December 19, 2014


Israel attacks Hamas site in Gaza
Haaretz 20 Dec by Gili Cohen The Israel Air Force attacked a Hamas installation in the Gaza Strip Friday night in response to a rocket launched from the coastal enclave into Israel earlier on Friday. This is the first Israeli attack in Gaza since Operation Protective Edge this summer. The Palestinian news agency Ma‘an reported that an Israeli aircraft fired rockets at a military installation northwest of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip. According to the report no-one was injured in the attack. The IDF said that the attack was launched in response to a rocket that was fired on Friday from Gaza and exploded in an open area in Eshkol Regional Council in southern Israel, close to the Gaza border. No injuries or damage were reported in this incident … Haim Yelin, the head of the council, said that “whoever thinks that military deterrence is the route to peace and quiet for the Gaza bordering regions doesn’t understand that wars are won by diplomats… “After Protective Edge, the state had a unique opportunity to bring about a long-term settlement. But instead we find ourselves with a ticking clock until the next round of escalation, and the next war.”

Israeli forces open fire on Palestinians at Gaza border, injuring 6
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Israeli forces opened fire and shot six Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday afternoon while they were taking part in a protest near the border, witnesses said. Israeli forces reportedly opened fire at the group of Palestinians as they marched near al-Shuhada cemetery, near the so-called security buffer zone beside the Israeli border. Medical sources said that the six were shot in their lower extremities and were in light to moderate condition.  The injured were subsequently taken to Kamal Adwan Hospital in Jabaliya city proper for treatment.

Israeli naval forces open fire at Palestinian fishermen
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Israeli naval forces on Thursday opened fire at fishing boats off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip, fishermen told Ma‘an. Several boats sustained material damage but no injuries have been reported. The fishermen managed to sail back to shore following the incident …The Aug. 26 ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestinian militant groups stipulated that Israel would immediately expand the fishing zone off Gaza’s coast, allowing fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles from shore, and would continue to expand the area gradually. Since then, there have been widespread reports that Israeli forces have at times opened fire at fishermen within those new limits, and the zone has not been expanded.

Rocket fired from Gaza hits southern Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — A rocket fired from he Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel on Friday, with no damage or injuries reported, Israel’s army said. A rocket siren sounded in the Eshkol regional council at around noon, with residents reporting blasts shortly afterwards. Israeli army forces searching the area found a rocket in an open area.

Qassam fighter killed in accidental explosion in Gaza
IMEMC 19 Dec — The Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), has reported that one of its fighters was killed, Thursday, in what it described as an accidental explosion in a training camp, in southern Gaza. The Brigades said Bilal Abdul-Mon’em al-Mneirawi, 20, was killed west of the Rafah district, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.  Spokesperson of the Ministry of Health in Gaza Dr. Ashraf Al-Qedra confirmed the fighter’s death, and said four more Palestinians were injured in the explosion.

Gazans who file for compensation against Israel will not be allowed into Israel to testify
PCHR 18 Dec — Press Release: Israeli Supreme Court approves regulations that ban Palestinians from Gaza from entering Israel for their compensation cases against the Israeli military. On 16 December 2014, the Supreme Court of Israel rejected a petition submitted by human rights organizations against Israel’s policy of preventing residents of Gaza who have submitted compensation lawsuits for damages against the Israeli military, and their witnesses, from entering Israel to attend their own court hearings … Although the Court rejected the petition, in the judgment pointed out the conflict of interests created by this policy between the state’s position as the defendant before the court and as the authority that determines who can and who cannot enter Israel to access the court. Justice Elyakim Rubinstein stated in the decision that the state simultaneously wears two hats, as the party “responsible for security on the one hand, and as the defendant on the other,” and that “it must take care as far as possible not to confuse the two issues.” … In its decision, the court did not address the grave violation of the constitutional rights of the complainants and of their rights to compensation for damages incurred by them resulting from the state’s policy of closure.

Warning on funds, UN doubles estimate of destroyed Gaza homes
JERUSALEM (AFP) 18 Dec – The UN warned Thursday it was running out of funds to house families in Gaza, as it doubled its estimate of the number of homes damaged or destroyed in this summer’s war with Israel. “Unless the situation changes urgently, we will run out of funds in January, meaning we will not be able to provide rental subsidies to many affected families nor provide the support required to carry out repairs,” said Robert Turner, the operations director for the UNRWA Palestinian refugee agency. He said more than 96,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in the 50-day war, more than twice the UN’s original estimate. Based on satellite imagery and preliminary field work immediately after the war, “we estimated about 42,000 refugee family shelters had been affected by the war,” he said.

Only fraction of Gaza pledged aid delivered
Reuters 19 Dec — Two months after donors pledged $5.4bn to help rebuild Gaza after the war between Israel and Hamas, Palestinian, UN and other officials say barely two percent of the money has been transferred. The conference in Cairo had been hailed as a success, with Qatar promising $1bn, Saudi Arabia $500m and the United States and the European Union a combined $780m in various forms of assistance. Half was expected to go to rebuilding houses and infrastructure in the Palestinian enclave destroyed during seven weeks of Israeli military campaign, and the rest to support the Palestinian budget. But of the total, only $100m or so has been received, according to UN and other officials. While the EU and the US have accelerated some funding that was already in the pipeline, very few new pledges have come to fruition … “We have received funding and pledges of approximately $100 million for shelter and repair,” said Robert Turner, director of operations for the UN’s Relief and Works Agency in Gaza. “That money will be largely finished in January 2015. We have a shortfall [for shelter and homes] of $620 million and we are going to run out right in the hardest part of winter.” Details of donor commitments are often hard to pin down as the headline figure frequently includes money set aside earlier but not yet paid out. While that is the case with some of the funds for Gaza, particularly from the EU and the United States, the Arab states were in most cases making new commitments of support. Officials said they had been among the worst at following through. “The Arab countries haven’t paid anything until now,” Mufeed al-Hasayna, the Palestinian housing minister, said this month.

UK contributes $4.7m to UNRWA for Gaza shelter needs
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 17 Dec — The Government of the United Kingdom, through the Department for International Development (DFID), contributed $4.7 million to the UNRWA Flash Appeal for Gaza, as part of its pledge during the Gaza donor conference, reported a press release issued by the UNRWA office in Jerusalem … “This funding will help UNRWA meet the urgent shelter needs of Palestinian refugees in Gaza as winter sets.” The donation is expected to be enough to provide rental assistance to 30,000 vulnerable individuals (over 5,000 families)” said the release.

