Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem
Halhul village holds funeral for Palestinian boy killed by Israeli forces
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — Thousands of Palestinians from the village of Halhul and its vicinity took part in the funeral of Haitham Ismail Muhammad al-Baw, 14, on Saturday, one day after he was killed by Israeli forces. Haitham was killed by Israeli forces north of Halhul on Friday, after the Israeli army said he was trying to throw Molotov cocktails at passing vehicles while with his 12-year-old cousin, Wajdi Yusif al-Baw. Israeli soldiers shot Haitham dead on the scene, then injured and detained his cousin. A military funeral set off from the al-Ahli Hospital in the city of Hebron to al-Baw’s family house in Halhul north of Hebron. Haitham’s body was then carried to the Nabi Younis mosque before being buried in the martyrs’ cemetery. Mourners denounced Israeli crimes against Palestinian children, women and elderly. Hebron governor Kamil Hmeid, Fatah’s Central Committee member Abbas Zaki, Halhul mayor Wajdi Milhem and several other Palestinian officials took part in the funeral.
Sudanese assailant was emotionally unstable, not on medication, says asylum seekers’ NGO
Haaretz 8 Feb by Almog Ben Zikri & Ilan Lior — Police investigating deadly stabbing attack in Ashkelon as terror attack as asylum seekers’ representatives condemn the incident — The Bnai Darfur organization, which represents asylum seekers from Darfur in Israel, said that acquaintances of Jamal Hassan, 32, who stabbed a soldier near the central bus station in Ashkelon on Sunday, related that his emotional state had recently deteriorated, and that he didn’t receive the medical treatment he needed. “This criminal act is unacceptable to us,” the organization said in a statement, adding that it doesn’t believe this was a terror attack. “Asylum seekers don’t constitute a security threat. We stand alongside the people of Israel and encourage the security forces to take all necessary steps to provide security to all the residents of the Land of Israel.” Hassan, a Sudanese national, stabbed and lightly wounded an Israel Defense Forces soldier near the Ashkelon central bus station Sunday and was shot to death by another soldier when he tried to flee. The assailant lived in Ashkelon. He had been admitted to the Holot detention facility in April 2014, but left a month later and never returned. Police say the incident was being treated as a terror attack. “We are almost certain of this,” a police commander added, noting the stabber and his victim were not acquainted and did not exchange words before the attack. If so, it would be the first time an asylum-seeker was involved in a terror attack.
Israeli woman stabbed, injured in Bedouin town in the Negev
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — An Israeli woman was injured in a stabbing attack in a predominantly Bedouin city in the Negev region on Saturday, Israeli police said. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri told Ma‘an that a Jewish Israeli woman in her sixties was stabbed at a market in the town of Rahat in central Israel. The suspected attacker — [at first] believed to be a woman — fled the scene, she added, saying that Israeli forces were searching the area and still investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident. Al-Samri said Israeli security forces were investigating the attack as being “apparently nationalistically motivated.” She added that the Israeli woman was taken to a hospital in Beersheba, and that she was in moderate to serious condition. Rahat is the largest Bedouin settlement in Israel and occupied Palestinian territories, and the only one to be recognized as a city by Israeli authorities. Bedouins in Israel live mainly in 45 unrecognized villages scattered primarily in the region between Beersheba and Arad. They are the remnants of the Bedouin population that lived across the Negev desert until 1948, when 90 percent were expelled by Israel and the remainder confined to a closed reservation.
100 days of collective punishment for Hebron residents
[with photos] HEBRON, Occupied Palestine 7 Feb by ISM — February 8th marks one hundred days since Israeli forces declared the Tel Rumeida neighborhood and the adjacent portion of Shuhada Street a “closed military zone,” requiring residents to register with the Israeli military and be assigned numbers in order to be allowed to access their homes while all other Palestinians and international human rights defenders are barred from entering the area. On February 5th the Israeli military issued an order officially extending the closed military zone until the 1st of March, with the possibility for further renewal. Throughout this period Palestinian residents have faced increased, arbitrary restrictions of movement and harassment which have no basis in Israel’s purported security concerns. While residents contend with continual threats at the hands of Israeli forces and settlers from the illegal Israeli settlements situated directly adjacent to their neighborhood, Palestinian and international human rights defenders face targeted exclusion from the area. Israeli human rights organization B’tselem reported that Palestinian residents are clearly being subjected to collective punishment. They “are suspected of no wrongdoing and are forced to suffer serious disruptions in their daily lives simply because they had the misfortune of living or working in neighborhoods the military has decided to close.”
Clashes erupt after caravan attempts to break Qabatiya closure
JENIN (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — Clashes broke out when Palestinians from Jenin caravaned towards the nearby village of Qabatiya in the occupied West Bank in attempt to break a three-day blockade imposed on the village’s more than 20,000 residents. The village was sealed by Israeli military forces after three residents carried out an attack in occupied East Jerusalem that left a 19-year-old Israeli police officer dead and another injured on Wednesday. Dozens of Palestinian vehicles poured from the city of Jenin and Jenin refugee camp towards the village after Palestine Liberation Organization factions called for a march in protest of the closure. Spokesperson of the PLO factions, Ali Zakarneh, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces forcefully suppressed the march, firing tear gas bombs at vehicles attempting to enter Qabatiya from its northern side. Palestinian parliament member Jamal al-Shati was injured by a rubber-coated steel bullet in the stomach and several others suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation and were taken to Jenin Governmental hospital for treatment, Zakarneh said. Zakarneh added that new plans to break the military closure of the town were under way, without giving further details.
