January 25, 2015

Violence / Raids / Clashes / Arrests — West Bank / Jerusalem

Settlers shoot and injure Palestinian, pelt cars with stones near Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 25 Jan — A Palestinian youth was shot and injured Saturday by live Israeli settler fire to the south of Bethlehem, while other settlers attacked passing Palestinian vehicles with rocks, to the west, according to local and security sources. WAFA correspondence reports that an Israeli settler opened fire at 25-year-old Mohammed Asa‘ad while he was on his land near the village of Wadi Rahal injuring him in the leg. The settler, in addition to two others, previously (and illegally) took over an area of Asa‘ad’s land and proceeded to set up tents there.
Meanwhile, a number of settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit, which is a part of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, hurled stones at Palestinian vehicles passing on the road linking the villages of Hussan and Nahlin to the west of Bethlehem, causing financial damage to several cars.
http://www.imemc.org/article/70360

Israeli troops injure young Palestinian man in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — Israeli forces shot with a rubber-coated [steel] bullet a young Palestinian man while he was walking out of his house in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur on Saturday evening, the victim’s uncle said. Husam Abu Sneina told Ma‘an that his nephew Saad Addin Samir Abu Sneina, 20, was leaving his house when an Israeli soldier fired a rubber-coated bullet at him injuring him in his eyebrow. The soldier was standing only a few meters away along with a group of soldiers, the victim’s uncle said. Abu Sneina was taken to Shaare Zedek medical center in West Jerusalem. A relative says his family will file a complaint against the Israeli forces who were “firing rubber-coated bullets haphazardly in the neighborhood for no reason.”
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=756282

Palestinian stabbed and beaten by settlers in Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 25 Jan — Medical sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, have reported that Israeli fanatics attacked, beat and stabbed a Palestinian man, from Doura nearby town …  A physician working in the Hebron Governmental Hospital said Yousef Ahmad Hantash was hospitalized after being stabbed, and beaten by the settlers. He added that Hantash, 38 years of age, suffered several cuts and bruises to various parts of his body, and is currently in a moderate but stable condition. Eyewitnesses said the attack took place on a bypass settlement road, near Doura town, south of Hebron.
In addition, soldiers invaded Doura town, stormed and ransacked several homes, and handed ‘Amer Abu Hleyyel and his brother ‘Omar military orders for interrogation in the Etzion military and security base. Several military vehicles also invaded Deir Samet village, and ath-Thahereyya town, south of Hebron, in addition to a number of neighborhoods in Hebron city.
http://www.imemc.org/article/70355

Palestinian arrested in night raid on his family’s home
BRUQIN, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Nablus Team) 25 Jan — At around 4:00 AM on January 23, Israeli forces arrested 22-year-old Raja Sabra in the course of a violent raid on his family’s home in the Palestinian village of Bruqin. His father was awakened by noises coming from outside. Twenty to thirty Israeli soldiers had surrounded the house, advancing past the gate to the family’s door. Soldiers broke the metal door open. Israeli forces entered the house and forced all the women into one room and the men into another. Ten family members were present, including three young children. Some soldiers were masked and acted extremely aggressive. No soldiers gave any explanation to the family members, and when asked why they were there, they yelled at the family to “shut up and be quiet!” The soldiers searched the house, turning over furniture and opening all the drawers and chests, destroying the family’s possessions including a dining room chair. One soldier stole about 3000 to 4000 NIS (about 750 to 1000 USD) from inside the drawer of the bedside table. The soldiers also took the hard drive of the family computer, and Raja’s laptop and cellphone before arresting him. The raid lasted about an hour. Before the soldiers left they arrested Raja, without giving any reason or details about the where they were taking him or for how long. “Where are you bringing Raja?” his pregnant sister-in-law asked the soldiers. In answer, she had a gun pointed at her was ordered to sit down and be quiet. Soldiers responded to any attempt to talk to them with similar aggression. When Raja’s brother tried to find out information about what was happening, a soldier stomped on his foot with his heavy military boots. The children started to cry from fear. The soldiers left with Raja, scratching the family´s car with their guns as they left … The military’s raid on the Sabra family’s home was the first the family had ever been subjected to. Raja, a student taking his final year of Civil Engineering at An-Najah National University, had never been previously arrested or detained by Israeli forces. The family hopes a human rights organization can help to find Raja, and that he will be released soon. One day after the incident, they still had not heard anything about where Raja is being detained, or for how long.
http://palsolidarity.org/2015/01/palestinian-arrested-in-night-raid-on-his-familys-home/

Israeli forces arrest 10-year-old boy, uncle in East Jerusalem
ERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — Israeli forces on Sunday detained a young Palestinian boy and his uncle in the al-Tur neighborhood of East Jerusalem, leading to clashes in the area, witnesses said. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli special forces assaulted 10-year-old Muhammad Afeef Khweis as he was sitting in a park in the neighborhood, causing him to panic. Israeli forces also assaulted Khweis’ family members, who tried to stop the arrest. The officers removed the hijab of one of the women as pushing and shoving ensued. Muhammad’s 50-year-old uncle Hani Saleh Khweis was pepper-sprayed and arrested, despite suffering from shortness of breath. As Muhammad Abu Ghannam, the head of a teacher-parent committee at a local school, tried to provide the uncle with first aid, he was hit in the head by Israeli forces.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=756452