US donates $10m for rubble removal in Gaza
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 16 Dec – The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in the West Bank and Gaza Mission announced a $10 million donation to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for the removal of rubble in the Gaza Strip. The donation comes as part of a pledge made by US Secretary of State John Kerry at the October 2014 Gaza Donors Conference held in Cairo. The US government, through USAID, has pledged $10 million to assist in the Gaza Emergency Removal and Crushing of Rubble and Debris Management Project, which is being implemented by UNDP.  The government’s investment will result in the removal of 649,177 tons of rubble and waste material from destroyed public and private buildings in areas throughout the Gaza Strip.  These efforts will facilitate work by the Palestinian Water Authority and the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility to assess and repair infrastructure buried beneath the rubble and restore essential water and sanitation services. The contribution to the rubble removal initiative will generate approximately 116,852 days of employment and bring immediate relief to more than one million Palestinians living in the affected areas in Gaza.

Students stuck in Gaza sign petition to open Rafah
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — Hundreds of Palestinian students stuck in Gaza have presented a petition to the civil affairs department to demand the reopening of the Rafah crossing. Bassel al-Atawneh, a youth union official, called on the unity government and the Ministry of Education to work to end the crisis. “Gazans have been suffering a blockade for more than seven years,” he said, adding that thousands of Palestinians in Gaza who study abroad are being deprived of their education because they can’t leave Gaza. Students have also organized a sit-in demonstration at the crossing to demand that Egypt reopen the border.

Gaza hospital cleaners suspend strike after 16 days
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Hospital cleaners in the Gaza Strip on Thursday suspended strike action in protest over unpaid salaries after an agreement was reached with Palestinian ministers. Head of the workers’ union Sami al-Amsi told Ma‘an that the strike was suspended after promises were made to pay the salaries of 750 cleaners. The strike will be suspended until the end of 2014, he added. Hospital cleaners in the Gaza Strip started protests in October after not being paid for several months. They staged partial strikes several times, but had been on full strike for 16 days.

Maine eyewitnesses to Gaza: No way to prepare for an overwhelming reality
Bangor Daily News 18 Dec by Maurine * Robert Tobin — …Arriving days after Gaza had been flooded by torrential rains, we were met by Suhaila Tarazi, director of Al Ahli Arab Hospital, and taken on a “tour” of northern Gaza, starting with Beit Hanoun, a village near the checkpoint that had long since lost its citrus groves to an Israeli-created “no man’s land” and had struggled to survive by bringing light industry to the area. The village is now bombed, adding thousands to the pre-war unemployment rate of over 40 percent … Thinking we had seen the worst, we were overcome by Shujiya, on the edge of old Gaza City, a neighborhood of native Gazans — unlike the two-thirds of citizens who are refugees from the 1948 war. We were shocked to see people living among the debris — blankets over gaping holes attesting to habitation for some of the 250,000 who are now homeless … The next day, we visited Al Ahli to experience the ongoing miraculously good work that a small hospital does. Dr. Maher Ayyad, the hospital’s medical director, recounted the trauma of the summer’s 51-day assault — surgeons operating round the clock, countless shrapnel and burn victims, and the horrifying puzzle of what new weapon the Israelis were testing in this war. This weapon was not the white phosphorus of the previous attack, but something that caused internal organs to become toxic after shrapnel had been surgically removed, forcing the surgeons to repeat surgeries to stop the infections if they were able to do so….

Hebron carpenter to make 1000 cabinets for war-torn Gaza
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — A carpenter in Hebron will make 1,000 cabinets to send to the Gaza Strip to help support those most affected by Israel’s devastating summer offensive. Ayman al-Qasrawi told Ma‘an that he has already made 80 cabinets for Palestinians in Gaza and decided it was his duty to help out people in need in the coastal territory. The carpenter says he only requires the raw materials for his workshop in order to make the cabinets, but otherwise will not receive any fee for his work.

Violence / Raids / Suppression of protests / Arrests

Palestinian injured as soldiers fire at protesters in Beit Furik
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — A Palestinian youth was injured after Israeli soldiers opened fire on protesters in the village of Beit Furik east of Nablus Thursday. Munadel Hanini, member of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front’s central committee, told Ma‘an that clashes erupted between Israeli soldiers and dozens of Palestinians in the area of al-Judou. Hanini said that Tawfiq Hamad Khatatbeh, 16, was injured after being shot in the leg and was taken to the Rafidia Public Hospital where his injuries were reported between light and medium.

Palestinian shot, injured during weekly Qalqiliya march
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — A Palestinian man was injured by live fire during a weekly march in the Qalqiliya village of Kafr Qaddum on Friday, witnesses said. Bilal Fathi Jumaa, 25, was shot in the right leg by Israeli soldiers during a weekly protest against the closure of the village’s entrance since 2000. He was taken to hospital for treatment. Israeli forces used tear-gas, live fire and skunk water to disperse the demonstrators. A media spokesman for the village, Khaldun Abu Khalid, said the marches started three years ago and will not be stopped by Israeli violence against demonstrators.

Several Palestinians injured near Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Dec — Palestinian medical sources have reported that several residents have been injured in the Safa and ath-Thaher areas, in Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, after a number of Israeli military vehicles invaded them. Spokesperson of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ummar Mohammad Awad said clashes took place near the Karmie Tzur illegal settlements, built on Palestinian lands, and that the invading soldiers fired rubber-coated metal bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades at the residents, and a number of homes. Awad added that a young Palestinian man was shot in his arm, and another tripped and fell from a relatively high terrace wall while the soldiers were chasing him and several Palestinians. Many residents also suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. In related news, soldiers invaded the Tabaqa village, south of Hebron, and fired several gas bombs and concussion grenades at a number of homes….

Settlers assault Palestinian bus driver in Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Dec by Saed Bannoura — A Palestinian bus driver was injured, Thursday, after a number of Israeli extremists assaulted him at the Central Bus Station in West Jerusalem. The driver, identified as Anwar Tawil, 32, works for the Israeli Egged Bus Company. He was hospitalized after a number of Israeli extremists assaulted him on Thursday evening. Eyewitnesses said the incident took place in the Central Bus Station in Jaffa Street, in West Jerusalem. They added that Tawil was talking with another man in Arabic before the Israeli extremists assaulted him. He suffered several cuts and bruises to his back and legs, and was moved to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center suffering moderate injuries.

9 injured as Israeli forces suppress march near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Nine Palestinians were injured on Friday as Israeli forces suppressed a march in the Ramallah-area village of Turmus‘ayya. Demonstrators were attempting to set up a memorial for Ziad Abu Ein, a PA minister who died in the village on Dec. 10 after being assaulted by Israeli soldiers. Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas at the demonstrators and detained four activists. One demonstrator, Muhammad al-Khatib, reportedly had his arm broken while being arrested. Officials from different political factions performed Friday prayers on land threatened by Israeli annexation and planted olive trees in the area. Marchers set off from the village carrying portraits of Abu Ein. The PA official was taking part in a tree-planting project in the village on the day that he died. Medical sources told Ma‘an that Abu Ein lost consciousness and that his heart stopped after being beaten by Israeli soldiers and inhaling tear gas.

