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Tom Hurndall is commemorated in Gaza action — ‘when comrades fall on path of freedom’

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Press Release. Gaza 2020: Breaking the Siege
Wed Jan 15 — International activists including Finnish MP arrested for trying to cut Gaza fence in protest of Israeli siege An international delegation of activists was arrested by Israeli police for attempting to cut through the Gaza barrier fence and break the siege. The group, Gaza 2020 Breaking the Siege, which includes Finnish politician Anna Kontula are demanding the international community end its silence on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which is a direct result of Israel’s 13-year blockade. Ms Kontula, a sociologist and member of the Finish Parliament since 2011, along with British, Austrian, and Danish activists, were arrested en route to Gaza at 7am (GMT+2), January 13. They were held for over 10 hours at the Ofakim police station in the south of Israel, and interrogated. The activists were told by officers that secret services had been aware of the action from tapping their phones. They were later released at around 7:40pm (GMT+2), and banned from entering the south of Israel. Two activists were also arrested on Thursday, January 9, at the Gaza fence. The two were taken to Ofakim prison and held overnight. They were released the next morning but police refused to hand back their phones and passports. In both cases the activists had intended to cut the fortified border fence and enter Gaza in a forceful but symbolic action to demand an immediate end to the Israeli land, sea and air blockade, which began in 2007 and continues to this day. Gaza2020: Breaking the Siege’s unprecedented attempt is part of an international movement to break the siege of the strip, inspired by the Free Gaza Movement, which has challenged the Israeli naval blockade by sending dozens of boats carrying aid to Gaza …

Tom Hurndall, right. He died in 2004.

The people of Gaza cannot live another year under siege. It’s no longer a matter of time running out. Time has already run out. The action fell on the 16th anniversary of the death of British activist Tom Hurndall, nine months after he was shot in the head by Israeli snipers in Gaza in 2003. Gaza2020: Breaking the Siege said: “When comrades on the path of freedom fall we raise their torch and continue their work of solidarity. Yesterday’s action was the first attempt to break the siege, in solidarity with the people of Gaza. We want Gazans to know that we will not give up, that we will continue opposing this illegal and barbaric siege of innocent people.”
Updates and further information will be posted regularly on Gaza 2020:Breaking the Siege’s Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and Facebook. [release also contains statements from activists]
https://gaza2020breakingthesiege.org/press-release-gaza-2020-breaking-the-siege/

Israeli forces abduct Finnish MP, activists on Gaza border
IMEMC/Agencies 18 Jan — Israeli occupation forces, on Thursday, detained five Finnish citizens, including a member of parliament, for allegedly attempting to cross the fence separating the 1948 occupied Palestinian territories and the blockaded Gaza Strip. According to Israeli media sources, the Israeli forces detained Anna Kontula, a Finnish MP, and four other humanitarian activists, for trying to cross the fence in protest at the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. For its part, the High National Committee for the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege in Gaza condemned the detentions and expressed solidarity with the detainees. Israeli forces also confiscated the Finnish detainees’ passports and cell phones and interrogated them in preparation for their deportation to their country by force. The High National Committee called for protecting the activists from Israeli harassment and asked human rights organizations around the world to make similar steps against Israel’s racist policies, especially the unjust blockade on the Gaza Strip.
https://imemc.org/article/israeli-forces-abduct-finnish-mp-activists-on-gaza-border/

Gaza bombed for 2nd time in 24 hours
IMEMC/Agencies 18 Jan — Occupation aircraft have carried out a fresh round of airstrikes, against targets in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, as Israel continues with its acts of aggression against the besieged Palestinian coastal sliver. The Israeli military said, in a statement, that a combat helicopter attacked infrastructure used for by the Hamas movement, late on Thursday. No immediate reports of casualties in the aerial assaults were available. The statement added that the attack was conducted after two balloons with explosives were flown from the Gaza Strip into Israeli-occupied territories, earlier in the day. A video published by Israel’s Kan news network purported to show Hamas members leaving a post ahead of the strike. Israeli police said that at least two clusters of balloons carrying explosive devices were launched from the Strip, into the southern sector of Israeli-occupied territories, earlier in the day. One of the clusters apparently landed in an open field and the other became tangled in a tree. Sappers were called to the scenes in the Sdot Negev region east of Gaza, PNN further reports. One of the devices purportedly went off as the sappers arrived at the scene. The explosion caused no injuries or damage.
Late on Wednesday, Israeli warplanes carried out several airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, targeting a number of areas in the north and the northwest of the coastal enclave. Palestinian media reported that one of the airstrikes targeted a Hamas position. The attack caused an explosion and material damage to nearby buildings. Another attack targeted areas in Jabalia and Beit Lahia, in Gaza’s north.
https://imemc.org/article/gaza-bombed-for-2nd-time-in-24-hours/

Israel carries out Gaza air strikes after Palestinian rocket fire
JERUSALEM/GAZA (Reuters) 15 Jan — Four rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, the Israeli military said, and it responded with air strikes against facilities belonging to the enclave’s ruling Hamas militant group. No casualties were reported on either side of the Israel-Gaza border. Two of the projectiles launched from Gaza were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system, the military said in a statement. Israel’s Channel 13 television said the other two struck uninhabited areas. Sirens warning of rocket fire sounded in several Israeli communities near the Gaza frontier. Israel’s Magen David Adom ambulance service said no injuries or damage were reported in the first such attack in three weeks. There was no immediate claim of responsibility from the Gaza Strip, which Israel keeps under blockade citing security concerns over Hamas, the dominant armed movement in the Palestinian territory. The Israeli military said that in response to the rocket attack, its warplanes struck several “Hamas terror targets” in the northern Gaza Strip, including a weapons manufacturing facility and an armed compound. Hamas’s armed wing usually evacuates its facilities in anticipation of Israeli retaliation after cross-border rocket strikes. A statement by the Israeli military did not accuse Hamas of launching the rockets but said that it holds the group responsible “for all events transpiring in the Gaza Strip”.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians-violence/israel-carries-out-gaza-air-strikes-after-palestinian-rocket-fire-idUSKBN1ZE1WP

Israel arrests Palestine citizen from Erez Crossing
MEMO 16 Jan — The Israeli occupation arrested on Wednesday Palestinian citizen Waleed Mustafa Salim Deeb, at the Erez Crossing between Gaza and Israel, as he was making his way to Jordan, Quds Press reported. Reporting Abdel-Naser Farwanah, an official at the PLO’s Prisoners and Freed Prisoners Committee, Quds Press revealed that Deeb was investigated for several hours at the Erez Crossing, before he was moved to an unknown location. Farwanah disclosed that the Israeli occupation informed the Palestinian Authority about the detention of the Palestinian citizen. Commenting on the incident, Farwanah added: “Israel insists on making the Erez Crossing a trap for Palestinian citizens and a place to put pressure on them and blackmail them.” He also noted that the Israeli occupation sometimes uses the Erez Crossing as a means for collective punishment. Quds Press announced that Deeb was the first one to be arrested at the Erez Crossing this year, and that 13 Palestinians were arrested at the same crossing last year.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200116-israel-arrests-palestine-citizen-from-erez-crossing/

Israelis flood Gaza lands with rainwater, damaging crops
IMEMC/Agencies 12 Jan — Israeli occupation forces pumped huge amounts of rainwater into agricultural lands east of the Gaza Strip, causing planted crops to sink, witnesses said. They said Israeli authorities opened the rainwater collection dams along the border with the Gaza Strip, causing about 1,000 dunams of agricultural land planted with wheat, barley, peas, cabbage, and cauliflower to sink. Last week, hundreds of dunams of agricultural land in the Gaza Strip sank when Israeli authorities released rainwater from the collection dams into the coastal enclave. Large amounts of crops were damaged as a result, Days of Palestine reports.
https://imemc.org/article/israelis-flood-gaza-lands-with-rainwater-damaging-crops/

Gaza farmers: ‘Israel destroyed all of our crops’
MEMO 16 Jan — After the dams which were built in areas controlled by Israel to block rainwater streaming through valleys crossing the Gaza Strip had been opened twice, Gazan farmers claim that all of their crops were completely destroyed. Speaking to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, Palestinian farmer,Mahmoud Shamali explained: “The opening of the water dams destroyed all of our crops, our infrastructure and irrigation network.” Thousands of dunams of agricultural land in the east of Al-Shuja’eya, an eastern neighbourhood of Gaza City, were left damaged. Shamali confirmed that his farm is around 33 dunams large and was completely covered with the rainwater released by Israel. “All my efforts vanished in one minute,” Shamali stated, revealing that all of his crops, including beans, potatoes, chard, turnip, watercress, cabbage, peas and onions, were destroyed.  The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza announced that over 950 dunams of agricultural land in the east of Gaza City were completely eradicated and that the direct losses inflicted on the farmers exceeded $500,000, but the indirect losses exceeded $2 million.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200116-gaza-farmers-israel-destroyed-all-of-our-crops/

Bumper crop, barren outlook
EI 16 Jan by Amjad Ayman Yaghi & Mohammed Al-Hajjar — Ahmad Abu Amira, 40, checked a twisted rope wound around a palm tree in the Deir al-Balah area of central Gaza. He looked up and began to climb. High above, a cluster of blood-red dates hung heavy and ripe. Gaza’s date harvest started in December, and Abu Amira was looking forward to a bumper crop … The tradition – just like the olive harvest – is passed down through the generations and sees families and young people gather to help farmers collect their harvest … “This is a big season. I hired 30 workers this year,” he told The Electronic Intifada. But though the harvest looks good, Gaza’s economic outlook is disastrous … Gaza harvested more than 12,000 tons of dates in 2019, according to Nizar al-Wahidi of the local agriculture ministry. It is a harvest, he said, large enough to cover both local needs and with sufficient to spare for export. The coastal strip boasts more than 230,000 palm trees, al-Wahidi said, of which some 160,000 produce dates of the hayani type, a local variant able to survive in Gaza’s hot, dry climate and flourish despite the salinity of the water. It is known for its sweetness and succulence and is used to make molasses, jam and dried dates. Ahmad Samour, 55, owns 10 acres of palm trees in Deir Al-Balah. But the last time he could export to the West Bank, he told The Electronic Intifada, was in 2015. Since 2016, he hasn’t been allowed to export a single fruit, including this past year….
https://electronicintifada.net/content/bumper-crop-barren-outlook/29251

