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Christmas tree is up in Jerusalem hotel, though hosts fear eviction by Israeli settlers

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Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

In Jerusalem hotel, hotel eviction fears dampen Christmas cheer
JERUSALEM (AFP) 3 Dec — The Christmas tree is up at the entrance to the Imperial Hotel in Jerusalem, but for its Palestinian hosts there is little festive cheer amid fears they could be evicted in favour of Israeli settlers. The hotel, at the corner of Jaffa Gate in the Christian Quarter of the walled Old City, is at the centre of a years-long ownership dispute between the settlers and the Palestinian tenants. In June, Israel’s Supreme Court finally concluded that the settler organisation Ateret Cohanim had legally bought the hotel, along with two other nearby buildings, from the Greek Orthodox Church in a controversial and secret 2004 deal. The church has long denied this however, and the tenants say they have continued to pay rent monthly to the church authorities. Amid fears they could be turfed out at any moment, the tenants were last week given a temporary reprieve when another court froze the sale for 30 days, Maher Hanna, the Imperial’s lawyer said. While it appears he will still be there at least for Christmas, Abu Walid Dajani, the proprietor of the 48-room hotel, said he didn’t know whether the decision would be a turning point or just another obstacle in the 15-year struggle. “The story can end forever and go to the garbage of history,” he said, or “the settlers complete the process for their own benefit.” The family has rented the hotel since 1949 and currently pays 200,000 shekels a year ($57,000) to the Greek Orthodox Church. But Dajani says Ateret Cohanim is now demanding he pay rent retroactively for the past 15 years, 10 million shekels (2.62 million euros) in all — money he says he simply doesn’t have. The Church declined to comment….
https://www.france24.com/en/ 20191203-in-jerusalem-hotel- eviction-fears-dampen- christmas-cheer

Israeli minister announces plan to build new Jewish settlement in the West Bank city of Hebron
Newswires 1 Dec — Israel’s defence minister announced plans to build a new Jewish-only settlement in the heart of a flashpoint West Bank city on Sunday, weeks after the United States said it no longer considered such communities illegal. The move in Hebron in the southern West Bank sparked Palestinian anger and accusations that US President Donald Trump effectively greenlighted the move. Rightwing defence minister Naftali Bennett said the new development would double the Jewish population in the city, where around 800 settlers live guarded by hundreds of Israeli soldiers, surrounded by some 200,000 Palestinians. Hebron is holy to both Muslims and Jews and sees frequent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces. The Defence Ministry said Bennett had instructed departments responsible for the Israeli-occupied West Bank “to notify the Hebron municipality of planning a new Jewish neighbourhood in the wholesale market complex.” The market area is on Hebron’s once-bustling Shuhada Street, which leads to a holy site where the biblical Abraham and his wife Sarah are believed to be buried. The street is now largely closed off to Palestinians, who have long demanded that it be reopened. A statement from a settlers’ organisation in Hebron hailed Bennett’s decision to “bring Jewish life back to Jewish property in Hebron”, labeling it a “historic act of justice” for the Jewish people….
https://www.france24.com/en/ 20191201-israeli-minister- announces-plan-to-build-new- jewish-settlement-in-west- bank-city-of-hebron

PM: Israel has ‘full right’ to annex strategic Jordan Valley
LISBON, Portugal (AP) 5 Dec by Aron Heller — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that Israel has the “full right” to annex the Jordan Valley if it chose to, even as the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court warned the country against taking the bold step. Netanyahu said his proposal to annex the strategic part of the occupied West Bank was discussed during a late-night meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He said they also agreed to move forward with plans for a joint defense treaty. The longtime Israeli leader, beleaguered by a corruption indictment and political instability at home, is promoting the two initiatives as a justification for staying in office …
The annexation move would surely draw condemnation from the Palestinians and much of the world and almost certainly extinguish any remaining Palestinian hopes of gaining independence. The Palestinians seek all the West Bank, captured by Israel in 1967, as the heartland of their hoped-for state. The Jordan Valley comprises some 25% of the West Bank and is seen as the territory’s breadbasket and one of the few remaining open areas that could be developed by the Palestinians. But many Israelis say the area is vital to the country’s security, providing a layer of protection along its eastern flank….
https://apnews.com/ b83397f9c9fa49b18073420c44e980 f5

Israeli officials said to warn Jordan Valley annexation will imperil ties
Times of Israel 3 Dec — King Abdullah II likely won’t be able to withstand public pressure and will suspend peace treaty after 25 years, security officials reportedly tell Netanyahu — Israeli military officials are reportedly warning that Jordan may take drastic steps if Israel continues to push for annexation of the West Bank’s Jordan Valley, including possibly freezing a quarter-century-old peace treaty between the nations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in September vowed that if reelected he would immediately annex the Jordan Valley, a swath of land linking the West Bank to Jordan that Israel views as a vital security asset, in what was widely seen as a bid to attract support from right-wing voters. In recent days, Netanyahu has repeatedly called for a unity government to be formed so that Israel could take the step, citing a supportive US administration which recently said it doesn’t view settlements as “inconsistent with international law.”… Jordan has already said annexation of the territory would have consequences, but has not elaborated on what they might entail….
https://www.timesofisrael.com/ israeli-officials-warn-jordan- valley-annexation-will- imperil-ties-report/

Israel ‘discretionary spending’ on settlements up 50%
MEM) 5 Dec — The Israeli government has increased discretionary spending on settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory by 50 per cent over the last two years, reported the Jerusalem Post. According to data published by settlement watchdog Peace Now, so-called “discretionary spending” “is expenditure by various ministries outside the general budget, including from the Interior, Housing, Education, and Energy and Water ministries, as well as the National Roads Authority”. These funds are directed towards the construction of settlement housing units, as well as for roads inside the settlements, “buildings for educational, social and religious purposes, commercial centres and industrial parks”, the report added. Meanwhile, senior settler leader Yossi Dagan – head of the so-called Samaria Regional Council – stated yesterday that building permits in settlements in the northern West Bank have increased by 50 per cent over the past five years …  According to Peace Now, the number of plans for settlement housing units in the occupied West Bank as a whole that have received initial or final approval since the beginning of US President Donald Trump’s administration “has risen threefold” over the equivalent figures for the latter years of Obama’s term.
https://www.middleeastmonitor. com/20191205-israel- discretionary-spending-on- settlements-up-50/

Israel plans additions to Ibrahimi Mosque
IMEMC/Agencies 3 Dec — The Israeli Channel 7 unveiled an Israeli plan, on Monday, to make additions inside the Ibrahimi Mosque in the center of Hebron, the Palestine News Network reported. The project, worth approximately 500,000 shekels (NIS), includes designing an elevator among other additions, exclusively for the use of illegal Israeli settlers. Israel’s Coordinator of the Territory Affairs, Kamil Abu Rokon, sent a letter to the Hebron municipality months ago asking them to ratify the work, telling them that the rejection of this project would mean putting the military hand on the area and carry out repair work unilaterally.” The Hebrew channel explained that the responsibility of the area of the Ibrahimi Mosque follows the Islamic endowments in Hebron, based on the Hebron agreement, but that if the municipality rejects the project will be implemented in spite of them.
https://imemc.org/article/ israel-plans-additions-to- ibrahimi-mosque/

