Israeli forces shoot, injure Gaza fisherman [on shore!]
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Sept — Israeli naval forces opened fire off the coast of northern Gaza late Wednesday, injuring a Palestinian fisherman on a beach, locals said. Yousef Zayif, 70, was hit by live fire while waiting for his sons on the shore near al-Sudaniya. Medics said he was moderately wounded. An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was looking into the incident. On Sunday, an Israeli warship opened fire at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Gaza City’s al-Shati refugee camp, the speaker of the Union of Gaza Fishermen said. Nizar Ayyash told Ma‘an that Israeli gunboats “have been firing at fishermen every day since the ceasefire agreement was signed.” He also said that Israeli naval forces have detained six Palestinian fishermen since the ceasefire agreement in late August.
Most Malta boat refugees were Gaza refugees
BRUSSELS (EUObserver ) 17 Sept by Andrew Rettman — Palestinian people fleeing Israel’s occupation of Gaza were most of the victims in the Malta boat incident last week, when hundreds were left to drown by human traffickers. The information comes from survivors interviewed by the Palestinian embassy in Greece, which spoke to two men from Gaza who made it to the Greek island of Crete. Two other men from Gaza, who made it to the Italian island of Sicily, also gave details to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), a Swiss-based institute. The original group, which sailed from Damietta in Egypt, is said to have numbered 500 people from Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Sudan. But Ahmed Suhail, a Palestinian diplomat in Greece, told EUobserver on Wednesday (17 September) that “according to the information we got, around 250 or 300 of them were Palestinians from Gaza”. A Gaza-based NGO, Adamir, corroborated his statement, telling the Israeli newspaper Haaretz it has collected the names of 400 missing people. “The whole Gaza Strip is talking about it. It’s such a painful story, as if it’s not enough what happened in the last war and now another blow comes”, the NGO’s director, Halil Abu Shamala, said. One Gaza resident, Belal, who is planning to make a similar trip, told this website that Israel’s recent attack prompted many people to attempt the crossing. “We are thinking: It’s better to try and to drown in the sea than to stay at home and be killed by Israeli bombs”.
2 boat survivors in Italian custody
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Sept — Italian authorities are holding two Palestinian survivors of a deadly boat sinking in protective custody, Palestine’s embassy in Rome announced Friday. Khmain Barbakh and Shadi al-Jabari are being held in protective custody because they are witnesses to the suspected deliberate sinking of a boat packed with hundreds of migrants. The embassy said in a statement that as of noon Friday, diplomatic staff “were informed officially by the Ministry of Interior’s department of migration that there are only two survivors with Italian authorities.” No remains of Palestinian victims are in Italian custody, the statement added.
Israeli forces enter Gaza for third time since the truce
Middle East Monitor 19 Sept – -Israeli forces entered the outskirts of Khan Younis, southern Gaza, this morning to complete what they called “security activity” at the barrier around the Strip, eye witnesses reported. Witnesses said: “Four Israeli bulldozers set off this morning from Kissufim military base, and penetrated 100 meters east of the town of Al-Qarara, north of Khan Yunis.” According to witnesses, the bulldozers dredged agricultural land near the town before leaving. Israeli Army Radio quoted unnamed military sources as saying that the Israeli army this morning carried out “security activity” by examining the border area with Khan Yunis. The incursion is the third on the borders of the Gaza Strip since the signing of the ceasefire agreement between the Palestinians and Israel on August 26, brokered by Egypt, after the Israeli war which lasted 51 days. Over the past two weeks, Israel has carried out similar activities on the outskirts of the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
2 killed, 3 injured by unexploded Israeli ordnance in Shuja‘iya
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Sept — Two Palestinians were killed and three were injured on Friday when an unexploded Israeli bomb blew up in the al-Shuja‘iyya neighborhood of eastern Gaza City. A Ma‘an reporter in Gaza said that a huge explosion was heard in the al-Shuja‘iyya area and ambulances rushed to the area immediately. Spokesperson for the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza Ashraf al-Qidra said that two Palestinians were killed in the explosion. Al-Qidra identified the two as Ayman Ziad Abu Jibba, 23, and Abdullah Jibril Abu Aser, 23, and said that their bodies were taken to al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City. In mid-August, six people were killed in a similar explosion, and watch groups have warned that the ordnance is a particular threat to children, who often think the bombs are toys. The Gaza Strip is currently littered with a large number of unexploded Israeli ordnance, a constant reminder of the more than 50-day Israeli offensive that left more than 2,150 dead, 11,200 injured, and more than 110,000 homeless. Although Gaza police explosives teams have been working across the territory to destroy unexploded ordnance and prevent safety threats to locals, lack of proper equipment due to the seven-year Israeli siege as well as lack of resources more generally have hindered efforts. Even before the most frequent Israeli assault, unexploded ordnance from the 2008-9 and 2012 offensives was a major threat to Gazans. A 2012 report published by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that 111 civilians, 64 of whom were children, were casualties to unexploded ordnance between 2009 and 2012, reaching an average of four every month in 2012.
Hamas fighter dies in Gaza tunnel accident
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Sept — Hamas’ military wing said that one of their members died on Thursday evening in an “accident” in a tunnel below the Gaza Strip. Al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement Thursday that Ahmad Riyadh al-Haddad, 21, from Tel al-Islam in Gaza City, died in a “resistance tunnel,” without giving any further information. One of Israel’s stated aims in it’s more than 50-day assault over July and August that killed more than 2,150 Palestinians was to destroy all tunnels operated by Hamas inside the Gaza Strip, particularly those entering Israeli territory. Although Israeli military officials said before withdrawing from their invasion of the eastern Gaza Strip that they had accomplished this mission, the news of the fighter’s death suggests Hamas continues to maintain a tunnel network. Hamas has said the tunnels into Israel are for use against military targets near the border, and during the conflict launched a number of such attacks.
Gaza widow offers insight into world of spies
GAZA CITY (AP) 17 Sept by Hamza Hendawi — The 48-year-old Palestinian woman’s husband was shot to death in 2012 by militants in the Gaza Strip for spying for Israel. A mother of seven, she herself was jailed by Gaza’s Hamas rulers for aiding and abetting a spy – her husband. The widow’s account to The Associated Press gave a rare look into the secret espionage side of the war between Israel and the Hamas militant group. According to her, Israeli security agents took advantage of her late husband’s financial troubles a decade ago, luring him into collaborating by offering him a permit to work in Israel. She was later recruited when she was allowed to take one of their children to Israel for medical treatment. “Our life was hell. We were scared,” she said of their years feeding Israel information. “I used to look over my shoulder when I am out in the market, get scared when I see a police car.” The woman, who was released in December, spoke on condition of anonymity because Hamas does not allow freed collaborators to talk to the press. Israel has historically relied on collaborators against Palestinian militants and activists, recruiting them with methods ranging from entrapment and blackmail to cash and perks. Hamas, in turn, has done whatever it can to stop collaborators – particularly by killing them in public as a deterrent to others – since it holds them responsible for helping Israel assassinate dozens of its top figures … On the Gaza side of Erez, a large sign put up by Hamas warns travelers against being recruited by Israelis. An AP reporter this week witnessed firsthand how the Israeli military uses access to Israel through Erez to get information from Palestinians. On the Israel side outside the crossing terminal, a Palestinian businessman who had just entered from Gaza sat waiting for his brother, who was crossing with him but was held up by border officials inside the terminal. A uniformed army lieutenant speaking Arabic approached the man and promised to help his brother, but first asked him dozens of questions about life in Gaza, from the number of factories damaged in the latest war, to the mood on the streets and power supply. The questioning – casual in tone – lasted about 15 minutes, and the man answered with little hesitation. In the end, the officer insisted on taking the man’s mobile phone number. The brother emerged soon after.