Human rights groups urge Israel to halt aerial herbicide spraying along Gaza fence
MEMO 17 Jan — Human rights organisations have urged Israel to immediately halt renewed aerial herbicide spraying along the Gaza Strip perimeter fence, stated legal rights centre Adalah. Israeli crop dusters flew along the fence on Tuesday “and sprayed chemicals purported to be herbicides”, which was “conducted sporadically for about three and half hours”. The chemicals reached Palestinian farmlands inside the Gaza Strip, mainly east of Gaza, North Gaza, and Deir al-Balah districts. Gisha, Adalah, and Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights in Gaza, have sent a letter to Israeli officials “with an urgent demand to refrain from conducting further aerial spraying of herbicides inside and near the Gaza Strip, due to the severe damage to crops and the health risks to Gaza residents”. Israel’s practice of conducting aerial herbicide spraying was first documented in 2014, stated Adalah. “Herbicidal chemicals have reached distances as far as 1,200 meters into the Strip in previously documented incidents of spraying”, the organisation added … In addition, in 2016 the Israeli Ministry of Defence “disclosed that the chemical agents used in the spraying include glyphosate…which had been declared a ‘probable carcinogen’ by the World Health Organization and has been banned in many countries around the world”. No incidents of aerial spraying were documented in 2019, making the renewal of the practice particularly disturbing for Palestinian residents and human rights groups.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200117-human-rights-groups-urge-israel-to-halt-aerial-herbicide-spraying-along-gaza-fence/

With European funding, Israel plans Gaza natural gas pipeline
Calcalist 13 Jan by Lior Gutman — The pipeline is planned to supply Gaza with up to 1 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year, which could cover most of the strip’s electricity needs — Israel’s Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz has ordered government-owned natural gas transmission company Israel Natural Gas Lines Ltd. (INGL) to submit a detailed plan for the construction of a pipeline streaming natural gas to the Gaza Strip, according to several people familiar with the matter who spoke to Calcalist on condition of anonymity. The order came following a series of meetings between the Ministry of Energy and local and international professional bodies during which it was agreed that the necessary funding for developing the plans, amounting to NIS 10 million (approximately $2.9 million), will come from European sources, most likely from the Netherlands, the people said. The construction of the pipeline itself is estimated to cost about $60 million and would require a gas contract to be signed between Israeli and Gazan entities, the people said. The ministry estimates the necessary agreements will be signed during the first quarter of 2020 and the pipeline’s construction will be completed by 2022, the people said.
https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3777610,00.html

Measles outbreak in the Gaza Strip
Outbreak News Today 11 Jan — The Ministry of Health in Gaza report a measles outbreak in the Gaza Strip. The ministry said in a statement that the 1st case was recorded last June 2019, and the cases began to increase until the current month of December 2019, according to the Mashreq News in December. The World Health Organization reported this week from 1 January through 19 December 2019, a total of 124 laboratory confirmed cases of measles, including two deaths, were reported in the Gaza Strip. Since the establishment of the indicator-based surveillance in Gaza Strip in 1986, no measles cases were reported in Gaza Strip except one confirmed case in 2000. The Ministry of Health attributes the outbreak to the collapse of the vaccination systems in the neighboring countries that had previously controlled the disease. WHO reports, of the confirmed cases in Gaza, 57 cases (46%) were un-vaccinated, of which 28 (23%) were among infants between 6 months to one year old, and 29 (23%) among age groups higher than 30 years old. Between 2009 and 2018, the median administrative immunization coverage for the second dose of measles-containing-vaccine (MCV2) was 97%. The Gaza MOH has strengthened surveillance systems and initiated an early notification system. In addition, they continue high vaccination efforts in the community.
http://outbreaknewstoday.com/measles-outbreak-in-the-gaza-strip-19958/

‘Living in Gaza is like living a perpetual trauma’
MSF 16 Jan — Israeli airstrikes on Gaza in the Palestinian Territories killed 11 civilians in November 2019. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams working in Dar al Salam hospital treated an 11-year-old girl who lost her entire family and was badly injured during the raids. Her story highlights the harrowing consequences of these attacks for people living on the blockaded strip. Salwa is slowly waking up from sedation. She feels groggy but she’s already familiar with this sensation. She has undergone several surgical procedures since she arrived at the MSF-supported Dar Al Salam Hospital in southern Gaza. She was brave this time and didn’t cry when she entered the operating theater…
https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/what-we-do/news-stories/story/living-gaza-living-perpetual-trauma

In pics: Homeless Palestinians in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip
Xinhua 15 January — Palestinian Hamouda Abu Amra (2nd L) and his family members warm themselves by a fire in the cold weather next to their destroyed house in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, on Jan. 14, 2020. Abu Amra’s house was destroyed in an Israeli air strike last November. It is not the first time that his house is bombed by Israeli aircraft. It was destroyed three times during the large-scale Israeli military offensives waged on the Gaza Strip in 2009, 2012 and 2014 respectively. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)
http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-01/15/c_138705349.htm

Lifeguards from Gaza are learning new skills on Sydney beaches
SBS 14? Jan by Keira Jenkins — Two men from Gaza are learning new skills on Sydney beaches which may save lives back home — Hasan Alhabil is one of Gaza’s few lifeguards. He’s come to Sydney to learn some new skills at our Surf Life Saving clubs and will try to get his Bronze Medallion, the minimum requirement to be a lifeguard in Australia. Mr Alhabil told SBS News the skills he learns here will help him to save more lives in Gaza. “When I go back to Gaza, I’m going to implant the idea of people organising themselves and following the rules and that will help reduce drownings,” he said … “We will try to adopt the culture of Surf Life Saving from Australia,” he said. “We will benefit from what we learned at the North Steyne club, teaching kids through games and by enjoying the beaches.” Mr Saleh said he’s felt very welcome by the clubs in Sydney that have been teaching him so much and by the wider Australian community … Although they’re enjoying their time in Australia now, it wasn’t easy to get Mr Alhabil and Mr Saleh here. Shamikh Badra from the Northern Beaches Committee for Palestine said it has been nearly a four year process to get the pair to Australia. “When you invite people from Gaza to leave, it is not easy to travel,” he said….
https://www.sbs.com.au/news/lifeguards-from-gaza-are-learning-new-skills-on-sydney-beaches

‘Habaybna’ – for advice, community and inclusion
AMMAN (Qantara.de) 13 Jan by Claudia Mende — Reem Al Farangi from Gaza, mother to two children with autism, has created the first Arabic-language website for the parents of disabled children. “Habaybna” provides important information about early recognition, therapies and self-help – and connects parents from across the region. Looking at her today, it’s difficult to imagine that things were once very different for Reem Al Farangi. That she was once at rock bottom. Beaming and full of optimism, the 38-year-old Palestinian invites me into her office in downtown Amman and introduces her project. It was personal concern that led her to develop the “Habaybna” website (literally: “our loved ones”) – the first Arabic digital platform for the parents of children with disabilities. Habaybna went online in 2017 and has been providing important information about early recognition and therapies, financial support, self-help, awareness-raising, and everyday life with disabled children ever since. From attention deficit disorder to Down’s syndrome, learning difficulties to cerebral palsy, the website covers a broad spectrum of disabilities … It was in Gaza that, following a long odyssey, they finally received confirmation that their two sons Amro and Aboud – who were then aged four and six – were suffering from Autistic Spectrum Disorder. For a long time, the couple had thought that the war was to blame for their children’s difficulties with speech and social interaction….
https://en.qantara.de/content/first-arabic-website-for-parents-of-disabled-children-habaybna-for-advice-community-and

Gaza theme park’s new train ride simulates the ‘return’ journey to Jerusalem
[with photos] Times of Israel 15 Jan by Adam Rasgon — ‘The Train of Return to Jerusalem’ brings visitors across a valley to a partial mock-up of the Old City, including a small building representing the Dome of the Rock — An amusement park in the southern Gaza Strip recently unveiled a train ride that seeks to simulate a journey from the isolated coastal enclave to Jerusalem’s Old City, home to a number of Islamic holy sites. The ride, which spans 550 meters and features two elevated tracks, is the newest attraction at the Asdaa City theme park in Khan Younis. It was built on land that formerly belonged to the Ganei Tal settlement, which was evacuated after Israel decided to withdraw from Gaza in 2005. It took more than two years to construct and was named “The Train of Return to Jerusalem,” according to Wael al-Khalili, the chairman of Asdaa’s board of directors. “This was the dream of every Palestinian in Gaza and now it has become a reality with the efforts of the Palestinian minds that built this project,” he said in a post on the amusement park’s Facebook page in early January. While Israel controls Jerusalem and considers it to be a part of its sovereign territory, the Palestinians view it as their capital and a key center of Palestinian culture. Before ascending to the train tracks, visitors see a large sign with the number 99, resembling the distance in kilometers from Asdaa to Jerusalem … Spice, bread and pottery vendors sold their goods to visitors, while others walked through large doors embodying some of the major entrances to the Old City, a video taken by Gaza-based journalist Osama al-Kahlout on January 10 showed. Mousa al-Riati, a resident of Rafah, was smiling as he explained why he and his family decided to go on the train line. “We wanted to ride the train today because it is new and in the Gaza Strip for the first time,” he told Kahlout, adding: “We want to [act] as if we are going on a trip to Jerusalem because citizens cannot go to the real Jerusalem.”…
Some Palestinian social media users have criticized the train project. “This is actually part of a profit scheme. Nothing more. People come, pay for tickets and ride,” Khalid Walid, a Palestinian from Gaza, said in a video he posted on YouTube. Both Walid and the Kan public broadcaster said the cost of a ticket to ride on the train line is NIS 5 ($1.45)….
https://www.timesofisrael.com/new-train-in-gaza-aims-to-simulate-journey-from-coastal-enclave-to-jerusalem/

Italians raise Gazan skateboarding to new heights
The Media Line 18 Jan by Sanaa Alswerky — In an unprecedented show of support for Gazan skaters, including girls, the Italian organization Gaza FREEstyle has undertaken to train Gazan girls in skateboarding for the first time and devoted a whole group of professional female skaters for that purpose. The organization, which began its activities in the Gaza Strip in 2014, established the first skate park in the port area in 2017 and has continued improving it since then, allowing hundreds of skaters to practice their favorite sport and marking a point of reference for new freestyle crews. So far, they have managed to bring 300 skateboards, spare parts and other supplies from Italy to the strip … However, the team faced numerous obstacles, starting with obtaining Israeli permission to enter the strip. Additional permission was required from Hamas, the ruling party in the coastal enclave. Lucat said, “We had to take Israeli permission as well as permission from Hamas, which gave it to us with some problems.” … With a huge crowd of girls, boys and families flowing through the city, a joyous festival filled with activities, including skateboard performing, rapping, and dancing Palestinian dabkeh, took place on January 7 in the port area of Gaza City to conclude the program. In cooperation with other Italian groups, Gaza FREEstyle is part of a larger project, called Green Hopes Gaza….
https://themedialine.org/people/italians-bring-gazas-skateboarding-to-new-heights/

