Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem
Funeral held for Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif, shot in head by Israeli soldier in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 28 May — Hundreds of mourners Saturday attended the funeral of Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif, a young Palestinian who was killed execution-style by an Israeli soldier in March, sparking international outrage following the release of a video capturing the incident. The body of al-Sharif, which was returned to his family on Friday after being held by Israeli authorities for over two months, was carried by Palestinian security officers from the al-Ahli hospital in Hebron to an ambulance that took his body to mourners and family members in order for them to say their final goodbyes before the burial. Mourners carried al-Sharif’s body while marching to Hebron’s Martyrs Cemetery in the neighborhood of Wadi al-Hariyya. Many shouted slogans against the decades-long Israeli military occupation and the steadily increasing population of Israeli settlers illegally residing across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, as they called the international community to hold Israeli leaders accountable for war crimes in international courts. “Praise be to God,” al-Sharif’s father said during the funeral. “We managed to bury our son after an appropriate funeral despite the many restrictions enforced on us by Israel’s occupation,” he said….
Hebron shooter’s lawyers: Bring terrorist’s body back to Israel
JPost 29 May by Noam Amir/Maariv Hashavua & JP staff — The lawyers representing the IDF soldier who is charged in the shooting of an immobilized Palestinian terrorist in Hebron in March called on Sunday for the return to Israel of Abdel Fattah al-Sharif’s body, which was released to his family on Friday. Sgt. Elor Azaria’s defense team claimed that the return of al-Sharif’s body to his family in Hebron impaired the legal proceedings in the case. The defense attorneys charge that without the remains, they cannot appoint a pathologist to examine the body and submit an analysis of opinions on the events of the shooting. The lawyers filed the petition with a military court the day after al-Sharif was buried in Hebron. “The order to return and transfer the terrorist’s body [to the Palestinians] on Friday night was surprising and cause irrevocable damage to the defense, which informed the military prosecution several times of its intention to appoint a pathologist on its behalf to draw an option,” the lawyers said. The lawyers compared the move to that of concealing investigative materials in a case.
Israeli army injures a Palestinian child in Bethlehem
IMEMC 28 May — Palestinian medical sources have reported, Friday, that a child was injured by Israeli army fire near Bethlehem’s northern entrance … The sources said many army vehicles invaded, on Friday evening, the al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem, and clashed with dozens of local youths, who hurled stones on them. The army fired several live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs; one child, 14 years of age, was shot with a live round in his thigh, while many Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.
WATCH: How one West Bank village is fighting to regain its land
Israeli Social TV 27 May 1:39 minutes — Residents of the village of Deir Istiya, located next to the West Bank settlement Ariel, have been nonviolently protesting the blocking off access to their farmland by the Israeli army, which affects the lives of 500 families.
The vulnerability of Palestinian women in Israel
JAFFA, Israel (Al Jazeera) 29 May by Ylenia Gostoli – “I think twice before going out to Tel Aviv. I calculate how long the trip is, how long it will take, what the route is,” said Sawsan Kurdi, a 53-year-old mother of six from Jaffa. “We’re talking about traditional women with a headscarf,” she added. “If you get on a bus, they might ask you to leave. Or they might try to take your scarf off.” One of the oldest port cities in the world, Jaffa was the centre of Palestinian life before 1948. Today, the city is part of the Tel Aviv municipality and is fast being gentrified. Around 20,000 Palestinians remain, comprising a third of Jaffa’s inhabitants.Sawsan, a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, said that health clinics in Jaffa are far too few to serve the needs of the population, so she travels to Tel Aviv for this purpose. But although the city is only a short distance by bus, she tries to avoid the trip unless absolutely necessary. “Sometimes I take my son or daughter with me; other times I don’t go at all,” she told Al Jazeera. A recent survey by the Knesset Research and Information Center that dealt with perceptions of personal security among residents of Israel – from economics, to health, to employment, to feelings of safety in public spaces – found Palestinian women were by far the most vulnerable group. The survey, conducted in February and released in March, found that overall women’s sense of personal security was lower than men’s. It divided the Israeli population into four groups: Israeli-born Jewish citizens, Russian immigrants, Haredi and Arabs. Among women, Arabs were found to feel the least secure, with 73 percent of Palestinian women fearing discrimination due to their identity, followed by Haredi women at just over 30 percent. While 30 percent of men and women overall said that fears of arrest or interrogation had affected their sense of personal security, the number rose to 79 percent among Arab women, who were also the group most afraid of being harmed because of their appearance … “These days, it is enough for a Jewish man to say a woman has a knife in her bag,” Salaime said. “That’s what happened in Lyd. When Fauzya Jamal was attacked, they called the police and the police beat up the woman and her daughter in front of everybody. When they searched her, they didn’t find anything in her bag.” Incidents like these – as well as more high-profile cases, such as that of Israa Abed, who was shot amid allegations that she intended to carry out a stabbing attack, an accusation that was later shown to be untrue – have worsened an already difficult environment for Palestinian women in Israel, Salaime said….