Gaza’s revenge: Israelis swim in Palestinian shit
11 Sept by Sam Bahour – Consecutive Israeli military assaults have caused huge damage to Gaza’s water and sewage systems, writes Sam Bahour. One result is that almost all Gaza’s water is unfit for human consumption. Another is the tide of raw Palestinian sewage lapping on the beaches of Tel Aviv. So who should we feel most sorry for? … Reality is bleaker than ever before. Nothing of the underlying reasons why Gaza exploded into a bloodbath has changed; Israeli and Egyptian closures of Gaza’s borders remain in place. However, one product is making its way freely across the border into Israel. Actually, this product flows undetected by the almighty Israeli military and rolls right up on to the shores of Tel Aviv. More terrorist shit The product is Palestinian shit, or more accurately, to maintain the media bias of the times, Palestinian terrorist shit. We Palestinians have no love affair with the Israelis relaxing on the shores of Tel Aviv. Many of these Israelis have no problem being high-tech professionals in the morning, throwing on their military uniform and participating in turning Gaza into a living hell on earth in the afternoon, then going for a relaxing swim with the family on the shores of Tel Aviv in the evening. However, we would advise Israelis, and all tourists to Israel for that matter, to please stop swimming in our shit. This practice is not only unhealthy for you and your children, but it is killing us, literally and figuratively.
Gaza ministry postpones surgeries due to strike
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Sept — Gaza’s Ministry of Health has postponed up to 180 surgeries in the besieged coastal enclave due to strike action by cleaning staff. Health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said patients will bear the consequences if cleaning staff across Gaza continue to strike. Some 750 cleaning workers are participating in strike action in protest at not receiving their salaries for five months. The workers used to be paid by the Hamas-run government in Gaza, but the group and the Palestinian Authority are at odds over responsibility for payment of salaries in Gaza.
Israel tortures prisoners captured in Gaza invasion
GAZA CITY (Electronic Intifada) 17 Sept by Joe Catron — Two dozen Palestinians captured during Israel’s invasion of Gaza this summer remain in detention more than three weeks after the 51-day offensive ended. While the men have had limited contact with their families, the legal team representing most of them says several have been tortured. “They testified in front of our lawyer that they were subjected to torture by the Israeli interrogators,” Issam Younis, director of Gaza’s Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, told The Electronic Intifada on Monday. Al Mezan represents 22 of the 24 detainees still held by Israel. “At least eight that were visited by the lawyer were subjected to torture,” Younis added. “It doesn’t mean the others were not.” Their treatment has included beatings with the butts of M-16 rifles, sleep deprivation for at least three consecutive days and handcuffing in painful stress positions, according to Younis. Additionally, he said, “They were intimidated with threats that Israel would demolish their houses, kill their families and rape their wives.” Indefinite detention The number of prisoners from the Gaza Strip held after the ground invasions has decreased since the height of the offensive, said Gavan Kelly from Addameer, a group supporting Palestinian political prisoners. “There were two hundred people arrested from Gaza,” he told The Electronic Intifada on Sunday. “Of these, 24 are still currently being held, one of whom is being held under the Unlawful Combatants Law, which allows for detention without charge or trial for an indefinite amount of time … “In practice, the Unlawful Combatants Law contains fewer protections for detainees than even the few that are granted under administrative detention orders in the West Bank,” states Addameer.
Egypt denies Palestinian family entry at Rafah crossing
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 18 Sept — Egyptian authorities on Thursday denied a Palestinian family from Gaza entry into Egypt because the family had allegedly used smuggling tunnels to enter the besieged enclave several years ago. Egyptian officials told Ma‘an that a Palestinian woman and her children were stopped by border officials at Rafah while trying to enter Egypt. The family, who have German citizenship, did not have entry stamps to Gaza, which, according to Egyptian authorities, means they entered Gaza using tunnels and not the Rafah crossing. The mother later admitted during interrogation that they had entered Gaza through a smuggling tunnel in Rafah in 2012.
2,500 Gaza pilgrims travel to Saudi Arabia via Rafah crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Sept — Over 2,500 Hajj pilgrims from Gaza will enter Egypt on Thursday via the Rafah crossing, a Palestinian official said. Director of Gaza’s crossings authority, Maher Abu Sabha, told Ma‘an that the pilgrims will transit through Egypt en route to Saudi Arabia.
Briefing: What’s in the UN’s new Gaza agreement?
GAZA, JERUSALEM, DUBAI (IRIN) 19 Sept — On 16 September the UN announced a new deal that is supposed to ease restrictions on the Gaza Strip. In his public statement on the day, Robert Serry, the UN envoy for the Middle East, gave few specific details about the deal but said it would “enable work at the scale required in the Strip, involving the private sector in Gaza and giving a lead role to the Palestinian Authority in the reconstruction effort.” IRIN looks at the issues. Why is the agreement necessary? Following the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas and other Islamist groups in Gaza, much of the enclave is in ruins. At least 18,000 homes were destroyed as Israel dropped thousands of bombs on the heavily populated area, while key infrastructure including power plants and water networks were also badly damaged. Rebuilding efforts are made even more challenging by a pre-existing blockade. Since 2007 Israel and Egypt have limited or banned many basic goods from entering the Strip. Among those that Israel restricts are fertilizers, cement, steel cables and even some fabrics. Tel Aviv defines such goods as “dual use” – meaning that while they are needed for the civilian population, they could also potentially be used by militant groups in attacks. With the catastrophic level of destruction and ongoing humanitarian crisis, rebuilding without easing the blockade is nearly impossible. A key housing group has estimated that without lifting the restrictions on cement and other dual-use goods, restoring Gaza just to the level it was before the war could take 20 years. As such, the UN, the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority have reached a deal that seeks to increase access while aiming to assure Israel that none of the goods will fall into the hands of Hamas or other groups that it labels terrorists … What is known so far is that there are two main areas of works that this applies to – UN projects and private Palestinian projects. The former have been subject to fewer restrictions in recent years, but a new deal has been agreed whereby the Israeli government will approve UN projects upon receipt of only basic information and their general locations. This, in theory, should speed up UN operations. The second category – Palestinian projects – is the more contentious issue. Under the new rules, Palestinian businesses trying to bring in “dual-use” goods must first register with a database run by the Palestinian government in the West Bank, not Gaza. This online database will register the import and transfer of items. There will be two different monitoring procedures – one for small-scale works such as people rebuilding their homes and another for larger private construction projects. Both of these involve UN monitoring teams overseeing the projects … It does not appear that Hamas, the Islamist party that runs the Gaza Strip, was explicitly involved in the agreement and the extent of the consultation with the group is unclear.
Delay in Gaza rebuilding could threaten truce : Quartet
Jerusalem (AFP) 17 Sept — The Middle East Quartet of peacemakers on Wednesday joined calls for a quick start to the rebuilding of war-ravaged Gaza before the current truce with Israel ends in renewed violence. “The precarious situation in Gaza and southern Israel, the danger that violence could flare up again at any point, are precisely the reason to move as quickly as possible on the short-term and long-term recovery efforts,” Quartet envoy Tony Blair wrote in remarks published by his office ahead of a meeting on international aid to the Palestinians. Blair said that aid to the coastal strip should go beyond just repairing the devastation wrought by Israel’s 50-day offensive against rocket fire from Palestinian militants. “This is not about putting the pieces back together in Gaza,” he wrote in the introduction to a report he is to present in New York on Monday to a session of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), which coordinates international donor support for the Palestinians. “This is about making substantive, lasting change, uniting Gaza and the West Bank and opening Gaza back up to the world,” he wrote. Blair’s report calls for the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority of president Mahmud Abbas to take a leading role in Gaza’s reconstruction, with the “comprehensive” support of the international community. He welcomed Tuesday’s announcement that Israel and the Palestinians had accepted a UN-brokered deal on delivering construction materials to Gaza that would ensure they would not be diverted by Hamas militants.
Hamas: Cairo ceasefire talks to be held within the next week
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Sept — Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouq on Wednesday told Ma‘an that indirect ceasefire negotiations between Palestinians and Israel will restart within the next week. Abu Marzouq said that while the exact date had not yet been set, “it would definitely be before the 24th of the current month.” The Hamas leader also said that the United Nations will take charge of the reconstruction of Gaza in coordination with Israel and the Palestinian unity government, adding that Hamas would not object to any methods taken by the UN in reconstruction. Abu Marzouq added that he is waiting for a phone call from the head of the Fatah delegation in Cairo, Azzam al-Ahmad, to set a time and place for an awaited meeting between Fatah and Hamas leaders. “The movement does not mind meeting in Cairo if it agrees, but if it doesn’t, the meeting will be held in Gaza.” Israel and a delegation comprised of representatives from all major Palestinian political parties will meet for the second half of negotiations for a long-term ceasefire in Gaza.