Israel lifts blockade of Qabatiya after three days
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — The Israeli army lifted on Saturday evening the siege on the village of Qabatiya, which has been blockaded for three days in a row after three residents of the town carried out a deadly attack in Jerusalem. The Palestinian Civil Affairs department in Jenin said on Saturday evening that Israeli forces have lifted the siege on the village of Qabatiya near Jenin. An Israeli army spokesperson had previously told Ma‘an that Israeli forces would reopen roads leading in and out of the village at around 10:00 p.m. local time on Saturday evening. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah had decried earlier on Saturday the “collective punishment” imposed by Israel on residents of Qabatiya. “Ongoing Israeli policies of collective punishment, field executions, and blockading Palestinian cities, villages, and refugee camps will worsen the security situation in the area,” Hamdallah said. “By confining our people and suffocating them with military checkpoints, Israel is violating all international laws and conventions,” he added. The PM held Israel responsible for ongoing deterioration of the situation in Qabatiya , which has seen ongoing clashes between Palestinian youths in the village and military forces.
Isarel revokes Israeli work permits from Qabatiya village residents
JENIN (Ma‘an) 7 Feb – Israeli authorities will begin to revoke work permits from residents of Qabatiya, a village in the northern occupied West Bank, after a deadly attack carried out by three teens from the village last week, a PLO spokesperson said. Ali Zakarna said Israeli forces have already revoked at least ten work permits at military checkpoints in the area. The spokesman highlighted that the decision to revoke permits came hours after Israeli forces lifted a three-day blockade imposed on the village following the deadly attack committed by the village’s three teens in occupied East Jerusalem which killed one 19-year-old border police officer and injured another. A spokesperson for Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) confirmed to Ma‘an that Israeli forces are revoking work permits from residents of the village. On Saturday evening, the Israeli army lifted the siege on Qabatiya, in a surprise move, as Israeli forces had previously stated that the village would be blockaded for at least a month.
Ministers vote to increase punishments for employers of illegal residents
JPost 7 Feb by Lahav Harkov — Employers of people who are in the country illegally will have to temporarily close their business, if the latest terrorism-fighting measure from Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, which the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved on Sunday, becomes law. Erdan pointed out that most of the terrorist attacks in recent months were perpetrated by Palestinians who entered the country illegally. “In the recent wave of terrorism, it has been proved how dangerous it is that illegal residents can be found in the centers of cities and in construction sites,” Erdan said. “Employing illegal residents is a plague that comes from weak punishments.” Erdan said those who employ people who are in the country illegally or provide them lodging must be harshly punished so that it will not be worth it for them to do so. “Whoever employs illegal residents is endangering the lives of Israeli citizens,” he stated. Erdan’s bill, which was unanimously approved by the ministers, gives the police the authority to close for up to 30 days a business or construction site in which an illegal resident was employed or living. A court may also keep it closed until the end of proceedings and take away or suspend their licenses and permits. The proposal would set a sentence of up to two years in prison or a NIS 75,000 fine for anyone who employs or provides lodging for an illegal resident once. (Continued)
Analysis: Terror keeps striking, but solution distant / Yoav Zitun
Ynet 5 Feb — 31 have been murdered in the current round of violence – and the efforts to change this trend haven’t been enough so far. The government decided not to return bodies of terrorists – and some were returned. Closures were imposed over cities and towns – but most were only partial. What other measures were implemented, and which turned out to be a farce? — Dozens of fighters from the elite Duvdevan unit reinforced their friends in the Judea and Samaria Division on the night between Wednesday and Thursday, while the Menashe Territorial Brigade’s troops set up roadblocks as part of the hermetic closure of the town of Qabatiya, and law enforcement authorities have been working to speed up the demolitions of terrorists’ homes. These are the immediate measures decided on by the government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, in response to the terror attack that claimed the life of Border Policewoman Hadar Cohen. As the current escalation of violence enters its fifth month, however, it appears that the defense establishment has yet to find the formula to stopping the attacks . . . “Calming intervention could prevent escalation, like economic steps for example,” IDF officials said last week, in what could be seen as a statement that military measures alone cannot stop the violence. Since the murder of the Henkin couple near Nablus on October 1, 2015, the top echelons of the government and defense establishment convened several times, and made a series of decisions that seem more like a recycled collection. The decisions the Prime Minister’s Office reports to journalists via text messages, such as imposing a partial closure on a small village or the intention to demolish terrorists’ homes, were, until 2005, the exclusive domain of middle-ranked officers in the West Bank like a battalion commander or a brigade commander.
These are the main decisions made by the government so far: (Continued)
Military wants 30,000 more Palestinians working in Israel
Haaretz 8 Feb by Amos Harel – The Israeli security cabinet has approved the plan, which would see additional workers employed in construction, infrastructure, manufacturing, agriculture and other areas — The plan was presented to the ministers last month by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, coordinator of government activity in the territories. It is under discussion with the relevant government agencies, in preparation for a vote by the full cabinet. In the recent escalation, only two attacks were carried out by Palestinians working in Israel. In November, two Israelis were stabbed in south Tel Aviv by a Palestinian man. In December, a Palestinian construction worker attacked two other workers with a hammer at a building site in Modi’in. Both perpetrators were in Israel legally. Attacks by family members of Palestinians with Israeli work permits are also considered rare.
Around 58,000 Palestinians have permits to work within Israel proper. An estimated 120,000 Palestinians work for Israelis, including over 30,000 who work in Israel illegally and some 27,000 who work in industrial zones in West Bank settlements. The 30,000 additional workers are expected to be employed in construction, infrastructure, manufacturing, services, agriculture and other areas. As in the past, candidates will be required to pass a Shin Bet security service screening. There is widespread support in the defense establishment for adding tens of thousands of Palestinians to the Israeli workforce; senior Israel Defense Forces officials have been suggesting this ever since the latest wave of terror began in early October. Even the Shin Bet, which is generally more conservative, has recently expressed support for economic gestures in the hope they would stop the recent escalation of violence. Senior security sources told Haaretz on Sunday that a policy of reserving jobs for Palestinians in Israel has proven to restrain terror. Both Ya’alon and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot have on several occasions expressed support for the continued employment of Palestinians as a means of dissuading thousands of people from committing violent acts. Both have also objected collective punishment, saying that a distinction should be made between terrorists and the general population of the West Bank, most of whom have stayed away even from violent demonstrations. Even Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who during the escalation has advocated getting tough with the Palestinians, yesterday expressed support for increasing the number of work permits to up to 100,000.