Israeli forces detain alleged ‘Hamas cell’ behind Jerusalem bus explosion
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 May — The Israeli army announced on Sunday that Israel’s internal security service agency had apprehended six Palestinians belonging to a “Hamas terror cell” allegedly behind a Jerusalem bus explosion in April. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that the Shin Bet agency had detained Palestinians in the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem in past weeks over their alleged involvement in a group which planned an explosion on a bus in southern Jerusalem on April 18, which led to the death of one Palestinian and injured 19 Israelis. The Hamas movement claimed responsibility for the explosion, saying that ‘Aida refugee camp resident Abd al-Hamid Abu Srour, 19, who died after sustaining serious burns during the explosion, had been one of its operatives. In a statement released on Sunday, Shin Bet reported the names of the six Palestinians allegedly involved in the Hamas cell. Palestinian sources confirmed the identities of the detained as Muhammad Issa Mahmoud al-Barbari from the ‘Azza refugee camp — who was detained on May 1 — Muhammad Sami Abd al-Hamid al-Azza from Beit Sahour, Muhammad Majdi Mustafa al-Azza from Beit Jala, Ahmad Muhammad Mahmoud al-Sheikh from the ‘Aida refugee camp, Ali Ahmad Muhammad al-Urouj from the village of Bad Falouh, and Said Usama Issa Hirmas from the city of Bethlehem. The Shin Bet statement added that the Palestinians were detained over suspicions that they manufactured explosives, including the one used in the bus attack, and planned a number of other attacks against Israeli targets.
Soldiers kidnap two children, injure several others in Bethlehem
IMEMC 29 May — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Sunday at dawn, Beit Fajjar town and the Deheishe refugee camp, in the West Bank district of Bethlehem, kidnapped two Palestinian children, and summoned a third for interrogation. One Palestinian was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet, and several others suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation … Several military vehicles invaded Beit Fajjar town, before the soldiers broke into and searched many homes, and kidnapped Mohammad Mansour Thawabta, 14, and Ahmad Sameeh Mohammad Sheikh, 17. The soldiers also summoned Saif Eyad Thawabta, 16, for interrogation in the Etzion military and security base, after they searched and ransacked his family’s home. In addition, many army vehicles invaded the Deheishe refugee camp, south of Bethlehem, and clashed with dozens of youths, wounding a young man, 21, with a rubber-coated steel bullet, and causing many others to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. In related news, the soldiers invaded the al-‘Arroub refugee camp and Bani Neim town in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, and searched many homes. The army also invaded Askar al-Jadeed refugee camp, east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and searched many homes. The soldiers also summoned two young men for interrogation in the Salem military and security base. In related news, the soldiers invaded al-Bireh city, in the Ramallah and al-Biereh District, and kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Majd Hamdan.
Army kidnaps nine Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 29 May — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, Sunday, nine Palestinians, including a child, in different parts of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported. The PPS said the soldiers invaded various communities in the West Bank district of Ramallah and al-Bireh, searched many homes and kidnapped Ibrahim Dia, 25, Talha Abdul-Sattar Zeebar, 26, Majed Farouq Hikmat, 22, and Ali Zaher Hweih. The soldiers also invaded Beit Fajjar town, south of Bethlehem, and kidnapped Mohammad Mansour Thawabta, 14, and Ahmad Yousef Taqatqa, 17. The PPS added that the soldiers kidnapped Rami Hamdi Juneidi, 33, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Another Palestinian, identified as Mustafa Kamal Zeid, 18, was kidnapped from his home in Qalqilia, in the northern part of the West Bank. In occupied Jerusalem, the soldiers kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Wael Abu Obeida.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israel indicts Palestinian astrophysicist despite Thursday decision to free him
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Palestinian professor and astrophysicist Imad Barghouthi is facing charges of “incitement” by Israeli authorities, despite a decision Thursday by the Israeli military appeals court to release him from custody due to lack of sufficient evidence, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). In a statement released by PPS on Sunday, the group said Israeli military prosecution submitted the indictment to the military court accusing Barghouthi of incitement against Israel on Facebook.
Earlier on Sunday, the statement added, Israeli intelligence questioned Barghouthi at Ofer prison, where he is being held under Israel’s notorious policy of administrative detention — commonly used as a means of internment without charges or trial based on undisclosed evidence. PPS senior lawyer Jawad Boulous described the decision to keep Barghouthi in custody as “extremely absurd,” taking into account that the Israeli military prosecutor announced at Thursday’s court hearing that there was not enough evidence to indict him … The reversal of the Israeli authorities’ decision to release Barghouthi, added Boulous, “again” proves “to those who still look for proof, that all the legal procedures by the (Israeli) occupation forces — namely the military prosecution — are trivial and illusionary, and pay no attention to legal rules.” ….
