Violence / Clashes / Incursions / Suppression of protests / Arrests – West Bank & Jerusalem
Israeli forces break the arm of a Palestinian man at peaceful protest, Beit Ummar
[with VIDEO, photos] BEIT UMMAR, Occupied Palestine 30 May by ISM, Khalil Team — Today in Beit Ummar, just north of Al Khalil (Hebron), Israeli forces broke the arm of local activist Yousif Abu Maria, and then arrested him. Yousif was protesting with a group of around 30 local Palestinian activists outside an illegal Israeli settlement. While the police and military attempted to arrest Yousif he was subjected to excessive violence that resulted in his arm being broken. Israeli occupation forces continued to violently arrest him even though his cries of pain were obvious. At 10.30 am the group drove to the gate of the Beit Al Baraka building. Roughly four years ago the old hospital and church complex was purchased by the right-wing Israeli Zionist group Israeli Land Fund, under the guise of a Christian refurbishment organisation. Aryeh King, director and founder of Israeli Land Fund, had bought the property to support the illegal expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank. On reaching the complex the Palestinian activists marched to the front gate chanting for a free Palestine. The Palestinians were joined by many Israeli and international activists. Seconds after arriving, over 20 border police, police and military, quickly surrounded the group. The occupation forces then began pushing people back with their rifles. Yousif was injured and thrown to the floor. An Israeli activist then attempted to pull him away from the violence, but was also assaulted and pepper sprayed in the eyes. Both Yousif and the Israeli activists were dragged away to the military jeeps parked nearby, but Yousif was then arrested and the Israeli activists was released without any repercussions.
Jenin: IOF abduct child, attack others
JENIN (PIC) 31 May — A number of Palestinian civilians choked on tear gas while a youngster was kidnapped by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) in the clashes that rocked Jenin’s town of Ya‘bad at dawn Sunday. Eyewitnesses said clashes flared up in Ya‘bad town, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, after the Israeli occupation forces attacked a group of unarmed Palestinian protesters with heavy spates of bullet fire and tear gas canisters. The Palestinian young protesters responded to the attack by hurling stones at the Israeli occupation troops. Eyewitnesses said a number of Palestinian civilians sustained breathing difficulties due to heavy gas inhalation while others were aggressively beaten by the Israeli soldiers stationed across the area. The Israeli assault culminated in the abduction of the 14-year-old Palestinian minor Yussef Burhan Turkman.
Israeli cops, settlers harass Palestinian children, attack family in O. J’lem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 31 May — A horde of Israeli fanatic settlers, escorted by border cops, on Saturday evening attacked and injured a Palestinian family living in Jerusalem’s Old City after the latter protested the abuse of their children. Family member Ahmad Jaber said in a press statement clashes burst out after Israeli border police, who have seized the second floor of the family’s multi-story apartment in al-Sa‘diya neighborhood, harassed a group of Palestinian children. The heavily-armed Israeli soldiers attacked the Jaber family and the other natives of al-Sa‘diya quarter with randomly-shot barrages of rubber bullets and pepper gas. The family members had also been heavily beaten by the Israeli officers and vandals as they voiced their protest over the abuse of their children. 45-year-old Tawfiq Jaber and his elderly mother, reportedly in her 60’s of age, along with his wife and two sons, sustained injuries and bruises in the assault.
Settlers set Palestinian home on fire
AL KHALIL, Occupied Palestine 31 May by ISM Khalil Team — Around 12 PM Saturday night the 30th/31st of May, Imad Abu Shamsiyeh woke up to the sound of stones being thrown at his home, in Tel Rumeida, Al Khalil (Hebron). This is not at all out of the ordinary for the Abu Shamsiyeh family – they are often harassed, sometimes daily, and attacked by Israeli settlers. As he went out of his house to see what was going on, Imad discovered that part of his house had been set on fire by Settlers. He saw the six young Israeli settlers escaping from his roof, as he went back into his house to get his wife and kids out of the burning building. The settlers – all appearing to be in their early twenties – accessed the roof of Imad’s house and poured gasoline down one side. They then proceeded to set the whole area ablaze including a sofa situated in the terrace. Accompanied by neighbors Imad put out the fire. Afterwards, he approached Israeli soldiers who had been positioned nearby his house when the incident occurred and asked what they had witnessed. The soldiers answered by accusing him of starting the fire. The day after, (31st May), Imad went to the police station to report what had happened. Despite the fact that this was far from the first time the family had been violently attacked by Israeli settlers, the police discarded the report as a minor issue, and did not follow up on the case. As mentioned previously, the Abu Shamsiyeh family have been victims of multiple incidents of settler violence. Only two months ago settlers poisoned the water tank on top of the house. This water tank is the source of all of the family’s water supply. As a result of frequent settler violence, including stone throwing, the family has put a fence up over the top of their terrace to protect themselves. Imad Abu Shamsiyeh is a volunteer in the B’Tselem campaign for documenting the violation and harassment carried out by soldiers and settlers in the West Bank.
