Security guard kills Palestinian woman with knife at Qalandia checkpoint as B’Tselem questions use of force

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West Bank / Jerusalem

Ala’ Nafeth Wahdan, 28, shot and killed by Israeli soldiers at Qalandia checkpoint
Israel-Palestine Timeline 18 Sept 2019 — Ala’ Nafeth Wahdan, 28, was shot and killed [Wednesday] by Israeli soldiers at Qalandia checkpoint near Jerusalem. Israeli sources have confirmed that the wounded Palestinian woman, who was shot by the soldiers after an alleged stabbing attempt, later died from her injuries. The slain Palestinian woman was later identified as Ala’ Nafeth Wahdan, 28, from Qalandia refugee camp. After she was shot, she was left bleeding for a long time, before an Israeli ambulance moved her to Hadassah Israeli Medical Center in Jerusalem, where she succumbed to her wounds. Israeli daily Haaretz has reported that the soldiers saw the woman and ordered her to stop, “but she did not heed to their commands, and pulled out a knife before the soldiers shot her. Following the incident, the soldiers closed the terminal and maced many Palestinians with pepper-spray while trying to remove them from the area. A video [below] filmed by a Palestinian bystander shows soldiers several meters away from the woman before one of them shot her, then a soldier approached her and kicked an object away from her. The soldiers then closed the area and ordered the Palestinian cars away. Israeli sources have confirmed that nobody else was injured in the incident and added that an army probe is underway.

Israel defends checkpoint shooting as video raises concern
JERUSALEM (AP) 19 Sept by Joseph Krauss — Israeli police said Thursday that security guards at a checkpoint near Jerusalem were in “immediate danger” when they shot and killed a Palestinian woman carrying a knife, after a widely circulated video of the shooting raised concerns about excessive force. The video of the shooting early Wednesday appears to show a private security guard firing at the woman from several meters (yards) away at the Qalandia checkpoint, just outside Jerusalem. The woman drops what appears to be a knife before falling to the ground. Three other armed guards move in and one of them kicks the knife away. The woman crawls a short distance before lying motionless … Mohammed Jaradat, who said he witnessed the shooting as he was waiting in a vehicle at the checkpoint, said the woman approached the security guards as they were inspecting a bus. He said the guards shouted at her in Arabic to go back but the woman froze in place, and then one of the guards shot her. “He could have easily arrested her,” he said. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said it was still investigating the incident, but that it appeared to resemble past instances in which Israel used excessive force. “What is clear is that such an incident should not have ended with a fatality,” B’Tselem spokesman Amit Gilutz told The Associated Press. “In many similar past incidents, in which Palestinians have either attempted to stab Israelis or it was claimed they made such attempts, lethal force was used against them when there was no justification for it, and as a first, go-to means.”

Israel transfers corpses of two slain Palestinians to their families
IMEMC 21 Sept — Israeli soldiers transferred, on Friday evening, the corpses of two Palestinians who were killed by army fire in August and April of this year, back to their families for burial. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said its teams received the corpse of Nassim Abu Roumi, from al-‘Ezariyya town, east of occupied East Jerusalem. It added that it also received the corpse of Omar Younis at Elyahu military roadblock, south of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia. It is worth mentioning that Nassim Abu Roumi, 14, was shot and killed by Israeli police, on August 15, 2019, near the al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, after an alleged stabbing of an Israeli police officer that resulted in a light injury. Meanwhile, Omar Younis, 20, died on April 27 2019, from serious wounds he suffered a week earlier, after Israeli soldiers shot him at a Za‘tara military roadblock in northern West Bank, reportedly after he attempted to stab them.

Settlers attack farmers near Ramallah, injure one
RAMALLAH Friday, 20 Sept (WAFA) – At least one farmer was injured today as Israeli settlers attacked several Palestinian farmers working in a farm near the village of Beitin, northeast of Ramallah in the West Bank, local sources said. Mohammad Abu Samra, a local activist, told WAFA that about 25 Jewish settlers protected by an Israeli army force broke into the farm, physically assaulted some of the farmers and injured one of them in the head. The settlers also attacked vehicles belonging to local Palestinian citizens and smashed their windshields, he added.

Settlers break into center of Halhoul in south of West Bank, provoke clashes
HEBRON (WAFA) 19 Sept – Jewish settlers broke early this morning into a mosque in the center of the southern West Bank city of Halhoul, adjacent to Hebron, and held rituals at the site provoking clashes with local residents, according to witnesses. They said Israeli soldiers first raided the area in order to secure Nabi Younis mosque in the center of Halhoul for the fanatic settlers to hold their Jewish rituals. Residents provoked by the raid clashed with the soldiers and settlers. The soldiers fired rubber bullets and teargas at the Palestinians causing several injuries, said the witnesses.
Meanwhile, settlers protected by soldiers also broke early today into the center of Hebron’s business area in Bab al-Zawieh and held rituals on Beersheba road, said WAFA correspondent.

Israeli settlers vandalize Palestinian property in north of West Bank
NABLUS (WAFA) Monday, 16 Sept – Extremist Israeli settlers  today vandalized Palestinian property and spray painted racist graffiti on  a Palestinian house in the village of Duma, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, said a local official. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors Israeli settlement activities in the north of the West Bank, told WAFA that settlers sneaked into the village during the night, slashed  tires of a vehicle and spray painted racist graffiti on the walls of a house belonging to Murad Ahmad Dawabsheh. Duma village is where an arson attack by Jewish settlers on July 31, 2015 resulted in the death of three members of a Dawabsheh family, including 18-month-old Ali, who was burned alive in the fire, while both his parents died from suffocation.

Injuries reported in several areas of West Bank, one critical
RAMALLAH (WAFA) Tuesday, 17 Sept — A number of Palestinians were injured today from Israeli army gunfire or teargas inhalation in various areas of the occupied West Bank, according to medical sources, including one reported in critical condition. A child was admitted to Istishari Hospital in Ramallah with very critical bullet wounds after settlers and soldiers raided al-Mazra al-Gharbieh village north of Ramallah. The circumstances of his injury were not immediately known or whether he was shot by settlers or soldiers.
In Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem, a young man was shot in the leg during confrontations after soldiers entered the village, according to the Red Crescent. He was transported to Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah for treatment.
In Tubas in the northern Jordan Valley, five Palestinians were injured from teargas inhalation and one required hospitalization, said the Red Crescent. Youths clashed with Israeli soldiers who raided an area of the city. The soldiers fired teargas at the youths causing the five suffocation cases.