Israeli FM refusing to cooperate with UN fact-finding mission
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Sept — The Israeli Foreign Ministry has expressed a refusal to cooperate with the fact-finding mission with regard to the recent Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip coordinated by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, say Israeli reports … Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot reported that the Israeli Foreign Ministry wonders if it should cooperate with a fact finding mission which relies on an “anti-Israeli majority”. The sources said that “Israel did not cooperate with Goldstone. As a result, his report was disappeared.”
War? What war? Gaza gets forgotten in a hurry
Haaretz 18 Sept by Gideon Levy — Even if we put aside the moral blindness in Israel, which wasn’t shocked by a single event during the fighting, it’s impossible to comprehend the complacency afterwards — Sometime this summer, between the singer Ninet’s getting pregnant and getting married, a war went on here. It ended and was forgotten. That’s how it is in a bipolar society that fluctuates between mania and depression, between scandal and festivities, between commemoration and suppression. One moment the entire nation is an army at war, the next it’s as if nothing had happened. Even the Israeli sacrifice has been forgotten – not to mention the killing and destruction in Gaza, which were never really mentioned in the first place. Except for the direct victims, nobody seems to remember that a war went on. It goes without saying that nobody is drawing conclusions or learning lessons (except for defense officials and their extortion of the state budget). Israel is jubilant again. It has returned to its nonsense as if there hadn’t been a war, as if another will never break out, as if an hour’s drive from Tel Aviv there was no devastated swath of land, smashed by Israel’s hands, where the inhabitants are suffering horribly while Israel is exultant.
Gaza hasn’t forgotten. There’s a whole list of people who can never forget: the 1,500 orphaned children; the 3,000 wounded children; the 1,000 crippled children; the 110,000 residents still crowded in UNRWA shelters in inhumane conditions; the tenants of the 18,000 buildings destroyed or badly damaged, leaving 2.5 million tons of debris nobody knows what to do with; the 450,000 people without water and the 360,000 who, according to the World Health Organization, are suffering from PTSD after our bombardments. None of these people can be expected to forgive, and this isn’t the first time this has happened. Not only has Israel forgotten they exist, the world might be about to abandon them.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Discrimination / Apartheid
Israeli high court upholds racist ‘admission committees’ law
Electronic Intifada 18 Sept by Charlotte Silver — The Israeli high court upheld on Wednesday the “Admissions Committees Law,” which allows rural towns in the Negev and Galilee to reject Palestinian citizens of Israel and other marginalized groups from residing in them on the basis that they are “unsuitable” for Jewish communities. It is a ruling that Israeli civil and human rights organizations have condemned as legalizing the practice of segregation. Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, filed a petition against the law on behalf of several human and civil rights organizations in Israel on 30 March 2011, arguing that the law violated Israel’s prohibition against discrimination. On 17 September, an expanded panel of judges ruled five-to-four to dismiss the petition. In a press release, Adalah said: “This law is one of the most racist pieces of legislation enacted in recent years, the primary objective of which is to marginalize Arab citizens and prevent them from accessing housing on ‘state land’ in many communities. The court’s decision upholds one of the most dangerous laws in Israel.” While there is specific language in the law that nominally bars explicit discrimination in terms of race, religion, gender, nationality, or disability, it nevertheless allows admissions committees to use a vague criteria to reject an applicant who is “not suitable for the social life in the community” or the “candidate’s lack of compatibility with the social-cultural fabric of the community town.” Discrimination In its condemnation of the law in 2011, Human Rights Watch pointed to one example in which a kibbutz justified its rejection of a Palestinian couple with Israeli citizenship, citing the town’s criteria that required residents be eligible for the membership in the World Zionist Organization and to have served in the Israeli army, which swiftly disqualifies most Palestinian citizens. Approximately seven hundred rural communities across Israel have committees made up of town residents and representatives from the Jewish Agency or the World Zionist Organization….
West Bank Bedouin leaders reject relocation plan
Haaretz 17 Sept by Amira Hass — Lawyer explains to three tribes slated to move to new town how unsuitable the arrangement will be — Representatives of Bedouin communities in the eastern West Bank convened two emergency meetings on Tuesday to discuss their stance against a Civil Administration decision to forcibly settle them north of Jericho. The meeting was initiated by a Bedouin community defense council founded a few years ago in the West Bank. “From the start we’ve opposed the plan to expel us from the places where we live and settle us unwillingly in one town, but we didn’t know just how bad this plan was until we heard and understood the details,” one participant at the first meeting in Anata told Haaretz. “We decided to express our opposition to the principles of the plan,” he said, “and not this or that aspect of it. We know that we have a tough time ahead of us, and there is a chance that the Civil Administration will exert pressure on us in the form of more demolition orders and attempts to expel us from various places.” He also stated that on Tuesday morning four more stop-work orders were issued against four buildings under construction in the Bedouin community of Jabal al Baba, west of Ma’aleh Adumim. In late August, and last weekend, details about the plan to relocate the Bedouin to a town north of Jericho in Area C, adjacent to Area A where the Palestinian Authority governs, were published. The town will be called Talet Nueima, and will house 12,500 people from three different Bedouin tribes: Jahalin, Kaabneh and Rashaida. The Bedouin representatives’ meetings took place simultaneously in Anata and Jericho, due to the distance between the two places, and also because members of various tribes are embroiled in long-term family or personal disputes. These tensions, according to Cohen Lifshitz, are just a small example of the “great difficulty in gathering together people from various tribes, in close proximity that goes against their way of life.” … At the meetings, the participants found out that according to the plan, they will not be allowed to build sheep pens in the manner they are used to, as each structure must be covered by a stone roof. “They raised their eyebrows when I said that,” said Cohen Lifshitz. He also explained that the allocation of lands does not allow each family to build as they wish. “They must submit updated building plans, at their own expense. Speaking with them, I understood that aside from uprooting them, one of the most difficult aspects of the plan is that they are being sent as a group into a single place, without taking into account where they will put their flocks, how they can feed them, how much room they’ll have and where they will keep their livelihood.”
Civil Administration plans to transfer thousands of Bedouins from homes, concentrate them in inadequate settlement
[with map] B’Tselem 17 Sept — The Civil Administration has filed for objections plans for establishing a new settlement in the Jordan Valley, where thousands of Bedouins will be forced to relocate. The Civil Administration is advancing several such plans. The current plan was drawn up without consulting the residents themselves, ignoring their needs. It is part of the Civil Administration’s repeated attempts to concentrate the Bedouins living in the West Bank’s Area C in “permanent sites”, with a view to annexing most of this area to Israel and leaving it free for Israeli use, including settlement expansion. The new settlement, to be named Ramat Nu’eimeh, will be built in Area C near Jericho, in the Jordan Valley, and is slated to house about 12,500 people from Bedouin communities in the Jordan Valley and the Ma’ale Adumim area … The plans ignore the residents’ agrarian way of life and will not allow them to continue shepherding as before. The new settlement will be surrounded from all sides, in part by firing zones, settlements and a military checkpoint, leaving the residents without grazing pastures for their livestock. In addition, the plans force different tribes and communities to live together, contrary to traditional practices. Most Bedouins living in the West Bank arrived there after they left their homes in the Negev desert, in southern Israel, or were expelled from them, in 1948. Ever since Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, they have been forced to relocate several times to allow for Israeli settlements, firing zones, new nature reserves declared, and more. Hundreds of demolition orders have been issued against their homes and entire communities have been repeatedly expelled….
Foreign Affairs Ministry condemns displacement of Bedouins
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Sept — The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned on Tuesday Israeli plans to “empty” areas in the occupied West Bank of Bedouin communities. The ministry said in a statement that these plans aim to expand settlements and displace Bedouin communities from the eastern area of Jerusalem with a “loud violation” of international law and the Geneva conventions. Israeli forces have destroyed more than 23 Bedouin villages in order to expand settlements, it said. More than 350 Bedouin homes have been destroyed since the beginning of 2014 and several schools were shut while the Israeli authorities are preventing humanitarian aid and supplies from reaching these communities, it said. The ministry added that more than 42 Palestinian, Israeli and international organizations have signed a letter demanding an end to the expulsion of Bedouins.