Report: ‘Israel issued 729 administrative detention orders this year’
IMEMC 28 May — Riyad al-Ashqar, the media spokesperson of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Center for Studies, has reported that the Israeli occupation authorities have issued 729 arbitrary Administrative Detention orders since the beginning of this year, and that most of the orders were renewals of previous ones. Al-Ashqar stated that these numbers are a 35% increase over the same period of last year, when Israel issued 493 orders. “This is very serious, very dangerous; in the past Israel used to issue such numbers of orders every few years – now, we are witnessing this serious increase in just a few months,” he added, “Israel uses this policy to hold hundreds of prisoners captive, without charges or trial, and largely keeps renewing them.”
IDF: Secret intel shows Hamas lawmaker is … a member of Hamas
+972 mag 29 May by Haggai Matar — The Israeli army this week submitted secret evidence to a military court in order to support an administrative detention order it issued against Hamas legislator Abed al-Jaber Fuqaha. According to the army, the secret evidence proves that al-Jaber Fuqaha is … a member of Hamas, information which can hardly be considered secret considering he was publicly elected on the political party/terrorist organization’s slate. “Information was received, according to which [al-Jaber Fuqaha] is a member of the Hamas terrorist organization and endangers the security of the region,” the IDF Spokesperson said. (The full statement can be found below.) It is important to note that legally and politically speaking Israel, and the Israeli army, does not differentiate between the militant and political branches of Hamas, the latter of which democratically won the last Palestinian parliamentary elections to have been held, in 2006….
Israeli tribunal upholds ban on British human rights activist
+972 mag 26 May by Haggai Matar — Human rights activist Gary Spedding was refused entry to the country in 2014 over suspicions that he would ‘incite a riot.’ Jerusalem tribunal shortens ban from 10 to 5 years — An Israeli tribunal rejected last week an appeal filed by a British human rights activist who was banned from entering the country for 10 years. The tribunal based its decision on secret evidence handed over by the Interior Ministry. Gary Spedding, a 26-year-old human rights and pacifist based in Northern Ireland, was refused entry and banned from Israel in January 2014 due to his social media activity. Spedding, who is active in reconciliation efforts in Northern Ireland as well as Israel/Palestine, had planned on visiting Israel for a round of meetings, including with several members of Knesset. Despite previous visits to the country without any problems, Spedding was denied entrance at Ben Gurion Airport, where he was told that his activity on social media raises suspicions that he may incite riots in Israel and the occupied territories. He was held at the airport, where he was informed that the Interior Ministry refused his entry and banned him for 10 years. He was promptly sent back to the U.K….
Cancer-stricken detainee refuses medicine over mistreatment
RAMALLAH, (PIC)– Cancer-stricken Palestinian detainee Bassam al-Sayeh has been refusing to take medicine for eight days running in protest at the arbitrary and exhausting inter-prison transfers carried out by the Israeli prison authorities, his wife said Thursday. Al-Sayeh’s wife, Mona Abu Bakr, said the Israeli prison authorities prevented her from visiting her husband in the Ramla jail under the pretext of the lack of prior coordination. The wife added that her husband has been refusing to take medication for the eighth day running after he was transferred to the Ramla prison clinic. She called for mobilizing solidarity campaigns in support for her cancer-stricken husband. Several human rights groups and lawyers raised the alarm over the striking health downturn rocking the body of prisoner Bassam al-Sayeh, held in Israeli detention for nearly one year.
Israeli forces open fire at Gaza farmers east of Khan Younes
GAZA (WAFA) 29 May — Israeli armed forces Sunday opened gunfire at Palestinians farmers east of Khan Younes south of the Gaza Strip, said WAFA correspondent. Israeli soldiers stationed in military watchtowers along the borders with Israel opened gun fire at Palestinian farmers while cultivating their land. Although no injuries were reported, the farmers had to quickly evacuate their land.
Israeli army bulldozers level lands in southeastern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 May — Israeli army vehicles crossed the border fence into the besieged Gaza Strip early on Monday morning to level lands, witnesses told Ma‘an. The eyewitnesses said Israeli military vehicles and bulldozers coming from the Sufa military base entered private Palestinian lands east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. Bulldozers reportedly leveled lands approximately 50 meters into Gaza while Israeli jets hovered in the sky. No gunfire was reported. Meanwhile in the northern Gaza Strip, witnesses said that Israeli forces launched a surveillance balloon near the town of Beit Hanoun while fighter jets flew over the area.