PHOTOS: Army fires tear gas, rubber bullets at commemoration march for PA minister
Activestills 19 Dec Photos and text by Yotam Ronen, Oren Ziv — Hundreds of demonstrators arrived Friday at the West Bank village of Turmus Aya to mark one week since the death of Palestinian Authority Minister Ziad Abu Ein. The protest took place not far from the Adei Ad outpost, where Abu Ein was attacked last week by an Israeli soldier. He died shortly thereafter in a Ramallah hospital.

4 arrested, 3 injured in East Jerusalem clashes
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Israeli special forces unit on Friday afternoon reportedly detained four Palestinians and injured three during clashes in the Wadi al-Joz neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Witnesses told Ma‘an that clashes broke out in the area, where Palestinians threw Molotov cocktails, fireworks, and stones at Israeli forces who were deployed in the area. Israeli undercover forces raided the neighborhood, and witnesses said they detained and beat three Palestinians youths. Two of the detainees were identified as Abd al-Rahman and Burhan Kashour, while the identity of the third was not clear. Six other locals were briefly detained for few minutes before being released. Three Palestinians were lightly injured by rubber-coated steel bullets during the clashes.
Israeli forces also reportedly detained a child named Salah Moussa Owedah from al-Bustan neighborhood in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The circumstances of the arrest were not immediately clear.

Israeli soldiers shoot, injure Palestinian man near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Israeli soldiers shot and injured a Palestinian man during an arrest raid in the Nablus refugee camp of ‘Askar early Thursday, Palestinian security officials said. Several Israeli military vehicles stormed the camp and ransacked the home of Nur Abu Hashya, who stabbed and killed an Israeli soldier in Tel Aviv in November. Ahmad Jamil Sharqawi, 22, was shot in the hand by Israeli forces and taken to Rafidia hospital for treatment.

Settler ‘opens fire’ on Palestinian protest in Bethlehem-area village
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Dozens of Palestinians on Friday held a march against the Israeli occupation and settlement policies in the West Bank in the village of al-Ma‘sara near Bethlehem. Organizers from the local Popular Committees Against the Wall and Settlements said that during the rally a Jewish settler opened fire on the marchers, but no injuries were reported as a result of the attack. The weekly rally took place near a major road also used by Jewish settlers, as the village of al-Ma‘sara is ringed by Israeli settlements and large amounts of village lands have been confiscated by Israeli authorities. Israeli forces later arrived on the scene and dispersed demonstrators by firing tear gas canisters. Since 2006, the residents of al-Ma‘sara have protested on a weekly basis,

Woman injured after being struck by a settler’s car near Qalqilia
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Dec — Palestinian medical sources have reported, Tuesday, that a woman was injured after being hit by a speeding Israeli settler’s car, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia. The sources said the woman, Emtithal Abdullah Qashwa‘, was struck while trying to cross the road, and that the settler fled the scene. Qashwa‘ is a teacher at the Nabi Elias Secondary School, east of Qalqilia. She was moved to the Darwish Nazzal Hospital in Qalqilia, suffering several fractures and bruises. Her injuries have been described as moderate but stable. There have been numerous similar incidents in different parts of the occupied West Bank, including in Jerusalem, causing dozens of injuries and several fatalities.

VIDEO: Israeli troops forcibly abduct two crying 10-year-old children
IMEMC 18 Dec by Celine Hagbard — The Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron videotaped an incident on Wednesday morning in which two small children are grabbed and held by soldiers. As the boys begin to cry and shake, multiple relatives attempt to intervene, but the soldiers end up abducting the children in an unmarked van. The mother of one of the boys is eventually allowed to go with them in the van, but another older male relative breaks down in tears after his intervention fails to free the young boys. The soldiers accused the two boys of throwing stones, but provided no evidence to back this accusation. Mohammed Nabil Taha and Akram Zayed Al-Jamal were visibly shaking and crying while the Israeli border police held them by their collars for thirty minutes at Qitoun checkpoint 209 in Hebron, before pushing them into a white van and taking them away to an unknown location. [Mother: See how scared the children are. They need a doctor now. Soldier: Everything is fine. We have laws here.]

Israeli settler alleges Palestinians tried to kidnap him
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Dec — An Israeli settler claimed, on Thursday at night, that two Palestinians tried to kidnap him as he was waiting for an Israeli bus in the bus junction located at the entrance of Keryat Arba’ illegal settlement, in Hebron city, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. The settler phoned the police and alleged that a Palestinian car transporting two Palestinians “stopped near him”, and that the two tried to force him into their car. He said that, after the two failed to abduct him, they drove away, heading towards the southern part of Hebron city. The settler was unharmed; a large number of Israeli soldiers and police officers arrived at the scene of the alleged abduction attempt, and initiated a large search campaign in the area.

Israeli forces arrest Shalit-deal prisoner in Jerusalem home raid
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an)17 Dec — Israeli forces on Wednesday evening arrested a former Palestinian prisoner during a raid on her home in the Jabal al-Mukkaber neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem. The head of a Palestinian committee dedicated to prisoners’ and detainees’ families, Amjad Abu Asab, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the house of Ibtisam al-Issawi, 46, before arresting her and taking her to the Russian Compound (al-Moskobiyah) detention center in West Jerusalem. Abu Asab added that al-Issawi was released in the Shalit prisoner exchange deal after spending 10 years in Israeli jails, and that she is married and has six children. Al-Issawi is one of more than 70 former prisoners released in the 2011 exchange that have been re-detained by Israel since the summer.

Israeli forces detain 9 Palestinians in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 17 Dec — Israeli forces detained eight Palestinians in East Jerusalem overnight [Tues-Wed], including two minors, Addameer prisoner rights group said …  Meanwhile, Israeli officers raided a home in Ras al-Amoud early morning to detain Yazan Siyuri. He was at work at the time, his brother said, adding that the officers assaulted six relatives and handcuffed his father.
Late Tuesday, clashes broke out in the Old City after protests against the killing of Mahmoud Abdullah Udwan earlier in the day. Youths threw stones and fireworks at Israeli forces, who responded with rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades and tear gas. In Bab Hutta, Israeli forces used the foul-smelling ‘skunk’ spray on homes and protesters. The PPS said three men were also detained in the occupied West Bank. Firas Hirzallah, 22 and his brother Hussein, 19, were detained in the Jenin town of Ya‘abad while 19-year-old Tariq Ziad Hamid was arrested near Ramallah. Israeli forces have detained over 125 Palestinians in East Jerusalem since the beginning of December, including 35 teenagers and five women, a local official representing the families of prisoners told Ma‘an. Around 49 of the detainees are from Silwan, 19 from al-Isawiya, 15 from Jabal al-Mukabbir and 42 from other neighborhoods, he added.