Muhammad, a Jew, escapes Gaza
[with video interview – Hebrew with English subtitles] ColLive 13 Jan — Born to an Israeli mother and Palestinian father, Muhammad grew up in Gaza unaware of his Jewish roots. Last week, following intensive efforts by Yad L’Achim, he achieved the impossible by crossing the border and reuniting with his Jewish family …  Exercising his legal rights under Israel’s Law of Return, which offers every Jew the right to come and live in the Holy Land, he became a bona fide Israeli citizen….
https://collive.com/muhammad-a-jew-escapes-gaza/

West Bank / Jerusalem

Dozens injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers in West Bank: medics
RAMALLAH (Xinhua) 11 Jan — Dozens of Palestinian protesters were injured on Saturday evening during clashes with Israeli soldiers in the village of Kofor Qadoom, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, medics said. Eyewitnesses said that the clashes broke out when dozens of Palestinian protesters organized a peaceful weekly rally in the village against the expansion of the Israeli settlement in the West Bank. Israeli army forces fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated metal gunshots to disperse the protesters’ rally, after they threw stones at the soldiers, according to the witnesses. Murad Ishteiwi, the coordinator of the popular resistance in the village, told reporters that the protesters were injured and treated by local paramedics in the village. There has been no immediate Israeli official comment on the protests in the village, although activists have been organizing weekly anti-Israeli settlement protests. Ishteiwi said that the demonstrators called on the Israeli army to open a main road in the village that remained closed for 16 years.
http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-01/12/c_138697462.htm

Israel soldiers beat Palestinian man for not carrying his ID card
MEMO 15 Jan — A Palestinian security guard was brutally assaulted by Israeli occupation forces after he failed to show them identification documents, video footage [above] has shown. Omar Hendi, who lives in the Shu‘afat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem and works as an Israeli-licensed security guard on the Jerusalem light rail, was stopped by the Israeli occupation forces while on his way to buy food at a restaurant close by his home. The footage shows a large group of soldiers interrogating Omar regarding his proof of ID, they are then seen pinning him against a wall where they proceed to violently kick and punch him. In the film, four soldiers can be seen just standing and watching. Speaking to Israel’s Channel 13, Omar described his ordeal: “I told them that I don’t have my ID on me, I left it at home. The soldier said he did not believe me and grabbed me by the shirt, then everyone started hitting me.”
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200115-israel-soldiers-beat-palestinian-man-for-not-carrying-his-id-card/

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian homes in Nablus area with stones
NABLUS, Monday, January 13, 2020 (AWAFA) – Israeli settlers today attacked with stones Palestinian residents’ homes in the village of Madama to the south of Nablus, in the northern West Bank, according to a local activist. Ghassan Daghlas, in charge of the anti-settlement file in the northern West Bank, said residents managed to fend off the attack. No injuries were reported.
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=CR1rFLa114717644349aCR1rFL

14 fatal workplace injuries in West Bank
MEMO 14 Jan — The Palestinian Ministry of Labour confirmed that 2019 was unprecedented in the number of fatal workplace injuries in the West Bank and in Israel. Likewise, the number of non-fatal workplace injuries has doubled since 2018. The ministry indicated that last year 14 fatal workplace injuries were recorded in the West Bank and 28 others in the 1948 territories. Firas Abu Hammad, head of the Occupational Health and Safety Department in the Ministry of Labour, said that “the construction sector is one of the most dangerous in Palestine.” He continued: “The preventive aspect of occupational safety and health measures and requirements for workers and employers, therein, are severely deficient. Consequently, the extent of the commitment of labourers and employers alike to those measures is also insufficient, which leads to recording high rates of injuries, especially in this sector. This careless attitude towards undertaking the necessary preventive measures is due to the failing role of the employers’ and worker’s representatives to raise awareness and provide their peers with the required guidelines to occupational safety and health procedures….
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200114-14-fatal-workplace-injuries-in-west-bank/

Two decades on, Israeli court orders state to compensate five Palestinians for destroyed property
MEMO 13 Jan — An Israeli military court has ordered the state to compensate five Palestinians whose plant nurseries were destroyed by the army almost 20 years ago, reported Haaretz. On 14-15 November 2000, Israeli occupation forces demolished the nurseries – located at a junction near the West Bank town of Qalqilya – on the basis that stones and Molotov cocktails had previously been “thrown from the area around them”. In 2002, the owners filed their first compensation claim, which was countered by the Israeli authorities on the grounds that the demolition was carried out as an act of war. According to Haaretz, “the suit wound its way through the courts over the next 18 years, during which rulings on the nature of the action and the amount of compensation were overturned.” Eventually, the court ordered the state to pay the nursery owners three million shekels ($865,863) plus interest, “linkage to the cost of living index and lawyers’ fees over the nurseries”. The judge, who leveled heavy criticism at the government lawyers over their conduct in the case, said that in future, “the Israeli plant nursery test” should be applied in all such cases …  The owners’ lawyer said in response: “The ‘Israeli plant nursery test’ is very importance. The court ruled that…if the state inflicts damage, it doesn’t matter who incurred the damage, the standards for compensation are the same, Jew or non-Jew, Israeli or non-Israeli.”
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200113-two-decades-on-israel-court-orders-state-to-compensate-five-palestinians-for-destroyed-property/

Israel demolishes two ‘hilltop youth’ homes in West Bank outpost
i24NEWS 15 Jan — Israel police forces demolished Wednesday morning two illegal Jewish structures in the West Bank near the Yitzhar settlement. One of the settlers’ homes belonged to Neria Zarog, a “hilltop youth” who reportedly defied an IDF administrative order barring him from the West Bank. Back in November, the 21-year-old was forcefully expelled from his home near Yitzhar by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The Times of Israel reported that some 450 Border Police personnel, accompanied by inspectors from the Civil Administration, took part in the operation to raze the illegal homes in the Kumi Uri outpost. The demolition took about two hours after forces had arrived to the scene at 5:30 am local time (10 pm EST Tuesday). Dozens of settler youths clashed with the authorities and hurled rocks with one rioter arrested for assaulting an officer, according to The Times of Israel. The settlement spokesperson denounced the demolition, accusing the Israeli government of selective law enforcement “while homes of terrorists with Jewish blood on their hands are still standing.” …
A few hours after the operation in the West Bank concluded, for the first time in 25 years Bennett approved the designation of seven new nature reserves in the West Bank, alongside an expansion of 12 existing reserves.
https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/1579081948-israel-demolishes-two-hilltop-youth-outposts-in-west-bank

Israel excludes youth from Al-Aqsa for three months
MEMO 14 Jan — Israel Occupation’s police, Monday, deported the young Jerusalemite Anas Muhammad Abu Hummus from the village of Al-‘Issawiya from the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and its entrances for three months. The activist, Muhammad Abu Al-Hummus, told Safa news agency that the occupation police arrested his son Anas a week ago from the vicinity of the prayer area of Al-Rahma Gate (Bab Al-Rahma). This occurred while he was in a university exam and took him to the Al-Qishleh police station in the Old City of occupied Jerusalem. Abu Al-Hummus added that the police released his son Anas after handing him over a decision to remove his son from the Al-Aqsa Mosque for a week, on a condition that he returns after the end of the week to receive another decision to deport him for several months. “It was not the first time that Anas was excluded from Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Abu Al-Hummus explained, “as he had been expelled twice before, the first for four months and the second for two months.” “He was severely beaten during the recent events of Bab El Rahma’s prayer area,” Anas’ father added.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200114-israel-excludes-youth-from-al-aqsa-for-3-months/

Israel refuses to recognise murdered Palestinian as victim of terrorism
MEMO 13 Jan — The murder of a Palestinian mother by illegal Israeli settlers was recognised as a terror attack yesterday by the Israeli authorities, but bizarrely they are denying to acknowledge her as a victim of terrorism. The 47-year-old mother of eight, Aisha Al-Rabi, was killed in 2018 after being hit on the side of her head by a rock which was hurled by Jewish settlers through the windshield of the car in which she was travelling. The attack took place at Tapuah Junction (Za’atara), south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, as Aisha and her husband Yaqoub Al-Rabi were driving past an illegal settlement, causing Mr Al-Rabi to lose control of their car. Only the Israeli who threw the rock has been imprisoned in a juvenile detention facility, as he was 16 years old at the time of the incident and a student at the Pri Haaretz yeshiva in the northern West Bank settlement of Rehelim. Despite being charged with manslaughter, aggravated stone throwing at a moving vehicle, and intentional sabotage of a vehicle, he was released under house arrest after just four months. The Israeli Defence Ministry’s criteria require individuals targeted in attacks either to be Israeli citizens or have an Israeli residence permit in order to be recognised as victims of terrorism and receive compensation from the National Insurance Institute. Aisha Al-Rabi did not meet any of these criteria.  According to the Times of Israel, the lawyers representing Al-Rabi’s family, Nabila Kaboub and Mohamad Rahal, plan to appeal against the decision in order to have Aisha regarded as a victim of terrorism….
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200113-israel-refuses-to-recognise-murdered-palestinian-as-victim-of-terrorism/

Israel: Palestinian woman arrested over suspected stabbing attack in Jerusalem
i24NEWS 18 Jan — A Palestinian woman carrying a knife was arrested by Israeli border police near the Damascus gate in Jerusalem. According to the Jerusalem police spokeswoman, the woman, who is in her 50s, was arrested after waving the knife at the security personnel. Following the arrest, she was brought in for questioning, with no injuries reported in the incident. The security presence has been stepped up in the Old City area.
https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/diplomacy-defense/1579339240-israel-palestinian-woman-arrested-over-suspected-stabbing-attack-in-jerusalem

Israeli soldiers abduct 17 Palestinians in West Bank
IMEMC 13 Jan — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Monday at dawn, seventeen Palestinians, including a father and his son, during violent invasions and searches of homes in several parts of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported. The PPS office in Hebron, in southern West Bank, said the soldiers invaded and ransacked many homes in several villages and towns in the governorate, before abducting four Palestinians, identified as Yassin Badruddin al-Hour, Karim Abdul-Rahman Arar, Hammouda Mohammad Za’aqeeq and Monther Nasser Skafi.
In Bethlehem, south of occupied Jerusalem, the soldiers searched many homes and abducted Riyad Ahmad Rashayda, and his son Fadi, in addition to Ahmad Aziyya, Ameed al-Azza and Ahmad Khader Masalma….
https://imemc.org/article/israeli-soldiers-abduct-seventeen-palestinians-in-west-bank-3/

