April 15, 2014

Disrespect for the religion and heritage of others / Restriction of movement

Official on Palm Sunday: ‘Every Easter we hope for resurrection of our people as a free nation’
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 14 Apr — Fatah Central Committee Member Nabeel Shaath joined Sunday the Palm Sunday procession in Jerusalem which marked the beginning of the Christian Holy Week of Easter. Shaath, along with Governor of Jerusalem Adnan Husseini, joined Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal and the bishop of Palestine William Shomali in the annual procession to the Old City of Jerusalem. “I have joined my Christian brothers and sisters at the beginning of a week that symbolizes hope after suffering. As a priest and dear friend once told me: ‘Every Easter we hope for the resurrection of our people as a free nation’,” said Shaath. Shaath highlighted the lack of freedom of movement and worship under Israeli occupation stating: “It is inconceivable that Palestinian Christians and Muslims from the rest of Palestine cannot reach Jerusalem without Israeli-issued permits; families wanting to celebrate in their holy city, their national capital; scout groups who have been practicing their routines for months and grandparents who want to share the miracle of Easter with their grandchildren.” He added: “We should be free to access Jerusalem because it is a part of Palestine. It is ridiculous that Israel opens Jerusalem for foreign tourists while millions of Palestinian Christians and Muslims are being banned from entering their occupied capital.”

Watch: Christian groups decry Israeli restrictions ahead of Easter
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Apr by Alex Shams — Palestinian Christian groups in Jerusalem have launched a campaign condemning Israeli restrictions on freedom of worship in advance of Easter, as some fear a repeat of the police violence the holy city has witnessed in years past. Produced by the local Palestinian organization Ma’an for Development and Progress in the Christian Quarter with the support of a number of Christian Jerusalem youth groups, a new video calls for “freedom of worship for all” in Jerusalem. “Christians are the indigenous inhabitants of this land and all we want is to be able to worship freely and normally in our holy sites,” Benayot Benayot, a member of the group that produced the video, said in a telephone interview. “There is no more freedom for Christians in reaching the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,” Benayot added, stressing how the combination of checkpoints and police violence had deterred many Christians from coming during the holy week leading up to Easter. Every year, millions of Christians — including tens of thousands of Palestinian Christians — converge upon the holy city to mark the holiest days of the Christian calendar. In recent years, however, these celebrations have been marred by violence, and at times Israeli authorities have even banned Palestinian Christians from entering the city to celebrate their holidays, even while allowing foreign pilgrims in. Benayot said that last year when he tried to go to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, he was assaulted at a checkpoint Israeli forces had erected….

Call to Pope Francis for Passover Week: ‘Palestine wants justice’
IMEMC 16 Apr by Chris Carlson — Palestinian Christians carried a bold message as part of the annual Palm Sunday procession from the Mount of Olives to the Old City in East Jerusalem, this year. The parishes of various Palestinian villages carried banners reading: “Pope Francis: Palestine Wants Justice.” The pontiff will be visiting the Holy Land next month, the AIC reports, and those who have kept the faith in the land where Christianity was born are calling on the Pope to make a strong stand with those struggling under Israeli occupation. Similar protests were made during last year’s Easter season, since Palestinian worshipers from West Bank villages must get special permission to enter Jerusalem at any time.

Israeli soldiers clash with worshipers in Aqsa compound, dozens hurt
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 16 Apr – Dozens of worshipers were hurt Wednesday morning in fierce clashes with Israeli forces who stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound via the Moroccan and Chain gates. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers and police officers broke into the compound and deployed in the southern quarter firing stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets at worshipers. Director of al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Azam al-Kahtib told Ma‘an that “about 1,000 Israeli officers stormed the compound.” He highlighted that Israeli officers used live ammunition. Special forces deployed at the main gates since dawn prayer, witnesses said, denying Palestinian worshipers entry to the compound. Employees of the ministry of endowment and students who attend schools inside the compound were also denied entry. Only security guards were allowed in addition to men over 65 years old. Several people performed dawn prayer in the alleys near the gates.

Israeli police deport six Jerusalemites from Al-Aqsa
IMEMC 15 Apr by Chris Carlson — Israeli police issued orders to deport six Jerusalemites from the al-Aqsa Mosque and their surrounding area for a period of minimum two weeks, and up to six months, with the pretext of “protecting the security and law.”  Israeli forces, accompanied by officials from the Israeli intelligence agency, raided the al-Hashlamoun house, and handed the family of the woman a notice to go to al-Qashla police station for interrogation and an order to deport her from the al-Aqsa mosque and its surrounding areas for three months. The deported Palestinians were identified as: Umm Tareq al-Hashlamoun, one of the female students in the mosque, Hussam Sedr, one of the staff of the waqf, Mahmoud Abdul Latif, Mesbah Abu Sbeih, Hamzeh Rweidi and Rami al-Fakhori. Hussam Sedr and Mahmoud Abdul Latif were deported from the mosque for six months. Sedr was arrested near Bab Hatta, while he was heading to work inside the mosque and handed a deportation notice. The Palestinian News Network reports that Abdul Latif said, “My friend Rami al-Fakhouri and I were arrested Sunday, after the Dohor prayer, while we were coming out of the mosque through Bab al-Nather. We were severely beaten during the interrogation and detention in the Israeli police stations of Bab al-Silsila and Qashla.”

