Archive for June 30, 2013

June 30, 2013

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Restriction of movement

Maximum land with minimum Palestinians  — the annexation of Area C
Palestine Chronicle 29 June by Sam Gilbert — Early this month Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem published a report on Israel’s policy in Area C and its implications for the population of the West Bank.  Less than a week later Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, in the midst of Kerry’s attempts to start the stalled peace talks, reiterated his plan to annex all of Area C to the Israeli state, bringing with it the 350,000 some odd settlers as well as 62% of land of the West Bank. Bennett’s comments were met with international condemnation, the timing of his words seen as purposefully undermining Kerry’s attempt to restart the stalled peace negotiations.  These comments, along with others from the Israeli right, have been presented as marginal within the mainstream Israeli political discourse.  However the substance of Israeli policy and practice in the West Bank requires that these ideas been taken seriously. Bennett’s Israel Stability Initiative published in 2012 lays out his plan for annexation, while B’Tselem’s Report on Area C outlines the application and effect of Israeli Policy in Area C from 1995 till today.  Each report has fundamentally different political objectives yet both provide a window into Israeli politics and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (oPt).
link to palestinechronicle.com

Haaretz editorial: Annexation in disguise in South Hebron Hills
1 July — The rationale behind the expulsions and prohibitions on development in the South Hebron Hills is clear: to leave as much Palestinian-free land as possible to facilitate its annexation to Israel — The High Court of Justice is due to consider again the state’s demand to annul a 13-year-old temporary injunction granted to farmers of the South Hebron Hills and allowing the expulsion of some 1,300 Palestinians from their homes. The land is needed, the state explains, to allow the IDF to train in the area declared as Firing Zone 918.
link to www.haaretz.com

Israel ‘sweetens deal for 930 East Jerusalem homes’
JERUSALEM (AFP) 30 June — Israel is poised to approve incentives for buyers of nearly 1,000 new homes in annexed East Jerusalem despite a major US push to revive peace talks, reports said on Sunday. The plan, which will offer prospective buyers a huge discount on 930 new homes to be built in Har Homa, will be discussed by the Jerusalem municipality’s finance committee on Monday, army radio and the Maariv newspaper reported. The reports emerged as US Secretary of State John Kerry was wrapping up an intensive four days of shuttle diplomacy toing and froing between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas in a bid to coax them back to direct negotiations. If approved, the plan will lower the price of each new home by 100,000 shekels ($27,500) in a move which will be funded by the housing ministry. Har Homa is located on east Jerusalem’s southern outskirts, and construction there is likely to have a serious impact on the sector’s boundary with the rest of the West Bank, analysts say … Jerusalem councilor Elisha Peleg, a member of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, made no effort to hide his delight. “The temporary suspension of construction in east Jerusalem is over, despite the visit of Secretary of State Kerry,” he told army radio.
link to www.maannews.net

Israel to expand settlement as Kerry pushes for talks
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 June — Israel’s Housing Ministry is set to bring forward plans for further settlement construction between East Jerusalem and Bethlehem, as US Secretary of State John Kerry extended his Mideast peace mission, Israeli media reported Sunday. Israel’s Jerusalem Municipality’s finance committee is expected to approve the construction of 930 apartments in the illegal settlement of Har Homa, which was built on the Palestinian village of Jabal Abu Ghneim, Israeli Hebrew language newspaper Maariv reported. The construction will isolate East Jerusalem village Sur Baher from the city. The project, which was approved in 2011 by the ministry of interior, was frozen for “political reasons,” the newspaper wrote. The plan has passed all the preliminary stages, Maariv wrote. Further settlement expansion in what Israel calls Har Homa C is considered a “red line” by the Palestinian Authority and the US.
link to www.maannews.net

Higher Committee takes Prawer Plan to the UN
NAZARETH (PIC) 30 June — The Arab Higher Follow-up Committee has decided to complain to the UN over the Israeli Prawer Plan that will eventually displace tens of thousands of Arab Bedouins from their ancestral land in the Negev. The committee said in a press release on Sunday that it was planning to send the complaint to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in [its] capacity as the higher leadership of Palestinians in 1948 occupied Palestine.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Israel decides to transfer schools from Wadi Na‘im village
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 29 June — Citizens in the Negev in the 1948-occupied territories announced an open strike in the schools of Wadi Na‘im village in protest at the Israeli authorities’ intention to move the schools to another nearby village. The procedure aims to pressure the village’s population (14 thousand people), to leave their lands and move to the village of Shaqib al-Salam (Segev Shalom). Wadi Ni’am’s local Committee as well as the committees of the students’ parents sent a letter to the Israeli Minister of Education Shai Piron to inform him about their intention to start an open strike in the schools, attended by about 3,000 students from the village.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