A grueling life for Palestinian workers in Israel
BETHLEHEM, Occupied West Bank (Al Jazeera) 6 Feb by Sheren Khall, Abed al Qaisi — Palestinians can earn more by working in Israel, but their days are extremely long because of movement restrictions -- During the day, the Bethlehem Checkpoint 300 tells only half the story. A few lone travelers make the crossing in mere minutes, passing through multiple electronic turnstiles and a warehouse-like compound, and undergoing a quick passport check before leaving the occupied West Bank and entering Israel. For Palestinian workers making their way through the terminal during the dead of night, however, the same crossing can take hours. About 2am is the best time to get through the checkpoint, before it gets too crowded. By 3am, hundreds of men are crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in the terminal. Clouds of white breath rise from the crowd and disappear. Bundled in thick, worn coats, the men are patient but anxious. Talib Ahmed, 49, has been doing building work in Israel for more than 30 years. “I woke up at 1:30 in the morning to get here by 3am,” Ahmed told Al Jazeera, nursing a small paper cup of spiced Arabic coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other. “It’s cold and dark when I wake up, and the rest of my family is asleep. “I do this every morning, five days a week, so I can cross through to work in Israel and make some money to feed my eight children. I make enough to give them an OK life, even though I can’t give them a really good life.” . . . Mohammed Sabah, 55, began working in Israel when he was 20. Back then, permits were not needed for Palestinians to work in Israeli markets, he said. “I used to drive my car to work in Israel,” Sabah told Al Jazeera. “I am too old for this now, having to come to this checkpoint so early in the morning and standing here for hours. I wish the old days could come back.” “Before we worked in Israel to make a living, but we also had friends there,” he said. “Our Israeli co-workers would invite us to their house, or after work some of us could go swimming in Tel Aviv. We had a life. Now there is no life; just work and sleep.” Since the start of October, when violence in the occupied West Bank and Israel began to spike, Sabah said he has grown increasingly scared of being attacked or mistaken for an attacker while en route to and from work. Many workers told Al Jazeera that they are careful not to reach into their pockets for their phones in crowded areas, and they no longer bring eating utensils to work in their packed lunches for fear of being accused of carrying or reaching for a weapon. (Continued)
Netanyahu calls on world to condemn synagogue fire
AP 7 Feb — ‘I expect all those who justifiably condemn any desecration of a mosque to equally cry out about this heinous act,’ the prime minister says; authorities determine fire was arson — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called on the world to condemn an arson attack against a makeshift synagogue in the West Bank where Torah scrolls were burned. The scrolls were stored inside a tent that was used as a synagogue near a West Bank outpost that overlooked the site where the bodies of three Jewish teenagers were found in June 2014. Their abduction and murder was carried out by Hamas terrorists and set off a series of events that ultimately led to that summer’s 50-day Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. Netanyahu said this weekend’s desecration of the makeshift synagogue that was named after the teenagers was a result of the type of Palestinian incitement that has fed the current five-month-long wave of Palestinian violence . . . On Sunday, a Judea and Samaria Police Fire Department team determined that the fire at the makeshift synagogue was the result of arson.
Vandalism of mosques and churches, mostly blamed on Jewish extremists, has been a common occurrence in Israel, but attacks on synagogues have been rare.
Including three siblings, Israeli soldiers kidnap six Palestinians in Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Feb — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Sunday at down, several Palestinian communities in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, searched homes and kidnapped six Palestinians, including three siblings between the ages of eleven and sixteen. Eyewitnesses said several army vehicles invaded Sa‘ir town, northeast of Hebron, and kidnapped Mojahed, 16, Qussai, 15, and Sa’ad Nimir Froukh, 11, before taking them to the Etzion military base. The kidnapped children are the cousins of Fadi al-Froukh, 27, from Beit Anoun town, east of Hebron, who was killed by Israeli army fire, on November 1, 2015, after an alleged stabbing attempt targeting Israeli soldiers. The soldiers also invaded homes in Hebron city, and kidnapped a former political prisoner identified as Dr. Amjad al-Hammouri, 39, in addition to Islam Yassin al-Karaki, 18, and Moath Ahmad Shabana, 18. In addition, the army invaded the home Shadi Ghalama, from Hebron city, and summoned him for interrogation in Etzion base. The Palestinian is a former political prisoner who spent 18 years in Israeli prisons, detention and interrogation facilities. In Bethlehem, the soldiers invaded the Deheishe refugee camp south of the city, broke into homes and summoned two Palestinians for interrogation in the Etzion military base. They have been identified as Amer Sami Hajajra, 35, and Nidal Mohammad Obeid, 24.
Israeli forces detain 18 in overnight raids across the West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — Israeli forces detained at least 18 Palestinians in overnight raids in the West Bank on Monday, Israeli and Palestinian sources told Ma‘an. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that three people had been detained in Tulkarem, and three in Huwwara south of Nablus. Ma‘an identified two of the detainees from Huwwara as Izz al-Din Shehadeh and Muhammad Odeh.The Israeli army also said it had detained two Palestinians in Qabatiya south of Jenin — identified by Ma‘an as Muhammad Kamil and Muhammad Abu al-Rub — and one near al-Jalama north of Jenin . . . The Israeli army spokesperson also said six people had been detained in the Bethlehem area, notably citing two detentions in the ‘Aida refugee camp north of Bethlehem — identified by Ma‘an as Jamil Malash and Muhammad al-Dibs — and one south of Bethlehem. Another three people were detained in the village of al-Khader west of Bethlehem, identified as Mujahid Dadu and Rami Abu Hammad. One person was detained in the village of Surif north of Hebron, and another, Hatem Ahmad Sweti, in Beit Awwa west of Hebron. Meanwhile, the Israeli spokesperson said two “Hamas operatives” were detained from the Qalandiya refugee camp and south of Qalqiliya. Sources identified the two men as Atef Mteer from Qalandiya and Zuhdi Abdullah from the village of Deir Ballut.