Report: Projectile fired at Israel lands in Gaza territory
Times of Israel 28 May by Staff/Dov Lieber — A projectile launched from the central Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis landed on the Palestinian side of the security fence separating the Hamas-ruled enclave from Israel, Palestinian media reported Friday. Some reports said that a rocket was fired, while other reports maintained it was a mortar shell. No damage or injuries were reported in the incident. The small Salafi group Ajnad Bayt al-Maqdis claimed on Twitter that it had fired two Katyusha rockets at the Israeli border town of Sderot. This was the third attack the group has claimed this week. It had also claimed responsibility for rocket attacks on Sunday and Monday. The uptick in rocket attacks follows a recent crackdown by Hamas on Salafi militant groups in the Strip. On Wednesday, the Israeli air force attacked two Hamas targets in Gaza, hours after terrorists in the Strip fired a rocket into Israel from the territory. Palestinian media reported that a second rocket fired towards Israel exploded inside Gaza territory. Walla News said a small group with ties to the Islamic State, the Omar Hadid Brigade, claimed responsibility for that attack. The IDF said in a statement that it held Gaza’s Hamas rulers responsible for keeping the peace in Gaza….
Gazan women shoot for hope with wheelchair basketball
AFP 29 May — In front of a gym’s empty bleachers, a group of veiled women in wheelchairs exchange passes, practicing to form a female Paralympic basketball team in the Gaza Strip. Wessal Abu Alyan, a 40-year-old mother of four, said playing helped her “feel free and strong”. “I try to ignore the negative looks from people toward the disabled, but I know there’s still a long way to go before we are completely integrated in society,” she said. As the women practiced, they were given advice and encouragement from Jess Markt, an American who began playing wheelchair basketball after a spinal cord injury when he was 19. Markt has coached players in Afghanistan, India and Cambodia. In Gaza at the invitation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), he is overseeing 115 players, both men and women, over the course of three weeks. “They’ve made real progress,” said Markt, who had also worked with the players last year. The programme has particular relevance in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, which has seen three wars with Israel since 2008. More than 75,000 Gazans out of a population of 1.9 million are physically or visually disabled, according to the ICRC. Of those, a third were wounded by war. Paralympic teams are being slowly created, and the ICRC has provided 70 wheelchairs to eight teams this year….
Gaza refugee finally freed from Arizona immigration jail
EI 28 May by Charlotte Silver — More than 19 months after Hisham Shaban Ghalia told an immigration officer that he sought asylum in the United States because it is “a free country,” he has finally been released from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Florence, Arizona. On Thursday evening, ICE officials called his attorneys Liban Yousuf from Arizona’s Council on American-Islamic Relations and Zayed Al-Sayyed and informed them that their client was free to leave. Yousuf told The Electronic Intifada that before that phone call he didn’t see an end to Ghalia’s detention without protracted litigation with the US government, which had refused to release Ghalia because there was nowhere to deport him. Ghalia is a Palestinian born in Saudi Arabia but raised in Gaza. On his ICE documents, Ghalia’s citizenship is listed as “Stateless (Palestine).” … Ghalia, who will turn 32 this summer, fled Gaza in 2010. He arrived in a refugee camp in Cyprus where he first met Mounis Hammoud, 30, who also fled Gaza after his home was bombed by Israel during its three week assault in late 2008 and early 2009. Together the two set out to come to the United States by way of an arduous journey through Venezuela, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico. The graphic novelist Leila Abdelrazaq told their story in a comic published by The Electronic Intifada in February. They arrived in the US in November 2014 with a feeling of hope. The FBI determined the men posed no threat and they were placed in a detention center to await their asylum applications. They did not know they would remain imprisoned indefinitely….
Shooting ‘The Idol’ in Gaza was risky business for director
LA Times 23 May by Lorraine Ali — Making a film is never easy, but director Hany Abu-Assad faced challenges and risks that went well beyond the norm when he shot “The Idol” in Gaza. “I had to deal with the Israeli military, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas,” Abu-Assad said of his new film about the unlikely winner of the singing contest “Arab Idol.” “Months and months of arguing, and then of course, hours more once you’re there on the ground.” … The tone of “The Idol” is much lighter than that of “Paradise Now” or “Omar,” but the underlying reality is no less grim. Scenery in “The Idol” reflects what years of bombing campaigns and weak government have wrought: huge mangled mountains of concrete and rebar where buildings once were, potholed roads, children playing between flats pasted together with refuse. “When you see it with your own eyes, the endless destruction, it’s really emotional,” said Abu-Assad, who worked with an Arab film crew from the West Bank. “[The crew and I] were walking through these areas, and nobody wanted to talk. I was crying, but in silence. Then I looked around and we were all crying. “The first hours we couldn’t work. We shut down. You know a lot of people just died recently, and you’re making a film there. It was absurd. I felt so uncomfortable. I was almost ashamed of myself.” However, Abu-Assad said he received support from residents in the area who encouraged him to tell Assaf’s story.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israel razed 120 EU-funded projects since January
RAMALLAH (PIC) 27 May — Euro-Mediterranean Observatory for Human Rights issued a statistical report showing that Israeli forces razed over 120 EU-funded projects in the West Bank during the first three months of 2016. The report accused European parties of turning deaf ears to the Israeli violations and aggressive attacks on Gaza Strip over the past years that damaged numerous EU-funded projects. The Euro-Med said that “the Israeli demolition and confiscation of the EU-funded projects have recently escalated after the European states took action last year to label Israeli settlements’ products”. The report estimated the EU aid money which has been wasted since 2001 at 65 million Euros. At least 23 million Euros loss were documented in the Israeli aggression on Gaza summer 2014. The Euro-Med’s report also called on the EU to investigate and unveil data related to the Israeli demolition operations and demanded Israel to pay for required compensations. It also demanded imposing sanctions on Israel in case of the continuation of such practices without halting the EU aid and investment.
