Archive for Today In Palestine

June 24, 2016

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Army kills a Palestinian teenage girl in Hebron
[with video] IMEMC 25 June — Israeli soldiers killed, Friday, a Palestinian teenage girl after alleging she deliberately rammed her car into an Israeli settlers’ vehicle, east Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. Eyewitnesses said she lost control of her car and crashed into the Israeli car. The soldiers fired many rounds of live ammunition at the car, especially into the windshield, killing Majd Abdullah al-Khdour, 19, after wounding her multiple times in the upper parts of her body.  She is the mother of a toddler girl by the name of Hadeel [pictured]. The slain teen is from Bani Neim town, east of Hebron. She was killed on a bypass road, in the Baq’a area, at the entrance to Keryat Arba Israeli colony in Hebron. Palestinian medics rushed to the scene, but the soldiers prevented them from approaching al-Khdour, and closed the entire area after declaring it a closed military zone. Although the army is alleging she was shot dead after “deliberately ramming Israelis,” eyewitnesses said the incident appeared to be a traffic accident after she lost control of her car, and crashed into the settlers’ vehicle. Israeli Ynetnews claimed al-Khdour first “attempted a car-ramming attack, but failed to do so, and instead struck another car,” injuring an Israeli man and his wife. The two were treated by the Israeli Magen David Adom first responders, before being transferred to Shaare Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
http://imemc.org/article/army-kills-a-palestinian-teenage-girl-in-hebron/

another version:
Palestinian woman shot dead after her car hits vehicle, 2 Israelis lightly injured
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 June — A Palestinian woman was shot and killed Friday afternoon after her car crashed into a stationary vehicle, lightly injuring two Israelis in the Hebron district of the southern occupied West Bank. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that after a Palestinian woman allegedly carried out a car-ramming attack near the entrance of the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba in the eastern outskirts of Hebron, Israeli forces responded by firing towards the “assailant,” killing her. The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed her death, identifying her as Majd al-Khadour. Israeli sources said she was 18 years old. The two Israelis, reportedly a man and woman in their 50s who had stopped outside the settlement to pick up hitchhikers, were immediately evacuated for treatment at Israel’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center. Witnesses told Ma‘an they saw Israeli forces open heavy fire at a Palestinian female inside a red car at the entrance of Kiryat Arba. Various Israeli news outlets initially reported that the suspected attacker had been “neutralized.” Israeli media often uses the term “neutralized” in initial reports to indicate that a suspected attack has been subdued, when it is later revealed they had been injured or killed on the scene. Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post had reported that the Palestinian woman was in critical condition, though it was not immediately clear if she had been killed immediately or if she had received any treatment. Photos published by Israeli media show a red car heavily damaged to its front in what appeared to be a collision, with several bullet holes through the windshield. The circumstances of the incident are still unknown. Some Palestinian social media outlets reported that eyewitnesses told them the incident appeared to be car accident, not a premeditated attack. Israeli forces have closed the Beit Einun conjunction and the northeastern entrances of Hebron, witnesses added.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771991

Palestinian teen ‘mistakenly’ killed by Israeli soldier laid to rest
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 June — 15-year-old Mahmoud Raafat Badran was laid to rest in his village of Beit ‘Ur al-Tahta near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on Thursday. Badran was shot dead by israeli forces around midnight on Wednesday, after spending the evening at a swimming pool in the village of Beit Sira west of Ramallah with 4 other Palestinian boys, who were celebrating the recent arrival from Qatar of friends who were to spend the summer in their hometown of Beit Ur al-Tahta. An Israeli soldier began showering the car with live fire, according to local sources, killing Badran and seriously injuring the four others in the car … The Israeli army admitted to “mistakenly” opening fire on innocent bystanders after Palestinian youth were reportedly throwing stones at Israeli settler vehicles in the area … Badran’s funeral procession — in which Palestinian security forces, Ramallah Mayor Laila Ghannam, and a delegation from the ministry of interior all took part — started from the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah from which Badran was taken in an ambulance to his hometown village of Beit ‘Ur al-Tahta, followed by dozens of cars. Hundreds of residents from Beit ‘Ur al-Tahta and surrounding villages waited for Badran’s body at the entrance of the village, and then marched behind the ambulance until he got to his family’s home. After his family said their goodbyes to him at the house, he was taken to the village’s mosque where worshipers prayed for him, after which he was taken by thousands of mourners to the village’s cemetery, where he was laid to rest.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771983

Father of Palestinian boy killed by IDF troops urges Israel to ‘recover its sanity’
Haaretz 24 June by Amira Hass  — “I lost something great. I lost the first experience of joy I had after leaving the prison of occupation,” said Rafat Badran, at the funeral Thursday of his 15-year-old son. Mahmoud Rafat Badran was killed by Israeli soldiers early Tuesday morning on Route 443, returning from a night out at a water park in the West Bank village of Beit Sira. Rafat’s younger son, Milad, 11, asked his father, “What could be good now, without Mahmoud?” His wife, Amal, has been taking tranquilizers since the death of her eldest son. “I hope I can continue to control myself and my spirits,” Rafat Badran told Haaretz after the funeral. “I will not cease to search for and challenge by legal means the criminals who murdered my son, and expose the scandalous way in which they murdered him.” However, he also repeated what he said before and during the funeral as he stood over his son’s grave: “If this is the last crime, which prevents the murder of other children, I’ll feel relief.”  “The army says the soldiers erred,” said Badran, “but this isn’t about stealing money, which you can later regret. They took the life of a child. A child who dreamed of being a doctor, but also of playing soccer for Real Madrid. A truly special boy, who was showered with so much love that I was beginning to fear something bad would happen….” [includes testimony by Hadi Badran, 15, and Daoud Badran, 13]
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.726879

