Christians in Gaza won’t be allowed to visit Bethlehem and Jerusalem this Christmas

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Israel bars Gaza’s Christians from visiting Bethlehem and Jerusalem at Christmas
JERUSALEM/GAZA (Reuters) 12 Dec — Christians in the Gaza Strip will not be allowed to visit holy cities such as Bethlehem and Jerusalem to celebrate Christmas this year, Israeli authorities said on Thursday. Gazan Christians will be granted permits to travel abroad but none will be allowed to go to Israel and the occupied West Bank, home to many sites holy to Christians, a spokeswoman for Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians said … This year’s decision is a break with usual policy. Last year, Israel granted permits for close to 700 Gazan Christians to travel to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth and other holy cities that draw thousands of pilgrims each holiday season. Gisha, an Israeli rights group, said the ban points “to the intensifying of access restrictions between the two parts of the Palestinian territory,” calling it “a deepening of Israel’s separation policy” for the West Bank and Gaza….

Over 2000 Palestinians participate in peaceful protest at Gaza border
IMEMC 14 Dec — Over 2,000 Palestinians gathered in various parts of the Gaza Strip on Friday to take part in the weekly ‘March of Return’ protests. The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that five Palestinians were shot with live rounds fired by the army across the perimeter fence. One of the wounded Palestinians was shot in the head, and suffered a serious injury. It added that four Palestinians were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, and dozens suffered the effects of teargas inhalation. The protests were held on Palestinian land across the eastern parts of the Gaza Strip, from Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun, in northwest Gaza, to Gaza city and the central district, in addition to Rafah and Khan Younis, in the southern part of the coastal region.

Two Palestinians injured in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza
GAZA, Sunday, December 08, 2019 (WAFA) – At least two Palestinians sustained moderate injuries on Sunday early morning as Israeli fighter jets struck several locations in the north of the besieged Gaza Strip, local sources said. Israeli warplanes bombed a location west of Gaza City, injuring two Palestinians. They were rushed to nearby Shifa Hospital for medical treatment. The warplanes also bombed two other locations east of Gaza City and east of the town of Jabalia, north of the Gaza Strip, causing serious damages to the sites bombed but no human casualties. The Israeli occupation forces claimed that the airstrikes came in response to the firing of three projectiles from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, which were allegedly intercepted by the Iron Dome system.

The Gaza teen ‘arrested’ by Israel and returned home in a body bag
GAZA CITY (MEE) 4 Dec by Tarwq Hajjaj — Mystery surrounds the death of Emad Khalil Ibrahim Shahin, who was arrested for breaching the Israeli fence — Having slipped through Israel’s security fence, Emad Khalil Ibrahim Shahin and his friends sneaked into an abandoned barracks and lit a fire. Anxious they were about to be discovered, they fled the scene. “We ran until we found a sand dune to hide behind on the other side of the fence, but then noticed Emad was not with us. He ran slower because he was on crutches,” one of his companions, who wished to remain anonymous, told Middle East Eye. “We saw him on the ground and told him to crawl. But then a military vehicle raced up and a soldier fired at him, shooting him in the right leg. Soon a helicopter came and took him away.” It would be 355 days until Shahin returned to Gaza. He arrived on 23 October in a body bag.  Now his family and several Palestinian and Israeli NGOs are asking why Israel’s military held the 17-year-old’s body for so long, and how he lost his life after apparently only being shot in the leg. Shahin was the youngest of nine children, whose father made a small but decent salary as a school janitor. His sister Monira told MEE the teen was a passionate participant in the Great March of Return protest movement, much like the rest of his family. … Despite no full autopsy being carried out, Shahin’s family saw several disturbing marks on his body. From the middle of his chest to his stomach ran a 15-centimetre scar, indicating stitching. The same pattern could be seen radiating out for 13 centimetres from the left side of his chest on both sides. The mysterious incisions raised the suspicions of Shahin’s family that his organs had been taken for trafficking, a notorious practice that Israel has attempted to stamp out since 2008. However, Shihada said it is possible the body had been opened by physicians in an attempt to stop internal bleeding….

Grief in Gaza’s classrooms
EI 12 Dec by Ola Mousa — Ahmad al-Hatab was shocked to see reports on TV about how his friend Ismail Abd al-Al had been killed. The two boys had grown close over the past two years. They had spent many happy times together and their friendship could have become even stronger if it weren’t for Israel’s state violence. On 13 November, Ismail died in an Israeli attack. Two of his brothers and two other men were also killed in that incident. Israel fired two missiles from a drone on the family’s business – a carpentry workshop – in al-Tuffah, a neighborhood of Gaza City. Ismail was only 16. His friend Ahmad, 15, found going to school extremely difficult after Ismail was killed. He did not feel that his classmates grasped the scale of his grief. He was struck by how others seemed focused on the details of the attack – details that were too painful for Ahmad to dwell on. “Everyone was talking about what happened to Ismail but I didn’t want to know,” Ahmad said. “We are all at risk of death in Gaza. I’m at risk in my bedroom.” A few days after the attack, Ahmad saw a mural that had been painted in Ismail’s memory. The mural includes farewell notes to Ismail from other pupils. The gesture was evidently sincere but it made Ahmad feel worse than he already did….

Mai and Jacqueline: Returning home with one eye
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Dec By: Fatima Abu Sbeitan for QNN — In agony and sadness, two Palestinian women spoke out about their experiences after Israeli bullets took their eyes. They did not hurt anyone, they were among thousands of other Palestinians demanding their rights. Mai Abu Rweidah and Jacqueline Shihadeh: two young women whose eyes were targeted by Israeli soldiers, while participating in Gaza’s Great Return March protests, in central Gaza. “I was in a peaceful protest, seeking our rights.” – Mai Abu Rweidah.  Following surgery to remove her damaged eye, Abu Rweidah, 23, cried “I want my eye back!” She recalled what happened during the protest, stating “I was standing close to the border fence along with others when the [Israeli] soldiers directly and deliberately targeted us with tear gas grenades”. She continued, saying that one of the soldiers made a provocative gesture before firing a rubber-coated metal bullet directly and deliberately at her right eye. She was brought to hospital, where doctors found she had a skull fracture and severe damage to the eye, doctors at the Shifaa hospital removed her right eye. Abu Rweidah studied to be a medical secretary at Al-Azhar University, and graduated just last month….

Soldiers abduct two Palestinians in Gaza
IMEMC 8 Dec — Israeli soldiers abducted, Saturday, two Palestinians near the perimeter fence in the southern part of the besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip. Media sources said the soldiers abducted the two Palestinians after the army alleged that they crossed the fence. The two Palestinians were taken to an unknown destination; the Israeli army confirmed that the two were not carrying any weapons.

Massive unexploded Israeli missile removed from Palestinian house in Gaza
MEMO 11 Dec — On Tuesday a bomb disposal unit in Gaza removed a one tonne unexploded Israeli missile from a Palestinian house, in the Gazan district of Zeitoun, the Interior Ministry revealed in a statement. The missile was identified as a MK-84, weighing 1,000 kilograms. The bomb disposal unit reported that the house where it was found was hit by an Israeli fighter, during the last Israeli offensive on Gaza in November. According to the statement, the residents were evacuated prior to the removal of the missile. The bomb disposal unit called for Palestinian citizens to report any unexploded ordnance left or fired by the Israeli occupation.