West Bank outpost’s impending evacuation a test for Israel
AMONA OUTPOST, West Bank (AP) 27 May — The fate of 50 white caravans perched atop a West Bank hill in the Amona settler outpost is emerging as a key test for Benjamin Netanyahu’s newly-expanded hard-line government. Under a Supreme Court order, the government must tear down the outpost by the end of the year — a move expected to face staunch opposition from within the coalition and pit security forces against the wishes of leading members of the Cabinet. Amona is the largest of about 100 unauthorized outposts — built without permission but generally tolerated by the government — that dot the West Bank. The outpost became a symbol of settler defiance after a partial evacuation a decade ago sparked violent clashes between residents and security forces. The impending evacuation, ordered in 2014, could lead to another showdown. In a surprise move last week, Netanyahu sacked Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon to make way for Avigdor Lieberman, the hawkish leader of the Yisrael Beitenu party — and a settler himself — to take the post, which oversees the settlements. The addition of Yisrael Beitenu buttresses the nationalist, pro-settler camp in Netanyahu’s government and could increase the pressure on the Israeli leader to find a way to wriggle out of the Amona evacuation. “The goal is to keep the settlement in its place,” said Bezalel Smotrich, a lawmaker with the pro-settler Jewish Home party, a coalition member. “We are in a right-wing coalition that wants to develop the settlements, really doesn’t want to demolish Amona and is ready to make an effort (to keep it).”….
Attacks on journalists
Israeli who helped kill journalists to speak at Newseum
EI 27 Mar by Ali Abunimah — Why is the Newseum hosting an Israeli military officer who aided and abetted the killings of two reporters whose names are included in the Washington institution’s Journalists Memorial? The Newseum bills itself as “dedicated to free expression and the five freedoms of the First Amendment: religion, speech, press, assembly and petition.” It features exhibits and events aimed at promoting the free exercise of journalism. But on 7 June, the Newseum will host Lieutenant-Colonel Avital Leibovich for a live event to discuss “the social media branch of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and how the organization uses media and social media during its various campaigns.” However, there is no indication that the program, to be moderated by Newseum CEO Jeffrey Herbst, will feature any discussion of Israel’s deliberate slayings of journalists or Leibovich’s role in them. Leibovich was a senior Israeli army spokesperson during its 2008-2009 and 2012 assaults on Gaza … In 2013, under pressure from the anti-Palestinian group Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, the Newseum removed two Palestinian reporters from its online Journalists Memorial. They were Hussam Salama, 30, and Mahmoud al-Kumi, 29, both camera operators for Al-Aqsa television, who were killed in an Israeli airstrike during Israel’s air offensive on Gaza in November 2012. Their killings were part of a wave of deliberate Israeli attacks against journalists and media organizations that Human Rights Watch investigated and said amounted to war crimes. Human Rights Watch found no evidence to support Israeli claims that the men were engaged in anything resembling “terrorist activity.” They were riding in their car, returning from filming the injured at Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital when Israeli forces extrajudicially executed them. The Newseum eventually returned Salama’s and al-Kumi’s profiles to the online memorial. After the killings of Salama, al-Kumi and a third journalist, Muhammad Abu Eisha, the person charged with publicly justifying the attacks was none other than Avital Leibovich….
