Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization
Nine more Jewish families take over Silwan homes in dead of night
972mag 20 Oct by Mairav Zonszein — If settling Jews beyond the Green Line in Palestinian East Jerusalem is legitimate, why are organizations sneaking in settlers in the middle of the night? — Nine Jewish Israeli families took over two empty buildings in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem overnight Sunday. According to the NGO Ir Amim, the families took control over 10 housing units in two buildings in the heart of Silwan. They moved in under the auspices of Ateret Cohanim, a settler organization based in the Muslim quarter of the Old City that works to create a Jewish demographic majority in East Jerusalem. This latest takeover comes less than a month after settlers moved into seven houses in another part of Silwan, also in the dead of night and backed by heavy security forces, courtesy of Elad, another East Jerusalem settler organization. These new moves double the number of Jews currently living in Silwan, according to Israeli media. There were no reports of confrontations during the takeover Sunday night. According to Haaretz, the buildings were purchased in the last year by foreign companies at the behest of the Committee for the Renewal of the Yemenite Village, which looks to restore the Yemenite community that lived in the area before the establishment of the State of Israel. This is similar to the warped rationale behind moving Jews back into the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah — which exposes the discriminatory practice in which Jews can reclaim lands from before 1948 in East Jerusalem but Palestinians cannot do the same in West Jerusalem — or anywhere throughout Israel.
By hook or by crook, settlers rack up E. Jerusalem gains
JERUSALEM (AFP) 22 Oct by Shatha Yaish –By fair means or foul, Jewish settlers are notching up property gains in the heart of Arab east Jerusalem through a series of shady deals involving frontmen or straw companies. The process by which such properties are acquired is shrouded in mystery, with the new Jewish occupants often moving in under the cover of darkness to avoid a major confrontation with residents. The latest controversial acquisitions took place in Silwan, a densely populated Palestinian neighbourhood on a steep hillside flanking the southern walls of Jerusalem’s Old City. In the past three weeks, hardline settlers have moved into 35 apartments there, sparking anger and consternation among Palestinians who vehemently oppose such moves as a hostile attempt to Judaise Silwan. Some were allegedly acquired fraudulently, and others legally. Jewish groups buying up property in the heart of Arab neighbourhoods is an explosive political issue because it touches on the future of east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as capital of a future state. The groups are looking to establish a contiguous Jewish presence in the area, thereby preventing any future division of the Holy City under a peace deal with the Palestinians. ‘We didn’t know’ One of the structures taken over in Silwan this week was a three-storey building owned by the Rajabi family, which had been looking to sell the property and its adjoining land. Because the neighbourhood is very close to the Old City and the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third-holiest site in Islam, the family was looking for a Palestinian buyer. One day, a man whose family is known for its commitment to the Palestinian cause approached them. “He said he wanted to buy it for his cousin who lives in Dubai,” Zuheir al-Rajabi said, explaining how they agreed to sell it for 450,000 Jordanian dinars ($635,000 / €500,000). Today he realises it was a mistake. “I hate myself for selling, people are accusing us of knowingly selling” to the settlers, he said. On Tuesday, his family paid for an advertisement in the main Palestinian newspaper showing the purchase agreement with the name of the buyer and insisting they had no knowledge of the true nature of the sale. “We should have been more careful but we cannot take it back. The settlers are like a cancer which spreads through the body until it dies,” Rajabi said. Selling land to Israeli settlers is viewed as treason by the Palestinians and carries a penalty of life imprisonment with heavy labour. There have been several cases in which the perpetrators have been killed … Today, around 500 settlers live in Silwan among a population of 45,000 and the recent acquisitions have triggered a flood of protest among the Palestinians as well as from abroad.
Palestinians attack new E. Jerusalem settler homes
JERUSALEM (AFP) 21 Oct — Palestinians hurled Molotov cocktails at an apartment building in a flashpoint east Jerusalem neighbourhood just hours after it was taken over by Jewish settlers, police said Tuesday. No one was injured in the incident in the Silwan neighbourhood late on Monday, which saw a group of Palestinians firing flares and throwing petrol bombs at the building, a police statement said. No serious damage was caused and no arrests were made. The building was one of two structures housing 10 apartments that were taken over by Jewish settlers before dawn on Monday, sparking fierce local opposition. Such takeovers have also been strongly condemned by the international community. Silwan is a densely populated Palestinian neighbourhood that flanks the southern walls of Jerusalem’s Old City….
Israel police plan new unit to fight Jerusalem unrest
JERUSALEM (AFP) 21 Oct — Israel’s top police officer on Tuesday pledged a new task force to combat Jerusalem unrest, after Palestinians hurled Molotov cocktails at an apartment taken over by Jewish settlers. “We are moving ahead with a comprehensive programme incorporating the latest technology, intelligence gathering and the establishment of a new police unit for dealing with incidents,” Commissioner Yohanan Danino told officers. “Jerusalem residents are entitled to a high level of personal security…and the issue is at the top of Israel Police’s priorities,” he said in remarks carried on the force’s official Twitter feed.