Dozens of Palestinians reported hurt in West Bank clash
Times of Israel 15 Sept — Dozens of Palestinians were reported hurt during clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Eizariya Saturday night. The Palestinian Red Crescent said 46 people required treatment in the East Jerusalem suburb. Among those hurt was a 6-year-old girl hit in the head by a tear gas canister, according to the official Palestinian news outlet Wafa, citing Red Crescent officials. The girl was transferred to an Israeli hospital in Jerusalem for treatment. Her condition was not immediately clear. Pictures published online showed her with a head wound. Most of the other injuries were treated for tear gas inhalation, including six members of the same family who were in a car together, according to the Red Crescent. A video [below] shared on social media showed border guards firing tear gas in a central intersection of the town. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military. A security official told the Walla news website that protesters hurled firebombs at troops. No arrests were reported.

Israeli soldiers abduct 22 Palestinians in West Bank
IMEMC 19 Sept — The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers abducted, on Thursday at dawn, at least twenty-two Palestinians, including children, from their homes in several parts of the occupied West Bank. The PPS said the soldiers invaded and ransacked dozens of homes across the West Bank and interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards. The soldiers also installed roadblocks before stopping and searching many cars, and interrogated scores of Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards … In occupied Jerusalem, the soldiers abducted three children from Abu Dis town, east of the city. They have been identified as Ahmad Ezz Odah, 14, Issa Luay az-Zaro, 14, and Mohammad az-Zaro, 14. The soldiers also abducted Mohammad Rayyan, from Beit Doqqo town, northwest of Jerusalem.

ISF officer hit by rock while driving in West Bank, moderately hurt
Times of Israel 20 Sept — An Israeli military officer on leave was moderately wounded Friday afternoon after being hit in the face with a rock while driving in the northern West Bank. The 23-year-old was hit when the rock flew through the windshield of his car near the settlement of Ma’aleh Shomron, west of Nablus. The officer’s father was with him in the car at the time. The wounded man was treated by medics at the scene and taken to a hospital in Petah Tikva. Several other rock-throwing incidents against Israeli cars were reported in the area, with no injuries. Rock-throwing attacks against Israeli vehicles are common in the West Bank, though they rarely cause casualties. Extremist settlers have also been known to attack Palestinian drivers with rocks, and in one incident last year an Israeli teen is accused of having thrown a rock that killed a Palestinian woman.  Friday’s attack came a day after security guards at a checkpoint near Jerusalem shot and killed a Palestinian woman carrying a knife.

3,500 Palestinians born in West Bank in August
MEMO 19 Sept — Some 3,492 Palestinians were born in government hospitals in the occupied West Bank last month, the Ministry of Health reported today. In a report, the ministry said five births, seven surgeries, and 1,140 laboratory tests were conducted every hour in government health centres in the West Bank. “The emergency departments in government hospitals received 82,527 patients, carried out 4,877 surgical operations, and about 578,000 laboratory examinations, 49,168 radiographs, 7,961 CT scans and 1,257 magnetic resonance images.” As for primary health care, the report revealed that 143,000 patients had visited a doctor during that time.

Young entrepreneurs in Palestine: Business without borders
DW 20 Sept — Wall, fences and checkpoints have become a way of life in the West Bank. But now innovative startups are overcoming borders and connecting people throughout the area with the help of digitization — It doesn’t take long for Rowan Alawi to explain her business model as she takes out her cellphone and shows photos of street scenes from Ramallah and other places in the West Bank run by the Palestinian National Authority.   Alawi’s pictures show men standing or sitting on the street waiting for job offers. They are unemployed construction workers. “There are so many workers waiting to find work in Palestine,” she says. At the same time, construction companies are looking for trained workers and cannot seem to find them. This gave her the idea for a digital platform called where construction workers and companies can register and then be paired up. This way supply and demand can be better coordinated. Alawi founded the startup together with her father, a contractor, and in the first two months 600 construction workers registered by listing their skills. The first matches were made and the startup could count on the fees they charged companies for their services. The young Palestinian is convinced that physical borders can be overcome thanks to digitization. “We are working across borders,” she emphasizes. Still she doesn’t want to broker workers to Israel because it is very difficult to get work permits. In addition, there is a massive black market with these permits.
Borders in the digital village —  More and more young people in the West Bank see technology and innovation as an opportunity to create jobs and secure a livelihood. “There is no limitation for innovation. We believe the world is a small village and we can reach anybody online,” emphasizes Amani Abu Tair, founder and CEO of Wazza.Inc in Jerusalem.  Abu Tair, like over 20% of Palestinian founders, is a woman….

Blackout expected in parts of West Bank as Israel’s electricity company starts power cut
JERUSALEM (WAFA) Monday, 16 Sept – Several hours of blackout are expected to disrupt life in parts of the West Bank next Monday and Tuesday as the Israeli Electricity Company (IEC) intends to cut power supply to the Palestinian-owned Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO), today said JDECO chairman of board and CEO Hisham Omari. He said his company has received the third warning from the IEC informing it that it will start rationing or cutting electricity supply to some of the company’s concession areas on the 22nd of this month from 10 a.m. to 12 noon local time in the cities and districts of Ramallah and Bethlehem, and on the 23rd from 12 noon until 2:00 p.m. on parts of Ramallah and Jericho and their area villages. Omari considered the IEC decision, supported by the Israeli government, as “collective punishment against the Palestinian people,” warning that if IEC goes on with its threat, it will have serious repercussions, particularly on hospitals, education, water supply, communications and many other vital areas … IEC said JDECO owes it millions of dollars for purchased electricity. Omari said the Palestinian Authority (PA) had an agreement with IEC regarding paying the debt in installments but that the Israeli company seems to have gone back on this agreement and decided to punish the Palestinian company and its customers for the outstanding debt. He also called on the PA and its security and judicial authorities to take deterrent measures against the lagging customers who do not pay their bills and robbers who steal the current, which costs the company $45 million in lost revenues annually.

Palestine launches its first agricultural cluster
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip 16 Sept by Ahmad Abu Amer — The Palestinian government is moving forward in its 100-day plan that was approved in May to promote the Palestinian economy and strengthen partnership between the public and private sectors. On Sept. 3, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced that endowment lands in the West Bank will be available for investors. Endowment lands are areas of land that no one is allowed to own, according to Islamic law. They are rather rented, with the rental proceeds exclusively going to the Palestinian Ministry of Religious Endowments. All of these lands have been registered in the name of this ministry in accordance with Article 57 of Jordanian Law No. 26 of 1996 on Awqaf (Arabic for religious endowments) and Islamic affairs and holy places, currently applicable in the West Bank. Shtayyeh made this announcement while launching the first agricultural cluster in Qalqilya governorate in the northern West Bank. The cluster project, to which the Palestinian government allocated $23 million, aims to reclaim agricultural lands, establish new water wells and cultivate all of the areas allocated for agriculture in Qalqilya….