Druze soldier beaten by Jewish gang: We are all the same race
Ynet 26 Jan by Roei Eisenberg — Tommy Houssan calls for tolerance after being hit with glass, bottles in hate attack; president phones father to show support — A Druze IDF soldier who was beaten by Jews in Jerusalem called on Israelis to forward a Facebook post on Sunday preaching a message of peace and tolerance, mere days after his attack. “Many people who have never met me asked forgiveness,” wrote Tommy Hassoun. “I am in a lot of pain, but my head is held high.” His family was recruited to the task, and his brother even turned to the English-speaking community of Tel Aviv in an inspiring post, urging the immigrants to Israel to “love more and cry more; after all, we all belong to the same race, the human race, and with love and by being better people we can thrive. We all can do more.” …  Houssan was attacked on Thursday by ten Jewish men, reportedly after he was heard speaking Arabic. The men, who were wearing skullcaps, hit the 21-year-old Druze student and broke a glass bottle on him. His attackers did not know they were assaulting a man who had completed his IDF service just three months ago and recently moved to Jerusalem to study music.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4619148,00.html

Five Palestinians kidnapped in Hebron, many injured
IMEMC/Agencies 26 Jan by Saed Bannoura — Local sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank, have reported that Israeli soldiers invaded the city and Beit Ummar nearby town, and kidnapped five Palestinians; Many Palestinians injured. Soldiers also invaded Bethlehem and detained Palestinians near Jenin. The sources said several military vehicles invaded Hebron city, broke into and searched a number of homes, and kidnapped a child, identified as Mohannad Jihad Jaber, 16 years of age. The soldiers also invaded the Tabaqa nearby village, and kidnapped a child identified as Mohammad Monqeth Abu ‘Atwan, 16, and Yousef Abu ‘Atwan, 18 years of age. Mohammad ‘Awad, coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ummar, said the soldiers searched and ransacked homes in al-Baten and al-Bayyada areas, east and north of Beit Ummar, and broke into several homes, causing many children to suffer anxiety attacks … The latest arrests in Beit Ummar raises the number of Palestinians kidnapped [from there] by the army since the beginning of this month to 38, including 17 children … Medical sources in Hebron said scores of Palestinians received treatment for the effects of tear gas inhalation, especially near the Abu ar-Reesh roadblock in Hebron’s Old City, during clashes that took place after the soldiers invaded it.
In related news, soldiers invaded Beit Sahour city, near Bethlehem, and handed Shadi Mohammad Hamida, 40, a military order for interrogation, and a similar order to Mahmoud Mohammad al-Helo, 38, in Jabal al-Mawaleh area in Bethlehem city.  Also in Bethlehem, soldiers invaded the al-‘Azza refugee camp, north of the city, and searched homes belonging to Khalil an-Nashash, 26, Samer Kayed an-Nashash, 42, Fuad Nofal al-‘Adaween, and Ibrahim Khalil Da’ra, 42.
In addition, soldiers installed a sudden roadblock on the main entrances of Zabbouba town, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, stopped dozens of cars and interrogated the passengers while inspecting their ID cards.
http://www.imemc.org/article/70363

Israeli forces storm northern West Bank village, question youths
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 25 Jan – Israeli forces raided a northern West Bank village in Qalqiliya district at dawn Sunday and briefly detained a group of Palestinian young men after questioning them in the streets. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers ransacked several houses in the village of Jayyus detaining 10 young men before they were released later after being questioned in the street.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=756286

Israeli forces raid homes in Jenin, court sentences 2 brothers
JENIN (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — Israeli forces raided homes of Palestinians in the Ya‘bad town in southern Jenin late Friday, local sources said.  Locals said that four Israeli military vehicles raided the town and searched the homes of three brothers identified as Khalid, Ahmad and Atef Tawfiq Abu Shamleh in the western part of the town. Soldiers interrogated residents of the three homes without any detentions reported.
Separately, an Israeli military court sentenced prisoner Muhammad Taleb Khalid Abu Baker to 27 months in prison and to pay a 4,000-shekel fine. Abu Baker’s brother, Ahmad, was also sentenced to a year and a half of prison and to pay a fine in the same amount.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=756082

Palestinian youths attack Israeli military tower with improvised bombs
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — Young Palestinian men on Saturday evening hurled improvised bombs at an Israeli military pillbox outside the illegal settlement of Beit El. Sources told Ma‘an that a fire broke out in parts of the pillbox after young men attacked it with pipe bombs. In response, Israeli soldiers fired flares into the air and started to search the area for the attackers.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=756292

Prisoners

Freed prisoner in serious condition at East Jerusalem hospital
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) — Jaafar Awad, a young Palestinian man who was released last Wednesday from Israeli custody due to serious health troubles after a year of interrogation, was transferred Friday to Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem from a Hebron facility. His parents, who escort him day and night, say his situation is worsening daily and he can’t speak or move. Awad is attached to a breathing machine. His father told a Ma‘an reporter that Jaafar started to suffer after an injection he was given at a clinic in Israel’s Eshel prison six months ago. After that treatment, added the father, Jaafar started to have vision troubles in his left eye as well as diabetes, thyroid swelling and severe pulmonary inflammation. “After his health conditions deteriorated seriously, a hearing was held at Ofer court and the court decided to release him after he was interrogated for 15 months,” the father told Ma‘an.
He added that lawyer Jawad Bolous pleaded on behalf of his son and that the Israeli court decided that the decision included a fine of 40,000 shekels as well as a suspended sentence of 18 months to be dismissed after 5 years. The fine was paid by the Palestinian Authority. “The judge told me that the court decided to release Jaafar because he was in a serious condition.” The father explained that Jaafar was detained from his family home in November 2013. He was interrogated in Ashkelon and Eshel detention centers for 21 days and was accused of creating an armed cell and buying a vehicle with the intention to use it for running over Israeli soldiers in the Gush Etzion area. Jaafar was in good health before he was detained and had been studying at the Modern University College in Ramallah, added his father, who added that his son had no prior health problems … “Jaafar has been assassinated silently and slowly,” added his father, alleging that Ramla prison hospital isn’t a hospital but rather “an execution chamber for our kids.” Jaafar had been detained in 2009 and served 30 months in Israeli custody before he joined college in Ramallah, his father says.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=756323