Israel exploits Jewish holidays to repress Palestinian Jerusalemites
RAMALLAH (Al-Akhbar) 20 Oct by Mujahed Bani Mofleh — Many Jewish holidays turn into dark moments in the lives of the [Palestinian] residents of Jerusalem as the pace of Judaization and provocations increases. While Palestinians resist with only their bare bodies, the Israeli police does not hesitate to mistreat and oppress them – Israel does not miss a chance to project its “Jewishness” on occupied Jerusalem, even temporarily. Jewish holidays and their accompanying rituals turn the lives of the residents of Jerusalem into a living hell, especially those who live in the old city. This past Thursday, October 16, was the last day of the eight-day Jewish holiday Sukkot which saw nonstop biblical chants, Talmudic songs and settler marches that roamed the alleyways and neighborhoods of the old city. In the meantime, not a day went by without raids of the al-Aqsa mosque compound. Fakhri Abu Diab, a Jerusalemite activist from the town of Salwan, said that under the pretext of Jewish holidays Israeli occupation forces sought to wield more control over Jerusalem and “secure an almost permanent presence for their settlers in al-Aqsa Mosque which has been temporally divided. All that is left is to divide it spatially between Muslims and Jews.” Tight procedures begin with closing most of the roads to and from Jerusalem and deploying a large number of police on the streets. This in turn limits Palestinians’ ability to move around and forces them to take alternative distant roads that are several kilometers long. The ordeal of the residents of Jerusalem goes beyond these eight days. Jewish holidays are numerous and long. The most important ones are Sukkot, Passover, Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, Purim and Tisha B’Av that commemorates the destruction of the temple. During this time, Israeli government offices close down, according to Abu Diab, which obstructs people’s day-to-day business in Jerusalem where a person sometimes finds themselves unable to even have leavened bread or chickpeas. This is what happens during Passover, for example, because Jews do not eat these kinds of foods during their holy days and so they do not allow them in the city during this time.
Netanyahu: Jerusalem construction will continue
AIC 21 Oct — Israel’s construction in Jerusalem will continue, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, speaking at the inauguration of a new road to be named after the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, famous for his hawkish views. “Prime Minister Shamir emphasized at every opportunity the need to ensure the unity of all of Jerusalem, and he laboured to make it into a dynamic city. Of course, he defended Israel’s natural right to build there. Is it possible, he asked, that a Jew would not be able to build a home in Jerusalem? Can we be forbidden to build in our capital, the city of our forefathers? We must allow all – Jews, Christians, and Muslims – to develop and build in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said. The Yitzhak Shamir road inaugurated by Netanyahu is part of the Jerusalem ring road system, which here will link the settlements located to the northeast of Jerusalem, including Ma’ale Adumim and Adam, to the road to Motza outside of Jerusalem and on toward Tel Aviv. It will shorten the travel time between Jerusalem area settlements and Tel Aviv, while providing additional connectivity for the settlements to Jerusalem itself. And despite Netanyhu’s declaration about allowing everyone to develop and build in Jerusalem, institutionalised discrimination against Jerusalem’s Palestinian population is evident in numerous areas.
New Israeli plan to build 71 housing units in East Jerusalem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 20 Oct — The Israeli municipal council in the holy city declared on Sunday its approval of the construction of 71 housing units in the illegal settlement of Har Homa on Abu Ghuneim Mount to the southeast of Jerusalem, the Hebrew news website Walla said on Monday. According to Walla, this new decision was taken despite the widespread criticism Israel had received last month following its announcement of a plan to build 2,600 housing units in Giv’at Hamatos settlement in Beit Safafa town near Jerusalem. It said that the Israeli municipal council had granted a construction company a license last August for the building of 71 housing units in Har Homa, but the plan was revealed on Sunday.
link to www.palestine-info.co.
See! Hebron’s olive harvest of resistance
Alternative Information Center 22 Oct — Activists hold community work day to celebrate this year’s olive harvest and to resist Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land — The Hebron Defence Committee organised a community work day near the Hebron-area village of Surif on land that is under threat of confiscation by the Israeli military. One month ago, Israeli authorities announced the confiscation of 4000 dunums [988 acres] around Surif. On 18 October, the local and international community came together to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian farmers and help the families with the olive picking. Harvest time is now in full swing, and for Palestinian community members, the olive trees ‘symbolize life and existence’. Present were the parents of Samer Issawi, a Palestinian hunger striker held in Israeli administrative detention. (Video courtesy of Christian Peacemakers Teams, photos courtesy of Hebron Defence Committee).
Palestinian man successfully harvests olives for the first time in 14 years
TEL RUMEIDA, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Khalil Team) 20 Oct — Today in al-Khalil (Hebron) Hashem Azzeh, a Palestinian man living in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood was able to successfully harvest his olives, on a certain part of his land, for the first time in 14 years. Hashem and his family live in H2 (the area of Hebron under full Israeli military civil and security control), right next to the illegal settlement in the heart of Tel Rumeida. Since the year 2000, Hashem has applied for a permit from the Israeli authorities to harvest his own olive trees but has been either denied, or received “permission”, and had his olives stolen by Zionist settlers. This year, Hashem received a permit to harvest six trees today, and along with his brother and activists from ISM and Christian Peacemakers Team – Palestine (CPT), he began to work on his land. Two colonial settlers soon arrived an attempted to convince the Israeli police and army present that Hashem´s land belonged to them and that he should not be picking olives on “their land”. Despite the attempts to prevent Hashem from picking on his land, the group succeeded in harvesting all of Hashem´s olives in that area. [with video interview, transcript]
Israeli settlers construct 2 outposts near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 21 Oct — Israeli settlers on Tuesday set up two new outposts in the northern West Bank after confiscating hundreds of dunams of land, an official told Ma‘an. Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that Israeli settlers had constructed two steel structures in the al-Dawa area of Khirbet Yanun near the Palestinian town of ‘Aqraba. The settlers also started razing Palestinian lands in preparation to build a road, Daghlas said.
He accused the settlers and the Israeli government of using “all possible means … to empty Khirbet Yanun of its (Palestinian) residents.”