NY Times spotlights Palestinian e-waste sector
E-Scrap News 19 Sept b Colin Staub — A New York Times photo essay on electronics recycling in the West Bank shows unsafe practices that experts say correlate with health problems among residents. The essay describes how an informal sector of Palestinian electronics recyclers collect end-of-life electronics from Israeli towns and cities. These loads are brought back into the West Bank and processed in a variety of settings, from scrap yards to living rooms to burn sites. “In the Hebron region of the West Bank, processing Israeli electronic waste has become a lucrative, if illegal, industry,” the Times reported. The number of electronics burning sites has fluctuated over the years amid efforts to regulate them, according to the Times. A burn ban briefly cut the number of sites significantly, but after bureaucratic disagreements led to a lack of enforcement, the burning has ramped up again.  The essay further relayed efforts to create a more formalized electronics recycling sector in the West Bank, as well as the roadblocks that have hampered that movement…


On 75th Friday of Great March of Return: 109 civilians injured, including 39 children, a woman, 2 paramedics, and a journalist
PCHR 20 Sept — This week witnessed an increase in the number of injuries among protestors, in comparison to the last 3 weeks, indicating that Israeli forces escalated their use of excessive force against the protesters with the use of live ammunition and targeting protestors’ bodies. As a result, 52 protestors were shot with live bullets; 2 of them sustained serious wounds. The Supreme National Authority of Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege called for today’s protests under the slogan “Refugee Camps of Lebanon”, coinciding with the 37th anniversary of Sabra and Shatila massacre that targeted Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. The protests lasted from 15:00 to 19:00 and involved activities such as speeches by political leaders and theatrical performances. Hundreds of civilians protested at varied distances from the border fence across the Gaza Strip. The protestors threw stones, Molotov Cocktails and firecrackers at the Israeli forces, who responded with excessive force.  As a result, dozens of civilians sustained bullet injuries while other suffocated due to tear gas inhalation.
PCHR documented 211 killings by Israel since the outbreak of the protests on 30 March 2018, including 46 children, 2 women, 9 persons with disabilities, 4 paramedics and 2 journalists. Additionally, 13,967 were wounded, including 2,998 children, 424 women, 235 paramedics and 215 journalists, noting that many of those injured had sustained multiple injuries on separate occasions.
The following is a summary of today’s events along the Gaza Strip border:….

Report: Israeli army intentionally reduces fatalities in Gaza protests
MEMO 20 Sept — The Israeli military has changed tactics to reduce fatalities amongst Gaza protesters, in order to reduce the risk of retaliatory rocket fire and escalation, reported Haaretz. According to the article by the paper’s defence correspondent Amos Harel, the army’s approach to the occupied Gaza Strip is “built on containment and caution”. “If more Palestinians are killed in the violent demonstrations along the fence, more rockets would be fired at the south of Israel, leading to more air force strikes on the Strip, which would in turn increase the risk of war,” Harel wrote. Such a conclusion reflects decisions taken by Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, namely to respond to the killing of demonstrators at the fence with projectile fire. The Haaretz report reveals that the military’s “rules of engagement on the Gaza border were modified a few months ago”, and that the “current” army activity “is more restrained” than 2018. Specifically, “commanders have been ordered to deploy forces in bullet proof vehicles a few dozen meters away from the fence, to deter the demonstrators from crossing it… instead of relying only on snipers, who are 300 meters away.” This change “has resulted in a considerably smaller number of fatalities, as snipers have to shoot less frequently,” the report notes. The report claims that the shift exposes soldiers to more “risk”, due to their proximity to the protests, although the article fails to note that under international humanitarian law, armed forces are obliged to take all necessary steps to reduce harm caused to civilians. Harel stressed that “the tactical risk is intended to serve a strategic goal: restraint in the Strip in hopes that the low number of fatalities will prevent another escalation.”

Israel shoots children, lets them bleed to death
Electronic Intifada 20 Sept by Sarah Algherbawi — Ali al-Ashqar had just thrown one stone when he was shot. The 17-year-old immediately fell to the ground. Nabil Masoud had been standing nearby. Along with two medics, he rushed to try and help Ali. “But the Israeli sniper started shooting toward anyone who got close to the child,” said Masoud. “For around 17 minutes, no one was able to reach Ali. It was clear that the Israeli soldier wanted the child to bleed until he died. And that is what actually happened.” Eventually, the medics gained access to Ali. But it was too late. An autopsy confirmed that he had been struck by a bullet in the chest, which had exited his neck. He had also been hit by fragments of bullets fired in his direction. Ali was killed during the Great March of Return on 6 September. He was approximately 80 meters from the fence separating Gaza and Israel.
“In pain all the time” Nicknamed Guerilla, Ali had been an active participant in the Great March of Return, which demands that Palestinian refugees be allowed go back to homes from which they were expelled in 1948. He had previously been injured five times during these protests, which were launched in 2018. In July this year, Ali had been shot in the leg during one such protest. He had been scheduled to undergo surgery for his leg injury in Indonesia Hospital, northern Gaza, on 7 September – the day after he was killed …
Ali was very close to his grandmother Fatima and had visited her before he went to the Great March of Return on 6 September. Fatima led the procession at Ali’s funeral – just as she had done when her own son Iyad was killed by the Israeli military during the first intifada. There are striking parallels between how both boys died. Iyad was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier occupying Gaza during February 1988. He was among a group of children and young people who were throwing stones at Israel’s troops. By the time his mother could reach him, Iyad was already dead. Another child had been wounded and was lying on the ground beside him. Fatima used her headscarf to staunch the injured child’s bleeding….

‘Around 30 boys are shot every Friday’ – an Irish anaesthetist on trying to dull the pain in the war zone of Gaza
Independent (Ireland) 18 Sept by Francesca Holt — ‘Sagheer’ – meaning young boy in Arabic – is 16. His curly brown hair is piled high and shaved short around the sides. Every second day, Sagheer cries as dressings are pulled from the crusted pus and blood that seeps from his lower leg. One Friday, four months ago, Sagheer was shot in the leg by the Israeli military as he threw rocks across a fence. That fence is the land crossing controlled by Israel, which keeps two million people inside Gaza, on a 41km-long strip of land … Friday, March 30, 2018 was the first mass demonstration against 11 years of blockade in Gaza. Since that Friday, more than 7,500 Palestinians have been wounded by Israeli live fire. Every Friday since then, young boys like Sagheer have gone to the fence that pens them in from the rest of the world, to protest. Then they are shot. Every single Friday. In August, the numbers dwindled; around 30 boys are shot, every Friday. This is not considered war. This is just what happens in Gaza, every single Friday. I am a paediatric anaesthetist and I spent the last month working on an orthoplastic limb salvage project in Gaza. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has responded to the health crisis created by these shootings. Multi-disciplinary teams are trying to salvage these young men’s legs. Live bullets cause such destruction to the bone that they mushroom inside and obliterate the structure, causing gaps that have to be filled with cement. I heard the term ‘bone-gap’ more often than I hear the word allergy or asthma, at home in Ireland …  Of all injuries, 80pc are to the lower limb, maiming the future generation … Sagheer’s leg is rotting. He, like many others, suffers from chronic infection inside his bone. We need to identify the specific organisms dragged into the wound from the cavitating path of the bullet, so that Sagheer’s antibiotics are targeted and do not create a milieu of resistance. Bone biopsies are sampled from the wound. During my mission, these samples were taken through checkpoints at the land crossing, into Israel, for analysis….