Several hours before the house burning, he reported a knife attack by settlers against Palestinians youths in Tel Rumeida.
Perpetrator unknown: The systemic failure to investigate settler violence
+972 blog 30 May by Yossi Gurvitz, written for Yesh Din — With such an overwhelming number of investigations into Israeli citizens attacking Palestinians in the West Bank closed due to ‘perpetrator unknown,’ one has to wonder why the police have such a hard time finding suspects — At the center of a new Yesh Din report, Mock Enforcement, is a depressing piece of data: the Israel Police’s fail in 85.3 percent of investigations into Israelis who harm Palestinians in the West Bank. The report, which which deals with Israel’s continued failure to enforce the law on Israeli civilians in the West Bank, examined 996 cases closed by the police, and found that the main reason cited for closing them is “UP” – unknown perpetrator. Five-hundred-and-ninety-three of the cases examined were closed for that reason, which means the police did not find suspects who committed the crime. The UP clause is the official reason police give explaining their decision to close the cases. Israel Police directives allow for nine reasons for closing an investigative case, among them: lack of criminal culpability, inadequate evidence, the suspect is a minor, and, of course, unknown perpetrator. Every time a case is closed due to UP, the question arises: just how hard the did the police search for the guilty party? An examination of a series of cases shows that, all too often, the investigation was incomplete at best. At worse, it was farcical. Let’s look at some examples, since there are some facts that simply cannot be conveyed by numbers.
Palestinian official slams Israel’s stone-throwing bill
Al Jazeera 31 May — Adoption of a bill by Israeli cabinet ministers aimed at imposing tougher penalties on stone-throwers is the latest discriminatory measure by Israel, singling out Palestinians, a Palestinian diplomat has told Al Jazeera. The draft law stipulates 10 years in jail for stone-throwers without the need to prove the defendant’s intention to harm anyone. “When it comes to the Palestinians and Israelis, Israel has two different judicial systems. One is applicable to Israeli citizens and the other for Palestinians,” Maen Rashid Areikat, the chief of Palestinian Liberation Organisation Delegation in Washington DC, told Al Jazeera. “I don’t think it [the bill] will have any effect on Israelis, because it is, in terms of content, only applicable to Palestinians. It is discriminatory, singling out Palestinians.” The draft law in question that won preliminary parliamentary approval late last year allowed for sentences of up to 20 years in jail for throwing a rock with the intent of causing bodily harm … Currently, Israeli prosecutors usually seek sentences of no more than three months in jail for rock-throwing that does not result in serious injury. As a result of the legislation committee’s decision, the amended draft law can now be fast-tracked through parliament, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government controls 61 of its 120 seats.
Overnight clashes in ‘Issawiya town
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 30 May — Overnight clashes broke out when Israeli forces stormed ‘Issawiya town east of occupied Jerusalem and arrested a number of residents. Eyewitnesses said that Israeli forces tried to break into a number of neighborhoods before being confronted by local youths who used Molotov cocktails and fireworks. The clashes lasted till the early morning hours, the sources said. Israeli forces heavily and randomly fired tear gas bombs and rubber bullets at the Palestinian youths. Earlier Friday, the Israeli Police Forces arrested five Palestinians including two women at a makeshift checkpoint erected at the southern entrance to ‘Issawiya town.
