Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
In ‘major victory to Arab residents’, 2200 homes approved in east Jerusalem
Jerusalem Post 31 Mar by Daniel K. Eisenbud — Amid fierce opposition from right-wing leaders, preliminary plans for the construction of 2,200 new Arab housing units in east Jerusalem’s Jabel Mukaber neighborhood were approved by the Interior Ministry’s District Planning and Building Committee on Monday. The committee also retroactively approved 300 illegally-built Arab homes in the area. On Tuesday, Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher at the pro-Palestinian NGO Ir Amim, who attended the meeting, described the plan as unprecedented. Indeed, according to Tatasky the approval serves as a major victory for Arab residents of Jabel Mukaber who have long sought building permits, or feared imminent home demolitions for illegal construction. “I think this is a very unusual and very good development,” he said. “The housing shortage in east Jerusalem is enormous, and this is the first time that a plan of this extent has been approved for a Palestinian neighborhood.” “The shortage in housing units and schools is great, so this is really called for,” Tatarsky added, noting that roughly 40 Palestinians attended the meeting to express their hopes for the long-sought approval. “Older Jabel Mukaber residents came, and it was very moving to see the hope in the eyes of these people knowing that they would finally be allowed to build homes for their children,” he said. Of the 1,500 dunams of land approved for the project between Jabel Mukaber and Abu Dis, Tatarsky said roughly 500 will go towards housing, while the remaining 1,000 will be allocated toward the development of open spaces, roads and school classrooms. However, he emphasized that the plan approved on Monday was more of an outline, and will not result in the immediate issuance of building permits; a process that he said will likely take several more years … Tatarsky added that it took several years just to get to this point due to fierce right-wing opposition, led by right-wing councilman Arieh King (United Jerusalem).
Israeli forces partially demolish home near Jerusalem’s Old City
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 31 Mar — Israeli bulldozers demolished part of a home belonging to the Amr family in the Wadi al-Joz neighborhood east of Jerusalem’s Old City on Tuesday. Family members told Ma‘an that the demolition came after dozens of Israeli vehicles escorted bulldozers into the area, near the bridge connecting Wadi al-Joz to neighboring al-Suwwana. Dr. Jamal Amr said that Israeli forces raided the family home with the support of a helicopter and held family members in a small room, which they were not allowed to leave. Amr said that two younger family members were beaten by Israeli soldiers. Israeli bulldozers proceeded to demolish part of Sharif and Nour al-Din Amr’s home, including a room, balcony, storehouse and toilets, amounting to 80 square meters of the house. They also raised the surrounding walls and destroyed a number of trees. Dr. Amr said that the structures were built before Israel annexed Jerusalem and there was no reason or excuse for their demolition. He said it was a message from Israel, while Palestinians commemorate Land Day, that Israeli authorities will continue to take over Palestinian lands by all means at their disposal. He added that the land on which the house is built is “only a few meters away from the Al-Aqsa mosque” and is therefore of “strategic” importance to the Israeli authorities. Amr said that the demolished room had mostly been used by bus drivers heading to mosque as a place to perform partial ablution before prayers. Israeli bulldozers also demolished a steel structure in the area belonging to the Tutah family which had been used to barn horses.
Israel demolishes foundations of 3 Jerusalem apartments
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 31 Mar — Israeli forces demolished the foundations of three apartments under construction in the Jabal al-Mukkabir neighborhood in East Jerusalem on Tuesday, locals said. Said al-Abbasi said that Israeli bulldozers escorted by armed officers demolished the foundations of the properties, which he began building four months ago. Israel’s Jerusalem municipality had issued demolition orders on the apartments, which the family only learnt about on Saturday.
Israeli forces deliver demolition notices near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Israeli forces delivered demolition notices to seven Palestinians in the village of Qasra in southern Nablus on Monday. Locals said the notices were for water wells and steel structures used for farming purposes that belong to Palestinians living near the Yash Kodesh settlement outpost … Approximately half of Qasra’s lands are classified Area B and the other half Area C, under the Oslo Accords. In Area C Israel has full civil and military control, and Palestinians require permits approved by Israeli authorities to construct. As a result of rarely approved permits, Palestinian residents are forced to build without permits and their structures are often liable to be torn down later by Israeli forces. In addition to Yash Kodesh settlement outpost, Migdalim settlement and Ahiya settlement outpost also lie in Qasra’s lands.
Palestine’s lingering water crisis
Al-Monitor 31 Mar by Ahmad Melhem — Water resources in Palestine are threatened, and in the absence of an outline for a tangible agreement with Israel, the future does not look promising — The Palestinians did not forget to celebrate World Water Day on March 22, whose theme for this year was “Water and Sustainable Development.” They dedicated this day to evaluate and assess their water situation, in light of the Israeli control over the water resources …Twenty-one years have passed since the Oslo Accord and the referral of the water matter to what has become known as final-status issues, which have not yet been discussed … Israel started controlling water resources in 1948, and began impeding the development of wells and water springs, in addition to exploiting the existing resources for the benefit of settlements and agricultural purposes at the expense of the Palestinians. In the mid-1960s, Israel began exploiting the water of the Jordan River basin that feeds the Dead Sea and diverting the water to private settlements in Negev settlements south of Palestine through the National Water Carrier; it also drained Lake Hula in northern Palestine. After Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967, Israeli control over water resources increased. This happened through preventing drilling, bridging springs and refraining from issuing licenses as the governing authority until it controlled 90% of Palestinian water resources using military orders and laws. The water issue was moved to final-status negotiations within the framework of the Oslo Accord due to its importance and complexity.
Violence / Raids / Suppression of protests / Arrests
Big turnout and high spirits at Wadi Fukin Land Day olive planting and protest
WADI FUKIN, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Khalil Team) 31 Mar — On Monday March 30th about two hundred people commemorated Land Day in the village of Wadi Fukin. The protest, which involved planting olive trees was a response to Israeli theft of village land — After midday prayer around two hundred Palestinians and internationals gathered in the village of Wadi Fukin to commemorate Land Day and support the villagers struggle against the illegal Israeli expropriation of their lands. People from Wadi Fukin, neighbouring villages and internationals started their march towards the green line carrying Palestinian flags, digging tools, playing music and singing, to where the settlement of Beitar Illit is forcibly taking over Palestinian land in order to expand. The protest continued peacefully through the small streets of Wadi Fukin and just before going to the hill above the village every protester was given an olive tree to carry. Spirits were high as protesters climbed the village hill overshadowed by the settlement expansion site and began to take back Palestinian land by planting the trees … After about ten minutes on the site 4 military jeeps arrived with more than 40 soldiers and border police. The military attacked the protesters with tear gas and stun grenades and a police helicopter began circling the area and filming the protesters from the sky. As tear gas clouds drove the protesters from their lands and down the hill, soldiers began kicking down and destroying the newly planted olive trees and flags. – Spirits kept high in spite of tear gassing – Though several people suffered from tear gas poisoning the protest continued on the hill between Wadi Fukin village and the settlement expansion on the Green Line. Alternately running from tear gas and planting trees, protesters managed to stay on the hill for an hour continuing to plant and protest.