Israeli forces demolish 3 Jerusalem homes, 23 homeless
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 Oct — Israeli bulldozers demolished three Palestinian homes and three structures used for livestock in al-Tur east of the Old City of Jerusalem on Tuesday, residents said. They said bulldozers of the Beit El settlement municipality were escorted by Israeli forces into al-Tur, where they demolished houses belonging to the al-Zari family, leaving 23 Palestinians homeless. The Israeli officers first destroyed the main doors of the houses and forcibly evicted residents, homeowner Khader al-Zari told Ma‘an. “Israeli forces broke the main doors, forcibly evicted us and did not allow us to take out furniture or any possessions, but instead gave their workers 30 minutes to take our possessions out of the houses,” al-Zari said. Several pieces of furniture were still inside the houses as they were demolished, he added. Al-Zari said the houses and structures were built in the ’80s, and that the family had been attempting to obtain the necessary permits and licenses from the Israeli civil administration for years. He said the family had paid over 150,000 shekels (about $40,000) for lawyers and engineers in order to escape demolition, “but to no avail.”
Israeli forces destroy Palestinian-owned car wash near Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Oct — Forces, on Monday, demolished a Palestinian-owned shed being used as a car wash shop in the town of al-Khader, to the south of Bethlehem, according to security sources. The car wash, belonging to one Mr. Eyad Isa and located at the eastern entrance of the town, was destroyed under the pretext of construction without permit. A closure was also imposed on the entrance and residents’ movements obstructed.
Israel demolishes steel structures in Jordan Valley
JERICHO (Ma‘an) 21 Oct — Israeli forces demolished five steel Palestinian structures used for livestock and confiscated tractors in the Jordan Valley late Monday, locals told Ma‘an. Witnesses said bulldozers escorted by Israeli military forces entered the al-Jiftlik area of the Jordan Valley and destroyed structures belonging to Muhammad Abu Arram and Nader Abu Shahin …
Locals also told Ma‘an that Israeli forces confiscated three tractors in the Wadi Baziq area of the Jordan Valley on Tuesday.
Israel to remove tents, animal shed in Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 21 Oct – The Israeli army on Tuesday notified a local resident of the southern Hebron village of at-Tuwani to remove his two tents and a shed, according to an activist. Rateb Jabour of the Anti-Settlement Committee in Hebron said an Israeli army force accompanied by a staff from the Israeli Civil Administration broke into the village and ordered Mohammad Jabarin, a local resident, to remove his two tents sheltering his family, as well as a shed used for animals. Residents of at-Tuwani rely on animal husbandry as their main source of livelihood, yet the village has fallen prey to a recurrent Israeli crackdown. On April 2, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) reported the demolition of six Palestinian owned shelters by Israeli army forces in the village. Another similar incident on March 16 was also reported by ISM when Israeli settlers attacked four Palestinian shepherds from the nearby village of Qawawis while grazing their flocks south of the Israeli outpost of ‘Mitzpe Yair’.
Israel sells cemetery with Al-Qassam’s grave to a construction company
Middle East Monitor 21 Oct — A cemetery in Haifa where the body of the martyr Sheikh Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassam is buried has been sold to a private construction company, sparking fears of the outbreak of a third Intifada. Al-Qassam is considered one of the most important icons of Palestinian resistance. He was immortalised when he became the first to lay the foundations for organised revolution against the British Mandate’s forces and Zionist settlers in the mid-1930’s. Hamas named its military wing the Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades in recognition of the heroic role he played in defence of Palestine. The construction company noted that, according to their contract with the Israeli government, the area must be examined and the graves must be moved to another area. Mustafa Bara, the lawyer representing the Palestinians who are strongly opposed to the Israeli government’s decision, warned against taking this measure, as it would elicit harsh reactions from the Palestinian masses. The Palestinians consider this measure to be a violation of religious sanctities and hurtful to the feelings of the Palestinians who consider Al-Qassam, of Syrian origin, to be one of their most prominent historical leaders. Israel Radio quoted as Bara saying that the Zionist government hasn’t properly estimated the extent and magnitude of the potential reactions to this step, noting that selling the cemetery may lead to a dangerous decline in relations between the Jewish people and Palestinian Israelis. He also called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be more sensitive to the issue. The Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassam cemetery has previously been attacked and desecrated by Jewish extremist groups. His tombstone was destroyed and anti-Muslim and anti-Arab slogans were also written on it.
Israel to vote on partitioning Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews
Middle East Monitor 21 Oct –An Arab Knesset member has revealed that there will be a vote in the next month on a law drafted by an Israeli committee regarding the partition of Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslims and Jews. Arab MK Masoud Ghanayim was quoted on Monday by Palestinian newspaper Felesteen as saying that “the draft law, which has been prepared by the interior parliamentary committee in the Knesset, stipulates that Jews can perform prayers in Al-Aqsa Mosque.” He continued: “This is based on a proposal that gives Muslims and Jews equal rights in their access and use of the holy site. It also specifies certain locations where Jews can perform their prayers.” It is important to note that both Rabbinical and Israeli law currently bans Jews from prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque because of the sanctity of the site for the Jewish religion. Most Jews who lobby to pray there are illegal settlers with a right wing agenda. The Old City in Jerusalem where Al-Aqsa is located is internationally recognised as occupied land. The Israeli occupation authorities frequently prevent Muslims from praying there. According to Ghanayim, the same draft law also bans organising civil protests and demonstrations in Al-Aqsa compound, and sets out punishment for any violations. Ghanayim said that putting such a law for any vote is a “flagrant aggression on the religious rights of Muslims around the world.” He also called it part of the Judaisation plan for the city of Jerusalem.
