Archive for January 30, 2014

January 30, 2014

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing

Israeli forces demolish entire village in Jordan Valley
IMEMC Thursday evening 30 Jan by Chris Carlson — The Israeli army demolished, on Thursday, at least 50 structures, including residences, displacing 13 families in the northern Jordan Valley, as a result, according to a local official. According to a report by WAFA Palestinian News & Info Agency, the army brought bulldozers to demolish the homes, animal barns and other structures which residents of Khirbet Um al-Jimal had been using for their daily living, said Aref Daraghmeh, head of the al-Maleh local council. He described the Israeli measure against Khirbet Um al-Jimal and other similar locales in the northern Jordan Valley area as “another crime on the long list of crimes committed by the occupation forces in the area.” Israel is seeking to empty the Jordan Valley of its Palestinian residents, who are mainly Bedouin, as it plans to keep it under its control in any future deal with the Palestinians. Khirbet Um al-Jimal is notable for the substantial ruins of a Byzantine and early Islamic town which are clearly visible above the ground, as well as an older Roman village (locally referred to as al-Herri) located to the southwest of the Byzantine ruins.
http://www.imemc.org/article/66871

Israeli forces issue demolition orders in Hebron village
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 30 Jan — Israeli forces issued demolition orders to two Palestinian families in a southern West Bank village on Thursday, a local official said. Hashim Tmeizi, the mayor of the village of Idhna west of Hebron, told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers issued demolition orders to Hamza Muhammad Zghayyar and Hijazi Abd al-Fattah Zghayyar. The houses slated for demolition were built more than five years ago, Tmeizi said, adding that a total of 13 people would become homeless if the buildings were demolished. Israeli forces have recently issued hundreds of demolition and stop-work orders to Idhna residents, he said. He said two-thirds of the town was considered Area C, or under full Israeli control. Israel confiscated most of what originally made up Idhna in 1948, and took even more land in recent years, when the separation wall was built, Tmeizi said. Less than 1 percent of Area C has been planned for Palestinian development, while some 135 settlements and over 100 outposts have been built in the same area. Under the Oslo Accords, Area C was to be gradually transferred to Palestinian control within five years. But Israel has refused to withdraw its forces from the territory, citing security concerns and the absence of a final peace agreement.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=669349

New demolitions feared in East Jerusalem neighborhood
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 29 Jan — Municipality workers escorted by Israeli soldiers toured a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem on Wednesday, a popular committee member said. Muhammad Abu al-Hummus told Ma‘an that the workers took photos of dozens of residential buildings, streets, and alleys in the al-Isawiya neighborhood. Al-Hummus said residents were worried about incidents like this one because they usually precede home demolitions.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=669087

Witnesses: New house demolitions underway in Negev
BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 30 Jan – Israeli bulldozers, escorted by large numbers of police officers, are preparing to demolish Bedouin houses in the Negev, locals said Thursday. They told Ma‘an that since 10:30 a.m. bulldozers and police vehicles started to arrive near Shawkat crossroads in Negev preparing to demolish houses in Arab villages.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=669341

Soldiers invade homes, conduct training in West Bank village
IMEMC/Agencies Thursday at dawn 30 Jan — Dozens of Israeli soldiers invaded Ein Shibli village, in the West Bank’s Central Plains, east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, broke into several homes and conducted military drills. Resident Osama Abu Hatab said the soldiers violently searched several local families, and interrogated the residents before taking pictures of their ID cards.  Abu Hatab added that the soldiers violently banged on the doors, threatening to detonate them should the Palestinians refuse to open them, causing anxiety attacks among the children. The families were then forced out in the cold for more than two hours, while the soldiers conducted training between the homes, wearing military combat gear. In December of last year, the soldiers conducted three similar attacks and drills in Ein Shibli, An-Nassariyya, and Al-‘Aqrabaniyya villages, using military gear, army helicopters and various armored vehicles.
http://www.imemc.org/article/66863

Settlers uproot 25 olive trees
IMEMC Wed 29 Jan by Chris Carlson — Israeli settlers, on Wednesday, uprooted around 25 olive trees in the village of Madama, south of Nablus, according to a local activist. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in the north of the West Bank, told the Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) that settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Yitzhar uprooted around 25 trees belonging to one of the village residents.
http://www.imemc.org/article/66858

Surveillance cameras to be installed inside al-Aqsa Mosque
IMEMC 30 Jan by Chris Carlson — Al Aqsa Foundations for Heritage and Waqf has warned against attempts by Israeli occupation forces to install surveillance cameras on al-Aqsa mosque’s northern wall, and this in addition to the cameras previously installed by occupation police near the Dome of the Rock compound. Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency reports that the foundation said in a statement, on Wednesday, that its staff saw a convoy of occupation cars and technical crews entering al-Aqsa mosque to install the cameras, but that they were prevented by the Islamic Waqf Administration guards, triggering an aptmosphere of tension in the area. “This is the second time the occupation forces try to install its surveillance cameras inside al-Aqsa Mosque compound”, the foundation added.
http://www.imemc.org/article/66867

Israeli army to stop training in Palestinian cemeteries
Haaretz 30 Jan by Gili Cohen — The Israel Defense Forces will continue conducting training exercises inside Palestinian villages, but from now on will refrain from holding such exercises in cemeteries and other places of special religious or cultural significance. The change in procedure comes in response to a request by the human rights group Yesh Din … Yesh Din testified that conducting military exercises in Palestinian villages “creates fear and panic among the Palestinian residents living in these villages and places their lives and property in real danger.” In cases documented by Yesh Din, there was no coordination between the Palestinian residents on the one hand and military authorities and liaison officials on the other, prior to the exercise. Ben Barak admitted in his letter that “Recently exercises were held about which the population was not informed in advance,” but added that after a request to Central Command, “The forces [will be made aware] of the importance of providing such information about the conduct of training exercises in the villages.”
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.571548

Restriction of movement

Israeli forces prevent Palestinian activist from entering Jordan
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 30 Jan – Israeli forces prevented a Palestinian popular committee coordinator from traveling to Jordan via the Allenby Bridge on Thursday, the coordinator said. Ratib al-Jbour told Ma‘an: “I was heading to Jordan, and then to France to participate in solidarity campaigns with our people and show the true image of how we suffer as a result of the occupation and settlers.” Israeli forces cited “security reasons” for preventing him from crossing to Jordan, al-Jbour said. But he said the limitations on his freedom of travel were due to the impact Palestinian solidarity campaigns were making around the world. Al-Jbour coordinates popular committees against settlements and the Israeli separation wall in areas south of Hebron and east of Yatta.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=669513