Schoolchildren injured near Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 31 Mar — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday morning, the Teqoua‘ town, east of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and fired gas bombs causing many schoolchildren to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation. Eyewitnesses said the children were walking to school when the soldiers stormed the village, especially since their schools are on the main road. Fearing the army, the children tried to run away and avoid direct contact with the soldiers, but the soldiers fired several gas bombs, and concussion grenades, causing many to suffer the effects of tear gas inhalation.
On Monday evening, Israeli sources said a soldier was injured near Beitar Illit illegal settlement, south of Bethlehem. The sources said one soldiers was struck in the forehead by a stone thrown by one of the protesters, and suffered a mild injury.
Israel using live ammunition for Palestinian crowd control
RAMALLAH (IPS) 27 Mar by Mel Frykberg — A Palestinian youth lost his fight for life this week after lying critically injured in Ramallah Hospital for days after Israeli soldiers used live ammunition as a method of crowd control against stone-throwing Palestinians near a Palestinian refugee camp. “Ali Safi had critical injuries to his kidneys, spinal cord, lungs and spleen,” Dr Sami Naghli, who runs Jelazon refugee camp’s medical relief services, told IPS. Seventeen-year-old Safi was shot last week by an Israeli sniper armed with a Ruger rifle during clashes between Palestinian youngsters and Israeli soldiers. The bullet which hit him was a 0.22 inch calibre bullet, which is considered less lethal than ordinary bullets of 5.56 mm calibre. There has been a recent increase in the use of this kind of bullet against Palestinian demonstrators by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) despite disagreement within the Israeli military about the use of this controversial weapon for riot control when the lives of Israeli soldiers are not endangered. The head of Israel’s security department in the Operations Directorate stated in 2001 that the Ruger could not be considered a non-lethal weapon and could only be used in circumstances which justified the use of live fire … Dr Naghli told IPS that the Israeli soldiers are also using a kind of bullet which fragments on impact, causing severe trauma and damage to bones, organs and nerves, although he could not confirm if this was a 0.22 or another type. “During the last three months there have been over 40 wounded from these types of gunshots,” said Naghli. Over the last few weeks, IPS has witnessed Israeli snipers firing repeatedly at Palestinians during several clashes in the West Bank when stones thrown landed at a distance away from the soldiers presenting no danger. IPS also visited some of the wounded in Ramallah Hospital and spoke to orthopaedic surgeon Dr Ahmed Barakat who was treating them. “Many of the wounded have been shot at close range and it appears as if the soldiers are shooting to kill. In my five years as a surgeon, the situation has been getting progressively worse, especially lately,” Dr Barakat told IPS.
High Court demands decision on murder of Palestinian minor
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Mar — Israel’s High Court of Justice (HCJ) rejected earlier this week the state’s request for an extension to announce the decision of an investigation into the murder of 16-year-old Samir Awad by Israeli forces. Awad was shot three times in the back of the head, leg and shoulder as he fled Israeli forces Jan. 15, 2013 during a rally commemorating Nakba Day near the occupied West Bank village of Budrus. Footage of the incident brought widespread international criticism. The HCJ’s announcement came last week after continued attempts by the Military Advocate General and the State Attorney’s office to postpone reaching a joint decision. Such requests have continued for two years now. Ahmad Awad, Samir’s father, petitioned the HCJ with the assistance of Israeli human rights organization B’tselem in March 2014, demanding that the Military Advocate General decide whether to indict the soldiers who killed his son, or close the case file. In a court hearing on the petition Dec. 1, 2014, B’tselem reported that the judges criticized the “foot-dragging in the investigation of the case, which was so protracted that it lasted long after the soldiers involved in the incident have completed their military service.”
WATCH: Masked settlers throw stones at Israeli activists
+972 mag 29 Mar by Mairav Zonszein — Settlers from the illegal outpost Havat Maon in the southern West Bank hurled rocks at a group of Israeli activists on Saturday, just one week after a six-year old Palestinian girl was attacked and wounded in her head in the exact same place. Three settlers, who appear to be quite young, used slingshots to hurl stones at the group of activists. No one was hurt in the incident. In the video, you can hear Guy, a documentarian of the occupation and veteran activist from Ta’ayush, a Jewish-Palestinian activist group that hold weekly nonviolent activists in the occupied West Bank, calling the police to come quickly. They arrived within 10 minutes, he told +972, but didn’t make a genuine effort to find the assailants. “This is especially troubling because of how often it has been occurring, over and over. The girl who was hurt here just last week — her father was stabbed here exactly four years ago. There have been dozens of violent incidents like this, all from Havat Maon,” says Guy. This time, he added, the police appear to be taking a more active role in investigating the incident, likely due to media coverage. The Mount Hebron Regional Council told Israeli news site Walla! that they do not know the identity of the settlers and are against violence, but added that “Ta’ayush anarchists come every week with Palestinians to the area to stir provocations,” that they are “funded by foreign governments” and “intentionally edit videos to make the residents [settlers] look bad in the foreign press.”
Israeli military erects watchtower overlooking girls’ school in Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 31 Mar – The Israeli military forces Tuesday took over a Palestinian’s home which is adjacent to a local elementary girls’ school in the old town of Hebron and erected a military watchtower overlooking the school’s yard. In a press release issued by the Ministry of Education, staff from the ministry reported that large Israeli military forces deployed in the area and caused female students to panic and hampered their school day. The incident comes only months after Israeli forces raided a Palestinian high school in the northern West Bank on February 4, 2015. They stormed the facility and forced students to leave at gunpoint while detaining school staff. The incident took place near the villages of al-Sawiya and al-Lubban, to the south of Nablus.
Israel detains 25 Palestinians in Jerusalem, West Bank
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Israeli forces detained 25 Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank overnight Sunday, a prisoner rights group said. A lawyer from Addameer, Muhammad Mahmoud, told Ma‘n that Israeli forces detained 10 Palestinians across East Jerusalem [reported in the last list], including 15-year-old teenagers Abed Issa and Omar Mazen Abu Asab. In the West Bank, 11 people were detained north of Ramallah, two from Jenin, one west of Hebron and another south of Nablus. At least 14 Palestinians in the village of Abwein near Ramallah were issued summons orders.