Rockets fired from Gaza fall short, wound 7 Palestinians
JERUSALEM (AP) 18 Sept — Seven Palestinians have been wounded after a rocket barrage from the Gaza Strip exploded near a house inside the coastal enclave. Palestinian eyewitnesses said Wednesday that two of the three rockets struck outside a home in the southern city of Rafah, and a third fell near the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military said it had identified “a failed launch attempt” from the Gaza Strip, but that no projectiles entered Israel. Gaza’s health ministry said seven people were wounded, but didn’t elaborate on their condition. It wasn’t clear which Palestinian militant group in Gaza was behind the rocket fire.

Israeli navy attacks Palestinian fishing boats off Gaza
IMEMC 18 Sept — Israeli navy ships opened fire, on Wednesday morning, on several Palestinian fishing boats near the shore of Gaza city. Media sources said the Palestinian fishing boats were less than three nautical miles from the shore of the Sudaniyya area, northwest of Gaza. They added that the attack did not lead to casualties but forced the fishermen back to the shore in fear of further violations.

VIDEO: The cost of just trying to fish
We Are Not Numbers 25 June — In Gaza, even something as simple as fishing is dangerous business. We Are Not Numbers’ Rakan Abed El-Rahman tells the story of how Israel’s blockade has impacted one fishing family in Gaza. And their fate is far from unique. Thanks to New Scene for the videography and editing. [excerpt: “I went to the sea, to feed myself and my family. I returned (home) blind….”]

Palestinian businessman from Gaza detained at crossing into Israel
AZA (WAFA) 18 Sept — Israeli forces detained today a Palestinian businessman from Gaza while travelling through the Beit Hanoun/Erez crossing with Israel, according to local sources. They said Israel detained Yousef Jawad Hassan, who was on his way from Gaza to the West Bank going through Erez crossing, after he was interrogated by Israeli security. Hassan is the second Palestinian detained at Erez crossing in one week and the fifth since the beginning of the year, said Abdul Nasser Farawneh, who heads the studies and research department in the Palestinian Authority’s Prisoners Commission. He said Israel has turned requests by Gazans to get a permit to cross Erez to the West Bank into a trap to detain them after they are asked to be interviewed by the secret service at the crossing if their application for a permit is to be reviewed.

Court rules president of Al-Azhar in Gaza must step down
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 18 Sept by Moath al-Amoudi — The Administrative Court of Gaza ruled Sept. 12 in favor of the Workers Union at Al-Azhar University-Gaza, saying the Board of Trustees cannot extend the university president’s contract yet again. An interim Board of Trustees now is moving to appoint a new president to succeed Abdel Khaleq al-Farra. The union went on strike in August, suspending registrations, exams and administrative working hours and leaving thousands of students unable to enroll or attend classes. Al-Azhar was finally able to reopen its doors Sept. 4 while the court’s final ruling was pending, according to vice president for administrative and financial affairs Mazen Hamadeh.  University students now will be able to sit for their summer term exams, and others are back to enroll….

Dutch court urged to hear case over deadly Israeli Gaza strike
THE HAGUE (AFP) 17 Sept — A Dutch court heard preliminary arguments Tuesday in a case about a deadly 2014 Israeli air strike, in which Israeli prime ministerial candidate Benny Gantz is one of two named defendants. A Dutch-Palestinian seeking justice for his relatives killed in the air strike urged the court to go ahead with a trial for war crimes. This preliminary hearing to determine whether or not it should try the case started as Israelis go to the polls to elect a new government — with Gantz a leading candidate for the prime minister’s post. Gantz, 60 was the chief of general staff of the Israeli defence force at the time of the Gaza bombing as part of Operation Protective Edge, in which Ismail Ziada said six of his relatives were killed. The second defendant is former Israeli air force chief Amir Eshel, 60. “I am seeking justice,” Ziada told judges at The Hague’s District Court. He would not get a fair hearing before an Israeli court, he argued, because it “discriminated against Palestinians seeking accountability for war crimes”. Ziada’s mother, three brothers, a sister-in-law, a young nephew and a friend were killed in the strike on Bureij refugee camp in Gaza on July 20, 2014. Israel said it launched Protective Edge at the time to stop rocket fire against its citizens and destroy tunnels used for smuggling weapons and militants. “As a Palestinian, my client has no access to a partial and independent judge” before an Israeli court, Ziada’s lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld told the judges. “In other words, it’s impossible for him to take his claim anywhere else,” she said. During an emotional statement, Ziada showed pictures of his dead relatives, telling the judges “much depends on the outcome of this judicial process”, which he called a “David versus Goliath” legal battle. Zegveld argued that the case could be heard under Dutch law, which says that it has universal jurisdiction in civil cases for citizens who are unable to get justice for war crimes elsewhere….

Reports: Netanyahu pushed for major Gaza op days before election
The Media Line 17 Sept — As Israelis head to the polls Tuesday for the country’s second national election in less than six months, reports surfaced that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last week pushed for a major operation in the Gaza Strip but was vehemently opposed by top military brass. Netanyahu – who also holds the defense portfolio – reportedly pressed for a significant campaign against Hamas after he was forced off stage during a pre-election event in Ashdod due to rocket fire toward the city. Thereafter, the premier convened a meeting with high-ranking Israel Defense Forces officials, including its chief-of-staff Aviv Kochavi, and recommended launching an “extraordinary” and “far-reaching” military response. However, the plan did not gain traction, as Netanyahu was warned that such a move could spiral out of control, possibly resulting in full-blown war. According to the reports, the defense officials believed that Netanyahu’s calculus was based on political rather than security considerations….

Hamas stopped an infiltration into Israel – Gaza report
JPost 16 Sept by Yasser Okbi, Maariv — Hamas militants stopped Palestinians from infiltrating Israel, according to reports from Gaza. A Hamas border patrol stopped two Palestinians from entering Israel from the Rafah area in the south

Parents of Israeli held in Gaza plead for news, action five years on
GENEVA (AFP) 19 Sept — The parents of an Israeli man believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza since 2014 travelled to Geneva this week to demand international action to help bring him home. Avera Mengistu, a 33-year-old Israeli of Ethiopian descent, is depressed and suffering from mental problems since the death of his older brother when he crossed into Gaza five years ago. He was filmed by an Israeli security camera climbing the frontier fence with the Gaza Strip in September 2014. Israel’s defence ministry determined he was being held by Hamas, but the Islamist movement governing Gaza has to date provided no information about his whereabouts or condition. “This is just plain cruelty,” Avera’s mother Agarnesh told AFP, speaking through an interpreter. With tears trickling down her face, she implored Hamas to “provide any sign of life”. “Is he alive or not? Does he eat? Does he receive medical care? Are they taking care of him?” she asked. After five years in the dark she was consumed by worry, she said. “I cannot sleep, I cannot work, I cannot rest.” She and her husband Ayelin, who live in the southern city of Ashkelon near the Gaza border, said they had travelled to Geneva to meet with diplomats and UN officials to ask why the international community was not doing more to help Avera, one of their 10 children. They said countries that provide aid to Gaza should be able to put pressure on Hamas. “Please help us! He is a sick person,” Agarnesh said. The parents met with UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday….