Soldiers abduct 19 Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 14 Jan — Israeli soldiers abducted, on Tuesday at dawn, nineteen Palestinians, including siblings, from several parts of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported. The PPS office in Jenin, in northern West Bank, said the soldiers invaded and ransacked many homes in several parts of the governorate, and abducted six Palestinians, identified as Mohammad Yousef Atatra, Jasser Eyad Atatra, Mo’tasem Fawwaz Issa, and his brother Mohammad, from ‘Aneen village, in addition to Mahmoud Eid Hanaisha and Yasser Ahmad Abu ar-Rob, from Qabatia town.
In Hebron governorate, in southern West Bank, the soldiers abducted Anas Yacoub Mahfouth, Ahmad Harbi Abu Rmeila, Nidal Abdul-Fattah Badawi and his brother Jihad, after invading and searching their homes. Another Palestinian, identified as Bassam Abu Aisha, from Hebron, was abducted while on his way to welcome Hasan al-‘Oweiwi, a political prisoner who was on his way back home after being released from an Israeli prison. Also in Hebron, the soldiers invaded the home of Ali Salhab, a political prisoner who was taken prisoner eighteen years ago, and is scheduled to be released next week, and assaulted his mother, causing cuts and bruises….
https://imemc.org/article/soldiers-abduct-nineteen-palestinians-in-the-west-bank/

It took a decade for this Palestinian to learn she was allowed to live in the West Bank
[behind paywall] Haaretz 12 Jan by Amira Hass — Sura Tawil didn’t know a new ID was waiting for her since 2011. So who’s responsible for the failure, the Palestinian side that issues the cards or the Israeli side that approves them? — Sura Tawil’s miracle occurred in Ramallah/El Bireh in the West Bank at the end of December. After about 10 years of waiting she received her new ID card – with a new number – as a West Bank resident. Her miracle was a rare triumph over a double bureaucracy with clearly asymmetrical powers – Israeli and Palestinian. The first bureaucracy’s objective is to curb the number of Palestinians living in the Palestinian enclaves as much as possible, and it’s authorized to do so. The second bureaucracy is unfit – or less than eager – to deal with the Israeli bureaucracy’s methods to achieve its goal. During those 10 years Tawil was for all intents and purposes a prisoner in Ramallah, hardly venturing out of town because she didn’t have a Palestinian ID card, and the visa in her American passport had long expired. Sometimes she took a chance and went to Nablus, where she gave courses on cosmetics, she said with a tired smile in the living room of her family’s stone house in the center of El Bireh. But she didn’t go abroad or to Jerusalem. She knew that every Israeli soldier or police officer at the checkpoint could order her immediate expulsion out of the country (including the West Bank). It wouldn’t do any good to tell them that she was born in El Bireh in 1963, four years before the city was conquered by the Israeli army, that for 10 years she has been living in the house where she spent her childhood, that she’s a grandmother and her grandchildren live near her, and that her widowed mother needs her. To understand in full the Israeli intrusiveness into the Palestinians’ lives, one must remember its control of the Palestinians’ population registry. Like Sura Tawil there are thousands in the West Bank who have been waiting 10, 20 or nearly 30 years for residency status, and according to the Israeli criteria they’re transgressors, illegal sojourners in their own homes. The Palestinian Authority prints the ID cards (including for those who turn 16), but it may do so only after receiving authorization from Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank – “the Palestinians’ real government,” the joke goes.
https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-it-took-a-decade-for-this-palestinian-to-learn-she-was-allowed-to-live-in-west-bank-1.8380554

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Ottoman archives help Palestinians reclaim their land
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Al-Monitor) 14 Jan by Ahmad Melhem — Deeds 100 years old from the Ottoman archives are helping the Palestinians in their battle to prove their rights to lands around Jerusalem and the West Bank that have been confiscated by Israel. Turkish officials had announced as early as 2015 that they were handing Ottoman documents to the Palestinians to help them claim ownership of properties taken over by Israel. Daily Sabah, a pro-government paper, quoted Kudret Bulbul, head of the Turks Abroad and Related Communities Directorate of the Prime Ministry between 2014-2016, as saying that the archives included “land registers, sultans’ decrees and historical documents proving the property ownership of Palestinians in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.” In 2018, a full electronic archive of 140,000 documents was available, spanning over 400 years of Ottoman rule in Palestinian lands. Israel Hayom newspaper published an article Jan. 2, titled “Erdogan’s Quiet Jihad,” reporting that Turks handed the Palestinians 140,000 microfilm pages from the Ottoman archives in an effort to extend their “influence-peddling in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount.” “The Palestinians see these documents as a game-changer in their battle with Israel over land. They have already used the archive to challenge Israeli ownership of land and real estate in various parts of the country,” the article noted….
https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/01/ottoman-archives-helps-palestinian-reclaim-their-land.html

Report: Israeli home demolitions in East Jerusalem spiked
JERUSALEM (AP) 16 Jan by Tia Goldenberg — Israeli authorities demolished homes in Palestinian areas of east Jerusalem at a significantly higher rate than the previous year, according to an Israeli advocacy group. In a new report, Ir Amim said 104 housing units were demolished in 2019, compared() to 72 units in 2018. The 44% spike also ends what had been a decline in demolitions between 2016 and 2018. Aviv Tatarsky, the Ir Amim researcher who wrote the report released Wednesday, said the group found that only 7% of housing units advanced by city planners last year were for Palestinian neighborhoods. Palestinians make up about a third of Jerusalem’s population. “The situation in east Jerusalem has been very bad last year,” he said. Israel says the houses being demolished were built illegally, and it says the demolitions are court sanctioned. But the Palestinians say they face a severe housing crisis fueled by Israel’s reluctance to issue building permits. In a statement, the city of Jerusalem said all of its “enforcement operations” are conducted according to the law….
https://apnews.com/ec279382902b88062136c4e46cee71a5

Israeli army demolishes school foundations in a bid to impede Palestinians’ education
HEBRON (WAFA) 16 Jan — In their bid to impede Palestinian education in remote villages, Israeli forces today demolished the foundations of a new school that was being built east of Yatta town in the south of the occupied West Bank, according to Rateb Jabour, member of the National and Popular Committee Resisting the Wall and Settlements. He told WAFA that Israeli soldiers came to the school that was being built between Yatta and Bani Naim in an area close to the illegal Israeli settlement of Beni Hefer and began to demolish the foundation laid out for the construction of the school. He said that no prior notice of demolition was given to the school administration. The school was intended to serve children in the remote villages who often have to travel long distances and through rough and hazardous terrain to reach their schools in nearby towns.
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=mNdkUGa114763328493amNdkUG

Israel transport issue prevents 18,000 Arab students from going back to school
MEMO 13 Jan — About 18,000 Arab students from the so-called “unrecognised” villages in Israel have been prevented from going back to school due to a transport payment issue between Al-Qasyoom Municipal Council in the Negev and the Israeli Ministry of Education, Arab48.com reported on Sunday. At the start of this school year, the council and the ministry agreed that the Israeli government should pay school transportation costs for the Arab students living in the villages. However, the ministry has not fulfilled its pledge and has not paid the agreed budget to the council. The villages are not recognised by the Israeli government, and are not connected to power, waste and water services supplied to others in the region.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200113-israel-transport-issue-prevents-18000-arab-students-from-going-back-to-school/

Israel to demolish 8 houses in occupied West Bank
MEMO 13 Jan — Israeli occupation forces handed out demolition orders to eight Palestinian families in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron today. Local sources quoted the coordinator of the Protection and Steadfastness Committee, Fuad Al-Amouri, as saying that the houses were located between the Carmel and Susiya villages in Yatta, adding that they were owned by “Annan Abd Rabbo, Muhammad Zain, Khalil Rubaei, Mahmoud Rubaei, and Qasim Abu Tahfa.”  Al-Amouri pointed out that the demolition notifications had come at a time when attacks by occupation soldiers and settlers against Palestinians in Yatta had intensified, forcing Palestinians out of their homes.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200113-israel-to-demolish-8-houses-in-occupied-west-bank/

Israel seized Palestinian lands in Bethlehem
MEMO 16 Jan — Israeli forces yesterday issued orders to seize hundreds of dunums of agricultural land in Bethlehem’s southern occupied towns of Al-Khader and Irtas. The head of the Commission for the Resistance of the Wall and Settlements, Hasan Breijieh, told local media that the orders were issued to seize 350 dunums of agricultural land, with the aim “to expand Israel illegal settlements and bypass the roads of the Palestinian towns and villages in Bethlehem.” Breijieh added that the move would “devour more Palestinian agricultural land and prevent Palestinian landowners from accessing their lands as the seizure will also take over 150 meters of land on both sides.” Bethlehem cities, villages and neighbourhoods have been subject to increasing Israeli theft of land in favour of expanding illegal Israeli settlement projects.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200116-israel-seizes-palestinian-lands-in-bethlehem/

Small West Bank school holds firm despite settler attacks
YANOUN, Nablus (Al-Monitor) 13 Jan by Taghreed Ali — To get an education, the students in Yanoun, a Palestinian village near Nablus, must deal with attacks by settlers on the way to school and even in their homes — … The co-educational school, affiliated with the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education, is located in the West Bank village of Yanoun, in southeastern Nablus governorate. As it is in Area C, Israel has full administrative and security authority over the area based on the Oslo II Accord (1995). This means that the school must obtain permission from Israeli authorities to make renovations, something they have never been granted. Although the village takes its name from the Canaanite word for “calm” or “serene,” life in Yanoun has been anything but. Situated amid five Israeli settlements — Gedonim, Givat ‘Alam and settlements 777, 776 and 778 —Yanoun has had to battle for survival. In 2002, Yanoun residents had to flee their homes after residents of the nearby Israeli settlements entered the village, beat them and killed their animals. Some returned a few years later with the assistance of peace activists from the volunteer organization Ta’ayush and the International Solidarity Movement, but security, and economic, problems continued.
https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/01/run-down-school-in-palestine-defies-occupation.html