‘They have two roads on our land already, why do they need a third?’
Hebron (ISM) 27 June by Khalil Team — In the Wadi al-Hussein area of Hebron, Israeli occupation forces have started to build a new road ‘for military purposes’. The route of the road is from the illegal settlement of Kiryat Arba towards the city centre, directly across Palestinian-owned land. A military order has decreed the construction of this road, four metres wide and more than two hundred metres long, cutting through fields of olive and fruit trees owned by the Palestinian families living there. The stipulation on the width of the road has already been broken, with the route that has been cut by bulldozers being six metres wide in places. In contrast to the military order to build a road, Palestinian landowners have been denied the right to build on their own land
link to palsolidarity.org

Official: Israel settlers torch Palestinian fields in Burin
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 1 July — Israeli settlers started several fires in Burin village south of Nablus on Sunday evening, a Palestinian Authority official said. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlements in the northern West Bank, said residents of Bracha and Yitzhar settlements torched Palestinian fields, leading to clashes with locals. He said Israeli soldiers intervened and fired tear gas and plastic-coated bullets at Palestinian residents and their homes
link to www.maannews.net

Settlers torch olive trees near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 30 June — Jewish extremists set fire on Sunday to Palestinian olive fields south of Nablus in the northern West Bank, a Palestinian Authority official said. Ghassan Daughlas, who monitors settlement activities, said a group of settlers from the Yizhar settlement raided the Palestinians fields of the Einabus village and set fire to a vast area of olive fields, completely destroying 200 trees.
link to www.maannews.net

Settlers burn Palestinian farmlands near Nablus
IMEMC 28 June — Villages of the Sabastia area, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, have reported that a number of extremist Israeli settlers burnt, Thursday [June 27 2013], Palestinian agricultural lands planted with Olive and Almond trees. Nael Ash-Sha’er, head of the Sabastia town council, stated that settlers of the Shave Shomron illegal settlement, built on lands that belong to Sabastia residents, set the Palestinian lands ablaze, and that the fire consumed dozens of trees. Ash-Sha’er further stated that the settlers previously flooded Palestinian farmlands with wastewater, uprooted and burnt lands, and attacked several villagers.
link to www.imemc.org

Settlers burn an agricultural structure, equipment, near Tubas
IMEMC 28 June — Local sources have reported that a number of extremist Israeli settlers burnt on Thursday at night [June 27 2013] a Palestinian agricultural structure in Bardala village, near Tubas in the West Bank’s northern Plains. The sources added that Israeli soldiers, stationed at a nearby military roadblock, prevented Palestinian firefighters from crossing to extinguish the fire. The burnt structure belongs to a resident and local farmer identified as Fawwaz Sawafta. Sawafta said that he recently built his farm in his own land, after Israeli soldiers demolished his farm, last month, destroying several hothouses. Lawyer Yazan Sawafta, coordinator of The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) has reported that the structure was burnt to the ground, as the fire consumed the hothouses, agricultural equipment and machines.
link to www.imemc.org

‘Knocking on the gates of Jerusalem’: demonstrating against injustice of Israeli occupation
Bethlehem (ISM) 29 June by Khalil Team — Today, Saturday 29th June, a group of Palestinian activists demanded access to the occupied city of Jerusalem through the gate in the Apartheid Wall in Bethlehem. Their nonviolent demonstration also aimed to highlight Palestinian opposition to the US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit, but was met with violence from the Israeli occupation military. The Apartheid Wall gate was closed in the face of the protesters, shutting them out of their illegally occupied land. At around 11am Palestinian activists, accompanied by international demonstrators, walked towards the checkpoint in the Apartheid Wall towards Jerusalem. Access is granted by the Israeli occupation authorities for very few Palestinians –people between the ages of 18-45 are routinely denied permits. The Palestinian demonstrators demanded right of entry to their capital city, Jerusalem. Israeli occupation military immediately reacted violently at the checkpoint, pushing and shoving non-violent protesters
link to palsolidarity.org

Violence / Raids / Attacks / Clashes / Illegal arrests

Report: ‘1,790 Palestinians kidnapped, 16 killed, in first half of 2013’
IMEMC 1 July — The Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies and Human Rights have reported that Israeli soldiers kidnapped 1790 Palestinians in the first six months of this year, including 300 who were kidnapped in June, and added that 16 Palestinians have also been shot and killed by Israeli military fire in six months. The Ahrar Center said that dozens of women, children, elderly, legislators, intellectuals and journalists were among the kidnapped. The center added that the arrests took place in every part of the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem, in addition to 25 arrests in the Gaza Strip, including fishermen and five arrests on border terminals … Furthermore, Ahrar said that the army also kidnapped 33 women, including wives and relatives of political prisoners held by Israel, and that 17 of the kidnapped women are still imprisoned by Israel.
link to www.imemc.org