Gaza 2020: ‘Our worst nightmare is when it starts raining’
MEE 10 Dec by Maha Hussaini, Nada Nabil — The United Nations issued a report seven years ago warning that by 2020, the Gaza Strip could be uninhabitable due to severe problems with its water, power, healthcare and education systems. Today, on the eve of 2020, MEE spoke with a homeowner, a doctor and a teacher about how their lives have changed in recent years – and what the future may hold.
The homeowner: Aisha Abu Nemer. Aisha Abu Nemer, 23, lives with her husband and three children – aged eight, six and eight months – in Khan Younis in southern Gaza. The shabby house, located in a marginalised, poor neighbourhood, is 50 square metres in total and topped with a tin roof. The family lives in one room, which serves as a living room, kitchen and toilet. In an adjoining, single bedroom where all the family sleeps, there is a mattress on the floor and a white closet, the only piece of furniture in the home. None of this protects Aisha Abu Nemer and her family from Gaza’s heat, cold or damp. “Our worst nightmare is when it starts raining,” she tells MEE. “We have to get up at midnight to fill buckets with the rainwater that floods the house and remove the mattresses and blankets from the floor….

Gaza 2020: How does Palestinian territory compare globally?
MEE 11 Dec — Quality-of-life indicators in the Gaza, which is blockaded by Israel, are significantly worse than other densely populated places.

VIDEO – Gaza 2020: has life become impossible for Palestinians?
MEE 12 Dec by Mohamed Hassan  (6 minutes)

Gaza economy sustains nearly 100mn monthly loss due to Israeli blockade: NGO
GAZA 7 Dec — A Palestinian NGO says the economic loss imposed on the Gaza Strip as a result of Israel’s blockade of the impoverished enclave is estimated to stand at nearly 100 million dollars a month. ‘The crises of the economic sector are directly caused by the Israeli siege imposed on the coastal enclave since 2007,’ Jamal al-Khudari, head of the Popular Committee Against Siege (PCAS), said on Saturday. Khudari, who is also a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), added that a total of ‘4,000 factories, workshops, shops and companies have closed or shrunk their activities by more than 80 percent of their operational capacity over the past years … due to the Israeli siege.’ He highlighted that the remaining companies, shops, factories, and economic facilities are currently operating with less than 50 percent of their operational capacity….

Hamas official: No long-term truce with occupation
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Dec — Member of Hamas’ political bureau, Khalil al-Hayya, has described the information about a long-term truce between the Palestinian resistance in Gaza and the Israeli occupation state as “false and unfounded.” In an interview conducted with him by Al-Aqsa satellite channel, on Wednesday, Hayya expressed his belief that “talking about a long-term truce in Gaza by some people is aimed to discredit the resistance or it could be part of Netanyahu’s lies in the context of his electoral fight or to cover up other things.” He accused some Palestinian parties and “others not from Palestine” of insisting on falsifying facts and seeking to damage the reputation of the Palestinian resistance. “Hamas has accustomed the factions to transparency and partnership, and we do not hid any talks we conduct with all parties,” the Hamas official said, adding that if there was any proposal about a long-standing truce in Gaza, all the resistance factions would know about it.
As for the current foreign tour of Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh, Hayya said that the Hamas delegation has discussed, with the Egyptian officials, their country’s role in supporting the Palestinian cause and other issues of mutual interest. He also said that Haniyeh and his accompanying delegation highlighted the need to pressure the Israelis to honor the recent understandings over Gaza, end the siege and stop using deadly force against the participants in the March of Return rallies.

Japan funds rehabilitation society in Gaza
RAMALLAH, Tuesday, December 10, 2019 (WAFA) – Japan today signed a contract to fund the construction and refurbishment of a hearing and speech units at the Maghazi Community Rehabilitation Society in the central besieged Gaza Strip. According to a press release from Japan’s Representative Office to Palestine, Japan’s Ambassador for Palestinian Affairs and Representative to Palestine Masayuki Magoshi today signed a grant contract for one Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) with the representatives of Maghazi Community Rehabilitation Society for a total amount of USD 84,191. Maghazi Community Rehabilitation Society will use the fund for constructing a Hearing Unit (11m²) and a Speech Unit (11m²), and for providing the Hearing Unit and the Speech Unit with 13 equipment of 8 kinds, aiming at improving the rehabilitation service for the 3000 children with disability in the Society.

Italy sends medical team to occupied Gaza
MEMO 10 Dec — An Italian team of paediatric cardiac surgeons yesterday arrived in the occupied Gaza Strip, local media has reported. The medical team, which was consisting of 14 volunteers, was led by Stefano Luigi. According to official Palestinian sources, the Italian team’s visit was organised in cooperation with the Palestine Children’s Relief Association (PCRF). They added that the team was aiming “to carry out a number of operations for Gaza children.” The sources pointed out that the team was planned “to spend a week in Gaza to carry out open-heart surgeries.”

Gazans struggle to raise cash to leave through the Egyptian border
The National 9 Dec — The National speaks to three Gazans who paid thousands of dollars to leave the territory — Amjad Yaghi, who was reunited with his mother after 20 years in Egypt last week, is far from the only Gazan who has experienced family separation due to restrictions imposed by Israel. For residents of the Gaza Strip wishing to travel outside of the besieged territory and members of the Palestinian diaspora wanting to visit, the two border posts of Rafah and Erez are symbols of broken hopes and dreams. Nahed Khader, 42, has four children and manages a pharmacy in Dubai. She travelled to Gaza last summer to attend her sister’s wedding, but the experience turned from a happy event to what she terms “a piece of hell”. “I didn’t come to Gaza or see my family for the last 7 years, and when my sister set a date for her wedding and the situation of Rafah border became better than before, I decided to go to Gaza,” she says … “I couldn’t come to Gaza to visit my family before because the border used to be closed more than it was open,” she says. “I came 10 years ago and ended up stuck there – I lost my job here in Dubai because I spent around two months trying to leave Gaza before I was successful.” To visit Gaza again was a big risk, she adds. “Especially because my current work gave me one month vacation” that was not allowed to be renewed. … as the end of her trip drew nearer it became obvious she would not be allowed to leave … “I was so close to losing my job again, so I decided to pay around $3,300 (Dh12,120) for me and my children so I can leave Gaza,” said Ms Khader. Travellers like her, who lose hope of being able to leave Gaza in the normal way may pay for a special permit arranged by a private Egyptian travel company….

