. But directors Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell are far more interested in individual human stories, in the struggle for a meaningful life in this graveyard for ambition. Poverty is rife. We meet Ahmed, a 14-year-old boy, one of 40 children of a father with three wives. The extended family all cram into three rooms in a refugee camp, but Ahmed prefers to sleep on the beach. The strip of coast has a symbolic meaning for all Gazans. It offers the tantalising promise of open horizons and of food and industry. But a three-mile fishing limit is enforced by gunships. Freedom is an optical illusion and the fishing nets remain empty. “There are days,” says Ahmed, “when we only eat salt.” We meet a tailor trying to run a business with only four hours of electricity a day to power his machines. A crumpled medic who patches up the young male protestors who hurl stones and burn tyres at the Israeli border. A teenage girl who finds solace in her cello. A taxi driver who served prison time for debt and found himself incarcerated alongside almost every businessman in Gaza. A fashion designer who is determined that the women of Gaza will look fabulous, no matter what the circumstances….
Gaza: Shelling out for art in the Strip
[with photos] MEMO 14 Aug by Mohammed Asad — Forty-two-year-old Palestinian Kamal Al-Madhoun has made a living walking around Gaza’s shores and collecting shells. For the past 20 years Kamal has collected seashells and categorised them according to shape and colour before using them to decorate pottery. The shells are used to express Palestinian heritage and culture on the clay pots Kamal adorns with his art. Pieces can take up to two months to complete with his most elaborate work being a model of the famous French landmark the Eiffel Tower which required 14,000 seashells to make. Like all residents of the besieged Gaza Strip, the biggest hindrance to his work are the regular power cuts which are a result of Israel’s repressive policies and blockade on the Strip. These force Kamal to halt work until the lighting is optimal for his art to truly shine.
Photos: Palestinian children enjoy Eid al-Adha holiday in Gaza City
Xinhua 14 Aug — Palestinian children play in a park during the Eid al-Adha holiday in Gaza City, on Aug. 13, 2019. A Palestinian child has his face painted during the Eid al-Adha holiday in Gaza City, on Aug. 13, 2019….
Israeli troops prepare to demolish two Palestinian homes in collective punishment
IMEMC 13 Aug — In the early morning hours on Monday, Israeli forces invaded the homes of the families of two Palestinian prisoners in Tulkarem and measured them in preparation for demolition. Though the vast majority (around 90% according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions) of demolitions of Palestinian homes are administrative – with the claim that Palestinians ‘constructed the homes without permits’, around 10% are punitive demolitions, in which Israeli troops demolish the homes of the family members of Palestinians accused of crimes against Israelis. In this case, the two Palestinians in question stand accused of murdering an Israeli soldier and settler, Dvir Sorek, on Saturday. Their family members have not been accused of any crime, but will nevertheless be forced into homelessness by the Israeli policy of punitive home demolitions. The two accused men, cousins Nseir Asafra, 24, and Kassem Asafra, 30, were abducted on Saturday after a widescale manhunt by Israeli forces after an Israeli soldier was found dead. They were taken from their village of Beit Khalil, north of Hebron in the southern part of the West Bank …
“Needless to say, punitive demolitions are only applied when the attacker is a Palestinian and the victim is a Jew; neither [Israeli military] or settler violence towards Palestinians is punishable, certainly not by demolishing Israeli Jewish homes.”
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel to let Bedouin village have temporary school after 13 years of struggle
MEMO 15 Aug — Israeli authorities will finally allow Palestinian Bedouin citizens in the village of Rahma to have an elementary school “after 13 years of civil struggle”, reported Haaretz. Residents of Rahma – an unrecognised village in the country’s south – have been told by Israel’s Lands Authority that their children’s school will be established in the coming weeks. The school, however, will be “made up of mobile homes, because the state will not agree to build any new structures in the unrecognised villages”. Dozens of unrecognised villages dot the Negev, as a result of the Israeli authorities’ refusal over the decades to legalise longstanding, non-Jewish communities. According to Haaretz, “the elementary school will be set up in a firing zone near the Negev town of Yeruham, where according the Israeli military drills are regularly held. Three weeks ago, the Israel Defence Forces agreed to give up a small portion of the firing zone so the school could be built.”….