The next two articles are excerpted at length here, lest anyone skimming the list should miss these outrages
Three people arrested and several homes ransacked by Israeli occupation forces in Nablus
[with photos] Nablus (ISM) 28 June by Nablus Team — In the early hours of the morning on the 27th June hundreds of Israeli army and police of the occupation forces invaded Nablus where they arrested people, destroyed homes and shot teargas and sound bombs all through the night. The army remained in Nablus terrorising the population from 1.30am till 6.00am, when they eventually withdrew, forcibly taking three people whose families were left to repair their homes after they had been sacked by the army. Father of three, Alam Hafif Qarim (40 years old) lives in a block of flats with his family in the North Mountain area of Nablus. Around 150 occupation soldiers and police in more than 20 military vehicles surrounded the building at 1.30am. The people in the building attempted to phone each other and outside for help and to find out what was happening, but the landlines had been cut and the mobile phone signal blocked. The army fired teargas canisters and sound bombs around the building, in the middle of the night. Fearing for the health of their children, residents closed their windows. At 2.30am around 25 soldiers with attack dogs entered the building, and attempted to force the door; when that did not work, they hammered noisily on the door shouting in Arabic that they were the army. Alam quickly unlocked the door and the 25 soldiers moved into the house. They had a bag of tools — hammers and the like — with them. Alam’s wife was told to wake the children, two girls (7 years old and 3 months old) and their 10-year-old son, where they were forced with Alam, who was handcuffed, to sit in one room as the army began to use the tools to make holes in the walls, smash windows and overturn and tear up furniture in the recently redecorated house. “They came ready,” Alam’s family member later told ISM. The family repeatedly asked the soldiers what they were looking for and what they wanted, to which the army did not reply. “They came to destroy our house and our lives, under the pretext of looking for something.” All belongings including food and clothes were thrown into the bathroom as the destruction continued. One soldier who was careless in the destruction of the bathroom, injured himself with the tool he brought, and so the army called an ambulance to help him while Alam’s wife had to later clean up his blood in her bathroom he smashed. A female soldier then initiated a body search of Alam’s wife and 7-year-old daughter. Alam’s 3-month-old other daughter was also not immune from suspicion when a soldier began to attack her pushchair.
link to palsolidarity.org

Twilight Zone: Recovering from surgery, only to be knocked down again by Israeli police
Haaretz 28 June by Gideon Levy and Alex Levac — Hader Sharif is once again struggling to get around on crutches. He had almost completely healed from orthopedic surgery to his thigh when, one night, Israeli cops came to his West Bank home to arrest him. Since then, he’s been back on crutches and is barely walking, having had to undergo another operation on his thigh … About two months after the procedure, at 2:30 A.M. on May 14, Sharif was awoken by a phone call. On the line was one of his brothers, who lives across the street, and who informed him that his house was surrounded by policemen. Sharif got up and looked through his bedroom window. The house was indeed surrounded by Israeli security personnel, some of whom were masked … Sharif hurried to get dressed. Six or seven policemen — he doesn’t remember the exact number — entered the houseNo one told him why he was wanted or the crime for which he was being abducted from his house in the middle of the night. He was only told: “You’re wanted.” … This is how Sharif describes what happened next: “I left the house on crutches. I’m telling the cops to slow down because I’ve recently had an operation, and they’re telling me that I’m a slacker. Then they opened the door of the Savana and I’m going, ‘Hey, slow down,’ and they pushed me and threw me into the car. I fell hard onto my right side, and felt the bone breaking again. I’m screaming in pain, and they’re not hearing me, not listening. I was on the floor of the car and they’re saying, ‘Get up, get up.’ … Sharif says he continued screaming in pain during the car ride and told the cops that he was postsurgery; they responded by beating him. “A cop told me to shut up and slapped me across the face.” … When they arrived [at the Kiryat Malakhi station], the rag that had covered Sharif’s eyes was removed. He says he tried to cover his throbbing thigh with the rag and apply pressure. In response, he says, one of the policemen kicked his thigh precisely where he’d been operated upon … Afterward, the investigators told him he was suspected of having stolen a truck in Israel, but they fairly soon concluded that he apparently had nothing to do with that incident and that he had, in fact, been arrested for nothing. At around noon he was taken to the Tarqumia crossing and casually discarded there to fend for himself. A car bringing laborers back from Israel saw him and picked him up..
link to www.haaretz.com