Israeli forces begin demolitions in Bedouin village near Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 18 Sept — Israeli forces raided a number of Bedouin communities east of Jerusalem on Thursday days after handing them demolition and evacuation orders, a local activist said. Popular committee spokesman Hani Halabiya told Ma‘an that dozens of Israeli soldiers entered the Bedouin communities escorted by a bulldozer while an Israeli military plane circled above. He added that the bulldozer demolished the walls surrounding homes and land in the Khillet al-Qamar area in Abu Dis without warning. Halabiya warned that the demolitions in Khillet al-Qamar were part of Israel’s larger plan to “displace” the 14,000 Bedouins living in nearly two dozen communities across the West Bank … Israeli authorities, however, have denied that the plans are a covert attempt at the forcible transfer of Palestinians, instead comparing them to efforts to improve quality of life for some of the 90,000 Bedouins within Israel itself. Palestinians in Israel, however, had widely protested similarly moves against their communities there.
Cabinet due to again approve controversial section of West Bank barrier
Haaretz 19 Sept by Nir Hasson — Terraces at Batir, near Bethlehem, were declared UNESCO World Heritage site in attempt to save them from construction of the separation barrier. During its weekly meeting on Sunday, the government is expected to again approve the construction of the West Bank separation barrier in the vicinity of the village of Batir, near Bethlehem. The course of the barrier will be the same as that originally approved, which was opposed by the Nature and Parks Authority and criticized by UNESCO as endangering ancient terraces. The residents of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc also oppose the construction, believing that it will leave them on the far side of the barrier. A legal battle over the construction of the barrier has been waged for the past seven years. Among the opponents of the barrier are the residents of Batir, who maintain that the barrier will destroy both the landscape and their unique traditional irrigation system … The ministry of defense, which is promoting construction of the barrier, maintains that the damage to the terraces will be minimal and that the irrigation system will not be affected.
Israeli forces issue demolition orders to 3 Hebron families
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 18 Sept — Israeli forces delivered demolition orders to three Palestinian families in the southern West Bank town of Idhna on Thursday, the landowners said. Amjad Hilmi Nofal, owner of the one of the properties, said his family of seven have lived in the home for 10 years. Nofal’s brother, Awad, and his family of nine have lived in their home since 2007, while a third house slated for demolition belongs to Arif Abd al-Hamid Abu Zalata. The families received stop-work orders from Israel’s military seven years ago and have been filing appeals with Israel’s Supreme Court ever since. Mayor of Idhna Hashim Tmeizi says Israel is trying to displace Palestinians from the town, with hundreds of families threatened with demolition orders.
Army to demolish a car repair structure near Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Sept — Ahmad Salah, coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Bethlehem, said the soldiers invaded Um Rokba area, south of al-Khader, and handed an order to resident Osama Salah to demolish his car repair structure. The resident was informed that he has a week to demolish the structure; otherwise, the army will demolish it and send him the bill. He said the army handed him a similar order nearly five months ago. Israel continuously limits the ability of the Palestinians to build in their lands
Israeli forces photograph Palestinian homes while settlers perform rituals near Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Sept — Israeli forces raided and took photos of Palestinian homes in the villages of Ma‘in and Al Karmel, located respectively to the east and southeast of Yatta, south of Hebron, while settlers performed religious rituals, said a local activist. Soldiers forced Palestinian locals out of their homes before breaking into, ransacking and taking photos of the homes, as well as of the entire area, according to WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency. According to Palestinian Village Profile information, Ma‘in is surrounded in three directions by many illegal Israeli settlements and bypass roads. Three settlements lie to the east, two to the south and one to the west, with one bypass road to the east.
Meanwhile, dozens of Israeli settlers, under the protection of soldiers, raided Al- Karmel and performed Talmudic rituals at some local archaeological sites. The Palestinian Village Profile notes that Al Karmel has a long history, dating back to the Canaanite period. The name “Al Karmil” is derived from a Canaanite word, which means “God’s Blessing”, and the village keeps its name until this day. The residents of the village are indigenous to the area, while two illegal Israeli settlements, “Karmiel” and Ma’oun”, are situated to the east of the village.
Israeli forces confiscate farming tools near Tubas
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 17 Sept — Israeli forces confiscated farming tools and tractors on Wednesday and prevented dozens of workers from reaching lands in eastern Tubas in the northern West Bank. A member of the central committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine told Ma‘an that vehicles belonging to Israel’s civilian administration arrived in the al-Atuf and al-Buqeia areas and told the farmers that they were banned from working there. They confiscated farming tools and tractors and briefly detained dozens of workers before they confiscated their identification cards. Bassam al-Maslamani said that Israeli forces confiscated the tractors of Mustafa Bani Odeh and Jamal Muhammad Qassem Bani Odeh. Farmers had announced several days ago a project to extend eight kilometers of water pipes to several plots of land at their own expense, which would cost 200,000 shekels ($55,000).
Settlers uproot agricultural and grazing lands near Salfit
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Sept — A number of extremist Israeli settlers bulldozed agricultural, and grazing, lands belonging to residents from Deir Estia and Hares villages, north of the Central West Bank city of Salfit. The settlers came from the Revava illegal Israeli settlement, built on Palestinian lands in the district. The attack is part of Israel’s efforts to expand the illegal settlements on the expense of Palestinian lands belonging to residents of Deir Estia and Hares. Khaled Ma’ali, a researcher specialized in settlement affairs, said the uprooted agricultural and herding lands have recently been illegally confiscated from Palestinians by an Israeli military order, under different “justifications”.
The battle to preserve Bethlehem’s cultural heritage
[with film trailer] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Sept by Charlie Hoyle — When Palestinian filmmaker Leila Sansour left Bethlehem in the 1980s there were no military checkpoints intimidating the city, no separation wall jutting into residential gardens, and no Israeli settlements dominating the horizon. “I grew up in a very idyllic town, but I didn’t think of it like that as a child. There were forests of olive trees, fig trees, apricot trees and huge fields filled with grape vines,” she told Ma‘an. “All of this is lost in Bethlehem. Now what we have is a concrete forest of buildings.” Sansour’s new documentary, Open Bethlehem, is the culmination of a 10-year journey of emotional reconnection with a city she left as a teenager to experience the wider world. It is also a tribute to the legacy of her father, who founded Bethlehem University … The ancient city, which gave birth to Christianity, is now guarded by Israeli military watchtowers which jut into main thoroughfares and an 8-meter high concrete wall which abuts residential properties, dissecting the population from Jerusalem, historically Bethlehem’s twin city. Israeli soldiers raid the city almost daily to arrest Palestinians and the rolling hills surrounding the city have been replaced by concrete Israeli settlements. Only 13 percent of the Bethlehem governorate is available to Palestinians due to Israeli restrictions. Sansour says the Israeli military occupation is threatening the very survival of a way of life which had thrived for generations … Changing fortunes of a wealthy city During the making of the film, Sansour acquired what is now one of the largest visual archives of Bethlehem, including over 700 hours of video footage, news reels, old magazines and photographs. The archive will be made public over time and it is Sansour’s hope that Palestinians will share in the story of Bethlehem, and Palestine, by helping to identify those featured in the footage. While researching the film, Sansour also discovered that this small, diverse Middle Eastern city had thrived at the turn of the 20th century, as Bethlehemites built a complex trade network for Holy Land products stretching across the Middle East, Europe and as far as the Philippines. The profits that came with such a successful enterprise brought huge profits to Bethlehem, which were funneled into Ottoman mansions still seen across the city. “Bethlehemites had this worldly outlook, like adventurers, they liked the good life, luxuries, and a high standard of education. “It was very easy going, a very outward looking community. Diverse, capable, and entrepreneurial. That is the spirit of the city that I’m scared is disappearing.”