Displaced Palestinians find refuge in West Bank caves
Al-Araby 5 Dec by Delilah Boxstein — On the outskirts of the West Bank city of Nablus lies a mountainous wasteland. The remains of homes are scattered across the desolate range. Furnished living rooms without walls, chunks of concrete, crushed metal and rusting water tanks are spread amongst the dust and rubble. In 2016, the Israeli government destroyed the buildings and they continue to raid the area. But in the crevices of these hills are caves where displaced Palestinians live, and resist Israeli occupation. Hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank are living in caves. As Israel demolishes homes and restricts building permits, Palestinians have taken shelter in these caves around Nablus and Hebron, a city in the southern West Bank.   The governor of Hebron, Jibril al-Bakri, inaugurated five caves in the Ar-Rakeez area, east of the village of Yatta in February. This was the first time an official Palestinian body refurbished these caves. Around 60 percent of the West Bank is labelled Area C. Here, Palestinians need a construction permit to build on their own land, but Israel rarely issues them. According to figures from Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, since 2006, nearly 1,500 Palestinian homes in the West Bank have been demolished – causing more than 6,500 people to become homeless.
Arafat, 20, and his uncle, Yousef, 34, – who both requested their surnames not be used – grew up in the caves. Unlike the roughly 35 families living in these caves near Nablus, the pair’s home wasn’t destroyed by Israeli forces. They have a house in the nearby village, but stay in the caves to protect their land. “The main reason we are living here is to keep the land, because if I leave the land, the settlers will take it,” Yousef said. An Israeli settler community located on a mountain top is visible from Yousef and Arafat’s cave. The seizures of land, cars, animals and equipment is a daily occurrence for cave residents….
https://www.alaraby.co.uk/ english/indepth/2019/12/5/ displaced-palestinians-find- refuge-in-west-bank-caves

Army issues illegal annexation orders of Palestinian lands near Bethlehem
IMEMC 3 Dec — Israeli soldiers issued, Tuesday, orders for the illegal annexation of Palestinian lands in the al-Jab‘a village, southwest of Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank. The al-Jab‘a Village Council said the soldiers posted the orders on lands owned by Palestinians from Abu Loha and Hmeidan families. It added that the lands Israel is confiscating are four dunams (0.92 acres) from the two families, and that the army intends to convert them into a parking lot close to a nearby permanent military roadblock. Nearby a month ago, the army issued orders for the confiscation of more than 2000 dunams (494.2 acres) from the villagers in al-Jab‘a, for what the army called “military purposes.”
https://imemc.org/article/ army-issues-illegal- annexation-orders-of- palestinian-lands-near- bethlehem/

Army demolishes a water reservoir in Tubas
IMEMC 3 Dec — Israeli soldiers demolished, earlier Tuesday, a water reservoir in the Tubas meadows, in northeastern West Bank. Palestinian human rights activist Aref Daraghma said several army jeeps, and bulldozers invaded the area, and demolished the reservoir, owned by Adnan Sawafta. Daraghma added that the destroyed water reservoir, located in Einoun area, had the capacity to store 1000 cubic meters of water, and was used for irrigating hundreds of Dunams of farmlands in Tubas Meadows. This is the second time the army demolishes the reservoir in the last few months under various allegations, especially since Israel is trying to confiscate more lands for the construction and expansion of its illegal colonies, built on occupied lands in direct violation of International Law.
https://imemc.org/article/ army-demolishes-a-water- reservoir-in-tubas/

 

Gaza

Israeli soldiers injure 37 Palestinians in Gaza
IMEMC 6 Dec — The Palestinian Health Ministry has reported that Israeli soldiers injured, Friday, 37 Palestinians, including 10 children, during the Great Return March processions along the eastern parts of the besieged Gaza Strip. The Health Ministry said the four of the injured Palestinians were shot with live rounds, and ten with rubber-coated steel bullets, while the rest suffered cuts and bruises in addition to the severe effects of teargas inhalation. Thousands of Palestinians held the Great Return March processions which resumed after a three-week halt.
The Higher Committee of the Great Return March said the processions will continue, and affirmed the peaceful nature of the protests, despite the escalation of force and the use of live ammunition by the Israeli soldiers across the perimeter fence.The Israeli army has killed at least 307 Palestinians, and injured more than 18,000 since the processions started on Palestinian Land Day, on March 30th, 2018.
https://imemc.org/article/ israeli-soldiers-injure-37- palestinians-in-gaza/

Hamas leader travels to Egypt, first time since February
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 2 Dec — The Palestinian militant group Hamas says its leader is visiting Egypt for the first time since February, in a potential sign of stepped-up efforts to shore up a Gaza cease-fire. The Islamic militant group ruling Gaza said on Monday that its politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh would meet Egyptian officials. It didn’t elaborate. An informal cease-fire brokered by Egypt has prevented major fighting between Israel and Hamas for months. Hamas kept to the sidelines last month during clashes between Israel and Gaza’s smaller and more radical Islamic Jihad militant faction.
https://apnews.com/ 1da1734b65ff4d9b9215b08b14fe93 f5

Israel, Palestinians show signs of good faith
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip  (Al-Monitor) 5 Dec by Ahmad Abu Amer — For the first time since the blockade on the Gaza Strip began in 2007, Israel is allowing large fishing boats to sail within 15 nautical miles of the Gaza shore Nov. 18. It also permitted the entry of medical equipment to a US field hospital in the north Nov. 19 and reopened the Karm Abu Salem and Erez crossings to Israel on Nov. 17 after several days of closure. The Israeli steps come after a cease-fire agreement was reached between Israel and Islamic Jihad Nov. 14. A round of fighting between the two parties had erupted Nov. 12 shortly after to the assassination of Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu el-Atta in a targeted strike on his house in the east of Gaza City. The agreement signed between the two parties, under Egyptian and UN brokerage, included Israel’s commitment to the truce understandings reached at the end of October 2018.
https://www.al-monitor.com/ pulse/originals/2019/11/ israel-hamas-humanitarian- understandings-gaza.html

Analysis: Even after weekend violence Israel and Hamas moving toward long-term Gaza calm / Amos Harel
[behind paywall] Haaretz 2 Dec — New Defense Minister Bennett is working like someone who has come for a limited time and is planning to use every minute of it — Israeli and Hamas authorities are still inclined toward reaching an arrangement. Even after a pretty violent weekend on the Gaza border …  Israel and Hamas continue to hold indirect discussions on a long-term agreement. Hamas spokesmen are already referring to it as a tahadiyeh (long-term calm), rather than just a cease-fire. The Israel Defense Forces are even speaking of a “broad tahadiyeh.” Things could still get fouled up, as has happened plenty of times in the past …  Nevertheless, there are several signs that the goal continues to be an arrangement:
1)The construction of a field hospital near the Erez crossing. Hamas is advancing the project, which is led by an American nonprofit that had previously operated a similar facility on the Israeli-Syrian border in the Golan Heights …
2) In a ceremony inaugurating another hospital, in Rafah, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh spoke about the need to carry two flags, the flag of resistance and the flag of development. Haniyeh is scheduled to leave Monday for Cairo for talks with Egyptian intelligence about a possible arrangement. Meanwhile, Hamas is being relatively restrained in its use of force …
3) A letter written by Chief of General Staff Aviv Kochavi to IDF commanders, excerpted in the Hebrew Haaretz last week, describes Hamas several times as a stabilizing factor in Gaza and hints that Israel must help it strengthen the Strip’s governability…
4) Both the IDF brass and Defense Minister Naftali Bennett have expressed support for advancing infrastructure projects in Gaza as part of the agreement process….
https://www.haaretz.com/ israel-news/.premium-even- after-weekend-violence-israel- and-hamas-moving-toward-long- term-calm-1.8203168