Israel seals West Bank and Gaza for Jewish holidays
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 14 Apr – The Israeli authorities on Sunday closed off the border crossings leading to the West Bank, in addition to Karm Abu Salem crossing, Gaza’s sole commercial crossing. Local sources said the closure of the West Bank will last till Tuesday under the pretext of the Jewish holidays, including the reduction of work hours at the Allenby border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan. The Israeli authorities also announced that it will only allow Arab citizens of Israel to enter the West Bank from 7 am to 12 am…
Meanwhile in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli border authorities shut down Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) commercial crossing – the only crossing for the transfer of aids and merchandise into Gaza – under the same pretext.

Israel to deny Muslim worshipers entry to Ibrahimi Mosque for Passover
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — Israeli forces will deny Muslim worshipers access to Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque during Passover on Wednesday and Thursday, a Palestinian official said. Sheikh Taysir Abu Sheinah, the director of the Hebron office of the Palestinian ministry of endowment, told Ma‘an that the decision was a “breach of freedom of religion and a continuation of the (Israeli) occupation’s policy to Judaize the Ibrahimi Mosque.”

Death and humiliation: The journey of Palestinian workers to Israel
Al-Akhbar 12 Apr by Amon al-Sheikh – More than 15 thousand Palestinian workers from the city of Tulkarem and its neighboring villages head to al-Taibi checkpoint that separates them from 1948 Palestine to work at various jobs. Israeli employers do not pay much but Palestinian workers are forced to take a chance because they need to make a living in light of the harsh economic conditions plaguing the West Bank – The workers hold the Palestinian Authority (PA) responsible for their misery. They are not asking for the PA to provide job opportunities, but at least to play a role in organizing the passage of the workers through Israeli checkpoints and to take advantage of its cooperation with the Israeli occupation to end their humiliation. All the PA did was say, through Tulkarem’s governor, that it is following up on the difficulties faced by Palestinian workers. Tulkarem: It’s 4:00 am. Thousands of Palestinian workers gather at al-Taibi checkpoint in front of a small gate. They want to pass into 1948 Palestine to work because there are no employment opportunities in the West Bank. They ultimately have no choice but to work in Israel or starve. They elbow their way to reach the checkpoint before the designated time. Every day they go through hours of humiliation waiting to pass. After al-Taibi, they have to go through other checkpoints. Arriving at the first gate early does not mean passing first or avoiding the pushing and the shoving of the thousands there. “Many have suffered broken bones or risk being trampled. You might die if you fall in the midst of the crowd,” says Naser Soubhi, one of the workers who takes the journey nearly every day.

PA: Israel ruins ancient cemetery, steals contents near Nablus
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 15 Apr – The Palestinian ministry of tourism and antiquities has accused Israel of ruining an archeological cemetery between Nablus and Tulkarem in the northern West Bank near the village of Deir Sharaf. Director of the ministry’s department of antiquities protection Salih Tawafsha told Ma‘an that the Israeli antiquities authority escorted with Israeli forces “stole all the contents of the cemetery” after they carried out “illegal” excavations while the Israelis refurbished the main road. Such procedures, says Tawafsha, mark a violation of heritage-related international conventions. He highlighted that experts from the Palestinian ministry of tourism and antiquities went to the cemetery to do excavations, but the Israelis denied them access.

Film review: Resisting the ‘cannibalization’ of Palestine’s heritage
Electronic Intifada 15 Apr by Sarah Irving — The port city of Akka (also known as Acre) is one of the places where the conflict over ownership of Palestinian history and culture is most stark. The recent campaign to prevent the historic Khan al-Umdan being turned into a luxury hotel by Israeli developers highlighted the struggle by an economically and politically marginalized Palestinian community to resist gentrification and an insidious ethnic cleansing. Director Patrick Stewart does an admirable job in It’s Better to Jump of conveying both the staggeringly long history of this beautiful port and the challenges which beset its people on a daily basis … In a setting such as Akka, it is impossible to separate this from the grandeur of the surroundings — the Ottoman khans and Crusader halls — and from the role of the built environment in the city’s history. Abdu Matta, a local tour guide, refers to Akka’s famous walls, last rebuilt by Daher el-Omar in the eighteenth century. Without them, Akka would not have halted Napoleon Bonaparte’s conquest of the Middle East. Matta also declares that “I’m Canaanite before I’m Palestinian.” In doing so, he lays claim to millennia of rich Palestinian heritage, an awareness that many of his fellow Akkans articulate in myriad ways throughout this film. Footage of modern-day Akka is blended with archive reels to show the continuity embodied by the city’s people.

Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Illegal arrests

Palestinian woman dies after inhaling tear gas
Ramallah (Gulf News) 14 Apr by Nasouh Nazzal — A Palestinian woman died on Tuesday after inhaling tear gas used by the Israeli army to disperse protesters near the West Bank city of Bethlehem.  Tear gas was fired by occupation forces at Palestinian protesters on Monday in the camp but one of the shells missed its target and landed in the victim’s courtyard in the ‘Aida Refugee Camp. Clashes between Palestinian protesters in the refugee camp and occupation armed forces have been occurring daily. The Bethlehem Governorate on Tuesday announced the death of 44-year-old Noha Mohammad Hassan Qatamesh by suffocation. Sources in the governorate told Gulf News that medical teams late Monday moved the woman to Beit Jala Public Hospital where she died the next day. Reports of both hospital and forensic expert stated that her death was caused by tear gas. Occupation forces prefer to disperse protesters by firing tear gas shells. During protests, tear gas has been the cause of several deaths of innocent bystanders or elderly people in homes when the shells miss their targets. [Ma‘an: In a similar incident in January, an 85-year-old Palestinian man died in his own home after breathing in tear gas fired by Israeli security forces near the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.]

