May 27, 2016

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Israeli forces injure 3 Palestinians in weekly protests with rubber bullets, live fire
Qalqiliya (Ma’an) — Three Palestinians were injured and dozens suffered from tear gas inhalation as Israeli forces dispersed weekly protests on Friday in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.  Murad Shtewi, coordinator for popular resistance in Kafr Qaddum, told Ma‘an Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas, and used water cannons on demonstrators, injuring one Palestinian with rubber bullets to the hand and leg. The injured Palestinian and dozens others who suffered from severe tear gas inhalation were treated on the scene. Israeli forces also deliberately sprayed skunk water on the house of local residents Abd al-Raziq Amir and Abd al-Wahhab Amir, Shtewi added. Locals said clashes broke out after Israeli forces raided the village, as an Israeli bulldozer closed a road in the village with dirt berms.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771657

Many injured as Israeli soldiers attack weekly protest in Ni‘lin
IMEMC 27 May — Israeli soldiers assaulted, Friday, dozens of protesters holding the weekly protest against the Annexation Wall and colonies, in Ni‘lin village, near Ramallah, wounding many persons, including a child and an elderly man. Medical sources said the soldiers surrounded the village, fired dozens of gas bombs and concussion grenades at the protesters and many surrounding homes, causing many to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. They added that among the wounded were an elderly man, identified as Mustafa Rasheed ‘Amira, 85, and a child identified as Mohammad Saleh ’Amira, 10. Spokesperson of the Popular Committee against the Wall in Ni‘lin Mohammad ‘Amira urged the Palestinians to plow and plant their lands, as a form of resistance, especially since the military repeatedly uproots and burns farmlands, mainly olive orchards.
http://imemc.org/article/many-injured-as-israeli-soldiers-attack-weekly-protest-in-nilin/

Israeli forces avoid crowd control dispersal weapons in Bil‘in protest for first time in 11 years
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 May — For the first time in the 11-year history of weekly popular resistance demonstrations in the central occupied West Bank village of Bil‘in, Israeli forces did not use tear gas and other crowd control weapons to disperse protesters, locals said.  Witnesses said Israeli forces photographed protesters and attempted to ambush them in order to arrest them, but failed to do so. Protesters raised Palestinian flags and marched in the streets chanting songs of unity and resistance. According to Abdullah Abu Rahma, coordinator of the Bil‘in popular committee, the seeming reversal of the decade-long strategy of crowd dispersal was a sign of the “failure” of Israeli forces to suppress the village’s continued struggle against the Israeli occupation. Abu Rahma added that the Israeli forces’ ambush on Friday indicated that they would continue to attempt to arrest participants and leaders of Bil‘in’s resistance to put an end to the weekly protests that way … Bil‘in has long been one of the most active villages in organized opposition against Israeli policies, this year marking the eleventh consecutive year of weekly marches against expanding nearby settlements and the separation wall which separates residents from their private land. Palestinian injuries by Israeli forces are frequently reported during the protests … A report published in March by Defense for Children International-Palestine said: “Across the West Bank, Israeli forces employ rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas canisters, water cannons, sound grenades, and other ‘non-fatal riot dispersal methods’ to quash protests. While Israeli military regulations restrict the parameters and manner of their use, the excessive and improper use of crowd control weapons can lead to permanent disability or even death, particularly in children.” In April 2009, Bassem Abu Rahma, 30, was killed during a demonstration against the separation barrier in Bil‘in when he was hit in the chest by an extended-range tear gas canister. According to Israeli rights group B’Tselem, Israel classifies Bil‘in’s demonstrations as “violent disturbances of the peace, whereas the residents say the demonstrations are an unarmed, popular protest.”
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771658

West Bank: Activists use Facebook to halt Israeli raids
Bethlehem, Occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 28 May by Sheren Khalel Residents of West Bank refugee camps take to social media to warn their neighbours of imminent Israeli incursions – In the early hours, as most of the residents of Beit Jibrin refugee camp are fast asleep, a group of young men stand guard, keeping a lookout over the entrances and narrow alleyways of the dilapidated camp they call home. Using social media apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook, they send each other private text and photo updates from their positions throughout the camp, and post messages to their public Facebook groups. While most nights pass without incident, the young men are ready for the chaos of an Israeli incursion. Beit Jibrin camp, known to locals as Azza camp, lies only a few hundred metres from Israel’s separation wall and an Israeli military base. The frequency of arrest raids has skyrocketed during the past six months of upheaval in the occupied West Bank and Israel, with hundreds of Palestinians jailed, according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer. While cities and villages across the West Bank and East Jerusalem have been targets of such raids, refugee camps are hotbeds of political activity, and Israeli forces rarely enter such neighbourhoods without a fight. “Social media is the way we organise,” M, one of the young men who stands guard in Beit Jibrin camp, told Al Jazeera. “It’s the safest way to stay anonymous and still stay connected, so we can be prepared to challenge the Israelis.” According to M, even his closest friends have no idea that he is one of the administrators on the camp’s Facebook page , 24 Hour Azza Camp News. The page has more than 4,000 likes – four times the number of camp residents. The page warns residents of Israeli raids, which mostly happen in the dead of night. Page administrators tell their followers where Israeli soldiers are entering, which houses they stop at, how many soldiers are present, and any other information that might be pertinent….
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/05/west-bank-vigilantes-facebook-halt-israeli-raid-160517120735567.html