Israeli truck driver feared kidnapped found
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 May — Israeli forces on Sunday afternoon sealed the Nablus district after contact was lost with an Israeli truck driver who was initially feared kidnapped, but later resurfaced. Hebrew-language news site NRG reported that Israeli security officials had been worried the driver may have been kidnapped by Palestinians, claiming that his truck was found near an Israeli settlement in the Nablus district. However, an Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed that contact had been regained with the driver and no incidents had been reported. Israeli forces had earlier closed the military checkpoints of Huwwara, Beit Iba and Zaatara in the northern West Bank to traffic and deployed heavily as they searched for the truck driver.
Report: Palestinian protesters use snake against Israeli forces
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 May — Palestinian protesters in the Silwad town north of Ramallah allegedly used a snake to fight Israeli forces firing tear-gas bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets during clashes in the area on Friday, Israeli media reported. Israeli news website Ynet reported on what it identified as “the new Palestinian weapon”: a large snake tied with a rope to an Israeli military concrete barricade. Israeli forces reportedly found the snake on their way to a barricade set up earlier for their protection. Apparently, both the Palestinians and the soldiers thought that the snake was poisonous, but after tests conducted by Israeli authorities, the snake was identified as hemorrhois nummifer, a non-venomous species of which there are around 27 varieties in Palestine.
Israeli forces detain 4 Palestinians from East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 1 June — Israeli forces detained four Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem in raids across the city on Monday. A lawyer for prisoners’ rights group Addameer, Muhammad Mahmoud, said Israeli forces had detained Amer al-Abbasi, Khalil Odeh, Muhammad al-Jaabari and Udayy Khuweis, adding that they had been transferred to the Russian Compound police station for interrogation. Israeli forces also reportedly detained 15-year-old Muhammad Jabr al-Abbasi while he was heading to school early Monday. Occupied East Jerusalem has been tense for months, particularly due to Israel’s ongoing policy of settlement expansion. In the second half of 2014, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel reported that over 1,184 Palestinians were detained in occupied East Jerusalem, including 406 children, with indictments submitted against 338 of those arrested.
HIzb al-Tahrir says PA arrested 10 West Bank members
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 May — The political group Hizb al-Tahrir said on Saturday that Palestinian Authority security services had arrested 10 of its members across the West Bank. Hizb al-Tahrir, which translates as Party of Liberation, said in a statement that their members had been arrested over speeches delivered in West Bank mosques following Friday prayers that condemned a PA decision to ban a party conference that was going to be held in Ramallah. Hizb al-Tahrir is a pan-Islamic political organization which was founded in Jerusalem in 1953 with the goal of uniting all Muslims into a united state with an elected Caliph at its head. They regularly promote their ideas through speeches in mosques or issuing statements following Friday prayer or at other large Muslim gatherings.
Mavi Marmara attack remembered in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Anadolu Agency) 30 May — Scores of Palestinians on Saturday marked the anniversary of a deadly attack by the Israeli navy on a Turkish aid flotilla that sought to break the siege on the Gaza Strip in 2010. Ten activists were killed on board of the Turkish aid flotilla Mavi Marmara in May of 2010 when Israel’s navy attacked the ship as it sought to break Gaza’s blockade that has been in place since 2007. Mehmet Kaya, the representative of the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation which organized the event, said the people who gathered on Saturday only wanted to remember their brothers who were killed in 2010 in their attempt to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. The blood of the martyrs of Mavi Marmara will not go in vain,” Kaya told Anadolu Agency. He said his foundation would not stop supporting the Palestinian people, calling on the Palestinians to stay united in order to liberate their country. Senior Hamas figure, Bassem Naeem, meanwhile, said the Mavi Marmara attack was “seminal” in the history of the Islamic nation. He called for bringing Israel to court for killing the Turkish activists on board of the Turkish aid ship and also committing crimes against the Palestinian people for decades. Naeem said Turkey had contributed millions of dollars in support for the Palestinian people and also offered political, diplomatic and media support. [See photos from Middle East Monitor here]
Tobacco smuggling through Egypt declines as business in Gaza dries up
GAZA (Xinhua) 30 May — Mohamed, a Palestinian from the southern Gaza town of Rafah, risked his life as he spends the whole night moving new shipment of smuggled tobacco from a tunnel underneath the borders between southern Gaza Strip and Egypt. While the thin and short 37-year-old man worked, the noise of gunshots and sometimes blasts could be clearly heard from the Egyptian side of the borders that are under the excessive Egyptian army observation … Mohamed, who declined to give his last name, said that amid the new Egyptian army military and security tactics, “smugglers get smarter and create their own smuggling tactics and tricks, either in digging new tunnels or inventing new methods of smuggling.” Mohamed’s main job is to smuggle cigarettes and other kinds of tobacco. He said that after hundreds of tunnels were destroyed, only 10 percent of tunnels are still operating now. Smugglers have to find new ways to earn money. “In the past, we used to dig large tunnels with wider mouth, but now we put into the tunnel a plastic tube with narrow diameter which is barely enough to insert a pack of cigarette. The tube can hold dozens of cigarettes packs. Then, I pull the tube and collect the shipment of cigarettes,” said Mohamed.