Haaretz editorial: The Military Police’s test: Indict the Israeli officer who shot Mahmoud Badran
24 June — In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, Israeli soldiers rained live fire down on a moving car from dozens of meters away, without having any idea who was in it. Their commander thought stone-throwers were fleeing in the car, so he opened fire at it and may have ordered his soldiers to do the same, in utter defiance of the army’s rules of engagement. The soldiers’ lives weren’t in danger, and their hail of bullets killed a 15-year-old boy, Mahmoud Badran, and wounded four other people in the car, all of whom had been returning from a late-night swim and had no connection to the stone throwers. The Israel Defense Forces initially claimed that the soldiers killed someone who had been throwing stones at Route 443. Only a few hours later did it admit that this was a “mistaken” killing. But this claim should not be accepted. According to testimony collected by the B’Tselem organization, the soldiers shot around 15 bullets at the car. You don’t fire 15 bullets by mistake. Even if there had been fleeing stone-throwers in the car, it would have been forbidden for the soldiers to shoot them as they fled. But we shouldn’t complain about the soldiers alone. The internal inquiry into the incident was conducted by none other than the commander of the Binyamin Brigade, Col. Yisrael Shomer. About a year ago, this same Colonel Shomer shot teenager Mohammad Kosba because he suspected the boy of having thrown stones at his vehicle. He chased Kosba, shot him three times from behind, hitting him in the upper body each time, and killing him. The IDF decided not to put him on trial, or even to remove him from his post. If that’s how the brigade commander behaves, how can we complain about his soldiers? Nevertheless, the Military Police are obligated to investigate the latest incident quickly and efficiently and indict the officer and his soldiers for this unnecessary killing. Any delay or evasion that results in this case being buried – like most of its predecessors – will only strengthen the message to IDF soldiers that they are permitted to spray moving cars with live fire and kill stone-throwers or innocent people as they please.
http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.726817

‘We want our sons': Families of slain Palestinians held by Israel stage sit-in at Aqsa
[with photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 24 June — Family members of slain Palestinians whose bodies are still being held by Israeli authorities staged a sit-in at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem on Friday, demanding Israel return the bodies under their campaign titled: “We want our sons.” Participants in the sit-in raised posters emblazoned with the phrase: “We want the martyr –” with the name of each Palestinian and the date he was killed printed underneath. Muhammed Elayyan, father of Bahaa Elayyan, a Palestinian shot dead during an alleged car-ramming attack in October, said “we are here today to remind all worshipers who came to Al-Aqsa that the bodies of the eight martyrs have been in (Israeli) refrigerators for months.” “They were with us on days like these during the holy month of Ramadan (last year), and it is their right to be buried according to traditions.” Of the eight bodies of Palestinians still being held by Israel, six were from occupied East Jerusalem: Thaer Abu Ghazaleh, 19, Bahaa Elayyan, 22, Abd al-Muhsin Hassuneh, 21, Mohammad Abu Khalaf, 20, Muhammad Jamal al-Kalouti, 21, and Abd al-Malek Salih Abu Kharoub, 19. Meanwhile, Abd al-Hamid Abu Srour and Ansar Harashah were from the occupied West Bank….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771995

Israeli forces injure Palestinian youth with live fire during raids in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 June — Israeli forces Friday injured a young Palestinian in the Dheisheh refugee camp with live fire during predawn raids carried out across the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, locals told Ma‘an. The Palestinian youth was reportedly struck with live fire in the leg after clashes broke out between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers. The identity of the youth has not been released. The injured Palestinian was taken to the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital where doctors reported his injury as medium. Israeli forces also raided the western Bethlehem area of Beit Jala and Doha overnight, as locals reported Israeli forces, including bulldozers, stormed the area and confiscated footage from surveillance cameras outside several stores. Clashes erupted between Palestinian youth and Israeli soldiers in several areas, with Israeli soldiers opening live fire at Palestinians, and shooting rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades into the communities …The raid came amid reports of streets protests by local Palestinian youth this past week in Dheisheh in response to ongoing water cuts in the camp and across the occupied West Bank. Dheisheh has reportedly been without running water for weeks.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771986

Israeli extremists attack Palestinian Christians during Pentecost prayer, shouting ‘You are evil’
IMEMC 23 June by Celine Hagbard — A group of Israeli extremists assaulted the Pentecostal prayer procession in Jerusalem this week, shouting and trying to occupy Mount Zion to keep the Christians out. The Israeli police arrested five demonstrators who locked themselves in the holy site known as King David’s Tomb before the Christian procession arrived. The protesters consisted of right-wing religious Jewish Israelis who wore traditional Jewish yarmulkes on their heads as they screamed and shouted at the Christian worshipers, and tried to physically attack them. Israeli police blocked the crowd of several dozen demonstrators, but some got through and hit some of the Eastern Orthodox Christian worshipers, according to local sources. The Pentecostal procession is an annual event in which Eastern Orthodox Christians pray at the presumed site of the Last Supper. According to the Israeli paper Ha’aretz, one ultra-Orthodox protester who identified himself as Tzvi told them, “It hurts me that they are letting these goyim (non-Jews) come here. It hurts me that these evil men, who have oppressed the Jews throughout history, are being allowed to contaminate our holy sites. And it hurts me even more that the police, led by our Jewish government, are allowing them to do so.” Although King David’s Tomb is supposed to be open to people of all religions to pray, it has unofficially been turned into a synagogue, and Jewish rabbis prevent any non-Jews from entering, apart from five times a year when Christians are allowed to enter to commemorate holy days … The Christian elders and brothers stayed in the tomb only a few minutes, and were met by loud booing and hissing the whole time. As they left, the Israeli daily Ha’aretz reports that one ultra-Orthodox demonstrator shouted, “The goyim got their way this time. But they won’t the next time. King David lives forever! The people of Israel live forever!”
http://imemc.org/article/israeli-extremists-attack-palestinian-christians-during-pentecost-prayer-shouting-you-are-evil/