CPT to take denial of entry to court
IMEMC Thursday 30 Jan by Chris Carlson — Christian Peacemaker Teams is going to court to challenge the refusal to let them enter Palestine. CPT is a group devoted to help achieving peace, reports the Palestinian News Network (PNN). However, its members have been denied entry simply because of their affiliation with the organization, a reason which is not a written law and therefore not a viable reason according to its members. Members, including Jonathan Brenneman and Patrick Thomas, have continuously been denied entry by the Israelis due to their involvement with the organization, even when a formal invitation has been received and, in this case, from the municipality of Hebron/Al-Khalil. However, the border authorities explained that a policy had been adopted to deny entry to members of CPT’s members into Palestine. Says CPT: “The main thrust of the case is to make Israel say explicitly what it is doing regarding the denial of entries at the border, or to stop doing it. Either the courts will say that they oppose allowing internationals who are working for peace to enter Palestine, or they have to stop denying entry to people for that reason.”
http://www.imemc.org/article/66866

Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests

Palestinian man shot dead by Israeli forces near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 Jan — Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian man near the Ramallah village of Ein Siniya on Wednesday. A Ma‘an reporter identified the victim as Muhammad Mahmoud Mubarak, 22, from al-Jalazun refugee camp. Israeli forces in the area denied Palestinian ambulances access to the body before medics were eventually allowed to transfer the man to Ramallah Medical Complex. A Palestinian official in the military liaison department told Ma‘an that Mubarak was shot dead by a soldier positioned in a military watchtower.
“A Palestinian terrorist opened fire at an IDF (army) post near Ofra. The soldiers responded immediately in order to eliminate the imminent threat to their lives and fired towards the terrorist, identifying a hit,” Israel’s army said.
Eyewitnesses in the area told Ma‘an that Mubarak was a laborer working with the al-Tarifi company on a USAID funded project to refurbish the main road in Ein Siniya. Earlier, he had been directing traffic in the area with a handheld sign. “While he was doing his job, a number of Israeli soldiers arrived and started to harass him,” witnesses told Ma‘an. “They forced him to take off his clothes, then put them on again. Then they ordered him to take a few steps forward, then walk back, and finally they shot him and left him bleeding preventing ambulance and medics from reaching him.” Coworkers and an executive from the al-Tarifi company were close by when the shooting took place.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=669074

Palestinian lay to rest man killed by Israel forces
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 Jan — Palestinians on Wednesday gathered for the funeral of Muhammad Mubarak, a 22-year-old man who was shot dead by Israeli forces earlier in the day. A Ma‘an reporter said a funeral procession brought Mubarak’s body from Ramallah Governmental Hospital to a cemetery in al-Jalazun refugee camp, where the man was laid to rest. A group of masked men fired shots into the air during the procession. Mubarak’s father said he was shot dead without reason, denying army claims that he was armed and fired at Israeli forces. He said his son worked daily in the area where he was shot dead, near the village of Ein Siniya. Eyewitnesses in the area told Ma‘an that Mubarak was a laborer working with the al-Tarifi company on a USAID funded project to refurbish the main road in Ein Siniya. An Israeli army statement said: “A Palestinian terrorist opened fire at an IDF (army) post near Ofra. The soldiers responded immediately in order to eliminate the imminent threat to their lives and fired towards the terrorist, identifying a hit.” Palestinian housing and public works minister Maher Ghneim condemned what he described as the “cold-blooded killing” of a laborer who was working on a project run by the ministry in coordination with USAID. Ghneim also lashed out at Israel’s attempts to “distort the story” by saying Mubarak had opened fire on troops, claiming the youth had been “carrying a sign to direct the traffic” when he was shot. He called for an independent inquiry into the shooting by international rights groups.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=669177

Youths clash with PA security forces in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 Jan — Clashes broke out on Wednesday between Palestinian youths and Palestinian Authority security forces in Ramallah, a Ma‘an reporter said. Dozens of shops in al-Jalazun refugee camp closed in mourning after a 22-year-old from the camp, Muhammad Mubarak, was shot dead by Israeli forces. When one man refused to close his restaurant, enraged Palestinian youths threatened to burn it down. PA security forces intervened and clashed with the youths.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=669154

They killed him, and came up with a story / Saed Bannoura
IMEMC Friday 31 Jan — “There is no other way to describe his murder, but as a crime, a coldblooded crime, they shot him dead, claimed he tried to attack them, and thought they had the perfect story”, Mohammad al-Awawda of Palestine 24 News website said.  “A perfect setup, a justified crime, the occupation thought”, al-Awawda stated, “But the soldiers forgot, or ignored, the fact that there is no perfect crime…”  We are talking about Mohammad Mahmoud Mubarak, 22, the young Palestinian man who was shot and killed on Wednesday before noon [January 29, 2014] near the new junction, close to the Ein Senia village, north of the central West Bank city of Ramallah. Similar to thousands of crimes committed by the army against the Palestinians and their lands, the soldiers claimed Mubarak was not only armed, but “opened fire at a military post”. Of course, that is a perfect excuse to “justify” the cold-blooded crime committed by the soldiers. Especially when you ignore the fact that the only shots heard were the shots the penetrated his body, and killed him. Mubarak, the son of the head of the Popular Committee in the Al-Jalazoun refugee camp, was killed after three criminal rounds of live ammunition struck him in the back, when soldiers, based on a military town near the junction, opened fire on him, not once, or twice, but at least three times, to ensure he was dead.  The young Palestinian man was not armed, was not protesting, was not obstructing traffic, he was working, wearing clearly marked clothes, he was a flagger directing traffic while repairs were being conducted on the road. The army alleged the slain Palestinian was armed, and opened fire at the soldiers in their post, close to Ein Yabroud village, northeast of Ramallah. The “shooting” did not lead to any injuries or damage… However, eyewitnesses and coworkers all testified Mubarak was working, did not attack or even try to attack anybody, testimonies that prove the lies of the Israeli military, prove the fabrications that we all became accustomed to hearing from the military whenever they commit a cold-blooded crime….
http://www.imemc.org/article/66869

Glimpse of Hebron children’s reality: video footage of minors, some under age 12, detained for throwing stones
B’Tselem 30 Jan — B’Tselem has written to Legal Advisor for Judea and Samaria Col. Doron Ben-Barak notifying him of two recent incidents in which soldiers unlawfully detained children, some under the age of criminal responsibility, on suspicion of throwing stones. Although both incidents were relatively short, the children involved remained very frightened. Video footage of the incidents gives a glimpse into the harsh daily routine of many Palestinian minors and their parents, which will undoubtedly have long-term implications for the children. On 15 January 2014, at approximately 4:00 P.M., four soldiers entered the house of Suzan and Fawaz Zaraqu in the Jaber neighborhood of Hebron. In video footage, filmed by Suzan, a B’Tselem volunteer, the soldiers are heard indicating that they are searching for children who were observed throwing stones by a military observation camera. Several women and children were in the house at the time. The soldiers located twochildren whom the lookout identified as the stone-throwers, Muhammad Zaraqu, 12, and his cousin ‘Issa Kneiss, 11, and demanded that the two come with them. After an exchange with several adults in the house, the soldiers left the house with the terrified children, accompanied by Muhammad’s father, Fawaz. The soldiers, father and children then stood for approximately ten minutes outside the house, during which time police officers summoned by the soldiers arrived at the spot. The police officers left without taking the children, probably as they are under the age of criminal responsibility. The soldiers then took the children to the a-Rajbi building checkpoint, which lies some 250 meters from the Zaraqu house, accompanied by Fawaz Zaraqu and another adult. About 15 minutes later, the children were released.
In another case, on 20 January 2014, at around 7:30 P.M., soldiers detained 8-year-old Islam Abu Hamdiyeh, a resident of the Jabal Juhar neighborhood in Hebron….
http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m104510