Israeli forces detain at least 8 Palestinians across West Bank
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Israeli forces detained at least eight Palestinians from across the West Bank overnight Thursday. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said in a statement that Israeli forces detained Muhammad Tawfiq Bahri, 27, after raiding his home in Qalqiliya. The group added in a statement that Bahri is a former prisoner who has spent three years in Israeli jails. In Jenin, the group said that Israeli forces detained Bahaa Zayud from the town of Silat al-Harithiya as well as Nawras Mari from Kafr Dan town after raiding their homes. The society added in the statement that Israeli forces detained Ammar Abd al-Qader Amro, 31, after raiding his home in Hebron and assaulting his brother Omar Abd al-Qader, who is a former prisoner. The society said that soldiers kept Omar outside for two hours until he passed out as a result of heart problems. He was subsequently taken to the emergency room at the al-Ahli Hospital after Israeli soldiers left the area. Israeli soldiers also detained Ali Ghaleb Badawi Hmeidat, 22, from Bani Na‘im village near Hebron, the group said, as well as Husni Imad al-Amudi, 23, who was taken from his home in Nablus.


Thousands march in Jerusalem following Aqsa prayers
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Tens of thousands of Palestinians performed prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem on Friday afternoon, later marching through the streets of the Old City in protest against Israeli policies banning Muslim worshipers. The director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque told Ma‘an that the number of worshipers at the mosque reached 60,000 including thousands of worshipers who had traveled to attend from the West Bank. The week was one of the first in months in which Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to the mosque were almost entirely lifted, allowing tens of thousands to flock to the holy compound. The director of the mosque said eight busloads carrying Palestinians from the northern West Bank cities of Nablus and Jenin alone arrived at the mosque for prayers. Following prayers, worshipers organized a march in support of Palestinian access to the mosque and in protest against policies that have been repeatedly imposed on Palestinians to prevent them from reaching Al-Aqsa.

200 Palestinians in Gaza head to Aqsa for Friday prayers
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — Two-hundred Palestinians from the Gaza strip were given permits by Israel to pray in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, officials at the Palestinian liaison office said. The permits were mainly issued to Palestinians over the age of 60, with the worshipers crossing into Israel via the Erez crossing. On Oct. 5, some 500 Palestinians in Gaza prayed at the holy site for the first time since 2007.

Israeli rightists tour Aqsa compound, official says
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Dozens of Israeli rightists entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound Thursday for the second day of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Director of the mosque, Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, said that 140 right-wing Israelis entered the compound under armed guard and toured the area. Verbal arguments broke out between the Israeli groups and Palestinian worshipers after a member of the group pushed a female photographer at the Chain Gate. Israeli forces detained photographers Abd al-Afu Zghayar, Tamer Shalata and Latifa Abd al-Latif, al-Kiswani added. Shadi al-Issawi was also detained and taken to the Russian Compound for interrogation. Al-Kiswani also said that three Israelis launched a remotely controlled flying device with camera over the mosque compound before police stopped them. Israeli police said that they had permission to film the area but had deviated from the allocated area.

Restriction of movement / Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Racism

Israel announces limited Christmas permits for Palestinian Christians
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — An Israeli official in charge of Palestinian civilian affairs in the West Bank said on Thursday that several measures were being taken to facilitate the movement of Palestinian Christians during the Christmas holiday season. Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Yoav Mordechai announced several measures to be taken in the period lasting until January 19, when the final Christmas date celebrated in Palestine — Armenian-Palestinian Christmas — will bring the season to a close. Mordechai said that Palestinian Christians living in the West Bank will be given long-term permits for travel into Israel during the holiday season, although no specific number was announced. He also said that 700 Palestinian Christians from the Gaza Strip, including only those aged below 16 and over 35, will be allowed into Israel and the West Bank. 500 Palestinian Christians from the West Bank will also be allowed to visit first-degree relatives in the Gaza Strip, while 200 others will be given permits to travel through Ben Gurion airport, which is normally forbidden to Palestinians. He also said Israel has increased the working hours of the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel in order to facilitate the movement … Israeli forces maintain severe restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom of movement between the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel through a complex system of permits….

VIDEO: No donkeys allowed
[with photos] HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Khalil Team) 17 Dec — Mohammad Saleh, a sixty-six-year-old Palestinian resident of Tel Rumeida, al-Khalil (Hebron), waited with his mule outside Shuhada checkpoint for nine hours over the course of two days. He spent four hours waiting before being allowed through on Monday (15/12/14) evening. He then spent five hours Tuesday (16/12/14) attempting to cross in the opposite direction before eventually turning back, after being denied repeatedly by Israeli forces claiming that donkeys, mules, horses, and carts are not permitted to pass through the checkpoint. Shuhada checkpoint serves as the only clear passage between the H2 (Israeli-controlled) neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida and the H1 (Palestinian Authority-administered) neighbourhood of Bab Al-Zawiye, a route many Palestinians must traverse regularly in the course of their work and daily routines. Mohammad arrived at the Bab Al-Zawiye side of the checkpoint at 13:40 on Monday afternoon, his mule laden with empty milk jugs and saddlebags packed with various provisions. Israeli forces refused to let him through, claiming no animals were allowed past the checkpoint – a claim no one, including other international organisations at the scene as well as the Palestinian District Coordination Office for al-Khalil, had ever heard before … Barring donkeys, mules, and horses and carts is only the latest in a string of frustrating, humiliating regulations imposed on the people living near the checkpoint, who must pass through to work, study, and shop for essentials such as fresh food. Just a few days earlier a group of elderly Palestinians, ill people, young children, and teachers at a local school had also been forced to wait, some for up to three hours, before being allowed through … Soldiers present at checkpoints routinely cite newly imposed rules and orders from superior officers as reasons for denying people passage, but whether someone passes easily through a checkpoint or must wait for hours often seems to be determined by nothing more than the soldiers’ caprice. Many Palestinians must pass through Shuhada checkpoint multiple times in a day, carrying items as diverse as fresh vegetables, tubs of oil, and gas for cooking and heating their homes.

Israeli army denies farmers access to land
NABLUS (WAFA) 17 Dec – Israeli army Wednesday prevented farmers in the village of Jaloud, to the south of Nablus, from cultivating their land, according to local sources. The village’s mayor, Abdullah Mohammad, said an Israeli troop intercepted Palestinian farmers who were cultivating their land in the village, under the pretext that it is located in area C, under full Israeli military and administrative control. The village is adjacent to the illegal Israeli settlement outpost of Esh Kodesh, where farmers’ access is restricted to special permits.