‘Israeli’ drone shot down over Gaza belonged to Palestinian Islamic Jihad
Israel Hayom 16 Sept by Neta Bar — Social media in the Gaza Strip was in an uproar Monday after a day earlier it was reported that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine had shot down a drone that belonged to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The incident occurred last Friday. Armed PFLP operatives shot down a drone that was spotted flying near their outpost in Khan Younis in the northern Gaza Strip. The organization rushed to announce it had shot down an Israeli drone and promised it would make public footage showing its “heroic action.” But the celebrations didn’t last for long. On Sunday evening, Gaza-based media outlets reported that the drone had belonged to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, not Israel. Later, reports said that Hamas had collected the pieces of the downed drone and was asking that other terrorist organizations active in Gaza coordinate drone activity with Hamas. The PFLP proceeded to delete the posts bragging about having successfully intercepted an Israeli drone. Gazans took to Twitter to mock the error itself and the organization’s response. “God help us, it’s lucky they didn’t try to kidnap a soldier,” one user wrote. The PFLP rushed to remind the public that it was behind the hijacking of the Sabena aircraft in the 1960s, but even that remark was met with humor. “Maybe they should go back to hijacking passenger aircraft, we’d be happy to get a flight to the Maldives,” another user responded.

Land theft / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Israeli apartheid in Masafer Yatta: raids, demolitions, arrests and beatings
[with photos, videos] International Solidarity Movement 14 Sept — Beginning with invasive night raids multiple villages, and ending with 7 structures demolished, 4 families made homeless, 2 Palestinians arrested, 1 beaten and hospitalized, 1 car confiscated, and 1 major access road severely damaged, Israeli Occupation Forces continue their ongoing assault on local communities in Masafer Yatta. Masafer Yatta is a collection of over 20 villages near Hebron, deep in the south of the West Bank. Most of the Palestinians who live here raise livestock for a living; some are Bedouins, who once traveled with their camels and flocks across the dry and rugged hills, before Israel invaded in 1967 and occupied the area. Despite archeological excavations showing villages have been there since the early Roman and Byzantine era, the Israeli army declared the area a live firing zone in the 1970s and announced plans to demolish most of the villages. While Palestinians in Firing Zone 918 are forbidden from driving cars or possessing any kind of construction material, Israeli settlers in the settlements of Maon, Avigal, and Susya, illegal under international law, continue to build new houses and farms, and are free to travel in and out of the area.
On September 11th 2019, from 0:00 to 4:00 AM, Israeli soldiers raided multiple villages, breaking into homes, forcing sleeping children and parents outside of their houses and searching rooms, cupboards and fridges, as well as cars and wells, damaging villager’s belongings and terrorizing local residents. The soldiers refused to show residents a warrant or give a reason for the indiscriminate searches; residents say their villages are often used as a training ground for new recruits….

New data shows Israeli settlement surge in east Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (AP) 12 Sept by Joseph Krauss & Mohammed Daraghmeh — Jewish settlement construction in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem has spiked since President Donald Trump took office in 2017, according to official data obtained by The Associated Press. The data also showed strong evidence of decades of systematic discrimination, illustrated by a huge gap in the number of construction permits granted to Jewish and Palestinian residents. The expansion of the settlements in east Jerusalem, which Israel seized along with the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Mideast war, threatens to further complicate one of the thorniest issues in the conflict. The refusal to grant permits to Palestinian residents has confined them to crowded, poorly served neighborhoods, with around half the population believed to be at risk of having their homes demolished. The data was acquired and analyzed by the Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now, which says it only obtained the figures after a two-year battle with the municipality. It says the numbers show that while Palestinians make up more than 60% of the population in east Jerusalem, they have received only 30% of the building permits issued since 1991 … Hagit Ofran, an expert on settlements who collected and analyzed the data, says the discrepancy in permits dates to 1967, when Israel expanded the city’s municipal boundaries to take in large areas of open land that were then earmarked for Jewish settlements. At the same time, city planners set the boundaries of Palestinian neighborhoods, preventing them from expanding. “In the planning vision of Jerusalem, there was no planning for the expansion of Palestinian neighborhoods,” she said, adding that the government has initiated almost no construction in those neighborhoods, placing the burden of planning and permits entirely on the residents themselves. Today, around 215,000 Jews live in east Jerusalem, mostly in built-up areas that Israel considers to be neighborhoods of its capital. Most of east Jerusalem’s 340,000 Palestinian residents are crammed into increasingly overcrowded neighborhoods where there is little room to build….

Christian evangelicals harvest land in settlements Israel hopes to annex
SHILO, West Bank (Reuters) 12 Sept by Maayan Lubell & Elana Ringler — It’s harvest time in vineyards atop the hills of Shilo settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. But it’s not Jewish settlers picking the grapes, it’s evangelical Christians. They are volunteers for the devout U.S. evangelical group HaYovel , which brings Christians to help Jewish farmers in settlements that Israel has built on land that Palestinians seek for a state. Evangelicals have been a core support base for U.S. President Donald Trump since the 2016 election. Many are also staunch supporters of Israel, feeling a religious connection with the Jewish people and the Holy Land. The West Bank holds special importance to evangelicals who see a divine hand in the modern-day return of Jews to a Biblical homeland – and who call the territory by its Hebrew Old Testament name, Judea and Samaria. The founder of HaYovel, Tommy Waller, is fond of quoting a passage from the book of Jeremiah, which reads: “Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel…Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria.” But that land is also at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict …  Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said the evangelical base “has been wielding unprecedented and enormous influence within the United States for the sake of the “fulfillment of the prophecy,” thereby giving Israel a free hand to carry out its most hardline and destructive policies against the Palestinian people.”

Israel approves new settlement 2 days before polls
JERUSALEM (AFP) 15 Sept — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government approved a new settlement in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, his office said, just two days ahead of closely fought general elections. Netanyahu’s cabinet agreed to turn the wildcat settlement of Mevoot Yericho in the Jordan Valley into an official settlement, the premier’s office said. All settlements are viewed as illegal under international law, but Israel distinguishes between those it has approved and those it has not. Sunday’s approval follows Netanyahu’s pledge last week to annex the Jordan Valley, which amounts to one-third of the West Bank, if he wins Tuesday’s elections.