Israeli forces detain 3 in dawn raid on northern Nablus village
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 31 Mar — Israeli forces detained three young Palestinians during a dawn raid into the village of Asira al-Shamaliya in northwestern Nablus on Tuesday. Security sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided a number of homes in the village and arrested Alaa Ali, 22, Alaa Hamid, 23, and Qais Jawabra, 22, before withdrawing from the village … The majority of the village’s population live in land classified Area A and B under the Oslo Accords, nominally giving the Palestinian Authority full civil and military control. However, Israelis regularly raid the village and arrest its residents. A large Israeli military base lies in the village’s southern lands.
Army kidnaps three Palestinians in Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 1 Apr — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, late on Tuesday evening, three young Palestinian men from Jabal al-Mukabbir, in occupied East Jerusalem, after stopping and searching their car. Media sources in Jerusalem said the soldiers stopped a car on the “Tunnel Roadblock,” south of Jerusalem, and searched it; the army alleged the car, transporting the three young Palestinian men, contained three explosive charges. The sources added that the soldiers closed the roadblock for more than two hours after locating the explosives. The army said the three Palestinians, identified as ‘Aziz Abu Sarhan, Murad Abu Sarhan and ‘Ali Obeydiyya, have been moved to the al-Maskobiyya interrogation facility, west of Jerusalem. Also on Tuesday evening, soldiers invaded Husan town, west of Bethlehem, and kidnapped a teenager, identified as Ahmad Sarhan Sabateen, 16 years of age, near the main entrance of the town.
Over 20 detained in Jerusalem in last 2 days
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 31 Mar — Israeli forces have detained over 20 Palestinians in the past two days in Jerusalem, locals and eyewitnesses told Ma‘an. On Tuesday, Israeli police detained Hijazi Abu Sbeih, Yasir Najib, Wisam Sadir, and Adli Naser al-Deen from their homes and shops in the old city. Additionally, three female Palestinian citizens of Israel were detained at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, one of whom was identified as Nahla Siam. Siam was later released and banned from Al-Aqsa for three months, while Najib and Naser al-Deen were banned for 12 days. Elsewhere, Ahmad al-Sharabati, who was recently detained, was released and banned from Al-Aqsa for 30 days. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Ma’an he had no information on any of the incidents. Tuesday’s arrests came less than two days after Israeli forces detained 10 Palestinians across East Jerusalem
Israel arrests 16 Palestinians in West Bank, East Jerusalem
WEST BANK (WAFA) 1 Apr – Israeli army and police Wednesday conducted mass arrests during predawn and night raids across the West Bank and Jerusalem, with at least 16 Palestinians reported arrested in the past 24 hours, according to local and security sources. In Jerusalem, Israeli police arrested eight local residents, who, according to Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association (ADDAMEER), were identified as Fo’ad Ebeid, Omar Wazzouz, Hazem Dejani, Malek Shweki, Yousef Abu Shousha, Aziz Abu Sarhan, Morad Abu Sarhan and Ali Abidiya. According to ADDAMEER, the latest arrests push up the number of those who were arrested during the past 48 hours to 38 Palestinians in the Jerusalem governorate alone.
Meanwhile in Jenin, 19-year-old Ahmad Salim Noursi was injured with a live bullet in the right leg during confrontations with Israeli army, which broke into the adjacent Jenin refugee camp. The army raided and searched several homes before arresting two Palestinians in the camp. Security sources said the army force which raided the camp used three locals, including a woman, as a human shield during their house raids.
In the meantime, army broke into Hebron and arrested four residents, including three students of the Palestine Polytechnic University, after raiding and searching their homes and sabotaging the furniture [meaning ‘furnishings’]. Another army force also stormed the nearby towns of Yatta, Sa‘ir and finally ‘Idna, where they raided and searched the house of Mohammad Abu Jehesha, a member of the Palestine Legislative Council. Meanwhile in Bethlehem, Israeli army stormed the village of Hosan, west of the city, and arrested Ahmad Sabatin, 16. Israeli forces also broke into the town of ‘Azzoun, east of Qalqilia, before arresting 18-year-old Anas Salim, after raiding and sabotaging the furniture of his home.
Thousands commemorate Land Day in Gaza, West Bank
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Thousands of Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza took part in marches on Monday to mark the 39th anniversary of Land Day, commemorating Palestinian protests against Israeli land seizures that were violently suppressed on Mar. 30, 1976. Marches in Gaza were called for by coalition group the National and Islamic Forces, which called for political unity to end the suffering of Palestinians across the occupied territories as well as an end to the Israeli-administered blockade of the Gaza Strip. The group also used the opportunity to call on the Palestinian political leadership to seek full Palestinian membership at the UN. Also participating in the march were Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and the Palestinian Arab Front. In a statement, the Islamic Jihad movement said that armed resistance was the only means toward ending the Israeli occupation, adding that the Israel-Palestine conflict would not end until “every inch of land in Palestine” had been freed. The Popular Resistance Committees, meanwhile, said that all differences among Palestinians should be put aside in order to face Israel and fight Israeli policy of confiscating Palestinian land and building illegal settlements. – Israeli forces suppress West Bank marches – …In Silwad in northeastern Ramallah, several more Palestinians commemorating Land Day suffered tear-gas inhalation when Israeli forces suppressed a march. Israeli soldiers reportedly assaulted protesters, firing tear-gas canisters, stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets, and targeted journalists covering the march. Witnesses also said that they fired tear-gas canisters at an elementary school, despite dozens of children still being inside the school.
Video: Palestinians in West Bank mark 39th anniv. of Land Day
NABLUS Mona Kandil, PressTV 31 March — Palestinians in the occupied West Bank have held demonstrations to commemorate the 39th anniversary of Land Day.The annual protests mark the day when Israeli forces killed six Palestinians who were protesting in 1976 against the apartheid plans to grab Palestinian land in the northern Galilee region. In Huwarra village in occupied Nablus, large numbers of Palestinians participated in the activity that was meant to stress that the Palestinians will always confront Israeli ethnic cleansing policies. The Israeli military presence boosted [?was increased] in the village of Huwara following information that the protesters were ready to go directly to the military checkpoint that separates northern West Bank from the central and the southern parts.The march turned violent when Israeli soldiers blocked the demonstrators’ access to the checkpoint. [Mustafa Barghouti, leader of the Palestinian National Inititiative and Qais Abd al-Karim of DFLP speak to Kandil briefly]
Israeli Arabs mark 39th Land Day with protests
Jerusalem Post 30 Mar by Sam Sokol & Ariel Ben Solomon — Israeli Arabs observed the annual Land Day and waved Palestinian flags on Monday with protests held in Jerusalem, the Galilee and the Negev. The Monitoring Committee of the Israeli-Arab Leadership, which organizes the protests, did not call a general strike in the Arab sector as it did last year. Land Day is held on March 30 to commemorate the deaths, in the 1976 riots, of six Galilee Arabs over a government decision to confiscate land. A major event was held in Deir Hanna in the Galilee, which included various Joint List MKs, Israeli-Arab leaders and political activists.