Army orders a Palestinian to stop digging a well in his land
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Dec — A number of Israeli military vehicles invaded, on Friday, an area in the al-Khader town, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and ordered a Palestinian to stop digging a water well in his land, close to an illegal settlement. Ahmad Salah, coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in al-Khader, told the Palestinian News and Info Agency (WAFA) that the soldiers, accompanied by personnel of the “Civil Administration Office,” invaded the Thahr al-Jorn area, close to Neve Daniel illegal settlement, and handed the order to Khader Ali Ghneim. The army told Ghneim that the well he was digging “did not receive a permit from the Civil Administration Office,” run by the military in the occupied West Bank. The well is part of a project run by the Palestinian Agricultural Relief aiming at helping the Palestinians, especially amidst the ongoing Israeli violations against them, and their lands, for the benefit of illegal settlements.
In related news, soldiers confiscated three Palestinian tractors east of Yatta town in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, and prevented the Palestinians from plowing their lands to prepare for the winter season. Rateb Jabour, coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, said the soldiers confiscated the tractors in Susiya area, and that the machines belong to members of the Nawaj’a family.

Court: IDF cannot sue settler for uprooting his illegal vineyard
Haaretz 18 Dec by Chaim Levinson — The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court has turned down a civil lawsuit that the state filed against a West Bank settler seeking compensation for expenses the Israel Defense Forces incurred for clearing vineyards on land that the settler planted but did not own. In a twist in the case, the court declined to order compensation because the army had also ordered the settler not to set foot on the land, thereby also depriving him of the access that he needed to clear it. The suit was filed against Moshe Deutsch, a farmer from the settlement of Sussia who has a history of trespassing on Palestinian-owned land. In 2012, the IDF’s Civil Administration issued an order barring him from making further use of the plot on which he had planted grape vines and barring him from the site. When Deutsch failed to removed the vineyard, the IDF demolished it on its own. In January 2013 the state filed suit, seeking 57,000 shekels ($14,500) in compensation for the cost of clearing away the vineyard. The government’s lawsuit is part of a strategy that the state prosecutor’s office has been pursuing to file civil suits over similar violations, but the effort has been highly selective.

In Photos: Palestinian school threatened by Israeli bulldozers
JORDAN VALLEY  (EI) 17 Dec by Ahmad Al-Bazz — It took two years of hard work to build the Samra community school in the occupied West Bank’s Jordan Valley. But an Israeli demolition order issued against the school in October threatens to leave dozens of children without nearby access to education. The demolition order was given under the pretext that the school was built without a permit. Yet building permits are only very rarely issued to Palestinians by the Israeli occupation authorities, one of many measures intended to push Palestinians out of the area. Samra is one of five Palestinian communities in the Beqaa area in the northern Jordan Valley. The children in these villages have no schools in their area, so they go by bus to a school in a village fifteen miles away. Heavy winter rains wash out the dirt roads, sometimes making it impossible for the students to get to school … The Samra community school is an initiative of the Jordan Valley Solidarity campaign, in cooperation with local residents. Palestinians and international activists, using minimal resources, began to build the school in early 2012 by making bricks of mud. By August this year, construction of the two-classroom school was nearly complete. But Israel’s threat to demolish the building means that it may be destroyed before a single pupil is ever educated there.

Jerusalem, Hebron: 17 new demolition orders
Alternative News 18 Dec by Ahmad Jaradat — Eleven demolition orders were delivered to the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center reports that the targeted homes and buildings are owned by the Abbasi, Awad, Abdo, Abu Sneineh and Samreen families, amongst others. The Abu Sneinehs’ home, for example, was built over thirty years ago. 70 people will be rendered homeless when the homes are demolished, the information center adds. Fakhri Abu Diab, a member of Silwan’s popular committee, told the Palestinian news agency Ma‘an that over 62 percent of houses in Silwan are under the threat of demolition, after orders were “randomly” distributed as “collective punishment,” which he says aims to displace the residents and control the neighborhood. Abu Diab added that some houses which were taken over by settlers in October of this year were built without permits but none of them received demolition orders.
Also on Wednesday Israeli civil administration officials delivered six demolition orders to families from the Al Kom village, located west of Hebron. Al Kom is located in Area C and Israeli authorities contend the homes in question were built without permits.The families have two weeks to appeal these orders, but have reported that “from our experience we have no reason to trust the court”. Four of the six homes were built six months ago while the other two were still under construction. Forty people will be forcibly rendered homeless when these homes are demolished.

Settlers cut off electricity, attack homes near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — A group of Israeli settlers on Thursday cut off an electricity line that supplies a Palestinian home in the village of Burin south of Nablus, a local official said. Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that dozens of settlers cut off electricity to the home of Bilal Eid in the eastern area of the Burin village. Clashes erupted between settlers from Jewish-only outposts nearby and local Palestinians as a result of the incident. Daghlas said that Israeli settlers also sprayed “racist graffiti” and Stars of David on Palestinian homes in the area. Burin is a frequent site of settler violence and Palestinian clashes with Israeli forces as it is located beside the notoriously violent Israeli settlements of Yitzhar and Bracha.

Price tag graffiti hits Haifa promising ‘revenge’
HAIFA (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Graffiti promising “revenge” against Arabs was found Thursday morning on the wall of the mixed Palestinian-Israeli city of Haifa in northern Israel, police said. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that the words “Revenge, greetings from Glick” were found spray-painted on a wall beside Benjamin Park (Gan Binyamin) in Haifa’s lower city, near the busy Russian-Israeli neighborhood of Nordau street. The graffiti, which was written in Hebrew, is a reference to right-wing Jewish activist Yehuda Glick, who was shot and seriously injured a month and a half ago by a Palestinian suspect during a right-wing rally in Jerusalem. Glick is an American-born Israeli and the chairman of the Temple Mount Heritage Fund, an extremist Jewish organization focused on “strengthening the relationship between Israel and the Temple Mount.”

Two unequal worlds in Israeli-occupied Jerusalem
JERUSALEM 18 Dec by Budour Yousseg Hassan — …Issawiyeh and the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University are right beside each other; yet, in some respects, they are two different worlds. On 16 November, as I was attending an international humanitarian law class, I overheard an American exchange student joking about “sound effects” when the noise of Israeli gunfire could be heard coming from Issawiyeh. Although the violence was just a ten minutes’ walk away from where he was sitting — and involved breaches of the international law he was learning about — he and many other students have been able to keep on going to class, treating the nearby unrest as little more than background noise. Salam Muhaisen does not have that luxury. Each morning during the closure, she walked from her native Issawiyeh to the Hebrew University, where she is a student of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. “On the way I smell skunk water, see the police invade the village and suddenly I’m [at] the Hebrew University where all is perfectly quiet,” she told The Electronic Intifada. A few Israeli students have bothered to see first-hand what is happening in Issawiyeh; some attended a protest on 12 November. That demonstration was not attacked by Israeli forces — perhaps, according to Muhaisen, because they did not wish to leave a bad impression on the Israeli students … “Worse still, some Israeli students here ask me, ‘why don’t you go study in Birzeit [a Palestinian university near Ramallah] or Bethlehem?’ — as if I owe them an explanation for studying in a place built on my own land.”