A look at the Jordan Valley Israeli PM has vowed to annex
JERICHO, West Bank (AP) 11 Sept by Mohammed Daraghmeh & Aron Heller — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s last-minute vow to annex the Jordan Valley if re-elected next week has sparked Arab condemnation and injected the Palestinians into a political campaign that had almost entirely ignored them. Netanyahu has made similar promises before but hasn’t followed through. His current pledge to annex the Jordanian Valley was widely regarded at home as a campaign stunt to draw in right-wing voters … The annexation of the valley would establish a permanent buffer along the border with Jordan and leave the Palestinians with only isolated enclaves surrounded by Israel, all but ruling out their dream of building a hoped-for state. A United Nations spokesman warned the step would be ’devastating” to the prospects of a Palestinian state alongside Israel …  Here’s a look at the significance of the Jordan Valley: The Jordan Valley makes up the eastern edge of the West Bank. It runs some 300 kilometers (185 miles) from the Sea of Galilee in the north along the Jordan River down to the Dead Sea on the Israel-Jordan frontier. Israel captured the area from Jordan, along with the rest of the West Bank and east Jerusalem, in the 1967 war. Since then, it’s established around 30 settlements in the Jordan Valley, which is now home to some 65,000 Palestinians and 11,000 settlers, according to the Israeli rights group B’Tselem. Outside of the Palestinian city of Jericho and some surrounding communities, about 90% of the Jordan Valley falls under full Israeli security and administrative control, meaning the Israeli military polices the territory and its population. As the lowest place on earth, it has a unique climate that can produce fruits and vegetables year-round. Access to the Dead Sea and its mineral-rich waters also offers tourism and other commercial benefits. “Israel is clinging to the Jordan Valley because this large area has high economic value,” said Sameh al-Abed, a former Palestinian Cabinet minister. “It’s the food basket of the Palestinian people and full of natural resources.” For Israel, the Jordan Valley is considered a key security asset because it provides a buffer zone against potential attacks from the east and assures a defensive line along the country’s long frontier with Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994….

Israel demolishes a house, structures in al-Walaja village in south of West Bank
BETHLEHEM, Monday, September 16, 2019 (WAFA) – Israeli forces demolished early today a house and two greenhouses and razed a road in the village of al-Walaja, northwest of the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, said a local activist. Ibrahim Awadallah, an activist in al-Walaja, told WAFA that Israeli forces escorted a bulldozer as they raided two areas in the village known as Ain Jawaizeh and Khalet al-Hoor and embarked on demolishing a two-story house that belonged to Mustafa Abed Rabbo and two greenhouses belonging to Halimeh Araj under the pretext they were built without permits. He added that the bulldozer has also destroyed an access road to Ain Jawaizeh, whose land was confiscated by Israel for the construction of the separation barrier and Israeli settlements of Har Gilo and Gilo and made part of the Israeli municipal lines of West Jerusalem. Awadallah said owners of 180 houses in Ain Jawaizeh have received demolition orders also under the pretext of unpermitted construction. Clashes erupted between youth and Israeli forces following the latter’s incursion into the village….

Army issues orders halting construction of school near Hebron
IMEMC 19 Sept — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday evening, the Ramadin area, southwest of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and delivered orders halting the construction of the al-Badia Basic School. Khaled Abu Sharar, the head of the Hebron office of the Education Ministry in southern Hebron, said the soldiers ordered halting the construction of the school, located in the western part of the town. Abu Sharar added that the school is close to the illegal Annexation Wall, which was built on Palestinian lands in the area. There are thirty students in this school, and construction was underway to expand it to be able to provide the needed education to more children. It is one of many Somoud and Tahadi Schools which were recently built by the Palestinian Education Ministry, and a few them have been demolished.

Agricultural lands attacked in Salfit and Jordan Valley
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Sept — Israeli soldiers, on Wednesday, chopped down scores of Palestinian-owned olive trees in Burqin village, to the west of the occupied West Bank district of Salfit, according to  Marwan Abdul Rahman, head of Burqin village council. He said that the soldiers destroyed more than 100 olive trees in the Khirbet Qarqash area, located in the northeastern part of the village. No reason was given for the destruction of the trees, according to Days of Palestine.
Also on Wednesday, Israeli forces demolished two agricultural structures in the village of Atouf, Jordan Valley, reported Mutaz Bsharat, a local official. He described the structures as a caravan and a shack. Bsharat also said that soldiers seized a tractor owned by a Palestinian resident of the village of al-Ras al-Ahmar, southeast of Tubas. Israel is trying to restrict Palestinian presence in the Jordan Valley, particularly after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had announced his intention to annex it, if he were to win the Israeli election.

Defense Ministry: Jews should be allowed to privately purchase West Bank land
Times of Israel 15 Sept — Under existing Jordanian laws, non-Arabs can only buy land by forming a company; legal opinions by ministry, IDF say that can be changed, but army warns of international fallout — Legal officials in the Defense Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces have reportedly concluded that Israel could allow Jews for the first time to purchase property in the West Bank as private individuals, which would mark a significant achievement for settlers and make it easier for them to acquire land. The legal opinions have been submitted to the office of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who is expected to approve them, the Haaretz daily reported on Sunday. While the IDF legal adviser has warned of potential diplomatic repercussions over such a move, the Defense Ministry adviser called for implementing the recommendation, saying it wouldn’t mark a radical change from the current legal situation, the report said. The current military laws in the West Bank — based on old Jordanian law from the time the Hashemite Kingdom controlled the region from 1949 to 1967, when Israel captured it in the Six Day War — only allow Jordanians, Palestinians or “foreigners of Arab origin” to purchase land. Israeli Jews are only able to carry out real estate deals via a company and require approval from the head of the Civil Administration, an Israeli body belonging to the Defense Ministry which is in charge of civilian matters in the West Bank. Such companies have been used by settlers since the 1970s to gain control of land, but this route poses bureaucratic hurdles that would be avoided if the government adopts the fresh legal opinions. “We are convinced that it is possible to effectively cancel the existing distinction in Jordanian law between a person of Arab origin and one who isn’t,” wrote Maj. Zvi Mintz, head of the IDF’s legal consultation department for Judea and Samaria, according to the report. “The ban on real estate deals on the basis of ethnicity raises certain discomfort.” …   However, Mintz also warned that the law change could be perceived by the international community as a violation of international law….