Israel returns body of Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif after being held for 2 months
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 27 May — Israeli authorities on Friday evening released the body of Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif, the Palestinian whose brutal killing by an Israeli soldier in March was caught on film, sparking international outrage. The Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee said al-Sharif’s body was returned and taken to Hebron’s al-Ahli hospital. Al-Sharif’s family told Ma‘an his funeral will be held on Saturday afternoon, and that they have rejected all Israeli authorities’ conditions for the release of his body.Al-Sharif was shot alongside Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi after the two allegedly stabbed and moderately wounded an Israeli soldier at a military checkpoint in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron on March 24.Al-Qasrawi was killed immediately, while al-Sharif was left severely wounded for several minutes without treatment, before an Israeli soldier stepped forward and put a bullet through his head, killing him. A graphic video released by B’Tselem capturing the incident was met with wide condemnation from rights groups and international bodies, with the UN demanding an investigation into the soldier’s apparent “extrajudicial execution.”….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771660

Israel returns body of 17-year-old Palestinian girl killed after alleged stab attack
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 May — Israeli authorities on Friday afternoon returned the body of a 17-year-old Palestinian girl shot dead by Israeli forces during an alleged stab attack on Monday, according to Palestinian sources. The body of 17-year-old Sawsan Daoud Ali Mansour was turned over to her family at the al-Jib military checkpoint north of Jerusalem, and taken in a Palestinian ambulance to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah where dozens of people from her hometown village of Biddu were waiting. They lifted her body and marched in the hallways of the medical complex chanting slogans in condemnation of Israel.
The required medical check-ups and a CT scan of the body were made in the presence of the forensic doctor. Her funeral is expected to be held this evening. Mansour, who was expected to begin the first of her final high school exams on Saturday, was killed by Israeli forces on Monday at the Ras Biddu military roadblock, north of Jerusalem, after she allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack against an Israeli border policewoman.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771652

Israeli settler runs over child near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (PNN) 25 May — An Israeli settler on Wednesday dawn ran over a Palestinian child in Hussan town west of Bethlehem. Local sources said that the settler ran over the four-year-old child, Adam Hamamra, then fled the scene. The child sustained light injuries and contusions, and was taken to hospital for treatment.
http://english.pnn.ps/2016/05/25/israeli-settler-runs-over-child-near-bethlehem/

Israel mulls holding a paralyzed detainee under administrative detention
IMEMC 26 May — The Israeli Salem military court ordered a paralyzed Palestinian detainee under detention for 72 additional hours, and is considering imprisoning him under Administrative Detention, without charges. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said that the detainee, Kheirallah Shareeda, was sent to court in an ambulance, despite health conditions he is facing. The PPS added that the detainee was “subjected to a mock trial,” as he will likely be held under arbitrary Administrative Detention orders, without charges. The court remanded him for 72 additional days, until determining whether the prosecution intends to indict him, or hold him under an Administrative Detention order. Shareeda, from the northern West Bank district of Nablus, was kidnapped on May 21.
http://imemc.org/article/israel-mulls-holding-a-paralyzed-detainee-under-administrative-detention/

Prisoners / Court actions

Israeli authorities transfer political prisoner Marwan Barghouti to undisclosed location
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 26 May — Israeli prison authorities transferred detained prominent Palestinian parliament member Marwan Barghouti from Israel’s Ramon prison to an unidentified location on Thursday, according to Palestinian sources. Barghouti, a member of Fatah’s central committee, was transferred to Israel’s Ramon prison five days before the most recent transfer to an undisclosed location, according to a statement by the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs. While Barghouti was held in Ramon, he was reportedly prevented from moving between sections of the prison or communicating with other prisoners. The committee stated Israeli Prison Services were responsible for arbitrary violations and abuses against the imprisoned politician. Barghouti, a leading politician in the Fatah party, entered the 15th year of his prison sentence this year … After being detained in 2002, Barghouti was later handed five consecutive life sentences after Israeli authorities charged him with the founding of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a group Israel designates as a “terrorist” organization, and being involved in several murders during the Second Intifada, charges he has consistently denied. The imprisoned parliament member was politically active for several decades before being elected to parliament in 1996. However, he ascended to prominence as a powerful leader against Israeli military occupation amid the political upheaval of the Second Intifada. He has remained politically active from behind bars….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771646

Israel set to release Palestinian astrophysicist on Sunday
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 May — Israeli authorities are set to release Palestinian professor and astrophysicist Imad Barghouti from Israel’s Ofer prison on Sunday, following an Israeli military order, the head of the legal unit at the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said Thursday. Jawad Boulous said the decision to release the 54-year-old Palestinian professor came after a defense appeal overturned the Israeli court’s most recent sentence of Barghouti to two months in administrative detention following an initial verdict of three months in prison … Barghouti, from the town of Beit Rima in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, was detained for allegedly “inciting against Israeli occupation” over Facebook in April. Boulos added that the appeal presented to the Israeli court was signed by hundreds of scientists and academics from all over the world demanding Barghouti’s release. A similar petition signed by academics was submitted to Israeli courts during the imprisoned professor’s court hearing earlier in May. According to Boulos, Barghouti declared that he “has been and will always remain against occupation but that does not mean that he imposes danger on the safety and security of the public.”
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771654

After reaching a deal, detainee stops his strike
IMEMC 26 May — Ashraf Abu Sneina, a lawyer with the Palestinian Detainees Committee, has reported that hunger striking detainee Fuad ‘Aassi has ended his hunger strike after reaching an agreement with the Israeli military prosecution. Abu Sneina said the agreement states that Israel will hold him under Administrative Detention for four months, without any additional renewals, and will allow him to call his wife and family today. The detainee went on hunger strike for 55 consecutive days, refused to take any vitamins, and lost at least 20 kilograms, in addition to facing various health complications that put his life at risk. ‘Aassi is in Barzelai Israeli hospital in Asqalan, and has been held under Administrative Detention orders, without charges, since September 9th, 2015. He was first held under a four-month administrative detention order that was renewed to six additional months; under this agreement, he will be held for four months one last time. The detainee was repeatedly kidnapped and imprisoned, and spent four and a half years in prison.
http://imemc.org/article/after-reaching-a-deal-detainee-stops-his-strike/