Yad L’Achim rescues a young Jewish man from Gaza
TYW 10 Dec — After close to 30 years, Gaza resident Muhammed was contacted by his Jewish mother and over the weekend, he was given Israeli identity. Rina waited for this day, as her son was abducted by his father, the Palestinian man she was living with at the time, and he has been living in Gaza for 28 years. She has tried to establish contact with him. Yad L’Achim became involved and the young man was rescued and brought to Israel. Muhammed said that he was treated fairly, as there “are good people in Gaza”, adding he was not abused verbally or physically during his life as a Gazan. Friends of Rina persuaded her to contact Yad L’Achim and this led to the magic day, after Yad L’Achim used its resources to verify the identity of the young Gazan and make the necessary arrangements to bring him over the border to Israel. He speaks Hebrew, explaining his mother has been in touch with him on the phone for 2.5 years, on a daily basis, teaching him Hebrew. When asked, Rina explains that she would think of her son during IDF strikes against terrorist targets in Gaza. Now, with the assistance of Yad L’Achim and the Law of Return, Muhammed will be given a new name. When asked if he wishes to become a Jew despite being raised Muslim, he responds “The main thing is to be a good person.” He believes that Israel respects people, and it is the best place to live in the Middle East….


Vandals damage cars in Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (AP) 9 Dec — Vandals slashed the tires of over 160 vehicles and sprayed slogans such as “Arabs=enemies” in a Palestinian neighborhood of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, Israeli police said Monday. Elsewhere, Palestinian residents of the volatile West Bank city of Hebron staged a general strike to protest the construction of a new Jewish settlement there.
Masked suspects operated under the cover of darkness to vandalize the cars in east Jerusalem’s Shu‘afat neighborhood and spray-painted Hebrew graffiti on a nearby wall, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. He said the authorities were treating the incident as criminal with “nationalistic motives.” Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion condemned the “hate crime” and called upon the police “to find the criminals as fast as possible and bring them to justice.” The graffiti included the phrases “When Jews are stabbed, we aren’t silent,” and “There is no place in the land for enemies.” Hard-line nationalist Israelis have been known to execute so-called “price tag” attacks against Palestinians in response to Palestinian militant attacks or perceived efforts by Israeli authorities to limit settlement expansion. It was unclear what motivated Monday’s incident.
In Hebron, the West Bank’s largest city, Palestinian shops, schools and businesses were shuttered for the one-day strike. Some youngsters hurled stones at Israeli military patrols, and soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds. Israel’s new defense minister, Naftali Bennett, presented his plan for a new settlement there early this month. Bennett, a longtime supporter of the West Bank settlement movement, said his plan will double the Jewish population of Hebron.

Jerusalem governor prevented from holding activities
IMEMC 11 Dec — Israeli occupation intelligence, on Monday evening, delivered to the Jerusalem governor, Adnan Ghaith, a decision issued by the Minister of Internal Security, Gilad Erdan, to prevent him from holding meetings, seminars and activities inside the occupied city of Jerusalem, for a period of six months. The decision included preventing Governor Ghaith from collecting and providing financial aid to individuals and affected people, not holding organizational meetings, and not conducting meetings and seminars inside Jerusalem. Occupation intelligence stormed the house of Governor Ghaith in the town of Silwan, south of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and handed him the decision and a summons to investigate Al-Maskoubiya detention center, PNN reports.

Yehuda Glick performs Talmudic rituals at Al-Aqsa Mosque
IMEMC/Agencies 11 Dec — Israeli soldiers arrested a guard at Al-Aqsa Mosque, on Tuesday morning, while illegal settlers stormed the mosque, the Middle East Monitor reported. Under the protection of Israeli police, groups of settlers guided by Orthodox Israeli Knesset member, Yehuda Glick entering the compound through the Al-Maghrebi Gate and performed prayers and rituals. Glick was seen taking a photo with the group of settlers who accompanied him after he performed his rituals. Israeli settlers raid Al-Aqsa Mosque on a near daily basis and perform Talmudic rituals inside its yards, while the Israeli occupation forces limit or deny access to Muslim worshippers during this time. The number of Israeli members of the Knesset who storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound has increased in recent months since Prime Minister Netanyahu lifted a ban on Knesset members visiting the Muslim holy site. Sources reported that police opened the gate for 36 settlers who broke into the mosque divided into four groups, all made easier with the arrest of the guard. Recently, Israeli police arrested Muntaha Amara, the niece of Sheikh Raed Salah, who heads the Islamic Movement in Israel, while she was praying in front of the Al-Rahma Gate within the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa. Police officers surrounded her and started speaking with her while she was praying, before disrupting her prayer and arresting her. “We will never bend down [in submission] and we will never be broken,” she insisted. “Al-Aqsa is for us.”….

Soldiers abduct the head of Shu‘fat town council
IMEMC 14 Dec — Israeli soldiers abducted, Thursday, the head of Shu‘fat Town Council, and a member of the council, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem. Media sources said the soldiers abducted the head of the Town Council, Ishaq Abu Khdeir, and a member of the council, Nasser Abu Khdeir. The two were apparently taken prisoner for calling for a procession in front of the local mosque, after groups of illegal Israeli colonialist settlers escalated their invasions and violations in the area.  In recent attacks by the illegal Israeli squatters, the colonists punctured the tires of more than 186 Palestinian cars, and wrote racist graffiti on walls of homes, the local mosque and many cars.

Army abducts a woman, invades many homes, near Jerusalem
IMEMC 12 Dec — Israeli soldiers abducted, Wednesday, a Palestinian woman from Beit Doqqo village, northwest of occupied East Jerusalem; her detention comes just a few days after the soldiers abducted her husband. Local sources in Beit Doqqo said the soldiers abducted Zakiyya Ali Hussein, 30, when she headed to an interrogation center after she was ordered to go there. They added that the soldiers also stormed and ransacked more than twelve homes in Beit Doqqo, and assaulted many Palestinians. The home invasions, the violent searches and the abduction of the Palestinian woman led to protest across the village, and the soldiers fired live rounds, gas bombs, and rubber-coated steel bullets. It is worth mentioning that the invasion is part of a series of violations targeting Palestinian villages northwest of Jerusalem, especially after the soldiers installed roadblocks on roads leading to Biddu, Beit Iksa, and al-Judeira villages.

Israeli officials storm Jerusalem neighborhoods under police protection
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Dec — An Israeli municipal crew, on Wednesday, stormed several neighborhoods of Silwan district, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Occupied Jerusalem, and photographed Palestinian homes, raising fears of Israel’s intent to demolish dozens of houses. Local official, Fakhri Abu Diyab, said that police forces escorting municipal employees stormed the neighborhoods of al-Bustan, Ein a-Luza, Wadi Hilweh, Wadi Yasoul, al-Thuri and Wadi al-Rababa, Days of Palestine reported. In addition to photographing homes, the municipal crew was seen carrying aerial photos, maps and documents, which raised fears among the local residents of Israeli intentions of carrying out mass demolitions in al-‘Issawiya. Abu Diyab voiced concern that the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem could demolish entire neighborhoods in al-‘Issawiya under the false pretext of lacking construction licensing. He appealed to the international community to urgently move to prevent a new catastrophe against the Palestinians in Jerusalem, pointing out that there are 100 housing units threatened with demolition in al-Bustan neighborhood.