‘Solidarity tax’ imposed by Hamas forces rise in Gaza’s grocery prices
GAZA STRIP (EI) 30 May by Rami Almegari — Already suffering from high levels of poverty, unemployment and a suffocating siege, the Palestinian people of Gaza are now facing higher grocery bills. Hamas, the party in charge of Gaza’s administration, has pushed up prices by imposing a so-called solidarity tax on imported goods. The move — which went into effect in April — has been presented as necessary to cover public sector wages. But it has drawn severe criticism from both traders and their customers. Um Muhammad, a woman in her sixties, expressed the frustration of many Gaza residents while out shopping in the markets of Beach refugee camp. The new prices, she said, have meant she has to sell powdered milk provided by the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA), in order to buy groceries. “I can barely afford to buy vegetables,” she said. Um Muhammad was seeking food for her son Muhammad and his family. Muhammad is a fisherman, who often only has one day’s work per week. The tax has resulted in the prices of some goods jumping ten percent.
Israel allows 630 trucks into Gaza
Gaza (Petra) 31 May — Israeli occupation authorities allowed the entry of some 630 trucks laden with fuel, goods and assistance to the Gaza Strip through the Karam Abu Salem commercial crossing, Palestinian official said. Head of the Coordination Committee for entry of goods in the Gaza Strip, Raed Fattouh, said in a statement that some 630 trucks laden with goods will enter the strip for the commercial, agricultural and transport sectors. About 65 trucks laden with construction materials for international projects and another 150 trucks with gravel for infrastructure work will also enter the strip, Fattouh added.
Gaza’s high population strains water supply
GAZA CITY 31 May by Mohammed Otheman — Gaza authorities are establishing water desalination plants to meet the demands of the increasing population — Fethiya Deeb lives in al-Shati refugee camp west of Gaza City and complains about the high salinity of the water that comes to her home from the wells, which are run by the Gaza City municipality. Deeb told Al-Monitor that she and her 17-member family “need a large amount of water on a daily basis. All we receive is salty water that is similar to seawater. We cannot use it for a lot of things. So we are forced to buy our potable water.” Gaza Strip residents suffer from poor quality of household water. Mazen al-Banna, an engineer and vice president of the Palestinian Water Authority in the Gaza Strip, said Gaza’s water situation is difficult due to limited water sources and the small land area of Gaza, about 365 square kilometers (141 square miles). Gaza represents less than 1.4% of the area of Palestine, but is home to 2 million people, or 17% of the Palestinian population. “Many sectors in Gaza, including water, land, agriculture, air and other environmental elements, are being drained,” Banna told Al-Monitor….
Qatar continues to aid Gaza reconstruction
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 May — Qatar continues to aid reconstruction efforts in the war-torn Gaza Strip as new projects start, says committee chief Muhammad al-Amadi. “The reconstruction process is progressing very well as construction material is being shipped to Gaza everyday without any obstacles,” al-Amadi said to Ma‘an, adding that contracts for new projects have been signed and bids for more projects will be made. Israel has approved all the Qatari-funded projects in the Gaza Strip, he said. The reconstruction efforts come as the strip struggles to rebuild from damage caused by three conflicts within the last six years that have destroyed infrastructure and left thousands homeless. The upcoming projects include further work in the rehabilitation of the Salah al-Din road, in addition to the Sheikh Hamad Ibn Khalifa City and refurbishment of sections of the sea road, among others.