Court orders state to compensate Palestinian family
Ynet 25 May by Sana Siriya Hussein — A Palestinian taxi driver who was suspected of being a terrorist was killed in May 2006 by IDF fire near the Ein Bidan checkpoint, east of Nablus. Seven years ago, the taxi driver’s family filed a lawsuit for compensation and recently the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court made a decision: The state acted negligently and must compensate the family. Moreover, the sum of the compensation will be determined in an arbitration hearing.  The incident occurred when a taxi driver arrived at the Ein Bidan checkpoint to pick up passengers. At that time, the checkpoint was not allowing cars to pass through it. So the driver exited his taxi and began looking for his passengers. When found he found them, they walked back together to his taxi, and then the driver was shot dead … The state claimed that on the same day of the incident, an IDF soldiers had identified the driver and another person as suspects and had been pursuing them. The state added that the soldiers opened fire at the suspect only after the driver pointed a weapon at them, causing them to believe that their lives were in imminent danger … The judge found inherent contradictions between the testimonies provided by the two soldiers involved in the shooting. In particular, he found the testimony of the soldier, who opened fire, patently unreliable….
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4807971,00.html

Al-Aqsa

Knesset warns Arab MKs against Temple Mount visits during Ramadan
JPost 26 May by Lahav Harkov & Julie Steigerwald — Knesset Chief Security Officer Yosef Griff underlines that Knesset members are barred from visiting Jerusalem’s contested holy site — MKs on the Temple Mount during Ramadan could provoke escalated tensions, Knesset Chief Security Officer Yosef Griff warned Thursday, in response to Islamic Movement-affiliated lawmakers who planned to visit the holy site. On behalf of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Griff emphasized in a letter that all Knesset members are barred from visiting the Temple Mount. On Wednesday, Joint List MK Masud Gnaim, wrote a letter to Edelstein on behalf of himself and MKs Abdel- Hakim Haj Yahya and Taleb Abu Arar, all of the United Arab List, which is aligned with the Islamic Movement’s southern branch, stating that they “intend to enter al-Aksa Mosque and pray in it during the month of the fast of Ramadan.” “Fulfilling this religious commandment is a basic right and part of our lifestyle as Muslims and religious people,” the letter reads.
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Knesset-warns-Arab-MKs-against-Temple-Mount-visits-during-Ramadan-455099

Gaza

Israeli navy opens fire on Palestinian fishing boats
IMEMC 27 May — Israeli navy ships opened fire, on Friday morning, on several Palestinian fishing boats within six nautical miles from the Gaza shore, forcing them to return without fishing. The WAFA news agency said that navy targeted at least four fishing boats, in the Sudaniyya Sea area, northwest of Gaza City, causing damage to two boats. The fishers had to sail back to shore, fearing additional fire and escalation; no injuries were reported. The attack is part of daily violations and assaults targeting the fishers, in addition to farmers and workers in Palestinian lands close to the border fence.
http://imemc.org/article/israeli-navy-opens-fire-on-palestinian-fishing-boats/

Gaza: Siege adds to suffering of cancer patients
Al Jazeera 26 May — Palestinian children with cancer are suffering from the siege of the Gaza Strip as the construction of what is meant to be the first public pediatric cancer department has ground to a halt due to import restrictions. Israel and Egypt’s continued embargo along with the growing political infighting between Hamas and Fatah have made things so complicated for doctors and patients that even diagnosing which type of cancers the children have cannot be done in Gaza. Instead, tests have to be sent to Israel, Jordan or the occupied West Bank. Even patients have to be shipped out due to lack of medication and equipment. Two-year-old Mumen who is suffering from leukaemia had to travel with a stranger to the West Bank to get proper medical treatment. “We applied for treatment outside Gaza. But if a child’s travel companion is less than 55 years old, it takes one month to obtain Israeli permission. Since we wanted to get him treatment quickly, we had to send him to the West Bank with a relative he didn’t know who is 65,” said Majed al-Moranakh, Mumen’s father. “Can you imagine what it was like for him to be taken by someone he’s never seen before? He was screaming in the ambulance, wondering where his family was, wondering why he was with a stranger.” Steve Sosebee of Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund says every delay in improving the healthcare system in Gaza only prolongs the humanitarian crisis there. “I think it’s important now to ask the world why Gaza children’s lives are less important and less valuable than the lives of any other children in the world,” he told Al Jazeera.
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/05/gaza-cancer-patients-160526194531661.html

Gaza remembers Rachel Corrie in a football tournament
albawaba 26 May by Yousef M. Aljamal — For the ninth year in a row, Palestinians in the city of Rafah will organize a football tournament in the memory of Rachel Corrie, a 23-year old American peace activist who was killed in the city while she was trying to protect Palestinian houses from Israeli demolition. The tournament, which will take place on June 7, 2016, will consist of 32 teams from across the Gaza Strip. “This is a very important event which draws hundreds of people every year. People come here to play football and to remember Rachel Corrie who was killed while trying to protect our houses from demolition,” said Kareem Nasrallah from Rafah, the coordinator of the tournament. “We have received support from various figures, including Abdelsalam Hania of the Sports and Youth Palestinian Council. He attended the final celebration of the winning team last year and gave the team an award,” added Kareem, who seemed very excited about the event. The event is sponsored by the Rachel Corrie Foundation in the United States. Football is popular in the Gaza Strip especially among young people who consider it a means to escape their hard reality after 10 years of siege. Jehad Abujazar, 27, whose family lives in Rafah’s Yibna neighborhood that was partially demolished during the time Rachel lost her life, asserted the importance of the tournament: “The symbolism the tournament is why I attend it – it keeps the memory of Rachel alive in the hearts of the people of Gaza, especially in Rafah, where she gave her life to protect our houses from demolition. I am going to attend the tournament this year as well.”
http://www.albawaba.com/sport/gaza-remembers-rachel-corrie-football-tournament-845026