In Jerusalem, around 80 Arabs stood chanting slogans and waving Palestinian flags outside of the Old City’s Damascus Gate, to protest Israel’s land policies. The demonstration was “relatively calm” in the capital, police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told The Jerusalem Post, stating that only two people were arrested and that both were quickly released. “There were no major incidents,” he said. The protesters at the Damascus Gate, who according to the police had not obtained a permit, attempted to march down the street but were quickly dispersed by riot police, some mounted on horseback and others carrying launchers for gas grenades.
Every day is Land Day, on both sides of the Green Line
+972 mag 30 Mar by Edo Konrad — The word ‘occupation’ evokes the West Bank, but the policies of land expropriation and Judaization were perfected inside Israel long before they were used on Palestinians in the occupied territories — …From the founding of the state until 1966, approximately 90 percent of Palestinian citizens — those who neither fled nor were expelled during the 1948 war — were placed under a military regime. In the Galilee, the Negev and the Triangle, Palestinian citizens (who were given the right to vote in Israeli elections) were subject to a harsh permit regime, strict curfews and very often coerced collaboration (for more, see Hillel Cohen’s “Good Arabs” and Shira Robinson’s “Citizen Strangers”). It was during this time that Israel’s secular regime expropriated the land of Palestinians refugees who had fled the country as well as much of the land belonging to those who remained. Passing a swath of legislation in the 1950s under the guise of the Absentee Property Law, the new regime transferred land that had — just years earlier — belonged to Palestinians, to the Israel Land Administration. In fact much of the justifications given by Israeli authorities for building settlements in the West Bank are identical to those given for many of the new towns and cities that were built in the years following the establishment of the state. None of this could have been done without a plan for what the authorities themselves termed Yehud, or Judaization of the land. By the time military rule over Palestinian citizens was lifted in 1966 (less than a year before the Six Day War and the beginning of the occupation), much of that land had already been Judaized. Kibbutzim, moshavim, development towns and new cities were built atop destroyed Palestinian villages, often in order to prevent the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and land. Land, not rebuilding the Third Temple, became the national symbol through which Israel’s leaders could redeem their people in their ancient homeland….
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli authorities ban 5 Palestinians from Aqsa Mosque
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 31 Mar — Israeli authorities on Tuesday banned five Palestinians from Jerusalem from entering the al-Aqsa Mosque compound for periods between 10 to 90 days. Addameer prisoner rights group lawyer Ramzi Kteilat said that the Israeli magistrate court decided to release Samiha Shahin and minors Ahmad al-Husseini and Muhammad al-Zuabi from Nazareth on the condition that they be banned from entering the mosque for 60 days. They are also required to pay a personal bail and third-party bail of 5,000 shekels each. An Israeli magistrate court released 18-year-old Muhammad Buja after one week of detention under the condition that he be placed under house arrest for 30 days, banning him from entering the Old City of Jerusalem for 60 days and paying a bail of 1,000 shekels. Buja was accused of taking part in clashes against Israeli soldiers in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and the Old City. The court also released Ihab al-Jallad and sentenced him to house arrest until April 5. He is banned from driving a car for 10 days and from entering Al-Aqsa for 20 days.
99 Palestinian children currently detained in Israeli jails
IMEMC/Agencies 30 Mar — Head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society’s legal unit, Jawad Boulos, reported Monday that there are currently 99 Palestinian minors detained in Israeli jails, of whom 26 were abducted in March. During a visit to minor Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israeli jails, Boulos said that 33 minors are currently serving actual imprisonment sentences for different periods of time. He stressed that 20 children are suffering from various diseases, citing the case of child Khalid al-Sheikh, who suffers from Anemia and is still detained by the Israeli prison administration despite of his critical health condition and prompt need for medical care. Boulos affirmed that, based on the affidavits of minor prisoners, most of the arrests were made during the late night hours, where children are taken from homes and subjected to interrogation without the presence of a legal guardian as stipulated by law … According to media sources, in 2014, approximately one thousand Palestinian children were arrested by Israeli forces, often for no reason. Advocates point to systematic abuse, including physical assault and forced confessions, but the Israeli military remains steadfast….
Israel charges Palestinian with fighting with ISIS in Syria
AP 30 Mar — A Jerusalem district court has indicted a Palestinian from East Jerusalem on charges of traveling to Syria to join and fight with the Islamic State militant group. The Shin Bet security service said Khalil Khalil, born in 1990, had joined a gym at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem to physically prepare for the mission. The agency said he told his family he was going on a religious pilgrimage to Mecca, but instead, he and a friend flew to Istanbul in January and then traveled to a safe house in southern Turkey. From there, smugglers brought them to Syria. Khalil returned after a few weeks and was later arrested by the Shin Bet. It said about 40 Palestinians and Arab-Israeli citizens have gone to fight with militant groups in Syria.
Israeli forces shoot, injure 3 Palestinians in southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — Three Palestinians were shot and injured by Israeli forces in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, a medical official said Monday. Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said two youths were shot east of Khan Younis and were taken to the European Hospital for treatment of moderate injuries. A third Palestinian was shot earlier in the Absan area east of Khan Younis, where Israeli forces opened fire and shot tear gas at Palestinians, witnesses said.
Israeli soldiers come under fire near Gaza
Haaretz 31 Mar by Gili Cohen and Shirly Seidler — An Israel Defense Forces patrol came under light weapons fire from Gaza on Tuesday near the border fence at Kisufim. No one was hurt. The IDF responded with machine gun fire at what it called “suspicious locations” in the area.During the incident, the patrol force shot in the air at a Palestinian who approached the border fence; the Palestinian retreated. The military could not say whether there was a connection between the Palestinian and the fire at the IDF force. Following the incident, the IDF ordered farmers in the Gaza border communities to stop working within a kilometer of the fence, all along the border with the Strip.
Israeli navy opens fire on Gaza fishing boats
IMEMC/Agencies 1 Apr — Israeli navy ships opened fire, on Wednesday at dawn, on a number of small Palestinian fishing boats in Palestinian waters, near the Sudaniyya area, northwest of the Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses said the soldiers fired several live rounds targeting at least three fishing boats, less the two miles away from the Gaza shore, forcing all fishers back to shore. The attack is part of ongoing Israeli violations of every ceasefire agreement mediated by Egypt, and of the Oslo Accords.