Two Palestinian families receive home demolition notices in al-Walaja
IMEMC 13 Aug — Israeli occupation authorities on Tuesday stormed the village of al-Walaja, near Bethlehem, to issue demolition orders to two homeowners who were in the midst of building on their family land. Youth activist Ibrahim Awad Allah told the Palestinian Wafa News Agency that demolition crews from the Israeli municipality in the occupied city of Jerusalem, accompanied by a battalion of Israeli soldiers, stormed the village and went to the Joazh area to the north. There, they delivered a notice to Palestinian homeowner Halima Ismail, ordering her to stop construction in her house, amounting to an area of 70 square meters; under the pretext of a lack of license. Israeli authorities have refused, since 1967, to grant Palestinian homeowners permits to build on their land — instead allowing illegal Israeli settlements to take over Palestinian land, and transferring Israeli civilians to live in these settlements. Ismail explained to local sources in the village that she was given the notice Tuesday, along with another Palestinian homeowner, Khaled Abu Gherkin, who had built a home on his land, along with his brother, after their previous home had been demolished by Israeli forces….
Israel to close agricultural road in Ramallah-district village
RAMALLAH, Monday, August 12, 2019 (WAFA) – Israeli forces ordered the closure of an agricultural road in Umm Safa village, located to the northwest of Ramallah. Head of Umm Safa Village Council Marwan Sabbah told WAFA that he received a notification from Israeli military informing him that an agricultural road that was opened with support from the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture will be closed. The road, which extends for 2.5 kilometers, is used by local farmers to access their olive orchards which cover an estimated area of 2,000 dunums. Under the Oslo Accords, an agreement made 25 years ago as the first step towards self-governing Palestinian state alongside Israel. the Palestinian Authority was given control over 16 percent of the village’s total area, classified as Area B, while Israel maintained control over the remainder 84 percent, which is classified as C Area. Sabbah added that Israel has been banning any Palestinian construction and land reclamation in Area C, including the renovation of the local cemetery.
Israel approves 651 new colonialist units in Jerusalem
IMEMC 12 Aug — The Israeli “Planning and Construction Committee” in occupied Jerusalem has approved two plans for the construction of 641 units for illegal colonialist settlers, west of Hebron Road, in the city. The first plan aims at building new units around Talpiot area, west of Hebron road, along the blue light-railroad line and east of Bethlehem, while the second plan will add units in Shaare Zion illegal colony. They aim at building two apartment buildings, in addition to a synagogue, an industrial structure and various health facilities for the colonists. The Palestinian National Bureau for Defending Land and Resisting Colonies, which is run by Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), has reported that Israel’s illegal colonialist activities are also tools used by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and other extreme right-wing parties, in their election campaign, especially ahead of the new election in the country this coming September 17th….
French Jews march through Hebron, claiming all West Bank belongs to Israel
MEMO 15 Aug — French Jewish settlers marched through Hebron in the occupied West Bank yesterday waving Israeli flags and claiming that the entire region belongs to Israel. Pro-settler news outlet Arutz Sheva reported that more than 1,200 French Jews participated in the march, saying: “There’s only one flag from the Jordan to the sea – the flag of Israel.” Palestinian sources in the city, meanwhile, described how “French-Israeli settlers stormed Shuhada Street and the surrounding areas in occupied Hebron…for an annual march claiming that God has promised them all the land in Hebron either side of the Ibrahimi Mosque.” The sources added that “Israeli occupation soldiers and settlers harassed local Palestinians and international activists, filming them and telling them to ‘go home’ whilst the soldiers tried (and failed) to break down the doors of a Palestinian owned building to occupy the roof.” On social media, Yishai Fleisher, the so-called international spokesperson for Israeli settlers in Hebron, boasted about the event, declaring that the marchers were “celebrating…the rights of Jews to live in Judea – the ancestral homeland”. “These guys #RealProudJews and do not suffer from political-correctness-disease!” he added.