Tulkarem chemical factory exploits Palestinian labour and health
Middle East Monitor 19 Sept — It is a well-known yet understated fact that Israel uses Palestinian land and its civilian population to test military innovations and “cutting edge” crowd control techniques. However, there is an issue often side-tracked, whether intentionally or not, that deals with the use of cheap Palestinian labour in Israel’s growing industrial market. The settlement industrial zones in Area C of the West Bank house chemical factories that have grown into powerful and lethal means of oppression for the communities that they smother. There are now 11 factories in the Tulkarem area, all of which are on internationally recognised occupied Palestinian land within the 1967 borders, displaying a ruthless disregard for the rights of the residents who have to live with the horrific smell, constant threat of land theft, and the health risks that come with proximity to such harmful substances. Israel’s economic interests guide much of its behaviour towards Palestinians and their land; none is more overt than the placing of these factories in and around the villages of Tulkarem.
Violence / Raids / Suppression of protests / Illegal arrests — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli police brutally assault Jerusalem youth
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Sept — Israeli police assaulted, this past Wednesday, 16-year old Shadi Raed Ghurab as he was walking along Nablus Street, in occupied East Jerusalem. Police severely beat the boy with batons while being detained in the interrogation room, at the Salah Eddin Street police station, according to Jerusalem’s Wadi Hilweh Information Center. The Center noted that he suffered fractures in his arm and leg, as seen in the photo. Shadi explained that an officer detained him on Nablus Street and, then, took him to Salah Eddin Street police station. After the interrogator entered the room, he mocked the child for being a resident of the Al-Thori neighborhood, which resulted in a number of verbal altercations. Additionally, according to the boy’s testimony, the interrogator then transferred him to a different room which did not have any cameras, upon which he was assaulted by not one but three officers.
Prisoner says slain cellmate was killed in span of minutes
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Sept — A Palestinian prisoner on Monday said he saw a cellmate believed to have been beaten to death by Israeli prison guards last week only minutes before his death. Nassim Abu Ghosh, a lawyer from the Palestinian Authority Prisoner Affairs department, said that he met with prisoner Muhammad Said al-Azza in Ashkelon on Monday, where he was told the information regarding the deceased Raed al-Jabari. Al-Azza told Abu Ghosh that he was with al-Jabari in Ofer along with another prisoner identified as Abu Jad, who was being moved with al-Jabari to Eshel prison. “We arrived in Ramla and it was normal,” al-Azza was quoted as saying. “We had dinner and prayed and headed to sleep.” “In the morning when we arrived to Eshel, Raed and Abu Jad were taken inside the prison and I stayed in the vehicle. 15 minutes later, one of the soldiers came and told me that Raed was dead.” Al-Azza said that he yelled at the soldier and asked him why he had said his cellmate was dead, but “the soldier did not answer me. He hit me on my leg and shut the door of the vehicle, and then I was then taken to Ashkelon.” Palestinian officials said on Friday that an autopsy suggested that Raed al-Jabari had been beaten to death by Israeli guards in prison, after Israeli prison authorities said he had hanged himself in a bathroom. The injuries suffered by al-Jabari — including internal bleeding and a concussion — did not match the details of his death described by Israeli officials, Palestinian forensic experts said.
Israeli jails fill with Palestinian juveniles after summer riots
Haaretz 19 Sept by Nir Hasson — Hundreds arrested in East Jerusalem in recent weeks; 13-year-olds among those in prison — Hundreds of suspects under the age of 18 have been arrested in East Jerusalem since the riots began there some three months ago. Residents accuse the authorities of neglect and the police of violating the minors’ rights and of brutal treatment, saying “they’re turning little children into terrorists.” Attorneys who represent dozens of suspects in East Jerusalem say the police and legal system’s treatment of the suspects is harsh, vindictive and discriminatory. The involvement of minors in violent incidents in East Jerusalem is nothing new, but since this summer’s riots’ outbreak it has grown to unprecedented proportions. In recent weeks 260 minors have been arrested and even small children have begun taking part in the disturbances. On Sunday two weeks ago, hours after the funeral of 16-year old Mohammed Sunuqrut, a few dozen masked individuals stormed the gas station on the seam line between the Issawiya and French Hill neighborhoods. They set gas pumps on fire and raided the convenience store. Earlier this week six minors, ages 13-15, were arrested on suspicion of carrying out the arson and looting. Their families deny the teens’ involvement and say the police’s so-called evidence is based on admissions extorted under pressure and accusations made by other children. On Wednesday the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court extended the six minors’ custody by five days. Khaled, the father of a 15-year-old suspect, waited angry and frustrated for several hours in the courthouse corridor for the hearing on his son’s custody. His younger son, 13, was arrested several days ago on suspicion of throwing rocks. He is still behind bars. Khaled emphatically denies that his older son was involved in the gas station torching, but tells Haaretz why children take part in the disturbances. “These children have nothing, they should have places to play in,” he says. “They saw what happened to the children in Gaza, 500 children were killed there, and their friend Mohammed Abu Khdeir was murdered. I was in the first Intifada. Twenty years later we’re back in the same situation.” The father of another suspect said he told his son to stay at home. “But he told me, ‘I’m afraid they’ll burn me like they burned Abu Khdeir, so I won’t stay at home,’” he says … Kamal Jabrin, a youth counselor from the Shoafat refugee camp, says his brother was arrested in July for one day in Jerusalem police headquarters. “He became an adult in one day,” Jabrin told Haaretz. “You put a 13-year-old in a room with 17-year-olds and he’s afraid of being beaten up. It’s hell there. I see it in my work, every child put in jail, even for two days, most chances are he’ll go back to jail after a short time,” he says … Tsemel and Mohammed Mahmoud, an attorney who also represents several dozens of minors, say the police burst into homes to arrest juveniles in the middle of the night, interrogating them with shouts and threats in their parents’ absence … Tsemel and Mahmoud compare the way the Palestinian minors are treated to the way the courts and police treat Jewish suspects of similar age but accused of more serious crimes. For example, at the end of July a group of Jews attacked two young Palestinians in Beit Hanina with clubs and sticks in what was described as an attempted lynch. The two Palestinians were injured, one seriously. Yet only one of the 12 Jews arrested on suspicion of taking part in the attack was kept in custody until the end of the legal process.
Israeli occupation extends arrest of national football team player for the eighth time
BETHLEHEM (PNN) 19 Sept — The Israeli Occupation court extended the arrest of the Palestinian national football team player, Sameh Maraa’beh, and the head of the Qalqilyah Islamic Club, Moayyad Shrim, for another week, without any clear charge. This extension is the 8th for both prisoners in Majiddo prison after the failure of Israel to find them guilty. Maraa’beh’s father was shocked by the court decision, and was not able to see his son for more than the 15 minutes of court session. It is noteworthy that Maraa’beh was arrested last April at the Jericho checkpoint on his way back from a camp abroad with the national team in Qatar.
Israeli forces disperse West Bank protests
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 Sept — Hundreds of Palestinians protested across the occupied West Bank on Friday to call attention to Israel’s efforts to confiscate their land. The weekly marches protesting the Israeli occupation and land confiscation and condemning international silence toward the Palestinian cause set off after Friday prayer. Dozens of Palestinians were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets and suffocated by tear gas grenades as Israeli forces dispersed a march in the village of Nabi Saleh near Ramallah … Bil‘in: At a protest in Bil‘in, a village near Ramallah, a Palestinian was injured and dozens suffered from tear gas inhalation. Two international activists were detained. Ashraf Abu Rahma was injured in his leg as he was chased by Israeli forces, while an Israeli and British activist were detained. Ma‘sara: Near Bethlehem, meanwhile, Israeli forces blocked a weekly march in the village of al-Ma‘sara, locals said. Dozens of Palestinian and international activists marched in the village to protest against Israel’s confiscation of land in the area, but were forcibly stopped by Israeli soldiers.
Six Palestinians, including two children, kidnapped in West Bank, Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Sept by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers continued their daily invasions into different Palestinian communities and kidnapped, on Wednesday, at dawn, six persons including two children, in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Media sources in the Hebron district, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, said the soldiers kidnapped three Palestinians in the district. The sources said residents Morsi Khalil Hmeidat, Osama Amin Manasra, 24, and former political prisoner Mohammad Mousa Hmeidat, also 24, have been kidnapped after the soldiers invaded and ransacked their homes in Bani Ne‘im town, west of Hebron, taking them to an unknown destination. Soldiers also kidnapped Abdul-Hamid Abdul-Hadi Sharawna, 57, also after breaking into, and ransacking, his home in Deir Samet town, south of Hebron.