Prisoners / Court actions

Solidarity hunger strike brings end to 570-day isolation of Palestinian prisoner
EI 19 Dec by Adri Nieuwhof — This week, more than one hundred Palestinian political prisoners ended a hunger strike in solidarity with Nahar al-Saadi, a Palestinian prisoner who was held in solitary confinement for more than 570 days by Israel. The action resulted in an agreement between the leadership committee of the striking prisoners and the Israeli Prison Service. It brought the solidarity hunger strike, which began on 9 December, to an end on 17 December. The Israeli Prison Service gave in to the hunger strikers’ demands to end al-Saadi’s isolation and respect his right to family visits. After the agreement, al-Saadi suspended his own one-month-long hunger strike and was finally allowed to speak with his mother by telephone. In 2012, the Israeli Prison Service agreed to the demand to end the use of solitary confinement after thousands of Palestinian political prisoners went on a mass hunger strike. That action ended the solitary confinement of nineteen Palestinian prisoners at that time. Al-Saadi is part of a group of twenty Palestinian detainees who have been held in long-term solitary confinement.

Prisoner from Gaza barred from seeing son for nine years
GAZA CITY (EI) 19 Dec by Patrick O. Strickland — Jehad Saftawi has not seen his father in more than nine years. After being denied entry permits to present-day Israel multiple times, the 23-year-old Gaza City-based journalist eventually stopped bothering to apply for prison visits through the International Committee of the Red Cross. Because his 52-year-old father Emad was imprisoned while Jehad, the oldest of five siblings, was just nine years old, his mother “more or less had to raise us alone. It was very difficult because all of her relatives live in Syria,” Jehad told The Electronic Intifada. Countless Palestinian families have faced such difficulty.

‘Smuggled’ child meets father in Israeli jail
Al Jazeera 19 Dec by Rania Zabaneh — Whenever someone asked Majd where his father was, he would run to the sitting room and point to a poster hung on the wall. For the 15-month-old toddler, “baba” (Arabic for dad), was a picture, a voice on the other end of the telephone and a lot of stories that his mother, Lydia Rimawi, recited. This was because his father, AbdulKarim Rimawi, has spent the past 13 years in an Israeli prison, where he is serving a 25-year sentence. Majd is one of more than two dozen Palestinian children born to a prisoner family in the past two years through a combination of sperm-smuggling and in vitro fertilisation (IVF). Around 7,000 Palestinians are serving time in Israeli prisons, with nearly 1,000 facing sentences of 20 years or more. Denied conjugal visits and separated from visitors by glass panels, sneaking sperm samples out is their only hope to make a family. At the Razan fertility clinic in Nablus, doctors told Al Jazeera they had frozen around 70 prisoners’ sperm samples and were getting more from behind bars, although the frequency has fallen dramatically in the past few months. “The rate has dropped by 25 percent,” clinic doctor Salem Abu Khaizaran confirmed. The clinic, which performs the $3,000 IVF procedure pro bono, is currently following up with seven pregnant women … In addition to sharing hope for a better future, these women share the same fear: Israeli retribution. Lydia Rimawi would not reveal how Majd was “smuggled” out from prison, but she joked that getting him back to visit his father was much more complicated than getting him out. In August 2013, when Majd was two weeks old, she took him to Israel’s Nafha prison to introduce him to his father. “They asked me whose baby he was,” Lydia Rimawi told Al Jazeera. “Guards snapped, said my husband has been in jail for 12 years, there’s no way that baby was his.” To be allowed in, Israeli authorities asked for a DNA test – something Majd’s mother and father both rejected, fearing Israeli authorities would manipulate the results to smear their reputation and that of other couples who resorted to sperm smuggling. Instead, AbdulKarim Rimawi admitted to smuggling out a sperm sample. His punishment was a $1,500 fine and a ban on visits for eight months, followed by a separate ban pertaining to his wife and son.

Israeli court extends detention of 7 Palestinians for Facebook posts
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — An Israeli court extended the detention of seven Palestinians from Jerusalem for “incitement” via Facebook for at least three more days on Friday. The head of a committee for the families of prisoners in Jerusalem, Amjad Abu Asab, identified the seven prisoners being held by Israeli authorities as Omar al-Shalabi, Uday Sunuqrut, Tareq al-Kurd, Sami Ideis, Ibrahim Abdeen, Nasser al-Hidmi, and Fouad Ruweidi. The seven were detained last Monday, apparently as a result of Facebook posts that authorities found to contain messages of “incitement” to violence. Israeli authorities have in recent years detained numerous Palestinians inside Israel and Jerusalem for posting comments or statuses on Facebook they said somehow praised violence against Israel.

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria

‘Siding with life in the face of death': photographer captures siege on Palestinians in Syria
EI 17 Dec by Budour Youssef Hassan — …A refugee from the ethnically cleansed Palestinian village of Awlam, south of Tiberias — it was completely destroyed in April 1948 during the Nakba, Israel’s foundational act of ethnic cleansing — 23-year-old Saied was born and raised in Yarmouk refugee camp on the southern outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus. The Syrian regime air strike that hit the camp on 16 December 2012 was a decisive moment in Niraz Saied’s life, as it was for the hundreds of thousands of other Palestinians and Syrians who lived in the camp. Saied was not in the camp when the MiG fighter jet bombed Abd al-Qader al-Husseini mosque, but it was the airstrike, and the exodus and blockade that followed, which prompted him to return a few weeks later. Just as the Syrian regime and its allied Palestinian militias imposed a partial siege on the camp after the emergence of armed opposition fighters such as the Nusra Front, Saied returned to the camp, armed with his camera … “Many focus on transmitting graphic images of charred corpses, blood-soaked faces and intense shelling. I tried to capture the daily life reality in the camp, to accentuate the human face of the suffering and transform the smallest details into a work of art.” …Titled The Dream Lives On, the exhibition illustrates Saied’s view that Yarmouk is not merely a pile of stones and destroyed buildings; it also contains human beings who love, dream, struggle and persist. The pictures broke the siege imposed on the camp and made it into occupied Palestine, bridging the distance between the homeland and the diaspora and sharing with Palestinians at home the anguish, fear and hunger that their brothers and sisters in Yarmouk go through on a daily basis. A similar message is conveyed in the new documentary Letters From Yarmouk, directed by Palestinian filmmaker Rashid Mashharawi. Saied assisted in the production of the documentary by filming and photographing from within the camp.