Israeli army admits blindfolding Palestinians against protocol
MEMO 14 Aug — A petition to Israel’s Supreme Court has forced the Israeli army to admit that its soldiers break protocol by blindfolding Palestinians in their custody. At the end of May, a petition was filed to Israel’s Supreme Court by a group of left-wing activists who had compiled two and a half years’ worth of evidence from Palestinians in the occupied West Bank’s Jordan Valley who were routinely detained by Israeli army soldiers. During their detention, the Palestinians were handcuffed and often blindfolded for several hours, a practice the Israeli army has now been forced to admit breaks the institution’s own protocol, Haaretz reported yesterday. The petition argued that the large number of cases of detention and blindfolding points to “an obscene habit of the Jordan Valley Brigade [of the Israeli army], aimed at punishing the Palestinian shepherds and/or simply abusing them.” It also stated that in some cases, Israeli activists accompanying the shepherds were also detained, but unlike the Palestinians they were not blindfolded, indicating a clear policy of discrimination, the Israeli daily added. On Sunday, the state prosecution submitted its response to the May petition, seeking dismissal of the case on the grounds that “military orders and regulations forbid the blindfolding of detainees, and action to clarify the rules to the troops acting in the region has been taken and will continue to be taken on a continuous basis.” Itay Mack, the attorney for the activists, therefore agreed to withdraw the petition since the goal of forcing the Israeli army to admit its soldiers had broken protocol by blindfolding the detained Palestinians had been achieved.
The incidents described in the Supreme Court petition are commonplace. In March, a video emerged of Israeli soldiers from the Netzah Yehuda Battalion of the Kfir Brigade — which is stationed in the northern West Bank city of Jenin – beating a Palestinian father and son in the back of their army vehicle. The video showed an unnamed 50-year-old Palestinian lying on the floor of the truck, clearly blindfolded using a white rag. Though their faces are pixelated, the soldiers could be seen hitting the Palestinian on the head while laughing and joking for the camera. “It’s your party, say hello,” the soldiers told the man, while forcing him to say hello to the camera. Three soldiers who took part in the incident were subsequently convicted of aggravated assault and aggravated battery, being handed 190-day jail terms after they “expressed remorse” for their actions and reached a plea bargain….
Ailing Palestinian detainee faces life-threatening deterioration
IMEMC 12 Aug — The Palestinian Detainees’ Committee has reported, Monday, that the Israeli Prison Authority has moved an ailing Palestinian detainee to Assaf Harofeh Medical Center after a sharp deterioration in his health condition, due to lack of adequate medical treatment. The Committee stated that the detainee, Sami Abu Diak, was diagnosed with cancer three years ago, and in September of 2015, he was moved to Soroka Israel Medical Center for surgery in his bowels; however, due to a medical error after the surgeons removed some of his intestines, he started facing further complications. As a result of this, Abu Diak suffered kidney, renal and pulmonary failures, before he underwent three additional surgeries, and remained hooked to respiratory machines for six months. The detainee was taken prisoner in the year 2002, and was sentenced to three life terms and an additional 30 years in prison. He is one of 15 detainees who are constantly housed at the clinic of the Ramla prison, which lacks basic essential equipment and specialized physicians, in addition to being one of nearly 7000 detainees in various prisons, who suffer with several serious conditions, including cancer.
UPDATE: 30 Palestinian prisoners join hunger strike in solidarity with 6 detainees
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Aug — Thirty Palestinians in Israeli jails have joined a hunger strike in solidarity with six detainees who have themselves been refusing to eat or drink to protest their illegal detention without charge or trial. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) stated Monday, that another group comprising 30 prisoners had joined the open-ended hunger strike to protest against the practice of so-called administrative detention. The prisoners reject the intake of any food or water to step up pressure on the Israeli authorities to meet the demands of the six detainees who have been on hunger strike, particularly Huthaifa Halabiya, whose health condition is deteriorating. The latest group brings to 49 the number of prisoners who have joined the protest action in solidarity with the six detainees.
Soldiers abduct a Palestinian woman while visiting with her detained son
IMEMC 12 Aug — Israeli soldiers abducted, Monday, a Palestinian woman from the southern West Bank district of Hebron, while visiting with her imprisoned son in Hadarim Israeli prison. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said the soldiers abducted Siham al-Battat, 59, from the ath-Thaheriyya town, southwest of Hebron, while visiting with her imprisoned son, Haitham al-Battat, who is serving three life terms in prison. The PPS added that Siham is also a former political prisoner, who was abducted in 2015 and was subjected to a harsh and extended interrogation.