Israel and Jordan at impasse over Temple Mount cameras
Haaretz 7 Feb by Barak Ravid — Disputes between Israel and Jordan have delayed the installation of cameras on the Temple Mount, more than three months after the sides agreed on the measure to deescalate tensions on the flashpoint religious site, holy to both Jews and Muslims, and stop the deterioration of relations between the two countries. Senior Israeli officials and Western diplomats fear that tensions could flare again if the situation is not settled before Passover, which falls in late April. Last October, after a month of high tension and violent incidents on and around the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Berlin with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in an attempt to find a formula to restore calm . . . A few days later, after talks in Amman, Kerry announced the deal at a joint press conference with his Jordanian counterpart, Nasser Judeh. As a result of the understandings, tensions between Israel and Jordan eased and the countries resumed contacts after a long hiatus. In the three months since, there have been negotiations between the Israel Police and Shin Bet security service on one side, and the Waqf religious trust and Jordanian intelligence on the other. The Palestinian Authority is not a partner to the talks, but is briefed by Jordan and tries to influence them through Jordan . . . A senior Israeli official noted that after many disagreements, the talks became bogged down: “Early on, we realized that the story was more complicated than we thought when the idea was raised,” he said. Despite the fact that most of the disputes were over technical issues, a senior Israeli official noted that the fundamental disagreement was over who would control the cameras. The three main points of dissent are: 1. Will the cameras broadcast to Israel, Jordan or a website that anyone can access? 2. Will Israel be able to control the broadcast, or pause or edit the transmission? The Jordanians and Palestinians demand that Israel be prohibited from such actions. 3. Where will the cameras be stationed? Israel wants them throughout the Temple Mount, including inside the Muslim holy sites of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock – in part to show that they are used to store weapons or rocks used against Israeli security forces. Jordan and the Palestinians strongly oppose placing cameras in the holy sites.
Punitive demolitions and confiscations
Israel to ‘close and confiscate’ homes of 4 teens accused of stone-throwing attacks
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 7 Feb — Israeli authorities on Sunday gave a notice of “closure and confiscation” on the family homes of four Palestinians aged 16-19 accused of causing an Israeli driver’s death by throwing stones at his car in early September, the families said. The families of Muhammad Salah Muhammad Abu Kiff, Walid Fares Mustafa al-Atrash, Abed Mahmoud Abed Rabbo Dawiyat and Muhammad Jihad al-Taweel said their homes in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher are being confiscated in order to deter future attacks against Israelis. The homes, which house 23 people, are to be closed and confiscated on Feb. 10. The families said the decision to kick them out of their homes is unfair, particularly because the Israeli court has yet to reach a final judgment in the case of the four teens. The families added that the move amounted to collective punishment. The families denied that their sons were responsible for the death of the Israeli driver, claiming that the four teens were throwing rocks at least 500 meters away from where the accident occurred. While it has become common practice during the past several months for Israeli forces to demolish homes of attackers as a method thought to deter attacks, it is unclear why Israeli authorities have ruled to confiscate these homes, instead of destroying them.
Palestinian worker killed in tunnel accident
IMEMC/Agencies 8 Feb — Medical sources in the Gaza Strip have reported that one Palestinian was killed, on Monday at dawn, when a tunnel used for smuggling goods into the besieged coastal region collapsed on him. The tunnel is on the border with Egypt, in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The slain Palestinian worker is 24 years of age from Khirbit al-‘Adas village, north of Rafah. He was buried under the rubble while he was conducting maintenance work. It is worth mentioning that the Egyptian army is still conducting its campaign against all siege-busting tunnels on its side of the border.
Steinitz’s outburst breaks the dam of silence
Ynet 7 Feb by Itamar Eichner — Israel and Egypt have moved closer in recent months thanks to a mutual interest in fighting Hamas’s military buildup, but both countries have remained vague on details; Energy Minister Steinitz, apparently inadvertently, hints at official cooperation — Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz on Saturday implied that there is official cooperation between the Israeli and Egyptian governments in the fight against Hamas, saying that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi “flooded part of the Hamas tunnels, to a certain extent at the request of Israel.” Steinitz soon backtracked, saying his remarks had been misunderstood. Israel and Egypt have been trying for months to downplay the security cooperation between the two countries and dampen any news on the subject. Steinitz’s comments came after he was asked at a Be’er Sheva event about the problem of tunnels in the south and contacts with Egypt. According to the minister, “flooding is a good solution for that area. This is not a solution for an area of 70-60 kilometers. Al-Sisi did that, to some degree to our request.” Steinitz referred extensively to the links and security coordination with the Egyptians, which he said have greatly improved in recent times. “The security coordination between Israel and Egypt is better than ever,” he said, adding that Israel “will not necessarily know about each and every tunnel and shaft.” He added that “there is a tremendous effort to produce a technology that copes with the underground threat.” Steinitz declined to comment on whether Israel has had a part in the collapse of Hamas tunnels in recent weeks, in which members of the special tunnels unit established by the Hamas terrorist organization in recent years were killed. (Continued)
Israeli soldiers open fire on Gaza farmers and fishermen
IMEMC/Agencies 8 Feb — Israeli soldiers opened fire, on Monday morning, targeting Palestinian farmers in central Gaza, and fishing boats in Gaza territorial waters. The soldiers, stationed behind the border fence, east of the al-Boreij refugee camp in central Gaza, fired dozens of rounds of live ammunition into Palestinian farmlands, forcing the Palestinians to leave. In addition, Israeli navy ships fired several live rounds at Palestinian fishing boats off the Sudaniyya area, in Gaza, causing significant damage to at least one boat, and forcing the fishermen back to shore. The boats were only close to four nautical miles off the Gaza shore when the navy ships attacked them.