Israeli forces, Palestinians clash near Nablus tomb
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 30 Jan — Two Palestinians were injured early Thursday during clashes near Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, locals said. Israeli forces escorted seven buses carrying Israeli settlers to the tomb to perform Jewish rites, witnesses said. Youths began to throw stones and empty bottles at the military forces, with Israeli soldiers firing tear gas canisters and stun grenades at the demonstrators and nearby houses. Zaynab Ali al-Mughrabi (a woman), 65, and Adnan Khaldoun al-Umari, 13, were injured as a result of the clashes. They were taken to Rafidia Hospital for treatment
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=669281

Soldiers kidnap 10 Palestinians in occupied West Bank
IMEMC Wednesday 29 Jan by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers invaded various Palestinian communities in different parts of the occupied West Bank, and kidnapped 10 Palestinians, including seven in the West Bank district of Nablus. Local sources in Nablus city, in the northern part of the West Bank, have reported that dozens of soldiers invaded the Ksheeka Street, and the Old City, broke into several homes, and ransacked them before kidnapping two Palestinians identified as Ajmad Al-Foola, and Nidal Az-Zerba. Furthermore, soldiers invaded the village of Borqa, west of Nablus, broke into and violently searched several homes, and kidnapped five Palestinians. The five have been identified as Saddam Ragheb Salah, Ahmad Ayman Hajji, Ahmad Jihad Abu Thora, Ibrahim Abu Asba, and Abdullah Kheirallah Salah. All of the kidnapped Palestinians in the Nablus district are 18 – 24 years of age, media sources said. Furthermore, several Israeli military jeeps invaded the Saff Street, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and searched several homes before kidnapping two Palestinians identified as Rida Ali Az-Zeq, 21, and Ziad Mohammad Al-Hreimy, 20.
In addition, soldiers invaded the Shweika area, north of the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, broke into the home of Nimir Abu Rabee’a, and kidnapped him after searching his residence causing property damage. In related news, several Israeli military vehicles invaded the Al-Msaffah area, in the al-Jiftlik village in the Jordan Valley, and demolished Palestinian property. Local sources said the army demolished residential sheds, barns, and other property belonging to local shepherds. In addition, soldiers invaded the al-Majd village, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and violently searched a home after breaking into it. The soldiers also installed roadblocks at the entrances of various communities in the district. Dozens of soldiers were also deployed in the Shallala Street, in the center of Hebron, and around its shopping center. Eyewitnesses said that soldiers stopped Palestinian cars and detained the drivers in the al-Harayeq area, at the southern entrance of Hebron city, and took them to the police station in Keryat Arba’ settlement, east of Hebron. The drivers were released later on, but were handed military orders to return for further interrogation. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers set up roadblocks at the entrance of Thaheriyya town, the entrance of the al-Fawwar refugee camp, Nabi Younis, Ithna, and the Halhoul Bridge, stopped and searched dozens of cars and inspected the ID cards of the occupiers.
http://www.imemc.org/article/66855

Jerusalem: Seven kidnapped, several Palestinian including pregnant woman injured
IMEMC — Wednesday evening, 29 Jan by Saed Bannoura — Eyewitnesses said that Israeli soldiers invaded the al-Eesawiyya town, in occupied East Jerusalem, and kidnapped seven Palestinians, including a young woman. Dozens of residents have been injured; soldiers also attacked a pregnant woman inflicting moderate injuries. Eyewitnesses said that dozens of soldiers invaded the Abu al-Hummus neighborhood, in the town, broke into and searched several homes, attacking the residents. Soldiers also used pepper-spray against several women in the attacked homes … Resident Ahmad Abu al-Hummus told the Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) that several children and women, members of his family, were violently beaten by the soldiers, and that his pregnant sister-in-law was moved to a local hospital suffering moderate injuries, but which could terminate her pregnancy. The soldiers invaded the neighborhood, searching for a young man, and started invading and violently searching local homes before assaulting the residents. Some of the wounded required medical treatment, due to the effects of tear gas inhalation, and to being spared with pepper-spray by the invading soldiers. The soldiers kidnapped four members of Abu al-Hummus family, including a young woman; the four have been identified as Mohammad Abdullah Abu al-Hummus, Mohammad Ahmad Abu al-Hummus, Abdul-Karim Abu al-Hummus, and Hanin Abu al-Hummus. Three more Palestinians were briefly detained.  Soldiers alleged that Hanin carried a knife when she was taken prisoner, while her family affirmed she was cooking in the kitchen when the attack took place. And, when she heard a loud noise, resulting from the Israeli invasion, she rushed outside to see what was going on, and was kidnapped by the soldiers. The soldiers were kidnapping her brother when she stopped out, and jumped on her before arresting her as well.
http://www.imemc.org/article/66861

Army kidnaps six Palestinians in Jenin, Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies Thursday at dawn, 30 Jan — Israeli soldiers invaded several Palestinian communities in different parts of the occupied West Bank, searched them, and kidnapped five Palestinians near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and one near Hebron, in southern West Bank. Dozens of soldiers invaded Jaba‘ town, south of Jenin, ransacking several homes after breaking into them, and kidnapping five Palestinians … Eyewitnesses said that the soldiers caused excessive damage to several homes after violently searching them and forcing the Palestinians out. In related news, dozens of soldiers invaded Halhoul town, north of Hebron, and kidnapped one Palestinian near the Ibrahimi Mosque, in Hebron city … Furthermore, dozens of soldiers were extensively deployed in Doura and Thaheriyya towns, near Hebron, stopping and searching several Palestinians, and interrogating them. Soldiers also installed roadblocks on different roads, especially around towns and villages south of the Hebron district, and roads leading to the heart of the city.
http://www.imemc.org/article/66862

IOF soldiers break into school, confiscate cars in Al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 29 Jan — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) broke into a school in Al-Khalil [Hebron] on Tuesday night and confiscated two cars near Fawwar refugee camp, south of the city. Local sources said that dozens of IOF soldiers burst into Mutanabi school in Al-Khalil and stayed inside it for a while before leaving without any reason known for their act. Meanwhile, eyewitnesses told the PIC that IOF soldiers seized two cars at the entrance to Fawwar refugee camp without giving a reason. In Ya‘bad village, IOF soldiers pitched three tents in village lands on Tuesday and prevented anyone from approaching. Locals told the PIC reporter said that the soldiers turned three dunums of land into military barracks and blocked entry of farmers to their land at the pretext that it was turned into a closed military zone.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/

Two international solidarity activists arrested on visit to military court
ISM — On Wednesday 29th January, 2014, two international human rights activists were arrested at Salem Military Court, in Jenin district. The activists, Norwegian and Canadian, were at the court to attend a hearing for Ahmad Atatreh, a 20-year-old Palestinian activist who had been arrested ten days earlier at a peaceful demonstration in the Jordan Valley.  Following the hearing, which the activists had attended in solidarity with Mr Atatreh and his family, Israeli soldiers violently pushed the defendant, who was in handcuffs, out of the courtroom. When the internationals asked why he was receiving this rough treatment, the soldiers took the passport from the Norwegian and arrested her on the accusation of having “slapped a soldier.” The two remaining activists and the family of Mr Atatreh left the court facilities and were getting into a car outside when they were approached by another soldier, who subsequently arrested the Canadian, accusing him of “attempting to prevent an arrest.” The activists were held overnight in the police station in the illegal settlement of Ariel. Under Israeli law they should be taken before a civil court judge within 24 hours of their arrest, although in recent cases the police have disregarded this, preferring to initiate deportation procedures without following due process.The Canadian citizen was released on Thursday afternoon. The Norwegian citizen is being processed for deportation. In the past month alone, five international human rights activists have been arrested, leading to concerns of a military crackdown on international solidarity with the Palestinian people.
With regard to the case of Ahmad Atatreh, who was arrested on the accusation of assaulting a soldier, the judge postponed the trial for a further month, in order to re-examine the evidence. The next time he appears in court he will have spent six weeks in administrative detention.
http://palsolidarity.org/2014/01/two-international-activists-arrested-on-visit-to-military-court/

Jailed anti-war activist gets support in West Bank demo
Connacht Tribune (Ireland) 28 Jan — A group of Palestinian villagers showed solidarity with jailed Galway anti-war activist Margaretta D’arcy during their weekly protest against the Apartheid Wall in the West Bank on Friday afternoon. The people of Bil‘in, who have staged a protest every week since an Israeli-built wall cut off 60% of their land some years ago, demonstrated placards in honour of Ms D’arcy before being fired on with tear gas by Israeli soldiers. They were alerted to Margaretta’s imprisonment by Galway activist Tommy Donnellan, who stayed in Bil‘in during a three month visit to the West Bank last year … Mr Donnellan said the Palestinian villagers were delighted to honour Ms D’arcy (79) after hearing of how she had been jailed 13 days ago for refusing to stay away from the restricted areas of Shannon Airport. She has refused to back down. “When I went on to the runway I did so to stop war crimes,” she told supporters on Sunday. “It would seem it is ok for me to witness crimes, but not to do something to stop them.”
http://www.connachttribune.ie/galway-news/item/2156-jailed-anti-war-activist-gets-support-in-west-bank-demo

Gaza under blockade

How we fight childhood diseases in Gaza
ANERA 30 Jan — Reading international publications is one of the only ways to sustain hope and refuel determination for me and for many ambitious Gazans who believe that “minds can never be besieged.” Unfortunately though, it doesn’t always bring joyful news. Last year the UN reported that Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020. Now, I learn from a World Health Organization report that countries with more than 30% of their populations suffering from parasite infections should undergo mass de-worming treatments. It is painful for me to know that Gaza is one of those highly infected countries. When I visited families in ANERA’s parasite treatment program I realized the true horror of that message.
http://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/how-we-fight-childhood-diseases-gaza

UNRWA employees in Gaza suspend protests
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Jan — Employees of the UN agency for Palestine refugees suspended their strike after reaching a framework agreement with the agency’s commissioner-general, a union official told Ma‘an. Palestinian UNRWA union chief Suheil al-Hindi told Ma‘an that all protests and strike actions were suspended after signing a framework agreement with UNRWA’s administration. Joint committees will be created and tasked with reaching a final agreement on several disputed issues, al-Hindi said without elaborating. He said that in the meantime, UNRWA’s commissioner-general Filippo Grandi pledged that there would be no changes to small fund projects without consulting the Palestinian unions … Palestinian UNRWA employees have been on strike for over two months in protest of low salaries and UNRWA policies regarding employees who are detained by the Israeli military.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=669402

Witnesses: Israeli drone crashes in Gaza near border
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Jan — An Israeli drone crashed in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday near the border with Israel, witnesses said. Eyewitnesses told Ma‘an that the drone fell east of the city of Rafah. Israeli forces quickly entered Gaza and moved the drone to the Israeli side of the border, witnesses said … Israeli military drones regularly conduct reconnaissance missions over Gaza
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=669016

Gaza rocket lands in southern Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Jan — A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in the Negev desert in southern Israel late Thursday, a police spokesperson told Ma‘an. The spokesperson said the rocket landed in an open area near Sdot Hanegev Regional Council.  No injuries or damages were reported, the spokesperson told Ma‘an. Police officers and explosives experts are searching the area for the rocket.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=669535

Five years on: Gaza’s children remain targets
Al Jazeera 30 Jan by Brad Parket — Hala Ahmad Salman Abu Sabikha, 2, was killed in her yard when an Israeli tank targeted her home in Al-Mughazi refugee camp, central Gaza, on December 24, 2013. Israeli soldiers shot Adnan Abu Khater, 16, in the leg with live ammunition on January 2, 2014, and he died the following day. Mohammad Rafiq Shinbari, 17, was shot and wounded in the leg with live ammunition on December 15. These were cases of the recent cross-border violence which resulted in fatalities and injuries to children. It has been five years since Operation Cast Lead, a 22-day Israeli military offensive in Gaza which took place between December 27 and January 18, 2008 and claimed the lives of at least 1,400 Palestinians, including more than 350 Palestinian children. Despite damning evidence of war crimes, the US government played a role in blocking international efforts to hold Israel accountable for serious breaches of international law. The resulting impunity has enabled Israel to continue its oppressive policies in Gaza where children undoubtedly remain targets
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/01/five-years-gaza-children-remain-201412910207865192.html

Gilad Shalit’s story — as told by Gaza filmmakers
AP 31 Jan — Gaza’s tiny movie industry may struggle with amateur actors and power outages, but at least it has a winning formula of which the producers never seem to tire: the heroics, from a Palestinian perspective, of those fighting Israeli occupation. “Losing Shalit” will be the second feature-length film made in the blockaded territory since 2009. It’s the first of a planned three-part series about the 2006 capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by gunmen allied with the Islamic militant Hamas movement. It’s currently in production and parts two and three will depict Shalit’s time in captivity and his 2011 swap for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel … Writer-director Majed Jundiyeh, who also made the territory’s first full-length feature “Emad Akel”— a 2009 film about the Hamas military wing commander of the same name — said his work is intentionally political. “I’m working to establish a movie industry of resistance in Gaza, to reflect the Palestinian story with Palestinian actors,” he said….
http://www.haaretz.com/culture/arts-leisure/1.571583

Palestinian refugees in Syria

UNRWA: Aid convoy enters Yarmouk refugee camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Jan — An aid convoy carrying over 900 food parcels entered the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus on Thursday, an official from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said. “The distribution is on going. This is the first aid to enter the camp since January 21, by when UNRWA had distributed 138 food parcels,” UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness said. The UN official said the delivery of around 600 food parcels was encouraging and there was cooperation on the ground between different parties. “We hope to continue and increase substantially the amount of aid being delivered because the numbers of those needing assistance is in the tens of thousands, including 18,000 Palestinians, among them women and children,” he added. The director of UNRWA affairs in Syria said in a statement that “the distribution was halted at around 16:00 hrs due to the sound of gunfire in the immediate vicinity.”  Michael Kingsley-Nyinah said that “the large crowds of desperate people waiting to receive food parcels today attests to the massive needs that have yet to be met.”
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=669284

20,000 people in Yarmouk refugee camp face starvation
BEIRUT (AFP) 29 Jan — Besieged since June, nearly 20,000 people in Damascus’ Yarmouk Palestinian camp are so desperate for food that many eat stray animals to survive, and some women have resorted to prostitution. “I was looking at a cat on the street, and thinking of slaughtering it,” said Yarmouk resident Ali, who was a university student when Syria’s revolt erupted in 2011. “Many here have slaughtered and eaten cats and dogs, and even a donkey. One man who killed a dog couldn’t find any meat to eat on its body, because even the dogs are starving,” he told AFP via the Internet. “What was unimaginable a few months ago is normal now.” … In June, the army imposed a total blockade on Yarmouk, which covers an area of just over two square kilometers. Most residents had fled by then, but, according to the United Nations, 18,000 civilians remain. Seven months later, food and medical supplies have all but run out, with prices skyrocketing to up to $100 for a kilogram of rice, residents say. “The situation is so desperate that women are selling their bodies to men who stocked up food before the siege was imposed, for just a cup of rice or bulgur,” said Ali …Seventy-eight people, including 25 women and three children, have died as a result of the shortages, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights … According to UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness, “the aid allowed in… so far is shockingly inadequate to meet the dire needs of these (18,000) civilians.” The needs include “powder milk for babies, polio vaccines for infants and basic foodstuffs,” said Gunness.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=669006

Repatriation of bodies

Israel to return remains of young Palestinian woman
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 30 Jan – Israeli authorities will return next Sunday the remains of a young Palestinian woman held in a “numbered graves” cemetery for twelve years, Palestinian officials said Wednesday. A committee tasked with retrieving “martyrs’ bodies” confirmed Wednesday that remains of Ayat Muhammad Lutfi al-Akhras from Duheisha refugee camp near Bethlehem will be delivered to her family at Tarqumia checkpoint to the southwest of Hebron on Sunday evening. Six bodies have been returned recently out of 36 Israel pledged it would return.  According to the committee, freeing al-Akhras’ body brings the overall number of dead Palestinians retrieved from Israel to 100. On the other hand, remains of 281 Palestinians killed in confrontations with the Israeli forces are still held in “numbered graves” in Israel, the committee believes. In addition, 65 others are considered missing. Al-Akhras was killed on March 29, 2002 after she detonated an explosive belt in west Jerusalem killing two Israelis. She was 18 years old.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=669130

Activism / Solidarity / BDS

Norway fund blacklists Israeli firms with settlement ties
OSLO (AFP) 30 Jan — Norway’s huge sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, blacklisted two Israeli companies involved in construction of settlements in annexed East Jerusalem, the country’s finance ministry said on Thursday. The ban on investing in the firms revived a three-year prohibition on them that the Government Pension Fund of Norway had dropped in August last year. The companies are Africa Israel Investments, an Israeli real estate developer, and its construction subsidiary Danya Cerbus. The ministry cited the company’s alleged “contribution to serious violations of individual rights in war or conflict through the construction of colonies in Occupied East Jerusalem,” a territory where Israel’s claims are not recognized by the international community.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=669534

Scarlett Johansson quits Oxfam over settlement row
LONDON (AFP) 30 Jan — US actress Scarlett Johansson has quit as global ambassador for Oxfam after the aid group deemed the role “incompatible” with her promotion of an Israeli firm that has a factory in the occupied West Bank. Johansson’s spokesman said Wednesday that the actress had a “fundamental difference” with Oxfam, a global humanitarian charity, over their opposition to trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law. Johansson, 29, appears in an advertisement for home drinks carbonation firm SodaStream, which is due to air during the US Super Bowl on Sunday. The Hollywood star has worked for Oxfam since 2005 but the British-based aid agency said she had stepped down due to her role with SodaStream … SodaStream operates a large factory in an industrial zone of the illegal settlement of Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem. Johansson had released a statement last week defending her decision to sign on with SodaStream as a global ambassador, saying the company was committed to “building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine.” … On Monday, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, a coalition of Palestinian NGOs, trade unions and popular committees, called on Oxfam to “immediately sever ties” with Johansson over her public support for SodaStream. “SodaStream markets itself as environmentally friendly, but this hides an ugly truth: the company is a colonial enterprise with its main production facility located in the settlement of Maale Adumim in the occupied Palestinian territory,” the group said in a statement on their website. The illegal settlement of Maale Adumim is located in the controversial E1 corridor east of Jerusalem, which effectively divides the northern and southern West Bank.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=669117

Netanyahu postpones ministerial forum on BDS threat over Bennett row
Haaretz 29 Jan by Barak Ravid — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had planned to convene many of his ministers Wednesday for a meeting on the growing threat of boycotts and sanctions against Israel by Western governments and companies, but canceled the discussion at the last minute due to his ongoing crisis with Economy Minister Naftali Bennett. This was to have been the first time the government held in-depth discussion on the matter in an effort to develop strategies to counter boycotts … A senior Israeli official said prior to the meeting that Netanyahu was moved to call a discussion after Dutch pension giant PGGM decided to divest from Israel’s five largest banks due to their involvement in financing companies and groups involved in settlement construction. A few weeks earlier, the Dutch water company Vitens canceled a contract with the Mekorot Water Company for similar reasons. PGGM’s decision is considered particularly worrisome because the company is targeting not the settlements themselves but key players in the Israeli economy that are located within the Green Line – solely because they have indirect ties with West Bank settlements.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.571146

134 members of US Congress sign letter against ASA boycott
IMEMC Tues 28 Jan by Chris Carlson — Israel’s Hayom newspaper reported, on Monday, that 134 out of 435 members of Congress have signed a letter criticizing the American Studies Association’s decision last month to boycott Israel’s academic institutions.
http://www.imemc.org/article/66851

Chicago Botanic Garden forced to rethink links with Jewish National Fund
Chicago (Electronic Intifada) 29 Jan by Bill Chambers — The Jewish National Fund (JNF) controls land and property belonging to Palestinians and reserves it for the exclusive use of Jews in present-day Israel and the occupied West Bank. That pivotal role in Israel’s apartheid system notwithstanding, the JNF enjoys charitable status in more than fifty countries. The Israeli-government backed body has been active for many years in the US, holding fundraisers and presenting itself as an environmentally-friendly organization. Palestine solidarity organizations have held many protests at JNF fundraisers over the years, but at the start of this year we noticed another way the JNF is attempting to “greenwash” its image. One of our activists found a notice on the JNF Chicago website promoting a JNF event to be held at the Chicagoland Jewish High School on 19 January. What was startling to us was that it was co-sponsored by the US Forest Service (part of the US Department of Agriculture) and promoted by the Chicago Botanic Garden (a public-private partnership between the Chicago Horticultural Society and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County)
http://electronicintifada.net/content/chicago-botanic-garden-forced-rethink-links-jewish-national-fund/13120

Political, other news

Hamas proposes steps for national reconciliation
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Jan — The Hamas-run government in Gaza has proposed steps to move forward with national reconciliation, the adviser to Gaza’s prime minister said Thursday. Issam al-Daalees said in a news conference that the first important step would be to hold union and university elections in which all Palestinians would participate. Another step would be to reform all local governments in Gaza, al-Daalees said. Also at the news conference, he said the government would form committees to solve Gaza’s electricity crisis, and form other committees against negotiations with Israel.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=669519

Hamdallah: Gaza priority for PA
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 30 Jan — The Gaza Strip is a priority to the Palestinian Authority government, interim Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said during a meeting with a senior Middle East Quartet official. After a meeting with Tony Blair in Ramallah, Hamdallah said: “The Gaza Strip is a priority to us. The government is providing the needed support to our people there.” Hamdallah said the Quartet was helping to implement a natural gas project in Gaza, in addition to a sea water desalination project … Hamdallah stressed to Blair the importance of funding projects in Area C — those under full Israeli military control — in order to empower the PA. He also asked Blair to support Palestine’s tourism sector.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=669434

Army report: More West Bank settlers in senior IDF positions
Haaretz 30 Jan — Israel’s military magazine “Bamahane weekly” reports that an increasing number of West Bank settlers hold command positions. The Israel Defense Forces outlet reported Thursday that 16 percent of those who attended the latest company and battalion commanders’ training course were residents of the West Bank — four times the proportion of settlers in the Israeli population. A recent graduate of the course quoted in the report said settlers had more motivation to serve given their proximity to Palestinians attacks. But the report also raised questions about how these officers would respond if ordered to evacuate settlements for a future peace deal.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.571651

Demonstrators rally at Western Wall against peace deal with Palestinians
Jerusalem Post 30 Jan by Jeremy Sharon — Several thousand men and women gathered at the Western Wall on Thursday afternoon for a mass prayer rally against the ongoing negotiations between Israel and the PLO. Kommemiut, a group devoted to the preservation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights, organized the event. Participants included Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel, Deputy Religious Services Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan and MK Orit Struck, all from the Tekuma party, a constituent of the Bayit Yehudi Knesset faction. MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) was also in attendance … Before the service, Ben-Dahan told The Jerusalem Post that the emerging details of an outline plan being proposed by US Secretary of State John Kerry were unacceptable. “We cannot agree to any deal that includes the establishment of a Palestinian state and the expulsion of Jews from their homes,” said Ben-Dahan.
http://www.jpost.com/National-News/Demonstrators-rally-at-Western-Wall-against-peace-deal-with-Palestinians-339922

Study: Ashkenazim in Israel earn 30% more than Mizrahim, 61% more than Arabs
Haaretz 30 Jan by Hila Weissberg — The average Jewish Israeli earned 61% more than his Arab Israeli counterpart in 2012, according to the annual report of the Tel Aviv-based Adva Center for policy research, while the gap between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews was 30%, but shrinking.  The finding, which appears in the Adva Center’s annual report for 2013, is based on 2012 data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, which show that the average Jewish Israeli earned 9,721 shekels [per month] in 2012 (the equivalent of $2,785 at current exchange rates), while the average Israeli Arab earned 6,029 shekels.
http://www.haaretz.com/business/economy-finance/.premium-1.571347

Number of Palestinian Druze refusing Israeli service increasing
IMEMC 26 Jan by Chris Carlson — A recent poll conducted by the University of Haifa has revealed that the number of Druze refusing to serve in the Israeli army is increasing. It also shows that a growing number of Israeli youth prefer being jailed instead of military service. Al Ray Palestinian media agency reports that only 36 per cent of the youth who took part in the poll supported obligatory recruitment, while 47 per cent believed military service should be voluntary. 17 per cent believed the current conscription policy should be revoked. According to the poll, 47 per cent of Druze said that there is no difference between them and other Arabs, while 27 per cent claimed that their situation is worse than the Arabs in Israel. Moreover, 83 per cent said that their life is worse than the Jews in Israel despite their military service. 90 per cent of Druze polled said they held negative views towards the Israeli establishment because they suffer land confiscation and geographic siege similar to other Arabs. About 75 per cent of them said their negative feelings were a result of of high rates of unemployment in their community, compared to the relatively low rate of unemployment among Jews in Israel.
http://www.imemc.org/article/66838

Israel minister apologizes to PM over peace talks jibe
JERUSALEM (AFP) 30 Jan — Israel’s hard-right economy minister apologized Wednesday for public attacks on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over US-backed Middle East peace talks. “There are those who are trying to spin what is a debate about the future and security of our country as a personal attack that never happened,” Naftali Bennett said at an education conference at the Dead Sea. “If the prime minister was hurt, I’m very sorry,” Bennett said. Media reported that Netanyahu had threatened Wednesday to sack Bennett from the cabinet if he refused to apologize for his criticism in the past few days. Bennett leads the far-right Jewish Home party, which has close ties with the Jewish settler movement. It has 12 seats in parliament and is a member of Netanyahu’s coalition. Bennett took Netanyahu to task over reports earlier this week that the premier was floating the idea of leasing existing Israeli settlements from the Palestinians in a future Palestinian state.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=66928

Documents reveal Zionist group spied on US student delegation to Palestine
Electronic Intifada 29 Jan by Asa Winstanley & Nora Barrows-Friedman — A right-wing Zionist group in California infiltrated a student trip to Palestine in 2012, a raft of secret documents obtained by The Electronic Intifada shows. The documents confirm long-held activist suspicions that anti-Palestinian political groups are spying on student activists. The files give a rare insight into the murky world of pro-Israel groups’ surveillance of students and other activists in campuses across the United States.
http://electronicintifada.net/content/documents-reveal-zionist-group-spied-us-student-delegation-palestine/13130

Chilean soccer team defies league, retains Palestine on jersey
Mondoweiss 29 Jan by Ira Glunts — Despite an explicit ban by the league on using the map of historic Palestine on their uniforms, the Club Deportivo Palestino soccer team defied the league ruling when they debuted their new uniform on Friday. ” The new jersey has a gold image of Palestine on the front and a much smaller map of Palestine embedded in each numeral in the back of each shirt.   The previous uniform employs the image of Palestine to represent the numeral one.  (For our previous reporting on this story see here and here.)  Also, the name of the club’s new sponsor, The Bank of Palestine is now prominently featured on the jersey … The Palestino soccer team is a major professional sports franchise in Chile and this controversy is big news there.  The number of Chileans of Palestinian descent living in Chile has been estimated to be between 300 and 500 thousand.  It is the largest Palestinian population outside the Middle East.
http://mondoweiss.net/2014/01/chilean-retains-palestine.html

Super Bowl XLVIII kicks off new hummus spat
Haaretz 30 Jan by Eetta Prince-Gibson — Both Israelis and Palestinians vehemently claim it as their own, but is there any way they can give ‘chick-peace’ a chance? — “Dip life to the fullest,” the TV advertisement entices viewers. Sabra Hummus is the “official dip of the National Football League,” pushing salsa (the previous “official dip”) out of bounds for the opportunity to advertise their dip-spread at the Super Bowl, the United States’ leading spectator sports event. And thus, the war of the chickpea continues long into overtime, as the shriveled-looking legume continues to play in the serious game of the Middle East conflict … “This really infuriates me,” says Bassam abu-Baqr, a 28-year-old education student at al-Quds University in East Jerusalem. “Hummus isn’t Israeli — it’s Arab.” He adds, without any trace of humor, “As we say around here, ‘First our land, then our hummus.’ I don’t even feel like watching the game.”
http://www.haaretz.com/culture/food-wine/.premium-1.571496

Analysis / Opinion / Reviews

In Israel prison, an elaborate theater of interrogation / Emily Harris
National Public Radio (US) 29 Jan — Ala’a Miqbel (shown here with his wife and their youngest son in their Gaza City apartment) was held for nearly four weeks in an Israeli prison, then released without charges. There, he met the “sparrows” — Palestinians who appear to be fellow prisoners but are actually gathering information for the Israelis — Ala’a Miqbel phoned his wife and his boss on the morning of Aug. 26 last year, just to say he was almost at the Erez crossing. That’s the checkpoint between the Gaza Strip, where Miqbel lives, and Israel. The U.S. Consulate had invited Miqbel to attend a conference in the West Bank. Although he’d been to Ramallah for work several years ago, Israeli security wanted to interview him before granting a travel permit this time. Before the day was over, Miqbel would be in Israeli prison. Before he was free a month later, with no charges filed, he would be fooled by an Israeli interrogation technique that’s a cross between Big Brother and Shakespeare. The first clue that something was going wrong during that August morning interview was the down-to-his-underwear search. Miqbel said he refused at first, telling the Israeli soldier with him he’d already been electronically searched. But the soldier said it was normal. So Miqbel stripped. Dressed again, the questioning began. A man who identified himself as an Israeli intelligence officer asked about Miqbel’s job with a Palestinian youth organization. He asked about Miqbel’s family, and pulled up the family house on Google Maps, showing that Israeli interrogators already had some information about him. ‘An Enormous Shock’ But they wanted more. Miqbel was soon accused of having ties to a militant group, Islamic Jihad. An Israeli intelligence officer said another Palestinian had said Miqbel was a member. He was accused of shooting at Israeli forces and collecting funds for Islamic Jihad. Miqbel said none of it was true. But at the end of the day he was handcuffed, blindfolded, and taken to prison. “It was an enormous shock,” Miqbel says. “I thought I’d be gone half an hour. Now I didn’t know when I’d be back. I thought of my kids, my wife, my parents, my future.” This was the first time Miqbel had been arrested, but lawyers and human rights organizations say what he experienced, both in the interview and the weeks in prison, was actually pretty standard.
http://kuow.org/post/israeli-prison-elaborate-theater-interrogation

Tensions in the West Bank are rising, together with IDF and settler violence / Amira Hass
Haaretz 31 Jan — 2013 sees escalation in IDF activity against Palestinians, and Palestinian popular resistance to arrests is on the rise, UN report says — About an hour after Dr. Mustafa Barghouti’s Wednesday afternoon talk on the extreme tension gripping the West Bank, which is liable to erupt at any time and in any place, a group of youngsters from the Jalazun refugee camp clashed with Palestinian police. Angry posts on Facebook suggested they fight those with whom they should be fighting – the Israeli army.  About three weeks ago, a clash took place near the camp, north of Ramallah. Residents blocked major roads in protest of the public and government’s lack of interest in the rapidly deteriorating situation there, which was set off by a prolonged UNRWA workers’ strike. On Wednesday, there was a confrontation in central Ramallah. This time, the youngsters came out in droves from the hospital in the center of town, demanding that local shops and restaurants close in solidarity with their friend, Mohammad Mubarak, who was killed by IDF troops two hours earlier. Storeowners refused to heed the youths’ calls, and Palestinian police began shooting in the air to chase the youths away. Some of them were arrested and beaten by police, a camp resident told Haaretz. Underneath the patriotic, nationalist character of the young protesters’ demands to close the shops hid the matter of economic status, which isn’t often discussed in the open: Ramallah has become a symbol of the huge gaps between wealthy Palestinians and all the others, particularly the refugees. One man willing to speak about this issue openly, with Haaretz as well, is the head of the Jalazun camp’s popular committee, Fatah member Mahmoud Mubarak. On Thursday, he sat in mourning at the Jalazun camp, and staunchly denied the Israeli version of the events surrounding his son’s death.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/.premium-1.571718

Is Israel building up for an offensive against Gaza? / Abdulrahman Murad
Open Democracy 30 Jan — Gazans fear another Israeli military offensive is imminent, as Israel flexes its military muscle and Egypt joins the band, beating the drums of war — … Mounting threats I have received two inquiries from oversees friends during the past few days regarding the high-pitch Israeli threats against Gaza, and Hamas in particular. The last one was asking for a confirmation of Israeli TV channels warning foreigners in Gaza to immediately leave, in anticipation for military action. The people here are accustomed to such intimidations; however, the explicit statements of Israeli officials, the latest of which is Netanyahu’s ‘to teach Hamas a lesson very soon’ threat, drew their attention to the prospect of a war targeting the unarmed, before proceeding to the armed citizens of Gaza  … Drones The low-flying Israeli drones are a permanent source of fear to the Gaza population. Israel, as it did in Operation Cast Lead one year ago with the extrajudicial targeting of Hamas’s armed wing leader Ahmed al-Jabari, may launch a new offensive with a drone-propelled attack. Many here consider that a drone locally known as ‘Zannana’ (which means the buzzing [plane]) is more than just a spying machine, but an everyday teaser and TV watching ‘spoiler’ as satellite TV signals are jammed. Nowadays, they are ‘buzzing’ in an increasingly abnormal fashion; reminders of previous Israeli wars, where drones relay the code sound over the smoky patches of the Gaza skies. Iron Dome repositioning Moreover, deploying the rocket-intercepting Iron Dome system brings the bunker mentality to mind, characterizing the state of Israel in any approach to aerial warfare. A month ago, Israel redeployed three missile batteries near the southern cities of Beersheba, Sderot and Ashdod, part of the military’s “preparation for a possible escalation,” according to the Israeli defense minister. However Hamas, who govern the Gaza Strip, has recently asked Palestinian factions to maintain the Egypt brokered cease-fire agreement secured in November 2012 after Israel’s eight-day offensive.
http://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/abdulrahman-murad/is-israel-building-up-for-offensive-against-gaza

If I were a teacher / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 29 Jan — I would teach the truth: that a people without a land came to a land that had a people, and that it’s theirs at least as much as it’s ours — If I were a teacher, I would tell my students that the Israel Defense Forces is not a moral army and why it could never be one. I would tell them it’s an occupation army and that the occupation is criminal. If I were a teacher, I would tell my students what happened here in 1948, and in Kibya, and in Kafr Qasem, and in Sabra and Chatila, and Kafr Kana, and in Operation Cast Lead – as well as what happens daily in the occupied territories. If I were a teacher, I would tell my students the truth. Pete Seeger died this week and one of his songs (originally by Tom Paxton) went like this: “What did you learn in school today/ Dear little boy of mine?/ I learned our Government must be strong/ It’s always right and never wrong/ Our leaders are the finest men/ And we elect them again and again/ That’s what I learned in school today.”  If I were a teacher, I wouldn’t teach my students the lies that the dear little boy in Seeger’s and Paxton’s song learned in school – which both singers were protesting. But protest songs like that are the products of Seeger’s America. Here it’s forbidden to even ask if the IDF is a moral army, the way Adam Verete dared to do at the ORT Greenberg High School in Kiryat Tivon, as he tried to present a different version of things than what’s deemed acceptable. The truth about the values of the Israeli educational system was best expressed by Zvi Peleg, the director of the network in which Verete teaches: “The credo of the ORT network has several fundamental values. One of them is serving in the IDF.” Indeed, that’s how it is. The job of the Israeli educational system is to prepare our girls and boys for army service.
http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.571271

If there’s no way back from the settlements, then Zionism’s days are numbered / Ari Shavit
Haaretz 30 Jan — Neither the Arab nation nor the Palestinian struggle threaten Zionism today, but the disastrous consequences of Jewish messianism do — Finally the cat is out of the bag. For years there were signs that Benjamin Netanyahu did not intend to evacuate settlers from the West Bank … But only this week, at the end of the fifth year of his second term as prime minister, did Netanyahu dare say it explicitly. He will not tear down settlements and not evacuate Jewish settlers. Peace, according to Netanyahu, is peace with no uprooting, no uprooted people and no bulldozers. It’s a peace that leaves hundreds of thousands of Israelis in Palestine … Netanyahu’s new demand, to leave all the settlers in their homes, will lead to one of two outcomes. Either the peace talks will collapse and Israel will be blamed, or Israel will be forced to accept Yossi Beilin’s creative idea about refugees in exchange for settlers. One way or the other, the result will be anti-Zionist. On the one hand, Israel will be subjected to dangerous isolation and on the other, it will be dramatically weakened by a flood of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.  If the facts the settlers have fixed on the ground are indeed irreversible, they could render Zionism reversible. If there is no way back from the settlement project, then Israeli sovereignty is shaky and its days are numbered … But the danger inherent in Beilin’s brilliant, demanding proposal is a new peril, on that may finally open some eyes among the reasonable right. Its significance is simple: The settlement project will force Israel to accept the right of return. To uphold the extremist enclaves of Itamar and Yitzhar, we will be forced to accept Palestinian refugees in Haifa, Jaffa and Lod.
http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.571346

The Holocaust remembrance industry / Anat Meidan
Ynet 30 Jan — Op-ed: Why did dozens of Israeli officials spend public money going to Auschwitz when there are sick and starving Holocaust survivors in Israel? — “A historic trip” was the definition given to the journey of the biggest delegation in the history of the Knesset, which traveled to Auschwitz on Monday to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Making the trip were about 60 Knesset members, including four ministers and four deputy ministers, a former Knesset speaker, 250 public figures, including the state comptroller, the chief rabbi, a Supreme Court judge and the Yad Vashem chairman, as well as 24 Holocaust survivors and their family members … My mother, a Holocaust survivor, watched the reports and couldn’t believe it. “In order to remember Auschwitz, the Knesset has to hold a session in Poland? In order to identify with the victims, they must have a luxurious dinner in Krakow? And at whose expense did the MKs travel?” she asked. At your expense. The MKs announced that the Knesset was funding the trip, I explained to her.  “My heart aches over the fact that these funds are not being transferred to needy Holocaust survivors. I know people who barely survive, and several days ago the government refused to approve free medication for sick survivors. It’s unbelievable insolence. There are 90,000 survivors here who haven’t recovered from the horrors of the Holocaust and deserve to live like human beings. The MKs who traveled to Auschwitz should remember that the Holocaust is also people who survived. It hurts so much to know that the word memory is not translated here into life itself,” she said and fell silent.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4482667,00.html

Down the road from SodaStream, a complicated coexistence / Judy Maltz
MISHOR ADUMIM, West Bank (Haaretz) 30 Jan — The Shweiki glass factory, with its sleek outer façade and interior, stands out among the mostly shabby-looking low-tech plants, carpentries, workshops and garages that populate this industrial zone just outside the Jewish settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim. But there’s something even more fundamental that sets it apart: Shweiki is an Arab-owned enterprise. Its ultra-modern glass factory is just a few hundred meters down the road from SodaStream, the company that recently thrust this small industrial park into the international limelight when it hired American celebrity Scarlett Johansson to serve as the global ambassador for its soda machines – at a time when the movement to boycott goods made in the occupied territories is gathering momentum abroad. But the managers at Shweiki, established in 1936 by an East Jerusalem family, insists that they get an even worse rap than their Jewish counterparts. On the one hand, the Israeli Ministry of Defense refuses to give its seal of approval to the company’s shatterproof glass, while on the other, the Palestinian Authority boycotts its products. “The Palestinians in Ramallah say we’re no better than the settlers,” explains Amran Shaloud, production manager at the plant, which moved to Mishor Adumim seven years ago. Things tend to get complicated here, as stories like his would suggest. Sprawled over nearly 400 acres in the middle of the Judean Desert, a 15-minute drive from Jerusalem, Mishor Adumim is home today to close to 300 factories and small enterprises, including a bowling alley, two huge supermarkets, a small art museum, the huge Extal aluminum company and several kosher wineries. These businesses, including a very few owned by Arabs, are entitled to special tax breaks, as Mishor Adumim is an area designated for preferential treatment under Israeli law.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.571457

Arab orchestra hits the right notes in US
Al Jazeera 30 Jan by Nadine Cheaib — The National Arab Orchestra, which aims to promote Arab music in the US, played its first concert last week. They came from all corners of the United States and as far away as the Middle East to perform in their world premiere concert, in front of a full house at the Atlanta Symphony Hall in the US state of Georgia.  Founded in 2009, the National Arab Orchestra was originally a small chamber music group called the Michigan Arab Orchestra and included an oud (Arab lute), qanun (Arab zither), violin, nay (Arab reed flute), and riqq (Arab tambourine). But now, founder and music director Michael Ibrahim said the ensemble has “grown into a full orchestra made up of Arabs and non-Arab musicians”. The orchestra’s goal is to “promote music through education and performance with an emphasis on preserving the musical traditions of the Arab World”, said Ibrahim.
Its debut concert in Atlanta included English subtitles so non-Arabic speakers could understand the lyrics. The playlist included classical love songs from legendary Arab artists such as Mohammed Abdel Wahab, Mohamed Fawzy, Umm Kulthum, Wadih el-Safi, Farid al-Atrash, Sabah Fakhri, and Fairouz.
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/01/arab-orchestra-hits-right-notes-us-20141308821141302.html

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