Palestinians in Lebanon push back against media incitement
BEIRUT (EI) 18 Dec by Moe Ali Nayel — Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have been trying to remain outside the consuming fire of Lebanese politics. Since the 2007 destruction of Nahr al-Bared refugee camp by the Lebanese army in the north of the country, Palestinian refugees have learned to quickly take preemptive measures to avoid a repeat of that disaster … In recent months, Lebanese media have increasingly been claiming that various Lebanese Sunni extremist figures with ties to al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, and with the “Islamic State” group are hiding in Ein al-Hilwe. Palestinians are again becoming a scapegoat, despite the fact that some of these extremist figures have enjoyed the backing of top Lebanese political figures. Palestinians in Ein al-Hilwe are acutely aware that their camp could turn into another arena for Lebanese politicians to settle their differences.

Other news

Israeli ‘Arab Idol’ singer dared to belong to the Middle East – now Israel may jail him
Haaretz 18 Dec by Mira Awad — Haitham Khalaily, a singer from a Galilee village who thrilled millions on ‘Arab Idol,’ could bring a lot of people together – if Israel doesn’t put him in jail — …We talked about the trap for Palestinian artists who are citizens of Israel. On one hand they want to succeed here, in their home, but they have almost no market; it is very small here and resources are limited. They have almost no chance of breaking into the national consciousness with a song in Arabic, since there are radio stations whose slogan may be “Only Israeli music,” but in fact they mean “Only Hebrew music.” On the other hand, these artists do not have the opportunity to turn to the millions in the Arab world since they are Israeli citizens, and no producer will take the chance of being boycotted because of the Israeli who appears in the show. Khalaily did not win, despite the text messages from our supporters, and now he faces a problem. When he returns to Israel he will be questioned and there is talk he may be arrested on charges of entering an enemy country. Khalaily saw a big chance, without thinking about what would be waiting for him when he returned. It seems I would have done the same thing if I was in his place. If he had won, maybe he would have continued on to some Arab country or to America, and there they would have produced a video clip for a million dinars, or dollars, and made him into a star, and he would have toured the world and excited crowds with his Palestinian kaffiyeh, and instilled hope in all those left behind; after all, it they will it, it is no dream. If he would have won, maybe he wouldn’t have had to come back here and deal with the blind, petty government that wants to forcibly isolate him from his cultural surroundings and squeeze out his identify from him with threats. The regime that is interested in leaving him a hostage of a reality that was not of his choosing. A regime that denies his culture, his history and identity, and systematically clips his wings and his dreams, and refuses to see the potential hidden in him to bridge, compromise and maybe open up a little bit the suffocating ghetto they are building for all of us here, Arabs and Jews together….

Arab share of Israeli school population is dipping
Haaretz 18 Dec by Lior Dattel — Taub Center says growth trend reversed three-to-four years ago and hasn’t changed — After many years of steady growth, the Israeli Arab and ultra-Orthodox share of the country’s young pupils is showing signs of a decline relative to the secular and national-religious share, according to the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies. After rising to 28.2 percent of the total school population in 2009, up from 24.2 percent 10 years earlier, the proportion of Israeli Arabs enrolled in first through sixth grade has been declining and reached 26.4 percent of the elementary school-age population this year, the Taub Center said in its State of the Nation report yesterday. Meanwhile, the last three years has seen the percentage of ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, children in the same grades reach a plateau at about 18.5 percent.

EU court strikes Hamas from terror blacklist
AFP 17 Dec by Danny Kemp — The Palestinian Islamic militant group Hamas must be removed from the EU’s terrorism blacklist, but its assets will stay frozen for the time being, a European court ruled on Wednesday. The original listing in 2001 was based not on sound legal judgements but on conclusions derived from the media and the Internet, the General Court of the European Union said in a statement. But it stressed that Wednesday’s decision to remove Hamas was based on technical grounds and does “not imply any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of Hamas as a terrorist group.” The freeze on Hamas’s funds will also temporarily remain in place for three months pending any appeal by the EU, the Luxembourg-based court said. Hamas, which has been in power in the Palestinian territory of Gaza since 2007, had appealed against its inclusion on the blacklist on several grounds … Hamas’s military wing was added to the European Union’s first-ever terrorism blacklist drawn up in December 2001 in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States. The EU blacklisted the political wing of Hamas in 2003.

Netanyahu demands EU immediately restore Hamas to terror list
JERUSALEM (AFP) 17 Dec — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday demanded the EU immediately restore Hamas to its terrorism blacklist, after a European court ordered the group’s removal. “We are not satisfied with the European explanation by which Hamas has been withdrawn from this list. We expect the Europeans to puts Hamas back on the list immediately,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

Abbas submits UN resolution draft with 2017 as date for Israeli withdrawal
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Dec — Palestinian President and Fateh party member Mahmoud Abbas submitted, on Wednesday, the awaited UN resolution draft setting terms for final peace talks with Israel, saying that Palestine is open to negotiations. The drafted resolution sets the year 2017 as the final deadline for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories, the Palestinian News Network (PNN) reports. Fellow Arab League member Jordan will present the draft to the UN Security Council, said envoy Riyad Mansour, adding that he would not press for an immediate vote on the text of the draft, in order to allow the opportunity for further discussion on the matter.  The move will open the door for possible US engagement on the initiative.

EU Parliament passes resolution to support recognition of Palestine
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 17 Dec — The European Parliament on Wednesday passed a resolution supporting recognition of Palestinian statehood and the two-state solution to the Middle East conflict. The EU parliament supports “in principle recognition of Palestinian statehood and the two state solution, and believes these should go hand in hand with the development of peace talks, which should be advanced,” the resolution said. It also decided to launch a “Parliamentarians for Peace” initiative to bring together MEPs and MPs from the Israeli and Palestinian parliaments, a statement on the parliament’s website said. The resolution passed by 498 votes to 88, with 111 abstentions. The statement said the parliament reiterated “its strong support for the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, with the secure State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security on the basis of the right of self-determination and full respect of international law.”