Insufficient fuel forces Gaza power plant to shut down generator
GAZA (PIC) 6 Feb — The Palestinian energy authority on Friday said it had to shut down one of the generators at the power plant in the Gaza Strip. The authority stated that it was surprised on Thursday that the petroleum authority in Ramallah sent less fuel shipments than what had been requested for the power plant, pointing out that the needed fuel had already been paid for. The authority affirmed that this situation had happened several times before, condemning the petroleum authority’s attitude as “unjustified.” The authority appealed to all concerned parties to intervene to put an end to such measures and ensure that the power plant is provided with its fuel needs.
Red Cross annuls decision to close its Gaza office
GAZA (PIC) 7 Feb — The International Committee of the Red Cross has annulled on Sunday its earlier decision to close its office in Gaza Strip. Spokeswoman for the committee Suhair Zaqut said that the earlier decision to shut down the office came after violent protesters tried to break into it. “We have decided to reopen our offices starting from Monday after informing the local authorities the reasons behind our decision”, Zaqut added . . . The Palestinian Foreign Affairs Ministry in Gaza has stressed its keenness to provide protection to all diplomatic missions and foreign institutions’ working staff in the Gaza Strip. Urgent security measures have been taken in coordination with the Interior Ministry in order to facilitate those institutions’ work in Gaza, the Foreign Affairs Ministry added. Dozens of Gazan journalists had protested late Sunday at the office in solidarity with the Palestinian hunger striker Mohamed al-Qeiq, demanding that the Red Cross help bring about his release. Along the same line, a delegation representing Palestinian journalists met with Red Cross director in Gaza Mamadou Sue to activate the committee’s role in supporting al-Qeiq’s issue. Mamadou Sue stressed, during the meeting, that the Red Cross doctors are daily visiting al-Qeiq in Afula hospital.
Hamas arrests ‘Israeli spy’ who allegedly tried to get info on Gaza tunnels
Haaretz 6 Feb by Jack Khoury — Hamas has arrested a Palestinian woman suspected of spying for Israel in the Gaza Strip, a website affiliated with the militant group reported on Saturday. According to the report, the 35-year-old woman visited the mourning families of militants who were killed in recent tunnel mishaps, and tried to glean information from them under the pretense of a condolence call. Nine Hamas militants died in two separate tunnel accidents in the last two weeks.
Palestinian People’s Party says Hamas questioning its member in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip have summoned a number of the Palestinian People’s Party young operatives for questioning, the leftist group said on Saturday. In a statement sent to Ma‘an, the socialist party said Gaza security forces had recently summoned Muhammad Salih, a coordinator for the People Party’s youths in the Gaza Strip, three times. Two other youth leaders of the group, Hazim al-Sayyid and Salamah Abu Zeid, have also recently been questioned after the People’s Party released statements urging rival Palestinian political parties Hamas and Fatah to end their dispute, which they said has resulted in “deterioration of the social and economic life” in the besieged Gaza Strip. The questioning of People’s Party operatives and supporters is a violation of human rights and of freedom of expression guaranteed under Palestinian law, the statement added.
Hamas executes member who may have betrayed Deif’s location
Ynet 7 Feb by Elior Levy — Gaza-based Palestinian terror group Hamas on Sunday executed a member who allegedly gave Israel the hideout of Mohammed Deif, leader of the group’s military wing, during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge. Hamas announced that they executed Mahmoud Eshtewi because of what they dubbed offenses of conduct and ethics. The nature of the offense was not given, but it is likely that Eshtewi was suspected of collaborating with Israel. Eshtewi , a well-known commander from the eastern Gaza neighborhood of Zeitoun, was a battalion commander of the Hamas military wing. Eshtewi was arrested over a year ago as part of the investigation in the attempted targeted killing of Deif. During his lengthy detention, his family held several protests in front of the house of Ismail Haniyeh, deputy political leader of the group, until they were attacked by Hamas security forces. This is a family that has had deep historic roots in the military wing of Hamas ever since its inception. Ashtiwi began a hunger strike during this detention. The execution was the first time that the military wing of Hamas publicly announced such a proceeding against one of its own members. During Operation Protective Edge, Israel launched several missiles at a house in Gaza City’s Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in which Deif was believed to be holing up. Hamas claimed that the attack, which killed Deif’s wife and son, was a breach of the ceasefire between the two sides. Israeli officials have confirmed that the Dief was targeted but declined to speculate on whether he had been injured in the attack. To this day, his fate remains murky, and Hamas insists that the master terrorist is alive and well. Hamas said in a short Twitter statement that Eshtewi was killed after he confessed . . . Deif survived four previous assassination attempts that left him crippled. (Continued)
Prisoners / Court actions
Imprisoned hunger striker al-Qiq refuses Israeli offer to be released in May
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 Feb — Hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Muhammad al-Qiq rejected an offer by an Israeli military court to be released on May 1 and demanded an immediate end to his administrative detention, the Palestinian Authority Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said on Sunday. The committee said that Palestinian member of Knesset Osama Saadi and lawyer Ashraf Abu Sneinah received the offer after al-Qiq’s health severely deteriorated as he reached the 75th day of his hunger strike. Al-Qiq, a 33-year-old Palestinian journalist and father of two, began his hunger strike in November to protest his administrative detention by Israel — internment without trial or charge. An Israeli doctor at the hospital where al-Qiq is being detained said on Saturday that the Palestinian journalist was in critical condition, and that “each minute marks serious threat to his life.” According to the committee, al-Qiq refuses any offer that does not include his release from administrative detention, as well as the guarantee that he will receive medical treatment in a Palestinian hospital once freed . . . Al-Qiq, who has lost his ability to speak due to his frail health and now only communicates in writing, has said he will continue his hunger strike until “martyrdom or freedom.” . . . As al-Qiq is being held in administrative detention, any possible evidence against him has been kept secret by the Israeli authorities. However, Amnesty International reported in January that the military judge at the Ofer Military Court said al-Qiq’s file “accuses him of ‘incitement,’ of working with media associated with Hamas … and also of being a ‘threat to the security of the area.'” Following Amnesty’s report, Mahmoud Ulayyan, a member of Gaza’s journalism union, said that al-Qiq was evidently being held due to his work as a journalist