In photos: Gaza fishermen ‘in God’s hands’
GAZA CITY (EI) 31 Mar by Patrick Strickland & Ezz Zanoun — Hundreds of mourners gathered outside of al-Shifa hospital to protest the killing of Tawfiq Abu Reyaleh, a 34-year-old fisherman shot by the Israeli navy just hours before. Along with his shipmates on the overnight shift, the late father of five was struck by a bullet when Israeli forces opened fire on their boat on 7 March, as they sailed within the six-nautical mile limit that Israel has imposed on Gaza’s sea vessels, according to the fishermen. Abu Reyaleh was survived by his wife and four children, who live in northern Gaza. “We just want to be like fishermen everywhere,” his mourning cousin, Emad al-Sayeed Abu Reyala, told The Electronic Intifada. “We are not asking for so much; just a basic right. Our rights are not protected — not by the world, not by the Arab countries. Our lives are in God’s hands.” “My cousin wasn’t the first fisherman to be shot by the Israelis and he won’t be the last. There isn’t a fisherman in Gaza who hasn’t been shot at,” Emad said, adding that his son was injured when Israeli naval forces shot him in December. “If there the world has a conscience, it will stop these crimes,” he said.
Israeli forces detain 3 at Erez crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 Mar — Israeli forces detained three Palestinian merchants at the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, a Palestinian liaison official said. The three had obtained merchant’s permits prior to crossing … Merchants are regularly detained at the Erez crossing, allegedly for smuggling in materials forbidden by Israel to enter the Gaza Strip. Erez is the only Israeli crossing open to people; other crossings are dedicated solely to goods. “The Erez crossing has become a trap for Gaza merchants who have newly received entry permits from Israel,” a Palestinian liaison official told Ma‘an in early March, in response to a recent increase in merchant detainment by Israel.
Journal: Khuza‘a, the farm life
KHUZA‘A, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 31 Mar by Rina Andolini — This is what conversations in Gaza consist of: I asked, “When they are shooting, what’s the best thing to do?” “Get down on the ground,” he answered, “and move away quick as you can.” It was a stupid question; I knew the answer. I guess I was hoping for a response that would ensure 100% safety for the farmers, and for myself, but of course no such answer exists. I am not an expert bullet dodger, if such a thing even exists. If you are a farmer here in Gaza, it is a good idea to become one, as the Israeli military is always shooting. Yet how do you actually avoid bullets? The truth is, you cannot. You just hope for the best. On Saturday, March 28, the Israeli forces shot a lot at the farmers in Khuza’a. No one could know exactly where the shots were coming from; no one knew where they were aiming, or whether anyone would be hit. Thankfully, that day no one was hurt. The Israeli military jeeps are clear to be seen, but many soldiers were also hiding in the watch towers and shooting from there. Israeli forces fired at least 25 to 30 shots in a span of two hours. When the first shots were fired, the farmers moved back as much as possible; as soon the shooting stopped, they returned to the lands where they were working. Then you get used to it, and continue. Where in the world do you have to get used to being shot at while farming? … The farmers need more than just three internationals to document the violations committed by the Israeli occupation military at the borders. What the farmers really need is to be able to work on their land in peace, without feeling threatened. They need to be able to work without risking losing their lives. We were 50 meters away from the border when they shot at us that morning. The Israeli military can clearly see everything that is happening – farming, and nothing more. So why do they still shoot?
Israel still holding 19 bodies of Palestinian fighters killed in Gaza war
Haaretz 1 Apr by Gili Cohen — The IDF declines to say whether it seeks to swap for the body of a soldier killed in a bitter battle in Gaza City — Israel is holding the bodies of 19 Palestinian militants killed during Operation Protective Edge last summer, according to a human rights group that obtained the information from the Defense Ministry. In October, the Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual queried the Defense Ministry on the matter under the Freedom of Information Act. It asked how many Palestinian bodies the ministry was holding, if they had been identified and where they were buried. Last week Hamoked was told by the Israel Defense Forces that 18 bodies had been buried in Israel on July 23, in the middle of the war. That was just a few days after the attack on an armored personnel carrier in Gaza City in which seven Givati fighters were killed, among them Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul, whose body was never found. This raises the question of whether Israeli soldiers were ordered to transfer Palestinian bodies to Israel in order to negotiate for information on Shaul’s remains. The IDF declined to comment on this aspect, and in the past government spokespeople, when addressing Israel’s policy on burying dead Palestinian fighters, have said “Israel does not trade in bodies.” Bodies of militants, however, have been exchanged for prisoners several times. Of the 19 Palestinians, one was buried in October, though no reason has been given for the delay. The IDF declined to give the location of the graves, citing “information security.” As for their identity, IDF sources said the Military Rabbinate had “data that could make it easier to identify the bodies,” but that “no firm identification had been made.”
Last summer’s Israeli aggression is sending Gaza back to the Middle Ages
GAZA, Occupied Palestine (ISM) 31 Mar by Miguel Hernández — Zionist colonisers destroy the tools for self-sufficiency of Palestinians in Gaza — Months after the last massive Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip, thanks to the social and independent media, everyone has read news and seen pictures of the attacks from the zionist regime against residential buildings, United Nations shelter-schools, hospitals, ambulances, mosques, churches and thousands of family homes. However, little has been said about the almost complete destruction of Gaza’s industry and economy. As the Israeli Minister of Interior Eli Yishai said, the objective of the last operation was to “send Gaza back to the Middle Ages, destroying all of its infrastructure.” One of the more terrible blows committed towards this end has been the total destruction of the Beit Hanoun industrial area. There were around 50 factories in Beit Hanoun, from which only three have been able to resume work seven months after the end of the assault. The factories in this industrial area provided work for 25% to 30% of Gaza’s population. Among the destroyed factories are those for paper, construction materials, clothing, medical equipment, plastic products, food and livestock products. The agricultural industry has also been wounded by Israel’s summer attacks on Gaza….
Rafah in dire need of central hospital
RAFAH, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 30 Mar by Rasha Abu Jalal — Activists have begun a campaign calling for construction of a bigger hospital in Gaza’s Rafah, where the only hospital has been unable to meet the needs of the residents in times of peace and war —…Atef Hout, director of the Abu Youssef al-Najjar Hospital, believes that, had the medical capabilities been available, it would have been possible to save more lives [in the latest war]. “The absence of a central hospital in the city has resulted in the death of many wounded,” he told Al-Monitor. “The hospital was initially established to be a center for primary care. During the Palestinian uprising in 2000, it was turned into a hospital as more departments were opened to handle emergencies. Yet, it still lacks important departments, such as an intensive care unit, and it only includes two operating rooms. This equipment is not enough to meet the needs of the city’s population in times of peace, let alone in times of war,” Hout said. He emphasized the need to establish a central hospital in Rafah, which has a land area of 55 square kilometers (34 square miles). “To provide the 230,000 people living in Rafah with quality health services, a hospital equipped with at least 230 beds must be built,” Hout said. “The hospital I am managing is the only one in the city. It covers an area of 4,000 square meters, with a total of 60 beds distributed over all the departments.”