Israeli settlers set fire to Palestinian agricultural lands near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 23 June — Israeli settlers set fire to dozens of dunams of Palestinian agricultural lands on Thursday afternoon near the Qablan junction south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank. Abd al-Khaliq Salih, a resident of the nearby al-Sawiya village told Ma‘an that several settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Rachalim near the village set fire to dozens of dunams of farmlands in the al-Tulma area which is owned by people from al-Sawiya, and is located near Qablan junction. Salih said large parts of the surrounding area quickly caught fire due to the heat, causing dozens more olive and other trees to burn. He added that Palestinian firefighters were prevented from getting to the area by Israeli settlers.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771982

Israeli soldiers kidnap 10 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank
IMEMC 23 June — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers have kidnapped, earlier on Thursday, at least ten Palestinians, in different parts of the occupied West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem. The PPS said the soldiers invaded various areas in the central West Bank district of Ramallah, searched many homes and kidnapped Rami Bairam, 35, Mohammad Najeeb Haddad, 23, Samer Samih Darraj, 23, and Jamal Hussein Khaseeb, the father of imprisoned journalist Nasser Khaseeb. It added that the soldiers also invaded and searched homes in occupied Jerusalem, and kidnapped three Palestinians, identified as Wahib Dandees, Rashrash Ali Obeidat, and Firas Hasan Obeidat. The soldiers also invaded the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, and kidnapped two Palestinians, identified as Omar Mohammad Qashmar and Ali Abdul-Rahim Daoud. In Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, the soldiers also invaded and searched homes, and kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Mohammad Akram Ja‘bari.
http://imemc.org/article/israeli-soldiers-kidnap-ten-palestinians-in-the-occupied-west-bank/

Army kidnaps three Palestinians near Nablus
IMEMC 24 June — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Thursday at night, three Palestinians in Huwwara town, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, after several residents prevented a number of Israeli colonists from invading their town. Local sources said many Palestinians intercepted the colonists, who infiltrated into their town, before the soldiers invaded it, assaulted many residents and kidnapped three of them. The sources added that dozens of soldiers have been deployed in Huwwara and around it.
http://imemc.org/article/army-kidnaps-three-palestinians-near-nablus/

Prisoners

Palestinian prisoner enters 9th day on hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 23 June — The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement that signs of exhaustion and fatigue were showing on hunger-striking prisoner Bilal Kayid on Thursday, as he marked his ninth day without food. Kayid was issued an administrative detention order — an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial used almost exclusively against Palestinians — for six months on June 13, the day that he was set to be released after finishing a 14-year sentence. Kayid declared an open hunger strike following the court’s decision. PPS added that Kayid, who has only been consuming water, has not been able to sleep and was suffering from kidney pain. The organization said that Kayid was being held in a solitary confinement in the Ramon prison, which has been raided and searched on a daily basis since he began his strike. All of Kayid’s personal belongings were reportedly confiscated by Israeli officers, along with the personal belongings and electronic devices of many prisoners affiliated with the Palestinian faction Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) …  The prisoners warned prison officials at the time that unless Kayid was immediately released, a hunger strike would be launched by PFLP prisoners across all of Israel’s prisons. PPS said on Thursday that 27 PFLP-affiliated prisoners held in the Megiddo jail continued their open hunger strike for the fourth day in solidarity with Kayid. The rights group also confirmed that the Israeli prisons services moved 60 PFLP prisoners from Megiddo to other prisons in order to separate them … Kayid was originally detained in 2001 for alleged involvement in the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades — the armed wing of the PFLP….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771980

New York protest demands freedom for Bilal Kayed, end to administrative detention
Samidoun 25 June — Protesters in New York gathered outside the offices of prison contractor and global security corporation G4S on Friday, 24 June as part of the global days of action in solidarity with Palestinian prisoner Bilal Kayed. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network held its Friday protest highlighting the case of Kayed, who completed his 14.5 year prison sentence in Israeli prison on 13 June, only to be ordered to six months administrative detention without charge or trial. Administrative detention orders are indefinitely renewable. Kayed’s case has provoked Palestinian and international outrage, from his comrades in the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who have embarked on a campaign of collective hunger strikes and protests inside the prison, to Palestinian prisoners and organizations across the political spectrum concerned that Kayed’s case will set a precedent for Palestinian prisoners being indefinitely detained following the expiration of their sentences. Over 150 Palestinian and international organizations joined the call for days of action on 24 and 25 June to free Bilal Kayed and end administrative detention. Protests and other actions are or have taken place in New York, Brussels, Berlin, Den Haag, Athens, Vienna, Vancouver, Dublin, Torino, Milan, Edinburgh, and other cities in solidarity with Kayed.
http://samidoun.net/2016/06/new-york-protest-demands-freedom-for-bilal-kayed-end-to-administrative-detention/

Arab Israeli MK visits Barghouti in jail
MEMO 23 June — Arab Member of the Israeli Knesset Jamal Zahalka visited Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti in jail, in a first such visit by an Israeli official, the Wallah news website reported on Wednesday. Zahalka spent two hours with Barghouti and discussed several issues, including the latest developments regarding Palestinian prisoners and the “fascist” Israeli government led by right-wing Benjamin Netanyahu. During the meeting, Barghouti hailed the unity among Palestinians in Israel, namely the Joint List, the political party formed to encompass all Arab MKs. Barghouti, who was arrested in 2004, is accused of killing five Israelis and being involved in four “terrorist” attacks, including an attack on a takeaway restaurant in Tel Aviv in 2002, when three Israelis were killed, the website said. [He did not present a defense, claiming that the court was illegitimate]
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160623-arab-israeli-mk-visits-barghouti-in-jail/

Gaza

Celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Gaza (10 images)
UPI — Palestinians spend their time in prayer, shopping in markets, and celebrating throughout the streets of Gaza City to mark the eighteenth day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on June 23, 2016.
http://www.upi.com/News_Photos/Features/Celebrating-the-Muslim-holy-month-of-Ramadan-in-Gaza/10335/