#LETITFLOW: Justice for Gaza
AIC 26 May — Yesterday, Thirsting for Justice (TFJ) launched an online call to action to organize citizens, activists, solidarity groups, and organizations to lobby their respective representatives to support the end of the Israeli blockade on Gaza. TFJ’s call to action highlights a basic right denied to all 1.8 million Gazans living under Israeli siege: access to clean water. TFJ explains that Israel’s classification of materials that are essential for the repair of Gaza’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) systems as “dual use items” allows the water crisis to be ongoing. According to OCHA, as many as 23 WASH items such as pumps, drilling equipment and disinfected chemicals are allowed into Gaza only selectively as a consequence of the “dual use” designation. TFJ points out in its petition to representatives: “international law does not allow Israel to impose security measures that disproportionately harm the well-being of civilians in Gaza.” Primarily because of Israel’s hold on WASH items, 93% of the projects to repair Gaza’s WASH sector have stopped….
http://www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/news/1386-letitflow-justice-for-gaza

Israel foils attempt to smuggle rocket materials to Hamas in Gaza
JPost 26 May by Yaakov Lappin — Security forces said Thursday they intercepted an attempt to smuggle a large amount of illicit material into Gaza aimed at enabling Hamas to produce mortar shells and dig tunnels. The Defense Ministry’s Crossings Authority and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) discovered the items at the Tarkumiya checkpoint near Hebron. “The smuggling attempt was disguised as an innocent shipment that apparently contained textiles and jewelry, and actually contained significant means to build up Hamas’s forces,” the Defense Ministry said. Hundreds of metal pipes with a diameter of four inches, special screw holes that are used to manufacture mortars and rockets, and dozens of electric engines used by terrorist organizations for tunnel digging, were found, the ministry said….
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Israel-foils-West-Bank-attempt-to-smuggle-materials-to-Hamas-in-Gaza-455093

Siege and attacks destroying Gaza history
CCTV.com 27 May — Israel’s siege of Gaza is compounding the cultural destruction wrought by military attacks. This is according to archaeologists who are desperate to recover the area’s five-millennia history. Qasr al-Basha, also known as Radwan Castle or Napoleon’s Fort, was formerly a large palace. It served as a seat of power in the Mamluk and Ottoman periods and as a police station under the British Mandate. Now, it serves as a museum — the only one in Gaza, an area ravaged by conquest and conflict. “During a previous military conflict, Israeli fighter planes took down the remains of a Byzantine church in the Jabaliya district. And Israeli bombing in the Central Gaza Strip has also done serious damage to ancient mosques,” said Yasser Al-Requeb, head of the Archaeological Research Department. In 1994, the Palestinian National Authority formed a local archaeological team. From 1995 to 2005, together with a French team, they carried out a series of projects and unearthed some precious relics in the Gaza Strip. But progress ceased in 2007. “Because the Israelis sealed the borders, it became almost impossible for foreign archaeologists to step into the Gaza Strip. And local archaeological teams lack expertise and experience, so most of the projects are suspended indefinitely,” said Ayman Hassouna, assistant professor of Archaeology, Islamic University of Gaza….
http://english.cctv.com/2016/05/27/VIDEQNjASGx8xKmAG5UgvOvP160527.shtml

Gaza women turn recycling into art
GAZA STRIP (EI) 27 May by Hamza Abu Eltarabesh — Karam Aziz, a shy 16-year-old, knocks on doors in Jabaliya refugee camp, asking for old shopping bags. Locals enquire why he wants them, yet happily hand over any they can find. Within half an hour, Karam usually has about 70 bags — vital raw material for an arts and crafts project using recycled materials. Once he has collected the bags, Karam brings them to his sister-in-law Zainab. She and her team of 20 women transform plastic and nylon garbage into colorful toys, baskets, cushions and ornaments. Zainab Aziz, a 25-year-old mother of two, set up the project after graduating with an Arabic language degree from Al-Aqsa University in Gaza City last year. The project is known as The New Heritage because it gives a modern and environmentally conscious twist to traditional handcrafts. The process of making art from garbage is a long one. First the old bags have to be washed and sterilized, then cut into pieces suitable for crocheting….
https://electronicintifada.net/content/gaza-women-turn-recycling-art/16851