‘We don’t care’ – a shocking response from Israeli soldiers arresting children in Hebron
Hebron (ISM) 28 June by Khalil Team — Two brothers aged 10 and 13 were today taken by the Israeli occupation forces whilst playing outside their home in the old city of Hebron. They were forcibly taken to the military base on Shuhada Street which is closed to Palestinians, while their mother waited watching from the street above. They were held for four hours, without their family being notified of their situation and without having access to a lawyer. The Israeli authorities lied many times, claiming that the children had been released while they were still being held. Eventually the children were released without even being passed to the Palestinian authority … Soldiers repeatedly claimed “we don’t care” and refused to give information to human rights observers. When the children were eventually released, it was not to the Palestinian authority, as is usually the case in the arrest of minors. Rather, the two brothers were released directly into the cemetery above Shuhada Street and allowed to go to their homes. This contradicts the soldiers’ claims that they had seen the boys throwing stones and had video footage of them, as these charges often come with a criminal sentence for Palestinian children. As the children were released, a settler from one of the illegal settlements of Hebron – farcically holding a bunch of flowers – tried to attack international observers who had been filming the events, telling them to “go home” and calling them “Nazis,” as well as trying to physically assault them.
link to palsolidarity.org

Settlers attack two Palestinian buses in Jerusalem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 29 June — Palestinian sources in Jerusalem said Jewish settlers on Friday night attacked buses carrying 100 Palestinian children participating in a summer camp organized by Health Work Committees in Silwan in occupied Jerusalem. Health Work Committees pointed in a press release on Saturday that the camp includes a group of children between 7 and 12 years old, a number of them had been previously arrested in the occupation’s jails. The settlers threw stones at the buses, breaking their windows and terrorizing the children.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Settler attack fended off by vigilant residents of Azzun
Azzun (ISM) 19 June by Nablus Team — …On Tuesday 18th of June, settlers secretly entered the town and proceeded to hang up a banner at the town entrance stating that “On Tuesday, the village will become ours.” The unconcealed threat was signed by “The Women of Samaria.” The banner was quickly removed but the threat of a violent take-over was still present, as would become evident some hours later … As soon as settlers started gathering outside the eastern-most checkpoint of the town, residents rushed to the site, effectively blocking the entrance to the town for both settlers and the collaborating soldiers that were accompanying them. For about six hours the residents were attacked with tear gas, sound bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets by the occupation forces. These attempts by the occupying forces to help the settlers enter the town left several wounded. In the end, the perseverance of the residents of Azzun caused the attacking settlers to retreat without having entered the town. The soldiers, however, returned the following night to continue harassing the inhabitants of the town.
link to palsolidarity.org

Weekly protests across West Bank
TEHRAN (FNA) 29 June — Dozens of Palestinians demonstrated throughout the occupied West Bank against Israel’s wall and settlements on Palestinian land. In al-Ma‘asara, near Bethlehem, the Friday march focused on water inequality as demonstrators protested Israeli exploitation of West Bank resources. Israeli forces fired tear gas at protesters. Dozens suffered tear-gas inhalation in Bil‘in, near Ramallah, where residents and supporters held a weekly protest against settlements, the wall and confiscation of land. Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at protesters near the wall. In Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah, demonstrators marched in support of Jordanian prisoners in Israeli jails on hunger strike. Soldiers fired tear-gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and used water cannons to disperse protesters. Dozens suffered tear-gas inhalation.
link to english.farsnews.com

Clashes in Qabatiya
JENIN (Ma‘an) 30 June — Clashes were reported on Thursday in the Qabatiya village in the northern West Bank district of Jenin, locals said. Locals said the clashes broke out in the center of the village, with several Palestinians suffering from tear gas inhalation fired by Israeli forces. Several homes were raided during the clashes, they said, with no detentions reported.
link to www.maannews.net

Fatah: Israel detains Huwwara mayor
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 1 July — Israeli forces detained the mayor of Huwwara early Monday morning, a local Fatah spokesman said. Awwad Nigim told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers raided the Nablus village and detained Mayor Nasser Jihad Mufdi, 45, after searching his home. Nigim said the forces ransacked several homes in the village.
An Israeli military spokesman was not immediately familiar with the mayor’s detention, but said forces detained 15 Palestinians in other raids across the West Bank. He told Ma‘an that soldiers detained six Palestinians in al-Mazraa al-Sharqiya, three in Khirbet Safa, one in ‘Aida refugee camp, one in al-Khader, two in Tulkarem and two in Urif.
link to www.maannews.net

Nine Palestinians kidnapped at dawn and last night in W. Bank
RAMALLAH (PIC) 30 June — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) kidnapped at dawn Sunday five Palestinians and four others last night in different areas of the West Bank. Local sources told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that the IOF kidnapped a young man named Hisham Abu Sheikha from his home in Al-Khader town to the south of Bethlehem. In ‘Aida refugee camp to the north of Bethlehem, the IOF stormed and ransacked the house of Hasan Mashayekh and handed his 25-year old son Seif a summons for interrogation from the Israeli intelligence in Gush Etzion settlement. Three other citizens were also taken prisoners during raids at dawn on their homes in Tabaka village, south of Dura town in Al-Khalil.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