International organizations condemn Israel’s travel restrictions on BDS founder
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 May — Sixteen organizations from around the world denounced travel restrictions on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) co-founder Omar Barghouti. In a public letter to their respective foreign ministers on Sunday, international academic boycott organizations publicly condemned Israel’s refusal to renew Barghouti’s travel documents. Organizations from the American, Asian, and European countries demanded freedom for Barghouti to travel and for their ministers “to impress on the Israeli government the absolute necessity of ceasing its repressive measures against Palestine’s civil leaders.” Barghouti, who lives with his family in the city of Acre in Israel, is Palestinian, but was born in the Gulf state of Qatar. After marrying his wife, a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, he was granted permanent residency in Israel for the past 23 years. The activist regularly travels internationally to speak at events aimed at bringing attention to BDS strategies of ending Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territory. The Israeli authorities’ refusal to renew his travel documents in early May has not only affected his ability to travel in and out of Israel, but has also threatened his right to Israeli residency altogether, something the signatories of the letter said constituted “harassment and intimidation.” ….
In anti-BDS move, Italy bringing huge academic delegation to Israel
Haaretz 30 May by Ariel David – In a move that Italian officials say aims to counter calls for boycotts and sanctions against Israel, Italian researchers and academics will be meeting with their counterparts in Israel this week for a series of joint conferences and other cooperative events. A series of 10 simultaneous conferences will be held across Israel between Tuesday and Friday. Dozens of researchers will be sharing the latest discoveries in fields ranging from robotics to plastic surgery. “It’s an unprecedented effort to respond concretely on a very delicate issue,” Francesco Talo, the Italian ambassador to Israel, told Haaretz. “We believe that research and universities should be free and open to dialogue and exchange.” While the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in Italy has been less successful than elsewhere in the West, it has been pushing for local universities to cut ties with Israeli institutions….
Ireland latest EU state to defend BDS
EI 28 May by Kevin Squires — In another blow to the Israeli campaign to criminalize Palestine solidarity activism, the Irish government has affirmed that the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement represents a “legitimate” means of protest “intended to pressure Israel into ending the occupation.” In the Irish parliament on Thursday, foreign minister Charles Flanagan stated that “while the government does not itself support such a policy,” the BDS movement holds a “legitimate political viewpoint” and that the government does “not agree with attempts to demonize those who advocate this policy.” –Second blow in a week– This is the second major setback Israel has suffered this week to its campaign to delegitimize and criminalize the global movement within the European Union and other Western states. Ireland is the third EU government to make such a statement in recent months. Earlier this week, Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders said that “statements or meetings concerning BDS are protected by freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, as enshrined in the Dutch constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.”….
Exclusive: The secret Arab plan to oust Palestinian leader Abbas
MEE 27 May by David Hearst — The United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan are planning for a post-Mahmoud Abbas era that would leave his Fatah archrival Mohammed Dahlan in control of the Palestinian presidency, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and the Palestinian Authority, Middle East Eye has learned. Senior Palestinian and Jordanian sources told MEE separately of the plan. Although there were differences in emphasis – the Jordanian source added caveats about Dahlan’s known weaknesses – they independently corroborated the existence of a joint plan of action. Abbas has been a dominant figure in Palestinian politics since the 1990s and Palestinian president since 2005. Dahlan is a former leader of the Palestinian political party Fatah who has been exiled from Gaza and the West Bank and has close ties to the UAE monarchy. The UAE has already held talks with Israel about the strategy to install Dahlan, and the three parties will inform Saudi Arabia once they reach an agreement on its final shape … One of the prime movers of the plan is Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, who made clear to Jordan that differences over Palestinian President Abbas affected bilateral relations….
Palestinian leader wants time cap for any talks with Israel
CAIRO (AP) 28 May — The Palestinian president said Saturday that if an upcoming Paris conference succeeds in relaunching the long-stalled Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, it should also set a time cap and mechanisms to implement their resolutions. Speaking to Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, Mahmoud Abbas also said that the Paris gathering — due June 3 — should also set up a monitoring committee to follow whatever is agreed upon. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to attend the meeting. The Palestinians have welcomed the conference but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the idea of an international conference, saying direct negotiations without preconditions are the best way to reach a final settlement with the Palestinians. In Cairo, Abbas reiterated Palestinian demands that a future Palestinian state have east Jerusalem as its capital and that it be established within the borders that had existed on the eve of the 1967 Middle East when Israel captured the then Jordanian-administered West Bank and east Jerusalem….
Abbas asks for NATO to replace IDF in West Bank as part of peace deal
JPost 18 May by Tovah Lazaroff — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday called for NATO forces to replace the IDF in the West Bank as part of as part of any peace deal that leads to the creation of a two-state solution. Speaking in Cairo before the Arab League, he also rejected the idea of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. Recognition of Israel as the Jewish homeland as well as acceptance of a demilitarized Palestinian state with the IDF maintaining a military presence in the West Bank have been two of the cornerstone Israeli demands for any resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Abbas spoke in advance of a June 3 ministerial meeting in Paris that will launch a new French-led peace initiative that would set the parameters for renewed negotiating process. Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians have been invited to the Paris meeting. Israel has opposed the initiative, which it believes dictates the results of the negotiations, though the Palestinians have welcomed it since it aims to set a blue-print for such talks….