Wedding in absentia for Palestinian prisoner from Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 7 Feb — A wedding in absentia was organized on Saturday for a Palestinian prisoner from the Gaza Strip serving 17 years in Israeli custody. The ceremony included the signing of a marriage contract according to Islamic sharia. The groom, Mahmoud Shuhdeh Abu Eisha, 33, has been detained by Israel for 11 years with six years left in his sentence. Abu Eisha has been in Israeli custody since 2004 after he was detained at the Rafah crossing while he was trying to leave Gaza through Egypt to go on pilgrimage to Mecca. He is now in held in the Israeli prison of Eshel. The bride, Dua Abu Jarbou, was wedded without being able to see her new husband or sit next to him during the ceremony. The wedding was organized by the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs of the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip as a symbolic gesture in protest of the nearly 7,000 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. A ministry statement received by Ma‘an said the wedding was attended by Palestinian Legislative Council deputy speaker Ahmad Bahar, Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs under-secretary Baha al-Madhoun, and Gaza security forces commander Tawfiq Abu Naim. “This wedding is a message of challenge to the jailers, telling them that Palestinian prisoners can perfect the art of life while in custody,” al-Madhoun said. He added that “marriage for a prisoner serving a long sentence is like a new spirit breathing hope, life, determination and challenge.”
Zoabi gets 6 months suspended sentence over insulting public official
Ynet 7 Feb by Hassan Shaalan — Firebrand Arab MK signs a plea that removes the more serious charge of incitement, but leaves her with a NIS 3,000 fine after verbally attacking Arab police officers — . . . According to the charge, on July 6, 2014, Zoabi was present during remand extension hearings at the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court for two suspects arrested in the rioting that followed the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. Two Arab police investigators, Ehab Haddad and Bushur Amer, were at court to represent the police. During a break, the two were standing outside the courtroom with Zoabi. She raised her voice and said that they were traitors who were sent to gather information and eavesdrop on people. Zoabi then called out in Arabic to those present that they should work against the police because the two police officers were “Arabs in the service of the state.” The indictment also claims that Zoabi urged those present to spit in the policemen’s faces, and said: “They are against our sons and daughters, they should not be among us. They should be afraid of us, of our youth that have been arrested because of the information they send.” As part of the plea deal Zoabi signed, the more serious charge of incitement was removed from the indictment, and the firebrand MK had to apologize. (Continued)
Palestinian boy, 15, indicted for attempted murder in thwarted Old City stabbing
JPost 7 Feb by Daniel K. Eisenbud — A 15-year-old Arab boy from northeast Jerusalem’s Shu‘afat neighborhood was indicted for attempted murder on Sunday for planning to stab Jews in the Old City earlier this month. According to the indictment by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, the unidentified teen decided to carry out the attack last Tuesday to become a “martyr,” after being inspired by Palestinian media coverage of recent stabbing attacks in the capital, and by a friend who carried out a stabbing the previous day. Following morning prayers, he took his school bag and a large kitchen knife he stole the night before and traveled to the Muslim Quarter to find a civilian or officer to murder, the indictment stated. Knowing that his school bag would likely be searched by security personnel, the boy hid the knife under his pants, by his hip. Shortly after arriving at the Damascus Gate at approximately 8:30 a.m., the boy chased a Jewish man with the knife drawn, the indictment stated. The man was able to escape uninjured, at which time the teen entered the Old City to stalk a different victim. (Continued)
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israeli forces to demolish 2 homes in Nablus-area village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 7 Feb — Israeli forces on Sunday issued a demolition order for two houses in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus’s Yitma [or Yatma] village on the grounds of the buildings lacking permits, a local monitor told Ma‘an. Ghassan Doughlas said Israeli forces raided the Area C village and issued demolition orders to two homes belonging to Muhammad Fajr al-Najjar and Khalil Ibrahim al-Najjar . . . In order for Palestinians to build in Area C, land owners must obtain building permits from Israeli authorities. [The UN’s] OCHA found that between 2010 and 2014, only 1.5 percent of 2,020 building permit requests submitted were approved. “Official data released by the Israeli authorities indicate that over 11,000 demolition orders — affecting an estimated 17,000 Palestinian owned structures, including homes — are currently ‘outstanding’ in Area C of the West Bank,” OCHA said in a statement last year. At least 77 percent of demolition orders against structures were located on private Palestinian land.
Israeli group calls for isolating 28 Palestinian villages
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 5 Feb — An Israeli group known as Saving Jewish Jerusalem called for the immediate establishment of a “security fence” in occupied Jerusalem in order to separate it from its eastern part. The group was founded by the former cabinet minister Haim Ramon and a number of Knesset members and former army leaders, Maariv Hebrew newspaper revealed. “Saving Jewish Jerusalem’s platform, which will also be presented to the public, calls for handing control of 28 Palestinian villages in East Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority (PA). The villages in question had been an integral part of the West Bank until Israel annexed them in 1967.” By removing some 200,000 Palestinians from the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, the city’s Jews will constitute more than 80% of its residents, and the percentage of Palestinians will drop to less than 20%, from the nearly 40% today, according to the newspaper. Not only that, the group stresses, revoking the Palestinians’ Israeli residency permits will ease the economic burden these villages impose on the Israeli taxpayer, some 2-3 billion Israeli shekels ($500-$750 million) in social and medical care. Members of the movement argue that the Palestinian villages are massively detrimental to the prosperity of the Israeli capital in terms of security, demographic balance, standard of living and economic well-being.