PHOTOS: Palestinians mourn woman who died after inhaling tear gas
Activestills 15 Apr Text and photos by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler — The death of a 45-year-old woman in ‘Aida Refugee Camp exposes the ongoing abuse of crowd control weapons that all too often become lethal in the hands of Israeli forces — Family and neighbors buried Noha Katamish the day after she died from the effects of tear gas fired into her home by Israeli forces in Aida Refugee Camp Monday … The Katamish home is near the top of a hill in the southwest corner of Aida Camp, usually far from the clashes that frequently erupt on the opposite side of the camp at the Israeli separation wall that snakes into Bethlehem in order to surround Rachel’s Tomb. In recent weeks, Israeli forces have been invading deeper into the camp, sometimes making arrests, other times fighting cat-and-mouse battles with camp youth who face rubber-coated steel bullets and even live ammunition with stones and slingshots … The 45-year-old mother of one daughter suffered from asthma, which likely compounded the choking effects of the gas grenade that was fired through her living room window as soldiers invaded the camp … Katamish is the first fatality from clashes in ‘Aida Camp since January 2013, when Salih Amarin was shot in the head with live ammunition by an Israeli sniper atop the wall at Rachel’s Tomb. Katamish was buried in a tomb next to Amarin.

Israeli forces critically injure, detain youth in ‘Aida camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — Israeli forces raided ‘Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem late Sunday, where they shot and arrested a Palestinian youth, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society told Ma‘an. The society quoted the family of 20-year-old Hamza Battah as saying Israeli soldiers shot him in the leg and the abdomen. Israeli soldiers then detained him and brought him to Shaare Zedek medical center in Jerusalem in critical condition. No further details were provided. On Saturday, two Palestinian youths were injured during clashes with Israeli forces.
‘Aida camp is a frequent site of clashes because it is located beside Rachel’s Tomb, which is surrounded on three sides by the Israeli separation wall despite being in the middle of the Palestinian city of Bethlehem. Israeli forces shot more than 20 youths with rubber-coated steel bullets and live bullets during clashes that occurred almost daily in December and January, and clashes continue to break out occasionally in the area.

Israeli forces sweep Hebron villages, ‘block roads’ after shooting
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Apr — Israeli soldiers early Tuesday blocked main roads and erected military checkpoints in two villages near Hebron, the day after an Israeli was killed by Palestinian gunmen near the West Bank city, locals said. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces launched large-scale inspection raids in Idhna west of Hebron and in the nearby town of Tarqumiya, the area in which unidentified gunmen fired at an Israeli vehicle Monday, killing one and injuring two. Locals told Ma‘an that Idhna “looked like a closed military zone as nobody was allowed to move even in bypaths.” Additionally, Israeli forces erected checkpoints at the northern entrance of Hebron, inspecting Palestinian passersby and passengers, witnesses said … The man who was killed in the Monday attack was a police officer from the town of Modiin in central Israel, an Israeli security source told AFP on condition of anonymity. The policeman’s wife and nine-year-old child were wounded and transferred to hospital. Three other children were in the vehicle, according to Israeli military radio. Israelis in another car said they saw a man wearing a helmet and firing a Kalashnikov assault rifle on the side of the road, it said. Dozens of army vehicles fanned out into nearby Palestinian villages, and a security barrier was erected at the main entrance to Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank, according to an AFP photographer … The Palestinian Hamas movement ruling Gaza, and fellow Islamist movement Islamic Jihad praised the attack, linking it to recent unrest in the flashpoint Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem’s Old City.  “Hamas praises the heroic Hebron operation and considers it a result of the (Israeli) occupation’s oppression and crimes against our people and holy places, including the Al-Aqsa mosque,” a statement said. Islamic Jihad released a similar statement, hailing the attack and linking it to “settlers appropriating the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque.” But neither group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Israel continues search for Hebron shooter
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 15 Apr — Israeli forces deployed heavily in the village of Ithna southwest of Hebron and its vicinity Tuesday in search of suspected gunmen who shot and killed an Israeli settler a day earlier.  Israeli forces confiscated a number of security camera tapes belonging to shops on the main street, and used police dogs to search houses. They have been roaming the area since shortly after the incident, and they imposed a lockdown on the village and called for reinforcements to help in the search. A public relations officer in Ithna municipality told Ma‘an that Israeli forces started to allow a few cars to leave the village, despite the continuous heavy presence of soldiers and checkpoints. Witnesses said that Israeli forces interrogated people outside their homes, asking them if they saw anything suspicious. Israeli forces detained brothers Sufian, 35, and Ahmad Abu Jheisha, 30, as they returned to the village from working in Israel, while other arrests from the village were also reported. Clashes broke out earlier Monday in the village after Israeli forces raided it.