Palestinians use demolished mosques in Gaza
[with photos] MEMO 23 June by Mohammad Asad — Two years after Israel’s demolition of mosques in Gaza in its latest offensive against the Strip in 2014, Palestinians today continue to pray in what remains of the damaged structures. Gaza’s religious property incurred $50 million in damages during Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge”, the committee in charge of assessing the damage incurred by the Ministry of Endowments said. It noted that 73 mosques were completely destroyed and 197 were partially damaged during the aggression, adding that 10 of its staff members were also killed. Imam Shafi‘i Mosque, Khalil Al-Wazir Mosque, Al-Shamaa  mosque in Gaza City, as well as the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam mosque in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza Strip and the Al-Montar mosque were all destroyed during the war. Gaza’s residents insist on performing the rite of holy month of Ramadan in the destroyed mosques in order to ensure the revival of those mosques. They see it as a national duty and moral right. The Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs said it has completed the first phase of the reconstruction of nine mosques destroyed by the Zionist occupation during its aggression on Gaza in 2014, noting that this stage has faced challenges and obstacles and difficulties and that Turkey had a prominent role in overcoming them….
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160623-palestinians-use-demolished-mosques-in-gaza/


UN Secretary General to arrive in Gaza next week
IMEMC/Agencies 23 June — The Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Palestinian Authority, Riyad al-Maliki, announced that the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki moon, and the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sameh Shokri, will visit  Palestine at the end of June. “We will talk with Shokri about the role of the ministerial Arab quartet committee, headed by Egypt, to take serious actions regarding Israeli escalation in settlement expansion,” said al-Maliki. Spokesperson for the Secretary General, Stéphane Dujarric, said that Ban is to visit the West Bank and Israel next week, adding that he will arrive in Jerusalem on Monday, to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to deliver a lecture in Tel Aviv University. He will then arrive in the Gaza Strip to visit UN schools, and to meet officials at the UN headquarters. He will also meet with PA president Mahmoud Abbas, “to be honored”, according to Al Ray.
http://imemc.org/article/un-secretary-general-to-arrive-in-gaza-next-week/

Egypt denies plans to establish underwater sea border with Palestinians
JERUSALEM (Epoch Times/AP) 22 June by Genevieve Belmaker — Egypt has denied reports that it is negotiating maritime borders with the Palestinian Authority. The denial comes on the heels of a very specific, public declaration made recently by a senior Palestinian government official to that end. Last week, Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the U.N., told several reporters that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is in the early stages of negotiations with Egypt to establish a sea border. Mansour was speaking at the outset of a week of meetings at the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea that ended on June 20. On June 19, Egypt said there are no negotiations, secret or otherwise, regarding sea borders with the Palestinian Authority. In an exclusive interview with the Turkish media outlet Anadolu Agency, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said the reports were “unfounded.” “There is no Egyptian position regarding maritime border demarcation with Palestine,” he told the news agency. In Middle Eastern shorthand, Egypt’s denial of plans to establish border demarcation lines could simply be a smokescreen against potential fallout in the court of public opinion. The Egyptian government suffered a public backlash when they made a deal with Saudi Arabia in April over another maritime border demarcation … If the Palestinians were able to establish undersea territory, it would be a step toward creating sea borders and laying claim to natural resources. Other undersea resources in the region have yielded massive natural gas deposits. Those offshore gas deposits have become increasingly important in regional politics. The massive Leviathan gas field in the Mediterranean is considered one of the most important potential tools in establishing Israel as a global powerhouse. A second smaller deposit, the Tamar gas field, is not far away.
http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/2098302-egypt-denies-plans-to-establish-underwater-sea-border-with-palestinians/

Suffocated at sea
EI 24 June by Isra Saleh al-Namey — A group of Gaza fishermen were working an early morning shift when the Israeli navy opened fire. Rajab Abu Riyala and his brother Khaled were shot during that 31 May incident. A bullet had to be removed from Rajab’s knee as a result. They were among five fishermen arrested on two vessels by Israel. All were brought to Ashdod, a port in present-day Israel, and were detained for most of the day. Both of the vessels were confiscated. “Every Gaza fisherman who is arrested undergoes a long and cruel process of interrogation and strip searches,” said Bashir Abu Riyala, one of the five. Bashir, a cousin of Rajab and Khaled, questioned why Israel behaves as if fishermen are a security threat. “The way they harass us cannot be tolerated,” he said. “Each time they arrest fishermen, they fail to get the information they are looking for. We do not know anything. All we want is to fish freely and safely.” Bashir thinks it is unlikely that the vessel will be returned to them. Due to the confiscation, he and his cousins are now out of work. The fishermen were within three nautical miles of the Gaza coast, a zone in which Israel theoretically allows fishing to take place. Israel has repeatedly attacked fishermen working within those limits. The limits have also been subject to a number of changes … The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights recorded 139 incidents in which Gaza’s fishermen were shot at by Israeli naval forces during 2015. Twenty-four fishermen were wounded. There were also six incidents in which boats were shelled and chased. More than 70 fishermen were arrested last year and 22 vessels were confiscated. These incidents are part of the economic warfare Israel wages against Gaza’s fishermen…
https://electronicintifada.net/content/suffocated-sea/17181

Gaza’s plight matters to the world
The Hill 23 June by Elizabeth Kucinich [wife of former congressman Dennis Kucinich] — This month, U.S. congressmen, including Reps. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), were refused entry into the Gaza Strip at the Erez crossing while on a fact-finding mission in Israel-Palestine. Israeli authorities, without elaboration, claimed that their application had not met the criteria necessary to enter. Apparently elected U.S. congressmen inspecting American taxpayer-funded projects and reviewing U.S. aid to Palestinians in Gaza is not worthy criteria …. while the world debates the actions of the Israeli government, especially in Gaza, a humanitarian crisis of monumental proportions grows. Israel’s legitimate security concerns are being undermined, not aided, by the illegal siege and blockade of Gaza, which is increasing the level of desperation among Gazans. Israel’s government is unable to achieve a constructive reassessment of its position and is itself trapped in a loop of endless conflict. It’s time for friends of Israel in the international community to take concrete steps towards guiding Israel to ending the siege and blockade of Gaza, and the misery and suffering which the siege and blockade has brought to the 1.8 million Palestinians living there. It would also behoove Israel to be diplomatic when hosting visiting members of the U.S. Congress that they rely upon for security and support.
http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/international-affairs/284482-gazas-plight-matters-to-the-world