Labor adopts Herzog’s plan for separation from Palestinians as party platform
Haaretz 9 Feb by Jonathan Lis — The Labor Party unanimously approved opposition leader Isaac Herzog’s plan for separating from the Palestinians on Sunday night. Herzog has been attacked by party members and the Israeli left as a whole for saying that the two-state solution is impossible under current conditions. But Labor members unanimously adopted his separation proposal as the party’s new diplomatic platform during a convention on Sunday. The plan calls for taking steps to advance a two-state solution even if final-status negotiations cannot be held now . . . The plan states that Labor remains committed to the two-state solution and will prevent any slippage toward a single state. It says Labor believes Israel must retain control of the West Bank settlement blocs, complete the separation barrier to keep terrorists out of Israel and freeze all building in settlements outside the blocs. In addition, it says Israel should expand the Palestinian Authority’s civilian powers by expanding Area B, the part of the West Bank where Israel has security control but the PA has civilian control, at the expense of Area C, which is under full Israeli control. The plan says the Gaza Strip must be part of any final agreement — “any solution that doesn’t include the Gaza Strip will constitute a danger to realizing the two-state vision.” The plans says Labor will endeavor to separate dozens of Jerusalem-area Palestinian villages from the city itself.
Opinion: Israel’s opposition leader would set Jerusalem and the Muslim world on fire / Yudith Oppenheimer
Haaretz 7 Feb — Isaac Herzog’s recent proposal to separate off Palestinian neighborhoods – ‘They over there and we over here; we’ll erect a big wall between us’ – tosses Palestinians from one side to another without fear of consequences — . . . The reality behind the plan for “disengagement from the Palestinian villages in East Jerusalem” – which for decades have not been villages, but rather huge neighborhoods encompassing intricate urban spaces – is the aspiration to perpetuate Israel’s control of Jerusalem’s Historic Basin, site of its most important and sensitive cultural and religious monuments, to tear it away from the Palestinian neighborhoods that surround it and to tighten the grip over the Palestinians who live there and constitute more than 90% of its residents. What is presented as separation of Israelis from Palestinians is in effect separation of Palestinians from Palestinians in Jerusalem for the purpose of establishing further facts on the ground. Not only will these facts turn the entire Muslim world and the international community against Israel; advancing new facts is a certain formula for setting Jerusalem on fire. To understand the fate of the neighborhoods that would be cut off from their center of life and placed behind barriers, it is enough to look at the East Jerusalem neighborhoods the existing Separation Barrier has severed from the city and rendered into ghettoes of abject poverty and distress. Israeli authorities’ promises to service these neighborhoods have repeatedly proven hollow. Some of those who promote separation toy with the idea of turning them over to the Palestinian Authority – in effect, behaving as though the PA did not exist, while at the same time expecting the PA to take responsibility for actions taken in total disregard of it, actions that place at its doorstep unimaginable political, urban and humanitarian chaos. If anyone thinks that coercive actions leading to the dismantlement of physical, social and community structures and to the disintegration of East Jerusalem will not have an impact on the security situation, they should refer to the percentage of terror attacks committed by youth from the neighborhoods beyond the Barrier. The Barrier did not stop them, and more and more barriers will only exacerbate the existing situation.
Palestinian refugees – Lebanon, Syria
Lebanese hospital detains three children after failure to pay expenses
BEIRUT (PIC) 7 Feb — A Lebanese hospital in Sour (Tyre) city on Saturday detained three Palestinian refugee infants after their father failed to pay the cost of their treatment. Local sources said the hospital demanded the father, Mohamed al-Nayef from al-Rashidiya refugee camp, to pay 400 US dollars in order to let him take his children. The UNRWA used to cover the medical expenses of impoverished Palestinian refugees and their treatment in Lebanon’s hospitals before it recently decided to reduce its health services. Such measures raised the ire of Palestinian refugees and prompted them to take protest steps to pressure the UNRWA to reverse its decision.
Aya must not be left behind / Pierre Krahenbuhl, Commissioner General of UNRWA
Al Jazeera 4 Feb — The international conference on Syria today in London is an opportune moment to remember that all wars, in particular this most catastrophic conflagration, are measured by their human cost. Aya Kassem is a seven-year-old Palestinian refugee from Damascus. A mortar attack mutilated her leg which had to be amputated. Courageously, and after a series of operations, Aya has learned to walk again. Her fortitude and sheer enthusiasm at the prospect of continuing her education are humbling. With determination beyond her years, she told us: “It made me happy to go to school to meet friends and learn things that I never knew.” Aya illustrates the very real and individual consequences of the Syrian conflict. Like so many, hers is a destiny that must be nurtured and respected . . . Less attention is given to 560,000 Palestine refugees in Syria that have found themselves caught up in the conflict. They are survivors and children of survivors of the catastrophe or Nakba that befell the Palestinian people, when the 1948 Arab-Israeli war saw 750,000 Palestinians become refugees; they fled or were forced to flee their homes into neighbouring countries including Syria . . . An estimated 450,000 of the 560,000 Palestine refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Syria remain inside the country; over 60 percent – 280,000 people – are internally displaced. This includes tens of thousands who are trapped in areas of active conflict, such as the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus . . . Of the Palestine refugees from Syria who have been forced again into exile, around 42,000 have fled to Lebanon and more than 17,000 to Jordan, living a precarious, marginalised existence – dependent on UNRWA for basic subsistence needs. While their number there has been static for some time, others are taking the more desperate voyage to Europe by boat. UNRWA has a demonstrated capacity to meet Palestine refugee needs in Syria and beyond, when adequately funded . . . Some 95 percent of Palestinians in Syria are reliant on URNWA aid. Our support is often the difference between life and death. The significance of this cannot be underestimated, particularly among a population which increasingly seeks protection and services outside the Middle East.