In first, Israel agrees to exclude settlements from free trade deal with S. Korea
Ynet 15 Aug by Itamar Eichner — The agreement – the first of its kind to be signed between Israel and a major Asian state – excludes Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Golan from custom fees exemptions — Israel has apparently agreed to exclude Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights from a multi-billion-dollar free trade agreement the country is expected to sign with South Korea next week. This is the first time the Israeli government has agreed to sign a free trade deal, the benefits of which wouldn’t extend to the Jewish state’s disputed territories. The deal, which has been in negotiations for years, is expected to be signed next week when South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee arrives in Israel for an official visit. The deal with Seoul includes a provision where the goods originating from the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights would not be exempt from customs fees. Israeli officials in Jerusalem believe the deal with South Korea has an immense strategic importance. This is the first free trade agreement signed with a major Asian country and is expected to pave the way for similar deals with other states in the region. The financial benefits of the agreement are estimated to be in the billions of dollars. It’s expected to significantly contribute to reducing the cost of living for the Israeli public by lowering the price of exports….
Whitney resignation doesn’t halt weapons trade, says artist
EI 13 Aug by Tamara Nassar — Warren B. Kanders resigned last month as vice-chair of New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. This came amid mounting criticism of how he supplies the Israeli and US militaries with weapons. But renowned conceptual artist Michael Rakowitz says the resignation is not enough. Rakowitz was the first to withdraw from the latest Whitney Biennial, a prestigious showcase of American art held every two years. He took the decision to protest Kanders’ involvement in the weapons trade and in solidarity with some 100 museum workers who demanded the vice chair’s resignation. Several artists followed suit in July. Kanders owns the Safariland Group, which he bought from the British arms giant BAE Systems in 2012. Based in Florida, the company produces tear gas canisters, bomb-defusing robots and gun holsters, some of which are believed to have been used by US forces along the border with Mexico and by Israeli troops at the Gaza boundary fence. Kanders also commands a significant stake in Sierra Bullets, which sells ammunition to Israeli government-owned weapons manufacturer IMI Systems, a “preferred supplier” of the Israeli army…..
Success: UIC reverses ban on Palestine event
IMEMC 8 Aug — By Palestine Legal: A community group in Rockford, Ill., that had been blocked from renting space for an event featuring Israeli-American activist and author Miko Peled successfully held their event on Saturday after Palestine Legal intervened. In June, the Truth Squad of Rockford attempted to rent an auditorium at the University of Illinois Health Sciences Campus-Rockford for their August 3rd event. Though the space was available for use, the campus refused to rent it to the group after learning the topic of the event, An Israeli’s Search for Peace and Justice in Palestine. An administrator informed the community group that campus’s head of communications and regional dean had decided that they “would not be able to make the space available to [the group] for that activity.” Palestine Legal explained to the administrator that because the campus had opened up the space to off–campus groups for a diverse range of events, it could not refuse to rent space to the Truth Squad of Rockford simply because of the viewpoint the event was expressing. The First Amendment prohibits public entities like the University of Illinois from engaging in viewpoint or content-based discrimination. The university counsel agreed and allowed the event to move forward. Peled spoke on August 3rd to an audience of approximately 125 people, describing the realities of racial segregation in Israel and Palestine. Organizers reported that they were approached by many audience members after the event, expressing surprise at what they had learned and thanking them for bringing Peled to speak to their community….
Palestine warns of ‘religious war’ over Aqsa’s status
RAMALLAH/GAZA/JERUSALEM (Anadolu) 16 Aug by Nilay Kar — The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) warned Thursday that calls by an Israeli government minister to change the status quo at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque would lead to a “religious war”. In a written statement released after a meeting in Ramallah, the PLO’s Executive Committee said the recent calls are “an attempt to drag the region into a religious war” and “propaganda” for the division of the mosque. On Tuesday, Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called for changing the status of the mosque so that Jews can pray there individually or collectively in an open or closed area. “I think there is an injustice in the status quo that has existed since 1967,” Erdan told Israeli Radio on Tuesday. “We need to work to change [the status quo] so in the future, Jews, with the help of God, can pray at the Temple Mount.”