IOF arrests 13 Palestinians in West Bank and Jerusalem
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 30 June — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) raided towns in the occupied West Bank and arrested eight Palestinian youths from the cities of al-Khalil and Bethlehem. Eyewitnesses told PIC’s correspondent that the occupation arrested at Tarqumiya checkpoint four boys from the town of Beit Ummar, in al-Khalil, and transferred them to an unknown destination. Three other young men in their twenties, from the villages of Khursa and Tabka, were also arrested by the IOF during raids and searches in their homes. The Israeli soldiers stormed the towns of Dora and Abu Asja, and raided a Palestinian house. They have also erected checkpoint at the entrance to the Fawwar camp.
Meanwhile, Jerusalemite Media sources reported that the Israeli police arrested on Saturday in the occupied city of Jerusalem five children between the ages of 12 and 16, near the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The specialist in affairs of the city of Jerusalem Jamal Amro said in a press statement that the boys are participating in the Bayareq summer camp that arrived on buses to Jerusalem within the camp’s activities.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

IDF officer sentenced over shooting of Palestinian gets state immunity for civil damages
Haaretzs 1 July by Chaim Levinson — A former IDF officer whose soldiers commandeered a taxi in the West Bank, tied up the driver and then heedlessly shot a Palestinian passerby will not have to pay from his own pocket in any civil suit, the State Prosecutor’s Office has announced. Yaakov Gigi served a 15-month prison term after a unit under his command seized a taxi in Dahariya, bound the driver and shot a Palestinian passerby without authorization and without reporting to its superiors. In the past the state refused to defend him in a civil suit, leaving him to pay out of his own pocket if the wounded Palestinian were to win a civil suit against him. Now the state has changed its position and will indemnify Gigi.
link to www.haaretz.com

Blockaded Gaza

Israel holds Gaza Palestinian who vanished in Egypt
Gaza (Reuters) 30 June by Nidal al-Mughrabi —  A Palestinian from the Gaza Strip who vanished while visiting Egypt this month is under arrest in Israel for alleged security offences, his family and his Israeli lawyer said on Sunday.  They said they did not know how Wael Abu Rida, 35, ended up in the Jewish state. The possibility he was seized from Egyptian Sinai territory could embarrass the Islamist-rooted government in Cairo at a time of major domestic unrest. Abu Rida, who lives in the southern Gaza Strip, went to a town near the Egyptian capital two weeks ago to seek medical treatment for his son, according to his wife, Amani, who accompanied him there. “While we were in Egypt, Wael received a call from a friend asking him to come to Sinai,” she told Reuters. “I never heard from him since.” … “I am clueless. We are all clueless as to why this happened,” Abu Rida’s brother Ibrahim said.
link to www.reuters.com

Egypt rallies see slowdown in Gaza tunnel trade
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 June — Increasing numbers of smuggling tunnels connecting Egypt and Gaza have become inactive as mass political rallies take place to mark the first anniversary of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi’s inauguration, traders told Ma‘an. Abu Mohamed, who operates a smuggling tunnel from Gaza to Egypt, says that Egyptian security forces have intensified their presence along the Egyptian border, all but paralyzing the tunnel trade. He used to smuggle 40 tons of goods daily through the tunnel he controls, but now operations have come to a standstill. Hamas security forces in Gaza have also stepped up operations on the Palestinian side of Rafah in an effort to control the entry of illegal drugs, such as Tramadol, into Gaza.
link to www.maannews.net

Erdogan’s proposed Gaza visit reignites controversy
Al-Monitor 28 June by Semih Idiz — Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s controversial visit to Gaza is on the agenda again, and may even take place within the next week, according to a senior Hamas official, despite opposition from Israel, the United States and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Meanwhile, the United States’ brokered effort to normalize ties between Turkey and Israel is in the doldrums again, with Israeli officials complaining of being “humiliated” by Ankara. Some Western diplomats are pointing to the fact that local, presidential and general elections in Turkey are not far down the road, and linking Erdogan’s position on Hamas and Israel to the recent nationwide anti-government demonstrations in Turkey. They argue that his populist tendencies are becoming prominent again in view of these demonstrations.
link to www.al-monitor.com

Hamas: New Israel war on Gaza unlikely
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 June – Israel is not likely to wage another war on the Gaza Strip, though it is possible a conflict could erupt elsewhere in the region, says Hamas official Salah Bardawil. The senior official told Ma‘an Saturday that Israel was likely to point its guns at another area “after Israel obtained a green light from the US.” He added that the US and Israel were seeking a war which would prove Israel’s military superiority, a privilege which can’t be achieved through a war on Gaza, according to Bardawil.
link to www.maannews.net