German foreign minister to visit Gaza
RAMALLAH (AP) 31 May — Germany’s foreign minister says he will visit the Gaza Strip — a rare trip to the Hamas-ruled territory by a Western leader. In meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials Sunday, Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was concerned about the situation in Gaza, which is struggling to recover from a devastating war with Israel last year. Steinmeier told Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin that “concrete steps” are needed to improve daily life in Gaza. In the West Bank, he called for quick reconstruction of Gaza while also saying that rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel must be stopped. Steinmeier said he would head to Gaza on Monday. No talks with Hamas are planned.
Ex-Hamas minister: Gaza road paved in preparation for right time to attack
[with photos] Ynet 30 May by Liad Osmo — Former Hamas interior minister Fathi Hamad said Friday that a new dirt road the terror organization’s military wing is paving along the Gaza-Israel border is preparation for a “window of opportunity to attack.” Hamad, who is considered one of Hamas’ extremist members, was speaking at an event in memory of one of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades commanders in Khan Younis, Ahmad Sahmoud, who was killed during Operation Protective Edge. He called on Muslim countries to work together to “remove the siege” over the Gaza Strip. His comments about the new dirt road, first reported on Ynet earlier this week, were the first comments made by a Hamas official about the mysterious road that is being paved under tight security. According to the former interior minister, the road will be paved adjacent to the border, some 250-300 meters from the fence. Despite Hamad’s militant tone, Hamas has seemingly been working to de-escalate the situation recently, with a Hamas source claiming the organization arrested those behind the rocket launched at southern Israel this week. According to the source, Hamas was also trying to reach a long-term ceasefire agreement with Israel. Defense sources told Ynet they were closely monitoring the paving of the road, but they still do not know with certainty what it is meant for. IDF investigations found the road is being paved in an area adjacent to Nahal Oz, right outside the buffer zone to which Palestinians are barred from entering. The army believes the paving of the dirt road does not signify a security threat to Israel. Also in the area near Nahal Oz, the Palestinians are doing wide-spread infrastructure work at the outskirts of the Gaza City neighborhood of Saja‘iyya to rebuild military posts the IDF destroyed during Protective Edge.
Israeli Navy’s small boat unit practicing short-range strikes on Gazan targets
JPost 1 June by Yaakov Lappin — The Israel Navy’s Snapir unit of fast-moving, inflatable boats formerly had the conventional defensive task of securing the ports of Ashdod, Haifa, and Eilat, but the unit’s role is now expanding. In recent weeks, the Snapir unit based at the Ashdod Naval Base, part of the navy’s 916 Patrol Squadron, held the first drill of its kind on the unit’s new offensive role. During the drill, the unit’s Tzar’a boats simulated a close approach to terrorist targets on the Gazan coastline and carried out mock shortrange strikes against them. The Tzar’a boats simulated coordinated attacks with other vessels from the 916 Squadron, like the Dvora and Shaldag-class fast patrol boats.
4,000 marry in mass wedding in Gaza
[with photos] GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 May — A mass wedding for 4,000 people was held on Sunday in al-Yarmouk field in Gaza City. The wedding, which was sponsored by the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Turkish Aid Agency, started from the al-Saraya area and headed to the field. Deputy head of Hamas politburo Ismail Haniyeh said in a speech during the ceremony that banks in the West Bank refused to receive the Turkish grant of $4 million fearing US sanctions. He explained that the Turkish agency managed to get the funds through other channels.
Hamas seeks reconciliation with Salafists / Adnan Abu Amer
Al-Monitor 29 May — Faced with numerous security challenges, Hamas leaders appear to have settled on reconciliation with Salafists in Gaza rather than force of arms — The security threats facing Gaza are many and varied. They range from concerns about Israel waging a new war given the absence of a truce with Hamas to trepidations caused by the soured relationship between Hamas and Egypt to fears engendered by a series of bombings in Gaza during the last two months. Of particular note are the bombings next to the parliament building April 17 and the twin bombings next to the offices of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency April 18. No one has claimed responsibility for either bombing. Meanwhile, ongoing tensions between Hamas and Salafists have recently been manifested in an increase in the number of security checkpoints and arrests of a number of Salafists. A new front opened between the two movements when Salafists issued a statement May 1 demanding that Hamas release their detained colleagues, and Hamas security services raided a Salafist headquarters in central Gaza early in the month. It is clear that Hamas has opted to employ a carrot and stick approach in dealing with the Salafists. Despite arresting a number of them following the recent bombings, Hamas has also held behind-the-scenes consultations and mediations with Salafist leaders in an attempt to halt the deterioration in relations and avoid an armed clash.