Opinion: The mistakes of Hamas and the need for recalibration / Ahmed al-Burai
Al Jazeera 24 June – Nobody dares to claim that Hamas doesn’t have the full right to pursue its political agenda – Much had happened in the last decade of Hamas’ rule in Gaza. The unexpected stunning victory of the 2006 parliamentary elections in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, followed by futile political disputes between the two rivals Fatah and Hamas, led to a devastating rift among the Palestinians resulting in two governments. This was shadowed by the strangling inhumane blockade, culminating in Israel’s three “genocidal wars” on the dilapidated enclave, and coinciding with the Arab Spring and the waves of turmoil that swept across the Middle East. Fatal mistakes In such a turbulent, uncertain political arena, precarious and wonky choices would undoubtedly lead to disastrous consequences. Originally founded as a resistance movement, orchestrating the armed battle against the occupation, Hamas has committed five inexcusable – though inevitable – fatal mistakes in the past 10 years….
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/06/mistakes-hamas-recalibration-160622115710978.html

Israel wants Dahlan to rule over Gaza
MEMO 22 June — Israel seeks to have dismissed Fatah leader Mohamed Dahlan as governor of the Gaza Strip, a military analyst for the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth wrote yesterday. According to Alex Fishman Israel might go beyond having Dahlan in Gaza, and aim to have him replace Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. However, he insisted that Israel prefers to have two different Palestinian entities in Gaza and the West Bank. Fishman said that such a plan is supported by the Arab countries, including Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, noting that Dahlan, who fled the coastal enclave nine years ago, is ready to go back.Since the inclusion of Avigdor Lieberman in the Israeli government, Israeli officials renewed discussions regarding Dahlan’s return to Gaza. Fishman noted that Saudi Arabia would never object to removing Hamas from Gaza. Israel, Fishman said, would carry out the plan and would be happy to have someone in Gaza with whom it has conducted negotiations in the past.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160622-israel-wants-dahlan-to-rule-over-gaza/

Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Judaization

PA Foreign Ministry condemns ongoing excavations at Al-Aqsa
IMEMC/Agencies 23 June — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday condemned ongoing excavations by the Israeli government beneath al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem. According to the ministry, the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “continues to employ all its potential in its war against the annexed East Jerusalem, and the Palestinian presence there, in order to enforce the arbitrary Judaization policies.” Background:  02/15/15 Jewish Organization to Begin Further Excavations under Al Aqsa   It said that such excavations target to separate the city from its Palestinian surroundings. To achieve this, the ministry added, “the Israeli authorities are seeking to Judaize the city and obliterate its Palestinian identity.” The ministry condemned, according to WAFA, what it described as “international silence” towards the crimes of the Israeli occupation in Jerusalem. It called upon the UN Security Council to pressure Israel to stop these violations, which form a flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions and international law. The ministry called on the Arab and Muslim countries “not to keep silent”, in the face of the Israeli violations in Jerusalem, and called upon them to immediately act, in order to protect the holy city.
http://imemc.org/article/pa-foreign-ministry-condemns-ongoing-excavations-at-al-aqsa/

What IS going on beside or under Al-Aqsa? One answer, at least a partial one, is this article with its fascinating maps and photos.
Underground Jerusalem: An interactive journey
Haaretz — Jerusalem has vastly expanded in the 7,000 years of its existence. Including, in the past two decades, downwards. Beneath the Old City, one can already walk hundreds of meters underground, pray in subterranean spaces of worship and see shows in subterranean caverns and halls. There are plans in place to dramatically increase this area – essentially, restoring the true ancient city beneath the visible one. Jerusalem 2.0, below ground. Critics claim the project over-simplifies the narrative for the complex Jerusalem reality. Underground, no stones are thrown, no rubber bullets are fired. The only light is artificial, shining on the places that the designers decide to showcase. The excavations are also geared precisely to the glorious ancient strata of Jewish Jerusalem, while skipping over Christian and Muslim strata, and Muslim spaces being opened tend to undergo a process of “Judaization”. Thus for instance a Mamluk bathhouse became the “Journey to Jerusalem” hall. The new spaces created below and by the Old City beg difficult questions. To whom does the land beneath the houses actually belong? Is this the right way to study one of the most important archaeological tells in the world – by means of complex engineered excavations that requires thousands of tons of concrete to be poured to strengthen the houses above the tunnels? Is this just another way to exclude the Palestinians and their story from Jerusalem? Is it wise to dig so close to the Temple Mount? When, some day, someone decides to divide the city between the Israelis and the Palestinians, how will “Lower Jerusalem” be divided? And: do the various groups involved in the excavations have a master plan? If so, who is behind it?….
http://www.haaretz.com/st/c/prod/eng/2016/05/jeruz/01/