The students juggling drugs, books and resistance in Gaza
Middle East Monitor 25 Mar — No matter how pessimistic the prospects may seem to Palestinians, parents in Palestine refuse to give up on educating their children. Education is valued as a step to resisting Israel’s brutal occupation, in addition to being an important tradition for generations. In Gaza, 93% of children are in primary education. The average enrollment rate drops to 67% at secondary level, with around a 75% enrollment rate for girls and a 59% enrollment rate for boys (many are sent to work earlier to support their families). Even after the last attack on Gaza in the summer of 2014, over half a million children bravely returned to their schools which were scarred with the marks of war. However, Palestinians in Gaza face a further challenge when it comes to education; the impact of psychological trauma. Children endure a siege which has prevented basic humanitarian supplies from entering Gaza and those aged six and above have lived through three wars. The latest psychological assessment amongst students in Gaza by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2010 showed that 60% of primary school children were constantly angry. After the 2012 attacks, cases of children suffering from PTSD spiked to 92%. … The stress on teachers has also been heightened with the extra responsibility of supporting increasingly traumatised children, as well as dealing with their own personal trauma.
Egypt border guards uncover ‘longest’ Gaza tunnel
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 29 Mar — Egyptian border guards claimed Sunday to have uncovered a 2.8 km [1.74 miles] long tunnel under the yards of three homes in Rafah near the Gaza border. Egyptian military sources told Ma‘an that the tunnel was three meters underground and was being used to smuggle people, ammunition, weapons and goods. They said it was the longest tunnel uncovered between Egypt and the Gaza Strip since the start of operations near the border to crack down on smuggling. Earlier this month, the Egyptian army said it had demolished over 1,000 houses in Rafah as part of the second stage of the establishment of a buffer zone along the border. After a bombing killed more than 30 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai in October 2014, the military stepped up the campaign to build the buffer zone amid accusations of Hamas support for the group that carried out the attack, which Hamas has strenuously denied … The border area used to be host to hundreds of tunnels which Gazans used to import goods to get around the seven-year-old Israeli siege of the territory.
Video: Palestine-Hong Kong hip-hop collaboration ‘Gaza Open Your Heart’
EI 30 Mar by Ali Abunimah — I’ve long been a fan of Palestinian hip-hop duo Revolution Makers, brothers Osama and Mohammed Elsusi, ever since I heard them perform live in Gaza City in 2013. Their latest video is a collaboration with Hong Kong musician Barry Lam. Switching between English, Arabic and Chinese — with English subtitles throughout –“Gaza Open Your Heart” is musically upbeat. But the lyrics reflect the harsh realities of Gaza under siege, especially since Israel’s summer attack. – Giving up on Gaza – I found this lyric a poignant reminder that the siege of Gaza, where half of the 1.8 million residents are aged 18 or younger, destroys the possibilities that the rest of the world takes for granted: ‘My dreams are so modest, and it’s no sin if they are realized. The sin is to kill the dreams that you can achieve. That’s enough. I’m done. For my dreams always turn into dust. I am emigrating because I need to live, to dream, to fly. But I promise to remember you [Gaza], and you will always be in my heart, and I’ll always ask God to protect you.’
Meet the Gaza rapper trying to break out and make it big
[includes video of ‘My Extraordinary Homeland’] GAZA CITY (Global Post) 28 Mar by Laura Dean — Before he found rap, Ibrahim Ghunaim’s favorite thing in the world to do was shooting. “I was on my way to jihadism,” he says. If it hadn’t been for rap, he might have joined “the resistance” and taken up arms against Israel. But it wasn’t to be. He discovered his passion at 13 years old, after attending a rap concert. After that he took to the internet to learn everything about it. He found Eminem and went from there. “At first I started doing it as a kind of challenge, and then I found I couldn’t stop,” says Ghunaim, who goes by the stage name MC Gaza. It’s not easy being a rapper in Gaza. In such a socially conservative society, there is little understanding of, or appreciation for, the art form. “People here think that rap is haram [un-Islamic],” he says. “They think that we are acting like the West.” “There are only two stages in Gaza and I’m not allowed to perform at either because the organizers don’t like rap. They say rap is not allowed. That it’s not art.” … A lot of Ghoneim’s work focuses on the problems Palestinians face more broadly. His song “Law Ba3raf” (“If I knew”), is an indictment of the failure of the Palestinian leadership in Gaza – Hamas – and the West Bank – the more secular Fatah – to resolve their political differences.
PA provides financial support to 15,000 displaced Gazans
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Mar — The Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs announced on Monday that approximately 15,000 families whose homes were destroyed during last summer’s Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip are to receive financial support for a year. The ministry’s Gaza undersecretary, Yousef Ibrahim, said the project was being financed by international donors and would provide home owners with 1,000 ($250) to 1,500 ($378) shekels per month. Ibrahim said the project was first presented two months ago, when Minister of Civil Affairs Shawki al-Ayasa made his second visit to Gaza.
Freedom Flotilla III will sail during the first half of 2015
TUNIS (Freedom Flotilla Coalition) 30 Mar — Former Tunisian President affirms that he will be on board — Representatives of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) and partner organizations traveled to Tunis last week where they participated in the World Social Forum. During the WSF they met with several Palestinian and Tunisian civil society organizations. FFC representatives were also received by Dr. Moncef Marzouki, former President of Tunisia and renowned Human Rights defender. During the meeting Dr. Marzouki gave FFC his full support and confirmed that he will be on board of one of Freedom Flotilla III (FF3) ships. The week was concluded with an internal FFC and partners meeting during which the FFC points of unity were reconfirmed. The group agreed that FF3 will sail, as planned, within the first half of 2015, with at least three ships.