Hamas-affiliated journalist calls on group to hold negotiations with Israel
JPost 31 May by Khaled Abu Toameh — Mustafa al-Sawwaf, a prominent Palestinian journalist and political analyst from the Gaza Strip, on Sunday called on Hamas to hold negotiations with Israel. He said that Hamas could negotiate with Israel over specific issues concerning the Gaza Strip without making political concessions such as recognizing Israel’s right to exist. Sawwaf made the call in an article published in the Hamas-affiliated online newspaper Al-Resalah. The article is titled, “Why should there be no negotiations?” It was the first time that a leading journalist with close ties to Hamas had come out in favor of negotiations with Israel. He said that Hamas has no reason to fear negotiations with Israel as long as the movement is not required to make concessions. “If the negotiations are aimed at achieving general interests – without recognizing or making concessions to the enemy – then why should [Hamas] be afraid of direct or indirect negotiations?” he asked. Any agreement that would be reached between Hamas and Israel would not be “sacred” and could be revoked if Israel does not abide by it, he added.
Land, property theft & destruction / Restrictions on movement
Israel axes controversial West Bank land procedure in wake of petition
Haaretz 31 May by Chaim Levinson — The state attorney’s office has rescinded a Civil Administration practice under which it could declare an area state land without informing Palestinians who might have asserted a claim to the land. Since 1999, the Civil Administration has made use of the procedure, known as “blue line,” in which a team of legal experts, cartographers and inspectors would review maps from the 1980s on which land had been declared state land, and redraw the maps with the precision of the digital age. The process has been carried out with respect to land adjacent to West Bank Jewish settlements in anticipation of their future expansion, and in cases in which old construction plans had never been carried out and the settlements intended at this later stage to start construction. A total of 262 parcels of land have been dealt with to date employing this procedure. Over the years, however, it has become apparent that in the guise of injecting precision into which land has been declared state land, the Civil Administration has added land that was not declared state land in the past … In practice, the procedure bypassed the Palestinians in the area. By contrast, in other instances in which land is declared state land, the Civil Administration posts a map showing its boundaries and informs the heads of nearby West Bank Palestinian villages. In such cases, there is a right to appeal the decision within 45 days and neighboring Palestinians are given an opportunity to present evidence that the land is in fact privately owned.
Soldiers storm Jenin area in search of water wells
IMEMC/Agencies 1 June — Israeli occupation forces stormed, on Sunday, the Marg Ibn Amer plain, west of the city of Jenin, in the northern occupied West Bank, and launched a broad campaign in search of water wells in the region. Farmers said, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, that Israeli military patrols roamed in agricultural land corresponding to the towns of Silat al-Harithiya, Ti‘innik in Marg Ebn Amer and also raided greenhouses in the area, inspected and searched for water sources. Palestinian farmer Mohammed Jaradat pointed out that the Israeli soldiers interrogated citizens inside their territories on how they irrigate their crops and threatened to shut the wells that they discover. Soldiers also raided agricultural nurseries belonging to Abdul Rahman Zayoudat, at Haifa Street, near the entrance to the village.
Israel to open Qalqiliya checkpoint closed for 10 years
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 31 May — Palestinians living in Israel will be able to access the northern West Bank city of Qalqiliya through the Eyal checkpoint ten years since it was closed by Israeli authorities, officials in Qalqiliya told Ma‘an on Sunday. Director of civil affairs at the governor’s office, Muhannad Shawar, said the decision will be put into effect by June 7. He said it came following a request from Palestinian officials who pointed to the enormous convenience that entry through the Eyal checkpoint would bring for residents of Taybeh, al-Tirah and other towns in northern Israel with a Palestinian majority. According to the agreement reached with the Israeli authorities, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship will be allowed to visit Qalqiliya in private vehicles between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. They are to return via checkpoint 109.