Water apartheid in Qarawah Bani Hassan
IWPS 21 June — When Aziz ‘Aasee, the mayor of Qarawah Bani Hassan drives through the streets, we’re stopped every few meters by one of his constituents, all of whom are asking the same question: When will we have water again? For some, the question is a joke; they are used to going without water for days, weeks, or even months each summer. Others are more aggressive, and the question comes off as a threat. People are looking for someone to blame for their thirst. The mayor, who is responsible for paying the town’s water bills, seems like an easy target. In reality, there is little Aziz can do to ensure that his town has enough water. The village shares a water access network with two other municipalities, Sarta and Biddya. The three villages, with a combined population of approximately 30,000 people, depend on one 8 inch pipe, designed to deliver 145 cubic meters of water per hour. During the winter months when water tables are higher, the water flows at full capacity, ensuring coverage to the entire network. However for the past two months, the amount has been restricted to between 50 and 70 cubic meters per hour. With such a small amount in the pipes, the pressure is too low for the water to reach many of the houses at the end of the system. Qarawah, which sits at the highest elevation out of the three villages, suffers the most from the low water pressure: no house in the village has received water in over a week. The most remote properties have gone dry for over a month. Mekorot, the Israeli national water company which ostensibly owns the water infrastructure in question, and controls 87% of the aquifer located under the West Bank, lies at the root of the problem….
http://iwps.info/2016/06/water-apartheid-in-qarawah-bani-hassan/

IWPS returns to Deir Istiya
IWPS 21 June — An IWPS team is back on the ground in Deir Istiya. The jasmine trees are blooming, and the grapes are almost ready to eat! However not all is well. On our first night back, Rizziq abu Nasser, a local poet, activist, and friend of the IWPS laid out the three biggest challenges in Deir Istiya today: WATER APARTHEID Israel’s water company, Mekorot, is reducing the amount of water provided to the Salfit region, while still keeping the same service to illegal settlements.  This problem is worse during the summer. While Palestinian villages have not had water for several weeks, illegal settlers have not seen any reduction in their water supply, and continue to enjoy full swimming pools. PROTESTS OVER ROAD CLOSURE IN DEIR ISTIYA The settler highway that separates the village of Deir Istiya from most of the surrounding agricultural land has already posed a safety hazard- a few years ago a farmer and his donkey were hit by a setter car and killed while crossing. Now, a new measure to widen the road and put up guard rails poses a new problem. Seven of DI’s agricultural roads have been shut down by the widening process. Israel also built fences to prevent farmers from crossing the highway, sometimes forcing farmers to go several kilometres out of the way in order to cross the highway with their animals or tractors. The residents of Deir Istiya have joined together to protest the loss of access through peaceful demonstration … Organizers say three main things have been achieved by the protest: it remained almost entirely nonviolent, international and Israeli activists and journalists attended the protest, and the Israeli government has agreed to open two out of the seven closed roads …WADI QANA The Deir Istiya community learned of a new threat to the beautiful valley of Wadi Qana, where many members of the community hold agricultural land.  The local illegal settlement council located in Karne Shomron, along with the Israeli Ministries of Tourism, Environment and Agriculture created a Wadi Qana Directorate. The goal of the Directorate is to assimilate the valley to be completely under settler control as a recreational area/national park. Wadi Qana consists of 15,000 dunams of land – half the agricultural land of DI – and is an important recreational site for the community. Now the entire rim of the valley is covered with illegal settlements and illegal settlers are a common sight in the valley…often heavily armed. This is the next step in an ongoing pattern of encroachment on Wadi Qana. Settlers have been bulldozing olive trees by the hundreds each year since 2010, and some efforts, such as installing park benches, have been made by the local settlements in order to make the area appear less like agricultural land, and more like a park.
http://iwps.info/2016/06/iwps-returns-to-deir-istiya/

Israeli policies deprive Arab children of education in the Negev
MEMO 23 June — At least 5,200 Arab children in the Negev area are not included in any educational system, a growing phenomenon that has marred the Arab dominated region located in southern Israel for the past years. Local Arab authorities highlighted the issue last year stating that 40 per cent of Negev’s Arab children have not been enrolled in any educational systems. Parents often chose not to enroll their children in schools due to their tough living conditions and because it is difficult for them to access schools located in distant towns. The phenomenon has persisted for years, with the education ministry claiming that it cannot build schools in areas with an unclear status, adding that this task is the responsibility of  the interior ministry’s Bedouin Development Authority. Dr Awad Abu Frih, an activist and defender of the rights of Negev’s Bedouins, told Arab48 that Israel’s “race-based discrimination policy” is not new or an exception, but a “systematic” policy exercised against Negev’s Arabs to push them to leave their homeland. “The education and interior ministries use our children politically… to pressure families into leaving their towns and to evacuate them from their villages and have them join the so-called civil cities, with the aim of taking control over the land and the place.”
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160623-israeli-policies-deprive-arab-children-of-education-in-the-negev/

Settler group asks High Court to cover up its ties to Israeli Justice Minister
Haaretz 23 June by Nir Hasson — The right-wing NGO Elad has petitioned the High Court of Justice to prevent the disclosure of the group’s contacts with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and the ministry’s director general Emi Palmor. The information is expected to shed light on how an Elad project was approved. The left wing NGO Ir Amim submitted a freedom of information request a few weeks ago about the ties between Elad and top Justice Ministry officials. The move followed Palmor’s intervention in favor of a large Elad building project in Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood, a formerly all-Arab neighborhood where right-wing Jewish activists have settled.
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.726586

BDS

Israeli lawfare group plans ‘massive punishment’ for activists
EI 25 June by Ali Abunimah — Get ready! Israel lobby planning new anti-Muslim campaign on US campuses. “Why are we using the word Palestinian? There’s no such thing as a Palestinian person,” Brooke Goldstein declared to enthusiastic applause at a meeting of key Israel lobby operatives in New York earlier this month. Goldstein is the director of the Lawfare Project, a legal group that aims, in her words, to “make the enemy pay” – that “enemy” being mainly comprised of Palestine solidarity activists and students. The Lawfare Project was founded with the support of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an important forum for anti-Palestinian organizing in the US. The clip of Goldstein denying outright the existence of Palestinians can be seen above. At the event, she and other Israel lobby leaders revealed their latest strategies to try to defeat the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. A 58-minute edited video of the event was originally published on YouTube by the Jewish Broadcasting Service on 16 June, but was hidden a day after supporters of Palestinian rights began to circulate it on social media, drawing attention to Goldstein’s negation of Palestinian existence….
https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israel-lawfare-group-plans-massive-punishments-activists