52 years on, Palestinian factions express disappointment in PLO
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 May — As the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) marked its 52nd anniversary on Saturday, various Palestinian factions expressed disappointment in the current state of the organization, despite its “promising beginnings.” “There is a big difference between the beginnings and the result of the PLO,” said Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Authority (PA) lawmaker Yahya al-Abadsah. When it was launched, he told Ma‘an Sunday, the Palestinian people “set their hopes on the PLO to achieve the right of return, liberation, and self determination. However, it has become meaningless, worthless, and empty.“ The Hamas official added that “neither Palestinian officials nor regional powers want the PLO to remain the umbrella for nationalistic liberation and uniting the Palestinian people, both in Palestine and the diaspora.” He said that neither Hamas nor the Islamic Jihad have any preconditions for joining the PLO. In 2005, he said, it was agreed that both movements would join the PLO, but both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and various “influential countries” prevented their entry. Similarly, an official in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) slammed that the PA for wrongfully controlling the PLO. Talal Abu Tharifa explained to Ma’an that “in theory, the PLO should be the higher reference for the PA, but in effect the daily practices have proved that the PLO is being marginalized in order to strengthen the PA.” According to the DFLP official, the institutional distortion has been influenced by various factors, including the fact that Abbas is the PLO chairman as well as the PA president….
Arab League chief denounces Israel at peace talks meeting
AFP 28 May — Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi [of Egypt] blasted Israel as a bastion of “fascism and racial discrimination” on Saturday at a meeting of Arab foreign ministers that backed France’s Middle East peace initiative. The Arab ministers at the end of the meeting adopted a resolution backing “the French initiative and all Arab and international efforts” for peace talks between Israel and Palestinians. In his speech to the ministers, Arabi, who has been a vocal critic of Israel, said the country “has truly become today the last bastion of fascism, colonialism and racial discrimination in the world”.
Israeli cabinet confirms ultranationalist Lieberman as minister of defense
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 May — The Israeli Cabinet unanimously confirmed the appointment of far-right politician Avigdor Lieberman as defense minister on Monday, the Israeli prime minister’s office reported in a statement. The confirmation came less than two weeks after the surprise resignation of former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon … Lieberman, who formerly served as foreign minister, has advocated policies ranging from the overthrow of the Palestinian Authority to the deportation of Palestinian citizens of Israel into the occupied Palestinian territory, while promoting the transfer of towns in Israel that are heavily populated by Palestinians to a future Palestinian state in exchange for illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Lieberman is currently heading a proposal to impose the death penalty on Palestinians who are convicted of terrorism, according to British newspaper The Guardian….
Residents battle municipal neglect in the mean streets beyond the east Jerusalem barrier
JPost 28 May by Judith Sudilovsky — ON A crowded street of the Shuafat Refugee Camp Muna Zatari, 39, clutches the hands of her two nieces, aged 10 and 11, as she leads them on the perilous journey from her home to a nearby store to buy them a treat. As they traverse the short distance to the candy store, they must avoid the teeming garbage in overflowing bins while keeping safe from the onslaught of two-way traffic on the road congested with cars, trucks and pedestrians, including children weaving their way because in this part of Jerusalem, there are no sidewalks. “I hold their hands and try to keep them on the side away from the traffic,” Zatari says. “It is uncomfortable to walk here. We have to hold our noses when we walk by the garbage. It is frustrating to live in such a situation, but we don’t have a solution.” … Down the road, Hammad Jabaria, 19, stands outside his family’s store and watches as a passerby tosses more garbage bags onto the immense pile of rubbish spilling out of a large green bin across from the store. “We keep complaining about the garbage to the municipality. We clean and call all the time and we ask people not to throw their garbage but we never get any answers,” the young man says. “We’ve gotten used to it, though it is very aggravating. We want them to fix this situation, to clean this area. But I don’t think it will change.” He looks across the valley, hands in his pockets, and gestures with his chin at the nearby Jewish neighborhood. “In Pisgat Ze’ev they are living in a better situation. They have enough garbage cans.” … Although located within the Jerusalem municipal boundaries on the northeast perimeter of east Jerusalem, the Shuafat Refugee Camp and its adjacent neighborhoods of Ras Khamis, Ras Sehadeh and Dahiyat al-Salaam, along with the once prestigious village of Kafr Aqab and Semiramis in the northernmost tip of east Jerusalem ‒ with a collective estimated population of 100,000 people ‒ nevertheless lack proper municipal services, such as garbage disposal, functional road infrastructure and sufficient water supply. This creates living conditions that would be unacceptable anywhere else in Israel’s capital.