Israel PM blames Palestinian leaders after Hebron killing
JERUSALEM (AFP) 16 Apr — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pinned blame on the Palestinian leadership after a deadly attack on an Israeli police officer near the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron. “This assassination is the result of the incitement to hatred by Palestinian Authority leaders who continue to peddle hate-filled material against Israel,” Netanyahu charged on Tuesday. He said that this attitude had led to the murder of “a father driving home to celebrate a Passover dinner” on Monday, and deplored the lack of condemnation of the attack by the PA. Israeli police said Tuesday the policeman killed was Baruch Mizrahi, a 47-year-old father of five who was a high-ranking officer in the intelligence division. Israeli troops scoured a village near Hebron on Tuesday, a day after a gunman killed Mizrahi in the area. The killing at the start of the Jewish Passover holiday was the first deadly attack this year on an Israeli in the occupied West Bank. It came at a time of high tensions over the near-breakdown of US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israeli forces close down Beit Ummar village
[with photos] HEBRON (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — Israeli forces closed down the village of Beit Ummar north of Hebron and erected several flying checkpoints around it. Spokesman for the local resistance committee Mohammad Ayyad Awad said dozens of Israeli soldiers and vehicles were deployed at the entrances of the village and were searching passersby. Awad said that Israeli forces raided the house of Ahmad Younis Abu Ayyash and turned it into a military barracks.

Israeli police detain farmer, confiscate tractor in Beit Ummar
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — Israeli police on Monday detained a Palestinian farmer in the southern West Bank and confiscated his agricultural tractor, a local popular committee spokesman said. Muhammad Ayyad Awad said that an Israeli police patrol in Beit Ummar stopped 28-year-old farmer Udayy Fahmi al-Alami while he was driving his tractor back to his field in the area. A police officer drove the tractor to Etzion detention center and al-Alami was arrested, Awad said.

Settlers attack, clash with villagers near Nablus
NABLUS (WAFA) 14 Apr – Israeli settlers Monday attacked Palestinian workers while at work near the village of Burin, to the south of Nablus, leading to clashes, according to eyewitnesses.They told WAFA that settlers attacked workers and attempted to prevent them from working on opening a road at the outskirts of the village, spurring clashes with residents and workers. No injuries were reported.

Settlers assault farmer near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 15 Apr – Israeli settlers Tuesday assaulted a Palestinian farmer in the village of al-Khader, to the south of Bethlehem, while he was in his own ranch, according to Hassan Burajiyeh, coordinator of the anti-settlement and segregation wall committee in Bethlehem. He said around 100 settlers, under army protection, assaulted Islam Jaber, in his late twenties, while he was in his land located near Daniel settlement, illegally built on the land of al-Khader, forcing him to leave at gunpoint. Burajiyeh said army soldiers seized his identity card and threatened to arrest him if he returns to his own property. The village of al-Khader has seen similar attacks by Israeli settlers and soldiers, including the confiscation of large areas for settlement expansion purposes.

Nabi Saleh successfully ends three day siege of their village with peaceful protest
NABI SALEH, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Ramallah Team) 15 Apr — Yesterday, The Palestinian Popular Resistance Committee of Nabi Saleh called for a demonstration at 3pm against a siege enforced on their village by Israeli forces. The demonstration was an overwhelming success with the re-opening of the checkpoint and a withdrawal of the additional forces deployed in the area by the Israeli military. Mohammed Tamimi, the media officer for the village’s Popular Resistance declared that this was: “The first truly successful demonstration in Nabi Saleh”. He went on to say that “other villages should think about this and how to act towards closed checkpoints in the future.” Palestinian activists, internationals, and ISM activists responded to the protest callout, and joined the villagers themselves … The Israeli army began to shoot tear gas canisters and throw stun grenades as soon as the demonstrators reached the main road. Despite this, the demonstration arrived at the checkpoint and refused to move until the road was opened, and the siege lifted.  While people were peacefully demonstrating in front of the barrier, the Israeli army used a large quantity of stun grenades, however after approximately one hour the army agreed to withdraw and open the checkpoint. In addition to this, the western checkpoint, which had been closed since 2002, was also re-opened adding to the already hugely successful day.

Israeli forces ‘detain 3 Palestinians’ across West Bank
JENIN (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — Israeli forces detained three Palestinian men in the West Bank early Monday, Palestinian security sources said. The sources said Israeli military vehicles stormed the northern West Bank village of Rummana in the Jenin district and that soldiers detained 21-year-old Zuheir Rashid al-Ahmad after ransacking his home. Additionally, Israeli forces stopped 19-year-old Jenin resident Jamal Ighbariyya at a military checkpoint between Tulkarem and Jenin and arrested him. Meanwhile, in the Salfit district, Israeli forces raided the village of Kifil Haris overnight and detained 20-year-old Aziz Ayman Jabir, the sources said. An Israeli military spokeswoman said the army detained two Palestinians overnight — one in Rummana and one in al-Yamun.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid

Map: Settlement expansion East Jerusalem, 2010-2013
Foundation for Middle East Peace

Village of Qaryut without reliable access to vital road
[with map] QARYUT, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Nablus Team) 15 Apr — The village of Qaryut, located almost halfway between Nablus and Ramallah, has been waiting for the last year to have a reliable and secure connection to Road 60. This road is essential to connect the village with the city of Ramallah, where most of the population carries out daily activities, such as working and studying. Currently the people of Qaryut are trying to access this road through a two-kilometer dirt road that finishes directly beside Road 60. Only half of this road is properly paved, the rest of it is uneven and rocky, where vehicles need to slow down to travel safely. This dirt road was recently blocked by an earth mound, recently removed by the people of Qaryut to allow vehicles to get close to Road 60. The local Palestinian population then waits to be picked up at Road 60 by buses or taxis travelling to Ramallah. According to Raed Muhsen (Local Councilor), this wasn’t always the case. The road was built in 1983 and the people of Qaryut could travel freely. This arrangement ceased in 1991, during the First Intifada, when Israel forces alleged “security measures” to withdraw the permits and close off the road.