Activists push back against New Jersey anti-BDS bill
EI 24 June by Nora Barrows-Friedman — New Jersey lawmakers are set to vote Monday on a bill that seeks to punish activists and businesses that engage with the boycott of Israel to support Palestinian human rights. But there has been significant pushback. The bill has already been “watered down as a result of activist pressure,” according to Palestine Legal. These bills are part of a growing wave of legislation promoted by state and federal lawmakers – and encouraged by Israel lobby groups and the Israeli government – to suppress activism related to the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. Leading civil liberties groups and legal organizations have condemned such legislation as violating free speech rights protected by the Constitution. Bill A925/S1923 would require New Jersey to create a blacklist of companies that boycott Israel or Israeli businesses. State pension and investment funds would be barred from investing in companies on the list. The legislation “would unconstitutionally penalize people for what they think and say,” the ACLU wrote in a 6 June letter to state lawmakers … Outrage over the unconstitutional nature of the bill prompted activists and legal groups to pressure lawmakers. Last week, Palestine Legal said the bill was amended “in an apparent effort to alleviate constitutional concerns with the bill.” However, they add, the amendments “did not overcome [the bill’s] constitutional problems.”….
https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/nora-barrows-friedman/activists-push-back-against-new-jersey-anti-bds-bill

Other news

PCHR weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (16-22 June)
PCHR-Gaza 23 June – Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt A Palestinian child was killed while another civilian succumbed to his wounds in the West Bank. 6 civilians were wounded, including 3 children, in the West Bank. A civilian was wounded when he played with a suspicious object from the Israeli forces’ remnants, east of al-Zaytoun neighbourhood [in Gaza]. Israeli forces conducted 56 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 5 in Jerusalem. 54 civilians, including 8 children and 3 young women. 11 of them, including 8 children and 3 young women, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem.Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. Israeli forces opened fire at 6 Palestinian fishing boats, south of Yata [?], but neither casualties nor arrests were reported. Israeli forces demolished houses on grounds of collective punishment A house was demolished in Hajjah village, northeast of Qalqilya. Israeli forces continued settlement activities in the West Bank. Two houses were leveled on the southern side of Yatta, and 19 civilians were displaced, including 12 children and 4 women….
http://pchrgaza.org/en/?p=8209

Israel orders closure of PA-funded television channel in Israel for 6 months
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 June — Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan issued an order Friday banning the Palestinian Authority (PA)-funded television channel Musawa for six months, claiming the channel represents an affront to Israel’s sovereignty. The channel was previously named Palestine 48 and was shut down by the Israeli government last year, before changing their name to Musawa and resuming activities, according to Israeli media. Although the show is edited in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, it is recorded in Nazareth, leading Israeli authorities to crack down on the channel for purportedly lacking proper permission for foreign entities to operate in Israel. Erdan was reported as saying “I will not allow any harm to come to Israel’s sovereignty or give a foothold to the PA within the country,” according to the Times of Israel. Last year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu initiated an investigation into the legality of the channel’s operations, as the Israeli government accused the channel of disseminating propaganda to enhance “Palestinian identity.” … In response to the Israeli government shutting down Palestine 48, Riad Hassan, the PA’s communications minister, said at the time that the PA would not cease their operations “even if it does not please the government of settlers that Netanyahu leads. We want to present a platform for Israeli Arabs to introduce themselves to the Arab world, to show them their culture and the difficulties they face.”
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771990

Israel moves to keep interrogations from being filmed
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 24 June — Israel’s Public Security Ministry proposed its latest bill to prevent “security” interrogations from being videotaped, for “fear the footage could reach terror groups that would learn Israeli interrogation techniques,” Israeli media said Friday. According to the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, there is a “fear” that those being interrogated would refuse to reveal information in the event the video could possibly reach the groups they had informed against, said Israeli newspaper Haaretz. In 2003 a law came into effect that required Israeli police to document almost all its interrogations, both visually and aurally. Since then, the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee has consistently approved an “exemption” for security interrogations, which Israeli Deputy Attorney General Raz Nazri reiterated “stems from security considerations.” In 2015, the committee agreed to extend the exemption for a year and a half, but rejected a proposed exemption of five years. Israel has consistently been criticized by international rights groups for its interrogation practices, specifically towards Palestinian children. Some 700 Palestinian children per year are arrested and face “ill-treatment” by Israeli forces, according to a 2015 report by Child Rights International Network (CRIN)….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771988

Palestinian leader appeals for EU help to end occupation
BRUSSELS (AP) 23 June — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appealed Thursday to the European Union for help to end Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and support for a lasting peace agreement. “You are our friends, help us,” Abbas told EU lawmakers in Brussels. “Israel has turned our country into an open-air prison.” “Why is international law not being applied in the case of Israel?” Abbas said to applause. He also argued that the occupation was only encouraging extremists and fomenting terrorism. The EU has promised an “unprecedented package” of political and economic support to both sides should they reach a final agreement, amid a new European push to help end the long-running conflict…
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-3656050/Palestinian-leader-appeals-EU-help-end-occupation.html

Israel’s Netanyahu aims to head off criticism with diplomatic blitz
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 23 June by Luke Baker — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will fly to Rome on Sunday to try to fend off pressure from the United States and Europe over his settlements policy and opposition to a French-led effort to forge peace with the Palestinians. Beginning three days of intense diplomacy, the right-wing premier will meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, in the Italian capital, followed by talks with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Jerusalem. One of Netanyahu’s immediate concerns is a forthcoming report from the Middle East Quartet, a mediation group made up of the United States, EU, United Nations and Russia, that is expected to use unusually tough language in criticising Israel’s expansion of settlements on occupied land that the Palestinians seek for an independent state. Diplomats confirmed that the current language in the report is strong, on the one hand condemning Israel’s unchecked building of settlement homes, which is considered illegal under international law, and on the other persistent Palestinian incitement against Israel during a recent wave of violence….
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-3656393/Israels-Netanyahu-aims-head-criticism-diplomatic-blitz.html