Filmmaker pays homage to Gaza with biopic on singing hero
AFP 27 May — Raised in a refugee camp in the ramshackle Gaza Strip, singer Mohammed Assaf emerged as a symbol of Palestinian resilience as he persevered to win the “Arab Idol” television contest. In a biopic about Assaf’s against-all-odds rise to stardom, filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad has strived to create a similar sense of pride, this time for cinema goers. Entitled “The Idol,” the movie is the first feature-length motion picture to be shot at least partially in the impoverished and isolated territory in two decades. “The movie is an homage to Gaza,” Abu-Assad, a Palestinian and two-time Oscar nominee, told AFP ahead of Friday’s opening of “The Idol” in US cinemas. “Second, I really want Palestinians to be proud of themselves. It’s not like the movie is going to change their situation, but the movie can help them to change themselves and believe in themselves,” he said. Assaf, now 26, transfixed television viewers around the Arab world in 2013 as he triumphed in “Arab Idol,” a contest on the model of Britain’s “Pop Idol” and its numerous spinoffs such as “American Idol.” In a journey portrayed with action film-like suspense in “The Idol,” Assaf overcame nearly insurmountable obstacles just to be a contestant … Abu-Assad spoke to Assaf about potentially starring in the film version of his life, but instead chose the Israeli Arab actor Tawfeek Barhom, who portrays the young star as serious and determined in contrast to the giddy world of aspiring pop singers. “Being a singer is different from being an actor,” the director said, adding that choosing Barhom allowed him the license to dramatize scenes for effect and not adhere strictly to actual events. The director said he allowed Assaf to screen “The Idol” — “When he saw it, he cried,” Abu-Assad said — and agreed to cut out scenes. Abu-Assaf described the changes as minor, saying they were because of sensitivities of Assaf and his family….
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3613315/Filmmaker-pays-homage-Gaza-biopic-singing-hero.html

REVIEW: The Gaza Strip-set ‘The Idol’ is uneven but charmingly earnest
LA Times 26 May by Sheri Linden — There’s an irresistible pull to the story of Mohammed Assaf, the Palestinian wedding singer who made his way from a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip to the TV screens of tens of millions of fans. The same can be said of “The Idol,” an uneven but charmingly earnest fictionalized account of Assaf’s rise through the ranks of hopefuls on the reality contest “Arab Idol.” Among those rooting for the instantly symbolic performer was the filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad, whose previous dramas about life in the occupied territories — the Oscar-nominated “Paradise Now” and “Omar” — took the form of wrought, provocative thrillers. For Assaf’s undeniably romantic tale of triumph, director Abu-Assad and his co-writer, Sameh Zoabi, divide the story between two time frames, Assaf’s childhood in Gaza and the point in his young adulthood when he determines to leave. The film’s first 40 minutes, focusing on the young, golden-voiced Assaf, his sister and two best friends, has the classic sheen of cinema about kids being resourceful in hardscrabble circumstances. One of the ways the wannabe musicians earn money for instruments is by delivering fast food to Egypt through the smuggling tunnels. Qais Atallah plays Assaf as a boy, and he resembles the real deal more than the actor who has the role in the movie’s second half. He conveys sweetness and resilience with ease. But the early sequences, and in many ways the entire film, belong to the spirited Hiba Atallah as Assaf’s sister, Nour. If a star is born in this story of against-the-odds stardom, it would be her. Lighting up the screen with her bright gaze and take-charge attitude, she makes Nour a dynamo….
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-the-idol-review-20160524-snap-story.html

In Gaza, wall of silence over child sexual assault
AFP 26 May — Life has turned into a nightmare for Fatma’s family since her eldest son, 11, was sexually assaulted, a trauma which has damaged them all and forced them to move house. “It started one night when our son came home late obviously very troubled,” the 30-year-old mother of seven said, speaking to AFP under an assumed name to protect the boy’s identity. “He told me that someone from our extended family and a neighbour took him to an isolated house. “He said, ‘They undressed me and started a pornographic video on their computer, I wanted to escape but they caught me,'” Fatma recalled, saying she immediately called the police. Two men, in their twenties, were arrested. Fatma’s family is one of the rare victims who speak out on a taboo issue in the conservative Gaza Strip and to bring the case to court. “Even though they are part of the family, I asked for the death penalty,” she said. But while one of the suspects was jailed, the other was quickly released. And she said the family quickly hit a wall of shame and silence. “The school counsellor who was asked about my son’s behavioural problems was ashamed to talk about the real reasons, blaming family disagreements.” The damage for the whole family has been irreparable. “We spent all our money moving house. I’ve suffered a lot and I got sick and all my children were affected indirectly,” she said at a Gaza support unit run by the Palestinian Centre for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (PCDCR). - ‘Culture of shame’ –  The shelter is a rare haven for victims of sex crimes and their families in the crowded Palestinian enclave. Asma Saud, a psychological support staffer at the centre, said the few children who come there are just the tip of the iceberg. Sexual assaults like these, she explained, are “present but hidden because of the weight of tradition and culture of shame” … According to a PCDCR study, over 75 percent of 693 abused children identified in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip in two years knew their assailant….
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3610375/In-Gaza-wall-silence-child-sexual-assault.html

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Palestine PMO: Israel’s destruction of Palestine’s infrastructure is atrocious
RAMALLAH (PNN) 26 May — Today, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah issued a statement condemning Israel’s illegal practice of destroying Palestinian water infrastructure. “Israel uses every means possible to chase Palestinians away from their ancestral land,” Hamdallah said. “Water is life, and if you don’t have water you cannot exist.” On Tuesday, Israel handed out demolition notices for four water wells and agricultural structures in the village of Qusra, south of Nablus. The water wells were built with Dutch financial support. Last week, Israel threatened to demolish four water tanks in the town of Beit Ummar, close to Hebron. Those tanks had been constructed as part of a UN-funded water development program. Israel regularly destroys Palestinians’ homes and structures; in many instances, these structures had been funded by donor countries. In 2016 alone, Israel destroyed over 600 structures. “The destruction of water infrastructure is atrocious; while Palestinians struggle with water shortages, Israeli settlers use scarce water resources to fill up their swimming pools,” said Jamal Dajani, Director of Strategic Communications & Media for the Prime Minister. He called upon donor countries to take action to protect Palestinian farmers from illegal Israeli incursions….
http://english.pnn.ps/2016/05/26/palestine-pmo-israels-destruction-of-palestinian-water-infrastructure-is-atrocious/