Kamila Shamsie: Author stripped of book award over support for Israeli boycott
The Independent 20 Sept by Ellie Harrison — The German jury of the Nelly Sachs book prize has withdrawn its decision to honour Kamila Shamsie with the award, due to her ongoing support for the Boycott, Diverstment, Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Earlier this month, the panel had decided to crown the British-Pakistani writer as their latest winner, with praise for how her writing is “building bridges between societies”. However, when they discovered Shamsie supported the BDS movement, they opted to strip her of the accolade … The Nelly Sachs prize is worth €15,000 (£13,000) and champions tolerance, reconciliation and improving cultural relations, with Margaret Atwood among the previous winners … Earlier this year, the German parliament passed a motion deeming the BDS movement antisemitic, describing it as “reminiscent of the most terrible chapter in German history”. Shamsie called the removal of her award a “matter of outrage” on Twitter, adding that the boycott should not be “held up as something shameful and unjust”….

UK blocks visit by BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti
EI 20 Sept by Ali Abunimah — The co-founder of the BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – movement for Palestinian rights is unable to speak in the UK because the British government has failed to grant him a visa. Omar Barghouti was due to participate in a fringe event during next week’s Labour Party conference, alongside senior party leaders and trade unionists. “Omar Barghouti was scheduled to speak on nonviolent, ethically consistent strategies to counter Israel’s regime of oppression and to end international complicity with it,” the Palestine Solidarity Campaign stated Friday. But “due to an unexplained, abnormal delay in issuing his visa,” Barghouti will speak by video instead. PSC said that the “unprecedented delay in processing Barghouti’s travel visa application by the British government is part and parcel of the growing efforts by Israel and its allies to suppress Palestinian voices and the movements for Palestinian rights.” Earlier this year, the Trump administration barred Barghouti from traveling to the US for a speaking tour, a move denounced by civil liberties defenders as censorship. It appears that the UK, often the junior partner of the US, is following suit.

BDS calls for boycott on DGTL Tel Aviv festival
IMEMC/Agencies 20 Sept — The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), a founding member of the largest coalition in Palestinian society that leads the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, is calling for the boycott of DGTL Tel Aviv 2019 festival. The festival is due to take place in Yarkon Park, also known as Ganei Yehoshua, built atop the ruins of Jarisha, an ethnically cleansed Palestinian village. Its indigenous Palestinian inhabitants were forcibly expelled in 1948 and never allowed to return by Israel’s apartheid regime. Israel’s ongoing massacres in the besieged Gaza Strip, a short drive from Tel Aviv, have included the targeted killings of Palestinian journalists, medics, and children by snipers hundreds of metres away. UN investigators concluded that this “may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity”, yet Israel’s far-right regime has retained its impunity on the world stage. It is these crimes, of ethnic cleansing, apartheid and occupation, that Israel seeks to art-wash through its association with otherwise progressive festivals and artists….

US diplomats pressure Europe lawmakers to oppose BDS
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Sept — United States diplomats have pressured lawmakers and officials in certain European countries to oppose moves to boycott Israel or the illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank, in a move which is part of the ongoing campaign by the Israeli lobby against the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement. According to a report by the State Department delivered last week to Congress and received by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency yesterday, the actions taken by U.S. diplomats against the BDS movement are listed inline with a 2015 law obligating such reporting procedures. The report states that the diplomats engaged senior government figures and party leaders in Ireland by “strongly urging them to drop their support” for a bill that would target the import of goods coming from settlements in the West Bank and set penalties on them. The bill itself passed by the senate in July paving the way for the country to become the first EU nation to enforce a boycott … Germany is the other European country in which U.S. officials have attempted to curb any influence of the BDS movement within legislation, with the report referencing a lawsuit filed by an Israeli against Kuwait Airlines because he was refused to board….

Other news

An historic first? Israel’s Arabs could lead parliamentary opposition
HAIFA, Israel (Reuters) 20 Sept by Rami Ayyub — Israel’s Arab parties are set to be the largest non-ruling bloc in parliament – and could even lead the opposition – if a national unity government emerges from Tuesday’s election. A surge in turnout gave the Arab-dominated Joint List 13 of the Knesset’s 120 seats, making it the third-largest grouping behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, with 31 seats, and Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White, with 33. That would make the Joint List the largest opposition grouping in parliament if a unity government takes shape, a realistic possibility even though Gantz rebuffed Netanyahu’s initial invitation. No party drawn from the 21 percent Arab minority has ever been part of an Israeli government. But if Joint List head Ayman Odeh, 44, becomes opposition leader, he would receive monthly briefings from the Mossad intelligence agency and meet visiting heads of state, among other perks. This would provide an outlet to voice Arab complaints of discrimination against them and give a bigger platform to Arab parties that differ with those drawn from the country’s Jewish majority on many political debates … But although the Joint List will be the single largest group, other opposition parties combined would have enough seats to block his appointment through an absolute majority vote, analysts said. “There’s no way the other parties will agree to have Ayman Odeh as head of the opposition, and grant our community recognition and legitimacy,” said Aida Touma-Sliman, an Arab lawmaker from Odeh’s Hadash faction….

In breakthrough, Arab Israelis turn out to vote in droves
KAFR QASIM (Israel) (AFP) 19 Sept — Samir Farig had never thought of voting for Israel’s Arab political parties before, but he did this week, joining a wave of support that helped deliver a breakthrough. “This time I decided to vote only for Arab parties. Why? Because I think that they should be (the ones) representing me,” said Farig. An Arab citizen of Israel like most in the town of Kafr Qassem in central Israel, the 54-year-old was a lifelong supporter of the Israeli Labour party, dominated by the country’s Jewish majority. But he said he was fed up with Israel’s Arab population being the target of constant insult by the Jewish right. He saw Tuesday’s elections as an opportunity to help oust rightwing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, so he switched his vote. He was part of a surge that, according to results so far, show Arab parties running together under the Joint List alliance with 13 seats in parliament — the third-largest bloc. “We are living in Israel, we pay all the taxes and we do everything that they ask of us. But getting our rights depends on the rules that he decides,” he said, speaking of Netanyahu. “The Jews, even those on the left, are far from (having) the problems of the Arabs today.”
Turnout boost – Arab Israelis are Palestinians that remained on their land after the creation of Israel in 1948. They number around 1.8 million, making up around 20 percent of the population, but complain of discrimination in Israel’s Jewish majority state. The increased turnout of Arab Israelis and the improved performance of their political parties was a major trend in Tuesday’s do-over election, just five months after an indecisive April vote. In many Arab towns, turnout jumped more than 10 percentage points compared to April due to a combination of improved organisation and opposition to Netanyahu….