Jordan exerting efforts to prevent division of Aqsa
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Oct – King Abdullah II and the Jordanian government are exerting efforts to prevent the ratification of a draft resolution in the Israeli Knesset to divide the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound between Muslims and Jews, an official said Tuesday. In an interview with Ma‘an TV, Ambassador of Jordan to Palestine Khalid al-Shawabka maintained that “the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem are red lines” and what is going on in Jerusalem is “unacceptable.” “Jordan’s foreign minister has sent strongly worded messages to foreign ministers of member states of the UN Security Council and to the UN demanding an end to the systematic assaults on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and on worshipers,” the ambassador said. He highlighted that employees of the Palestinian ministry of endowment who work in the Al-Aqsa compound receive their salaries from Jordan and follow Jordanian rules … The ambassador noted that Jordan invests 7 million dinars ($9 million) every year to developmental projects in Jerusalem through the Palestinian ministry of endowment. In addition, he said, King Abdullah II funds projects at the Al-Aqsa Mosque reaching about $3.5 million at his own expense. Asked whether Jordan would be able to convince Israel to avoid dividing the Al-Aqsa Mosque, al-Shawabka used an example from the past when Jordan managed to convince Israel to remove a controversial wooden bridge Israel built at the Moroccan Gate.
Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests — West Bank / Jerusalem
TV report on Palestinian child rammed to death by a settler’s car
IMEMC 20 Oct by Saed Bannoura — reported by Ali Dar Ali, Palestine TV – Enas Dar Khalil did not want to wake up that day to go to school, but she had no idea what was awaiting her just a few hours later; it was her last time to wake up ever, as a settler took her life and then sped away in a deliberate hit and run. “Earlier this morning Enas woke up feeling cranky; she didn’t want to go to school,” her mother said, “Mom, let me please just sleep some more, so I did. Then later I woke her up again; she didn’t want to wake up. I insisted that she go. It was almost as if she is as if she felt she was going to die. She went to kindergarten, and she died.” The child, Enas Shawkat Dar Khalil, 5, died that day leaving behind her schoolbag, in it were some books, her latest grades, and a doll, she wanted to give to her teacher, and a small empty wallet where she used to store her allowance. “She is gone, gone… my child. She was strong; she wanted to live; she raised her arms and head, and she wanted to get up (after being struck by the car, but she couldn’t, I ran towards her, and held her…” Enas left this life instantly and her body was moved to the Palestine Medical Center, while her friend Tulin Omar ‘Asfour, 5, who was holding her hand as the two girls walked home from kindergarten, suffered a very serious injury when they were both rammed by a speeding settler driving near their town, Sinjil, located near the Central West Bank city of Ramallah. “We were standing in front of our home; the girls were walking back home; they wanted to cross the road; a settler was driving and saw the girls,” an eyewitness said, “He rammed them with his car; they were pushed for nearly 10 meters. He wanted to ram them again, but he saw us running after the girls, then he just sped away and disappeared.”
For near-identical crimes, an Israeli and a Palestinian’s fate couldn’t be more different / ‘John Brown’
972blog 20 Oct — A Palestinian hit-and-run suspect is sent to prison and winds up dead; a Jew suspected of a similar but deadlier crime in the West Bank is sent home to his family.
Soldiers invade Budrus village
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Oct by Saed Bannoura — Dozens of soldiers invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, the village of Budrus, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, broke into several homes, took pictures of them, and attacked a local reporter. The army also confiscated agricultural machinery in West Bank’s Northern Plains. The army alleged it was conducting a “census” in the area, and did not provide any details, especially since the soldiers took pictures of homes and yards, and interrogated several Palestinians while inspecting the ID cards, and took personal information regarding the families. Local sources said the soldiers were also drawing structural maps detailing the insides of the homes, and were asking the families various questions, including the number of persons living in each home. The sources added that the soldiers assaulted Wattan TV cameraman, Mohammad Awad, by kicking and hitting him with their rifles, and interrogated him after forcing him out of his home. The army frequently invades Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank, and conducts a census of the population, homes and property.
In addition, soldiers invaded Wadi Ebzeeq area of the West Bank’s Northern Plains, and confiscated three agricultural machinery…
On Monday, several Palestinians suffered the effects of teargas inhalation during clashes with Israeli soldiers invading the Teqoua‘ [or Tuqu‘] town, east of Bethlehem. The clashes took place at the western entrance of the town, and the army fired gas bombs and concussion grenades. Soldiers then advanced to the center of the town, and blocked various roads, before firing gas bombs and concussion grenades, causing anxiety attacks among several Palestinians, mainly the children.
Seven Palestinians kidnapped in West Bank Monday
IMEMC/Agencies 20 Oct by Saed Bannoura — Local sources said dozens of soldiers invaded Ni‘lin village, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and kidnapped a journalist working for the al-Aqsa Satellite TV. The journalist has been identified as Mustafa Abdul-Razeq al-Khawaja. His brother said several Israeli military vehicles surrounded their home, before breaking into it and ransacking its property, adding that the soldiers trashed the place and walked around with their muddy boots due to heavy rain, and took his brother to the Ni‘lin roadblock, before moving him to an unknown destination. Soldiers also invaded the al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron, and kidnapped a man and his son, after searching their homes. Several military vehicles also invaded the al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem, searched many homes, and kidnapped Maher Mohammad Ghneim, 24, before confiscating his computer. Soldiers also installed a military roadblock at the entrance of Doura town, south of Hebron. In addition, soldiers invaded the Teqoua‘ town, east of Bethlehem, and kidnapped a Palestinian identified as Saber Rebhy al-’Amour, 23, after breaking into his home and ransacking its property. On Sunday evening, a Palestinian was kidnapped at a temporary roadblock, installed by the army at the main junction of Sanour village, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin. The Kidnapped has been identified as Fathi Rasmi Jarrar, 27, from Sanour.