Netanyahu: Palestinian bid for statehood will bring Hamas to power in the West Bank
Middle East Monitor 19 Dec — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday warned that the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN Security Council will lead to Hamas taking over the West Bank, the Anadolu Agency reported. Israeli radio quoted Netanyahu’s remarks made during a Hanukkah candle lighting celebration at the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday. He said: “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas thinks he can threaten us with unilateral steps. He doesn’t understand that the result will be a Hamas takeover of Judea and Samaria [West Bank].” “We won’t let that happen. We will never agree to unilateral diktats. We will always maintain our security,” he vowed. Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman described the Palestinian draft resolution, which was submitted to the UN Security Council last night, as a destructive step. During his visit to Prague, he told reporters that “a comprehensive solution to the conflict can only be achieved through negotiations”.

UN will ‘take time’ to decide on Palestinian resolution
AFP 19 Dec by Carole Landry — Negotiations on a draft UN resolution that sets terms for a final Israeli-Palestinian peace deal will take time, Jordan said Thursday, indicating that a Security Council vote was not imminent. Jordan presented the measure on Wednesday to the UN Security Council on behalf of the Palestinians, who said they were open to negotiations on the text. “It will take time,” Jordan’s UN ambassador Dina Kawar told reporters. Jordan along with Britain and France were hoping to achieve a draft resolution that could be adopted by consensus at the Security Council and will not be vetoed by the United States. But the United States said Thursday it did not support the current resolution. “It is not something that we would support,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. Washington has repeatedly vetoed Security Council resolutions seen as undermining its close ally Israel. The Palestinian draft resolution sets a 12-month deadline for wrapping up negotiations on a final settlement and the end of 2017 as the timeframe for completing an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories. A final peace deal would pave the way to the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as a shared capital, according to the text … The US administration opposes moves to bind negotiators’ hands through a UN resolution — particularly any attempt to set a deadline for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank.

DFLP warns against neglecting right of return in UN resolution
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 Dec — The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine warned Friday that a draft UN resolution for a final status agreement must not neglect the right of return for Palestinian refugees. The refugees’ committee of the DFLP said that UN Resolution 194 must not be compromised in any peace deal. The resolution, adopted by the General Assembly in 1948, states that “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.” Around 70 percent of the global Palestinian population are refugees, according to rights group Badil.

Geneva Conference slams Israeli settlement activities
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Dec — The summary resolution of the conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention has denounced the continued practice of settlement expansion in occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), expressing deep concern over the frequency of international humanitarian law violations by the Israeli state. The summary additionally called for Israel to desist from any activity which alters the demographic balance in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Palestinian factions meet in Gaza as thousands march in Dahlan rally
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Dec — Representatives of all major Palestinian political parties on Thursday met in Gaza for the first time since a series of explosions targeted Fatah last month, even as thousands rallied in the streets against a trial some fear may only deepen the political divide. The meeting signaled a potential thaw in the relationship between leading groups Hamas and Fatah, which despite a coalition government in place since April has been shaky since the blasts. The attacks were carried out by unidentified assailants whose political affiliations are unclear and who are still at large, a fact which has itself led to accusations of responsibility by Fatah officials against Hamas, which controls security in Gaza. Fatah spokesman Fayez Abu Aita told Ma’an that factions from across the spectrum had decided to resume efforts to “heal the rift” between the Fatah and Hamas movements following the November explosions.
The meeting, however, came as thousands of supporters of exiled Palestinian strongman Mohammed Dahlan protested Thursday in Gaza against the reported sacking of dozens of members of the security forces who back him. The demonstration came as a trial opened in the West Bank against Dahlan on charges of corruption, seven months after a Palestinian court sentenced him to two years in jail for defamation. Dahlan once held the internal security portfolio and headed the powerful security forces in the Gaza Strip, acting as pointman for the Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas — his sworn rival. But he fell from grace in June 2007 when Hamas drove Fatah from Gaza after days of fierce street battles….

‘Liberation for all': Why Palestine is a key issue on the streets of Ferguson
ST. LOUIS (EI) 17 Dec by Rania Khalek — “As a person who supports Israel I was glad to see that there were no signs and conversation about Gaza at all,” said St. Louis-area rabbi Ari Kaiman after participating in a clergy-led protest outside the Ferguson Police Department on 13 October. It was the final day of the “weekend of resistance” — four days of direct actions organized by Ferguson protesters who asked people of conscience from around the country to join them in St. Louis to demand justice for Michael Brown, the unarmed Black teenager gunned down by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Kaiman was right to worry and he is not alone. Israel’s apologists are desperate to neutralize the growing bond between Palestinians and African Americans spurred by the uprising in the small Missouri town in the northern outskirts of St. Louis. But they are failing miserably. While Palestine advocacy has traditionally been excluded from progressive and social justice circles in the United States, incredible displays of mutual solidarity between Ferguson and Palestine have been featured regularly in the streets of St. Louis and beyond since Brown’s grisly slaying on 9 August. And the “weekend of resistance” was no exception … Delivering a statement of solidarity on behalf of the Palestine Contingent at a massive rally in downtown St. Louis on 11 October, Suhad Khatib of the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee said to the crowd, “We recognize that none of us is free until all of us are free. We know Black liberation in this country will lead to liberation for all.”

Jews protest racism and police brutality on first night of Hanukkah
SAN FRANCISCO (The Forward) 17 Dec by Hannah Rubin — #ChanukahAction Rallies Draw Thousands in 15 Cities — As the first candle of Hanukkah was lit last night, several hundred Jews blocked traffic in San Francisco. The swell of protestors engulfed the busy intersection of Powell Street and Market Street, and a four minute and twenty eight second long moment of silence was held, followed by a recital of the mourner’s kaddish. This act of civil disobedience was part of #ChanukahAction, a national Jewish movement calling on Jews to support black liberation and end police violence throughout the eight days of Hanukkah … The first night of Hanukkah saw large protests in 15 different cities across the country. Actions in each state differed slightly in their form and participation, but the message was uniform: to publicly mourn the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police and to further the political demands of Ferguson Action, a national organizational group.

WATCH: IDF soldiers treating wounded Syrians on Israel border
Haaretz 17 Dec — Footage shot by a VICE News team – Nearly two years after United Nations reports first revealed that Israel was providing medical treatment for Syrian rebels, the Israeli army has agreed to allow reporters to document soldiers assisting wounded Syrians at the Israeli-Syrian border. More than 1,400 wounded Syrians have received medical treatment in Israeli hospitals in the north as well as at a temporary hospital the army has set up near the border, the army has said. Vice News, the media outlet that has received permission to provide video documentation of the interaction, says 90 percent of the wounded were menEarlier this month, Haaretz reported that UN observers in the Golan Heights began reporting in March 2013 that Israel had begun admitting injured Syrians for medical treatment in Safed and Nahariya hospitals. The Syrian ambassador to the UN complained of widespread cooperation between Israel and Syrian rebels, not only treatment of the wounded but also other aid. The UN reports reveal direct contact between the IDF and armed opposition members. Israel at first asserted the injured were civilians. (listserv)