Israel  turns swaths of occupied West Bank into nature reserves
JERUSALEM (AFP) 15 Jan – Israel’s defence minister Wednesday announced the creation of seven nature reserves in the occupied West Bank as part of efforts to maintain Israeli control, weeks before a general election. The sites are all located in what is known as Area C of the West Bank that includes the strategic Jordan Valley, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in September he planned to annex. Defence Minister Naftali Bennett, whose rightwing New Right party draws much of its support from Jewish settlers, said last week that the territory belonged to Israel and his goal was to annex it “within a short time”. In his latest move, Bennett said the Israeli-run reserves would be “under the responsibility” of the Jewish state’s Nature and Parks Authority. He also announced the expansion of 12 existing West Bank sites managed by the Israeli authority, including Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in caves between 1947 and 1956. Bennett is seeking re-election in the March 2 elections, as part of a far-right alliance.
The Palestinian Authority was quick to condemn the latest move, accusing Bennett of “erecting a new colonial umbrella to fight the Palestinian presence in those areas”. The Palestinian foreign ministry said it would lodge complaints over the “dangerous announcement” at the United Nations and in international courts. According to Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now, the designated reserves total about 13,000 acres (5,300 hectares), some 40 percent of it under private Palestinian ownership. Under Israel laws regulating nature reserves, Palestinians would be forbidden to cultivate their own land, the NGO’s Hagit Ofran said. “If it’s a nature reserve, then you can uproot their (Palestinians’) trees and tell them they need a special permit for any agricultural activity,” she told AFP. “It will be easier now to evict Palestinians from there.”
https://www.france24.com/en/20200115-israel-turns-swathes-of-occupied-west-bank-into-nature-reserves

Israel’s double standard position on nature reserves: No to Palestinians, yes to Israelis
JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA)15 Jan — Eleven years have passed since Diab Daraghma, from Khallet Samra, had to pay a fine of 1,500 shekels ($430) for herding in the Suwaida area in the northern Jordan Valley on the pretext that he was grazing in a nature reserve, as the Israeli occupying power claimed at the time. Three years ago, a Jewish settler who raises cows came to that same area and occupied the top of the mountain. Despite his presence there, the so-called Israeli nature authority did not kick him out. Rather, it would go only after the Palestinian herders and prevent them from being there.
Today, it is possible to see dozens of signs on dirt roads with the word “nature reserve’ written on them in Arabic, Hebrew, and English. And today also, Israel’s Minister of Defense Naftali Bennett declared seven sites in the occupied West Bank as new “nature reserves”, and 12 others will be expanded.
Burhan Bisharat, a resident of Makhoul village who spent all his life in that part of the northern Jordan Valley that overlooks Jordan to the east, says that since the arrival of the settler in the summer of 2017, he and other herders have been unable to be in that place. “The rule of nature reserves applies only on us,” he said. Daraghma said the same thing, saying that both he and Bisharat have been totally cut off from that area a few years ago except in very few cases but taken with great risk. Mahdi Daraghma, head of al-Maleh village council, says: “The occupation and the settlers have agreed on one goal, to take actual steps to annex the Jordan Valley.” But in order to do this, they have to get rid of its Palestinian residents first. Bennett’s declaration today about the new nature reserves is a first in 25 years. According to the Israeli rights center, B’Tselem, Israel declared about 20% of the Jordan Valley lands as nature reserves and national parks. It designated other lands for settlements….
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=mNdkUGa114744293433amNdkUG

Israeli forces quash land rehabilitation project in West Bank village
IMEMC/Agencies 13 Jan — Israeli occupation forces, on Monday, stopped work on a project to reclaim and rehabilitate lands and pave agricultural roads in the village of Al-Mughayyir, east of Ramallah, under the pretext that the area is classified as Area C, under full Israeli administrative and military control. The project supervisor, Engineer Fajer ‘Atawneh, told WAFA news agency that an Israeli military crew stormed the area where the land is being reclaimed, forcing project workers to halt activities before seizing heavy machinery that was engaged in the opening of two kilometers of agricultural roads and the rehabilitation of 70 dunams of the village’s land. He said that the roads were part of a project implemented by the Agricultural Development Society – Palestinian Agricultural Relief – for the rehabilitation of around 400 dunams of land and the construction of agricultural roads. The project aims at serving farmers and enhancing their resilience in areas most affected by the presence of the occupation, in villages to the northeast of Jerusalem and in the village of Al-Mughayyir.
https://imemc.org/article/israeli-forces-quash-land-rehabilitation-project-in-west-bank-village/

Defense Minister: Area C in the West Bank is for Israel
albawaba 9 Jan — Israel’s Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said the area marked as “C” in the West Bank belongs to Israel. Area C constitutes about 60% of the West Bank and is under Israel’s full control. “I solemnly declare that Area C belongs to Israel,” Bennett said at a conference on settlement construction adding that he has repeatedly called for imposing Israeli sovereignty over this land. “Israel is fighting a real war on Area C,” Bennett added. “About a month ago, I held a meeting and explained the ways that the State of Israel will do everything possible to ensure that these areas [Area C] will be part of the State of Israel,” he said. Palestinians affirm that Area C is part of the West Bank and that there is no Palestinian state without this region. Roughly 650,000 Israeli Jews currently live on more than 100 settlements built since 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
https://www.albawaba.com/news/defense-minister-area-c-west-bank-israel-1331919

In nod to Israeli sovereignty, IDF grip on Civil Administration weakened
JPost 12 Jan by Tovah Lazaroff — The decision to freeze a plan that would fully place all Civil Administration staff under IDF auspices, was hailed by settlers and activists on Sunday as one more step on the road toward the Israeli application of sovereignty in the West Bank. For settlers the IDF’s Civil Administration is symbolic of Israeli military control over the lives of over 420,000 Israelis who live in Area C of the West Bank. The Civil Administration is in charge of Israeli and Palestinian life in Area C. Settlers, however, would like their civilian affairs to be handled by the same government office that deal with Israeli citizens who live within sovereign Israel. It’s the kind of reform that had little hope of implementation under past Israeli governments, which had not embraced the application of sovereignty to Judea and Samaria. Settlers and activists were upset, therefore, to learn that a plan was in the works to ensure that all IDF Civil Administration staff were paid by the IDF. At present some of the senior IDF staff in charge of civilian affairs are paid by the governmental ministries within sovereign Israel in a manner similar to regular civil servants.
Under the new plan that practice would end and all IDF Civil Administration employees would be paid for by the army. Yesha Council head and Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Elhayani wrote a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to Defense Minister Naftali Bennett asking them to freeze the plan, explaining that it discriminated against the Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria and was therefore, unacceptable. Some 20 settler leaders were signed onto the letter. On Sunday, Elhayani’s office reported that the plan had been frozen by Netanyahu and Bennett.
https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/In-nod-to-Israeli-sovereignty-IDF-grip-on-Civil-Administration-weakened-613978

Israel army carries out military drills in Jordan Valley
MEMO 16 Jan — Israeli occupation forces carried out military drills on Wednesday in several areas in the north of the occupied Jordan Valley, Wafa News Agency reported. Reporting local activist, Aref Daraghma, Wafa News Agency revealed that the Israeli military drills lasted for two days in several neighbourhoods in the occupied Palestinian territory. According to Daraghma, the Israeli occupation army used live ammunition, tanks and buses in its drills, noting that it caused severe damage to the crops of the Palestinian farmers in the area. In addition, Daraghma disclosed that the Israeli occupation army started its drills without warning the Palestinian residents. It is worth noting that the Israeli occupation army carry out similar drills several times a year.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200116-israel-army-carries-out-military-drills-in-jordan-valley/

Prisoners

Israel: Banks freeze accounts of prisoners’ families
MEMO 8 Jan — Banks in Israel have frozen the accounts of the families of 40 Palestinian prisoners who are Israeli citizens, Shehab news agency reported on Tuesday. The move was apparently ordered by far-right Defence Minister Naftali Bennett. According to human rights groups, the order included accounts run by the families of the prisoners in partnership with other people. Speaking to Safa news agency, the lawyer acting on behalf of the families, Rami Kteelat, said that the order was supposed to be “combating terrorism”.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200108-israel-banks-freeze-accounts-of-prisoners-families/

Bennett seizes $17,000 from family of Arab-Israeli prisoner
MEMO 14 Jan — Israeli occupation forces have confiscated 66,500 shekels ($17,000) from the family of prisoner Maher Younis who holds Israeli citizenship. Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett yesterday announced on Twitter that the family received the money from the Palestinian Authority. Bennett said the confiscation follows an order he had issued in December which prevents families of Palestinian citizens of Israel convicted on “terrorism charges” from receiving salaries and payments from the PA. Maher is serving a life sentence on charges of killing an Israeli soldier, his family lives in the village of Aara in northern Israel.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200114-bennett-seizes-17000-from-family-of-arab-israel-prisoner/

UPDATE: After serving 18 years in Israeli prisons, Palestinian re-detained on day of his release
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 14 Jan — Israel today re-detained a Palestinian man as he was getting ready to leave prison after serving 18 years behind bars for resisting the Israeli occupation, according to local sources. Ismail Afaneh, 39, from Sur Baher neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem, was arrested on 5 January 2002 and sentenced to 18 years in prison. He was supposed to be released today but as he was getting ready to leave the Naqab prison in the south of Israel, he was re-detained and sent for interrogation at the Russian Compound police station in West Jerusalem. While no reason was given for his re-detention, source said the Israeli authorities often re-detain prisoners from occupied Jerusalem in order to sabotage the homecoming celebrations by family and friends and then releases them under strict conditions including not holding any celebrations for their release. (Updated at 3:00 pm local time: Israel later released Afaneh on condition he does not part in any celebration marking his release from prison.)
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=3bsbjfa114723354867a3bsbjf

After holding him for one extra day, Israel frees Palestinian prisoner after 17 years behind bars
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 15 Jan — The Israeli authorities today freed Alaa Abu Jazar, 43, from Rafah city in the Gaza Strip, one day after he had completed his 17-year prison sentence but was kept in prison awaiting new interrogation, according to the Palestinian prisoners’ advocacy groups. They said that the Israeli authorities informed the Abu Jazar family that he will be sent home today after dampening family plans to celebrate his release yesterday by telling them that he will remain incarcerated pending new interrogation. The decision to extend the detention of Abu Jazar came after the Israeli Prison Services (IPS) raided Remon prison, where he was kept, and relocated as a result some of the prisoners who are members of the organizing committee. Abu Jazar is father to one daughter, Jomana, who was several months old when he was arrested and sentenced for 17 years in 2003 for his resistance of the Israeli occupation. Jomana has lost her mother, grandfather and an uncle while her father was in prison.
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=mNdkUGa114745245186amNdkUG