In Ithna town, west of Hebron, soldiers broke into several shops before searching and ransacking them, and invaded a number of neighborhoods in Hebron city. The soldiers also installed roadblocks at the entrances of Sa‘ir and Halhoul towns. In addition, soldiers kidnapped two Palestinian children in the al-‘Eesawiyya town, in the center of occupied Jerusalem, and took them to the al-Maskobiyya interrogation center in West Jerusalem. The Israeli police claims the children “participated in torching a fuel station” belonging to settlers living near al-Eesawiyya. In addition, the army kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Mohannad Ghazawna from the ar-Ram town, north of Jerusalem. In Bethlehem, dozens of soldiers invaded the Deheishe refugee camp, south of the city, and handed two residents military warrants for interrogation.
Six Palestinians kidnapped in West Bank and Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 18 Sept by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers invaded on Thursday, at dawn, Nahhalin village, to the west of Bethlehem, where they kidnapped four Palestinians; one in Mareeha village, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and another in Jerusalem. Local sources in ‘Anin said that dozens of soldiers invaded the village, broke into and searched several homes, kidnapping four Palestinians … In addition, the soldiers kidnapped Ali Mohammad Khalil, age 21, from ‘Anin village, while he was in the nearby village of Mareeha, south of Jenin. The army claimed that the kidnapped Palestinians are “wanted for security violations”. The soldiers also invaded the home of Walid Abdul-Hadi Abu ‘Obeid, in Faqqou‘a neighboring village, searched and ransacked one home, and interrogated the family. Furthermore, an Israeli military source in occupied Jerusalem said the soldiers kidnapped one Palestinian allegedly, “after he tried to attack a soldier with an axe” … On Wednesday evening, soldiers invaded Ya‘bad town, to the south of Jenin, and clashed with local youth. The army fired rounds of live ammunition, gas bombs and concussion grenades; several Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. In related news, a number of fanatic settlers, from the Mabo Dotan illegal settlement, threw stones and empty bottles at Palestinian cars driving on the main Jenin-Tulkarem road.
Many injured in two Jenin villages; three kidnapped in Jenin and Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Sept by Saed Bannoura — Medical sources reported, on Thursday evening, that several Palestinians received treatment for the effects of tear gas inhalation, after dozens of soldiers invaded two villages near the northern West Bank city of Jenin. The sources said that residents have been injured in Zababda town and Mslayia [or Misilya] village, after the soldiers invaded the two communities and fired gas bombs and concussion grenades, to provoke clashes with the locals. Also on Thursday evening, soldiers kidnapped a young Palestinian man while he was crossing a military roadblock near Barta‘a ash-Sharqiyya village, near Jenin … In related news, soldiers installed a roadblock between the villages of Zabbouba and Rommana, west of Jenin, stopped and searched dozens of vehicles, and investigated the ID cards of the passengers. In Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, soldiers kidnapped two Palestinians from Beit Ummar village, north of the city.
Soldiers kidnap four Palestinians in Bethlehem, one in Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Sept by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers invaded the West Bank district of Bethlehem, and kidnapped four Palestinians, and one in Hebron, before taking them to an unknown destination. The soldiers also searched several homes. Local sources said the soldiers kidnapped, on Friday at dawn, Mos’ab Khaled Thweib, 23, from Za‘tara town, and Mahmoud Ramadan Hamamra, 17, from Husan, east of Bethlehem city. Late on Thursday at night, soldiers kidnapped two Palestinians from the Deheishe refugee camp, south of Bethlehem, as they were standing at a nearby bypass road near the city … The soldiers also invaded Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron, and kidnapped Mohammad Ahmad Breghieth, 21, after cuffing and blindfolding him at the town’s main entrance.
Prisoners / Court actions
Campaign to release re-arrested Shalit prisoners to launch Friday
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Sept — An international campaign to demand the release of 73 individuals re-arrested after being previously freed in the 2011 Shalit deal with Israel will begin on Friday, the head of the Prisoners Affairs Department said on Thursday. Issa Qaraqe‘ said that an international campaign to demand their release will begin on Friday in Geneva during a meeting of the UN’s human rights council. Qaraqe‘ added that several international and Palestinian human rights institutions will participate in the campaign in response to the “illegal, unfair, and political vengeful” procedures taken by the Israeli government. Qaraqe‘’s statement came during a visit to the family of the prisoner Nael al-Barghouthi, who spent 35 years in Israeli jails and was released in the Shalit deal but was re-arrested recently. The more than 70 ex-prisoners were all arrested in a massive detention campaign across the West Bank carried out by Israel in the wake of the disappearance and death of three Israeli teenagers from a Jewish settlement. Although Israel named three individuals accused in the crime, it also arrested more than 700 other West Bank Palestinians in the first month alone despite their not having any demonstrated link to the crime. A large number remain in Israeli jails, awaiting trial or sentencing.
70 ex-prisoners re-arrested without cause threaten to launch protests
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Sept — More than 70 Palestinians who were arrested in the last three months by Israeli authorities in violation of a 2011 deal that freed them on Wednesday threatened to take protest measures against their continued detention. The prisoners — who were among the 1,027 freed from Israeli custody in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit — said in a letter published by the Palestinian Prisoners’ Committee that detaining them after they were freed was an “illegal and abusive move” by the Israeli government. Detention, the letter added, was done merely for political reasons and had nothing to do with justice … In their letter, the detainees said Israel had violated the prisoner swap deal, which they said stated that Israel should not be allowed to re-arrest freed prisoners for no reason. The prisoners said that they all of those who had been re-arrested had demonstrated commitment to the terms of the deal. Given all of these reasons, the letter said prisoners would have no choice “but to take protest measures that could include an open hunger strike.” They urged the Egyptian government, who brokered the prisoner swap deal known as the Shalit deal, as well as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to intervene and bring to an end to “the tyranny Israel is practicing against them.”
Prior forced feeding causes severe health issues for released prisoner
PNN/IMEMC 18 Sept — According to the PNN, it is an incorrect assumption that the pain of prison ends after being released. For Palestinians, not only the psychological pain continues, but the physical pain and suffering stays as well. The story of released prisoner Anas Mahmoud JudAllah from Nablus, age 26, who was imprisoned for two years under ‘administrative detention’, serves as proof of this … During his latest incarceration, Anas committed himself to two hunger strikes, the first in protest of Israeli prison conditions; the second involved a group hunger strike which lasted for two months, and resonated in the media both locally and internationally. During the strike, also known as the “Dignity Strike”, Anas’ health deteriorated as did that of many of his comrades and, so, he was taken to Poria hospital in occupied Tiberias, for 30 days of medical observation which included forced injections of nutritious injections. For every day during his stay at Poria, Anas was injected with glucose units. In time, and as his strike continued, Anas’ veins petered out and became weaker as a result of fatigue and the fragility associated with such radical protest. Anas told the Ahrar Center for Prisoner Studies about his painful experience in the hospital, stating that “every time the doctor wanted to inject my left hand, he had to try four times in order to succeed and reach the hidden vein” which caused terrible issues with his left hand. Upon his release, Anas went to the medical centers of Nablus for post-strike/imprisonment checkups and was struck by the fact that his left hand needed surgical operation….
Israeli court sentences Palestinian MP to year in jail
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 19 Sept — An Israeli court on Thursday sentenced Palestinian MP Riyadh Mahmoud al-Raddad, 55, to 12 months imprisonment, his family told Ma‘an. Al-Raddad, who is from Tulkarem, was jailed for participating in solidarity protests for Palestinian prisoners, his relatives said.The court date was postponed three times before Thursday’s sentencing. The MP has spent a total of seven years in Israeli jails.
Six children forced under house arrest in Occupied Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 18 Sept by Saed Bannoura — The Israeli District Court in occupied Jerusalem ordered, Wednesday, six Palestinian children from occupied Jerusalem under house arrest for one week. The court also imposed high fines on the families; two children remain imprisoned. Amjad Abu ‘Asab, head of the Jerusalemite Detainees Committee, told the SAFA news agency that the court ordered each family to pay a 500NIS fine, and a third party bail of 5000NIS. Abu ‘Asab identified the children as Ashraf Hani Gheith, 14, Mohammad Younis Abdul-Razeq, 14, Mohammad Khaled Abdul-Razeq, 12, Mo’taz Sheiki, 13, Marwan ‘Alwat, 14, and Mohammad Talhami, 15. Following the abduction of the children, the police interrogated them for several hours without any legal representation, and alleged they threw Molotov cocktails and stones at an illegal settlement outpost. The children were released, and were again called for interrogation on Wednesday.