Settlers attack neighborhood, seize shop in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 15 Apr – Israeli settlers attacked Monday night the Hosh Sabra neighborhood in the old city of Jerusalem as well as took over an empty Palestinian-owned shop and turned it into a home for them, according to witnesses. Settlers attacked Hosh Sabra, a residential neighborhood in the old city, where they burned tires and seized a store, which caused confrontations to erupt between Israeli police and Palestinians in Bab Hatta complex adjacent to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Israeli police shot rubber-coated metal bullets and gas canisters at Palestinians, who responded by hurling empty bottles and stones at the police. Several Palestinians were injured and others were arrested.

UN rights expert urges Israel to prevent takeover of West Bank building by settlers
UN News 15 Apr — An independent United Nations human rights expert today urged Israel to prevent settlers from taking over Al-Rajabi House, a building in the West Bank city of Hebron that was built by Palestinian families but whose ownership was granted to the settlers after a protracted legal battle. The four-story building capable of housing 40 families is located strategically between the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba and the Ibrahami Mosque, also known as Cave of Patriarchs, in the old city of Hebron. “This is the first time a new settlement in the heart of Hebron is created since the 1980s – and would add to the ordeal of the Palestinian community,” stressed the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Richard Falk. “There could be nothing worse to stoke renewed violence than the creation of a new settlement in the heart of old Hebron,” he added in a news release. Noting that three settler families have already moved into the building, Mr. Falk warned that this will likely mean “more movement restrictions for Palestinians in the area, more road closures, and more harassment of Palestinian residents and human rights defenders by settlers.”

Video: Writers witness Israel’s apartheid system in Hebron
Electronic Intifada 14 Apr by Ali Abunimah — This week, Israel permitted Jewish settlers to take over the building of the Rajabi family in Hebron after a long legal dispute which Israeli courts decided in the settlers’ favor. The Rajabi building is seen as a strategic point which will allow the settlers to consolidate their control of a swath of territory linking the large settlement of Kiryat Arba on the outskirts of Hebron with settler enclaves in the heart of the city. Settlers in Hebron are notoriously some of the most violent and racist against Palestinians. To help understand the context for what is happening in Hebron, the Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest) has released this short video. “The 2013 Palestine Festival of Literature took place across historical Palestine, with events in Jerusalem, Gaza, Nablus, Ramallah and Haifa,” the video’s description explains. “In this video, one group of the festival’s international participants are shown around al-Khalil/Hebron, where Israel’s apartheid system is at its most explicit.”One of the participants, Gillian Slovo, says: “I was born into the old South Africa. What I’ve seen since I’ve been here … is a similarity in the sense that a state is treating people differently according to who they were born to and where they were born.” Slovo, a writer and novelist, is the daughter of Joe Slovo and Ruth First, two legendary fighters against apartheid. In Hebron, Slovo observes, “you walk down streets where only foreigners and settlers can walk. And yet these are streets around which many Palestinians live and used to pass through. And that does feel to me like an apartheid system.”

Gaza under double blockade

Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian youth in northern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Apr — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian youth in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, witnesses told Ma‘an. Soldiers positioned at Erez crossing opened fire at a group of Palestinian men collecting stones from nearby fields, hitting 19-year-old Wasim Abu Audah in the leg, locals said. An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed the shooting, saying there were 30 Palestinians gathered in the area. “It’s a prohibited area; they’re not supposed to be there,” the spokeswoman said … Israeli forces have injured six Palestinian stone-collectors with live fire in Gaza since Thursday. Many people in the besieged coastal enclave collect small stones in order to make gravel for concrete, because the import of concrete is forbidden by the Israeli economic blockade. The blockade has been in force since 2006. Israeli forces frequently shoot at farmers and other civilians inside the Gaza Strip if they approach large swathes of land near the border that the Israeli military has deemed off-limits to Palestinians.

DFLP militants ‘fire 3 mortar shells’ at Israeli vehicle in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — The military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said it fired mortar shells at Israeli military vehicles that entered Gaza early Monday. The National Resistance Brigades said in a statement that four Israeli military vehicles crossed into Palestinian territory east of the village of al-Qarara in the southern Gaza Strip. According to the statement, the group responded by firing three mortar shells at the Israeli vehicles. No injuries or damages were reported. “National resistance will remain the only path to restore Palestinian rights,” the Brigades’ statement said. An Israeli military spokeswoman said she was not familiar with the incident.

Israeli army launches artillery attacks on Gaza
GAZA (WAFA) 15 Apr – The Israeli forces on Tuesday fired an artillery shell toward residents’ homes in the Juhr al-Deek area, to the southeast of Gaza, yet no injuries were reported, according to media sources. WAFA correspondent said army tanks, stationed along the borders with the Gaza Strip, fired several missiles on an agricultural area as well as opened heavy machine gunfire towards residential homes to the east of Gaza. He said the Israeli army forces intensified their presence in the eastern suburbs of Gaza city in the predawn hours amid opening gunfire and amid flying reconnaissance aircrafts. The eastern area of Khan Yunes, in the south of the Gaza Strip, was also under similar gunfire attacks during the night. Israeli army forces, stationed at Kissufim military outpost on the borders, opened a hail of gunfire towards the homes in the border village of Qararah. No injuries were reported.

21,000 Gaza families to get delayed UNRWA aid
GAZA CITY (Turkish Press) 14 Apr by Ola Attalah — The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) began on Sunday distributing food supplies to around 21,000 impoverished families in the Gaza Strip, following days of delay. The UNRWA will deliver aid packages to 9000 families on Sunday, spokesman Adnan Abu Hassana told Anadolu Agency. He added that the rest of the beneficiaries will get their packages within the coming days. Abu Hassana explained that the aid delivery was delayed a few days over “technical reasons.” “These aid deliveries help impoverished families and would never stop,” he said.

Gaza government to launch new TV channel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Apr — Gaza cabinet members on Monday announced plans to launch a government-run satellite channel, the cabinet said in a statement. The channel — which will be affiliated to Gaza’s public information office — is to be called “al-Raay,” meaning “the Opinion” in English. According to the statement, the decision was made during a weekly cabinet meeting. The Hamas movement launched its official satellite channel, Al-Aqsa TV, in 2006. Al-Raay will be the first satellite channel run by the Gaza government more specifically.

‘We leave without expecting to return’ — Meeting the firefighters of Gaza
GAZA, Occupied Palestine (by Paramedics in Gaza) 15 Apr — Yesterday I visited the Civil Defence Directorate, which provides the fire and rescue service in Gaza, as well as some emergency ambulances and marine rescue. These guys have a reputation as being fearless, as well as being the most vulnerable to attack during times of war. In the 2008-9 war, 13 Civil Defence workers were killed in the line of duty, with 31 injured. This includes medics killed in their ambulances by snipers and firefighters injured by secondary drone attacks while rescuing victims of the initial strikes. These risks are additional to jobs which are considered dangerous even in peaceful countries like the UK and USA … I met with Yousef Khaled Zahar, the general manager of the Civil Defence, who broke down the issues facing his service while we drank sugary coffee. Firstly, the fire service vehicles are old and outdated – ‘every day the vehicles age’ as Zahar said. They are mostly from 1988/89, meaning their safety features are wildly outdated. Half of their fleet were destroyed during Cast Lead, with little chance of replacements reaching Gaza. Since then they have done some pretty unreal mechanical work to keep vehicles on the road despite the lack of spare parts. They have also converted some old Kamaz trucks into fire service vehicles – they have welded water tanks including internal baffles from scratch then installed them on the back, plus the water pumping mechanisms and other necessary machinery. Then it’s all been painted red.

World Bank to provide $13 million for Gaza environmental projects
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Apr — The World Bank will provide $13 million in grant money for environmental projects in the Gaza Strip, a statement said Monday. According a World Bank statement, the money will go toward providing “long-term solutions to the treatment of sewage and solid waste” in the Strip … “Several residential areas have been recurrently flooded with raw sewage causing property damage, injuries and deaths,” Steen Jorgensen, World Bank country director for West Bank and Gaza, said in the statement … “Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are entitled to live in a healthy and clean environment. Proper management of municipal waste is a priority that the World Bank is supporting to avoid negative health and environmental impacts on the well-being of Gaza citizens,” he added.

Gaza police using lasers to save bullets
GAZA (AFP) 14 Apr — Security forces in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip are using technology to practise shooting on laser simulators, saving money spent on ammunition in the cash-strapped Palestinian territory. In a converted gym, four uniformed officers aim at targets with Kalashnikov assault rifles converted to fire beams of laser light, whose path is recorded on a computer in a control room and monitored by an instructor. “Electronic shooting has great advantages,” said Colonel Mohammad Al Nakhala, head of training in Gaza’s National Security organisation. “This is a leap forward in training provided by the interior ministry which saves a great deal of ammunition, money and work,” he told AFP. The ministry’s training director, Mahmoud Shubaki, says the simulators allow trainees to practise extensively before graduating to use of live fire … The 32-year-old Shubaki, who received military training in Algeria, said the new system had cut the cost of a firearms course from $20,000 (Dh73,458) to $1,000. But trainee Omar Al Halabi, a 32-year-old lieutenant, said he prefers live fire exercises over the simulator which “feels like a video game”.

80% of Gaza factories not working
GAZA CITY (TurkishPress) 14 Apr by Ola Attalah — Around 80 percent of factories in the Gaza Strip have stopped working, either completely or partially, because of a tightening Israeli blockade, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said on Sunday. In a statement, the pan-Muslim body Gaza office said Israel continues to prevent the entry into Gaza of hundreds of raw materials, bringing factories to a standstill … The OIC said the lack of raw materials caused Gaza’s economic machine to conk out, forcing thousands of workers and engineers in the construction sector into unemployment. Around 100 textile factories have come to a complete stop, the organization added.

Medics: 3 killed in Khan Younis explosion
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Apr – Three Palestinian men were killed and four others injured in an explosion in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, medical sources said. A spokesman of the Hamas-run Gaza ministry of health told Ma‘an that the circumstances behind the explosion were not clear. Ashraf al-Qidra added that ambulances evacuated two dead men and one critically injured person. The third victim was pronounced dead shortly after he arrived at the European Hospital in Khan Younis.
Eight others sustained minor wounds caused by shrapnel. They were in stable condition. Hamas sources told Ma‘an that the victims were members of the group’s al-Qassam Brigades militant wing, and were killed while preparing explosive devices.

Haniyeh: Capturing Israeli soldiers is a top Hamas priority
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Apr — Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Tuesday that capturing Israeli soldiers was the best method for achieving freedom for Palestinian prisoners. “Abducting Israeli soldiers is a top priority on the agenda of Hamas and the Palestinian resistance,” Haniyeh said during a conference focusing on Palestinian prisoners in Gaza City. Haniyeh said that as long as there were Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, the best method to free them would be capturing Israeli soldiers. “Negotiations with the occupation have failed,” he stressed, calling the failure of US-backed PLO-Israel negotiations an “unquestionable fact.” In June 2006, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was captured by a group militants who snuck into Israel through a tunnel and took their prisoner back to Gaza the same way. Oct. 18, 2011 Shalit was released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. Hamas feted the prisoner swap as a major victory. Some 4,880 Palestinians were being held in Israeli jails as of January 2014, according to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem.


Border police caught keeping Palestinian detainees in bus for hours
Haaretz 14 Apr by Revital Hovel — Judge criticizes ‘inconceivable’ conditions; police say they lack sufficient cells — Border Police personnel detained illegal residents in a bus instead of a cell, according to two complaints filed recently. In both instances, illegal residents were held for hours overnight in the bus. The Border Police said in response that in one case they lacked sufficient space for their detainees and in another, that there are no cells at all at the base where the detainees were brought for questioning. In the first case, according to the complaint filed by Moshe Tabero, head of the arrests department in the Haifa District Public Defender’s Office, with Commander Sasson Hamama, head of the coastal region Border Police, on March 12, illegal residents were arrested 30 minutes after midnight and were held for five hours in a bus. During the hearing in the Hadera Magistrate’s Court, when the representative of the Israel Prisons Service was asked why the detainees were not housed in a building, he responded: “It was a bus with air conditioning which was turned on. Anyone who asked for cigarettes or the bathroom was allowed.” The detainees complained that they were not fed during that time; during the hearing it emerged that they were fed at 7 A.M. but there was not enough food for everyone.

International volunteers — arrested, injured, killed

Remembering Vic
[with video of Vic in the WWI cemetery in Gaza] Occupied Palestine (ISM) 15 Apr — Vittorio Arrigoni was a human rights activist (Italy, February 1975) and member of ISM, who was murdered on the 15th of April 2011, aged 36, whilst supporting the struggle for a free Palestine … “I was shocked and determined to see what a foreigner could do besides the Palestinians to defend human rights. I’m often asked ‘Why did you decided to sacrifice a part of your life to stand with the Palestinians struggle?’ ‘Why did you leave an easy and comfortable life to come to Gaza?’ My answer is always: ‘How is it possible to do otherwise? How is it possible to lie to ourselves about what is happening to our neighbours across the Mediterranean sea?’ ‘I’m more impressed in how it’s possible to continue to live this kind of crystal ball life with indifference about the agony and injustice that the Palestinians  are suffering, instead of my decision to leave everything behind me and come here.’” VIDEO in memory of Vittorio by DARG TEAM: Onadekum (‘Calling You’)

20-year-old Mariam Barghouti threatened and arrested by Israeli forces – hearing tomorrow
Occupied Palestine (ISM) 15 Apr — On Friday, April 11th, 2014, 20-year-old Mariam Barghouti, a university student at Birzeit [and an American citizen, acc to the Electronic Intifada], was arrested by Israeli forces. She was brought to court on Sunday, April 13th where she was charged and her detention extended until Wednesday, April 16th.Mariam was arrested while leaving the village of Nabi Saleh. Mariam, along with Abir Kopty (a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship who was later released on bail), and three foreign journalists were detained by soldiers and searched. Mariam had been in Nabi Saleh accompanying some of the journalists on their assignments and translating for them. Soldiers on the scene fabricated charges against her and handed her over to the police who arrested her along with Abir. At her hearing yesterday Mariam was charged with stone-throwing and entering a closed military area … Mariam is a student at Birzeit University where she is majoring in English Literature and Psychology. Mariam is also active in community work and organizing and received a two-month residency scholarship in the UK, part of a program supporting women. Abir said that during the arrest incident on Friday, “one of the soldiers who detained us looked at me and with a big smile said, ‘I’m going to mess up your life.’ It was obvious to me then that not only will he fabricate everything for his own purposes, but he knows he has the power to do so.”