Israel profited 54,000 shekels from imprisoned children in December 2019
IMEMC 17 Jan — The Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs has stated that the Israeli occupation state has made 54,000 Shekel profit off the Palestinian children who were imprisoned in Ofer jail last December, Quds News Network reported. The Committee said in a report issued on Sunday that 38 Palestinian children were sent to Ofer jail last month, increasing the total number of children jailed in Ofer to 82. It also stated that 20 children were sentenced to jail periods that range between one week to 23 months. One child was also slapped with a four-month arbitrary administrative detention, without charges. The report revealed that last year, the Israeli authorities jailed 379 children (under the age of 18) in Ofer jail and imposed 513,100 Shekel of fines on them. The Committee described the Israeli violations against Palestinian children, like the heavy fines and lengthy jail periods, as punitive measures and arbitrary punishment against the Palestinian people. According to the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association (Addameer), approximately 700 Palestinian children under the age of 18 from the occupied West Bank are prosecuted every year through Israeli military courts after being arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli army. The most common charge levied against children is throwing stones, a charge that is punishable under military law by up to 20 years in prison….
https://imemc.org/article/israel-profited-54000-shekel-from-imprisoned-children-in-december-2019/

Israel renews administrative detention of Palestinian woman two days before her release
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 13 Jan – The Israeli military government renewed the administrative detention of Shorouq al-Badan, 25, for six more months only two days before her scheduled release, today said the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS). Badan, from Bethlehem, was about to conclude tomorrow six months in administrative detention and be freed before she was slammed with another period behind bars. She was arrested on July 15 of last year.
Three other Palestinian women are also held in administrative detention without charge or trial and based on secret evidence not available for their lawyers and for various periods of time. They include Alaa Bashir, 23, from Qalqilya, arrested on July 24, 2019, Bushra Tawil, 26, from Ramallah, arrested on December 11, 2019 and Shatha Hasan, 20, from Ramallah, arrested on December 12, 2019. The PPS said Israel currently has 40 Palestinian women behind bars for their resistance of the Israeli occupation. Administrative detention is illegal under international law.
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=1qcSQpa114713837337a1qcSQp

Palestinian prisoner released after 113 days on hunger strike
MEMO 15 Jan — Palestinian prisoner Ahmad Zahran has been released after spending 113 days on hunger strike in Israeli detention, the head of the  Palestinian Commission of Prisoners and ex-Prisoners’ Affairs, Qadri Abu Bakr, announced yesterday. “Following a 113-day hunger strike Zaher was able to reach an agreement with the Israeli prison administration in exchange for his release,” Abu Bakr, adding the commission’s lawyer Jawad Boulos was present during the deliberation. Forty-two-year-old Zahran from Deir Abu-Mesh’al neighbourhood in the outskirts of occupied Ramallah was arrested in March. He is a married father of four who has spent a total of 15 years in Israeli jails. This is his second strike against  his continued detention. He launched his first 39-day hunger strike in June last year and ended it after he was promised release; instead, the occupation authorities renewed his administrative detention for an additional four months.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200115-palestinian-prisoner-released-after-113-days-on-hunger-strike/

Israel relocates 34 minor Palestinian prisoners without their adult overseers
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 13 Jan – Israel Prison Services (IPS) today relocated 34 Palestinian minor prisoners held at Ofer military camp and prison, near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, to Damoun prison in Israel without any of their adult overseers, said the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) in a statement. The statement warned of the danger of such move as it undermines one of the prisoner’s achievements to provide caretaker rights for minors, adding that this could make the minors targets of abusive measures by the IPS. The decision has prompted strong protests by the prisoners who look after the minors as the relocation may undermine the rights of the minor prisoners who could be abused by the prison guards in the absence of their adult overseers. Some 200 minors are currently held in Israeli prisons out of nearly 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners incarcerated for resisting the Israeli occupation of their land. The adult prisoners usually take care of the minors and help them adjust to their new situation as well as represent them in any dispute with the IPS.
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=CR1rFLa114715740843aCR1rFL

Israel officer arrested on suspicion of smuggling mobile phones to Palestine prisoners
MEMO 14 Jan — Israeli news sources revealed that a high-ranking Israeli prison officer has been arrested on Monday morning, pending an investigation into the smuggling of mobile phones to Palestinian prisoners in Nafkha Penitentiary, located in the Negev desert, south of occupied Palestine. Some of the prisoners in Nafkha Penitentiary are serving long sentences due to accusations of carrying out operations against Israeli soldiers and settlers.  Israeli newspaper, Israel Hayom, disclosed that it is suspected that the prison officer had used his position to smuggle mobile phones. The newspaper indicated that the officer was arrested after a number of weeks of follow-ups by the Shin Bet security agency. Other suspects are reported to have also been arrested by Israeli police, on suspicion of involvement in the smuggling of phones to prisoners. The prison officer had been working as the deputy commander of the prison and has been convicted of several charges including: “Working to help a terrorist organisation, establishing a prohibited relationship between jailer and prisoner, receiving bribes, fraud and breach of trust and conspiring to commit a crime.” The newspaper stated that the officer smuggled dozens of cell phones, and that investigations are being conducted with a number of prisoners linked to Fatah, for their possible involvement in the case.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200114-israel-officer-arrested-on-suspicion-of-smuggling-mobile-phones-to-palestine-prisoners/

PLO: Israel blocks 250 bodies of Palestine martyrs
MEMO 16 Jan — PLO’s Committee of Prisoners and Freed Prisoners announced on Wednesday that Israel continues to block 250 bodies of Palestinian martyrs in its ‘cemeteries of numbers’, Al Watan Voice reported. According to Hassan Abed-Rabbu, spokesman of the committee, burying the Palestinian martyrs in the ‘cemeteries of numbers’ contradicts all the international human rights laws, including the Geneva Convention. He also described this Israeli act as “unethical” and a “form of racism,” adding that it is a kind of collective punishment that causes psychological pain for the families and relatives of the martyrs. “The lack of information about the whereabouts of these cemeteries multiplies the pain of the families of the martyrs,” Abed-Rabbu asserts. “These martyrs, all of whom were Muslims, were not buried in the Islamic or the Palestinian way,” stressing that this adds to the suffering of the families. Abed-Rabbu stated that some of the bodies are blocked by orders from the Israeli defence ministers and some are blocked by judicial decisions. Both, however, aim to put pressure on Palestinians in order to stop their resistance against the Israeli occupation, or to be used as a bargaining chip in a possible prisoner swap.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200116-plo-israel-blocks-250-bodies-of-palestine-martyrs/

UNRWA

Acting head of UN Palestinian agency says ‘difficult’ year ahead, amid funding cuts and Israeli pressure
GAZA (Reuters) 16 Jan by Nidal al-Mughrabi — The interim head of the U.N. agency that aids Palestinian refugees on Thursday accused pro-Israel groups of lobbying foreign parliaments to stop donations, even as it struggled to recover from losing United States funding in 2018. Christian Saunders, in an interview with Reuters [see video above] in his Gaza office, also said Israel was seeking to replace United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) services for Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem with those of its own.
UNRWA has faced budgetary difficulties since 2018, when the United States, its biggest donor, halted its annual aid of $360 million. The United States and Israel have both accused UNRWA of mismanagement and anti-Israeli incitement. Last November, UNRWA commissioner-general Pierre Krahenbuhl resigned amid an investigation into misconduct allegations. In the interview, Saunders, now acting commissioner-general, said the inquiry by the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services was complete and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had confirmed there had been no corruption or misuse of funds. Saunders said the investigation had uncovered mismanagement related to human resources and abuse of authority, and that major donors who had withheld funding while the inquiry was under way have resumed contributions. Saunders said he felt confident UNRWA had enough money for at least the first quarter of 2020, but he expected it to be an “even more difficult” year than last. He added that they had not given up on persuading the United States to change its mind about funding …  Saunders initially said that Israel and the United States were “advocating against funding UNRWA in the European parliaments and elsewhere,” but later clarified in a statement that he was referring to pro-Israel groups. He said UNRWA “had no reason to believe that the U.S. was engaged in lobbying to stop funding the agency.”….
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians-unrwa/acting-head-of-u-n-palestinian-refugee-agency-says-u-s-israel-working-against-it-idUSKBN1ZF1XA

BDS

Lionel Ritchie ignores calls to boycott Israel concert
MEMO 15 Jan — American singer Lionel Richie announced in a video message released last week that he is excited for his first performance in Israel on March 2 as part of his “Hello” world tour. Despite pressure from the women’s grassroots social justice movement Code Pink to cancel his concert due to Israel’s “oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people,” the 70-year-old celebrity known for hits such as “Hello” and “All Night Long,” is determined to ignore the calls and perform at Tel Aviv’s Menora Mivtachim Arena. In an open letter to Richie, Code Pink warned that his performance in Tel Aviv would “act as an endorsement of Israel’s brutal systems of military occupation and apartheid. Cancelling your Tel Aviv concert, on the other hand, would send a strong message that Palestinians, like all people, deserve equal rights and freedom.” In response, he blocked the movement on Twitter and Code Pink’s national co-director Ariel Gold called Richie a “snowflake.”….
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200115-lionel-richie-ignores-calls-to-boycott-israel-concert/

South Dakota governor signs anti-BDS executive order
MEMO 16 Jan — The Republican governor of South Dakota signed an executive order on Tuesday prohibiting state offices from conducting business with companies boycotting Israel. The recent move made by Republican Kristi Noem has made South Dakota the 28th state to have adopted the anti-BDS law. “Israel is one of our nation’s closest allies, and their success is critical to American national security,” Noem announced in a statement. “Today, we reaffirm that South Dakota stands with Israel and will only contract with businesses who agree to fairly compete. Our state will not stand for any discrimination based on race or religion.” The executive order requires vendors seeking contracts with state agencies, authorities, commissions, departments or institutions of the State of South Dakota not to engage with companies that participate in boycotts of Israel….
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200116-south-dakota-governor-signs-anti-bds-executive-order/

Other news

PA pays Israel electricity company $200m
MEMO 14 Jan — The Palestinian Authority (PA) has paid Israeli Electric Corporation 700 million shekels ($202 million) in part payment for debts it has accrued, Israel’s Reshet Bet radio station reported yesterday. Quoting a PA source, the channel said that the money was borrowed from Palestinian banks and makes up part payment of the 1.8 billion shekel ($512 million) debt. According to the Israeli radio, the PA has already transferred ten per cent of the payment and is to pay the remaining funds this week. PA officials told Israeli Public Broadcaster Kan that the electricity supply to the occupied territory would not be improved very much despite the payment, adding that power outages will continue.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200114-pa-pays-israel-electricity-company-200m/

Unread post piles up at defunct Palestinian parliament
RAMALLAH (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) 14 Jan —  Smashed doors, dusty tables and 12 years of unread mail — welcome to the defunct Palestinian parliament. It has been more than a decade since the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) last met, due to infighting between Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah and Islamist Hamas. The two sides are currently talking up the prospect of new elections — the first since 2006 — but for now the key Palestinian political institution, located in the occupied West Bank, lies empty. It is mid-morning on a recent week day in Ramallah but the hundreds of spaces in the parliament’s car park hold just a few dozen vehicles.  The main door to the parliamentary chamber is shuttered, with an armed police officer standing guard. A back route leads through a partially smashed glass door. Inside the chamber, dust gathers on rows of empty seats around a central speaker’s dais.  In the parliamentary offices next door, the postman still delivers mail to the lawmakers’ boxes, but many haven’t been checked in years … In 2004 the shiny new parliament building was opened in central Ramallah, the Palestinian city in the occupied West Bank 10 miles (16 kilometres) north of Jerusalem. Construction was largely funded by Japan and was intended to symbolise a return to democracy after the bloody Palestinian intifada, or uprising, against Israel in the early 2000s. It only saw one general election, in 2006, when Hamas won an unexpected victory. The Islamist party won 74 of the 132 seats, while Abbas’s secular Fatah got 45….
https://www.france24.com/en/20200114-unread-post-piles-up-at-defunct-palestinian-parliament

PA committed 4,703 rights violations in West Bank, Jerusalem in 2019
MEMO 15 Jan — The Palestinian Authority (PA) committed 4,703 rights violations against Palestinians in West Bank and Jerusalem during 2019, the Committee of Families of Political Prisoners revealed yesterday. In a report, the committee said that the violations included detention on political grounds and freedom of expression, as well as use of degrading psychological and verbal torture. The violations also included 1,079 arrests, 743 summons, 1,620 detentions and 31 cases of security coordination between the PA security services and the Israeli occupation. According to the report, the PA carried out 389 raids of homes and workplaces, 26 kidnappings and 48 cases of property appropriation. Meanwhile, the PA security services did not respond to 64 court orders to release political prisoners, while 24 prisoners went on hunger strike protesting against harsh prison conditions. The most serious offense was the killing of Palestinian youth Mahmoud Al-Hamalawi while being tortured by the PA’s Protective Security Apparatus in Ramallah….
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200115-pa-committed-4703-rights-violations-in-west-bank-jerusalem-in-2019/

Hamas: PA committed 424 violations against university students in 2019
MEMO 17 Jan — Hamas has said that the Palestinian Authority’s security apparatus has committed 424 violations against university students in 2019. Hamas’ media office said in its annual report that in 2019, female university students were attacked and their families were threatened in order to prevent them from participating in activities run by Hamas’ student arm. According to the report, Palestinian security services and the Israeli army launched a fierce campaign of arrests against the movement’s student members during the months of March and April ahead of the student council elections, aimed at influencing the election’s results. The campaign included the arrest of the president of the Birzeit student council, Osama Al-Fakhouri, and the student Ibrahim Shalhoub, who was arrested after submitting a request on behalf of the Islamic bloc to participate in the students’ council elections. The report said the students had been subjected to torture and extensive violations while a number of them were transferred to Jericho Prison. The mother of one student named Abdul Rahman Hamdan launched a campaign of solidarity on social media after her son was subjected to brutal torture. According to the report, the highest number of violations were committed against students in Hebron University with 108 violations, followed by Birzeit University with 93 violations, An-Najah University with 89 violations, and the polytechnic universities, Khadouri and Al-Quds with 41, 32 and 15 violations respectively.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200117-hamas-pa-committed-424-violations-against-university-students-in-2019/

Official: Hamas relations with Saudi Arabia ‘estranged’
MEMO 17 Jan — A member of Hamas’ political bureau, Khalil Al-Hayya, said Thursday that relations with Saudi Arabia are “estranged,” denying enmity with Riyadh. “Perhaps [there] is a rupture of relations that the brothers of Saudi Arabia have imposed,” Al-Hayya said in an interview published by the movement’s official website. “These are our people, our pride… and we ask them to support our people and their steadfastness and stand by our side,” he said in reference to the Saudi rulers, stressing that his movement is interested in maintaining relations with Saudi Arabia based on embracing the Palestinian cause, and not on boycotting any other country, in reference to Iran. Al-Hayya said Hamas’ political relations with the countries “are based on balance and openness, to mobilise support for the Palestinian cause.” “Hamas has been keen since its inception to establish political relations with all countries that allow it and in the form they desire, and the movement enjoys distinguished relations with many countries formally and popularly,” he said. Al-Hayya denied that Hamas competes with the PLO over representation as accused by the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah movement’s media.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200117-official-hamas-relations-with-saudi-arabia-estranged/

Israel accelerates processing of East Jerusalem Palestinians’ citizenship applications; most rejected
MEMO 13 Jan — Israeli authorities dramatically accelerated the processing of citizenship applications by Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem in 2019, reported Haaretz, with the majority rejected. A total of 1,361 applications were rejected last year, up from 340 in 2018, while the number of Palestinian applicants who successfully received citizenship rose to 1,200, from 362 in 2018. The latter figure represents the largest number since Israel’s military occupation began in 1967. According to Haaretz, “both increases stemmed from the fact that the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority has sped up its handling of such applications following criticism of its slow pace by the High Court of Justice [the Supreme Court]”. When Israel illegally annexed the eastern portion of the city, authorities granted Palestinian inhabitants “permanent residency”, rather than citizenship, and 95 per cent of Palestinians in East Jerusalem still have this same status. As the report noted, “as permanent residents, they have no passports and no right to vote in Knesset elections, and they can lose their social security benefits or even their residency if the state suspects that the centre of their life is in the West Bank rather than Israel”. Since 2009, around 800-1,000 Palestinians have filed citizenship applications annually, but on average, only about 400 Palestinians a year actually receive citizenship … Haaretz said that “lawyers who handle such applications say that as the application process sped up, the reasons for rejections multiplied.” In one example, an applicant “was rejected because he lives in a shack with no running water or electricity”, while in another case, “a Palestinian woman born in East Jerusalem was rejected because her father-in-law once owned an apartment outside Jerusalem”. Another applicant was rejected “because she failed the Hebrew test”.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200113-israel-accelerates-processing-of-east-jerusalem-palestinians-citizenship-applications-most-rejected/

Young Israelis, Palestinians feel conflict ‘will never end’, poll shows
i24NEWS – AFP 16 Jan — Israeli and Palestinian millennials revealed to be most pessimistic ones among youths in war-affected areas — The majority of Israeli and Palestinian youth believe that the bitter Israeli-Palestinian conflict “will never end”, a survey released Thursday by the International Committee of the Red Cross shows. According to the ICRC survey of people between 20 and 35 living in war-affected populations, 65% of Israeli and 52% of Palestinian respondents said that they expected the rivalry to last throughout years, if not ages, to come. The NGO said that such figures made for the most pessimistic attitude across all groups surveyed in a global poll with a total of over 16,000 respondents. The survey also revealed millennials to be anxious across the board, with 42% expecting a major catastrophic war to break out in their lifetime, and more than half fearing that a nuclear strike will be conducted within the next decade. “In general, the results indicate that millennials are nervous about the future, and heightened tensions in the Middle East are likely to deepen these fears,” the ICRC said in a statement….
https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/society/1579200292-young-israelis-palestinians-feel-conflict-will-never-end-poll-shows

Christian delegation urges international community to recognise State of Palestine
MEMO 17 Jan — A group of bishops from across Europe and North America have voiced their deep concerns over Israel’s occupation of Palestine. The group, who visit the region every year to promote dialogue and peace, described at length the grim situation following their return from the occupied territory. “Every year we come to encounter and hear the people of the Holy Land. We are inspired by their enduring resilience and faith in a worsening situation,” announced the 15-member group in a statement. The delegation conveyed the message of their Christian counterparts in Palestine, who warned that people are facing further “evaporation of hope for a durable solution.” They described that they had: “Witnessed this reality first-hand, particularly how construction of settlements and the separation wall is destroying any prospect of two states existing in peace.” Local bishops sounded the alarm regarding living conditions under Israeli occupation, to the Christian delegation, stating that it was becoming “more and more unbearable”. “This is painfully clear in the West Bank where our sisters and brothers are denied even basic rights including freedom of movement,” explained the group. “In Gaza the political decisions of all sides have resulted in the creation of an open-air prison, human rights abuses and a profound humanitarian crisis. We were welcomed by families whose focus is now day-to-day survival and whose aspirations have been reduced to bare essentials such as electricity and clean water,” the group added.  They urged Christian groups to witness first-hand the fates of co-religionists living under Israeli occupation….
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200117-christian-delegation-urges-international-community-to-recognise-state-of-palestine/

Student Maasarwe remembered for positivity
AAP 15 Jann by Marnie Banger — The family of an international student murdered in Melbourne hopes she will be remembered for her positivity and energy, on the first anniversary of her death. Aiia Maasarwe’s family also hope positive change can come from the tragic circumstances of the 21-year-old’s killing on January 16, 2019.  The Acting Vice-Chancellor of La Trobe University – where Ms Maasarwe had been studying at the time of her murder – has expressed the family’s wishes in a message sent to students … All digital screens at the university will on Thursday display a message in memory of Ms Maasarwe, a Palestinian Arab of Israeli citizenship. “I encourage you to pause and reflect on Aiia, and the ways you might contribute to her legacy,” Prof Dodds said. The university has also honoured her family’s wishes for how she should be remembered by creating the Aiia Maasarwe Scholarship, which will be funded in perpetuity by the institution and the Victorian Government …  “My daughter would have been inspired by Project Rozana which is helping Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza to receive the same level of health care that we do in Israel,” Ms Maasarwe’s father Saeed said on Tuesday….
https://au.news.yahoo.com/student-maasarwe-remembered-positivity-231650724–spt.html