Israel to demolish Palestinian houses, sheds, electricity line in Nablus village
NABLUS (WAFA) 26 May – Israeli forces Thursday delivered demolition notices for a number of Palestinian houses, sheds and an electricity grid in Duma village, south of Nablus, said a local activist. Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors Israeli settlement construction in northern West Bank, said that Israeli forces delivered demolition notices for three houses and two sheds in the Duma locality of Abu Safi. He noted that the three houses slated for demolition include a two-story house belonging to the Murar family, a three-story house belonging to Muhammad Sarayta and a two-story house belonging to Sufyan Dawabsheh. In addition to the planned demolition of the houses and sheds, forces issued demolition notice for a local one-kilometer-long electricity line and a stop-construction notice for a 600-meter-long agricultural road. Israel forces intend to demolish the Palestinian structures and the electricity grid as well as stop the construction of the road under the pretext of being located in an area classified as C. “Israeli occupation authorities intends to displace Palestinians from that locality and replace them with ]Jewish[ settlers,” explained Daghlas.
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=tVjwx5a36599661615atVjwx5

Israeli army notifies Jordan Valley families to evacuate homes to conduct drills
JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA) 26 May – Israeli army forces notified tens of Palestinian to temporarily evict [evacuate] their homes the upcoming week in several areas in the northern and central Jordan valley to make way for military drills, according to an activist. Aref Daraghmeh, an expert in settlements and Israeli violations, told WAFA Israel notified 17 Palestinian families in Humsa area to evict their homes for three inconsecutive days. Meanwhile, another 27 families were notified in al-Maleh area east of Tubas to evict homes for three days under the pretext of conducting military drills. Another 14 families were notified in Ras al-Ahmar area to evict homes next week for the same reasons. Daraghmeh said Israeli army has confiscated two machines used to rehabilitate land in Ras al-Ahmar area.
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=tVjwx5a36601565121atVjwx5

Racism in Israel

Poll: almost half of Israeli Jews don’t want Arabs teaching their kids
JPost 26 May –  Nearly half of Israeli Jewish parents say they do not want Arab teachers instructing their children in school, a new poll conducted in Israel showed. According to the survey done by Ma’agar Mochot on behalf of the Gordon College of Education, the number is substantially higher among Jews who are more religiously observant. The poll showed that 82 percent of religious Jews oppose having an Arab teach their kids. The survey also found that one-third of parents say that if an Arab were to teach their children, they would prefer a Christian rather than a Muslim. Israel Radio quoted the president of Gordon College, Prof. Yecheskel Taler, as saying that since the Israeli education system runs two separate streams for Jewish and Arab pupils, the integration of Arab teachers into Jewish classrooms could serve as a bridge between the two populations. The figures are the latest manifestation of burgeoning racism in Israeli society.  In March, a study by the Pew Research Center showed that almost half of Jewish Israelis favor expelling Arab Israelis from the country….
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Poll-Almost-half-of-Israeli-parents-dont-want-Arabs-teaching-their-kids-455118

Israeli Arab student leader describes ‘humiliating’ strip search at Prime Minister’s office
Haaretz 27 May by Yarden Skop — Diran Shalabneh, head of the National Union of Israeli Students’ department for the advancement of Arab students, wrote on Facebook on Thursday of how two months ago she was searched and asked to partially undress for a security check when she arrived for a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office. She described how she was asked to stand behind a curtain and remove her bra for the special security check, and after receiving her bra back was asked to lower her pants. At this stage Shalabneh said she refused to continue with the search, even though it meant she would not be allowed to enter the building.  Shalabneh said she arrived at the PMO for a business meeting related to her job at the Authority for the Economic Development of the Arab, Druze and Circassian Sectors, which is under the prime minister’s authority. She noted that she has visited the PMO previously for work meetings. The security check at the entrance to the building began as usual, she wrote: Asked if she had been invited, she said yes and cited the source of the invitation. While her identity card was being examined, the security check dragged on and additional security guards arrived. Shalabneh was asked to place her belongings in an x-ray scanner, then two female guards arrived and told her she needed to undergo a body search. Shalabneh accompanied them behind a curtain, which she said does not properly conceal what is going on behind it….
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.721785

Activism / Solidarity / BDS

Rest in peace, dear Hedy
ISM St. Louis, Missouri (Palestine Solidarity Committee) 26 May —  Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, 91, died at her home in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, on May 26, 2016. An internationally renowned, respected and admired advocate for human and civil rights, Hedy was encircled by by friends who lovingly cared for her at home. Born August 15, 1924, in the Bavarian region of Germany, her lifelong commitment to human rights was formed by the horrific experiences she and her family endured under the repressive Nazi regime. Unable to secure travel documents for themselves, Hedy’s parents, Hugo and Ella (Eichel) Wachenheimer, arranged for 14-year-old Hedy to leave Germany on a Kindertransport. Hedy credited her parents with giving her life a second time when they sent her to England to live with kind-hearted strangers. Hedy’s parents, grandparents, and most of her aunts, uncles and cousins did not survive the Holocaust. Hedy remained in England until 1945 when she returned to Germany to work for the United States Civil Service. She joined the Nuremberg Doctors Trial prosecution in 1946 as a research analyst … During her later years, Hedy continued to advocate for a more peaceful world, and in 2002 was a founding member of the St. Louis Instead of War Coalition. Much of her later activism centered on efforts to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine. She founded the St. Louis chapter of Women in Black and co-founded the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee and the St. Louis chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace. She traveled to the West Bank several times, first as a volunteer with the nonviolent International Solidarity Movement and repeatedly as a witness to advocate for Palestinian human rights….
http://palsolidarity.org/2016/05/rest-in-peace-dear-hedy/

Video: Should I refuse?
Israeli Social TV 26 Apr 2:30 minutes — Three young women chose not to serve in the army. In a country where the army is an integral part of life, to refuse is not simple at all. Listen to them talk about the decision they’ve made. Language:  Hebrew Subtitles:  English
http://tv.social.org.il/en/should-i-refuse

In huge blow to Israel, Netherlands declares BDS ‘free speech’
JPost 26 May by Tovah Lazaroff — Declaration comes as Israel pushes Europe to outlaw the movement * Jerusalem: Don’t justify hatred — In a huge blow to Israel, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders announced Thursday that calls to boycott the Jewish state fall within the limits of free speech, undermining intensive Israeli diplomatic efforts to sway European capitals to outlaw the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment Movement. “Statements or meetings concerning BDS are protected by freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, as enshrined in the Dutch Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights,” Koenders said Thursday during a debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the Dutch parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee in The Hague. He added that the Dutch government has explained to Israel that it opposes any boycott against it, but that BDS endorsement is a free speech issue. Sweden recently made a similar declaration … But Koenders’ statement struck a chord in Jerusalem where the Foreign Ministry is in the midst of  a massive legislative campaign to outlaw BDS throughout western parliaments. Jerusalem argues that BDS falls into the category of “hate speech”, pitching itself against international human rights organizations and left wing parliamentarians in Europe and other Western countries. Israel’s position is based on the argument that by calling to divest and boycott Israel, BDS supporters are seeking the destruction of Israel. It believes therefore that it should be illegal.
ttp://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/In-huge-blow-to-Israel-Netherlands-declares-BDS-free-speech-455162

Anti-BDS tactics bound to fail / Iqbal Jazzat
Palestine Chron. 25 May — Wearing a BDS T-shirt in France is a criminal offense. This latest move by French authorities to invoke legislation which bars antisemitism in order to harass and intimidate Palestinian solidarity activists, is not only ridiculous, but borders on insanity. It follows desperate attempts by Israel to stem the tide of phenomenal growth of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in Europe. Many observers have noted that the boycott movement is as enthusiastically embraced across European cities as was the anti-apartheid movement against South Africa. This obviously is a frightening challenge for Israel’s racist right wing regime, who knows only too well that unless drastic measures are taken, BDS can snowball into its worst nightmare. Unlike bombs and brutal violence to crush Palestinian resistance in the Occupied Territories which Israel relies on, it cannot use any of these military options to crush popular dissent on university campuses in London, Paris or Brussels … So what does the Netanyahu government resort to? … Israel has just imposed an effective travel ban on BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti. This repressive move is being seen as a step towards revoking his residency rights, as Israeli ministers threatened a few weeks ago. This follows thinly veiled threats of physical violence against him by Israeli government ministers that prompted Amnesty to express concern “for the safety and liberty of Palestinian human rights defender Omar Barghouti”. In addition to arbitrary banning orders and restrictive limits on freedom of movement, Israel has yet again exploited Europe’s guilt in respect of the Nazi holocaust. At Israel’s request, governments in the US, UK, France, Canada and elsewhere are introducing anti-democratic legislation and taking other repressive measures to undermine the BDS movement. Also in collusion with foreign spooks, Israel is using its security services to illegally spy on BDS activists across the world….
http://www.palestinechronicle.com/bds-anti-bds-tactics-doomed-to-fail/

Other news

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (19-25 May)
PCHR-Gaza 27 May – Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt: A Palestinian girl child was killed at a military checkpoint, northwest of occupied Jerusalem. 5 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli forces conducted 56 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 7 others in occupied Jerusalem: 54 civilians, including 16 children, were arrested. 13 of them, including 8 children,were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea: Israeli forces arrested 10 fishermen after wounding 3 of them, including a child, and confiscated 5 fishing boats. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create a Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem: An Islamic oratory was demolished in al-Mesrarah area, east of the city. The Israeli court issued a ruling to confiscate a property in al-Shaikh Jarrah neighbourhood….
http://pchrgaza.org/en/?p=8148

Israeli ex-officers issue peace plan, condemn gov’t inaction
JERUSALEM (AP) 27 May — A group of more than 200 Israeli military and intelligence officers criticized the government for a lack of action in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Friday and issued a detailed plan they say can end the impasse. The report’s publication closely follows a week of turmoil in Israeli politics that saw the appointment of a defense minister who is an outspoken skeptic of peace efforts with the Palestinians. With peace talks in a deep freeze the plan by Commanders for Israel’s Security on Friday called to “preserve conditions” for negotiations with the Palestinians. It urges a combination of political and security initiatives together with delivering economic benefits to Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem simultaneously. It calls for a freeze on settlement building, the acceptance in principle of the Arab Peace Initiative and the recognition that east Jerusalem should be part of a future Palestinian state “when established as part of a future agreement.” The Israeli opposition and much of the international community have long argued for these proposals. Commanders for Israel’s Security is a group comprised of more than 200 retired military generals and intelligence officers, veterans of decades of regional strife who are seeking to resolve the conflict. War veterans are well-respected in Israel, and their input has previously shifted debate….
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-3613149/Israeli-ex-officers-issue-peace-plan-condemn-govt-inaction.html