Report: Israel arrests unarmed Palestinians crossing Gaza border
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma‘an) 29 June — An Israeli army unit arrested two unarmed Palestinians who crossed the Gaza Strip border fence near Kisufim, Israeli media reported Saturday. Israel’s Ynet news site said the soldiers fired in the air but did not injure the Palestinians. It said they were taken for interrogation.
link to www.maannews.net

Exclusive: Hamas official discusses decline of Iranian support
Al-Monitor 27 June by Adnan Abu Amer — Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya discusses the party’s loss of Iranian support and the possibility of its truce with Israel unraveling … The following is the text of Al-Monitor’s interview with Hayya, which took place at his Gaza City office. Al-Monitor:  What is the truth behind Israel’s renewed airstrikes over the weekend? Were the rockets fired into Israel from Islamic Jihad? Hayya:  It is important to note that all Palestinian factions are strictly committed to the truce, which was reached following the Nov. 2012 war in Gaza. However, Israel tries to wriggle out of the agreement from time to time, exploiting the circumstances here and there in order to bombard Gaza. The rockets launched from Gaza were the result of an accident that occurred outside of national consensus, by a group of reckless young people. Perhaps this incident occurred following the death of an Islamic Jihad member, while the police were occupied with their duties. Undoubtedly, this is an unfortunate accident and the government has formed a fact-finding mission comprising many parties, with the participation of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the family of the deceased. The case will be dealt with according to the law.
link to www.al-monitor.com

Sinai

3 Palestinians detained in el-Arish with fake documents
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 29 June – Egyptian security officers on Friday detained three Palestinians in the northern Sinai town of el-Arish with fake university admissions, security sources said. They told Ma‘an that officers in Al-Rayyis neighborhood stopped three Palestinians who presented fake university papers claiming they are Egyptian citizens. However, after inspection and interrogation, the three allegedly admitted they were Palestinians from Gaza who sneaked into Egypt through smuggling tunnels.
link to www.maannews.net

Palestinian shot dead in Sinai, wife critically injured
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 29 June – A Palestinian man was shot dead and his Egyptian wife was critically injured Friday by unidentified gunmen in the northern Sinai Bedouin town of Sheikh Zuweid, according to Egyptian security sources. Ahmad Al-Marzouq Abu Bakra, 35, and his wife Yusriya Shehata Ahmad, 30, were traveling in their private car in the al-Ajra neighborhood of Sheikh Zuweid before the vehicle came under heavy fire, according to a security source. The source confirmed to Ma‘an that the car flipped over after the driver received a deadly gunshot to the head. The wife sustained critical wounds to the head, abdomen and neck. Doctors at Al-Arish Hospital said her condition was critical. Sources highlighted that the victim had lived in Israel for a long time and was recently deported to the Gaza Strip.
link to www.maannews.net

Political, other news

Erekat says no breakthrough as Kerry hails ‘real progress’
TEL AVIV (AFP) 30 June — …”There has been no breakthrough so far and there is still a gap between the Palestinian and Israeli positions,” chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erakat told reporters after US Secretary of State John Kerry finished talks in Ramallah with President Mahmoud Abbas, his third meeting in as many days. But Kerry, however, insisted he had held “very positive” discussions with both sides since starting his intense shuttle diplomacy in Jerusalem on Thursday evening. And he said that with “a little more work” the start of final status talks “could be within reach”.
link to www.maannews.net

Abbas tells Kerry Israeli goodwill gestures insignificant, says PA official
Times of Israel 19 June by Yida Yaakov and AP — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday told US Secretary of State John Kerry, currently visiting the Middle East, that Israel’s goodwill gestures were too insufficient for the resumption of peace talks, the Chinese news agency reported early Saturday … “What Israel offers in terms of releasing a limited number of prisoners and increasing the Palestinian Authority’s influence in the West Bank is not enough for President Abbas to accept returning to the negotiating table,” the news agency quoted a Palestinian official as saying. The official reportedly said Israel would have to freeze settlement building and accept a two-state solution with pre-1967 borders for talks between the two sides to continue, adding that Abbas had told Kerry as much during their meeting in Amman.
link to www.timesofisrael.com

Hamas warns against ‘futile’ negotiations
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 June — The Hamas movement said Saturday that peace negotiations with Israel were ‘futile’, as US Secretary of State John Kerry extended his shuttle diplomacy between Israeli and Palestinian leaders for a third day. The Islamist movement warned Fatah and the Palestinian Authority against the “mirage” of negotiations, and called on the PA to reject pressure from the United States to accept economic initiatives and instead focus on implementing national unity between Palestinian factions.
link to www.maannews.net