Gaza man ‘duped’ into selling Banksy work
[with photos] AP 1 Apr — A man in Gaza says he has been duped into selling a valuable work by British graffiti artist Banksy for less than £120 to a local artist. The street artist is believed to have sneaked into Gaza earlier this year, leaving behind four murals, including one drawn on a metal door that depicted the Greek goddess Niobe cowering against the rubble of a destroyed house. The painting, titled Bomb Damage, was drawn on a door, the last remaining part of a two-storey house belonging to the Dardouna family in northern Gaza. Unaware of the work’s value, Rabie Dardouna, 33, said on Tuesday that he was tricked into selling the door to an eager local artist for just 700 shekels, or about £118. Banksy’s works have been valued as high as hundreds of thousands of pounds. “I did not know that it was this valuable. I heard it can be sold for millions,” Dardouna said. “Now I want the door back.” The Gaza artist who bought the door, Belal Khaled, said he did not mean to trick anyone. He said he just wanted to protect the painting and had no intention of profiting. “I bought the painting to protect its artistic value and preserve it from damage,” Khaled told the Associated Press. “Another reason is to display it in other places as well. I don’t have any monetary interest in this.” He said he has been in touch with Banksy’s representatives, hoping to get clearance to showcase the mural in Gaza art exhibitions.
Solar lights help Gaza’s young do homework at night
UNRWA 28 Mar — Portable solar lights, recently distributed amid ongoing power shortages, have done much to improve the living conditions of Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip who are still living in UNRWA collective centres some six months since the end of the July/August 2014 conflict. In Khan Younis, in the southern region of Gaza, Ala’ Al-Jikhlib, an UNRWA Collective Centre Manager, is carefully counting a delivery of solar lights. The portable lights are a gift from Japanese NGO Japan Asia Cultural Exchanges (JACE), and via UNRWA will be handed to 56 Palestine refugee families whose homes were destroyed in the recent conflict and who are still living in emergency accommodation across three collective centres in the region. It has been an eager wait since Ala’ first heard of the donation, and he is excited that the lights have finally made their way into Gaza. Power outages are constant across the Strip.
Fighting Hamas with foliage along Gaza border
Ynet 31 Mar by Matan Tzuri — Israel is planting trees along its border with Gaza as a way of protecting the communities in the area from the Islamist group Hamas that controls the coastal strip. The forestation project along the border has resumed for the first time since the end of Operation Protective Edge last summer … Anyone walking in the area at the moment cannot miss the heavy equipment and dozens of staff working on planting new trees, young and old, in order to hide exposed areas. The project applies to several dozen kibbutzim in the Shaar Hangev and Eshkol regional councils that border the Gaza Strip. The kibbutzim are not only exposed to sniper and mortar fire, but also provide the terrorist organizations in Gaza with “markers” for the area. The joint project between the IDF and Jewish National Funds runs to an estimate NIS 13 million … The project was launched before the fighting began last summer, but in the wake of the conflict, several weak points were spotted where it was decided to plant trees … Trees are used not only to protect the communities near Gaza, but also for the train line. A few weeks after Protective Edge began, Israel started planting trees along the railway tracks on the Ashkelon-Sderot route, to protect the train from attack by Gaza missile fire. [hmm, what about all that talk of Hamas using Google Earth to locate targets?]
Racism / Discrimination
Israeli government spreads racist caricature of Arabs on Facebook, Twitter
EI 30 Mar by Ali Abunimah — Despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s supposed apology for his incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel during Israel’s recent election campaign, his government continues to spread anti-Arab hatred. Israel’s verified Arabic-language Twitter and Facebook accounts, titled “Israel speaks Arabic,” published the above caricature on Sunday, which asks “Which is better, relying on yourself, or relying on someone else?” It includes two stereotyped and demeaning figures, one representing a Japanese person, and the other an Arab. The headline says “Attitudes to work.” The text next to each figure, respectively, states: ‘The Japanese attitude to work: “If there is someone else who can do a job, then I can do it too. And if there is no one else to do the job, then without doubt I will do it.” The Middle Eastern attitude to work: If there is someone else to do a job, then let them do it. And if no one else can do it, then dude, how do you think I can do it?!”’ In Israel, stereotypes of Arabs – often the lowest paid, least protected and most exploited workers – as lazy, reflect the kind of racist attitudes toward natives prevalent in other settler societies. This is also reflective of the anti-Arab attitudes taught to Israeli Jewish schoolchildren from the youngest age. One Facebook user, Magdy C Nashed, responded sarcastically to the Israeli government’s question about self-reliance with the comment: “Then why do you rely on America?”
Israeli city with 19% Arab population has no Arabic library books
Haaretz 31 Mar by Gili Isikovich — Two residents file formal complaint over libraries in Upper Nazareth having books in Hebrew, Russian, English, Spanish and French, but not one in Arabic — … Moreover, Upper Nazareth’s libraries offer a range of enrichment activities for children, but few are conducted in Arabic for the estimated 2,000 native, Arabic-speaking young people in town. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which filed the petition on behalf of the two residents, said that for some three years it has been in contact with the Upper Nazareth municipality and with the Ministry of Culture and Sport about this situation. In response, the municipality announced that efforts are under way to establish a separate library for the city’s Arab population at a community center in the Kramim neighborhood. However, ACRI claims that the collection currently consists of books filling a single set of shelves, adding that, even if it were more substantial, “residents are insistent in their demand that Arabic [volumes] be integrated into the other public libraries in the city.”
Dome of the Rock erased from kindergarten’s Haggadah
Ynet 31 Mar by Itzchak Tessler — A Passover Hagaddah handed out to children in a municipal kindergarten in the northern town of Kiryat Tivon includes a picture of the Western Wall without the Dome of the Rock behind it. Ofir Spiegler ran across the picture when his daughter brought the Hagaddah home before the Passover vacation. He discovered that the page which says “Next year in a rebuilt Jerusalem” includes a picture of the Western Wall with the Temple Mount and trees behind it. The Dome of the Rock, a Muslim mosque famous for its large golden dome, is nowhere to be seen. “As a parent, it shocks me that such a thing is distributed in the public education system,” he said. His daughter’s kindergarten, Gan Hatzav, is a secular kindergarten supervised by the local council and Education Ministry. On Saturday, Spiegler posted the picture on his Facebook page. Some people commented that the picture had been taken from an angle in which the Dome of the Rock cannot be seen, while others posted photos indicating that the picture had been digitally altered … This isn’t the first time that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is erased from publications. In several cases in the past, the Dome of the Rock was erased from pictures of the Western Wall in religious booklets, evoking harsh responses.
Other news / Opinion / Analysis
Palestinian Authority becomes member of International Criminal Court
THE HAGUE (AP) 1 Apr — The Palestinian Authority has become a member of the international criminal court and is marking the momentous occasion with a low-key ceremony at the court’s headquarters. Palestinians signed the court’s founding treaty in January and it came into force on Wednesday, an event welcomed by activists who see it as an opportunity to bring accountability to years of conflict with Israel. Israel is not a member of the ICC, but the country’s military and civilian leaders could now face charges if they are believed to have committed crimes on Palestinian territory. The court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, opened a preliminary investigation in mid-January after the Palestinians formally accepted the court’s jurisdiction dating back to just before last year’s Gaza conflict.