Israeli minister quits Netanyahu’s ‘extremist’ government
AFP 27 May —  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suffered his second cabinet resignation in a week on Friday when a minister quit over the appointment of a hardline nationalist in the “extremist government”. Environment minister Avi Gabbay announced his resignation in a strongly worded statement that accused Netanyahu of putting the country on a path to ruin. Gabbay said that he was “unable to swallow” Netanyahu’s decision to take the defence portfolio from former general Moshe Yaalon and hand it to Avigdor Lieberman, who has pledged harsh measures against Palestinian “terrorists”.  Yaalon resigned from the government a week ago in protest, warning of a rising tide of extremism in the party and the country as a whole. “I could not accept the removal of Yaalon, a professional and thoughtful defence minister,” Gabbay said. “The country of course has the right to have a government of the right or left,” he added. “But I do not think it is right… to form an extremist government.” “We must stop the process which I fear will lead to our ruin.” Gabbay, of the centre-right Kulanu party, is not a member of parliament and his resignation does not affect the ruling rightwing coalition’s majority….
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3612408/Israeli-minister-quits-extremist-government.html

Palestinian football counting on its Israeli Arab stars
AFP 26 May — For the first time in 30 years, Shebab Hebron football club has won the occupied West Bank’s championship, thanks in large part to five new players — all Israeli Arabs. Holding Israeli citizenship, they are eligible to play for the country’s professional clubs, which have facilities superior to those of the Palestinians. But some are choosing to play for West Bank sides, both for reasons of Palestinian identity and, sometimes, for money.  Palestinians who remained after the creation of Israel in 1948, and their descendants, make up about 17.5 percent of Israel’s eight million population. Hebron defender Haitham Dhib, 29, is from the town of Majd el-Krum, in northern Israel, but has been playing for the past eight years in the West Bank. He is among six Israeli citizens on the Palestinian national team, a member of FIFA since 1998. Dhib had played in Israel’s two top leagues but decided to cross into the West Bank for money and the adulation of the public. On Palestinian streets the faces of local football heroes smile down from giant billboards and for their fans, football is a kind of religion….
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3611533/Palestinian-football-counting-Israeli-Arab-stars.html

Arab Bank settlement over militant attacks tied to US appeal
NEW YORK (Reuters) 25 May — Arab Bank Plc’s agreement to settle litigation brought by Americans who accused it of facilitating militant attacks in Israel is linked to the outcome of an appeal of a jury’s 2014 verdict finding it liable, according to a court filing. U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan in Brooklyn, New York, signed off on a $100 million judgment Tuesday for 16 plaintiffs whose cases were set to be the subject of a damages trial that was called off after the settlement was announced in August. But the order, which was acting on a joint stipulation from the parties, also indicated that Jordan-based Arab Bank planned to move ahead with an appeal of the verdict finding it liable in connection with two dozen attacks attributed to Hamas. The parties confirmed on Wednesday that the amount Arab Bank owes will be dependent on that appeal. Gary Osen, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in an email the plaintiffs’ “recovery will be substantially affected by the outcome of the appeal.” The confidential settlement covers 527 plaintiffs, including the 16 whose case was to be subject of the damages trial, and resolves claims they brought under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act. The plaintiffs included both victims of attacks carried out by Hamas and other groups, and family members of the victims.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-3608596/Arab-Bank-settlement-militant-attacks-tied-U-S-appeal.html

Muslim rapper cancels TV slot to avoid Trump
AFP 26 MayThe rapper Belly, a Canadian of Palestinian origin, canceled a coveted appearance on a late-night US television show as a protest against fellow guest Donald Trump. Belly had been due to perform with R&B sensation The Weeknd on Wednesday night on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to promote the rapper’s upcoming album “Another Day in Paradise.” But Belly announced that he was scrapping the performance because Trump was the main guest, with the rapper saying he preferred to focus on “positivity and love.” “I just didn’t want to feel like I was part of a celebration for somebody who has beliefs the majority of us don’t agree with,” said Belly, who was born in the West Bank and grew up in the Canadian capital Ottawa …  “For me, being Muslim and being somebody that appreciates my access here in America, I love the fact that I’m able to be here,” said Belly, whose real name is Ahmad Balshe. “To play my part in this business is a privilege and a beautiful thing. The fact that I could lose that ability through the actions of someone such as Donald Trump isn’t right to me. At all,” he said.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3611221/Muslim-rapper-cancels-TV-slot-avoid-Trump.html

Guantanamo Bay prisoner who hasn’t been seen since 2002 could appear in court next week ‘to detail mistreatment at the prison’
AP 26 May — A Palestinian not seen publicly since his 2002 capture by the CIA launched a brutal interrogation program may soon make his first appearance in a U.S. courtroom. Abu Zubaydah, who CIA agents once sought to be kept incommunicado for the rest of his life, has been called as a witness by Ramzi Binalshibh, one of the defendants in the September 11 war crimes case, to back up allegations of mistreatment inside a high-security unit at Guantanamo Bay. Abu Zubaydah could testify, along with a prisoner from Somalia who has also never been seen in a public forum, as early as next week in a pretrial hearing at the U.S. base in Cuba … Abu Zubaydah, 45, has never been charged with a crime or appeared before a judge despite efforts by his lawyers to challenge his detention. His lawyers have even asked the government to charge him so they could at least get him into court … The CIA believed that Abu Zubaydah – whose formal name is Zayn al-lbidin Muhammed Husayn – was one of the most senior figures in al-Qaida when he was captured. He is now described in U.S. documents as a ‘well-known al-Qaida facilitator.’ His lawyers deny he was a member of the terrorist organization. The Senate report documented a litany of harsh treatment that included being water-boarded 83 times in a month.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3611157/Prisoner-not-seen-CIA-capture-appear-Guantanamo.html

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