Netanyahu vows to put any settlement agreement to referendum
NAZARETH (PIC) 30 June — Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to put any proposed settlement agreement with the Palestinians to a public referendum. Opening the Israeli cabinet session on Sunday Netanyahu said that any agreement reached with the Palestinians would be put to a public referendum so that the Israelis would decide on it. He underlined, however, that Israel would not put its security at risk in any future agreement.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Hardliners gain power in Netanyahu’s Likud party
JERUSALEM (AFP) 1 July — Hardliners in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud were elected into key positions in the party’s governing institutions early Monday, in a move that could create difficulties on making concessions to the Palestinians. Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, an outspoken opponent of the two-state solution, won the vote for the position of chairman of the party’s Central Committee, a Likud spokeswoman said
link to www.maannews.net

How many Palestinians actually live in the West Bank?
Haaretz 30 June by Nir Hasson — In May 2012, the Palestinian population of the West Bank stood at 2,657,029, according to a Civil Administration document obtained by Haaretz. In addition, the document points out, there has been a 29 percent rise in the Palestinian population since the year 2000. However, over the past few years, a fierce battle has taken place over the number of Palestinians living in the territories. The American-Israel Demographic Research Group has been trying for eight years to prove that the Palestinians have managed, with great sophistication, to inflate their true population by 1 million people, and that the real figure currently stands at about 1.5 million people. The group’s claims are not corroborated by demographic experts in Israel and around the world, but Israeli right-wing activists and politicians have adopted them, including Economy Minister and Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett, MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) and former defense minister and foreign minister Moshe Arens. Right-wing activists say that if there are only 1.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank, there is no “threat” to Israel’s demography – referring to the state’s desire to maintain a Jewish majority – and no need to launch negotiations over a Palestinian state. Instead, they say, it’s time to talk about annexing Palestinian territories and their residents to Israel. .
link to www.haaretz.com

The White House threatens to end aid if Palestine joins the ICC
BEIRUT (Counterpunch) 28-30 June by Franklin Lamb — …Visiting Al Jalil UNWRA high school across from Shatila camp here in Beirut recently, this observer was asked several questions by students and staff and the most frequent inquiry, which came as no surprise,  concerned why the Lebanese government, even those who claim to support the Palestinian cause, still have not acted in Parliament to grant Palestinian refugees the same elementary civil right to work and to own a home that every refugee everywhere, even in Zionist occupied Palestine, have long enjoyed.  The second most commonly asked question, did surprise me a bit and it was why the Palestinian leaders in Ramallah have not joined the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to challenge the criminal, apartheid regime in occupied Tel Aviv and hold it accountable under international humanitarian law for crimes against Palestinian prisoners and more than a dozen equally brutal campaigns that target the indigenous population increasingly being condemned internationally … Ramallah is being flooded with threats this month from Middle East envoy, Tony Blair, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, now on his 5th visit to the Middle East in as many months, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and reportedly, several others.  The message for Mahmoud Abbas is that the Palestinian Authority risks a cut-off of funds and US disengagement from any “peace process” as well as the scrapping of the rumored “mega economic & development  package” which Kerry aids are currently finalizing, if Palestine goes anywhere near the International Criminal Court.
link to www.counterpunch.org

Palestinian interaction committee fails to interact with Israelis
Al-Monitor 30 June by Shlomi Eldar — The Palestinian Interaction Committee to address the Israelis is another excellent initiative that has failed before even getting started — Acting out of sheer desperation, the Palestinian Authority chairman has spent the last few months tackling the problem by waging an information campaign in the Israeli streets. In keeping with that, he decided to create a Palestinian Committee for Interaction to initiate meetings with Israelis, where the other side — his side — could present its views. This was, in effect, intended to be a practical response to the many people in Israel, who claim that there is no Palestinian partner for peace, and that Abu Mazen is the real obstacle. The story of this committee could serve as an allegory for the diplomatic stagnation in the region over the past few years.
link to www.al-monitor.com

Israel collects $11 million per year from Palestinians in identity card fees
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 30 June — A Palestinian study revealed that Israel collects 40 million shekels ($11 million) per year from Palestinians, in return for issuing Permits and Magnetic cards that allow them enter the occupied territories and work in the Israeli market. The Applied Research Institute ARIJ in the city of Bethlehem revealed on Saturday in a study that the Palestinian citizen pays a fee of 100 NIS for the magnetic card. According to ARIJ’s study, the total number of Palestinian workers in the occupied territories and the settlements reached 100,000 workers who are forced to pay permit fees to be able to work in the 1948-occupied Palestine
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Mohammed Assaf to hold 3 free concerts in West Bank
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 30 June — Palestinian Arab Idol winner Mohammad Assaf will hold three free concerts across the West Bank in July, the Palestinian Authority minister of culture said Saturday. Anwar Abu Aisheh said the first concert will be held on 1 July in Ramallah at the al-Umam square at 8:30 p.m., followed by Nablus on 2 July and Hebron on 4 July.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=609571