Erdogan meets Hamas leader amid reports of Israel deal
AFP 24 June — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday met the leader of radical Palestinian group Hamas for unscheduled talks following reports Ankara was close to agreeing a deal on normalising ties with Israel. Erdogan received the Doha-based Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, whose group rules the Gaza Strip, at the Ottoman-era Yildiz Palace in Istanbul, the official Anadolu Agency reported, quoting presidential sources. Turkish press reports have said Israel and Turkey could hold final talks on normalising ties on Sunday but this had yet to be confirmed. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday there was a “large possibility” the negotiations would take place by the end of this month. Anadolu said Erdogan and Meshaal discussed how to ease the humanitarian problems of the Palestinians and how to bridge the differences between Hamas and the other main Palestinian group Fatah. The report made no reference to the Turkish talks with Israel.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3659199/Erdogan-meets-Hamas-leader-amid-reports-Israel-deal.html

Hamas denies Turkey has given up attempts to lift siege of Gaza
MEE 23 June — Hamas on Thursday distanced itself from anonymous statements from the group that it feared Turkey was ditching attempts to lift the Israeli siege on Gaza. Al-Rai al-Youm, a pan-Arab daily based in London, on Wednesday quoted a Hamas source as saying that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had told the group that Ankara was trying to “make progress on the normalisation deal…to serve Turkey’s interests” but could not lift the siege. On Thursday, however, Hamas denied that it had spoken to the newspaper about the negotiations, accusing it of “defaming” the movement. “The movement denies a quote attributed to a Hamas source by al-Rai al-Youm about the Turkish negotiations,” spokesperson Sami Abu Zahri told Middle East Eye.“Hamas appreciates Turkey’s supportive stance towards Gaza and the Palestinian problem, and calls on al-Rai al-Youm to stop slandering the movement.” The statement made no mention of similar claims made in the Israeli press this week. A senior Hamas official who spoke to Middle East Eye, Ahmed Yousef, said the group trusts Turkey’s intentions but does not believe that the siege will be lifted as a result of its negotiations with Israel. “We trust the Turks and we trust Erdogan, we have no suspicion of what the Turks will do,” he said. “They did their best to break the siege and if they don’t succeed, they have their own interests.”
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/hamas-denies-turkey-dropping-demand-end-gaza-siege-israel-talks-820350672

French court: no murder trial into Arafat’s death
PARIS (AP) 24 June — A French court has refused to reopen an investigation into the death of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat amid suspicions that he was poisoned, saying there is no legal ground for an eventual murder trial. The general prosecutor’s office in Versailles said Friday an appeals court there upheld a decision by investigating judges who dismissed the case last year, saying there is no evidence that Arafat was murdered. Arafat died in a military hospital in a Paris suburb in 2004 after his health suddenly deteriorated. The cause of death has never been clarified. The ex-leader’s widow, Suha Arafat, filed a complaint in 2012 after traces of polonium, a highly toxic radioactive substance, were found on her husband’s belongings. Her lawyers may still appeal the ruling to the French highest court.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-3657897/French-court-no-murder-trial-Arafats-death.html

Italian to supervise as Jerusalem awaits new Catholic Patriarch
AFP 24 June — Pope Francis has appointed an Italian priest, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, to oversee the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem until the election of a replacement for retiring Patriarch Fouad Twal, the patriarchate said Friday. Twal, the most senior Catholic priest in the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel, Jordan and Cyprus, had given the Pope notice of his retirement after turning 75 in October. Pizzaballa, a Franciscan brother who was formerly the church’s Custos of the Holy Land, was elevated to the status of Archbishop and appointed Apostolic Administrator for the region’s Catholic mission. “Traditionally, the election of a patriarch can take 12 to 18 months,” Wadie Abunassar, spokesman for the Assembly of Catholic Bishops in the Holy Land, told AFP. The ordination of Pizzaballa took place in September, said the Patriarchate. Pizzaballa was a pastor for Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel and a member of a commission for relations with Judaism. He speaks fluent Hebrew. The last two Latin patriarchs of Jerusalem, Twal and Palestinian Michel Sabbah — like the vast majority of local Catholics — were native Arabic speakers.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3658984/Italian-supervise-Jerusalem-awaits-new-Catholic-Patriarch.html

Jews visit Arab towns for Ramadan
The Media Line 23 June — A project supported by NGOs and USAID brings Jewish Israelis to Arab Israeli towns and villages during Ramadan to learn more about their compatriots and their culture — The dozen Israeli Jews make their way along the stalls of the Ramadan market, looking at the humus, olives, fruit, pastries and other special treats for the daily “iftar”, or fastbreaking meal that Muslims eat at sunset during the month of Ramadan. One woman stands in front of a display of six different kinds of olives. “Taste one,” the seller urges. “But it’s Ramadan, and it’s still fasting time,” she responds.”Oh, go ahead,” he answers. “Just cover your mouth so people don’t see you eating.” …  The visit to Kafr Kassem was one of dozens of tours that bring Jewish Israelis to Arab towns and villages in northern and central Israel during the month of Ramadan. While 20 percent of Israel’s population is Arab, most Jews and Arabs live separately and go to different schools. Even at universities, while the two groups study together, there is limited social interaction. Arab citizens of Israel all learn Hebrew, but few Jews learn more than a few words of Arabic. The tensions of the past few years between Israelis and Palestinians, and especially a wave of stabbing attacks in Israel, have made Jews wary of venturing into Arab towns in Israel. “The goal of these visits is to create social change using tourism,” Ilanit Haramati, the director of Via Maris, the NGO that organized the visit told The Media Line. “Tourism brings economic gain to the towns. It also brings Jews and Arabs together and it builds pride in the towns that are visited.”
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4819400,00.html

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