Press Release: International volunteer attacked and injured by Israeli army
AT-TUWANI (Operation Dove) 15 Apr — On April 11 an international volunteer was attacked and injured by Israeli army, while coming back from accompanying Palestinian shepherds near Susiya. The Palestinian village of Susiya is surrounded by the Israeli settlement of Suseya, the outpost of Suseya’s Ancient Synagogue and the military base of Suseya North, where the Palestinian shepherds were nearby grazing … At 14:10 pm, two international volunteers were leaving the place after having accompanied four Palestinian shepherds to graze on their own lands. They had just got in the stopped car on the street that connects Susiya and Yatta (where two other internationals were waiting for them), when two Israeli soldiers arrived from the military base and intimated them to get out from the car. While the group was standing near the street, two army vehicles approached. As soon as the second vehicle arrived, the soldiers got immediately out from the jeep. The commander and four more soldiers physically blocked one international and tried to grab his camera, to handcuff him and to put him into the jeep, tugging at him and beating him. In the meanwhile other soldiers blocked the other volunteers, preventing them from taping as best the aggression that lasted for 13 minutes. Because of the attack, the international volunteer was injured. He had a bleeding wound on his elbow and he received a hard blow on the lower abdomen, whereby the intervention of the ambulance was needed. The soldiers also tried to block the doctors to prevent the injured to get into the ambulance, until the Israeli Police came and gave the permission to leave. The volunteer attacked was hospitalized in Yatta and the other three were detained in Kiryat Arba Police station and released after five hours. The Police held all the videos of the incident to investigate on it and the three internationals were given expulsion orders from South Hebron Hills area for 14 to 16 days.

Political, other news

Israelis, Palestinians seeking to extend peace talks: US
Washington (AFP) 15 Apr — Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are hammering out a way to extend their faltering peace talks beyond an April 29 deadline, a US official said Tuesday, refuting calls from a leading daily to call it quits. More talks between the two sides will be held on Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, although it was not immediately clear if US lead negotiator Martin Indyk would take part. “The parties are working right now on an agreement to extend the negotiations, and that means extending the negotiations past April 29,” Psaki told reporters.

Israel thwarts telco Wataniya Palestine’s Gaza launch
World Bulletin 15 Apr — The boss of a telecoms company accused Israel of using sanctions to hold the Palestinian economy hostage after the Jewish state stopped his firm from importing equipment to launch services in Gaza. Wataniya Palestine had imported 40 percent of the equipment it needed to launch a mobile service – considered a driver of economic growth – before Israel last week tightened restrictions on the Palestinian territories. “Why is the economy held hostage? Don’t you want to give people hope or is it just a way to polarise society?” Wataniya’s chief executive Fayez Husseini told Reuters in an interview. “You’re pulling the private sector into the political arena. Let the economy grow, let the people work and then you defuse political tension.” Israel imposed economic sanctions against the Palestinians on Thursday in retaliation for their leadership signing international conventions.

Analysis / Opinion

Settlers challenge IDF’s monopoly on violence
Haaretz 15 Apr by Zvi Bar’el — By using price tag methods against settlers, the army grants legitimacy to the tactic, rather than wiping it out — “How can the ‘price tag’ phenomenon be rooted out while applying a similar policy toward normative citizens? Is that same policy applied toward our Arab enemies …are their illegal houses destroyed as a punishment for the terror they commit?” Indeed, these questions, raised by the secretariat of the settlement of Yitzhar in an open letter to the defense minister, are stinging ones. They are not a demand for equality in the brutality with which the Israel Defense Forces acts toward Jews and Arabs, but rather a demand to accord legal status to price tag actions (acts of vandalism carried out by settlers and right-wing Jews against Palestinian or IDF property, as retribution for any blow to settlements.) That is, as long as the army adopts a method of terror in dealing with the settlers, not only can the price tag phenomenon not be rooted out, but the IDF itself grants it legitimacy. According to the “Yitzhar equation,” the destruction of illegal houses that Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon ordered is punishment for the puncturing of the tires of army officers’ cars. And against such retribution, price tag actions may be carried out. The fascinating aspect of this dialogue is the internal debate in Yitzhar over whether and under what circumstances it is permissible to strike the IDF. The matter has still not been decided and it probably won’t be, and it certainly does not involve only Yitzhar. Many settlers share the view that the IDF is controlled by a government that is willing to give up the territories, break God’s commandments and give in to American pressure. As such, it is a hostile government, which should not have a monopoly on violent measures.

Haaretz editorial: Israel’s new land grab is clearly illegal
15 Apr — The Defense Minister’s green light to appropriate land in the West Bank places him in the extreme right and shatters Israelis’ hopes for resolving the conflict with the Palestinians — With the stroke of a pen, Israel seized control of 984 dunams of territory in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, as Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon declared the area “state land.” The terrain would be more aptly defined as contested territory, since it surrounds private Palestinian lands, which will now become enclaves that are inaccessible to the owners. The area also includes the illegal outpost Netiv Ha’avot, home to Ze’ev Hever, secretary of Amana, an organization that primarily builds illegal outposts in the West Bank. It’s likely that this outpost will be “laundered” as well, and along with the settlements Neve Daniel, Elazar and Alon Shvut, Netiv Ha’avot will see significant expansion. Ya’alon’s outstretched arm did not stop in Gush Etzion. On the eve of Passover, he allowed Hebron settlers to inhabit the so-called “House of Contention,” in the wake of the High Court of Justice’s rejection of the petition by the home’s former owners and ruling that the sale of the building to a Jewish investor was legal. Although the defense minister is acting in accordance with his authority his powers are based on a warped legal system. That system was developed over decades as a means to chip away at international law and provide a cover of legality for illegal occupation policies. Otherwise, how could it be that expanding settlements or populating a West Bank Arab city with Jews could be legal, while settlement itself is illegal?

groups.yahoo.com/group/f_shadi (listserv)