Ferwana: ’266,500 Gazans kidnapped by the army since 1967′
IMEMC 19 Sept — Head of the Census Department at the Palestinian Committee of Detainees, Abdul-Naser Ferwana, stated that Israeli soldiers have kidnapped 266,200 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip since 1967, adding that this number represents around one-third of more than 800,000 Palestinians kidnapped in occupied Palestine since 1967. The former political prisoner said Israel is still holding captive more than 400 Gazans, including twenty who have been held since more than 20 years, adding that 22 Palestinians who were kidnapped during Israel’s latest aggression and ground invasion into Gaza are still imprisoned. “Gaza Strip detainees have always been an important part of ongoing struggle of the prisoners’ movement; many became symbols of the struggle,” he said. “The first detainee to die during strike in Israeli prisons is Abdul-Qader Abu al-Fahm, from Jabalia in northern Gaza, he died in 1970.”
Palestinians fleeing Syria charged $400 a month to rent garages in Beirut
BEIRUT 18 Sept (Electronic Intifada) by Moe Ali Nayel — On Tuesday, 9 September, Palestinian refugees from Syria descended from across Lebanon to Beirut. They gathered in a group of approximately two hundred to protest outside the UN refugee agency UNHCR’s headquarters in the capital’s Jnah neighborhood. The protest was called by Syria’s Palestinians in Lebanon, an organization that draws attention “to all the humiliation and insults” they are subject to in Lebanon. At the protest, Palestinian refugees described the dire conditions they face in Lebanon. A middle-aged man, Omar, stood warily on the sidewalk facing the UNHCR building. A resident of Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus, which has been under siege since June 2013, Omar was sandwiched between his teenaged son and daughter. He held onto his family in the absence of his wife who he said was “taken by death in Yarmouk last year.” Omar explained that “it’s very difficult for a father to support his family.” Then he went silent. He began to grow uncomfortable as his son and daughter looked at him from both sides, waiting for him to continue. The widowed father’s sleep-deprived eyes broke into tears as he spoke again. “We don’t know what to do,” he said. “We’ve lost everything in Syria and we can’t return to Yarmouk. No one wants to help us; we can’t stay in Lebanon.” … Deprived of education Um Muhammad’s children will not be going to school this year. This is the second school year they have missed. The Lebanese education ministry announced recently that priority will be given to Lebanese children. The other 400,000 non-Lebanese pupils will have to wait and see if there will be available teachers and seats in government-run schools.
PM admits no plans were set for implementing reconciliation
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Sept — Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Thursday said that no mechanisms had been put in place to ensure the implementation of the reconciliation agreement signed by Hamas, Fatah, and other parties in April. All political parties who signed the agreement are fully responsible for finding solutions to the currently unresolved problems, he added, urging factions to hold an emergency meeting to work out solutions. The remarks are one of the most frank admissions on the part of Palestinian political leaders that many of the stumbling blocks the national unity government has faced in the last five months are a direct result of the lack of foresight on their own part. Hamdallah’s remarks came as he addressed a symposium in Gaza City via videoconference that was organized by the Gaza-based Press House Foundation. Despite the lack of planning, however, Hamdallah said that measures were now being taken to address the many issues the consensus government is facing…
Israel refused to allow Turkish electricity for Gaza With regards to the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip, Hamdallah said that the government has been spending 2 million Shekels ($600,000) a day to buy diesel needed to run the Gaza Strip’s sole power plant, which was bombed by Israel and is running under capacity. In addition, the Hamdallah government had managed to sign an agreement with the government of Turkey to get a floating electric power station to the Gaza coast with the capacity to generate 105 Megawatts. However, he said that Israel had opposed the idea and there have been efforts at the international level to convince Israel to allow the power ship to anchor off the Ashdod coast and supply the Gaza Strip with electricity.
Twilight Zone — A different brand of refusenik
Haaretz 18 Sept by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Argentine-born, religiously observant Uriel Ferera has been in military prison seven times and is willing to go back – as long as his protest is heard loud and clear — …Ferera refuses to serve in the IDF, which he regards as an army of occupation, and is unwilling to ask for an exemption on mental-health grounds. “If you ask for an exemption for physical or psychological reasons,” he explains, “you are telling the army: The problem is me. But I am saying: The problem is you.” Nor is he ready to make do with refusal to serve only in the territories – the entire army, wherever it is deployed, is tainted by the crime of occupation, he believes – nor with finding a way to avoid serving, without stating his intentions publicly. Ferera wants to his protest to be heard loud and clear, and is ready to take the consequences. There are other refuseniks, too, but none quite like Ferera. Born in Buenos Aires, he is religiously observant; he’s growing a beard and his earlocks are pushed back behind his ears. The graduate of a high-school yeshiva who grew up in a poor neighborhood of Be’er Sheva, he has a profile that’s quite different from that of the usual refusenik. Maybe that’s why the army is so obsessed with incarcerating him … “If I do army service, I will be contributing to the occupation, even if I am not posted to the territories. Even all the office jobs in the IDF constitute collaboration, and I don’t want to have anything to do with the army. “Refusal is my tool of protest. Whoever wants peace should not do army service. I am doing the most useful thing to change the situation….”
BDS: UEFA decides against Jerusalem tournament bid
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Sept — According to bdsmovement.net, the Union of European Football Associations has rejected an Israeli bid to host games during the 2020 European Championships. The UEFA decision follows a campaign by Palestinian sports teams and campaign groups and activists all across Europe, reports the Palestinian BDS National committee: The Israeli Football Association recently propped a bid to host games in Jerusalem as part of the UEFA 2020 tournament. The games will take place across 13 cities, but the UEFA announced on Friday that Jerusalem was not successful in its move. Israel was one of just 6 cities that failed in its bid to host games.
New York jury to deliberate on Arab Bank terror trial
NEW YORK (AFP) 19 Sept — A New York jury will begin deliberations Friday on whether Arab Bank is guilty of aiding terrorism and transferring millions of dollars to Hamas during the second Palestinian uprising. The hugely respected Jordan-based multinational went on trial in mid-August after 300 US relatives and victims of 24 attacks in Israel and the Palestinian territories filed a federal law suit in 2004. The defense told the jury on Thursday there is no evidence Arab Bank executives supported terrorism and disputed that the institution knowingly made payments to designated terrorists. The plaintiffs claim the bank transferred more than $70 million to an alleged Saudi terror entity, Palestinian charities they claim were a front for Hamas and 11 globally designated terrorist clients … The trial heard that the Arab Bank transferred $60,000 to Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin — who was assassinated by Israel in 2004 — due to a spelling mistake of his name which was not detected by banking software. Every bank that operates in the United States uses the same automated software to screen those on terror blacklists, said defense lawyer Shand Stephens. “If someone is not on the list, the bank is not supposed to run around and figure who is on the list. That’s for the government to do,” he said. “There’s not one word of testimony in this case that would lead you to conclude that any one of those people deliberately supported terrorism,” Stephens said. The Arab Bank says it closed accounts after holders were designated terrorists.
Senate approves enhanced US-Israeli cooperation bill
WASHINGTON (JTA) 19 Sept — The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a bill that would further enhance U.S.-Israel ties. The bill approved Thursday, initiated by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), enhances Israel’s status as entitled to license-free defense technology, adds items to the weapons stockpile the United States maintains in Israel and which is available for Israeli use, requires increased congressional oversight to ensure that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge, encourages U.S.-Israel cooperation on developing energy technologies and encourages Israel’s entry into the visa waiver program, which would allow Israelis visa-free travel to the United States. The latter provision had in earlier versions of the bill mandated such an entry, a central factor in holding up the bill over the last 18 months; the State Department had objected to Israel’s entry for a number of reasons, including a spike in illegal Israeli travel to the United States and discrimination faced by Arab and Muslim Americans entering Israel. A similar bill passed the House in March. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which had made the bill must-pass legislation, encouraged both chambers to reconcile their bills and get it to President Obama’s desk for his signature. “This bill will dramatically strengthen and expand the U.S.-Israel alliance as a way to confront new threats and challenges in the Middle East,” AIPAC said in a statement.