Cabinet concerned about secret ICC arrest warrants against Israeli officials
Israel Hayom 12 Jan by Ariel Kahana — Members of the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet are said to be “profoundly concerned” that the International Criminal Court will launch a war crimes investigation against Israel within 90 days and may issue secret arrest warrants for Israeli officials it considers suspects … If the ICC does, indeed, issue such warrants, high-ranking Israeli officials and IDF officers may be arrested upon traveling abroad and extradited to The Hague. Legal experts reportedly told the cabinet that a stronger case could be made in The Hague over settlement construction, meaning that every Israeli official party to promoting construction in Judea and Samaria and east Jerusalem could potentially face the International Criminal Court. IDF personnel who participated in military campaigns in the Gaza Strip, including in quelling Hamas riots on the Israel-Gaza border, could also face the ICC. The ministers further discussed the economic implications of the ICC probe, as well as the harm the move could inflict on Israel’s international image …
A senior source told Israel Hayom that the cabinet was made to understand that the ICC investigation was a theoretical threat, rather a serious and imminent one, which requires immediate attention. “The very fact that an ICC investigation will be launched will make Israel synonymous with the darkest regimes in Africa, where truly horrific war crimes have been committed. It’s unthinkable,” he said….
https://www.israelhayom.com/2020/01/12/cabinet-concerned-about-secret-icc-arrest-warrants-against-israeli-officials/

Jordanians protest gas deal with Israel
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) 17 Jan by Omar Akour — Hundreds of Jordanians demonstrated in downtown Amman on Friday, calling on the government to cancel an agreement in which Israel began pumping natural gas to the kingdom this year. Jordanian security forces prevented the protesters from reaching symbolic Al-Nakheel Square in the capital, where the turnout had been expected to grow larger. Earlier this month, Jordan’s National Electric Power Co., said gas pumping had started as part of a multi-billion-dollar deal with Texas-based Noble Energy aimed at lowering the cost of power in the energy-poor kingdom. Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Group are, among others, partners in the newly operational Leviathan gas field off Israel’s Mediterranean coast. In a statement then, NEPCO said importing the gas from Israel was “the last option” after supplies of Egyptian gas came to an end after its pipeline was repeatedly targeted by Islamic State-affiliated militants in Sinai. NEPCO said Israel was “the only available source.” At odds with the kingdom’s official policy, many Jordanians still see Israel as an enemy and often meet steps toward normalization with great public backlash. Over half the population are believed to be Palestinian refugees or their descendants … When the deal was signed in 2016, it was not reviewed by Jordan’s lower house of Parliament. Last year, that body issued a non-binding resolution against the agreement. A parliament session was planned for Sunday to submit an urgent memo requesting a ban on gas purchases from Israel. The $10 billion deal is expected to provide 45 billion cubic meters of Israeli gas to Jordan over the next 15 years. From the same Leviathan gas field, Israel has also begun exporting natural gas to Egypt….
https://apnews.com/7910072fdebb8a670db829cf7962e9c6

Israeli who crossed into Jordan sentenced to four months
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) 13 Jan — A Jordanian court sentenced an Israeli man on Monday to four months in prison and fined him $1,450 for illegally crossing into the country and possessing drugs, the state-run Petra news agency reported. Konstantin Kotov, 35, crossed into Jordanian territory on Oct. 29. He pleaded guilty to crossing the border into Jordan illegally but pleaded not guilty to the drug possession charge, saying it was meant for personal use. Kotov did not say why he traveled to Jordan and wrongly claimed that having a small amount of marijuana was legal in Israel … The Jordanian state security judge rejected Kotov’s argument, saying he had violated Jordanian law. Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty 25 years ago, but relations have cooled in recent years over the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Israeli policies in annexed east Jerusalem, where Jordan has custodianship over Muslim holy sites.
https://apnews.com/cdeecf5869bef5443db525c40daa2a61

Honduras waiting for Israeli reciprocity for embassy move
TEGUCIGALPA (AFP) 17 Jan — Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez said on Friday that his government would transfer its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem once Israel opens an embassy in Tegucigalpa. Right-wing leader Hernandez announced the embassy move in August and a month later opened a commercial office in Jerusalem as an extension to Honduras’ Tel Aviv-based embassy. Moving an embassy to Jerusalem is highly contentious. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, while Palestinians view east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. “We’re just waiting for the State of Israel, reciprocally as is appropriate diplomatically, to open its office in Tegucigalpa and we’ll be transferring our embassy to Jerusalem,” said Hernandez. Traditionally, most diplomatic missions in Israel have been in Tel Aviv as countries maintained a neutral stance over the status of Jerusalem. Israel is currently represented in Honduras by its Guatemala embassy. Guatemala was one of the first countries to follow the lead of US President Donald Trump when he moved his country’s embassy to Jerusalem, sparking a rift between Washington and the Palestinian authorities. Hernandez’s statement came as Honduras took possession of a warship worth more than $50 million bought from Israel.
https://www.france24.com/en/20200117-honduras-waiting-for-israeli-reciprocity-for-embassy-move

Outrage after Jeopardy! host rules Bethlehem not in Palestine
Al Jazeera 14 Jan by Usaid Siddiqui — Popular American game show Jeopardy! has been plunged into controversy after a contestant was told she had the wrong answer after identifying Jesus’s place of birth, the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, as being in Palestine. The incident took place in round one of the game broadcast on Friday, when contestant Katie Needle was given the clue: “Built in the 300s A.D., the Church of the Nativity”, under the category “Where’s that Church?”. Needle, a retail supervisor from Brooklyn, responded it was in Palestine but was told her answer was wrong. One of the other two contestants, Jack McGuire, then buzzed in with the reply “Israel”, which host Alex Trebek accepted as correct. The Church of the Nativity, a World Heritage Site, is located in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, which is internationally recognised as part of Palestine. Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 War, in a move the international community never recognised. Christian pilgrims and tourists from across the globe visit Bethlehem throughout the year, especially for religious festivals such as Christmas. Sony Pictures Television, producer of Jeopardy!, admitted the mistake and clarified that an uncorrected version of the game was broadcast due to a “human error in post-production”. “We regret the error and we will make every effort to ensure this never happens again,” it said in a statement released on Monday … Imraan Siddiqi, executive director of Council of American Islamic Relations Arizona chapter, said the incident highlights how pervasive the erasure of Palestinian history is …  “While the audience is fed ahistorical propaganda, Israel often bars Palestinian Christians from Gaza from worshipping at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity,” Nassar added….
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/01/jeopardy-episode-palestine-question-uproar-200111165110124.html

 

Kate

American; political science major, M.A.; former ISM volunteer in the West Bank

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One Response

  1. Misterioso on January 19, 2020, 10:08 am

    From Canada:

    https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/national-perspectives/jim-vibert-international-lethargy-permits-occupation-of-gaza-west-bank-391354/

    “International lethargy permits occupation of Gaza, West Bank”

    By Jim Vibert, The Chronicle Herald, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, Dec. 23/19

    “At this time of year, the thoughts of many Christians turn to biblical tales of shepherds and wise men drawn to a humble little town where the gospels of Luke and Matthew place Mary, Joseph and their new-born baby.

    “Bethlehem is in the grip of an occupying power today, just as it was in the time of Jesus. As a West Bank town, Bethlehem is Palestinian territory and occupied, for more than 52 years now, by Israel – ‘the longest belligerent occupation in the modern world,’ Michael Lynk reminds us.

    “Halifax-born and raised, Lynk is a law professor at the University of Western Ontario and, more to the point, he’s the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories. His fearless chronicles of Israeli abuses against the Palestinian people in the occupied West Bank and Gaza have drawn the ire of official Israel and its international defenders.

    “Those critics claim his reports ‘legitimize anti-Semites,’ an accusation Lynk says is not much different from being labelled an anti-Semite himself. But the learned law professor’s censure of illegitimate Israeli action – and of the international community that allows it to persist – is, without exception, weighted by scrupulous application of international law.

    “While might made right two millennia ago when Rome occupied what we now call the Holy Land, it’s not supposed to be so today. But, Lynk dares to ask: ‘are we simply to accept that, with this occupation, international law is closer to power than it is to justice?’

    “In his most recent report to the United Nations, Lynk identifies the two defining characteristics of the occupation.

    “The first is its conduct, ‘marked by numerous, intentional and serious violations of international law, including humanitarian and human rights law.’ The second is the unwillingness of the international community to meet its obligations to hold Israel accountable for those violations.

    “Lynk is unflinching in reporting those violations. Israel’s land, sea and air blockade of Gaza, now in its 12th year, severely limits the movement of people in and out of the strip. Palestinians in Gaza suffer inadequate access to water, power, education and health care. Their economy is in ruins.

    “’The Gaza blockade is a denial of basic human rights and amounts to collective punishment.’ Hundreds of Palestinian have been killed and tens of thousands injured in recent years by Israel’s brutal enforcement of a ‘buffer zone’ inside the security barrier – the heavily guarded parameter of Gaza.

    “Calls for annexation of the occupied West Bank, including from the Israeli government, have increased violence against the Palestinians there. Many have been forced to leave their homes while Israeli settlements continue to expand.

    “And, Israel has extended civil authority over occupied East Jerusalem in a continuing effort to ensure that its annexation is irreversible.

    “For the record, collective punishment, settlement of occupied territory, or as Lynk calls it, the ‘occu-annexation’ of the West Bank and East Jerusalem are all breaches of international law.

    “Children are too often the victims. The 1.3 million Palestinian children who live in the West Bank and a million more in Gaza suffer physically and psychologically from constant exposure to violence. The UN verified 59 Palestinian children killed and 2,756 injured in Gaza in 2018 alone.

    “Lynk says the international community has the power and ability to ensure a positive, durable and just solution to the occupation.

    “Israelis of conscience, he says – and there are a great many – will tell you that only international pressure will force Israel to comply with international law.

    “'(This) occupation will not end without the international community acting decisively in support of international law and its common values to compel Israel to fulfil its obligations.’

    “But, Israel has rightly assessed that the international community – particularly Western industrial nations – lacks the political will to compel an end to Israel’s impunity.

    “As a consequence, Lynk assesses the immediate future as dire for the Palestinians, and not much better for Israel. Because a nation that holds five million people with no civil or human rights and no future – as Israel holds the Palestinians – is self-corrupting.

    “Of the several possible outcomes, the long-sought two-state solution is a fading dream. A single, democratic state where full civil and human rights are extended to the Palestinians is possible, but not without the international pressure that’s currently absent.

    “A single ‘illiberal state’ of Israel, exhibiting all the characteristics of apartheid, with Palestinians denied their rights, could well emerge from a continuation of the current conditions, said Lynk.

    “Until and unless the international community shakes off its ‘extraordinary lethargy’ and enforces international law and binding humanitarian obligations on Israel, there is little hope for the Palestinians or the Israelis.

    “In the little town of Bethlehem, and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories, hopes are dashed, and fears are met.”

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