In related news, an Israeli court ordered, on Sunday afternoon, five Palestinian detainees from occupied Jerusalem under further interrogation until Wednesday. The five are Ahmal Khalaf, 35, her brothers, Mousa, 31, and Hamza Khalaf, 24, in addition to Ahmad and his brother Mohammad Sharha. They were kidnapped on Saturday at night after the soldiers invaded homes in the Chain Gate (Bas as-Silsila), and violently assaulted several family members, wounding Hamza, before kidnapped the woman and the four men.
Soldiers kidnapped 225 Palestinians in three weeks
IMEMC 21 Oct by Saed Bannoura — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers have kidnapped 225 Palestinians in the last three weeks, in different parts of the occupied West Bank. Israel also issued 13 new arbitrary administrative detention orders, and renewed six. The PPS said the Hebron district, in the southern part of the West Bank, witnessed the largest wave of arrests, similar to previous months, as the soldiers have kidnapped 70 Palestinians since October 1 … It added that detainee Raed Mousa, also held under administrative detention, entered his 32nd consecutive day of hunger strike, and is facing serious health complications. The PPS further said Israel continues to impose severe restrictions and sanctions on the detainees, especially since this past June, denying a large number of detainees, among many other things, the right to family visits. It added that dozens of detainees require urgent and professional medical attention, but are denied access to adequate care, while their health conditions continue to deteriorate … In addition, the PPS said detainee Saber Misbah Suleiman, 32, was violently attacked by Israeli soldiers while at the Ofer Military Court attending an appeal hearing. The detainee, from Beit ‘Ur at-Tihta near Ramallah, suffered cuts and bruises to various parts of his body. On October 10, Suleiman was sentenced to 19 months, and is currently held at the Ramon prison.
Court actions / Prisoners
Palestinian convicted for ‘interfering’ with Israeli army work
JERUSALEM (AFP) 21 Oct — An Israeli military court has convicted a Palestinian activist, regarded by the EU as a human rights defender, for “interfering” with the work of a soldier, his lawyer said Tuesday. Abdullah Abu Rahma, who spent 15 months behind bars for organising weekly demonstrations against Israel’s separation barrier in the village of Bil‘in, was convicted on Monday at Ofer military court near the West Bank city of Ramallah. He had been released from prison in March 2011 with a four-month suspended sentence. “He was convicted of interfering with the work of a soldier,” his lawyer Gaby Laskey told AFP, saying the conviction was for an incident in May 2012 when Abu Rahma tried to prevent a tractor from working to set up a fence in the nearby village of Beitunia. The conviction means he risks being thrown back in jail for another four months, she said. In the West Bank, a suspended sentence order remains in force for five years. The court will pass sentence on December 1. “Abdullah Abu Rahma is a human rights defender, he has the right to demonstrate against the occupation and there is no legal basis for his arrest,” she said. “It seems that prosecuting a Palestinian for a non-violent symbolic act against the occupation has more of a political meaning than a criminal one.” A school teacher in his mid-40s, Abu Rahma is known for coordinating the grassroots, unarmed protest movement against the West Bank separation barrier in Bil‘in.
Gazans visit relatives jailed in Israel for 1st time since June
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Oct — Over 60 Palestinians from Gaza visited relatives in Israeli jails on Monday for the first time since June, officials said. A Palestinian crossings official said two buses carrying the relatives of Palestinian prisoners crossed into Israel, the first such visit since the trips were suspended in June. The jail visits were banned following the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers. Gaza families used to visit jailed relatives in Israel every Monday via the Erez crossing on buses run by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Shipwreck was simple murder, migrants recall
VALLETTA, Malta (NY Times) 20 Oct — On the last morning, only four of the survivors remained. Two sets of Palestinian brothers, exhausted and adrift in the Mediterranean beneath a blazing white sun. The Awadallah brothers were delirious. Mohammed saw vampires rising from the waves. Ibrahim kept removing his life jacket, imagining himself at home in Gaza, changing his clothes. Nearby, Mamoun Doghmosh, 27, propped up his younger brother, Amin, 24, who was weak and hallucinating. Nearly four days had passed since their overcrowded migrant boat had capsized on Sept. 9, after being rammed by another vessel following an apparent quarrel between smugglers. At least 300 people, trying to reach Europe, are estimated to have died in one of the Mediterranean’s worst disasters. For those few who survived, an enduring memory would be the ruthlessness of the smugglers, who extorted money during the land journey out of Gaza and then mocked the migrants as they flailed in the water.
Israeli forces open fire at Gaza fishermen, detain 5
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 22 Oct — Israeli forces detained five Gaza fishermen off the coast of Gaza City early Wednesday, an employee of a human rights group told Ma‘an. The employee, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Ma‘an that Israeli naval forces opened fire “heavily” on a group of Palestinian fishermen. Israeli forces “forced a boat of five fishermen from the Bakr family to stop, detained them, and dragged the boat to an unknown location.” No injuries were reported.
Gazans speak of severe hardship after war
Al-Monitor 20 Oct by Asmaa al-Ghoul & Rasha Abou Jalal — Two Gazans, a housewife and university student, tell of their daily struggles to pick up the pieces after the last war shattered their lives — A narrow hallway leading to the entrance of Umm Mohammed’s crumbling home in the Shaaf neighborhood east of Gaza City has become her only abode. Israeli warplanes destroyed her two-story house during Operation Protective Edge, rendering it uninhabitable. The family no longer has shelter. Mohammed spends most of her time in the hallway, where she washes the family’s clothes, cleans the dishes and receives visitors. However, she can’t sleep there because it is directly adjacent to a busy street, and so she sleeps in the library of the mosque opposite her house, which was also bombed. “I’m a woman, and can’t sleep in the street like men. Once the daily evening prayers are over [around 8 p.m.], I head to the library of the mosque to sleep, and I wake up before the dawn prayers [around 5 a.m.] to start a new day,” Mohammed told Al-Monitor. Her day starts by preparing breakfast for her unemployed husband and four children, and then she washes the family’s clothes by hand. By the afternoon, she starts collecting firewood from the trees destroyed by Israeli tanks to cook lunch for her family.