Gaza-based resistance faction Hamas meanwhile called for national unity in a written statement after holding an emergency meeting on the latest developments concerning al-Aqsa Mosque that occurred on the eve and first day of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday. Israeli forces attacked Palestinian worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex Sunday, injuring at least 37. Terming Jerusalem a “red line”, Hamas said “any attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque is an attack on the Palestinian people in particular and all the ummah.” “The only way to resist this plot is real national unity based on a real partnership,” it said. The Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs of Palestine in a written statement also warned against a “religious war” in the region. Calling the recent Israeli actions a “provocative step” aimed at dividing Al-Aqsa Mosque, the ministry called on the international community to intervene….
Palestinian president visits West Bank refugee camp
Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) 10 Aug — Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Saturday toured the Jalazone camp in the occupied West Bank, official media announced, in a rare visit to a refugee camp. He was flanked by prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) secretary general Saeb Erekat, official news agency Wafa said. Abbas reportedly met with local residents and officials, and posted several pictures. His office said it was his first visit to a refugee camp in several years. Analysts say that Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) is unpopular in several camps, where other Palestinian factions often have significant influence, due to his administration’s perceived inability to improve residents’ lives. His tour follows a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the nearby Beit El settlement Thursday after the murder of an off duty Israeli soldier close to the West Bank settlement of Migdal Oz. Netanyahu again talked about the possibility of officially annexing settlements, a policy that critics say would effectively kill remaining hopes for a two-state solution. Mahmoud Mubarak, head of the popular committee in Jalazone camp, told AFP the visit was a “first political response to the Netanyahu visit to Beit El two days ago.” “The visit was greatly welcomed by the camp’s residents,” he added. Wafa said Abbas spoke to residents and said the Palestinian people would remain steadfast in opposing Israel’s occupation. The refugee camps pre-date the establishment of the PA in 1994 and have high levels of local autonomy.
After a week of strenuous efforts, deceased Palestinian artist to be buried in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM, Wednesday, August 14, 2019 (WAFA) – After a week of strenuous effort by the family of deceased Palestinian artist and historian Kamal Boullata, and their lawyers, Boullata’s wish to return and be buried in Jerusalem was finally granted today and his body will be transported from Berlin and buried in Jerusalem, his birth place, according to a statement by Kamal Boullata’s family. “Kamal Boullata, the son of Jerusalem, will finally make it back to his homeland for burial at the Cemetery of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem at Mt. Zion next to his family and ancestors,” said the statement. Kamal was born in Jerusalem in 1942 and grew up in the Old City. His family traces their history in the Old City for over 600 years, according to the Records of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem and the Arab Orthodox Mukhtar for the Old City, the late Mitri Toubbeh. For half a century, since 1967, he was barred from Jerusalem because he happened to be out of the country, for an exhibit in Beirut in 1967 when the Israeli occupation started. All his efforts to return to Jerusalem failed, except for a brief visit in 1984 which was memorialized in the film “Stranger at Home”. However, Jerusalem always stayed in his heart, and in his art…. [see also this Middle East Eye article which details some of his accomplishments]
Samidoun condemns Palestinian Authority’s normalization meetings
IMEMC/Agencies 16 Aug — Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network joins organizers and activists throughout occupied Palestine in condemning the normalization meetings undertaken by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with a delegation from the so-called “Israel Democratic Party” and it alliance, the Democratic Union. This meeting comes amid the approach to the Israeli elections scheduled in early September, in which the Israeli war criminal Ehud Barak – founder of this party – is marketing himself as a “left” competitor to his fellow war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu. Abbas’ meeting with the representatives of Barak’s party – presented as a reunion with the granddaughter of Yitzhak Rabin and a symbolic reconstruction of the Oslo alliance – aims to perpetuate normalization of allegedly “left” Israeli forces which in fact represent the same brutal policies toward the Palestinian people, rooted in settler colonialism and Zionist racism, as their electoral rivals in the Likud or the Yisrael Beitenu of Avigdor Lieberman. Such meetings with representatives of Israeli parties, competing for the right to oppress, exile and besiege the Palestinian people and escalate war threats against Iran and even Lebanon, only serve to normalize war criminals … When Palestinian Authority officials engage in normalization meetings, this undermines the efforts of people of conscience around the world – including and especially Palestinian communities and organizations in exile and diaspora – to boycott Israeli political parties and institutions….