The month in pictures: January 2016
Electronic Intifada 6 February
Palestinian poll: Sharp drop in support for intifada
Ynet 7 Feb by Elior Levy — Less than half of the Palestinians support a third intifada, a recent poll has shown, compared to 63 percent who supported the violence at the beginning of the current escalation. According to the survey, conducted last week in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, only 42 percent of Palestinians support a third intifada, a sharp drop from the 63 percent who supported it in November. However, the question that was posed to respondents focused on an intifada that has not yet erupted. Perhaps the intention is for an armed intifada similar to the second intifada. The survey was conducted by Awrad, a Palestinian research institute that is considered reliable and prestigious, and whose publications are taken seriously. Despite frequent threats by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and other officials in the Palestinian Authority to dismantle the Palestinian Authority and return control over the territory to Israel, the survey found that only 14 percent support such a move, while 79 percent are against it. The survey also examined the political views of the Palestinians, finding that if elections were held today in the West Bank and Gaza, Fatah would win over Hamas. In the presidential elections, Abbas would win 36 percent of the vote compared to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh who would only get 22 percent. But none of them should rest on their laurels, because 41 percent of the Palestinians said that they have yet to decide for whom to vote or whether to vote at all. Even in the parliamentary elections, if they were held today, Fatah would defeat Hamas . . . The survey further found that 58 percent of Palestinians are unconcerned about a scenario in which Abbas resigns. Two-thirds of them believe that if they do so, the preferred option is to conduct elections in order to find a replacement.
Video: Can Hamas and Fatah work together?
Al Jazeera Inside Story 6 Feb — Almost ten years of talks, aimed at bridging the differences between Hamas and Fatah, have had little success. Representatives of the two groups are meeting yet again, this time in Qatar, to try and resolve their differences. The two have been at odds since 2006, when Hamas won parliamentary elections. It then forcibly took control of Gaza in June 2007, after battling with security units loyal to Fatah. Now, however, political expediency might just bring the two together to present a united front against Israeli occupation. But what are the chances of success this time around? And can they work together? Presenter: Peter Dobbie Guests: Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official; Anshel Pfeffer, an Israeli journalist working for The Economist magazine and a regular contributor to Haaretz; Husam Zomlot, a Fatah official.
WATCH: Israelis and Palestinians join hands to say no to occupation
Activestills 6 Feb Photos and text by Oren Ziv — For the third time in the past two months, Israeli and Palestinian activists march on West Bank checkpoint to call for an end to the ongoing violence — Over 200 Israelis and Palestinians marched on the Israeli army’s “tunnels checkpoint” south of Jerusalem Friday to demonstrate against the occupation and the ongoing violence in the country.
Palestinian police detain 12 at Allenby crossing
JERICHO (Ma‘an) 6 Feb — Palestinian police over the past week detained 12 Palestinians either wanted by the Palestinian Authority or banned from travel, police said. All 12 were detained while attempting to travel or enter Palestine via the Allenby Bridge crossing with Jordan, a statement released by the the Public Relations and Media Department of the Palestinian police said. The statement also said that some 24,000 Palestinians and visitors passed through the Allenby crossing during the past week. Also during the past week, coordination was made for 11 sick Palestinians on both sides of the crossing to cross via Palestinian ambulances. The statement added that 17 people were turned away from the Israeli side of the Allenby crossing over the past week for alleged security purposes.
Large-scale military exercise to be held by US, Israel
IMEMC/Agencies 7 Feb — Israel and the US are to hold a joint military exercise, later in February, with the focus on training in ballistic missile warfare, the Israeli military says. Dubbed Juniper Cobra, the war games are also aimed at improving cooperation between the two militaries, the Times of Israel online newspaper reported on Saturday
PM: Military aid package with US may not be completed during Obama’s term
JPost 7 Feb by Herb Keinon — Just weeks after saying in Davos that Israel and the US may conclude a 10-year Memorandum of Understanding “in the coming months,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the cabinet on Sunday that these negotiations may not be concluded during US President Barack Obama’s remaining time in office. Netanyahu told the cabinet that he would like to conclude the MoU as soon as possible, but that the issues are complex, detailed and take time. Israeli and US teams have already been working for months on a new MoU that will replace the 10-year framework that expires in 2017, which provided Israel with about $3 billion annually. A high-level US team is currently in the country holding talks with their Israeli counterparts. In light of the recently signed nuclear agreement with Iran and the new strategic threats this presents for Israel and the region, Israel is asking for an increase in the annual package, with reports putting that number at some $5b. a year.
‘Barbarism by an educated and cultured people’ — Dawayima massacre was worse then Deir Yassin
Mondoweiss 7 Feb by Jonathan Ofir — “There was no battle and no resistance (and no Egyptians). The first conquerors killed from eighty to a hundred Arabs [including] women and children. The children were killed by smashing of their skulls with sticks. Is it possible to shout about Deir Yassin and be silent about something much worse?” For the first time ever, a letter quoting one of the Israeli soldiers who were part of the Al-Dawayima massacre in October 1948 is published in full. On Friday, February 5th 2016, Haaretz published an article in Hebrew by Israeli historian Yair Auron, which covers one of the biggest massacres of 1948. The massacre is of Al Dawayima, west of Al-Khalil (which is often referred to as Hebron). In a 2004 interview with Haaretz, Israeli historian Benny Morris refers to this as a massacre of “hundreds”. After the massacre, a letter was sent to the editor of the leftist affiliated newspaper Al-Hamishmar, but never published. As Auron notes, there are still many archives of the time which are classified. Auron also states that there was an investigation that was never concluded and “died out” as a massive amnesty was provided to military personnel in February 1949. This is a very exhaustive article, but I found it useful enough to translate this letter in full on its own. The letter, which first “disappeared,’ was provided to Auron by historian Benny Morris. Although these matters have been referred to in passing in historical summaries, the letter [see below] has never been published before in full.