Pepsi v Coke: Palestinians indifferent about Israel’s election
The Guardian 20 Sept by Oliver Holmes and Sufian Taha in Anata, and Hazem Balousha in Gaza — An inconclusive election in Israel, in which many feel the soul of the nation is at stake, has mesmerised the country with its almost-hourly twists and turns as politicians desperately jockey for power. Binge-watching the news is no longer the preserve of obsessives. But for Palestinians, the deadlocked vote and its seemingly dramatic aftermath, where no party won a majority or has an obvious path to forming a governing coalition, is the equivalent of a bad show on television where you already know the ending. Mohammad Shtayyeh, the Palestinian prime minister, said the difference between the two biggest party leaders, the incumbent, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the former military general Benny Gantz was as insignificant as that between Pepsi and Coke. He said Palestinians did not hold their breath to see who would become the next Israeli prime minister because the “competition is between two candidates who do not have any agenda to end the occupation”.  More than 2.5 million Palestinians live under Israeli military control in the occupied West Bank and 2 million more live under a blockade in the Gaza Strip. To win support from Israeli ultra-nationalists and settlers, both leaders have sold the promise that Israel will take permanent control over large sections of Palestinian territory – a move for decades considered an endgame scenario for Palestinians’ aspirations of statehood …  In the West Bank town of Anata, Hassan Saleh, an 80-year-old retiree leans on his walking stick as he sits on a wooden chair … He read some news on the election, he says, but has not paid much attention. Whoever wins, he scoffs, will not suddenly lift Palestinians “above the clouds”. “Netanyahu … and even [Palestinian President] Abu Mazen – all of them are the same,” he says….

Palestinians ready for dialogue with any future Israeli leader: foreign minister
OSLO (AFP) 18 Sept — The Palestinians are prepared to engage in dialogue with any future Israeli leader, Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said Wednesday in Oslo, the day after general elections in Israel ended in deadlock. “Whoever will be able to form a government, we are ready to sit with him or her in order to restart the negotiations,” al-Maliki told reporters after the elections ended in a tie between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main challenger Benny Gantz. Al-Maliki is accompanying Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas on a two-day visit to Oslo. Their trip comes ahead of a meeting next week in New York of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee of donors to the Palestinians, headed by Norway….

More Palestinians find Israeli work despite conflict
NI‘LIN (Palestinian Territories) (AFP)16 Sept — Economic growth in Israel and chronic unemployment in the occupied West Bank is seeing more Palestinians cross to the “enemy” side seeking work. The numbers have almost doubled in five years and even another right wing victory in Tuesday’s elections is unlikely to change that. “All the governments came and went and we went to work, whether with a permit or by smuggling,” 58-year-old construction worker Naji Mohammed said. He has been working in Israel for nearly 20 years to support his nine-member family. “No government has affected our work.” In the late afternoon at the Ni‘lin checkpoint, west of the West Bank city of Ramallah, salesmen flog goods to the hundreds of Palestinians returning from a day’s work.  Most didn’t want to talk politics for fear of jeopardising their permits … In 2015, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formed a government seen as the most rightwing in Israel’s history, around 45,000 Palestinians had Israeli work permits, according to official Palestinian figures. Four years on that number is around 85,000, the overwhelming majority from the occupied West Bank. Tens of thousands of others have permits to work in Israeli settlements or sneak into Israel and work illegally, Palestinian officials estimate. Israelis see the arrangement as a win-win. Palestinian officials accuse the Jewish state of suppressing their economy and sucking up their labour to cut costs … Workers typically earn between $70 and $100 per day working in Israel or in settlements, compared to just $20-$30 with Palestinian companies, workers told AFP. With unemployment rates in the West Bank at around 18 percent, according to the World Bank, the revenue is vital for many families. Working inside Israel was for a long time controversial for Palestinians, viewed as accepting Israeli occupation, but has become more normalised in recent years. Employment in settlements in the West Bank, however, remains a taboo, with Palestinians typically wary of publicly admitting such employment …  Palestinian economic analyst Nasr Abdel Karim said Israel had experimented with foreign workers and concluded Palestinians were cheaper and more reliable….

West Bank, Gaza crossings closed for Palestinians on election day
Times of Israel 16 Sept by Judah Ari Gross — The Israel Defense Forces on Monday announced that it was shutting down all crossings into Israel from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for Tuesday’s national elections, as is standard practice during Jewish and national holidays. The military said the closure would begin at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday and last for 24 hours, pending a situational assessment. Exceptions will be made for humanitarian cases, namely the passage of medical patients to Israeli hospitals, but will require the approval of the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the army said. Election day is a paid vacation day for workers in Israel. Most polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 10 p.m.  The closure will affect the tens of thousands of Palestinians who legally work in Israel every day, most of them in construction and maintenance. Israeli citizens will still be permitted to move between the West Bank and Israel.

Israel approves potentially contentious cable car plan to Western Wall
i24NEWS 14 Sept — The cable car proposal may also run into legal hurdles, along with international condemnation — Israeli Authorities on Friday announced new plans to install a fleet of cable cars to escort travelers straight to the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City by the year 2021, according to The New York Times.  The infrastructure plan calls for the cable cars to slice above the city and shepherd travelers straight to the holiest site in all of Judaism. Right-wing activists say the building project is a sensible green solution to manage the challenges associated with increased tourism.  But some Israelis including environmentalists, architects and historians have expressed horror over the proposal, telling the Times that such a plan would turn a revered global heritage site into a mere tourist attraction.  “A total outrage against a fragile city,” Israeli-born architect Moshe Safdie told the publication. “An aesthetic and architectural affront.” The cable car proposal may also run into legal hurdles, along with international condemnation, for expropriating land that will erode protections over landscapes and heritage sites. It may also lead to Arab homes being destroyed for the project.  The Times describes the plan as cable cars swooping down from giant pylons, elevated in glass-enclosed stations, into the Jewish neighborhood of the Old City on Mount Zion. Travelers will then be whisked to the rooftop of a building operated by a Jewish settler organization called the City of David Foundation, located in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. Critics fear that travelers will only see the “Jewish side” of Jerusalem’s history, according to The Times, while papering over contributions made by Palestinians to the Old City.

Court calls US ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ torture
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) 19 Sept — A federal court in San Francisco took the unusual step of using the word “torture” to describe the treatment of a Palestinian man while he was in CIA custody following the Sept. 11 attacks. The Ninth U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco used the word in a 2-1 ruling to describe the harsh interrogation methods used against a prisoner known as Abu Zubaydah while he was held in clandestine CIA detention facilities overseas. “To use colloquial terms,” said the court wrote, “Abu Zubaydah was tortured.” The court on Wednesday ruled Zubaydah’s lawyers can question two former CIA contractors who designed the government’s interrogation program for an investigation in Poland, where Zubaydah was held from December 2002 to September 2003. The Ninth Circuit ruling said the two contractors could face limited questioning. Joseph Margulies, a Cornell University law professor who represented Zubaydah for more than a decade, said the ruling was a milestone …  Zubaydah has been held without charge since September 2006 at the detention center on the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. His lawyers have urged the government to file charges against him so they can challenge his confinement. The Palestinian man was wounded and captured in Pakistan in 2002 by U.S. agents, who labeled him a high-ranking Al Qaeda operative. He was shuttled between secret CIA sites around the world for the next four years before winding up at Guantanamo Bay…. (listserv)