Israeli medics collude with the torture of Palestinians; indict them
Middle East Monitor 29 May by Julie Webb-Pullman — Palestinian Arafat Jaradat was 30 years old when he died in his cell at Megiddo Prison on 23 February, 2013, after five days of torture by the Israeli authorities. Raed Al-Jabari was 35 when he died in Eshel Prison in September 2014, from a severe blow to the head; Israeli officials deemed it to be “suicide.” Jaafar Awad was 22 when he died in April 2015, two months after his release from an Israeli prison where he was administered inappropriate treatment for his diabetes. His health deteriorated rapidly yet he was refused treatment by Israeli medical authorities on numerous occasions, and finally succumbed to the cumulative medical neglect on 10 April. These deaths are but the most public three of the 206 prisoners known to have died in Israeli custody since 1967 and the unknown number who have died soon after their release. In response to the massive public pressure following the Israeli pathologist’s “whitewash” of Jaradat’s death in 2013, Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Minister Hussein Al-Sheikh announced that an independent foreign doctor would investigate the circumstances of his demise. Dr Sebnem Korur Fincanci’s findings were damning. The renowned Turkish pathologist reported that Jaradat’s injuries were indicative of “blunt trauma with a long and thick object” and they were not consistent with the official Israeli line of “resuscitation efforts.” Her report was buried, along with the hundreds of Palestinian prisoners killed before its release, and those who will continue to die in custody if the systemic issues, of which Jaradat, Al-Jabari and Awad are but the most recent manifestations, are not addressed. At the very least, the perpetrators and those colluding with them must be brought to account … The particular circumstances of Jaradat’s death provide a chilling illustration of some of the shortcomings in the medical treatment available — or more accurately, not available — to Palestinian prisoners. Israeli website Ynetnews.com reported on 24 February that according to Shin Bet, “…during interrogation, he was examined several times by a doctor who detected no health problems.” Important questions arise in relation to the medical treatment provided in Jaradat’s last six days of life, many of which are relevant to every Palestinian prisoner:
Mother of six begins 2nd year in Israeli prisons without charges
IMEMC/Agencies 30 May — Palestinian mother of six children, wife of prisoner, sister of three prisoners Samaher Zeineddin has now entered her 2nd year in prison, without charges. Samaher, age 35, the mother of six children aged between four and 14 years, is also suffering unknown disease in the chest, a statement issued on Saturday by Palestinian Prisoners’ Centre for Studies (PPCS) said. After much pressure put by the female prisoners on the Israeli prison services, Samaher undergone a surgical operation, but her suffering remained unchanged, according to the statement. The PPCS said, according to Days of Palestine, that Samaher was arrested on May 28, 2014, when the Israeli occupation forces stormed her house in Nablus during the night, frightened her children, inspected her house and arrested her. Until today, the statement said, she was not charged or given any sentence. The Israeli occupation has not yet given any reason for keeping her in custody. Samaher always feels painful and worried about her six children, whom she has not met since she was arrested. Her husband Nader, 37, was arrested just two months before her. Three of her brothers are behind Israeli bars, one of them is serving a life sentence. All her six children are living with their grandmother; an old woman with several diseases. She has been unable to offer them proper service, in addition to not having a source of income.
Barghouti begins hunger strike in solitary confinement
IMEMC/Agencies 1 June — Palestinian detainee Abdullah Barghouti began, on Sunday, an open-ended hunger strike to protest his solitary confinement, Chairman of the Prisoners’ Affairs Committee, Issa Qaraqe, reported. The Israeli prison administration placed the senior Hamas official in solitary confinement after he made a phone call from prison with the Hamas-affiliated al-Ray radio, in which he asked Hamas not to be too hasty in reaching a prisoner exchange deal with Israel, according to media sources. WAFA reports that, according to the Times of Israel, “Hamas prisoner Abdullah Barghouti was placed in solitary confinement after he conducted an illegal telephone interview from his prison cell on Sunday.” Barghouti is serving 67 life-term sentences in Israeli jails for his involvement in several attacks against Israel, which is the longest sentence ever among other Palestinian detainees. So far, he has served 12 years of his sentence.
Barghouti’s hunger strike comes concurrently with a similar hunger strike by Islamic Jihad official and prisoner Khader Adnan, who has now been on hunger strike against his illegal administrative detention (without charge or trial) for 21 consecutive days now.