Slide show: The ruins of Gaza (54 photos)
REUTERS/Suhaib Salem 20 Oct — A half-million Palestinian residents have been displaced by the violence between Gaza and Israel.
Palestinians downbeat on promised rebuilding of Gaza Strip
GAZA/RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) 21 Oct by Nidal al-Mughrabi and Noah Browning — The first torrential downpour of an approaching winter has already soaked the Gaza Strip, compounding the misery of thousands of Palestinians who scrambled to patch homes wrecked by the summer war with Israel. While Palestinian officials rejoiced at $5.4 billion pledged at an international aid conference last week toward reconstruction and shoring up their budget, many in Gaza fear that, as was the case after past wars with Israel, not all the money will materialize … The flow of building material and other aid will largely depend on whether the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA) that exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank extends its writ to Gaza, now run by the Hamas Islamist group shunned by many countries as a designated terrorist group. But despite a Palestinian unity deal in April, Hamas and its political rivals still bicker. Local businessmen say a mechanism agreed by the United Nations, Israel and the Palestinians for construction materials to move from the West Bank across Israeli territory to Gaza remains vague and plagued by red tape. Any help could not come soon enough for Samir Hassanein, 37. A gaping hole in his damaged home exposes his sitting room to the elements, despite desperate efforts to shield it with plastic sheeting and bricks. His neighborhood of Shejaia was shredded by Israeli artillery fire on July 20. For almost two months, Hassanein and his family have stayed on; he was eager not to stray far and miss delegations from the U.N. and charity organizations to register his house for repair funds that have yet to come. “They must build our houses for us – we can’t live like this. They should have begun building long ago. We’re not ready for winter and now we’re drowning in the rain,” he told Reuters.
Travel challenges for Gazans fuel frustration
Al-Monitor 20 Oct by Daoud Kuttab — Meral, a pseudonym, 28, from the Gaza Strip, has traveled the world and returned to her hometown in Gaza. But her account of the trip she took last week and related to Al-Monitor was so traumatic that it might be the last one she attempts to take out of Gaza. A freelance journalist who works with leading global media outlets, Meral was invited to a media conference in the Lebanese capital, Beirut.
UN chief says moving ahead with Gaza war inquiry
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) 21 Oct — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday he was setting up an investigation into attacks on United Nations facilities during Israel’s recent war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip and the use of U.N. sites to store weapons … “I look forward to a thorough investigation by the Israeli Defence Forces of this and other incidents in which U.N. facilities sustained hits and many innocent people were killed,” he said. “I am planning to move forward with an independent board of inquiry to look into the most serious of those cases, as well as instances in which weaponry was found on U.N. premises.” Ban’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric later suggested Ban planned to move quickly on setting up the investigation. “A board of inquiry is sort of normal procedure when there is damage to U.N. property or U.N. premises,” he told reporters. The secretary-general did not offer details about the board of inquiry. Dujarric said specifics would be included later in an official announcement of the inquiry. Israel’s military last month opened five criminal investigations into its Gaza war operations, including attacks that killed four Palestinian children on a beach and 17 people at a U.N. school.
Ceasefire talks to resume in Cairo before end of month
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Oct — Ceasefire talks between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators are due to resume before the end of the month, a senior Palestinian official said Tuesday. DFLP deputy secretary-general Qais Abed al-Karim, a member of the negotiating team, told Ma’an that Egypt will host negotiators from Oct. 27 in Cairo, although an exact date is yet to be determined. Talks should last for around two days as discussions center on the fishing zone, airport, seaport, buffer zone, the release of prisoners, and the remains of Israeli soldiers in Gaza, al-Karim added. Earlier, Hamas said that talks would resume next week. “Hamas and the Palestinian factions will take part in a session of indirect negotiations with the (Israeli) occupation on the 27th of this month at the invitation of Egypt,” said Hamas deputy leader Mousa Abu Marzouq. A source close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, contacted by AFP, gave no comment on the reported resumption of talks.
Israel football body to discipline Arab team Bnei Sakhnin
JERUSALEM (AFP) 20 Oct – The Israel Football Association said Monday it is to take disciplinary measures against an Arab club in the Premier League over a tribute it paid to a fugitive former MP. The IFA said it had “decided to take disciplinary action against Bnei Sakhnin” after the club paid tribute to those who had helped secure a Qatari donation to build its home ground, Doha Stadium. Bnei Sakhnin is the Premier League’s only Arab-Israeli club and its state-of-the-art football stadium and sports complex was built with millions of dollars in donations from Qatar in 2005. Among those honoured at the ceremony, which took place before a match against HaPoel Tel Aviv on Saturday evening, was Azmi Bishara, a former MP who fled Israel in 2007 after being accused of collaborating with Lebanon’s Shiite militant group Hezbollah. Bishara, who comes from the northern Arab city of Nazareth and now lives in Qatar, has repeatedly denied the allegations which accused him of advising Hezbollah during its 34-day war with Israel in 2006. The ceremony triggered a furious response from several Israeli cabinet ministers who called for the team to be punished.Premier League chief Oren Hasson also wrote a letter of complaint to the IFA, a copy of which was seen by AFP, saying the club had failed to inform the league about the nature of the ceremony.
‘Devoted’ intern at Ashkelon hospital dies fighting with Islamic State
Haaretz 19 Oct by Shirly Seidler/Haaretz — An intern at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon who had joined Islamic State was killed around six weeks ago, it emerged Sunday. Othman Abdul-Kiyan was killed while fighting with the jihadist group in Syria. Kiyan, 26, from the Bedouin village of Hura, had gone to medical school in Jordan. After passing his licensing exams in Israel, he had begun a three-month internship in February in the internal medicine department at Barzilai. He was scheduled to do an elective month of training at Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva in May, but he never showed up and was never heard from again. “Security officials questioned us about him,” a statement from Barzilai said. “That was when we found out he chose to join the ranks of Islamic State.” His colleagues at Barzilai were deeply shocked. Dr. Yosef Mishal, director of Internal Medicine Department B at Barzilai, recalled a brilliant young man who was well versed in many areas other than just medicine. “He was witty, smart, sharp as a razor,” Mishal said. “He knew medicine in the fullest way one could study and know it. He knew about many areas beyond medicine. He knew literature, current events, as well as religion and the Koran – everything a man his age who had been to university could know.” Of Kiyan’s work at the hospital, Mishal said, “He was very devoted to his work and treated his patients in a fashion beyond what’s expected from an intern. He was pleasant and friendly toward the patients’ families and the medical staff. I was very pleased with him as a doctor; he was a doctor that any department head would want to continue with.” Neither Mishal nor any other member of the medical staff who worked with Kiyan could recall any exceptional behavior on his part, nor did Kiyan ever speak to them about what was happening in Syria or Iraq…
Last week it was reported that four Israeli Arabs from a town near Nazareth traveled to Turkey earlier this month with the intent of joining the Islamic State. One of the four dropped out en route and returned home, where he told the families of the other three that they were planning to travel to Syria … Upon learning of their sons’ intentions, the families of the three contacted the Foreign Ministry and the Israel Police and even tried to get Interpol involved so that the young men would be arrested before they entered war-torn Syria. Another Israeli Arab, Hamed Mohammed Habashi, from the Galilee village of Iksal, was reportedly killed with Islamic State fighters in Iraq.
Tell me a story with a happy ending [Exchange of letters between Sayed Kashua and Etgar Keret - I]
The New Yorker 13 Oct — On July 19th, just days after Israel launched a ground invasion of Gaza, the Israeli-Palestinian writer Sayed Kashua published a piece in the Guardian, titled “Why I Have to Leave Israel.” Kashua, who was born in the predominantly Arab town of Tira, spent most of his life in Jerusalem. He devoted his weekly column in Haaretz to telling “the Palestinian story,” and he is the creator of “Arab Labor,” a popular sitcom that is a sendup of problems experienced by Israel’s Arab citizens … Now living in Champaign and working as a Hebrew and writing instructor at the University of Illinois, Kashua recently exchanged a series of letters about life as an expat with his friend the Jewish-Israeli writer and filmmaker Etgar Keret. Like Kashua, Keret has been unafraid to speak out against the Israeli government (during the conflict in Gaza, he wrote about Israeli society’s intolerance of criticism); his tragicomic, surrealist short stories often deal obliquely with the pain and contradictions of modern Israeli life. The two writers have known one another for more than a decade, and in their correspondence they help one another to think through their despair over Israel’s condition. The first part of their exchange is published below; read part II here.
EU seeks talks with Israel over ‘red lines’ in West Bank
Haaretz 22 Oct by Barak Ravid — The European Union is interested in opening negotiations with Israel with the aim of preventing a series of Israeli moves in the West Bank deemed “red lines” which may jeopardize the possibility of a future Palestinian state alongside Israel, an internal EU document obtained by Haaretz reveals. Officials in the Israeli Foreign Ministry are concerned the negotiations are a prelude to further European sanctions against Israel. In recent weeks, since the Israeli appropriation of 4,000 dunams in Gush Etzion in the West Bank and even more since the push forward in planning for additional construction in Givat Hamatos, a neighborhood beyond the Green Line, a series of discussions have been taking place in the EU’s headquarters in Brussels between the ambassadors of the 28 members states over the European response. During these discussions, which ended last weekend, it was decided to relay a sharp message to Israel in the name of all EU members, focusing on the Israeli moves which create a “focused and increasing threat to the possibility of the two-state solution.” Haaretz obtained an internal EU document with instructions as to the content of the message Ambassador Faaborg-Andersen is supposed to relay to the ministry’s officials and to the Prime Minister’s Office. “The EU considers the preservation of the two state solution a priority,” the document reads. “The only way to resolve the conflict is through an agreement that ends the occupation which began in 1967, that ends all claims and fulfills the aspirations of both parties. A one state reality would not be compatible with these aspirations.” The two-page document defines several of the EU’s “red lines” regarding Israeli actions in the West Bank:
Palestinian Authority should end joint security with Israel, says chief Palestinian negotiator
Haaretz 22 Oct by Barak Ravid & Jack Khoury — The Palestinian Authority should end its security coordination with Israel if the United States vetoes a Palestinian-sponsored UN Security Council resolution recognizing a Palestinian state, according to chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. Erekat made this recommendation in a position paper he submitted to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO Executive Committee, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz. In the 77-page document, Erekat chronicles all the Palestinian diplomatic activity from when the negotiations with Israel broke down in March, through Abbas’ address to the UN General Assembly last month. At the end of the document, Erekat makes 11 recommendations for steps the Palestinian leadership should take in the coming months. The first suggestion is to expedite the consultations with the Arab states and international community, and immediately afterward ask the Security Council to vote on the Palestinian resolution, which calls for recognizing Palestine as a state and setting a two-year timetable for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank.