Almost NIS 13 million foreclosed from PA to compensate Israeli collaborators
JPost 15 Aug by Avishai Grinzaig (Maariv) — The money was given to the Office of Foreclosure in Jerusalem, in response to foreclosure attempts on the part of the PA against imprisoning collaborators — Following a verdict given at the Jerusalem district court, NIS 12.7 million was transferred to the offices of foreclosure in Jerusalem after several files were opened against the Palestinian Authority for incarcerating citizens accused of collaborating with Israel. The money will be given out by law enforcement agencies to the foreclosure cases that are managed by their offices in Jerusalem. The ones who will benefit the most from these files are the Arab-Israeli citizens living in the West Bank who were falsely imprisoned by the PA under the suspicion of helping Israel. According to the verdict given by judge Moshe Drori, the arrest and imprisonment were done without authority, as the PA was never given such power beyond the West Bank. The imprisonment itself provided enough grounds to sue for damages….
Saudi journalist: Palestinians are a scourge on the countries that host them
MEMO 14 Aug — A Saudi columnist has called Palestinians a scourge on the countries that host them. Mohammed Al Shaikh who writes for Al Jazirah newspaper posted a tweet on 9 August which he reposted yesterday to say: “Palestinians are a scourge on the countries that host them. Jordan hosted them and it was a black September, Lebanon suffered a civil war. Kuwait hosted them and they became soldiers for [former Iraqi President] Saddam [Hussein].” He went on to accuse Palestinians of using social media and other platforms to “insult” Saudi Arabia and its positions. “No one is able to deal with them except the Israeli Defence Forces,” he concluded. Al Shaikh is the latest Saudi to attack Palestinians. Earlier this month, activist Souad Al-Shammari appeared on Israeli TV and said “many Saudis” want to visit the occupation state. “Visiting Israel is probably the dream of many Saudis and those of the Gulf and Arab states alike.” Her appearance on Israeli TV has sparked further criticism of Saudi Arabia, which has been seen to be normalising relations with Tel Aviv in recent months….
Kuwait official: Shameful and disgraceful for Palestinians to face Israel alone
MEMO 13 Aug — Kuwait’s Parliament Speaker, Marzouq Al-Ghanim, yesterday called for Arab, Islamic and international action to put pressure on Israel after it attacked worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque on the morning of Eid Al-Adha. In a press statement, Al-Ghanim said: “The brutal attacks committed by the Zionist occupation forces against worshippers in the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque, on the morning of Eid Al-Adha once again prove the collapse of false calls for peace, and empty settlement projects, with an occupying entity that knows only the logic of oppression and force.” “It is shameful and disgraceful to leave Palestinians to face the enemy alone without support and backers,” he said. Al-Ghanim added that “standing up to this usurper entity is a religious duty and part of our fate, if our military conditions are not favourable, this does not prevent action on a daily basis on the political, cultural and human rights levels through the Arab, Islamic and international bodies.” Al-Ghanim is known for his support for Palestine and his rejection of the occupation state’s attacks on Palestinians and Muslim holy sites.
Jordan halts film that refers to historical Jewish presence
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 14 Aug by Mohammed Daraghmeh — A fictional caper about an antiquities heist set in an ancient Jordanian city has stirred widespread outrage over the film’s portrayal of historical Jewish ties to Jordan, shining a light on the tenuous peace with neighboring Israel and prompting the government to suspend the movie’s production. Based on a book of the same name, the movie, “Jaber,” follows a Jordanian boy who uncovers a stone in the rose-colored, rock-hewn city of Petra with a Hebrew inscription on it. He sets off to sell it to the highest bidder, but interested parties in Israel catch wind of the find, dispatching a Russian organized crime group to pursue the boy and retrieve the stone at any cost. Opponents of the film say merely discussing a historical Jewish presence in Jordan could open the door to Israeli territorial claims to the Hashemite Kingdom. They point to Israel’s claims over the West Bank and east Jerusalem — war-won territories sought by the Palestinians — which Israel says are rooted in millennia-old Jewish ties, backed up by archaeological finds … “Any talk about Jewish history in Jordan could lead to political claims,” said Ali Elayan, who was slated to play a Jordanian police officer in the movie but withdrew over his opposition to the plot. “That is what happened in Palestine.” Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem, then under Jordanian control, in the 1967 Mideast war. Spurred on by religious Jews hoping to restore a Jewish presence in the biblical land of Israel, repeated Israeli governments have erected settlements in the territories that are widely seen as obstacles to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state….
Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar were headed for Palestine, not Israel
Vice 15 Aug by Leila Ettachfini — The Israeli government has announced that it will ban the only two Muslim women in Congress, representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, from entering the country. But the two weren’t headed to Israel; their planned congressional trip was to Palestine. The decision took place after public encouragement from President Donald Trump. “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit,” tweeted Trump this morning before Israel announced its final decision regarding the congresswomen. “They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!” Omar and Tlaib have both been critical of Israeli human-rights violations towards Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and have publicly voiced their support for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (or BDS) movement, which encourages boycotting Israeli goods until the country complies with international law and lifts its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The Israeli government cited the congresswomen’s support for BDS along with their itinerary—which included meeting with young people from Gaza about the high unemployment rate they face and an Afro-Palestinian group to discuss their unique challenges—as proof that “the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.” The congresswomen had no plans to visit Israel in their upcoming trip, but instead to witness the effects of the Israeli occupation firsthand in Palestinian cities like Hebron, Ramallah, Bethlehem, and East Jerusalem. They also planned to visit Al-Aqsa Mosque, among the holiest mosques in the world. But because Israel controls all international travel to the territories that it illegally occupies including the entire West Bank, the country has the power to prohibit both Omar and Tlaib from visiting Palestinian territories in addition to Israel.
Tlaib renounces trip to West Bank under Israel’s conditions
JERUSALEM (NY Times) 16 Aug by David M. Halbfinger — Israel relented slightly on Friday after barring Representative Rashida Tlaib under pressure from President Trump, and said she could visit her 90-year-old grandmother, who lives in the occupied West Bank. Israel acted after Ms. Tlaib, an outspoken Palestinian-American in her first term, agreed in writing not to promote boycotts against Israel during the trip. But Ms. Tlaib, facing criticism by Palestinians and other opponents of the Israeli occupation, quickly reversed course herself, saying she could not make the trip under “these oppressive conditions.” “Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me,” she said of her grandmother in a Twitter post. “It would kill a piece of me.” The day’s switchbacks and recriminations appeared to lock in the political effects, in Israel and abroad, of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision Thursday to bar the planned official visit by Ms. Tlaib, of Michigan, and another Democratic lawmaker, Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, citing their support for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Israelis concerned about the health of the relationship with the United States worried aloud on Friday that by barring members of Congress at all, let alone because of their political views, the Netanyahu government had gravely jeopardized Israel’s bipartisan support in Washington. “The damage has been done to Israel’s standing in the Democratic Party, and in enhancing the stature of B.D.S. — and I don’t know if it’s over,” said Michael Oren, a former deputy minister under Mr. Netanyahu and former ambassador to the United States….
Bernie Sanders to Israel: Ban our lawmakers? Then don’t take our money
Huffpost 16 Aug by Lee Moran — Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has suggested Israel should now decline the billions of dollars it receives in U.S. aid in the wake of its ban on Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) from entering the country. “I wish I could tell you that I am shocked, I am not,” the Democratic presidential candidate said on Thursday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “All In” about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to bar the lawmakers, which was encouraged and supported by U.S. President Donald Trump. The Muslim congresswomen, who are members of “the Squad” that Trump has feuded with in recent weeks, had planned to highlight the plight of Palestinians on their trip. They were barred over their support for the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. “We have a president who tragically is a racist, is a xenophobe and who is a religious bigot,” said Sanders. “But the idea that a member of the United States Congress cannot visit a nation which by the way we support to the tune of billions and billions of dollars, is clearly an outrage.”….