Gaza

Israeli jets perform faux military raids over Gaza skies
IMEMC/Agencies 25 Jan — Israeli fighter jets engaged in mock raids over Gaza City, Sunday morning. PNN reports that, according to press sources, Israeli F-16 warplanes flew through the atmosphere of the sector in the early morning hours and, at low levels, launched intensive military exercises, using heat balloons. The sound alone was enough to spread panic and terror amongst Gaza’s citizens, especially the youngsters, as approximately 1/4 of the victims killed in last summer’s invasion were children.
http://www.imemc.org/article/70356

Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian homes in southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — Israeli forces late Sunday opened fire at Palestinian homes in the southern Gaza Strip, witnesses said. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces east of the al-Faraheen area fired machine guns at houses in eastern Khan Younis. No injuries were reported.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=756475

Israel detains 2 Palestinians near Gaza border
World Bulletin 25 Jan — The Israeli army on Friday detained two Palestinian youths from the Gaza Strip after they crossed the border into the self-proclaimed Jewish state. The two youths had crossed a border fence into southern Israel, eyewitnesses told The Anadolu Agency. Israeli army troops, they added, had fired into farmland in eastern Gaza before detaining the pair. The Israeli army has not yet commented on the incident. Israel occasionally announces the arrest of Palestinians found trying to cross from the Gaza Strip into Israel in search of work. Palestinian rights groups say that over 24 Palestinians have been arrested since October of 2014 for crossing from Gaza into Israel. Unemployment and poverty rates in the embattled Gaza Strip have both now surpassed the 50-percent mark, according to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics.
http://www.worldbulletin.net/haber/153662/israel-detains-2-palestinians-near-gaza-border

VIDEO: Egypt’s role in strangulation of Gaza
Press TV 24 Jan — Egypt has begun evacuating hundreds of families from a town bordering the Gaza Strip, with a senior official acknowledging that the military was eradicating the town in order to complete a security zone abutting the Palestinian territory … The government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has justified the drastic measures in the Sinai Peninsula, including the razing of Rafah, as being necessary to deter the smuggling of weapons and militants across the border … Palestinians in Gaza, with their borders controlled by Israel and Egypt, say the security zone leaves them more isolated and bereft of the tunnels that had provided their only outlet to the world. In this edition of The Sun Will Rise, we discuss how Egypt is squeezing the Gaza Strip with the draconian blockade disguising as security zone.
http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/01/24/394525/Egypts-role-in-strangulation-of-Gaza

Rafah crossing closed for over half of 2014
IMEMC/Agencies 25 Jan — Rafah crossing was sealed for a total of 241 days during 2014, and opened for only 125, the Border and Crossing Authority reported Sunday. According to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, the Interior Ministry’s crossing authority has issued its annual statistics reports regarding passenger traffic via Rafah crossing, noting that the crossing was closed for 66% of 2014. It explained that, out of the 125 days in which the crossing was opened, 51 days were in correlation with the transport of casualties during the latest Israeli military aggression on the region. Other days were allocated for the travel of pilgrims. Rafah crossing has been closed since mid 2013, except for three days every two to three months. Most Palestinian travelers were not allowed access because of subsequent restrictive measures imposed by Egyptian authorities. The statistics showed that the total number of passengers who traveled in and out of the Gaza Strip, during the past year, amounted to some 101,442 passengers, with 52,431 leaving and 49,011 entering. Egyptian authorities banned a total of 4,668 Palestinians from travel. These statistics reflect a significant decrease in the number of passengers traveling in and out Gaza via Rafah, with the number of travelers in 2013 amounting to three times the count of 2014.
http://www.imemc.org/article/70361

Third batch of wounded Gazans arrives in Germany
BERLIN (PIC) 25 Jan — The Palestinian Doctor Association in Germany, PalMed-Deutschland, announced Sunday the arrival of the third batch of wounded Palestinians at Frankfurt International Airport. According to the Association, two wounded Palestinians from Gaza accompanied by two escorts and Doctor Bilal Afifi have arrived in Siegen city in the state of Westphalia in Germany for receiving treatment. The wounded are child Basel Shuhbair and Hani Suleiman. Dr. Ashraf Dada, Chairman of PalMed-Deutschland along with the administrative staff of the Association welcomed the wounded at the airport. Dr. Ashraf Dada said the Association branch in Germany had provided treatment for the first batch, which consisted of three wounded, in Lower Saxony and the second batch of six injured in Berlin. This third convoy would not be the last, he added. Dr. Dada also said the Association will soon launch an urgent health relief campaign in all districts of Gaza Strip. The campaign aims at renovating health facilities damaged in the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza in addition to providing required medical equipment.
http://english.palinfo.com/site/pages/details.aspx?itemid=69818

Ministry of Economy to allow Israeli products into Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — Gaza’s Ministry of Economy said Sunday that it would allow the entry of Israeli products into the Gaza Strip for the first time in five years. Imad al-Baz, assistant deputy of the ministry, said soft drinks, clothes, coffee, and other Israeli goods would be allowed into the Strip. “The last war led to the destruction of thousands of factories, which affected the production power (in Gaza), and to fill that gap we decided to allow Zionist products in,” al-Baz said.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=756469

Hamas: Gaza salary crisis a misstep for consensus government
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — The Hamas movement said Saturday that the Gaza government employee crisis was a serious misstep for the national consensus government. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Ma‘an that the salary crisis was the unity government’s responsibility. Salaries of government employees should never be cut off for any reason, Abu Zuhri said. He said all Palestinian factions were in agreement against the unity government’s failure to pay Hamas government employee paychecks. Since striking a unity deal with the Fatah-led PLO, Hamas has been demanding the new government pay the salaries of the 50,000 civil servants it recruited after its takeover of Gaza in 2007, who took the jobs of 70,000 Fatah employees.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=756135

In Gaza, an IT company has Google-sized aspirations
GAZA (Reuters) 21 Jan by Nidal Al-Mughrabi — His company may not rival Google or German software maker SAP yet, but Gaza-based IT entrepreneur Saady Lozon has plans to change that. In nine years, Lozon and his partner Ahmed Abu Shaban have transformed their firm, Unit One, from a tiny outfit in a single room in the blockaded Gaza Strip into a successful business with clients in Europe, the United States and the Arab world. They can’t leave Gaza easily, but they can develop applications for Web and mobile devices online and provide international clients with data-management services, competing with firms in India and elsewhere. “We have managed to knock a hole in the wall of the blockade,” Lozon, 33, said of the company, which will soon expand to more than 60 employees from 13, the majority women. “We deliver in time, just as the client wishes.”
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/21/us-mideast-palestinians-technology-idUSKBN0KU1AS20150121

Palestinians  hold 3-day wake for late Saudi king in Rafah
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — A committee of residents of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip started a three-day mourning wake for the late King Abdullah, a member of the committee said Saturday. Issam Abu Khalil said that that Palestinians in Gaza would remember the king’s role in establishing housing and charity projects, including the “Saudi neighborhood” of Rafah, across the Strip. Khalil said they would also remember the king’s financial and political support for the Palestinian cause. The wake is being held at the Saudi Cultural Center in western Rafah.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=756113

QRC builds specialised surgical facility in Gaza
DOHA 25 Jan — Qatar Red Crescent (QRC) is finishing work on a $12m specialised surgical building at Gaza Al Shifaa Medical Complex, officials said yesterday. The project is co-funded by QRC and the GCC Programme for the Reconstruction of Gaza, under the supervision of Islamic Development Bank. The building is being furnished and equipped with a budget of $18m and is expected to be fully ready by 2015-end. “QRC staff have completed the 250-bed building, which will offer cardiovascular,  neurological and cardiothoracic surgeries, catheterisation and computed tomography (CT) scans, among others,” Said Dr Akram Nassar,  Director, QRC Office, Gaza. He hoped that the new facility will improve the quality of medical services in line with QRC’s priority of developing health infrastructure amid tragic conditions in Gaza in the aftermath of Israeli war and siege. Fadhel Salim, a warehouseman at the complex, is responsible for storing medical supplies provided by relief agencies. He received the latest delivery of medical equipment for the complex’s Cardiology Department established [by] QRC and became the first patient to undergo cardiac catheterisation at the new department. “I had been receiving medical equipment and supplies for the department. I felt fatigue and when I took an electrocardiogram, it was found that I needed urgent cardiac catheterisation…”
http://thepeninsulaqatar.com/news/qatar/318448/qrc-builds-specialised-surgical-facility-in-gaza

Gaza says readying seaport for international travel
GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP)  25 Jan – A ministerial committee in Hamas-controlled and Israeli-blockaded Gaza announced plans on Sunday to ready the enclave’s sole seaport to allow Palestinians to travel abroad. The enclave, home to 1.8 million people, has been under an Israeli land and sea blockade since 2006. Its sole gateway to the world not controlled by Israel is the Rafah border with Egypt, which has been largely closed since late October. Alaa al-Batta, spokesman for the committee formed to lift the blockade, said preparations are under way to launch within two months a boat service for the sick and students studying overseas. The port in Gaza City is currently restricted to fishermen, whom Israel only allows to fish up to a maximum of six nautical miles from the shore. Israeli forces routinely fire on any vessel close to the outer limit. Opening a port was one of the main Palestinian demand to be tabled during negotiations with Israel to firm up a truce agreement which ended a 50-day war in July and August. But the negotiations failed to get off the ground and the demand was never tabled. “We are taking the necessary measures to allow maritime transport and to prepare for the construction of a port which will link Gaza with the outside world,” Batta said. There was no immediate reaction from Israel to the Gaza port plan. Several ships manned by pro-Palestinian activists have tried to run the blockade and reach the shores of Gaza, but they have all been repelled by the Israeli navy. In 2010, Israeli commandos staged a botched raid on a six-ship flotilla in international waters, killing 10 Turkish nationals and sparking a diplomatic crisis with Ankara that has yet to be resolved.
http://news.yahoo.com/gaza-says-readying-sea-port-international-travel-183412760.htm

Abbas’s rivalry with ex-strongman Dahlan heats up in Gaza
Times of Israel 25 Jan by Avi Issacharoff — PA withholds salaries from loyalists of expelled security chief, who has seen a surge of support from Hamas — The economic situation in Gaza has been deepening in recent days and with it the conflict between supporters of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and backers of former Fatah strongman Mohammad Dahlan. Amid escalating tensions between the two men, the PA has decided to withhold the salaries of some 200 of its Gaza employees who are known as Dahlan loyalists. In response, Dahlan stalwarts published the names of around 100 PA officers in Gaza whom they accused of informing for the PA security forces in Ramallah. Meanwhile, a car belonging to one of the PA officers was torched. Dahlan, a longtime opponent of Abbas who was expelled from Abbas’s Fatah party in 2011, is considered a legitimate contender by some Palestinians and PLO leaders to replace the president, who’s been in power since 2005. He once held the internal security portfolio and headed the powerful security forces in the Gaza Strip, but fell from grace in June 2007 when Hamas drove Fatah from Gaza after days of fierce street battles….
http://www.timesofisrael.com/abbass-rivalry-with-ex-strongman-dahlan-heats-up-in-gaza/

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restrictions on movement

Ministry planned expansion of West Bank settlement beyond separation barrier
Haaretz 26 Jan by Chaim Levinson – The Housing and Construction Ministry allocated 850,000 shekels ($215,000) for the expansion of the settlement of Efrat in the West Bank last October, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu having reversed the decision to build on the site. The financial allocation, which was intended for the purposes of planning construction on a hill near the settlement, was made a year after Netanyahu reversed a Housing Ministry decision to build there. The rocky slope, known as Eitam Hill, is situated east of Efrat and south of the southern outskirts of Bethlehem. It has been a strategic target of settlers for the past decade … Last week, Civil Administration personnel destroyed a Palestinian wheat field at the site, claiming it had been planted by squatters on state land. They did not demolish the road that had been unlawfully built on private Palestinian land, nor did they touch any of the dozens of buildings belonging to outposts in the area … It now emerges that the Housing Ministry, under Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi), is persisting in its efforts to settle the hill, including payment last October of 850,000 shekels to two architects (for which a tender is not required). One of the architects, Danny Baron, who is working on a number of other projects for the Housing Ministry in Efrat, received 456,000 shekels. Another company, Eltan Civil Engineering, which specializes in road construction, received 370,000 shekels to plan roads at the site. The initiative is that of the Housing Ministry and was not coordinated with the Defense Ministry. Peace Now director general Yariv Oppenheimer told Haaretz, “The settlers are trying for a preelection grab to establish facts on the ground, to spend hundreds of thousands of shekels and complicate further the chances to separate into two states. Construction on Eitam Hill will add fuel to the diplomatic fire, and will harm Israel’s efforts to deal with international pressure and moves against Israel in The Hague.”
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.639042

IOA pushes Palestinian to demolish his farm in al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 26 Jan — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) pushed a Palestinian citizen to knock down a farm of his own in the southern West Bank city of al-Khalil [Hebron].  The farm owner Moslem Abu Juheisha said the IOA impelled him to demolish his 1,000-square-meter-large ranch and to evacuate the cattle he used to rear within, just a few hours before the deadline of an earlier demolition notification was set to end. Earlier, Saturday, a unit of the Israeli occupation army stormed the farm and threatened to carry out the demolition on early Sunday morning, compelling Abu Juheisha to rashly evacuate the 70-thousand-dollar-worth ranch and knock it down on his own or else face additional fine in return for the Israeli demolition.
http://english.palinfo.com/site/pages/details.aspx?itemid=69821

Largest Israeli religious youth movement invites members to build illegal settlement for holiday
Jerusalem Post 25 Jan by Jeremy Sharon — The religious-Zionist youth movement Bnei Akiva has called on its members to help build infrastructure for a new illegal outpost in Samaria on the coming holiday of Tu Bishvat, the 15th of the Jewish month of Shvat (February 4), which is also the Jewish new year for trees. On Friday, the secretary- general of Bnei Akiva in Israel, Danny Hirschberg, sent out an SMS inviting the movement’s youth to participate in the building of Evyatar, Army Radio reported on Sunday. Evyatar is an outpost in the northern Samaria district close to Nablus, that was established after the 2013 murder of Evyatar Borovsky, a resident of the Yitzhar settlement in northern Samaria. Prefabricated homes and other infrastructure at the site have already been destroyed once by the IDF, because there is no government approval for a new settlement there.
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Largest-Israeli-religious-youth-movement-invites-members-to-build-illegal-settlement-for-holiday-388903

Family visits graves via tunnel under separation wall near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — Palestinians have suffered in many ways as a result of the Israeli separation wall, and in the case of one family in al-Walajah west of Bethlehem, the wall separates them from the graves of their relatives. Ahmad Barghouth, 66, told Ma ‘an he buried his parents and grandparents years ago in his field near his home. But the Israeli separation wall was built on his land between the small family cemetery and his house. When Barghouth saw the blueprints of the wall, he knew that the route of the wall would isolate his family’s graves, he said. But he can visit the graves through a small tunnel under the separation wall — Barghouth managed to obtain permission for the tunnel from the Israeli Supreme Court. “I managed several times to stop the contractors from working in the area until the court finally decided that a tunnel must be built under the wall so my family can access the graves.” The tunnel was built with an iron gate at the entrance, and the keys were given to the family. During a tour with a Ma‘an reporter, Barghouth’s 46-year-old son Nidal explained that his family lost vast areas of its agricultural land to the separation wall.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=756422

Otherwise Occupied / The Moroccan immigrants and the kibbutz
Haaretz 26 Jan by Amira Hass — The long-running case of an illegal land transfer in northern Israel vividly illustrates the two sets of standards in operation here — More than three years ago, it emerged that the Israel Lands Administration had, in the 1970s, transferred some 1,200 dunams (300 acres) of farmland from a northern moshav, which had been cultivating it, to a nearby kibbutz. The transfer – a violation of regulations – came to light by chance, through conversations between a social-justice activist and longtime residents of the moshav, most of them immigrants from Morocco. A lawyer entered the picture, and after some nagging and document exchanges, the ILA admitted its “error” and said the land was about to be returned to the moshav. Three years have passed and the kibbutz is still making money raising crops on that land …  No one is making a fuss because three of the facts above need to be corrected. The land owned by Moshav Qa’oun is not in Israel’s sovereign territory, but land in the northern Jordan Valley that Israel conquered in 1967. And Qa’oun is not a Moroccan moshav; rather, Qa’oun is named after the wadi that forms its southern boundary. As for the land, it is privately owned by Palestinians who live in the West Bank town of Tubas and village of Bardala …. The area was declared a military zone after the 1967 war, and the people who owned it and cultivated it were expelled. More than 30 years ago, as stated above, the ILA – in violation of its authority – allocated that arable land to Kibbutz Merav, a religious kibbutz that was just established. The next stage of stealing the land from its legal owners was the construction of the separation fence in the northern Jordan Valley about 13 years ago, south of the Green Line, and – hey presto! – a total of 4,500 dunams of Palestinian land had vanished, annexed de facto to Israel. Among those 4,500 dunams was the land the ILA had transferred illegally to Kibbutz Merav three decades before … This much is clear: When Jews are the ones harmed, it is corruption or alleged corruption. When Jews are the ones who benefit and Palestinians are the ones who are harmed and their land stolen, it is patriotism and building the homeland.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.638946

Israeli settlers chop down olive trees near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 25 Jan — A group of Israeli settlers on Sunday chopped down dozens of olive trees belonging to an elderly Palestinian man in the village of Sisiya [Susiya?] south of Hebron, a local spokesman said. Ratib al-Jubour, spokesman of a local popular committee, said “a mob of settlers chopped down more than 30 olive trees planted four years ago.”  He said the trees belonged to a man named Khalil Najawaa. Settlers have been pressuring Najawaa to leave his land, al-Jubour said.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=756344

Israel removes military checkpoint in Qalqiliya
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — Israeli military authorities removed a checkpoint and southern gate of the separation wall in southern ‘Azzun ‘Atma village in southern Qalqiliya on Saturday. Meanwhile, Israeli forces shut the southern part of the Aber al-Samira road that separates ‘Azzun ‘Atma in two parts after they opened a street connecting Alqana, Etz Efraim and Shaare Tiqva settlements nearby.  By removing the checkpoint, the village is no longer split into two parts.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=756171

A story about this event appeared in the last news compilation, but this one really shows the Orwellian aspect of the situation:
Occupier’s justice: heads and tails you lose
Mondoweiss 24 Jan by Jonathan Cook — Yesterday I had an idea for a short story to explain the unrelenting insanity of the occupation for ordinary Palestinians. Tell me what you think. In my story, there is a Palestinian family, let’s call them the Jaabaris, and they live next to a Jewish settlement, let’s call it Kiryat Arba, close to Hebron deep in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. One day the settlers decide to build a synagogue on the family’s private land in an effort to force them off. This family decide to stand their ground. Sadly, they have no way to stop the takeover of land that has been in their family for generations other than by appealing to the Israeli legal system. They petition the Israeli Supreme Court to order the synagogue demolished. In the court room, the settlers argue that the land is not under Kiryat Arba’s control – it’s private Palestinian property – and therefore it is outside the court’s jurisdiction. The judges have no right to issue a ruling in this case, they claim. The court disagrees and says the land is under Kiryat Arba’s control – ie the judges treat it as part of Israel – and therefore the court can issue a ruling. The judges’ verdict is a triumph for justice: the synagogue should be demolished. However, now that the settlers have a piece of paper with the court’s decision stating that the land belongs to Kiryat Arba, they can bill the Palestinian family for years of arrears on property taxes amounting to $22,000 – more than the family earns in several years. If they don’t pay, the settlers will seize the land and sell it. Heads the Jaabaris lose; tails they lose too. That’s Israeli occupiers’ justice. What do you think? Have I gone a bit too far? Too crazy to be credible. Or have I simply plagiarised this story from the Times of Israel, where exactly this just happened to the Jaabari family.   www.timesofisrael.com/settlers-build-synagogue-on-palestinian-land-bill-owner/
http://mondoweiss.net/2015/01/occupiers-justice-tails

Village in focus: As-Sawiya
AS-SAWIYA, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Nablus Team) 25 Jan — On January 24th, 2015, ISM activists visited As-Sawiya, a Palestinian village located near Salfit. The village is home to around 3,500 people.  Seven mountains surround the village; much of the land is occupied by three illegal Israeli settlements – Eli, Rechelim, and Ma’ale Levona. As-Sawiya suffers many injustices under Israeli occupation, including military and settler violence against the village’s residents, lands, homes, and schools. Construction of the illegal settlement of Eli began in 1982. Since settlement construction began, the village of As-awiya has been subject to constant settler violence and expansion. During the olive harvest of 2005, Israeli settlers attacked farmers, leaving three Palestinians injured.  Israeli settlers also stole a resident´s horse. As a result of this constant settler violence, Palestinians have been unable to consistently plant or harvest their fields. The Israeli military has used this disuse to justify declaring many of the fields ¨unoccupied,¨ using this twisted logic to rationalise their confiscation for further settlement expansion. Approximately 1,500 dunams of land has been confiscated from the village for nearby settlements. In addition to intimidation and confiscation, village residents are robbed of their village spring, trees, and other agricultural resources by settlers.
http://palsolidarity.org/2015/01/village-in-focus-as-sawiya/

33% of government funding for housing is allocated for settlements in the West Bank
Middle East Monitor 21 Jan — Some 28 per cent of housing units that receive government funding from the building department in rural areas over the past four years were built in settlements established in the West Bank, a report revealed. The data, which was obtained from the Ministry of Construction and Housing, also suggested that since Uri Ariel was appointed housing minister two years ago, there has been an increase in settlement construction, as the percentage of funded settlement units reached 32 per cent … the ministry funded the construction of 8,000 housing units, 2,400 of which were in settlements. The cost of this reached 184 million shekels ($46.8 million), 35 per cent of the development budget.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/16487-33-of-government-funding-for-housing-is-allocated-for-settlements-in-the-west-bank

Refugees

Exhibit of iconic 1948 photos – ‘The Long Journey’ – opens today in NYC
Mondoweiss 23 Jan by Philip Weiss — The UN agency that deals with Palestinian refugees has opened a new digital archive including many images from the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948, when 750,000 Palestinians were expelled by or fled the Zionist army and militias when the state of Israel was established in Palestine. And Alwan for the Arts in New York and UNRWA USA are honoring the archive with an exhibition in New York of iconic photographs from 1948 through to the present day … Here is a preview of some of these wrenching photos, which will some day be inscribed in American consciousness the way that photos of the Jewish experience of eastern Europe are. [Note: The ‘Long Journey’ photography exhibition also opened at the Al-Bireh Cultural Center in the West Bank on 22 January 2015. It will be open until 17 February.]
http://mondoweiss.net/2015/01/exhibit-photos-journey

Video: The Long Journey 26 11 2013
Watch people preparing and preserving the photos and films from the Nakba, the Naksa, the 1st Intifada, the Shatila massacre,  etc. for the UNRWA archive for Palestinian refugees. See how some of the people shown in iconic films and photos are interviewed to see how they have fared since, some still in the refugee camps they went to in 1948 or 1967.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGMSX21La2M

Newborn dies in blockaded Yarmouk due to malnutrition
DAMASCUS (PIC) 25 Jan — A two-day baby on Saturday morning died of malnutrition and absence of medical care in the besieged Palestinian refugee camp of al-Yarmouk, south of the Syrian capital Damascus.  The newborn baby, named Joud, was the second one to die within a week in the camp, which has been under siege for more than two years. Her death brings the number of Palestinian refugees killed by starvation or hunger-related causes under the regime siege on Yarmouk to date to 162 victims. After most of its population fled following violent clashes in December 2012, some few thousands of Palestinian refugees have remained cut off from food supplies and medical aid as a result of months of blockade by the Syrian army and its militias, which forced them to subsist [by] eating anything they could find, including grass, and cat and dog meat.
http://english.palinfo.com/site/pages/details.aspx?itemid=69810

Other news

Meet the ICC prosecutor who may shape the course of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Haaretz 25 Jan by Aeyal Gross – International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda will examine whether to investigate Israelis for crimes against the Palestinians – and if so, which ones — The past week’s legal and diplomatic storm has focused on the decision by one highly esteemed woman, whose decisions in the coming years are likely to shape the legal and political course of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who assumed the position in June 2012, is the second person to hold the post, having served as the court’s deputy prosecutor for eight years. Bensouda’s rich experience in international criminal law began when she served in several senior positions in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The Rwanda tribunal, alongside the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, were the two ad-hoc international criminal courts set up in the 1990s that foretold the formation of the ICC, which began operating in 2002. Prior to her appointment to the Rwanda tribunal, Bensouda had a rich legal background in her home country, The Gambia, where she filled a series of senior roles, including state prosecutor and attorney general. After completing her legal studies in Nigeria, she earned a master’s degree in international maritime law in Malta. In 2012, Time Magazine named her among the world’s 100 most influential people
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.638684

Fox News joins chorus of Netanyahu critics
[with video] Ynet 25 Jan by Yitzhak Benhorin — The criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, over his intention to address the US Congress two weeks before the Israeli elections, has not stopped at water’s edge. And while the criticism from President Barack Obama’s administration and the editorial board of the New York Times was expected, this weekend the Likud leader was targeted by a network he once counted among his supporters – Fox News. During a conversation between anchor Chris Wallace and presenter Shepard Smith, the two agreed that Netanyahu’s strategy an example of “dicey politics”.  The segment opened with Wallace quoting former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk in the New York Times: “Netanyahu is using the Republican Congress for a photo-op for his election campaign and the Republicans are using Bibi for their campaign against Obama…”  Indyk stressed that, “Unfortunately, the US relationship will take the hit. It would be far wiser for us to stay out of their politics and for them to stay out of ours.” Wallace said he agreed with Indyk, “100 percent.”
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4618729,00.html

Israel’s Netanyahu defends US Congress address
JERUSALEM (AFP) 25 Jan — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday defended his decision to accept a controversial invitation to address the US Congress on Iran that has sparked a bitter row with the White House. Netanyahu was unrepentant as he met with ministers at Israel’s weekly cabinet session. “In the coming weeks, the world powers are likely to reach a framework agreement with Iran which is likely to let Iran remain a nuclear threshold state, something which will first and foremost endanger the existence of Israel,” he said in remarks relayed by his office. As prime minister of Israel, I am obliged to make every effort to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons which it will aim at the State of Israel.”I will go wherever I am invited to make Israel’s position heard and to protect its future and its existence,” he said. Last week, Netanyahu said he would be addressing a joint session of Congress on the alleged Iranian nuclear threat on March 3, two weeks ahead of snap elections in Israel.The invitation was extended by House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican and prominent adversary of US President Barack Obama, and it was not coordinated with the White House in a radical departure from protocol.
http://news.yahoo.com/israels-netanyahu-defends-us-congress-address-145058703.html

Fatah calls for resistance activities, boycott of Israeli products
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — The Fatah movement on Saturday called on Palestinians to take part in protest activities and to boycott Israeli products in support of the Palestinian leadership’s effort to bring another statehood resolution to the UN Security Council. In a statement, Fatah specifically urged Palestinians to take part in resistance activities against the Israeli occupation this coming Monday, Jan. 26. Gatherings will begin in the centers of Palestinian districts at 12:00 noon on Monday, the statement said.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=756180

Risking jobs, Palestinian workers in West Bank settlement unionize
+972mag 22 Jan by Haggai Matar — When the Palestinian workers at a West Bank aluminum factory tried to unionize, the management responded with a resounding no — Nearly half of the 65 workers at the MS Aluminum Ltd. factory, located in the Israeli-run Mishor Adumim industrial zone in the West Bank, unionized last week after joining the Workers Advice Center (WAC-MAAN). According to Israeli law, at least one-third of all workers in the factory must join the union in order to be considered their representative organization. WAC-MAAN told the factory management last week that they had passed the necessary threshold  – 31 workers – and are expecting to begin negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement. The workers claim that the management imposes arbitrary fines, illegally deducts hours from their pay stubs, doesn’t properly compensate them for transportation and owes workers large sums of money in pension contributions. Some of the more skilled workers have been at the factory for many years, yet they claim that most make just above minimum wage, and are demanding a wage increase to match that of the most senior workers in the factory.
http://972mag.com/risking-jobs-palestinian-workers-in-west-bank-settlement-unionize/101700/

Lieberman seeks to bar new joint Arab list from running for Knesset
NAZARETH (PIC) 25 Jan — Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman called on the central elections committee to disqualify the new Arab coalition of parties from contesting the new Knesset election. The four Arab parties, Raam (United Arab List), Ta’al (Arab Movement for Renewal), Balad (National Democratic Assembly) and Arab-Jewish party Hadash (Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) had agreed Thursday to run on a joint slate in the upcoming Knesset election. In a petition to be filed with the election committee, Lieberman, head of Yisrael Beytenu, stated that “those who cast their lot with Balad, whose whole raison d’être is to support terror groups and cooperate with Israel’s enemies, do not deserve to be part of the Knesset.” In response, the new Arab list said that seeking to ban it from the elections is “another populist step by corrupt and racist Lieberman.”
http://english.palinfo.com/site/pages/details.aspx?itemid=69813

Palestinians march against Charlie Hebdo cartoon
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 24 Jan — Thousands of Palestinians marched Saturday in the West Bank in protest over the latest cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammed published by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Answering calls by the Liberation Party, an Islamist group, demonstrators rallied in the cities of Ramallah and Hebron, some carrying banners expressing faith in Islam and others wearing black headbands calling for the establishment of a Muslim caliphate, AFP photographers said. The protests were called in response against a cartoon published by Charlie Hebdo a week after a January 7 attack by Islamist gunmen at its Paris headquarters killed 12 people. Depictions of the prophet are considered forbidden in Islam and the latest one has sparked angry protests across the Muslim world, some of which turned deadly. There have been several demonstrations in the Palestinian territories, notably in Gaza City on Monday, where some 200 radical Islamists tried to storm the French cultural centre and burned French flags. They were arrested by the police of the Islamist Hamas, the de facto power in Gaza. Hamas and other political and religious authorities have condemned the Charlie Hebdo cartoon but also the deadly attack on the magazine.
http://news.yahoo.com/palestinians-march-against-charlie-hebdo-cartoon-182016818.html

Ambassador of Palestine submits credentials to South Sudan president
JUBA (Ma‘an) 24 Jan — Veteran Palestinian diplomat Kamil al-Qazzaz on Saturday submitted his credentials to the president of the Republic of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayradit. Al-Qazzaz then met separately with Mayradit for about an hour and invited him to visit Palestine. The president accepted the invitation and it was agreed that he would arrive in the West Bank as soon as possible and have a tour in both Ramallah and Bethlehem.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=756070

Feature: Rare birds face extinction in West Bank due to random hunting
NABLUS, West Bank (Xinhua) 23 Jan — Every predawn, 28-year-old Mohamed Abu Nasim, resident of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, wakes up, preparing his hunting tools and heading to Ein al-Baidda’ area in the Jordan Valley for catching Goldfinch birds. The season for such kind of birds to show up begins in January and ends in June; however, Goldfinch birds in the West Bank are threatened with extinction due to the unfair hunting during this period … In spite of the risk and the obstacles he faces while hunting birds, Abu Nasim, who spent four years in an Israeli prison, finds himself obliged to do so due to the lack of jobs and the high rates of unemployment in the West Bank. He said he went out from jail, and was unable to complete his education and to get a proper job … While preparing his net and trap, Abu Nasim puts a Goldfinch bird under the net and some little food to attract other birds to come. He said his trip to the area in the Jordan Valley “is full of risks,” adding “I might be arrested by the Israeli soldiers, or get shot by the guards of the Israeli settlements.” “The third risk is when the Israeli soldiers and settlers set free wild pigs, they may attack me,” said Abu Nasim, who said he knows in advance that he violates the law of the Palestinian Environmental Corporation, but added “the priority is for living and it is more important than protecting nature.” Although Palestinian environmental experts had repeatedly called on Palestinian birds and animals hunters to stop the unfair hunting, Abu Nasim doesn’t care about this appeal … Adallah al-Atira, chairman of the Palestinian Environment Authority, told Xinhua that hunting rare birds and animals in the West Bank is taking place illegally, but there are no teams of environment police and observers to stop the unfair hunting.”Most of the birds and animals hunting is happening in areas classified as area (C) which is under the full control of Israel,” she said
http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/xinhua-news-agency/150123/feature-rare-birds-face-extinction-west-bank-due-random-hunt

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