Lacking a plan, Abbas opts for rhetoric
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 20 Oct by Karin Laub & Mohammed Daraghmeh – The Palestinian president has been speaking in increasingly belligerent tones in recent weeks, accusing Israel of committing “genocide” in Gaza and calling on Palestinians to defend a contested Jerusalem holy site “by any means.” The heightened rhetoric is a departure for the normally staid Mahmoud Abbas — and an apparent sign of desperation as he tries to halt a slide in his own popularity following this summer’s war between Israel and the Islamic militant Hamas in Gaza. Abbas has staked his decade-long presidency on the pursuit of an independent Palestinian state through negotiations with Israel. But he seems out of ideas after another failed round of talks that collapsed in April, a war that boosted the popularity of the rival Hamas, and a bumpy attempt to win new recognition at the United Nations. Fiery rhetoric is an easy way to appeal to his public at a time when many Palestinians believe Israel is not serious about negotiating a partition deal that would end half a century of Israeli military occupation.Yet Abbas has also carefully avoided any steps that would irreversibly harm his relationship with Israel. The disconnect between words and action was on jarring display over the weekend when Abbas’ security forces beat West Bank protesters marching in support of a Muslim-run holy site that is widely perceived by Palestinians to be under threat of a Jewish takeover. Just hours later, Abbas urged activists from his Fatah movement to defend the shrine “by any means” against “cattle herds of (Jewish) settlers” who he said “have no right to enter and desecrate it.” … Palestinian analyst Diana Buttu said Abbas’ lack of a political vision is behind his new populist tone and attempts to tap into a consensus issue such as Al Aqsa. “He has nothing to hang his hat on any longer,” she said. “He is making more forceful statements because he knows that public opinion toward him and his party is at an all-time low.”
Israel responsible for settlers’ assaults, says Palestine UN mission
NEW YORK (WAFA) 21 Oct – The Permanent Mission of Palestine to the United Nations Monday said the Israeli Government is responsible for all the crimes committed by the settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. The statement came as the head of the mission, Riyad Mansour, sent identical letters to the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, the President of the Security Council and the President of the General Assembly on Israeli Settlers terrorism against Palestinian people. “On a nearly daily basis, Israeli settlers continue with their terror rampages, persisting with attacks on Palestinian civilians, destruction of properties, and theft of land and natural resources,” said Mansour, referring to the deliberate killing of 4-year-old Inas Dar Khalil, a Palestinian kindergarten girl who was killed on Saturday after an Israel settler ran over her with his car near Ramallah. “It should also be mentioned, that this so-called “hit and run” accident has become a reoccurring deadly practice by Israeli settlers against the Palestinian civilian population,” remarked Mansour. In his letter, Mansour addressed similar “hit-and-run” incidents carried out by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians. The top-ranking Palestinian diplomat made reference to the continuing Israeli incitement and provocative actions against holy sites in Occupied East Jerusalem
UN: Stop unilateral Israel-Palestinian initiatives
UNITED NATIONS (AP) 21 Oct by Edith M. Lederer – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Palestinian and Israeli leaders on Tuesday to halt “unilateral initiatives” that fuel mistrust and thwart peace efforts, an appeal almost certainly aimed at Israel’s continued settlement building and the Palestinians’ demand that Israel withdraw from its territory by November 2016. Ban challenged the leaders to rise to the occasion and display the “courage and vision” needed to overcome their differences and negotiate a comprehensive peace agreement that leads to the establishment of a viable and independent Palestinian state. But the U.N. chief told the U.N. Security Council that there is no hope for long-term stability without an end to Israel’s occupation “that has grinded on for nearly half a century,” a full lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip, and measures to address Israel’s legitimate security concerns. Ban’s address, following his recent trip to the region, was harshly critical of the massive destruction to Gaza inflicted by Israel during this summer’s 50-day conflict, saying it “has left deep questions about proportionality and the need for accountability.”
Israelis question care of Hamas leader’s daughter
JERUSALEM (AP) 22 Oct by Josef Federman and Peter Enav — Israel and the Gaza Strip are bound by much more than enmity: Israel controls nearly everything that comes in and out of the territory, including food and energy, and sometimes allows Gazans to enter the country for medical care. But following a bloody 50-day war over the summer, a decision to allow the daughter of a top Hamas official to receive care at an Israeli hospital is proving to be too much for some Israelis. The treatment of Ismail Haniyeh’s daughter has sparked a debate over whether Israel’s stated commitment to providing humanitarian aid should be extended to its bitterest enemies … Haniyeh’s daughter “shouldn’t have been treated,” commentator Avishai Ivri said on the Army Radio station Tuesday. “She should have been arrested for war crimes.” … But many Israeli commentators defended the decision to treat the daughter in ethical terms …Israel’s obligation to help is linked to the control it exercises over Palestinian territories — directly in the case of the West Bank, and through its imposition of a blockade in the case of Gaza. Rights groups and Palestinians also say that Israel often uses offers of medical care and travel permits for political gain or even extortion in order to enlist informants. “It is clear that for historical reasons particularly in Gaza both also in the West Bank, there is a lack of adequate medical infrastructure. We believe that Israel has an obligation to provide care for people from these areas, because it exercises control over them,” said Hadas Ziv of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel. Ahmed Yousef, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, said Haniyeh was left with little choice. He said the girl’s case was life-threatening, and with Gaza’s borders virtually sealed by Israel and Egypt, there was no other place to go.