British-Palestinian child wins awards for retelling Nakba story (video)
Palestine Chronicle 26 May — British-Palestinian Leanne Muhammed has won the 2015-16 Speak Out Challenge held in London following a moving speech about the Nakba and its effects on Palestinian society. Leanne, from Al-Burj Al-Shamali refugee camp in Lebanon, is a student at Wanstead High School in London. She joined the Speak Out Challenge giving a speech entitled “Birds not Bombs”. In it Leanne spoke about the suffering of the Palestinian refugees since 1948 and how even children are discriminated against because of their nationality….
Is the Israeli media responding to pressure on under-representation of Arabs?
The Seventh Eye 26 May by Oren Persico — New data reveals that leading Israeli news stations are inviting more Arab experts on news programs, following growing pressure by leading Israeli NGOs. According to The Seventh Eye website’s “Representation Index,” around 40 Arabs were invited to speak about their area of expertise on the five leading Israeli media outlets during the month of April. This was a decrease from March, yet an increase from January and February when the index was launched … According to April’s statistics, 38 Arab experts took part in news programs on Channels 1, 2, and 10, along with Reshet Bet and Army Radio. For the third month running, Reshet Bet is at the top of the list with 15 different experts appearing on various programs. In second place is Channel 10 (11 experts), followed by Army Radio, Channel 1, and Channel 2 (6, 4, and 2 experts respectively). The distinction between non-expert and expert is based on the idea that Arabs who are invited to speak on programs due to their expertise are viewed in a positive light. Those who are invited to speak solely because they are Arabs are usually covered in a negative light. Arab politicians, who are the most commonly featured in the Israeli media, are not defined as experts.
Israel systematically denies 1400 years of Muslim history
Haaretz 26 May by Ofri Ilany — How many among us have the slightest idea of what was happening in the Land of Israel during the Fatimid, Mamluk or Seljuk periods? While we’ve been busy arguing about the Nakba, all of us have been denying the Muslim past of this country. “Filastin: It is the last one of the regions of Syria in the direction of Egypt. Its most famous cities are Ashkelon, Ramle, Gaza, Arsuf, Caesaria, Nablus, Jericho, Amman, Jaffa and Beit Guvrin.” This is the opening sentence of the section entitled “Filastin” that appears in the book “Dictionary of the Lands,” written by Muslim geographer Yaqut ibn Abdullah al-Hamawi in 1225. That was nearly 800 years before Likud MK Anat Berko raised the dubious assertion that “there isn’t even a ‘P’ in Arabic, meaning that the term ‘Palestine’ merits greater scrutiny.” She went on to explain that the Palestinians began to express their fabricated nationalism by means of adopting this name, “which was, in fact, being used by the Zionist movement.” Berko’s baseless assertion provoked ridicule in the media. Yet the criticism of her at times bordered on the hypocritical, since denial of the Palestinian past of Israel is a widespread local phenomenon. The education system, the media and the tourism industry are all collaborators in the denial and omission of 1,400 years of Muslim history here … Many people in Israel are convinced that at the start of the 20th century, the country was empty, and that the Palestinian residents arrived here in response to the advent of Zionism. These sorts of unfounded theories gain the support of dubious intellectuals. There is no reason to expect that any information of any type might dispel these myths. But it would be good to tone down the level of smug sanctimoniousness … If Israel had a reasonable system of education and culture, figures such as the reclusive monk Haritoun, the Ramle-based mystic Ibn al-Jila or the merciless despot Ahmed al-Jazzar from Acre would be at least as well known as Herzl and Haman the Agagite. But perhaps this is a naïve hope.
Book Review: Writing about Palestine’s tragedy
EI 27 May by Selma Dabbagh – Extraordinary Rendition: (American) Writers on Palestine, edited by Ru Freeman, OR Press (2015) – Extraordinary Rendition is a beautifully presented anthology, wrapped in a chilling cover that portrays a painting of men with their backs turned as they line up against a wall. The painting, Wall Weeping, is by the South African artist Marlene Dumas, whose recent retrospective at London’s Tate Modern featured a number of works based on the tragedy that is Palestine. Reading the book, it seems that its intended audience are those who are generally progressive yet excuse their way out of taking a stand on Palestine. It also might be a beneficial read for those who feel gagged for a variety of reasons — ranging from a refusal to see beyond the magnitude of European crimes against the Jewish people, to an unwillingness to upset those around them or damage their own positions against the powers that be (“fear of a backlash from an unnamed and unseen ‘them,’” as the book’s editor, Ru Freeman, puts it). It is a densely powerful book with a wide range of more 60 contributors, from poets Naomi Shihab Nye, Nathalie Handal, Roger Reeves, Farid Matuk, Steve Wiley and Tess Gallagher; to prose writers Alice Walker, Teju Cole, George Saunders, William Sutcliffe and Nancy Kricorian; playwrights, activists and observers; as well as various court transcripts and the findings of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine….