Violence / Raids / Clashes / Suppression of protests / Arrests
Teen hurt as Israeli forces suppress West Bank demos
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 30 Jan – Israeli forces suppressed weekly protests near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on Friday, injuring a child, a Ma‘an reporter said. In Nabi Saleh, a 15-year-old Palestinian boy was injured in the thigh with a live bullet fired by Israeli soldiers. The boy, Muhammad Bilal al-Tamimi, was taken to the Palestine Medical Center in Ramallah. This week’s march in Nabi Saleh was a protest of Israeli violations against Palestinian children. Protesters held signs against the Israeli occupation and demanding protection for Palestinian minors. Demonstrators also carried pictures of Malak al-Khatib, a 14-year-old girl currently being held in Israeli custody. Israeli soldiers fired tear-gas grenades and rubber-coated bullets at protesters. Clashes broke out after protesters refused to stop marching. Meanwhile, in Bil‘in, a Palestinian was hit directly with a tear gas canister. Several others suffered tear gas inhalation as Israeli forces suppressed a march made up of Palestinians from the village in addition to international and Israeli activists. The protesters were calling for an end to Israeli aggression against Palestinian children. Israeli forces detained local popular committee member Muhammad al-Khatib for a few hours before releasing him.
Settlers attempt to kidnap a Palestinian toddler in Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 30 Jan — Israeli settlers attempted, Thursday, to kidnap a Palestinian toddler in one of the streets of Jabal al-Mokabber town, in occupied East Jerusalem. Media sources said the settlers tried to kidnap Mohammad Ghassan Abu al-Jamal, 18 months of age, while walking with his brothers after leaving a local medical center in Jabal al-Mokabber. The child’s uncle, Muawiya Abu al-Jamal, said Mohammad was walking approximately 8 meters ahead of his family members when a settler woman, who had her car parked nearby, stepped out of the vehicle and grabbed the child before running away. The car was parked near Armon HaNetziv illegal settlement outpost; the settler woman stepped out of the car while another settler remained behind the wheel. She grabbed the child and ran for approximately 20 meters, while his brothers chased her in an attempt to stop her, the Maan News Agency said. The settler then started shouting, “Arabs, Arabs… they want to kill me,” before dropping the child and jumping into the vehicle that was waiting for her, and drove towards Armon HaNetziv. The child is the son of Ghassan Abu al-Jamal, who was killed after he and his cousin Odai, attacked a Jewish Yeshiva in West Jerusalem, on November 18, 2014, killing four Israelis before they were both shot and killed by the Israeli Police.
East Jerusalem youngsters identify kidnapping suspects, connection to Khdeir case
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Jan — Seven-year-old East Jerusalem schoolboy Mousa Zallum, who survived a kidnapping attempt in July of 2014, along with his 8-year-old brother Yahya, on Wednesday, identified the extremists who attempted to kidnap Mousa. The two recognized by the Zallum boys also stand accused of kidnapping, torturing and ultimately murdering 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir from the same neighborhood only a day after they failed to kidnap Zallum. “I heard the sound of a car braking as it entered Shufat. Then I heard the voice of Mousa shouting for help and calling out to me,” Dina told the Israeli human rights group Btselem on July 7. With the help of his mother and his screams, which alerted passersby, Zallum escaped and the attackers fled the scene.
The defense attorney asked the boys several questions, focusing on small details, in an attempt to find discrepancies in their testimonies, family members who attended the hearing told Ma‘an News Agency. They said that, in most of the details, the boys gave similar information. Both confirmed that the suspect assaulted Mousa and grabbed him by the throat before attempting to throw him into the car. Their mother intervened by attacking the settler in the head and, then pulled Mousa back, the boys told the court. Lawyer of the Abu Khdeir family Muhannad Jubara said that the defendants’ lawyers tried “in vain” to mislead the boys by showing discrepancies between their testimony and what they told police investigators in July. “Even if there is some discrepancy between what witnesses say in the initial investigation and what they say in the final investigation, that doesn’t annul their testimony because of the time span between both,” the lawyer added. The court, he said, has scheduled four more hearings for April and May. For his part, the bereaved father of Muhammad Abu Khdeir said he felt relaxed, following Wednesday’s hearing. “For the first time, I exit the court hall relaxed and that is because the Zallum boys recognized two members of the gang who murdered my son Muhammad despite the attempts to practice pressure on them.” Three suspected Jewish extremists are still awaiting trial in Jerusalem.
American teen beaten by Israeli police is cleared of wrongdoing
+972mag 28 Jan by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — Palestinian-American 15-year-old Tariq Abu Khdeir, whose severe beating by Israeli police while he was in custody last summer was caught on video, has been cleared of all wrongdoing in Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday. Following his beating, the American citizen was arrested and held under house arrest for nearly two weeks before being permitted to return home to Florida. The incident took place after Tariq’s cousin, 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir, was burned alive and murdered by Jewish extremists in a Jerusalem-area forest. Protests and heavy clashes took place in East Jerusalem after Muhammad’s murder. Tariq said he was watching the protests, three days after his cousin was killed, and trying to get away from the violence between Israeli police and protestors when he was chased by three officers, beaten and arrested. Israeli police said the 15 year old took part in the protests, resisted arrest and was carrying a slingshot to throw stones. The American Consulate in Jerusalem told the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that Tariq has been cleared of all wrongdoing and is free to return to Israel to visit his family in occupied East Jerusalem.
Video – Jerusalem: interview with Daoud al-Ghoul
Alternative News 29 Jan — Daoud al Ghoul, a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem, was deported in December from Jerusalem and the West Bank for a period of five months. The deportation was done through a military order, with no attendant legal process; reasons for the deportation were not provided. Al Ghoul is currently in the city of Haifa. Al-Ghoul, the coordinator of youth programs for the Health Work Committees in Jerusalem and of the Kanaan Network of Palestinian civil society organizations, presented at the European Parliament in Brussels on 17 November on the increasingly repressive situation in occupied Jerusalem. Al Ghoul discusses this repressive situation in Jerusalem, describing how the situation deteriorated following the July 2 kidnapping and murder of Palestinian teen Mohammad Abu Khdeir by Israeli settlers.
Israel halts program to end night-time arrests of children
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Jan — The Israeli military has shut down a program meant to decrease the number of night-time arrest raids targeting children in Palestinian homes after less than a year, with statistics suggesting that even when the program was active night raids barely decreased at all. Military Court Watch, a Palestinian legal monitor focused on the treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli detention, said in a statement on Thursday that the Israeli military had also failed to keep any statistics on the program it implemented of its own accord, meaning no independent evaluation could be conducted. MCW said that the evidence “indicates that no genuine attempt has been made by the military authorities to effectively replace night arrests with summonses and that the pilot program has not been implemented in good faith.” … “The evidence indicates that repeated night-time raids by the Israeli military is an essential element in the military’s strategy of ‘demonstrating presence’ in Palestinian villages located near settlements amounting to a systematic pattern of intimidation.” The report comes less than a year after Israeli military authorities unveiled the program to the international media with great fanfare, in the wake of a series of concerns raised in Europe and Australia over the effects of Israeli night-time raids on Palestinian homes … The program to end nighttime raids targeting children was initially promoted by Israel as part of its effort to reform military procedure in the wake of a damning 2013 report released by UNICEF. The report released by Military Court Watch, however, suggests that the changes were primarily aesthetic. According to the 2013 report, Israel is the only country in the world where children are systematically tried in military courts and subjected to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.”
Soldiers detain four children near Jenin
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Jan — Israeli soldiers detained, Wednesday, four children, including a Jordanian child, and two with special needs, in Zabbouba village, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin. … The Palestinian District Coordination Office (DCO) in Jenin said it contacted its Israeli counterpart, and managed to secure the release of the four detained children. It said the children have been identified as Laith ‘Awni Jaradat, 15, his brother Wisam, 16, who both suffer from hearing and vision impairments, in addition to Abdullah Sa’id Jaradat, 14, and Mohammad ‘Azzam Jaradat, 15. Mohammad is from ‘Aqaba city in Jordan, and is currently visiting relatives, with his family, in Zabbouba. The Israeli army claimed it arrested the four children after a number of Palestinian youths hurled stones and empty bottles on military vehicles…
In related news, soldiers kidnapped on Wednesday afternoon a young Palestinian woman, and a young man, near the Gush Etzion junction, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. The army claimed that two carried concealed knives, and that the young woman threw stones at settlers’ cars. The two were moved to the Etzion military and security base for interrogation.
Soldiers kidnap three Palestinians in Jerusalem, one in Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Jan by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers, accompanied by a number of security officers, invaded on Wednesday evening several Palestinian homes and stores in different parts of occupied East Jerusalem, and kidnapped three Palestinians. One Palestinian kidnapped in Bethlehem. Local sources said the soldiers invaded the home of political prisoner Nasser al-Hadmi, in the Suwwana neighborhood, in Jerusalem, and the homes of two former political prisoners identified as Hani Abu Odah in Wad al-Jouz and Tha’er Abu Lafy in the Suwwana neighborhood, for the second time this month. The Odah family said the soldiers ransacked their home while searching it, confiscated documents and a mobile phone belonging to their son, and handed him a military order for interrogation in the al-Maskobiyya police station. On his part, former political prisoner Abu Lafy said the soldiers searched and ransacked his home, allegedly looking for weapons and explosives, and left later on. In addition, soldiers invaded Teshreen Studio, belonging to the Shalabi family in Salah ed-Deen area in Jerusalem, violently searched it causing excessive property damage, and kidnapped Osama Shalaby and his brother Hussein after assaulting them. Furthermore, soldiers invaded a store in Sultan Suleiman Street, searched it and kidnapped a young man….
Israeli forces raid Ramallah-area village, detain Palestinian
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 30 Jan — Israeli forces early Friday raided a village near Ramallah and detained a young Palestinian man, family members told Ma‘’an. Local resident Rashid Omar said that Israeli troops entered the village of Qarawat Bani Zaid northwest of Ramallah around 2:00 a.m. and detained his son, 21-year-old Muhammad Rashid Ayish Omar. The soldiers entered his home and searched it with police dogs, breaking and confiscating cell phones before detaining the young man, Omar said. During the raid, clashes broke out between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian youths in the village. Soldiers fired tear gas, stun grenades, and live fire.
Boy injured by unexploded Israeli ordnance in Jordan Valley
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 28 Jan — A teenage Palestinian boy from the northern West Bank village of Tayasir east of Tubas sustained minor injuries on Wednesday afternoon after an unexploded Israeli ordnance blew up when he walked through a field where it had been left. Sources in the Israeli Civil Administration said that the boy had wandered into a “military zone” under full Israeli control, and he sustained minor injuries on his hands and feet after coming into contact with the ordnance. The sources said that their officers notified the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service of the explosion, and the boy was subsequently evacuated to the hospital.
The Jordan Valley, where the incident took place, is littered by hundreds of thousands of landmines and unexploded Israeli ordnance left there by the Israeli military. Palestinian children are frequently injured and even occasionally killed upon coming into contact with the unexploded ordnance.
Druze student beaten for speaking Arabic had to pay for own ambulance
Haaretz 29 Jan by Nir Hasson — A demobilized Druze soldier who was beaten up by Jewish thugs Friday night has been asked to pay for the ambulance that took him to the hospital. Tommy Hasson, who finished his army service a few months ago and is now studying at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, said his assailants attacked him after they heard him speak to a friend in Arabic. They beat him brutally all over his body, and he spent two days in Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital before being released. He will also have to return for a nose operation. But when he was discharged from the hospital, his discharge papers included a bill for 475 shekels ($119) to cover the cost of the ambulance that brought him there. As has been true of other cases where Jewish extremists beat up Arabs, the incident was not automatically recognized as a terror attack. If it had been, the National Insurance Institute would have covered the costs of the hospitalization and the property tax authorities would have covered any financial damage Hasson incurred. “This infuriated the boy; he began crying over it,” said his father, Ramzi Hasson. “The amount was exactly the amount of his army salary. The money isn’t the problem, but this is chutzpah. Had a religious Jew been beaten up, what would have happened then? The assailants call themselves Jews, but they aren’t Jewish.” The Tag Meir organization, which fights Jewish hate crimes, concurred. “Would we dare send an ambulance bill to a Jew attacked by Arabs for nationalist reasons?” it demanded in a statement. The group also urged the Magen David Adom ambulance organization to rescind the bill and send it to the NII instead. Police recently arrested six suspects in the attack, two minors and four adults. A court remanded the adults to custody until tomorrow [Thursday], while the minors were put under house arrest. A source in the Jerusalem police said investigators aren’t convinced the attack was a hate crime, but they did describe it as a hate crime in court.
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Segregation / Restrictions on movement
Israeli forces destroy 1.000-meter water pipe donated to Yezra
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Jan — Israeli bulldozers, on Thursday, destroyed a water pipe being used in connecting the West Tubas district’s Atoof village with Khirbet Yezra, in the northern Jordan Valley. Head of Al-Maleh local council, Aaref Daraghmeh, said that the pipe had a length of 1,000 meters, and was donated by Agricultural Relief to provide the residents of Yezra with water, since the area has no water sources. According to the PNN, Dr. Hanna Issa, professor and expert on international law, strongly condemned the action, saying that occupation authorities provide settlers with water, while depriving Palestinians of their own sources. Settlers in the occupied West Bank reportedly get an unlimited supply of water amounting to about four times more than Palestinians’ consumption of water. Issa added that occupation authorities consume about 80% of the mutual water wells, despite the fact that 80-95% of them are located in Palestinian areas, pointing out that this is water theft, and in contravention of international law. Issa also stressed that Israel has continuously implemented a policy of displacing Palestinians, separating them from homes near water sources. Israel also prevents Palestinians from digging wells without military permission, while giving privilege to all illegal settlers.
Israel to build 430 new West Bank settler homes: NGO
JERUSALEM (AFP) 30 Jan — The Israeli government on Friday published tenders to build 430 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, the head of an NGO that monitors settlement activity told AFP. “It’s the opening of the settlement floodgates,” said Daniel Seidemann, head of the Terrestrial Jerusalem group, adding that the announcements were the first since October 2014 and unlikely to be the last before the March 17 general election. He said that the new homes were to be built in four existing settlements across the West Bank — 112 in Adam, 156 in Elkana, 78 in Alfei Menashe and 84 in. Seidemann, whose group particularly monitors settlement in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, predicted that building plans there were likely to be announced soon. “I don’t think it’s over,” he said. “I would be very concerned.” He linked the new tenders to the election in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud is competing with other rightwing parties for the settler vote.”This could hardly be an accident,” he said. “It could not have taken place without Netanyahu’s knowledge and consent.”
US condemns new Israeli settlement plan
WASHINGTON (AFP) 30 Jan – The White House on Friday condemned Israeli plans to build 450 new settler homes in the West Bank as “illegitimate and counterproductive” to achieving peace. “We have deep concerns about these highly contentious settlement construction announcements,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “They will have detrimental impacts on the ground, enflame already heightened tensions with the Palestinians and further isolate the Israelis internationally.” The Israeli announcement, which comes just weeks before a March 17 election, further strains relations between the United States and its main Middle Eastern ally.
Jerusalem court rules contentious home in Arab neighborhood belongs to Jews
Haaretz 29 Jan by Nir Hasson — The Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court on Monday declined to issue an eviction order against activists from an organization whose goal is to settle Jews in predominantly Arab East Jerusalem. On the night of September 29, dozens of Jewish settlers moved into 27 apartments in seven buildings in Silwan purchased by Elad. The organization had bought the units over a period of years through a company registered abroad and using Palestinian brokers. In most cases, the sellers were Palestinians who concealed the sale from their families and neighbors. In most cases, the Palestinian families that had owned the buildings filed complaints after the mass move-in, arguing that there were irregularities that rendered the purchase of the properties invalid. Most of these families did not take legal action, but three have sued Elad. The first suit ended in victory for the Palestinian owners, when the court ordered Elad to vacate the building. The organization had refused to show the court the documents of sale, on the grounds that it sought to protect the sellers. Elad has appealed the ruling in Jerusalem District Court. Monday’s ruling was on a suit by the Kara’in family, which had owned one of the apartments purchased by Elad … Palestinian activists and lawyers admit that because of the cooperation Elad receives from Palestinians, it is hard to take legal action against the property sales. Mohammed Dahla, a lawyer who represents some of the Palestinian families, said one tactics they were looking into was to claim that the transaction had been carried out under fraudulent circumstances, since in at least some of the cases the sellers were not aware that the buyers were Jews.
IDF to probe illegal transfer of pricey West Bank land to settler body
Haaretz 29 Jan by Chaim Levinson — Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, head of the army’s Central Command, has appointed an officer to investigate how the Civil Administration in the West Bank gave lands worth millions of shekels to the Samaria Development Company, despite his explicit order not to do so. The 2,400 dunams, which are slated to become an industrial park, are just across the Green Line from Rosh Ha’ayin. The combination of its location in the West Bank, which enables companies to employ cheap Palestinian labor, and its proximity to central Israel makes the site very attractive. The industrial park’s establishment has been delayed for years by a three-way dispute between the Samaria Regional Council and the settlements Elkana and Oranit over control of the lucrative property. Whichever locality controls it will get tens of millions of shekels in development fees and municipal taxes … Alon discovered the land allocation by chance and decided to appoint Col. Uri Mendes to investigate how it happened. The investigation is still in progress, but Haaretz has learned that Defense Ministry officials were apparently involved in the allocation. Yesterday, Elkana Mayor Asaf Mintzer sent a letter to all the settlement’s residents welcoming Alon’s decision to cancel the land allocation.
Israeli authorities demolish Palestinian home, barn in Idhna
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 29 Jan — Israeli authorities on Thursday destroyed the home of a Palestinian family as well as the barn of another in the town of Idhna in the southern West Bank. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli bulldozers escorted by several military jeeps demolished a house as well as a mobile home belonging to Ahmad Jamal al-Jiyawi in the area of Khirbet al-Ras west of Idhna. Israeli forces also raided the area of Wadi Risha, also west of Idhna, and demolished a large steel barn using for raising cows by a local farmer. Locals said that the structure belonged to Mahmoud Musallam Abu IJeheisha, and that the man supports a family of 10, mostly children.
Israeli army expels 19 families for the purpose of military training
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Jan — The Israeli military forced 19 Palestinian families to leave Khirbet Bzik village, near Tubas, on Tuesday morning, under the pretext of carrying out military exercises for two consecutive days. Local sources reported that more than 100 of the residents were forced to evacuate their houses in the morning hours, as a result of the military carrying out exercises between the houses, Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency reports. The military was apparently impervious to the danger imposed to some 60 children in the neighborhood, in the case that any of the devices exploded.
Israeli forces also destroyed a number of houses and tents owned by the family of Salem Ektefiat, from the Daba‘ region, near Jericho. The Daba‘’ incident involved seven families of Jahalin Bedouin whom the military expelled from inside the green line, in the Arad area, after destroying their houses last year.
Tel Aviv backtracks, will not open bilingual school in Jaffa
Haaretz 30 Jan by Yarden Skop — The Tel Aviv municipality will not enable opening a bilingual school in Jaffa in the coming school year, reneging on a promise to parents of some 60 kindergarten children, the parents say. Almost 100 children aged 3-6 currently attend bilingual kindergartens in Jaffa. Their parents want them to continue studying in Hebrew and Arabic, in a framework combining Arab and Jewish children similar to the bilingual school in Jerusalem. The parents of the children due to start first grade said they had negotiated with the city for months and had been promised that an independent first-grade bilingual class would open next school year.
Gaza-West Bank split divides lovers
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 27 Jan by Asmaa al-Ghoul — Palestinian officials, both in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, are obstructing the union of couples who are separated by the Palestinian division — Her hair is already starting to turn gray as she nears her 33rd birthday. Sorrow fills Dalia Sharab‘s eyes. She has been waiting in the Gaza Strip for over three years to see and marry her fiancé Rashed al-Fadda, 35, who lives in the West Bank city of Nablus. When they first met in 2011 at a youth conference in Jordan, Rashed and Dalia never suspected they would have to suffer like this and wait years to see each other again. They fell in love and Rashed asked her relatives in Jordan for her hand in marriage. Her family in Gaza discussed the proposal and announced their consent after a few months, and the couple were officially engaged on Jan. 24, 2012, in the presence of Rashed and his father, who were both visiting Gaza for the first time. They only stayed for four days, and following the engagement Dalia has been trying to see her fiance in Nablus. She submitted in February 2012 a form to the Civil Affairs Ministry, which in turn submitted it to the Israeli authorities. She then filed another request in 2013, and others after that. In total, she has filed five requests to the ministry in Gaza. The replies were always the same: She was either told that she is too young or that the reasons for her travel request are not convincing. According to human rights organizations, Israel prohibits Palestinians from the occupied territories from entering the State of Israel without a special form. Since 2000, Israel has been withholding entry permits to its territories, issuing them only to exceptional applicants such as medical patients, traders, personnel of international organizations, foreigners and VIPs using the Erez crossing … The story of Rashed and Dalia is just one of hundreds of similar tales that have emerged since the separation of the West Bank from the Gaza Strip in 2005, when the Israeli forces withdrew from Gaza.
UN reviewing its operations in Gaza after offices attacked
Haaretz 30 Jan by Amira Hass — Following a violent protest and rising political tension, the danger of internal violent conflict becomes ever more possible, which only adds to the local populaces’ reasons to fear — Political tensions are running high in Gaza in the wake of an UNRWA notice that rebuilding of homes partially destroyed by Israel during Operation Protective Edge is being put on hold, due to the failure of donor states to come through with their pledged donations. The United Nations special coordinator, Robert Serry, announced that the UN is reviewing its operations in the Strip following a violent protest that took place near his office there. The UN agency’s notice on Tuesday led to a public political crisis – unprecedented in its severity – between Hamas authorities and the UN’s political office in Gaza, which houses the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO). Serry, along with the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories and the Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs, formulated after the war a procedure for transferring construction materials to merchants and contractors in Gaza, as well as homeowners whose houses were destroyed during the last war. The complicated procedure, which was aimed to enhance the reconstruction of Gaza, allows for Israel to rather invasively supervise every Gaza resident, and was criticized as slowing down the reconstruction effort. several meetings between Serry and Hamas officials, some points of the procedure were altered, and others, more stringent restrictions, were lifted. But following Serry statements, on Thursday, the Economy Ministry in Gaza ordered contractors and merchants to cease cooperating with UNSCO’s procedures – which practically means a halt of their share of the reconstruction effort.
Gazans storm UN compound over suspension of aid
Haaretz 28 Jan — Dozens of Palestinian protesters stormed a UN compound in the Gaza Strip Wednesday morning after UNRWA, citing lack of funds, suspended payments to Gazan families to rebuild their homes wrecked by Israeli air assaults last summer. Robert Serry, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, expressed “outrage” at Hamas’ failure to protect his office’s compound despite its knowing of the protest beforehand. Hamas officials, in turn, were reported to be infuriated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s decision to suspend the payments, saying it amounted to an abandonment of Gaza’s destitute, desperate population. Serry said in a statement, “The special coordinator is outraged by the assault on the [UN special coordinator’s] compound in Gaza this morning. During a pre-announced demonstration, of which Hamas was well aware, a number of, protesters climbed the perimeter wall and entered the compound, causing damage to United Nations premises and property. Due to precautionary measures taken, United Nations personnel working in the compound were fortunately unharmed.”
Israeli navy ships open fire on Palestinian fishing boats
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Jan by Saed Bannoura — Israeli Navy ships attacked, on Thursday morning, a number of Palestinian fishing boats in the Sudaniyya Sea, northwest of Gaza City, opened fire on them and forced them back to the shore. The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) said the navy fired rounds of live ammunition on the Palestinian boats, although they were within the six nautical miles allotted for the Palestinians for fishing. WAFA added that the navy fire completely disabled one of the fishing vessels; no injuries or arrests were reported. The navy frequently attacks the fishermen in Gaza territorial waters, and even while docked on the Gaza shore, in direct violation of the ceasefire agreement.
Israel releases 4 Gaza fishermen, teenager detained this week
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 Jan — Israeli authorities on Wednesday released four fishermen and a teenager detained off the coast of Gaza this week, a local union said. Nizar Abu Ayyash told Ma‘an that the five Palestinians have been in Israeli custody over the past two days. They were detained after their boat sank off the coast near al-Shati refugee camp. At least 10 fishermen have been detained in January, Ayyash added.
Israeli forces open fire at Gaza fields, no injuries
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 Jan – Israeli troops stationed across the borders with the Gaza Strip opened fire on Wednesday morning at Palestinian fields east of Khan Younis. Witnesses said the Israeli soldiers were firing from machine guns at agricultural lands in the outskirts of al-Fukhkhari village. No injuries have been reported. Israeli forces from time to time open fire at Palestinian fields across the borders under the pretext that some Palestinians come too close to the border fence.
Gaza imposes security measures along border amid Sinai clashes
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Jan — Gaza security forces on Thursday evening imposed strict security along the border with Egypt following a series of attacks that left scores of Egyptian soldiers dead in the neighboring Sinai Peninsula. Spokesman for the Gaza Ministry of the Interior Iyad al-Buzm said that the security measures were imposed to secure the area after militants associated with the Ansar Bait al-Maqdis group fired rockets and set off a car bomb in the northern Sinai Peninsula. The attacks hit the Egyptian city of Rafah, located directly on the border, as well as el-Arish and Sheikh Zuweid, and claimed at least 30 lives, mostly soldiers
Unpaid Gaza doctors and nurses protest unpaid salaries
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 Jan — Dozens of doctors and nurses who have not received their paychecks in months protested in front of the Ministry of Health building in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. Protesters held signs condemning what they described as the government failure to uphold its commitment to pay employees’ salaries including doctors and nurses. A spokesperson for the protesting medical employees, Ghassan Abu Safiya, said that the protests will continue until all of the employees’ demands are fulfilled. The protests are the latest obstacle facing Gaza hospitals, which have been beset by strikes by cleaning staff and other workers repeatedly over the past few months. Workers are angry that despite the amount of work medical employees put in during Israel’s 50-day assault to ensure that hospitals and clinics continued running, officials have still failed to pay their salaries.
Kerem Shalom opened to allow goods into Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Jan — Israeli authorities opened the Kerem Shalom crossing on Thursday in order to allow food aid and fuel into the Gaza Strip. Raed Fattouh, a Palestinian official responsible for the crossing, said that 450 truckloads of goods for the trade, agricultural, and aid sectors were supposed to be allowed into Gaza. Fattouh added that 150 trucks of those being allowed to cross are carrying gravel to be used in Qatari infrastructural projects. He pointed out that fuel will also be allowed into Gaza. Israel has imposed a siege on the Gaza Strip for the last eight years that has completely limited all imports and exports into the Strip and crippled the tiny coastal enclave’s economy. In 2013, Israel only allowed one-third of the amount of imports it allowed before the imposition of the siege, while allowing almost no exports.
200 Gazans head to Aqsa for Friday prayers
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Jan — Two hundred Palestinians from the Gaza Strip headed to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, Palestinian officials from the liaison office said. The worshipers, who are all over 60, will return to Gaza by 4 p.m. after performing prayers at the holy site. On Oct. 5, some 500 Palestinians in Gaza prayed at the mosque for the first time since 2007, having been prevented by Israel from traveling to Jerusalem since that time.
Hamas official demands opening of Gaza seaport
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Jan — A senior Hamas official on Thursday demanded that a seaport be fully opened in Gaza, warning of an “explosion” if Israel’s siege and the Egyptian closure of Rafah continues. Ismail Radwan told reporters in Gaza City that Israel was responsible for the consequences of the eight-year blockade and called the siege on Gaza a “war crime.” Radwan called on the “free people of the world” to send ships to break the blockade, and urged the Arab League, the OIC, and Arab nations to uphold their responsibilities to Gaza. A ministerial committee in Israeli-blockaded Gaza announced plans on Sunday to ready the enclave’s sole seaport to allow Palestinians to travel abroad. Alaa al-Batta, spokesman for the committee formed to lift the blockade, said preparations are under way to launch within two months a boat service for the sick and students studying overseas. The port in Gaza City is currently restricted to fishermen, whom Israel only allows to fish up to a maximum of six nautical miles from the shore.
Two Gazans arrested for crossing border fence
GAZA (PIC) 30 Jan — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) detained Thursday two Palestinian youths for allegedly crossing the border fence to the east of Gaza Strip. Israeli military sources claimed that Israeli border guards had received a warning of fence penetration. The IOF combed the area following the youths’ arrest. The two detainees were transferred to an Israeli detention center for interrogation.
Lawyers seek review of ICC refusal to probe Gaza flotilla
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) 29 Jan by Mike Corder — Lawyers called Thursday for a review of the International Criminal Court prosecutor’s decision not to investigate the storming by Israel of an aid flotilla that was heading to Gaza. team of lawyers representing the government of Comoros filed a request for the court to order Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to reconsider her refusal to launch a probe into the May 31, 2010, storming of one of the vessels in the flotilla, which was sailing under a Comoros flag. Bensouda said in November last year that there was a “reasonable basis to believe that war crimes” were committed on the Mavi Marmara, where eight Turks and one Turkish-American were killed and several other pro-Palestinian activists were wounded by Israeli commandos, but that the case wasn’t “of sufficient gravity” to merit an ICC case.
Grenade thrown into Gaza home of Fatah official
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Jan — Unknown assailants threw a grenade into the home of a Fatah official in Gaza on Thursday, officials told Ma‘an. Assistant deputy of the Palestinian Civil Affairs Ministry, Naser al-Sarraj, told Ma‘an that a grenade was thrown into his home in the al-Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City while he was traveling back to Gaza from Ramallah. The grenade failed to explode. In December, owners of several cement companies in Gaza attacked al-Sarraj after raiding his office, claiming that the minister was not fairly distributing cement for the reconstruction of Gaza. The suspected grenade attack is the latest in a string of incidents targeting both Fatah and Hamas officials in Gaza. On Tuesday, the car of Fatah official Adil Udeid was set on fire after flammable liquid was poured on the vehicle, which was parked in front of the official’s home. Last Thursday, unidentified assailants blew up a car belonging to Fatah leader Ahmad Alwan in Gaza City. On Jan. 20, unidentified assailants blew up a private car belonging to a security officer of the former Hamas-run government in Gaza City.
Interactive: 24 hours in Gaza
Al Jazeera 28 Jan by Megan O’Toole & Konstantinos Antonopoulos — In December 2014, four months after Israel’s latest assault on Gaza ended, Al Jazeera visited the besieged territory and spent a day with one family whose lives were changed irreparably by the war. Neighbours died, children were traumatised and the home they once knew was lost forever. Fatma Juma and her husband Ibrahim Afana – along with their children and grandchildren, too many to count – still live in the bombed-out shell of their four-storey apartment complex in el-Shaaf, Gaza. The fourth floor is unreachable and the third so damaged it has become unliveable, so their lives are mostly confined to the first and second storeys, where several exterior walls have been replaced with blankets or canvas tarps. Grandchildren flit in and out; some live elsewhere in Shujayea but come here to sleep, finding comfort in numbers.
Dancing in the rubble: Breakdancers offer hope as Gaza struggles to rebuild
Vice News 28 Jan by Alice Speri — ..,”People are not alive,” Ahmed Alghraiz, a resident of the Nuseirat refugee camp, in the center of the strip, told VICE News. “The last war was so hard because they were bombing without knowing whom they were bombing or killing. And now, people are living just counting days, every day is the same, just the date changed.” “If I weren’t a dancer I would die,” he added. But Alghraiz is a dancer — one of the first to bring breakdancing to the streets of Gaza a decade ago. The Saudi-born 26-year-old actually studied to be a nurse — “but there are no jobs in Gaza,” he said, so he found another way to bring healing to his community. With his brother and some friends, he launched the “Camp Breakers Crew” — Gaza’s only breakdancing group — bringing hip-hop and acrobatic moves to the children and youth of the strip’s refugee camps. It hasn’t been easy — nothing in Gaza is. At first, the group faced the raised eyebrows of a society that remains deeply conservative. But they won over their neighbors’ hearts by incorporating stories of Palestinian struggle and suffering in their dancing — and by offering local kids a free and much-needed distraction — so much so that, in another first in Gaza, they now offer breakdancing classes for girls, too.
Prisoners / Court actions
Tulkarem court acquits four Hamas members after five years
TULKAREM (PIC) 30 Jan — The Palestinian Authority court in Tulkarem afternoon Thursday cleared four Hamas-affiliated young men of charges about their intention to form an armed militia, after five years of court hearings. The acquitted Palestinians told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that the tulkarem court decided to clear them of all charges filed by the preventive security apparatus after five years of adjournment. “45 hearings had been held over the past five years to reach a decision on the lawsuit, and that disrupted our study and jobs,” they said. The released young men are journalist Yazid Khedr, Alaa al-Araj, Tarek Redwan, and Mohamed Salim.
Israel jails 13 minors, imposes fines
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Jan — Israeli authorities recently sentenced 13 minors to serve between 14 to 28 months in jail and to pay fines, according to the minor prisoners’ representative in Ofer prison. Prisoner Abdul-Fattah Dola, who speaks on behalf of minor prisoners below the age of 18, said 13 minor prisoners in Ofer prison were recently pressured to confess committing activities punishable under Israeli legislation. WAFA correspondence reports that about 99 minor prisoners are currently incarcerated in Ofer, of whom at least 33 were taken last month during predawn and night army attacks on vulnerable towns and villages. Dola said that some minor prisoners are suffering deteriorating health conditions, including diabetes, while others who were wounded at the time of their arrest are still denied medical care … According to Addameer human rights association, “Israeli authorities responsible for prisoners regularly neglect their duties to provide medical support for Palestinian prisoners in their care, as required by the Geneva Conventions.” “Medical problems are widespread, and range in severity from chest infections and diarrhea to heart problems and kidney failure. Treatment is often inadequate and is delivered after substantial delays. Often medication is limited to over-the-counter pain killers.”
Israel to cut electricity in PA territories
IMEMC/Agencies 30 Jan — Israel Electric Corporation (IEC), this past Wednesday, decided to reduce electricity distributed to territories governed by the Palestinian Authority, due to accumulated debts. IEC announced that it will reduce the electricity supply with no adverse effect on households, as a first step to deal with the debts, PNN reports. According to an Israeli official with the energy company, the power will be cut for an hour each morning and another hour each night. The IEC said that the overdue balance has reached NIS 1.8 billion ($4.6 million), and that their decision to reduce the supplies came after several warnings to the PA through related parties, according to Israeli TV.
ICT Ministry denounces Israeli infringement on Palestinian frequency rights
IMEMC/Agenciess 29 Jan — Palestine Minister of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Mousa Allam, has issued a call to action to International rights organizations, the International Telecom Union and other related bodies to take action against continued Israeli seizure of Palestinian 3G and 4G frequency rights. According to the PNN, the minister stressed that this reality continues to severely handicap the Palestinian ICT sector, due to Israeli control of radio frequencies considered essential for the continued sustainability of the sector, and for the broader socio-economic growth and development … “The reality remains today that the two main telecom operators in Palestine have been put at a disadvantage position in comparison to their peers in the globe. Their ability to have expansion and quality services in mobile telephony is absolutely dependent on the obtaining of additional frequencies in both the 3G and 4G technologies,” said Mr. Allam Musa, Minister of Telecom, State of Palestine … The lack of 3G goes beyond lost customers to the telecommunications companies. One of the fastest growing areas in the IT industry is the development of applications for smart phones and wireless communications. With no 3G services to support it, industrial growth is stunted in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
A chance for Israel’s Arabs
Ynet 30 Jan by Yael Gvirtz — Lieberman’s bid to exclude the Arab parties from the political system has backfired, and now there is a real chance for them to become legitimate partners in government — For too many Israelis, Israeli Arabs are still the same Arabs and the sea is still the same sea into which they seek to push us, the tiny country that has never learned to swim. It’s hard to point a finger at the Jewish public following way too many years in which Benjamin Netanyahu and co. have invested all their political capital into promoting this phobia. But one can and should point a finger at the leaders of the center-left parties and the pundits and presenters in the election studios for excluding the Arab parties as legitimate partners in a future coalition government … Avigdor Lieberman, who spearheaded the legislation to raise the electoral threshold with the purpose of excluding Israeli Arabs from the Knesset, must be having second thoughts about the move in light of his party’s dismal showing in the polls; but in coming to destroy, he appears to have brought forth a blessing: The Arab parties were the first to rise and adopt the challenge and trend of the upcoming elections – the convergence into blocs. And now, at the very place at which Lieberman sought to burst the dam of coexistence envisioned by the signatories to the Declaration of Independence, we have an opportunity to build a bridge with Israel’s Arab citizens on true democratic foundations.
Former Bedouin MK to submit new Arab list for Israel election
BEERSHEBA (Ma‘an) 19 Jan — Former Arab Knesset Member Talab el-Sana said Thursday that he plans to submit a new Arab list to Israel’s Central Election Committee. El-Sana told Ma‘an that “there is outrage amidst the Arab population in general and in the Negev in particular as they believe the joint Arab list has been unjustly structured in an attempt to liquidate a deep-rooted party, the Arab Democratic Party.” The negotiations about the joint Arab bloc were a “conspiracy” to eliminate political rivals, he claimed.
Abbas to Stockholm after Israel shuns Swedish visit
STOCKHOLM (AFP) 30 Jan — Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas will visit Stockholm next month after Sweden became the first major state of the European Union to recognise Palestine, the Swedish government announced Friday. “The visit of president Abbas, by invitation from the prime minister, is confirmed for February 10,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Ulla Jacobson told AFP. “He will also meet the foreign minister, the king and the archbishop.” She said the agenda would include the Arab-Israeli peace process and “what Sweden can offer after (its) recognition” of Palestine in October.Sweden’s recognition of Palestine came despite strong criticism from Israel which earlier this month said Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem was not welcome for an official visit in the country.
Mahmoud Abbas rival given Serbian citizenship, documents reveal
The Guardian 30 Jan by Ivan Angelovski in Belgrade and Lawrence Marzouk in London– Serbia’s government has quietly granted citizenship to Mohammed Dahlan, a key rival of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and adviser to the crown prince of Abu Dhabi. Dahlan, his family and five key political supporters were all granted citizenship between February 2013 and June 2014, according to documents from the state’s official gazette analysed by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN). The government is able to grant citizenship during closed cabinet sessions to foreigners deemed to have served “state interests” without offering any detailed public explanation. Dahlan is credited with facilitating Abu Dhabi’s promised investment of billions of euros in Serbia. However, the government in Belgrade has refused to explain whether this is the reason for granting citizenship to him and 11 other Palestinians in the past two years. Seasoned Middle East observers have suggested that Dahlan could be planning to use Serbia as a base to launch his leadership challenge against Abbas, the current Palestinian Authority (PA) leader.
Spain says Israeli fire killed peacekeeper in south Lebanon
UNITED NATIONS (United States) (AFP) 28 Jan — Spain on Wednesday said Israeli fire had killed a Spanish UN peacekeeper serving in south Lebanon and called on the United Nations to fully investigate the violence. The Security Council condemned the death of the Spanish corporal who died from wounds sustained during an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters on the border. “It is clear that this was because of the escalation of the violence and it came from the Israeli side,” Spanish Ambassador Roman Oyarzun told reporters. The Spanish envoy said he had asked for a full investigation during an emergency meeting of the council called by France to discuss ways to defuse tensions between Israel and Lebanon.
UC Davis passes divestment resolution, five other campaigns launched across US
EI 30 Jan by Nora Barrows-Friedman — Last night, the student government at the University of California at Davis voted in favor of a resolution to divest from corporations profiting from Israel’s occupation. In a landslide vote — eight voting yes, two against and two abstaining — the student government at UC Davis recommended that the University of California system’s governing body divest from Caterpillar, G4S, Veolia Environment and Raytheon. The divestment victory comes just months after the UC Davis administration appeared to be receptive to efforts by the Anti-Defamation League — a leading Israel lobby group — to treat boycott, divestment and sanctions efforts as “hostile events” that the university should deem security threats. Seven out of nine undergraduate campuses within the University of California system have now voted in favor of divestment. (One campus, UC Santa Cruz, passed divestment last year but it is being put up to a re-vote due to possible interference by the student union chair who claimed that the vote failed.)
Film: Israeli filmmaker explores life through the eyes of Palestinian teen
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 30 Jan by Alex Shams — The short documentary “Khelil Helwa (Hebron is Beautiful)” follows a young boy from Hebron’s Tel Rumeida neighborhood as he goes about his daily life, uncovering the matrix of Israeli military control that defines every aspect of life in the occupied West Bank. For Palestinians, the footage may at first appear somewhat unremarkable, and the scenes of soldiers barking orders and even arresting the film’s 15-year-old star, Awni Abu Shamsiya, are heart-breakingly familiar. But for Israeli-American filmmaker Yuval Orr, it was the hope of showing the footage to Israeli audiences that motivated production. “I want Israelis to see more films that challenge what they think they know, or challenge the moral stance that is very easy to take at a distance,” he told Ma‘an during an interview in West Jerusalem. “How many Jewish Israelis really go to Hebron if they’re not soldiers or settlers?” — Quiet before the storm’ — The film, which was produced as part of the ActiveVision film collective, spans a mere nine-and-a-half minutes but manages to offer a complex and insightful look at daily life in central Hebron through the eyes of one of the city’s own children. “Khelil Helwa” is surprisingly unburdened by statistics, maps, or figures, allowing the potential viewer — particularly if Israeli — to sympathize with Awni’s perspective regardless of their political perspective.