Palestine ICC entry to shake up peace process
Al Jazeera 31 Mar by James Reini— Al Jazeera examines what to expect when Palestine officially joins the International Criminal Court on April 1 — Against the backdrop of Benjamin Netanyahu’s election win and the Israeli prime minister’s stated rejection of a two-state solution, Palestine will soon join the International Criminal Court (ICC), in a move expected to shake up a moribund peace process. Frustrated by slow progress towards a deal with Israel, Palestinians have embarked on diplomatic efforts to “internationalise” their plight by securing UN recognition in 2012 and by joining the ICC, a war crimes tribunal based in The Hague, on Wednesday. Al Jazeera spoke with ICC officials and other experts about whether to expect alleged Israeli or Palestinian war criminals in the dock any time soon, and whether it could reshape a struggle that has confounded peace negotiators for decades.
Haniyeh: Hamas not seeking to establish a Palestinian state in Gaza
Middle East Monitor 31 Mar — Hamas Deputy Leader Ismail Haniyeh denied claims that his movement is seeking to establish a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip, Anadolu Agency reported. “Hamas is not seeking to establish a Palestinian state in Gaza strip but to liberate the whole of Palestine from the Israeli occupation,” Haniyeh said during a seminar marking Palestinian Land Day on March, 30. He added: “Hamas is working to end the siege on the Gaza Strip and rebuild what has been destroyed by the recent Israeli war.” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday warned during the Arab League summit of attempts to establish a Palestinian state in Gaza via a long-term truce between Hamas and Israel.
West Bank celebrates Palm Sunday — Video
Reuters 29 Mar — Hundreds of people gather in the West Bank on Sunday to mark the beginning of Holy Week. Carrying palm fronds and branches, worshipers sing and chant as they commemorate the day the Bible says Jesus rode into Jerusalem. Christian Palestinians observed the day by walking to the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem.
PA refuses to take unaudited tax revenues
IMEMC/Agencies 31 Mar — Palestinian governmental spokesperson Ihab Bseiso, Monday, assured that, “Until now we haven’t received any money, nor have we officially been informed of anything.” The Palestinian Finance Ministry stated that the deductions made by Israel to cover services provided to the Palestinians haven’t been ‘agreed upon’ and constitute ‘an unjustified and illegal procedure that could cause complications’. PNN reports that the ministry affirmed a transfer of the tax revenues is not a favor from the Israeli government, and that the Palestinian government rejects any unilateral deductions outside the relevant calculation mechanism. It viewed the deductions, which were not made in a transparent and fair manner, to constitute a continuation of the Israeli policy of reprisals against the Palestinian people and called on the international community to pressurize Israel into releasing the total sum of the withheld tax revenues.
Saudi Arabia contributes $60 million to PA budget
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Mar — Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Egypt said Tuesday that the Saudi development fund had transferred a total of $60 million for January, February and March to the Palestinian Authority’s budget. Ambassador Ahmad Qattan said in a statement that the amount of $60 million covers $20 million for each month. Qattan said the Saudi government had always supported the Palestinian cause and would continue to do so.
Israel to indefinitely imprison asylum seekers who refuse deportation
+972 mag 31 Mar by Mairav Zonszein — In a move unprecedented in Western countries, Israel’s outgoing interior minister announces plan to compel asylum seekers to leave the country. Israel’s High Court has repeatedly struck down laws that authorized the indefinite detention of asylum seekers — Asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea will face deportation to third countries or face unlimited imprisonment in Israel under a new Interior Ministry policy set to be implemented in the coming days. Israel will provide asylum seekers 30 days notice, at the end of which, if one refuses to leave, they will face indefinite detention, according to a statement released by the ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority on Tuesday. The two countries are said to be Rwanda and Uganda, though Israel has not divulged the information. Up until now, Israel has exerted pressure on asylum seekers to leave by holding them in the Holot detention facility and offering them cash to leave, either back to their home country or a third country. But it always required their written consent. The new policy would be entirely coercive: either they leave, or face indefinite imprisonment.
Netanyahu’s ‘no-Palestinian-state’ vow raises questions about security coordination
JAMMA‘IN, West Bank (McClatchy) 30 Mar by Daniella Cheslow — Khawla Zeitawi is pregnant with twins, and her husband is not at her side. Instead, her husband, Jasser Abu Omar, is in an Israeli prison, accused of being part of a terrorist cell that crafted explosives in a Nablus apartment. Zeitawi asserts that her husband is innocent, jailed on bad information from Palestinian law enforcement as part of ongoing security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. “Security coordination is treason,” Zeitawi said in her home in Jamma‘in, a village near Nablus in the West Bank. “The Palestinian Authority is giving Israel a service for free.” Since the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994, its security organizations have worked closely with Israel to share intelligence, arrest suspected militants and limit demonstrations in the West Bank. That cooperation was suspended during a Palestinian uprising known as the second Intifada, but has been a robust part of life in the West Bank since 2007 – and a lightning rod for complaints among the Palestinian public for almost as long … “Netanyahu’s recent actions and policies have caused the Palestinian Authority to review the last 20 years of negotiations with the Israelis,” said Akram Rajoub, a former head of security in Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority is headquartered, and the current governor of Nablus. “Is it worth it to continue with security coordination if we do not arrive at a state?” Sixty percent of Palestinians say the answer is no, according to a poll published last week by Khalil Shikaki of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah. Yet nearly the same number doubt their leadership would actually drop the agreement, even though the PLO vote authorized Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to make the decision.
Hamas accused of war crimes for airport rockets
JTA 31 Mar — A Tel Aviv-based NGO filed a war crimes complaint in the United States against Hamas leaders over the group’s firing of rockets at Ben Gurion Airport last summer. The Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center filed the complaint with the Department of Justice on Tuesday on behalf of 26 U.S. citizens who were at the airport near Tel Aviv at the time of the attack on July 22. The attack, for which Hamas has claimed responsibility, took place during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in Gaza. The complainants, who come from several U.S. states as well as Israel, said they were forced to take cover in bomb shelters at the airport during and after the attack. Several U.S. planes also were on the ground at the airport at the time. Several Hamas leaders are named in the lawsuit, including its head, Khaled Meshal. The complaint, addressed to the U.S. attorney general, details why each of the Hamas leaders named is liable for prosecution. Hamas targeted Ben Gurion all summer, according to the complaint, and warned airlines not to fly there on Aug. 20, when the terror group said it would again target the airport.