Analysis / Opinion

Palestinian’s ‘Arab Idol’ victory is a reminder that there is nothing to fear / Noam Shaul
Café Gibraltar 29 June — Muhammed Assaf’s victory on ‘Arab Idol’ should be a reminder to Israelis that there is nothing to fear. On the contrary, when it comes to our Arab neighbors, there is plenty to be proud of — I only discovered Mohammed Assaf, a contestant on the “Arab Idol” reality show and resident of Khan Younis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip about a month ago. Last Saturday, Assaf won the competition after hard work that was visibly accompanied by the support and veneration of much of the Arab world. I happened upon him after a friend of mine posted a link of him performing “Ya Rayat Fi Habiya” (“I Wish I Could Hide Her”). When I saw Muhammed’s image – a young man of 22, handsome and modest, with an infectious and enchanting smile – and heard that voice, I understood that I had a new favorite to whom I’d be listening for quite a while. And I wasn’t alone – ever since he took to the stage on “Arab Idol,” he turned into an overnight celebrity and a symbol for Palestinians everywhere.
link to 972mag.com

Beyond Arab Idol: Palestinian creativity is flourishing all over / Amira Hass
Haaretz 29 June — Mohammed Assaf showed the world what was already obvious: Palestinians have an identity distinct from living in exile, being refugees and inhabiting the enclaves imposed by Israel since 1948 and the military occupation— …In the past 20 years, the number of Palestinian cultural institutions has grown with a common goal to encourage artistic creation and acquaint as many people as possible with the works, with the creators, and with the process. Every year, they operate close to 30 different festivals featuring musical performances, dance and plays to the West Bank public, including East Jerusalem and sometimes also cities like Haifa and Nazareth. They even reach, as well as they can, audiences in the Gaza Strip … The al-Quds festival is a reflection of reality in another way: it features the film “Infiltrators” in which the artist Khaled Jarrar from Jenin accompanies laborers without entry permits seeking to work in Israel. Adding to the tension, until Saturday, the festival organizers in Ramallah didn’t know whether Israel would approve the entry of Arab singers Mourad Bouriki and Farid Ghanam from Morocco and Emel Mathlouthi from Tunisia. The latter sang at demonstrations that brought down the regime in Tunis about two years ago. …
link to www.haaretz.com

The crime of indifference: an analysis / Lawrence Davidson
Opinion Maker 30 June — Part I – Indifference. Elie Wiesel is a worldwide personality. Through his powerful descriptive writing about the Nazi concentration camps, he has come to personify the suffering of the Holocaust. Among his many insights is the famous observation, “The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.” Wiesel has repeatedly put forth this idea. In a 2011 commencement address at Washington University in St. Louis he told his listeners, “The greatest commandment — to me — in the Bible … is ‘Thou shalt not stand idly by.’ Which means when you witness an injustice, don’t stand idly by.” After a Boston lecture in 2012 Wiesel told Boston University students “I think that is the greatest danger, ignorance, which leads to indifference and therefore to detachment. . . .If somebody suffers and I don’t do anything to diminish his or her suffering, something is wrong with me.” … Part III – The Role of Ignorance. Thus we can ask, using Wiesel’s words, what is wrong with the Israelis that they care little or nothing for the Palestinians’ 65 years of suffering? Wiesel himself has part of the answer when he observes “ignorance … leads to indifference and therefore to detachment.” Ignorance? Is the average Israeli really ignorant in this matter? At first this assertion appears ridiculous. After all, as Avnery notes, the suffering of the Palestinians is never more than “minutes” from most Israeli backyards, and it now and then violently boomerangs back on Israeli Jews. Nonetheless, a kind of contrived, willful ignorance does come into play. One can be raised in ignorance and educated to a view of history that eliminates others’ suffering as well as one’s role in causing it. Entire populations can be psychologically shaped this way, with those doing the shaping being the truest of the true believers. Such conditioned ignorance lays the foundation for indifference to the fate of others. The Israelis have made an art of this process. Yet, this scenario is not original with the Israelis and Zionists. In fact, many Zionists learned how to see the world this way from Americans. Some years back I published a book, America’s Palestine in which this legacy is explored. As it turns out, one of the Zionist themes of the 1920s was that the native Palestinians were the Arab equivalent of hostile American Indians, violently resisting the forces of civilization and modernization. What was the average American’s attitude to the fate of these Indians — to their brutal dispossession and ethnic cleansing? It was indifference which has grown greater with time until most Americans do not give the Indians or their fate much thought at all.
link to www.opinion-maker.org