Interfaith statistical report: 104 Israel excavation projects in Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Dec — A statistical report issued by the Christian-Islamic Committee to Defend Jerusalem and the Islamic Cooperation organization, showed that excavations under Jerusalem since 1967 have reached 104, 4 of which are under or around the Al-Aqsa mosque, 5 in Silwan, 5 in the Old City, and 8 in other sites, also 57 fossils and tunnels penetrate the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The above mentioned organizations warned of the danger of building a huge Jewish-only cemetery under the ancient cemetery that extends from Mount of Olives to the town of Silwan, with an area of more than 1,600 square meters with a depth of 50 meters, [which] can accommodate more than 23,000 graves at a cost of $90 million, the Palestine News Network reported.
The Authority’s report in Jerusalem monitored 29 settlements, 15 in the eastern part and the rest in the western part. In total, there are 43 settlements on 46 thousand dunams aiming to change the nature of Jerusalem through excavations. Al-Aqsa is now surrounded by 105 synagogues. There are 107 mosques in Jerusalem, including 43 in the Old City, as well as 95 Christian churches.
Hanna Issa, Secretary-General of the Christian-Islamic Committee for the Support of Jerusalem and Holy Sites, said that the most dangerous statement of US President Donald Trump’s decision, on 6-12-2017, is not only the transfer of the capital, but that the city of Jerusalem is Jewish, denying the Christian and Islamic presence in the city. He indicated that what the Israeli occupation is doing under under Al-Aqsa is building an entire city. Issa continued: “All of this comes within a programmed framework with the aim of emptying the city of Jerusalem of its indigenous people, creating a new Jewish character, and establishing the greater capital of Israel on an area of 600 square kilometers.”

PA seeks Israel’s permission to let East Jerusalemites vote in its elections
Times of Israel 10 Dec by Adam Rasgon — The Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership has officially requested permission from Israel to allow Palestinians in East Jerusalem to vote and run in Palestinian Authority parliamentary and presidential elections, a senior PA official said on Tuesday. “We officially asked Israel to allow East Jerusalem residents to participate in legislative and presidential elections in terms of running and voting,” tweeted Hussein al-Sheikh, the head of the PA Civil Affairs Commission and a close confidant of Abbas. “We are awaiting Israel’s response.” The overwhelming majority of Palestinians in East Jerusalem cannot vote in national elections in Israel because Israeli law only permits citizens of the Jewish state to cast ballots. Palestinians in East Jerusalem largely do not hold citizenship, but rather permanent residency.

West Bank / Israel

Israeli soldiers shoot a Palestinian near Tulkarem
IMEMC 11 Dec — Israeli soldiers shot, Wednesday, a young Palestinian man at a gate of the illegal Annexation Wall, in Qaffin town, north of Tulkarem, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank. Media sources said the soldiers shot Ala’ Bassam Abu Bakr, 24, with a live round in his left leg, causing a moderate injury. The sources added that the young man was rushed by a Palestinian ambulance to Thabet Thabet hospital, in Tulkarem. It is worth mentioning that, on Tuesday, the soldiers shot five Palestinians from several villages and towns in Tulkarem, while trying to cross a gate of the Annexation Wall in Nazlet Issa nearby area.

Israeli troops shoot and injure young Palestinian near Jenin; fire teargas near Tulkarem
IMEMC 10 Dec — On Tuesday morning, Israeli troops shot and wounded a young man from the Palestinian village of ‘Arabeh near the gate through the Israeli Annexation Wall at Dahr al-Abed, southwest of Jenin. According to the Palestinian news agency Wafa, the Palestinian was identified as Saif Iyad Wajih Al-Ardah. Israeli forces shot him in the foot near the gate through the Annexation Wall. Before he was allowed to be treated by medics, Israeli troops interrogated him, and transported him to the Barta‘a military checkpoint. From there, following his interrogation, he was handed over to Palestinian medics with the Red Crescent Society. He was taken to the Khalil Suleiman Governmental Hospital in Jenin for treatment.

Soldiers shoot a medic, abduct 13 Palestinians in West Bank
IMEMC 12 Dec — Israeli soldiers shot, on Thursday at dawn, a medic and abducted thirteen other Palestinians, including a university student, in several parts of the occupied West Bank. In Ramallah, in central West Bank, the soldiers invaded Ein Misbah neighborhood and Surda Junction, and resorted to the excessive use of force against Palestinian protesters, by firing live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, and gas bombs at them. Medical sources said the soldiers shot one medic with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the leg and caused dozens of Palestinians to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. The soldiers also abducted a young woman, who is a student at Birzeit University, identified as Shatha Majed Hasan, from her home in Ein Misbah neighborhood. In addition, the soldiers abducted Malek al-Lowzi, 25, from his home in Betunia town, west of Ramallah. Protests also took place in Beit Rima town, northwest of Ramallah, when the soldiers invaded it before storming and ransacking many homes.

Campaign of arrests in West Bank targets Hamas leaders
RAMALLAH (Asharq Al-Awsat) 13 Dec —  Israel launched a massive campaign of arrests in the West Bank, targeting a number of Hamas movement leaders. The arrests included former Minister of Local Government Issa al-Jabari, member of the dissolved Legislative Council Muhammad Jamal al-Natsheh, and leaders of Hamas, Jawad Mahmoud Bahr al-Natsheh, Omar Qawasmi, and Mazen Jamal al-Natsheh, all of whom are released prisoners. The Israeli army stormed several Palestinian cities, including Nablus, Bethlehem, Ramallah and Hebron, searching homes and arresting citizens.
The army also arrested the president of the Student Council Conference at Birzeit University in Ramallah, Shatha Majid Hassan, at her home. According to Israeli media, the Israeli security defined the arrest operation as a “preventive” measure ahead of the anniversary of the founding of Hamas, which is scheduled to take place on Saturday. In a statement, Hamas said: “The occupation’s arrest of a number of the movement’s leaders and representatives in the city of Hebron confirms its continuous attempts to disrupt the internal Palestinian political life.” “Arrest and prosecution campaigns will not prevent us from assuming our pioneering role in … confronting the occupation’s plans,” the statement added.

Woman among 10 Palestinians Israeli army detains in West Bank
RAMALLAH, Wednesday, December 11, 2019 (WAFA) – A woman was among 10 Palestinians the Israeli army detained early today in West Bank raids, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS). In a raid of the city of Ramallah and its environs, the army detained Bushra Tawil, at her family’s al-Bireh home. Tawil is a former prisoner and her detention came only one week after her father, Jamal Tawil, former mayor of al-Bireh, was released after serving 20 months in administrative detention without charge or trial. The army also detained four other people from the Ramallah district, including Jalazoun refugee camp, Bittin and Silwad. Further south, the army detained a 16-year-old boy from ‘Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, along with two other men, and two more men from the town of Halhoul.