Analysis / Opinion
VIDEO: To see if I’m smiling 2007
Published on Apr 15, 2014 Film directed by Tamar Yarom The story of 6 women who served in the occupied territories. A female Breaking the Silence?
Behind the uproar over Israeli reservists who refuse to spy on Palestinians
Forward 17 Sept by Yossi Melman — …simply put, one of the Israeli military’s most elite enterprises suffered a mutiny among its rank and file. Forty-three of its reservists, including a few midlevel officers (the highest ranking is a major), sent an unprecedented letter to Netanyahu, Army Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and the current commander of the unit, who just recently replaced Tsafrir. Israeli censorship forbids disclosing his name. In their letter, the mutineers stated that they would not carry out their assigned duties because doing so involves, among other things, listening in on the phone calls of Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including many who are uninvolved in violence, to gather information on their health, infidelities, sexual orientations, financial problems, sex habits and other private matters. As the mutineers noted, those nuggets of intelligence are then used to pressure and blackmail the targets, to force them to act as agents and collaborators for the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service. The forty-three letter signers also complain that information gleaned from Sigint, or signals intelligence, that they provide sometimes results in the killing of innocent Palestinians during military strikes based on that information. Their protest shocked Israeli society and generated condemnation from across the Jewish political spectrum, including the mainstream dovish opposition … For the 43 dissidents, the distinction is clear: The moral problems of spying on a heavily armed sovereign country or foreign militia that seeks their country’s liquidation, they believe, are much different from spying on a civilian population that their own country occupies, controls and dominates. “We refuse to take part in actions against Palestinians and refuse to continue serving as a tool for deepening military rule in the occupied (Palestinian) territories,” the dissidents wrote in their letter. “Intelligence allows ongoing control over millions of people…and invasion into most aspects of life. All of this does not allow for normal living, fuels more violence and puts off any end to the conflict.” But beyond all this, what probably really touched the rough Israeli nerve is that Unit 8200 and its personnel are seen as the crème de la crème of Israeli society. It has epitomized the spirit of necessity as preached by Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion: that to survive in the rough and hostile Middle East, the Jewish state needs to maintain its technological and scientific edge over its enemies at any and all costs.
Don’t single out (homo)sexuality in response to Israel blackmail revelations, Palestinians say
19 Sept (Electronic Intifada) by Ali Abunimah — Last week, 43 reservists affiliated with the Israeli army’s “Unit 8200” – an electronic espionage operation – issued a public letter decrying Israel’s latest attack on Gaza and which states that they would not take part in Israel’s oppression of millions of Palestinians living under occupation. What generated particular outrage was the letter-writers’ revelation that Unit 8200 eavesdrops on Palestinians in order to use personal information to coerce them into collaboration with Israel. As one of the letter writers explained to The Guardian, “Any information that might enable extortion of an individual is considered relevant information. Whether said individual is of a certain sexual orientation, cheating on his wife, or in need of treatment in Israel or the West Bank – he is a target for blackmail.” While such extortion – for example against Palestinians from Gaza needing to travel for life-saving medical treatment – has long been documented by human rights organizations, it has been rare for it to be acknowledged in this manner by those tasked with doing the extorting. Understandably, this has generated a great deal of interest and outrage. But alQaws – the Palestinian LGBTQ group profiled by The Electronic Intifada last year – cautions against focusing principally or almost solely on only one aspect of Israeli blackmail – that used against people who engage in same-sex relationships. Such a focus, alQaws warns, can actually strengthen Israel’s pinkwashing narrative – its effort to falsely portray itself as a haven for Palestinians who identify as LGBTQ or who engage in same-sex relationships. Here’s alQaws’ statement in full, which can also be found on the group’s website:
Threatened photographs are window on historic Palestine
Electronic Intifada 18 Sept by Sarah Irving — Between its establishment in 1867 as the first photographic studio in Beirut and the start of the First World War, the Maison Bonfils photography studio produced thousands of images of Palestine, Syria and Lebanon. Many of those images — in the forms of negatives, albums full of prints, stereoscopic views, visiting cards and portfolios — were collected by Fouad Debbas, a Lebanese engineer who was, according to project organizers, “passionate about gathering images of his past and his region.” Now, the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) has helped to digitize a large part of Debbas’ collection, in collaboration with the Jafet Memorial Library at the American University of Beirut and Yasmine Chemali, a Lebanese researcher … Images of Palestine Amongst approximately 3,000 images are hundreds showing late nineteenth and early twentieth century Palestine, taken by Monsieur Bonfils and his wife Lydie, said by researchers to be the region’s first female photographer. Many show famous and holy sites from Islam, Christianity and Judaism such as the Dome of the Rock, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall … Others, however, depict ordinary people in Palestine going about their business, such as shepherds, cowherders, boatmen and laborers building roads. As such, they reveal long-lost details of daily life, such as the clothes and appearance of people who didn’t belong to the kind of elite families who might have had private portraits taken.
Will seeds of peace ever bloom?
Haaretz 15 Sept by Matthew Kalman — More than 20 years after peace-building people-to-people programs between Israelis and Palestinians began, the jury is still out on whether they have actually made any noticeable difference to the conflict. I’m hard-pressed to identify a single prominent leader who has emerged on either side who is a graduate of the people-to-people projects, despite the fact that participants are hand-picked and groomed to become leaders in their communities and the first teenagers would now be in their mid-thirties. In a new study, scholars from the University of Chicago say they may have found the secret to making these activities more effective. Their findings at the end of a three-year research project on Seeds of Peace suggest that participants who make one good friend from the “other side” are more likely to sustain positive feelings about all the people they meet at the Seeds of Peace camp in Maine … The idea of bringing together ordinary Israelis, Palestinians and others from conflict zones in a neutral setting so they can meet and get to know each other across the sectarian divide is such an obviously good idea that few in Israel have dared to challenge its basic assumptions. Not so on the Palestinian side, where any hint of “normalization” with the Israeli occupier has become a crippling curse. The Seeds of Peace center in Jerusalem was closed at the start of the Second Intifada after Palestinian schools, including those operated by UNRWA, refused to endorse their pupils participating in its activities … The results of the first quantitative survey of Palestinian participants in such programs in 2008 were so shocking they were suppressed by the donor government that commissioned it. 91% of Palestinian youths who responded said they were no longer in contact with any Israelis that they had met through the program. 93% said there was no follow-up to initial activity that they had participated in. Only 5% agreed that their program had helped “promote peace culture and dialogue between participants” and a mere 11% came away believing that “there is something that unites us with the other party.”
Mothers of the disappeared in Latin America feel Gaza’s pain
Buenos Aires (Electronic Intifada) 18 Sept by Andrew Klein — This past summer, as Israeli weapons deindustrialized Gaza and decimated its civilians, leftist publications in Latin America began circulating a 2012 essay by the renowned Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano. Writing in the wake of Israel’s November 2012 onslaught in Gaza, Galeano lamented the “erasing of Palestine from the map.” Palestinians, he wrote, “cannot breathe without permission” and “when they vote for someone who they shouldn’t, they are punished.” For Galeano, a historian of Latin America, the 2006 election in Gaza, won by Hamas, seemed a lot like the 1932 election in El Salvador. While El Salvador’s military rulers conceded a place on the ballot for the long-marginalized Communist Party (just as George W. Bush did with Hamas in 2006), they swiftly annulled the results after a Communist triumph, and within days launched a genocidal campaign targeting the party’s indigenous peasant base … Linked plights For Galeano and others, the respective plights of Latin Americans and Palestinians are not only linked in a fertile historical analogy — bridging the gulf of their separate oppressions is an unassailable fact. In the second half of the twentieth century, Israel supplied repressive Latin American governments, from Guatemala to Argentina, with weapons, military transportation, intelligence equipment, counterinsurgency training and even public relations consulting. In Latin America today, Israel has far fewer friends. This reality becomes pronounced whenever it escalates the war against the population it continues to occupy.