Gaza’s surviving al-Sawarka children struggle after Israel raid
GAZA STRIP (Al Jazeera) 2 Dec by Ali Younes — Nine members of a Palestinian [Bedouin] family were killed last month after an Israeli air raid on their home in central Gaza — Noor al-Sawarka’s life changed forever on the night the Israeli army targeted her family’s home in the central town of Deir al-Balah. The 12-year-old lost her parents and three siblings on November 14 after Israeli missiles struck the family dwelling some 15km (nine miles) south of Gaza City. The home – consisting of several shacks covered with corrugated metal sheets – was blown to smithereens. The Israeli army claimed it targeted the house of a military commander belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad armed group, an allegation immediately rejected by the victims’ family. Noor said when she first heard the explosions she found herself running outside in an open field. “I ran as fast as I could to the open land next to us,” she told Al Jazeera. “I didn’t know what happened and all I saw was thick black smoke.” Her eyes sunk out of focus as she refused to say how she feels, two weeks after the bombing that turned her and two younger siblings into orphans. Her sister, eight-year-old Reem, and brother, six-year-old Dia, also survived that night. Bruises were still visible on Reem’s lower lip, nose and forehead. “After I went to sleep that night, I only remember that I woke up in the hospital,” she said. Since then, Reem has had trouble sleeping at night fearing that bombs will drop on her again. She said she often hears the “zannana” – Arabic for the buzzing sound Israeli drones flying overhead make … All of the surviving al-Sawarka children are now living with relatives and survive on aid from humanitarian organisations.
https://www.aljazeera.com/ news/2019/12/survivors-gaza- al-sawarka-family- 191202055310940.html

‘I feel constant pain’: drug resistance adds to misery of Gaza gun victims
The Guardian 5 Dec by Karen McVeigh & Hazem Balousha — When Jihad Nasser arrived at al-Awda trauma clinic in Gaza, he was hoping doctors could finally stop his pain. A gunshot wound in his right leg had not been not healing properly. The news, however, was bad. The complex bone fracture he had suffered was badly infected with MRSA. Doctors told him it would not respond to treatment and they would need to amputate. “I thought about suicide several times,” says Nasser, 28, a former blacksmith. “I was wishing the Israeli soldier [who shot me] had killed me with the bullet.” Nasser refused to consent to amputation and is now on his second round of a six-week course of Vancomycin, a last-resort antibiotic for fighting MRSA. Infection rates are high in conflict zones, where bullets or other debris often pierce the skin and treatment is delayed or inadequate. Now, doctors from Médecins San Frontières face a further complication to recovery rates: “horrifying levels” of antibiotic resistance in its trauma clinics across the Middle East …  Last year, MSF tripled its capacity in Gaza because it was believed that most patients might be suffering from multi-resistant organisms like MRSA.Until April, however, doctors lacked the specialised labs to test their theory. Since then, bone and tissue biopsies have shown that 83% of patients seen by MSF in Gaza have infections. Of those with infections, 62% have multi-resistant organisms like MRSA. Such infections further complicate the treatment of complex fractures. Patients must be isolated, which takes a huge psychological toll …  At least 170 Palestinians became permanently disabled as a result of gunshot wounds in the first year of the border protests, mainly due to amputation, according to World Health Organization data. Mohamoud Awad, a psychologist, says some suffer such physical and psychological pain that they go to the border of Gaza and Israel, in hope of being shot dead by an Israeli sniper….
https://www.theguardian.com/ global-development/2019/dec/ 05/i-feel-constant-pain-drug- resistance-adds-to-misery-of- gaza-gun-victims

Red carpet but no cinema as Gaza film festival forced outdoors
[with VIDEO] GAZA CITY (AFP) 5 Dec — In the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, without a cinema for 30 years, a few hundred people walk the red carpet to a rare film screening — held on the street. The opening of the Red Carpet Human Rights Film Festival on Wednesday evening had been expected to take place inside the Amer Cinema, which has been abandoned for three decades. But it was moved at the last minute in unclear circumstances, with a screen erected in the street outside the cinema, a grey building with the letters peeling off. The festival’s executive director, Muntaser al-Sabaa, said organisers had been told by the cinema’s owners that they could no longer use it as a venue. “Suddenly they told us: ‘We are sorry but the situation is dangerous’. They said: ‘We are afraid’. “What happened is incomprehensible. We don’t know who told this partner to block the permit to open the cinema.” The organisers said that they had obtained the necessary permits to host the festival in the cinema. The Gaza Strip is run by Islamist movement Hamas, which enforces rules based on a strict conservative interpretation of Islam. Since seizing control in 2007 they have prevented events they consider immoral. The interior ministry in Gaza did not respond to a request for comment. The week-long festival was scheduled to show 45 documentaries and is part-funded by the Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank and dominated by the rival Fatah movement of president Mahmud Abbas … In the end around 200 people sat outside to watch the opening film, the documentary “Gaza” by Irish directors Andrew McConnell and Garry Keane….
https://www.france24.com/en/ 20191205-red-carpet-but-no- cinema-as-gaza-film-festival- forced-outdoors

Gaza fields, ravaged by Israeli herbicides, bloom again
Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP)4 Dec — From his field of aubergines in the Gaza Strip Massud Habib gazes at the nearby Israeli border security barrier, squinting in the late autumn sun. For four years, he said, Israeli planes regularly sprayed herbicides along the border which scorched his crops, and he fears it could resume at any time. Israel says it sprays only on its side of the border, to clear a buffer zone of hiding places for potential Palestinian attackers … “They sprayed early in the morning,” said Habib, his blue workshirt specked with mud. “Why? Because the wind was in their favour, it carried everything to our side.” All the Gazan farmers said the Israelis checked the wind was with them before spraying — meaning that each April and December for four years the air stank like a sewer. “It caught in your throat and left you short of breath,” Habib added. Moutia Habib, a colleague, said the chemicals stripped the ground of foliage, leaving just the brick-red soil. “After two or three days all that was green was gone,” he said. “We had to start all over again, plant afresh, with no help from anybody.”  Israeli NGO Gisha says that between 2014 to 2018 Israel sprayed defoliant nearly 30 times along the border fence … The materials used included glyphosate, which is potentially harmful for humans, the report said. Glyphosate is classified as “probably carcinogenic” by the World Health Organisation, but the EU in December 2017 renewed the weedkiller’s licence across Europe for five years. This spring there was no spraying, but the Israeli defence ministry did not confirm that it has abandoned the practice….
https://www.france24.com/en/ 20191204-gaza-fields-ravaged- by-israeli-herbicides-bloom- again

Gaza exports strawberries to UAE, Bahrain, for first time
MEMO 6 Dec — Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza Strip has announced that a quantity of strawberries was exported to Gulf countries as a test sample. Ministry Director, Adham Al-Bassiouni, said in a press statement that three tonnes of strawberries were exported on Wednesday as a sample to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Al-Bassiouni pointed out that the total production of strawberries was expected to reach some 5,100 tonnes this year. “The ministry is planning to export strawberries this year to the Gulf countries, the occupied West Bank, as well as other international markets,” he noted. In 2017 Russia began importing strawberries from the besieged Gaza Strip.
https://www.middleeastmonitor. com/20191206-gaza-exports- strawberries-to-uae-bahrain- for-the-first-time/

VIDEO: Harvesting honey in Gaza
EI 4 Dec — Samar Othman al-Bea is a beekeeper in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun. Israel killed Othman, Samar’s father, in a 2006 attack on the town. He was 50 years old. Othman was sitting with neighbors on the front porch of the house when Israel invaded the area and destroyed the bee farm, according to Samar. “My father died in the same invasion that hit our bee farm and destroyed our land, which provided income for our home,” Samar told The Electronic Intifada. Two of Samar’s brothers were also injured in the attack. Samar then took it upon herself to revive the farm and carry on her father’s work. “I manage a bee farm in a society where the farms are run by men,” Samar said. “It helped me improve myself. I have more confidence and better social relations.” Video by Ola Mousa and Yousef Mashharawi.
https://electronicintifada. net/content/video-harvesting- honey-gaza/28541

Tánaiste announces €8.8m water plant investment in Gaza
RTE Ireland 3 Dec by Eleanor Burnhill — Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney is in Gaza, where Ireland has announced investment of €8.8 million in a new waste water treatment plant, which will be powered by solar energy. The Tánaiste said it was a significant investment. “We’re going to spend almost €9 million building one of the largest solar projects across the Middle East. It’s going to be eight hectares of solar panels powering a water purification and a sewerage treatment plant which is going to improve the quality of people’s water in Gaza city significantly and it’s badly needed,” he said. “But we’re also here to raise the profile of the plight of Palestinians living in awful conditions in Gaza. People shouldn’t have to live like this, and it’s because of a lack of political progress that the continued pressures on people living in Gaza are as they are.” …
Water pollution is one of the leading causes of child mortality in Gaza – 97% of the water supply there is unfit for human consumption, according to the World Health Organization. Ireland is one of the major investors in a new 7.5 megawatt solar powered desalination and waste water treatment plant, which it is hoped will help provide a clean treated water supply to northern Gaza. The investment in solar power means the plant will not rely on expensive diesel fuel in a built up area that frequently experiences power cuts. Water from the plant will also be used to help irrigate close to 1,500 hectares of agricultural land. The solar panels will stand on land previously designated off-limits by Israeli authorities. The total project will cost over €67 million and has other backers including the French Development Agency and the World Bank.
https://www.rte.ie/news/world/ 2019/1203/1096778-tanaiste- gaza/

Tourism in Israel? US charity’s offer with Gaza hospital project irks Palestinians
GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) 3 Dec by Nidal al-Mughrabi & Rami Ayyub — A U.S. charity building a tent hospital in the Gaza Strip is causing Palestinian unease by offering foreign medical volunteers the opportunity of weekend tourism in Israel, just across the volatile border. The facility, to be operated by the U.S. evangelical Christian group FriendShips, had won rare joint support from Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas and their enemy, Israel, which maintains a blockade along its frontier with the enclave. Now, however, eyebrows are being raised in Gaza over a Holy Land pilgrimage pitch on the Louisiana-based organization’s website that is promoting an endeavor to improve health services strained by years of conflict. The 50-bed encampment in northern Gaza across from Israel’s Erez border crossing “will offer a wonderful opportunity to work in an important and productive project and, at the same time, to see and enjoy the Biblical sites of Israel”, the website said. Volunteers at the facility would be expected to work and live on site Monday through Thursday but they “will be free to go to Israel and tour” on their days off, it said.
Asked about the NGO’s tourism perk to volunteers, Hamas official Basim Naeem said: “We are certainly against using our people’s suffering to market Israel or attracting employees at our people’s expense.” There was no suggestion from Hamas that it was about to scrap the project as a result of the sightseeing offer …  “It will either be an uplifting humanitarian tool for our people, or it will be asked to leave immediately,” senior Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayya said … But the hospital’s construction with private U.S. funding drew criticism from Hamas’s rivals in the Palestinian Authority (PA), which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank. “It will be an American-Israeli military base put forward on the land of Gaza Strip,” said Mai Alkaila, the PA’s health minister.
https://www.reuters.com/ article/us-israel- palestinians-usa-hospital/ tourism-in-israel-u-s- charitys-offer-with-gaza- hospital-project-irks- palestinians-idUSKBN1Y71IM

After 20 years, Palestinian mother and son reunited in Egypt
CAIRO (Reuters) 4 Dec — Palestinian journalist Amjad Yaghi was just nine years old when his mother left the Gaza Strip on what should have been a short trip to Egypt for medical treatment. But until a joyful reunion this week, they did not see each other again for 20 years. After leaving Gaza in 1999, Yaghi’s mother, Nevine Zouheir, could not return to Gaza because of spinal disc pain for which she needs surgery. Despite 14 attempts to go to see her, Yaghi was unable to get out of Gaza after the militant group Hamas took control of the territory in 2007 and Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade that included travel restrictions …  Yaghi was finally granted a visa to enter Egypt via Jordan, and made his way to his mother’s apartment in the Nile Delta town of Banha on Monday. When she saw him from her balcony, Zouheir cried out her son’s name. She went to the bottom of the stairwell to embrace him and they held hands as they walked up to the apartment….
https://www.reuters.com/ article/us-egypt-palestinian- reunion-idUSKBN1Y82EA

An MBA student’s journey: from Gaza to Scotland and back
Financial Times 2 Dec by Jonathan Moules — How a business education helped a Palestinian fulfil her ambition to work for the UN — Winning a place at business school can be a struggle for any aspiring MBA student. But Amany S Abu AlQumboz, a Palestinian living in Gaza, had to overcome other hurdles before reaching that stage – such as finding a way out of her homeland, which does not have an airport.  Abu AlQumboz almost missed the September start date of her MBA in Edinburgh because of delays in crossing Israel to reach an airport in Jordan … The MBA was to prove crucial in achieving her dream: an end-of-course dissertation on gender-based violence was particularly important in securing a job. Having been turned down for every UN job she had applied to before moving to Edinburgh, Abu AlQumboz found that her MBA essay went to the heart of the work of a Canadian-funded project in Gaza helping those who had been caught up in gender-based violence, such as domestic abuse. It was her first job application as an MBA graduate and she was accepted for the role of gender project associate with the UN Population Fund….
https://www.ft.com/content/ 349bf56c-0c7b-11ea-8fb7- 8fcec0c3b0f9

A voice for the children of Gaza
Spare Change 2 Dec by Helen Hill — According to UNICEF, Israel is the first and only country in the world to establish a juvenile military court. Each year approximately 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12, are tried and imprisoned by the court. Human rights organizations report that these children are beaten, tortured and placed in solitary confinement in direct violation of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child. Yousef Aljamal, a Palestinian refugee and journalist, visited Portland on October 29 to share these children’s stories. Aljamal was born and raised in Nuseirat, a crowded refugee camp in the Gaza strip. His family was forced to leave their ancestral home during the ethnic cleansing campaigns that started in 1948. His family has lived under apartheid rule ever since; surviving food and medical shortages and continuous military assaults, including the infamous 22-day Gaza massacre known as Operation Cast Lead in 2008, in which 1,400 Palestinian civilians died. Aljamal’s brother was shot by an Israeli soldier. His older sister died due to lack of access to a simple medical procedure. Aljamal is at the forefront of a surging wave of resistance among a generation of Palestinian youths who have grown up under occupation and the face of that resistance is first-hand storytelling. Aljamal recently translated Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak from Arabic into English. It is a collection of first-person narratives by 24 children held in Israeli prisons….  Aljamal has come to the U.S. for a national speaking tour to help raise awareness of the plight of Palestinian children.
http://sparechangenews.net/ 2019/12/a-voice-for-the- children-of-gaza/

‘Operation failed’: Details emerge on Israeli covert op gone awry
Al Jazeera 4 Dec — New details have emerged about a botched Israeli intelligence operation in the Gaza Strip in November 2018 that sparked deadly Israeli air strikes and Palestinian rocket fire. Eight undercover Israeli agents – who were disguised as Palestinians and had taken the aliases of a real family in Gaza – entered the coastal enclave on November 11 last year with the objective of planting listening devices on Hamas’s private communications system, an investigation by Al Jazeera Arabic’s Ma Khafia Aazam (Tip of the Iceberg) programme revealed. However, the Israelis were stopped and questioned by a Hamas patrol unit in Khan Younis for 40 minutes and became suspicious of their answers. A firefight broke out and the Israeli operatives used guns with silencers, immediately killing Hamas commander Nour Baraka and one of his aides, Mohammed al-Qarra. The head of the Israeli undercover unit, named for the first time as “Meni”, was also killed. Aired on Sunday, the programme revealed the undercover Israeli operatives to be part of the Sayeret Matkal unit, which was established in 1957 to amass intelligence behind enemy lines …
“The operation itself failed, there’s no doubt about it,” Amir Oron, an Israeli military analyst, told Al Jazeera. “When you send someone [on a secret mission] you do not want the other side to know of it all.” Hamas confiscated the blue van the unit travelled in as well as the fake Palestinian ID cards. Engineers from Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades, were able to eavesdrop on the Israeli unit and control their recordings, enabling them to identify members, their training places and specific roles, the report said …
The engineers also uncovered an Israeli spying system planted by agents underground in the Zuwaida area in central Gaza. Qassam members managed to disable the intelligence-gathering device, but several were killed in the process as it was fitted with an explosive device. Investigations by Hamas found the Israeli unit used spyware and drilling equipment that entered Gaza under the cover of an international humanitarian organisation called Humedica….
https://www.aljazeera.com/ news/2019/12/details-covert- israeli-operation-gaza- revealed-191203084825800.html

Poll: 40% of Israeli settlers near Gaza consider moving
MEMO 4 Dec — As many as 40 per cent of Israeli settlers in settlements adjacent to the Gaza Strip, known colloquially as the Gaza envelope, do not feel safe and are considering leaving, a new poll has found. Conducted by the Israeli parliament (Knesset) Research and Information Centre, the poll revealed that 42 per cent of the settlers in the Gaza envelope settlements live without bomb shelters, and that 24 per cent of them are considering leaving their homes. The settlers organise demonstrations from time to time against what they describe as “the deterioration of the security situation” in Israeli areas adjacent to the enclave. The Israeli settlements around the Gaza Strip are inhabited by 7,000 Jewish settlers who live in two communities. The northern settlement bloc has three settlements along the northern Gaza nominal border, and the southern bloc has eleven settlements.
https://www.middleeastmonitor. com/20191204-poll-40-of- israeli-settlers-near-gaza- consider-moving/

West Bank / Jerusalem

Soldiers seriously injure a Palestinian teen near Hebron
IMEMC 6 Dec — Israeli soldiers shot and seriously injured, Friday, a Palestinian teen in Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, after the army invaded the town and attacked Palestinians protesting the invasion. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said its medics provided the essential treatment to the wounded Palestinian and rushed him to the al-Ahli hospital. In a statement, the Palestinian Health Ministry said the wounded teen, Nour Mohammad Sleibi, 18, was shot with a live round in the chest and was admitted to surgery. The wounded Palestinian teen remains in critical condition in Intensive Care.
https://imemc.org/article/ soldiers-seriously-injure-a- palestinian-teen-near-hebron/

Soldiers abduct one Palestinian, injure many schoolgirls, in Jerusalem
IMEMC 5 Dec — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Thursday afternoon, one Palestinian and injured many schoolgirls in ‘Anata Palestinian town, northeast of occupied Jerusalem. Najwa Refa‘ey, the principal of ‘Anata H School for Girls, said many army jeeps invaded the street in front of the school, and attacked many young men who protested the invasion and hurled stones at the soldiers. She added that the soldiers fired a barrage of gas bombs and concussion grenades into the area, including the school campus, causing dozens of students to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. The schoolgirls could not leave their educational facility after the school day was over, and had to wait for some time until the soldiers left. Furthermore, the soldiers chased a young man near the school, and abducted him; he remained unidentified at the time of this report.  It is worth mentioning that the soldiers invaded the same area earlier on Thursday at dawn, and fired many gas bombs, concussion grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian protesters.
https://imemc.org/article/ soldiers-abduct-one- palestinian-injure-many- schoolgirls-in-jerusalem/

Soldiers abduct two schoolchildren, shut down their school near Nablus
IMEMC 4 Dec — Israeli soldiers invaded, Thursday, a Palestinian school in ‘Orif village, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, abducted two children and forced the school shut until further notice. Media sources said dozens of soldiers surrounded the school before invading it, and abducted two children, identified as Dia’ Shehada and Mohammad Safadi. They added that the soldiers forced all students and staff out of the educational facility and shut it down. The army invaded the school after the soldiers invaded surrounding areas, and fired at many Palestinians who protested the invasion and hurled stones at them.
https://imemc.org/article/ soldiers-abduct-two- schoolchildren-shut-down- their-school-near-nablus/

Settlers attack Palestinian farmers south of Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) Thursday 5 Dec – Israeli settlers today attacked Palestinian farmers in Umm al-Arayes village, located to the east of Yatta in the southern West Bank district of Hebron. Coordinator of the Anti-Wall and Settlement Committees Rateb Jabour said that a group of settlers from the Mizpe Yaer settlement beat up and prevented Palestinian farmers from ploughing up their fields to plant winter crops. The assaulted farmers were identified as members of the Jabarin family.
http://english.wafa.ps/page. aspx?id= bzBmEia114339798408abzBmEi

West Bank olive harvest marred by 50% surge in thefts and violence, UN report says
[behind paywall] Haaretz 4 Dec by Hagar Shezaf — Forty-seven incidents of violence toward Palestinians and their property took place over the past three months.  Israel Police closed most cases because perpetrators were not identified — The number of incidents of interference in the Palestinian olive harvest in the West Bank this year has increased by 50 percent compared to 2018, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported. Every year the fall olive harvest is marked by an upsurge in violence toward Palestinians and their property, including claims of the theft of olives and of harvesting equipment. Access to some of the olive groves in the West Bank, particularly near Jewish settlements, requires advance coordination with the Israeli army. The list of sites requiring such permission is revised every year and some sites are declared off limits in advance or in the course of the harvest. There were 47 incidents reported in the course of this year’s harvest season — between September and November — including nine involving violence toward Palestinians, 27 involving the theft of equipment or of olives that had been picked before the owners of the trees harvested them and 11 cases of damage to a total of 437 trees, the UN agency, the OCHA, reported. The figures don’t include 30 trees in the village of A-Sawiya that were vandalized last Friday….
https://www.haaretz.com/ israel-news/.premium-west- bank-olive-harvest-marred-by- 50-surge-in-thefts-and- violence-un-report-says-1. 8216876

Minor among 12 Palestinians detained in West Bank
RAMALLAH, (WAFA) Tuesday 3 Dec – Israeli occupation forces detained today 12 Palestinians during raids across various West Bank districts, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). PPS said in a statement that Israeli army raided Ramallah’s town of Deir Abu Mashaal and detained three Palestinians. Two more Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces in the Ramallah area.
Meanwhile in Nablus, four people were rounded up in a raid into the town of Kafer Qalil and Balata refugee camp.
Israeli forces also detained a 19-year-old youth, along with his 16-year-old brother in Aqabat Jaber refugee camp in Jericho, and one more in the Hebron area.
http://english.wafa.ps/page. aspx?id= cZLy55a114320763348acZLy55

Israeli soldiers abduct 11 Palestinians in West Bank
IMEMC 4 Dec — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Wednesday at dawn, at least eleven Palestinians from their homes, in several parts of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported. The PPS said the soldiers stormed and ransacked dozens of homes and interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards. The Ramallah office of the PPS, in central West Bank, said the soldiers abducted Ibrahim Hammad and Rami Nabil Hamdan, from Silwad town, east of the city. It added that the soldiers also abducted Esmat Sameeh and Mohammad Sameeh, from the as-Sudan village, northwest of Ramallah, in addition to Abdul-Hafeth Awni Thieb, from the al-Mazra‘a ash-Sharqiya village, east of Ramallah. In Nablus, in northern West Bank, the soldiers abducted….
https://imemc.org/article/ israeli-soldiers-abduct- eleven-palestinians-in-west- bank-4/

Soldiers abduct 14 Palestinians in West Bank
IMEMC 5 Dec — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Thursday at dawn, at least fourteen Palestinians from their homes in several parts of the occupied West Bank, after the soldiers invaded and violently searched homes, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has confirmed. The PPS said the soldiers abducted Sufian an-Natsha, Islam Rajabi and Mohammad Rajabi, from their homes in Silwan town, in occupied Jerusalem. It added that the soldiers also abducted Mahmoud al-Hadra from Jabal az-Zeitoun (Mount Of Olives), and Mohammad Mousa Mustafa, from the al-‘Issawiya town. The soldiers also invaded Anata town, northeast of Jerusalem … The soldiers also invaded Be’er al-Basha village, east of Jenin in northern West Bank, and ransacked many homes, including the home of former political prisoner, Odai Taiseer Ghawadra, 29. The soldiers could not locate Ghawadra to abduct him, and told his family that he needed to turn himself in to the army, “because if he doesn’t, he will be assassinated.”
https://imemc.org/article/ soldiers-abduct-fourteen- palestinians-in-west-bank-2/

Israel briefly detains 4 Palestinian journalists in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (AFP) 6 Dec — Israel detained four Palestinian journalists in Jerusalem Friday for several hours over “illegal activity” connected with the Palestinian Authority, a police spokesman said. According to the Palestinian ministry of information, the four are Christine Rinawi, Dana Abu Shamsiyeh, Ameer Abed Rabbo and Ali Yassin, who work in the city for Palestinian Authority-funded Palestine TV. Last month, Israel shut down the Jerusalem office of Palestine TV, with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan accusing it of producing anti-Israel content. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Friday that “the journalists were detained in connection with illegal activity by the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem,” without providing further details. The journalists were released from a central Jerusalem police station Friday afternoon, an AFP photographer said. Abed Rabbo said the release of the four was on condition they do not work for Palestine TV for the next six months or communicate with one another for the next 15 days, on pain of fines. Saeb Erakat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation said the detentions were “an attack against freedom of speech” and the “Palestinian presence in Jerusalem”.
https://www.france24.com/en/ 20191206-israel-briefly- detains-4-palestinian- journalists-in-jerusalem

Israeli police detain Palestine TV crew in Jerusalem, seize equipment
JERUSALEM (WAFA), Friday, 6 Dec – Israeli intelligence officers today morning detained Palestine TV crew and seized their equipment in the latest attack against Palestinian media outlets in the occupied city of Jerusalem. Nader Bibars, a producer with Palestine TV, said that Israeli intelligence officers broke into the filming scene during the broadcast of “Good Morning Jerusalem” on the Mount of Olives, and detained the show producer Dana Abu Shamsiya, cameraman Ameer Abed-Rabbu, and former prisoner Mohammad al-Abbasi, who was hosted on the show. The intelligence officers seized the filming and broadcasting equipment.
http://english.wafa.ps/page. aspx?id= 5UGPdKa114351219444a5UGPdK

Prisoners

Palestinian-American scientist held by Israel
EI 5 Dec by Tamara Nassar — Israel is holding a prominent Palestinian scientist without charge or trial. Ubai Aboudi, an American citizen, was due to travel to the United States in January for a conference on science and Palestinian rights. Prominent scholars, including Nobel Prize winner George P. Smith and Noam Chomsky, signed a petition demanding Aboudi’s release. The petition calls on the European Union in particular to demand that Israel free Aboudi. The EU grants Israel huge amounts of money under the guise of research and science partnerships despite Israel’s constant violations of the human rights condition in its agreement with the EU. Israeli soldiers raided Aboudi’s home in Kufr Aqab, a neighborhood of East Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank, in the early hours of 13 November and detained him in front of his wife and children. During the raid, Israeli forces confiscated Aboudi’s mobile phone and US passport. He is being held in Ofer prison, near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. On 18 November, an Israeli military court issued a four-month administrative detention order against Aboudi … On 1 December, Israel reduced Aboudi’s administrative detention to two months, but it remains unclear whether it will be renewed. Aboudi, 35, heads the Bisan Center for Research and Development in Ramallah …
Amnesty International is calling for Aboudi’s release or him to be charged with a recognizable crime and tried according to international standards. Israeli forces previously arrested Aboudi in 2005 and 2010. He spent about four years in prison over charges including membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a leftist party. Israel considers virtually all Palestinian political parties to be “terrorist” organizations – a pretext to routinely arrest Palestinians for political activity.
https://electronicintifada. net/blogs/tamara-nassar/ palestinian-american- scientist-held-israel

Two hunger-striking detainees face serious health complications
IMEMC 3 Dec — The Palestinian Detainees Committee has reported that two detainees holding ongoing hunger strikes in Israeli prisons are facing serious, life-threatening complications, especially after they stopped drinking water three days ago. The Committee stated that the two detainees, Ahmad Zahran and Mosab al-Hindi, are held in the Nitzan al-Ramla prison, under very difficult conditions, and facing harassment and violations. It added that Ahmad Zahran, 42, from Deir Abu Mash’al village to the west of Ramallah in central West Bank, has been on hunger strike for 72 consecutive days. Zahran is a married father of four children; he was repeatedly imprisoned by Israel, including his latest abduction in March of this year. The Committee also said that detainee Mos’ab al-Hindi, 39, from Nablus in northern West Bank, was taken prisoner on September 4th, 2019, and started the hunger strike 70 days ago….
https://imemc.org/article/two- hunger-striking-detainees- face-serious-health- complications/

Detention of al-Badan continues despite deterioration of health
IMEMC/Agencies 2 Dec — Israeli occupation authorities continue to administratively detain a Palestinian mother of two, Shorouq Mohammad al-Badan, 25 years old, from Bethlehem, despite her deteriorated health condition, the Commission of Detainees’ Affairs said, on Sunday. The committee pointed out, after the detainee’s lawyer visited her at al-Damon Prison, that she is suffering from severe stomach pain, as she is vomiting blood, noting that she receives no medical attention. After Israeli forces broke into her house, al-Badan had been detained on June 15, 2019, and held at a solitary cell, in Hasharon prison, for five days, the committee indicated. It also pointed out that the cell lacks ventilation and light, and it smells bad due to the existence of a toilet inside, which led her to suffering from psychological and health problems. The commission noted that Israeli authorities issued a six-month order of administrative detention against al-Badan, and rejected an appeal submitted by the committee’s lawyer against the order.
https://imemc.org/article/ detention-of-al-badan- continues-despite- deterioration-of-health/

Israel releases Hamas leader after two years of administrative detention
MEMO 5 Dec — Israel yesterday released Hamas leader Jamal Al-Taweel after two years being held under administrative detention. The 57-year-old, who was elected mayor of Al Bireh in 2006, spent his time in administrative detention in Al Naqab Prison. His daughter, Bushra, said that her father went on hunger strike against his detention several times and was given pledges that he would be released, but this did not happen. She said that her father was arrested several times and spent a total of 14 years inside Israeli prisons. He was released in 2017 after spending four years in detention. In 2014 he spent 64 days on hunger strike. On 15 April 2018, Israeli occupation forces arrested Al Taweel from his house and placed him to demonstrative detention one week later. Israeli occupation forces raided and searched his house in the Umm Al-Sharayit neighbourhood before taking him into custody, residents said at the time. He went on hunger strike on 14 July 2019 that continued until Israeli occupation forces promised to end his administrative detention.
https://www.middleeastmonitor. com/20191205-israel-releases- hamas-leader-after-2-year-of- administrative-detention/

Body of Palestinian prisoner Sami Abu Diak released to Jordan
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Dec — Israel, on Friday, released to Jordan, the body of a the Palestinian prisoner who recently died in Israeli custody, due to deliberate medical negligence, the Palestinian News and Info Agency reported. Chairman of the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission, Qadri Abu Baker announced that the Israeli occupation authorities handed over the body of Sami Abu Diak, who died on November 26 in Israeli prison. “The Israeli occupation authorities have handed over Abu Diak’s body to Jordan through the King Hussein border crossing following his family’s request,” Abu Baker confirmed. He noted that Abu Diak’s body was transferred to the King Hussein Medical Center in the Jordanian capital, Amman; a move that was agreed upon between Jordanian Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi and Abu Diak’s parents….
https://imemc.org/article/ body-of-palestinian-prisoner- sami-abu-diak-released-to- jordan/

Other news

Palestine in Pictures – November 2019
from the Electronic Intifada
https://electronicintifada. net/content/palestine- pictures-november-2019/29046

Palestinians outraged over ICC report into war crimes
JERUSALEM (AP) 5 Dec — Palestinian officials expressed “great concern” Thursday over a report by the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor that includes a warning that Palestinian stipends to attackers and their families could constitute a war crime. Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riad Malki said the prosecutor’s office’s report was “based on misleading narratives of a political nature … rather than an objective and accurate description of the relevant facts.” The Palestinians have long sought redress with international bodies such as the ICC for what they consider Israeli crimes. President Mahmoud Abbas’s government appeared to have been caught off guard by the language of the criticism found in the report. The Palestinians have long paid stipends to the families of people killed or imprisoned as a result of fighting with Israel. The Palestinians say these payments are a national duty to families affected by decades of violence. But Israel argues the fund encourages violence by paying the families of attackers. Earlier this year, Israel withheld millions of dollars in tax revenues it collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority equal to the sum of the Palestinian stipends. Abbas has repeatedly said he will not halt the payments, which totaled approximately $330 million — around 7% of the Palestinian Authority’s $5 billion budget — in 2018.  Thursday’s report, released in the Hague, highlighted possible crimes by both Israel and the Palestinians that are under investigation, including Israel’s use of sometimes deadly force against protesters along the Israel-Gaza border fence, and Palestinian militant rocket fire and use of human shields in Gaza….
https://apnews.com/ afed1fe508af40f8bbd81ae535b81c 77

ICC prosecutor again refuses 2010 Gaza flotilla raid probe
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) 2 Dec — The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Monday again refused to open an investigation into the 2010 storming by Israeli forces of an aid flotilla heading to the Gaza strip. Appeals judges in September ordered Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to reconsider her earlier refusals to open a formal investigation into the May 31, 2010, storming of the Mavi Marmara. Eight Turks and one Turkish-American were killed and several other pro-Palestinian activists were wounded by Israeli commandos. Bensouda has acknowledged that war crimes may have been committed in the raid but decided that the case wasn’t serious enough to merit an ICC probe. On Monday, she repeated that assertion. “The Prosecutor maintains her view that there is not a reasonable basis to proceed, because there is no potential case arising from this situation that is sufficiently grave,” Bensouda said in a 44-page document. The order was the latest and likely the last step in a long legal battle to bring the case before the court….
https://apnews.com/ 1fea1ca3a31949b7a87890b74ea3ed 53

Lawyers for Mavi Marmara raid victims to appeal recent ICC decision
IMEMC/Agencies 6 Dec — Families of those killed by Israeli forces, aboard an aid flotilla heading for the besieged Gaza Strip, in 2010, will appeal the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s recent decision not to press charges against Tel Aviv. Their lawyers announced the news on Thursday, three days after the ICC’s Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said there was “no reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation.” In a statement, lawyers said that the decision showed that the “intent is to safeguard Israel — so blatantly and flagrantly right under the international community’s nose — against any indictments of war crimes.” Bensouda’s decision was made three months after the tribunal’s judges in The Hague ordered her, for a second time, to reconsider her earlier refusals and to launch an investigation into the case.
https://imemc.org/article/ lawyers-for-mavi-marmara-raid- victims-to-appeal-recent-icc- decision/

COGAT stops Palestinians from exchanging shekels for foreign currency
JPost 5 Dec — The Coordinator of Government Affairs in the Territories instructed the Bank of Israel to stop allowing shekels in the Palestinian Authority from being exchanged into other currencies, such as dollars, according to Maariv.
The move was made in response to the decision by the Palestinian Authority to stop buying calves from Israel and to begin importing calves from other countries. COGAT’s decision has caused problems with both Palestinian and foreign banks in the West Bank. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon is looking into the matter and Bank of Israel Governor Professor Amir Yaron claimed that the issue was now solved. The bank itself refused to deny or confirm Yaron’s claim. The ban on importing calves from Israel was taken in October by PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh as part of his plan to achieve “gradual economic disengagement” from the Jewish State….
https://www.jpost.com/Arab- Israeli-Conflict/COGAT-stops- Palestinians-from-exchanging- shekels-for-foreign-currency- 609945

Israel releases 500 calves imported by Palestine meat traders
MEMO 5 Dec — Israeli occupation authorities yesterday released 500 calves imported directly by Palestinian traders after blocking them for a month, Ma‘an reported. Israel banned the entry of calves to the occupied territories after the Palestinian Authority’s decision to have Palestinian traders import them directly from abroad – without the mediation of Israeli traders. Deputy Palestinian Economic Ministry Tariq Abu-Laban said that 500 of the 5,000 cows held have been released. He said that 3,000 calves will be released and sent to the occupied West Bank and 2,000 to the besieged Gaza Strip in the coming days, noting that meat prices will be lower because taxes have reduced as Israeli traders are not involved. Abu-Laban said that the Palestinian traders imported the calves from Hungary, Portugal, France and Australia, noting this is the first time that Palestinian traders have imported calves without Israeli mediation. Adding that this is the first step towards a Palestinian economic disengagement from the Israeli economy.
https://www.middleeastmonitor. com/20191205-israel-releases- 500-calves-imported-by- palestine-meat-traders/

Foreign minister denounces World Forum art exhibition sabotage
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Dec — The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates condemned, on Friday, the removal of the art exhibition hosted by the State of Palestine and Palestinian Human Rights Organization Al-Haq from the hallways of the World Forum, the Palestinian News and Info Agency reported. Late on the evening of December 4, 2019, the art exhibition hosted by the State of Palestine and Palestinian Human Rights Organization Al-Haq, was maliciously removed and hidden from the hallways of the World Forum, without authorization. The exhibit was held on the occasion of the 18th session of the Assembly of the States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates condemns in the strongest terms this hateful act. We view it as a desperate attempt to silence the voices of Palestinian victims, which were so powerfully reflected in the exhibition,” the Ministry said in a statement. The exhibition featured artwork by internationally-renowned Palestinian cartoonist, Mohammad Sabaaneh on the impact of the criminal policies and practices of the Israeli occupation on the victims in Palestine. The Ministry concluded, “We have been formally informed that the Court is currently conducting an investigation into this grave incident. We expect this investigation to be thorough and transparent and that strong measures will be taken following its conclusion.”
https://imemc.org/article/ foreign-minister-denounces- world-forum-art-exhibition- sabotage/

Violations of Palestinian social media 50% higher than last month
IMEMC/Agencies 2 Dec — In a serious escalation of violations on Palestinian content by social media websites, Sada Social Center said, in a report, that it has documented 223 violations against Palestinian content in November, 2019, up by 50 percent from the previous month. According to the report, Facebook ranked at top of the violators, with a total of 134 violations, ranging from the removal of pages, accounts, posts and publications, and the restriction of access. The most notable of those violations were the removal of the following pages: Tulkarm Baldna, Shabab Baladna, Nablus Breaking News, Nablus Times, Anabta Times, Faqqu’a Town, Dura City, and We All Love You Nablus. In another serious violation, the first of its kind, WhatsApp banned more than 77 Palestinian phone numbers which belonged to activists, journalists, and others, without any legal justification. Twitter has also deleted 8 Palestinian accounts, the most important of which are: Quds News Network (the English and Arabic pages), Quds Network Network – Breaking, the personal accounts of Yusuf Isleih, Yahya Helles, and Samir Al Khairy Account. Sada Social Center also documented 4 violations of the Palestinian content by Instagram and one by YouTube, PNN further reports. The center said that it has been in continuous contact with the social media administrations in order to restore the removed accounts and pages. So far, this month, it was able to restore 18 Palestinian pages and accounts on Facebook, in addition to the Twitter account of the Palestinian government’s spokesman, Ibrahim Melhem.
https://imemc.org/article/ violations-of-palestinian- social-media-content-50- higher-than-last-month/

‘Incitement’ and ‘indecency’: How Palestinian dissent is repressed online
+972 Magazine 4 Dec by Marwa Fatafta — On Oct. 11, 2019, Facebook shut down the Palestinian Information Center, a news page with five million followers, without prior notice. Six days later, at the request of the attorney general of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Ramallah Magistrates Court ordered the blocking of 59 websites under the pretext that they were threatening “national security, public order, and public manners.” Shortly afterward — ironically, on the morning of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists — Twitter blocked three accounts of the Quds News Network, an independent Palestinian media outlet with a large online following. Metras, another Palestinian website on the PA’s blacklist, reported that a number of their Facebook posts were flagged and deleted, and that they received a warning that their page might be taken down. WhatsApp, the messaging app now owned by Facebook, also blocked or shut down around one hundred accounts belonging to Palestinian journalists and activists, and banned them from sharing information and updates during Israel’s military attacks on Gaza last month. Such censorship of Palestinian online content is escalating at an unprecedented and dangerous speed. To express your political views as a Palestinian, you must now tiptoe around three different authorities: Israel, the Fatah-led PA in the West Bank, and the de facto Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, each of which suppresses political speech according to their own varying definitions of incitement and unwanted dissent …
The crackdown on Palestinian free speech on social media began in late 2015 in the aftermath of the “knife intifada,” during which social media platforms were blamed for allowing communications that encouraged the outbreak of violence and so-called “lone-wolf attacks” by Palestinian youth. As a result, social media platforms became fresh grounds for suppression and surveillance by governing authorities. Since then, Israel has arrested and interrogated hundreds of Palestinians for posts they wrote or shared on social media. Using “predictive policing” tools to monitor social media accounts and flag suspects of future attacks, Israel has targeted Palestinians — both citizens of Israel and residents of the occupied West Bank — for jail sentences based on broad and vague charges of “incitement to violence.”…
Palestinian cyberspace has therefore become a scary place, and the growing crackdown on Palestinian freedom of expression on the internet has had a severe chilling effect on political speech and participation. According to a new research by the organization 7amleh, two thirds of young Palestinians now refrain from airing their political views on social media for fear of reprisal and oppression.
https://www.972mag.com/ censorship-online- palestinians/

In warning to Netanyahu, US House endorses two-state solution
WASHINGTON (AFP) 6 Dec — The US House of Representatives on Friday threw its weight behind a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians, in a warning to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he mulls annexing the West Bank. Passed largely along party lines, the House resolution also marked a shot across the bow to President Donald Trump, who has stood squarely behind Netanyahu. In its first-ever resolution on a West Bank annexation, the House said that a two-state solution “can both ensure the state of Israel’s survival as a Jewish and democratic state and fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own.” The United States should “discourage steps by either side that would put a peaceful end to the conflict further out of reach,” the resolution said. Such steps include “unilateral annexation of territory or efforts to achieve Palestinian statehood status outside the framework of negotiations with Israel,” it said …
The two-state solution had enjoyed support from successive US presidents and, until recently, House resolutions on Israel saw little dissent. Republicans accused the Democrats of improperly intervening in Israeli decision-making and ignoring what they call incitement by the Palestinians. “The resolution completely ignores the reason why the two-state solution has never gotten off the ground: Venomous voices among the Palestinians don’t want two states, they want one — a Palestinian state,” said Republican Representative Steve Chabot. The resolution “gives the Palestinians a vote over Israel’s future. We shouldn’t let that happen,” he said….
https://www.france24.com/en/ 20191206-in-warning-to- netanyahu-us-house-endorses- two-state-solution

Bethlehem set for a happy Christmas: more rooms, more inns, and part of its manger back
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (Reuters) 3 Dec by Stephen Farrell — As the Christmas decorations go up in Manger Square, Bethlehem is preparing for its best Christmas for two decades, the town’s mayor and hoteliers say. Five new hotels are in the pipeline and existing ones are expanding. The town has even extended the opening hours of the Church of the Nativity, revered by Christians worldwide as the place of Jesus’ birth. But even after three years of relative peace and prosperity, people are still nervous in the small Palestinian town, a few miles south of Jerusalem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. So dependent has Bethlehem become on tourist income that an upsurge of violence anywhere in the volatile Middle East – not just in its near vicinity – spells financial disaster, with nervous tour groups prone to cancelling months ahead. Sitting in his municipality office overlooking the newly lit Christmas tree in Manger Square, Mayor Anton Salman said Bethlehem looked set to improve upon the 1.5 million visitors it received last year …  The main bottleneck, he said, was the tiny front door of the Nativity church, through which pilgrims must crouch to enter. Once vast, it was reduced in size centuries ago by the Crusaders, then again during the Mamluk and Ottoman Turkish eras to prevent looters driving carts into the church….
https://af.reuters.com/ article/worldNews/ idAFKBN1Y71C0

Israel to UN: Uprooted Jews should be seen as refugees
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 3 Dec by Jennifer Peltz— Israel wants the United Nations to recognize as refugees hundreds of thousands of Jews who fled Arab and Muslim countries in the last century, its U.N. envoy said Tuesday. Ambassador Danny Danon told the U.N. General Assembly that he plans to propose a resolution about what he called “the ‘forgotten’ Jewish refugees.” “We don’t hear the international community speak of them when they discuss the refugees of the conflict, perhaps because it doesn’t serve the Palestinian narrative,” Danon said, accusing the international community of taking a one-sided approach to refugees and other aspects of the conflict. He didn’t detail his planned resolution, except to say that it would “acknowledge the wrong done” to the Jews in question and “make right the injustice that they suffered.” …
Danon said an estimated 850,000 Jews were forced out of Iraq, Egypt, Morocco, Iran, and many other countries during the 20th century after enduring violence and persecution. Many fled to Israel around the time of its establishment in 1948. The uprooted Jews were absorbed in Israel, where their descendants now make up about half the country’s Jewish population. The bid for refugee recognition may be largely symbolic at this juncture, but it reflects Israel’s determination to highlight what it considers to be years of pro-Palestinian bias at the U.N., including on the issue of refugees. An estimated 700,000 Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes during the war. A U.N. agency assists them and their descendants — all told, about 5.5 million people — in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
https://apnews.com/ 4831bc0be4554da4966c7dbc481bb7 08

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