Soldiers attack Palestinian protesters near Ramallah
IMEMC 14 Dec — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, dozens of Palestinian protesters near Beit El military roadblock, north of Ramallah in central West Bank. Eyewitnesses said dozens of Palestinians marched in the area of Beit El illegal colony, and were chanting against the ongoing Israeli occupation, its escalating violations against the people, their homes and lands, and their holy sites. They added that the soldiers started firing a barrage of gas bombs, especially from the automated gas bombs’ launchers, mounted on their jeeps. The soldiers also fired many live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, while many protesters started throwing stones at them. Many Palestinians were injured and received the needed treatment.

Israeli soldiers attack several Palestinians in Hebron
IMEMC 14 Dec by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers attacked, on Friday evening, several Palestinians at the entrance of the Shuhada Street, in the center of Hebron city, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. Media sources said the soldiers, stationed on the permanent military roadblock at the entrance of Shuhada Street, assaulted with clubs and batons many Palestinians, causing various injuries. They added that the soldiers attacked the Palestinians when they protested the detention of a young man who was held at the military roadblocks.

Palestinian teen pulls knife on cops in West Bank, is arrested
Times of Israel 8 Dec — A Palestinian teen was arrested in the southern West Bank city of Hebron Sunday after threatening Border Police officers with a knife and a screwdriver. The 17-year-old girl approached a police checkpoint at the city’s Tomb of the Patriarchs holy site carrying a backpack. According to police, as she was undergoing a routine security check, she pulled out a knife and cried out, “You deserve to die, I came here to become a martyr.” Officers drew back and pointed their firearms at her, at which point she dropped the knife, a police statement said. When additional officers arrived to arrest the teen, she pulled out a screwdriver and again threatened to stab them. The officers were able to subdue the would-be assailant without injury and without opening fire, police said. She was taken for questioning by the security forces.

To understand the violence of Israel’s occupation, know these 30 stories
+972 Magazine 10 Dec by Hagai El-Ad — Violence and whitewashing are the double helix of the occupation’s DNA. Here are 30 stories of Palestinians killed or harmed by its brutality, collected by B’Tselem over three decades. And they’re just the tip of the iceberg —  Aishah Abu Laban is 70 years old. It has been 30 years since the fateful day in 1989 when an Israeli soldier shot and killed her 13-year-old daughter, Rufaydah – but she will never forget it. Rufaydah, who lived in Dheisheh Refugee Camp, was killed on her way home from the funeral of 16-year-old Naser al-Qassas, who had also been shot dead by soldiers a day earlier. The IDF Spokesperson responded to Rufaydah’s death by declaring “There was no connection between the death of the girl and IDF activity in the area.” Thirty years on, as Aishah puts it, there is only one conclusion: “When the judge is your enemy, who can you complain to?”
Twelve years later, we find ourselves in another refugee camp in the West Bank. This time Nur a-Shams and her two young sisters, Hanan, 11, and Iman, 8, were wounded in their home by an Israeli tank shell. Their mother, Najah Abu Sha‘ala, was fearful of the tanks encircling the camp, as any mother would be. When the shelling grew heavier, she led her family to the safest place in the house: the staircase leading up to the roof. Then the shell hit. The IDF Spokesperson said: “After reviewing the overall circumstances of the incident, the decision is that there are no grounds for ordering an investigation by the Military Police Investigation Unit into this matter.” ….

Why is Israel preventing me from accompanying my mother to chemotherapy?
+972 Magazine 12 Dec by Laith Abu Zayyad — Israel is punishing human rights defenders for exposing its violations by restricting our movement under the pretense of ‘security.’ — On Sept. 5, I received the tragic news that my mother was diagnosed with cancer. As well as trying to cope with the shock and the unrelenting challenges of life-or-death uncertainty, as a Palestinian living in the West Bank, I also had to worry about something else: Israel’s occupation and its brutal control of all aspects of our daily lives. When I learned about my mother’s illness, I applied for a travel permit from the Israeli military to accompany my mother to medical appointments at the hospital in East Jerusalem, where she was to receive chemotherapy treatment. For decades, Israel has imposed a permit system restricting all movement for Palestinians, who are required to apply for special authorization to enter Israel and occupied East Jerusalem for any reason, including work, medical care, family visits, and trips to religious, cultural, and archaeological sites. As in so many cases involving younger Palestinians, particularly men, Israeli authorities denied my permit request for undisclosed “security reasons.” This means that twice a month, when my mom goes to receive her chemotherapy at the hospital — only a 15-minute drive from our home — I am forbidden from accompanying her. I must stay put, in the living room, and wait for updates about how she’s doing over the phone.
Israel’s punishment didn’t stop there. On Oct. 26, when I was heading to Jordan to attend my aunt’s funeral, Israel prevented me from traveling abroad, again for “security reasons.” Israel’s occupation manages to separate us from our loved ones in life and death, in the most hideous and punitive ways. Now, I can no longer leave the occupied West Bank at all. In the simplest and most definitive terms: I am locked in. The “security reasons” for which I have been banned have never been revealed to me. What has become increasingly clear, however, is that Israeli authorities are targeting human rights advocates with “security” bans for the role we play in exposing Israeli human rights violations. When I began working for Amnesty International as the Israel and Palestine campaigner in 2017, I was granted a permit so I could travel to our office in East Jerusalem. But earlier this year, Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan instructed his ministry to “examine the possibility of preventing the entry and stay of Amnesty International in Israel.”….

Israel border police bus vandalized outside West Bank settlement
[behind paywall] Haaretz 8 Dec by Hagar Shezaf — Anonymous vandals defaced a bus used by Israel Border Police to transport troops enforcing a closed military zone order in a West Bank settlement on Saturday night. Officers were at the site of the Kumi Ori outpost near the settlement of Yitzhar when two of the vehicle’s tires were punctured and graffiti was sprayed on the bus in Hebrew reading: “Go to the enemy.” Police officers said they saw several settlers waiting at the entrance to the settlement with rocks in their hands. “This is another incident in which a small group of lawbreakers are trying to hurt the work of security forces sent to enforce a military order,” the police said in a statement. “Violence directed at our troops will not affect the determination to carry out their task of enforcing the law and maintaining order,” the statement added. Kumi Ori has been the epicenter of an escalating conflict between Israeli security forces and Jewish settlers since October, when an Israeli soldier was wounded from a rock thrown at him during clashes with some 30 settlers….

Anti-Arab graffiti spray-painted on mosque in northern Israel
IMEMC 12 Dec — In the village of Manshiet Zibdeh, located in what is now Israel, a mosque was defaced with racist graffiti on Thursday morning, and cars parked at the mosque had their tires punctured. Israeli police were called in by the Imam of the mosque when the graffiti was found, but they failed to carry out any kind of investigation or locate the assailant. This was considered to be a “price tag” attack, which is a tactic used by Israeli right-wing settlers to, as they claim, make Palestinians ‘pay a price’ for living on their ancestral land – land which the Israeli settlers want to take over. In a similar attack toward the end of last month, about 70 vehicles had their tires slashed in the town of Jaljulia in Israel.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Adalah: The illegality of Israel’s plan to transfer Palestinian Bedouin citizens into refugee displacement camps in the Negev
IMEMC/Agecies 13 Dec — Israel is taking the first steps towards establishing refugee displacement camps to house tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouin citizens of Israel whom it plans to “urgently” evict from their homes in unrecognized villages across the Naqab (Negev) region without even offering them any permanent or just housing solutions, according to a new in-depth report published by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. Adalah’s new position paper, released, on Tuesday, takes a detailed look at the ramifications of the plans, and the ways in which they violate the human rights of the Bedouin community … Israel’s plan to establish refugee displacement camps for Palestinian Bedouin citizens must be understood in the context of a January 2019 announcement by Israel’s Bedouin Authority that it intends to evict 36,000 Bedouin citizens for the needs of “economic development projects” and the expansion of military training areas, the report said. These plans – expected to affect thousands of families, will have devastating consequences for the entire Palestinian Bedouin population of the Naqab, both in the unrecognized villages and in the recognized townships where the refugee displacement camps are to be constructed, the report said.

OCHA: 22 Palestinian structures demolished in past two weeks
IMEMC/Agences 13 Dec — Citing the lack of building permits, Israeli forces demolished 22 Palestinian-owned structures in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem over the past two weeks, displacing 49 people and otherwise affecting over 800 others, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in its biweekly report on Israel’s violations of human rights. OCHA said that half of the structures demolished in the West Bank had been previously provided as humanitarian assistance, while four of the localities affected by the demolition of ten structures are Bedouin communities located in or around an area planned for settlement expansion (the “E1” plan) and face the risk of  forcible transfer. Another eight structures were located in areas declared closed for Israeli military training (“firing zones”), the report added.
On 28 November, Israeli forces punitively demolished four homes and three water cisterns in Beit Kahil village (Hebron), in Area B, displacing 15 people, including six children. The structures belong to the families of four Palestinians accused of killing an Israeli soldier in August 2019. The incident triggered clashes with Israeli forces, which resulted in the injury of six Palestinians, including two children. This is the seventh punitive demolition incident so far this year, carried out citing “deterrence needs”.
On settler violence during the same period, the report said over 800 trees and 200 vehicles owned by Palestinians were vandalized in 11 separate incidents by Jewish settlers. Coinciding with the end of the annual olive harvest season, damage to (mostly olive) trees was recorded in the West Bank villages of Sebastia, Al Khadr and As Sawiya. In the latter village, which was attacked twice over the course of three days, Israeli settlers set up a tent near one of the targeted plots.

Israel threatens to destroy all Palestinian structures in Area C
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Dec — Israeli Minister of Defense, Naftali Bennett, has threatened to destroy all Palestinian structures in West Bank areas under complete Israeli control (Area C), including those which were funded by Europeans, under the pretext of unlicensed construction. According to Days of Palestine, Bennett made the threat during a meeting with ambassadors of European Union states, last week. He called on Europeans to direct their money towards humanitarian aid instead of what he called unlicensed construction. The minister’s threat came one day after the Israeli army’s central region commander announced a plan to launch an unprecedented demolition campaign, against Palestinian buildings, in Area C of the West Bank. The occupied West Bank was divided into three areas – A, B and C – as part of the Oslo Accords, signed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Israel, in 1993 and 1995….

This Palestinian came from Canada with a dream — Israeli settlers and the army came together to thwart it
[behind paywall] Haaretz 9 Dec by Amira Hass — Khaled Al Sabawi had a vision — developing affordable building lots in the West Bank to Palestinians. But sales stopped almost completely due to settlers’ harassment and the pressure they put on the army — … What had brought Sabawi to the Civil Administration office was his position as CEO and vice chairman of a real estate firm founded by his father. More precisely, he was there to discuss several acts of vandalism that the company suffered on land it had bought in the West Bank Palestinian village of Turmusaya, northeast of Ramallah, a few days after infrastructure work began on June 12. At the time of the July meeting at the Civil Administration, the vandalism was still relatively minor. Twice, the red pennants that surveyors had placed on the land to mark its perimeters and internal boundaries had been removed. “The people of Israel lives” was spray-painted in Hebrew on a rock, along with a Star of David. Later in July, as Sabawi’s meetings with other Israeli officials continued – including talks with the head of the Civil Administration, Brig. Gen. Ghassan Alian, and the head of the army’s Central Command, Maj. Gen. Nadav Padan – the vandalism intensified and grew in frequency. There were daily incursions onto the company’s private property. Armed Israeli civilians intimidated workers and a contractor, even forcing them off the site several times. The tires of a surveying vehicle were punctured. Its windshield was also broken and expensive equipment was stolen from it. Israelis also erected tents and trailer homes (later removed) on the site. Demonstrations and prayers were held there. And newly laid asphalt on a road was broken up in several places. Yet not a single suspect was apprehended, arrested or put on trial …  In his Ynet article, Elisha Ben Kimon reported that the settlers had sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asking that the work be stopped. The settlers claimed that the construction was “leading to real harm to the personal security of every one of the Israelis who lives in the Shiloh bloc communities, particularly Amichai,” a reference to a new settlement established for residents evicted from the outpost of Amona. At the time, it was also reported that the army was studying the matter. The pressure, threats and damage bore fruit. The work on Sabawi’s company’s land was halted during the fall Jewish holidays in October. It was understood that it would start again shortly after, and only within the plot itself. On October 27, the contractor and his staff sought to continue to lay the asphalt for roads within the plot, but they were prevented from doing so by armed Israelis. Rather than evicting the Israelis, soldiers ordered the contractor and his Palestinian workers to leave. Col. Yonatan Steinberg, who since August has been the commander of the Binyamin Regional Brigade, instructed the Civil Administration to instruct Sabawi to stop the work on his land until further notice….


Hunger-striking prisoner Mos‘ab al-Hindi reaches deal with Israel
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Dec — Palestinian prisoner Mos‘ab al-Hindi, who has been on hunger-strike for 75 consecutive days to protest his administrative detention, suspended his open-ended hunger strike, on Sunday. According to the Palestinian News and Info Agency (WAFA), al-Hindi reached an agreement with the Israeli authorities to limit his detention without charge or trial, to four additional months, after which he will be released. Al-Hindi launched an open-ended hunger strike to oppose being placed under administrative detention, a widely-condemned policy that Israel utilizes to detain Palestinians without charge or trial, for renewable intervals ranging from three to six months, based on undisclosed evidence that even a detainee’s lawyer is barred from viewing….

Palestinian refugees / UNRWA

In face of US opposition, UN renews agency helping Palestinian refugees
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 13 (Reuters) – The United Nations General Assembly on Friday overwhelmingly renewed the mandate for a U.N. agency supporting Palestinian refugees for another three years amid misconduct allegations and a cash shortfall triggered by a halt in U.S. funding. The mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) was extended until June 30, 2023, with 169 votes in favor and nine abstentions, while the United States and Israel voted against. UNRWA, which was established in 1949, provides education, health and relief services as well as housing and microfinance assistance to more than 5 million registered refugees in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, as well as in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The agency has faced budgetary difficulties since last year, when the United States – its biggest donor – halted its aid of $360 million per year. The United States and Israel have both accused UNRWA of mismanagement and anti-Israeli incitement. In a statement published by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas praised the vote as a victory for international law and the rights of the Palestinian refugees….

PHOTOS: Side by side, glimpses of Palestinian refugee camps then and now
REUTERS 12 Dec 2019 — Visited by photographers decades apart, time seems to have passed at a different speed in many of the Palestinian refugee camps scattered across Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza —  History has marched on since they arrived in the middle of the last century, seeking refuge for what they thought would be a few weeks, but staying for a lifetime. Around them the Middle East lurched from conflict to civil war to peace and back again. But for Palestinian refugees in these camps, there has been little movement over decades – only their memories and hopes can travel freely back to lost lands. Visited by photographers decades apart, time seems to have passed at a different speed in many of the Palestinian refugee camps scattered across Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Change there has been, but limited in its ambition. Canvas tents in 1948 Beirut grew up to be cinder block homes. Beaches evolved into sunless alleyways. And young women balancing clay water pots on their heads in 1950s Gaza became the grandmothers of a generation who today have taps in their homes but still haul bottled water home because it is filtered, and so safer to drink. A key presence in these lives is UNRWA, the United Nations agency which provides services and protection to 5.5 million Palestinian refugees. Around a third – more than 1.5 million – live in 58 registered camps….,-glimpses-of-Palestinian-refugee-camp.aspx


Belgian trade delegation to Israel canceled
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Dec — The trade mission would have taken place from the 8th to the 11th of December, will not go forward, due to criticism from the political opposition and several activist organizations, leading to its discontinuation, the Palestine News Network (PNN) reported. The delegation would have consisted of representatives from the Walloon and Brussels governments, which are separate political entities in Belgium, and numerous companies from the respective regions …  In the last couple of weeks, the general criticism towards the trade mission has grown. Specifically Israel’s disregard for international agreements concerning the blockade of the Gaza Strip, sparked the opposition’s distaste for the mission. “We’re talking about participating in the Israeli colonization policy,” said Stéphanie Koplowicz, member of the Flemish left-wing PVDA-party.  “The UN Human Rights Comittee has complained that over 200 companies do business in these illegal settlements. Does the government want to encourage Brussels’ companies to participate in this?”….

Other news

Information Bureau in Gaza: 557 Israeli violations against journalists
IMEMC/Agencies 11 Dec — The Government Information Bureau in Gaza announced, on Tuesday, that this year was the second-worst year for journalism in Palestine, with 557 Israeli violations against journalists, according to Quds News Network. The spokesperson for the bureau, Salama Ma’arouf, said in a press conference that 2019 has been the second-worst year for journalism in Palestine, after 2018 in terms of the quantity and types of violations. The bureau stated that 87 journalists were reportedly attacked and 21 were shot with live bullets, in Gaza, while 67 other journalists were attacked in the occupied West Bank during 2019. The Information Bureau added that May of 2018 saw the highest number of Israeli violations against journalists and media institutions which were covering marches and demonstrations organized throughout Palestine remembering the Palestinian Nakba or catastrophe, of 1948. During the May, 2018 marches, Israeli forces caused 33 journalists to suffocate from tear-gas, caused 9 to suffer from burns, or fractures, and shot 24 journalists with rubber-coated metal bullets. The bureau confirmed that in 2019, 100 journalists were arrested over social media posts. 18 journalists are still held in Israeli jails while 30 more were subject to torture and blackmail. It added that Israeli forces imposed excessive fines on media personnel. It was also reported that the Israelis carried out approximately 30 raids into media institutions, journalists’ houses, cultural offices, and printing presses, in most cases, confiscating and/or damaging equipment. The bureau also has documented 27 travel bans and equipment confiscation cases, which aimed to prevent journalists from performing their job, exposing Israeli actions.

Exploited and underpaid, Palestinian women are fighting back in the workplace
+972 Magazine 6 Dec by Judith Sudilovsky — Subject to below minimum wage jobs, no pay slips, and arbitrary layoffs in Israeli settlements, Palestinian women under occupation are learning more about their rights and are beginning to unionize.– On Wednesday, December 3, 15 of the 20 employees of the “Mevashlim Bishvilech” factory in the industrial zone of Mishor Adumim, an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, went on a two-day strike demanding fair wages and social benefits according to Israeli law, after they said the company’s management cut about NIS 1,000 from their wages in October. The company also refused to pay for holidays or past debts owed to the employees, they said. The striking employees, most of whom are Palestinian women who were leading a work strike demanding their employee rights for the first time, were unionized by the labor organization Workers Advice Center (WAC-MAAN) trade union in September.
Initially, management opened negotiations and held two meetings with the trade union and the workers’ representatives, but WAC-MAAN maintains that despite apparent understandings which were achieved, the company — which produces homemade stuffed vegetables — nevertheless unilaterally cut payroll. For employees like Nawal Arar, 37, and Adla Ayad, 49, both from Ramallah, that was the last straw.  “I leave my home at 5:15 in the morning and get back home at 6:45 in the afternoon,” said Arar, who has worked at the factory for 2.5 years, listing the work infractions they are striking to be changed. “I work 10 hours with only half an hour break. I roll vegetables all day and hunching over like that rolling has hurt my back. The company doesn’t pay for my pension fund and it doesn’t pay for my transportation to work. We aren’t given our Muslim holidays off and we aren’t paid for the holidays. We don’t get vacation pay or paid sick days.”….

December 8, 1987: The first Palestinian uprising (intifada)
IMEMC/Agencies 9 Dec — The First Palestinian Uprising or ‘Intifada’ broke out across occupied Palestine on December 8, 1987, lasting for more than six years, saw the deaths of thousands of Palestinians by Israeli occupation forces, and the detention of tens of thousands. On that day 32 years ago, Israeli settler, Herzel Boukiza, rammed his vehicle into Palestinian workers returning home through the Erez/Beit Hanoun checkpoint between Israel and Gaza. Four Palestinian workers from Jabalia and Maghazi in the Gaza Strip were killed in the attack, the Palestinian News and Info Agency (WAFA) reported. The next day, December 9, 1987 and following the funerals of the four martyrs, angry Palestinians took to the streets in Jabalia to protest the premeditated attack. As Palestinian leaders gathered to discuss the escalating situation, protests and clashes broke out within the refugee camps, spreading rapidly across the West Bank. Shopkeepers closed their businesses and laborers refused to go to their workplaces in Israel. Palestinians took control of neighborhoods, barricading roads to prevent Israeli army vehicles from entering. Largely unarmed, they defended themselves only by throwing stones at the soldiers and their tanks. After six years of daily confrontations in which the Israeli army killed a total of 1550 Palestinians, injured more than 70,000 by shattering bones and beatings, and detained 100,000 to 200,000. Over 18,000 Palestinians were held under administrative detention for long periods of time without charge or trial, a practice Israel continues to utilize. The “stones Intifada” came to a halt after the signing of the Palestinian-Israeli Oslo Accords in September 1993, which led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority, and allowed thousands of the Palestinian Diaspora to return home for the first time since being forced out of Palestine in 1948. Watch here to see Israeli soldiers beating Palestinians with rocks to break their bones.

Palestinians in Bethlehem look beyond religious tourism
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) 9 Dec – For decades, the people of Bethlehem have watched tour buses drive up to the Church of the Nativity, disgorge their passengers for a few hours at the traditional birthplace of Jesus, and then return to Israel. But in recent years a new form of tourism has taken root, focused on the West Bank town´s Palestinian residents, their culture and history and their struggles under Israeli occupation. As pilgrims descend on Bethlehem this Christmas, they have the option of staying in restored centuries-old guesthouses, taking food tours of local markets, and perusing the dystopian art in and around a hotel designed by the British graffiti artist Banksy … The Hosh Al-Syrian Guesthouse includes 12 tastefully furnished rooms ranging from $80-150 a night. At its Fawda Restaurant – Arabic for chaos – Kattan uses local ingredients to cook up traditional Palestinian cuisine with a modern twist. “My vision was to say religious tourism will promote itself by itself, it doesn´t need the private sector to promote it,” he said. “Let´s promote everything else. Let´s promote our food, let´s promote our culture, let´s promote our history.” Kattan is especially keen to promote Palestinian cuisine, which he says has been appropriated by Israeli chefs and food writers … The guesthouse partners with a local group known as Farayek to offer food tours in which visitors wander through the local market, meeting farmers, butchers and bakers before having lunch at the guesthouse. Another program includes cooking classes taught by a Palestinian grandmother. “What I was hoping to achieve is to have people stay three nights in Bethlehem, to have people go to the fruit and vegetable market, to have people meet the people of Bethlehem, not just the very short tour into the city,” he said. When the guesthouse opened in 2014, the average stay was one night, but now it has risen to three and a half, with steady occupancy throughout the low season, Kattan said. A handful of other restored guesthouses have also opened in recent years….

Luxembourg said pushing for EU states to recognize Palestine
Times of Israel 9 Dec — Initiative, reportedly to be discussed next month, prompted by US declaration that it no longer views West Bank settlements as illegal; EU unanimity seen as extremely unlikely — Luxembourg is pushing its fellow European Union states to recognize Palestine, in response to the recent US declaration that it no longer views Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal under international law, Channel 13 news reported Sunday. The report said Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn sent a letter to new EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and to EU foreign ministers, saying the only way to save the two-state solution was to create “a more equitable situation” between Israel and the Palestinians. “The recognition of Palestine as a State would neither be a favour, nor a blank check, but a simple recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to their own State,” he wrote. “In no way would it be directed against Israel.
The move is expected to be discussed during the next EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting in January. The report said Israeli diplomats were scrambling to stop the measure being adopted. It appears extremely unlikely that all the European states would agree, as would be necessary for a joint EU move….

Trump stirs controversy with new Judaism definition
WASHINTON (AFP) 11 Dec — US President Donald Trump celebrated the Jewish festival of Hanukkah on Wednesday with a controversial change to the definition of Judaism — a move that will allow clamping down on boycotts of Israel. “I will always stand with our treasured friend and ally the state of Israel,” Trump told a gathering in the White House’s ceremonial East Room. Trump, who calls himself the most pro-Israeli US president in history, used the annual event to reinforce his determined effort to win over traditionally pro-Democratic American Jewish voters ahead of next year’s presidential election. Trump signed an executive order, which bypasses Congress, that essentially redefines Judaism as both a nationality as well as a religion. The seemingly academic change will have the important legal effect of allowing the government to clamp down on a boycott movement spreading on university campuses against Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. Trump said the order was to “combat anti-Semitism” and “applies to institutions that traffic in anti-Semitic hate.” Specifically the order is aimed at quashing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which has growing support on campuses, by forcing universities to block the movement or face a cut in government funds …  Trump’s executive order tweaks existing civil rights legislation so that the government can intervene in BDS cases, because Judaism will now be classified not only as a national entity …  “This executive order… appears designed less to combat anti-Semitism than to have a chilling effect on free speech and to crack down on campus critics of Israel,” Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of the left-leaning pro-Israel lobbying group J Street, said….

Jewish Voice for Peace condemns Trump’s executive order silencing Israel critics on campuses
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Dec — The US-based group Jewish Voice for Peace issued the following statement in response to Donald Trump’s latest executive order. Their statement reads as follows: ‘”The impending Executive Order by President Trump will do nothing to make Jewish students safer on college campuses, and Jewish Voice for Peace is appalled at this blatant attempt to silence criticism of Israel. Trump’s Executive Order allegedly targeting campus antisemitism is the culmination of decades of attempts by anti-Palestinian organizations to suppress Palestinian organizing, advocacy, research and teaching on college campuses. The EO, which would codify a dangerous and overly broad definition of antisemitism into federal civil rights law, fails to offer any protection to Jewish students. Instead, it will usher in a climate of fear on college campuses, where university administrations will be incentivized to silence student activism, faculty research, and teaching about Palestine – while white supremacist organizing, which has been steadily increasing under Trump, will go unchecked.”
Rabbi Alissa Wise, acting Co-Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said: “Three days ago, Trump said Jews would vote for him because they like money. And yet now he suddenly pretends to care about Jewish safety? He has never cared about stopping antisemitism – this Executive Order is about silencing Palestinians and the people who speak up with them. The Executive Order is his way of forcing through a deeply unpopular and unconstitutional bill. Jewish Voice for Peace calls on members of Congress to immediately condemn this Executive Order and commit to overturning this authoritarian act.”

Biden calls Sanders’ pitch to leverage Israel aid ‘bizarre’
OELWEIN, Iowa (AP) 7 Dec — Joe Biden said Saturday that it is “bizarre” for Bernie Sanders to propose withholding U.S. military aid from Israel if the government there doesn’t moderate its treatment of Palestinians. The remarks highlight a nuanced but significant distinction between the Democratic presidential contenders. Biden and Sanders support a “two-state solution” for Israel and the Palestinians, and both men have criticized political leaders on each side of the long-standing conflict. But Biden’s take, offered during a question-and-answer session with Iowa voters, hewed a more traditional U.S. establishment line by reaffirming a financial commitment to Israel regardless of its actions toward Palestinians … Sanders, a Vermont senator, elevated the matter in late October when he said the U.S. should “leverage” its billions of dollars in annual Israeli aid. “My solution is to say to Israel: ‘You get $3.8 billion every year. If you want military aid, you’re going to have to fundamentally change your relationship to the people of Gaza.’ In fact, I think it is fair to say that some of that should go right now into humanitarian aid.”…. (listserv)

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It’s good to see you again, Kate. All I can say after reading this is thank goodness for B’Tselem and ptooey on the IOF, the Israeli government and its armed and vicious mercenaries/hitmen, including the illegal settlers and its lawmakers, too. I read a lot of these accounts earlier, and Hagai El- Ad’s in +972 still sticks with me. Thanks for including it in your compilation. To think that no Christians in Gaza will be… Read more »