Activism / Solidarity
Jerusalem: Israelis march to end the occupation
[with VIDEO] IMEMC/Agencies 1 June — A range of organizations, Saturday, held a march in Jerusalem to call an end to 48 years of the 1967 occupation. Among the organizers was the Coalition of Women for Peace. Spokeswoman Mayaan Dak told PNN: “We do this every year. It is important as we are facing a lot of house demolitions, violence and racism towards Palestinians here in Jerusalem.” The group of demonstrators, mostly Israeli, marched from Zion Square to New Gate. Among them were Neta and Elad, two students from Jerusalem who joined the march because they have had enough of the ongoing discrimination and violence towards Palestinians in the city. Arab Member of Knesset for Haddash, Ayman Odeh, was among the speakers in front of New Gate. He said: “You cannot find one Palestinian family who hasn’t been subjected to violence. Not one family, who hasn’t missed their imprisoned loved ones. Occupation is brutal, even to its conquerors. I am asking the fathers of the soldiers to think about their sons and daughters. Think of how they might enter the bedroom of a little boy tonight and arrest him just for being a Palestinian.” The crowd was heard to yell: “Settlers and soldiers, get out of Palestine!” The demonstration ended around 10 pm.
Palestinian refugees – Syria, Lebanon
Palestinians from Syria protest UNRWA cuts
SIDON, Lebanon (Daily Star) 30 May by Mohammed Zaatari — Dozens of Palestinian refugees who fled the Syrian war held a demonstration in Sidon Friday, protesting the U.N.’s decision to cut accommodation aid to refugee families in Lebanon. “Your unjust decision is [meant] to starve our children,” read one banner at the protest, which was held outside the Sidon office of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Members of prominent Palestinian political parties and civil society groups were also on hand to denounce the decision. UNRWA has announced it will stop providing Palestinian refugee families coming from Syria with monthly rent assistance of $100. “We all know that the cheapest rent paid by a Palestinian refugee from Syria is more than $200 a [month],” said Abou Isaac Makdah, head of the Islamic Relief Associations League in Sidon’s Palestinian refugee camps. “This decision is unfair toward our refugee families, who, as a result, will have the ground as their beds and the sky as their blankets.” UNRWA first announced the news a week ago, saying that a funding shortage would not allow the continuation of the stipend. The agency has called on donors “to provide the bare minimum assistance” to protect Palestinians from “disastrous” risks such as detention, abuse and deportation, according to a press release. “Starting July 2015, more than 43,000 Palestine refugees from Syria [who are] in Lebanon, who receive monthly cash assistance of $100 per family toward housing and $27 per person toward food, will stop receiving the cash assistance toward housing.”
Palestinians pan withdrawal of motion to suspend Israel from FIFA
Reuters 29 May — Palestinians criticized the Palestine Football Association (PFA) for dropping its motion on Friday asking for Israel to be suspended by FIFA, while Israelis welcomed the move. In the West Bank city of Ramallah, residents voiced criticism and disappointment after PFA President Jabril Rajoub announced the withdrawal of the bid that would have meant that Israeli teams could not take part in international competitions. “The Palestinian BDS (Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel) national committee is disappointed that that the entire FIFA congress, including the Palestinian Football Association, have not lived up to their obligations and stated principles. “FIFA and its membership have delayed the suspension of Israel, but they cannot delay the growth of the international boycott of Israel or prevent the continued isolation of Israel,” said Zeid Shueidi, an official from the Palestinian BDS national committee. “What happened today was a betrayal by the Palestinian leadership for the demands of the Palestinian people and tens of thousands of people around the world who were asking for suspension of Israel until it ended discrimination,” he added. Many Palestinian Facebook posts were also bitter, accusing Rajoub’s climbdown as “humiliating” and “cowardly.”
PFLP slams decision to drop bid to suspend Israel from FIFA
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 May – Dropping the bid to suspend Israel from FIFA was an “outrageous deviation from our values, principles and efforts to expose the Israeli occupation’s crimes and to oust Israel from international organizations,” the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said Saturday. The leftist PLO faction laid responsibility for the last-minute withdrawal on Palestinian Authority decision makers, calling upon the Executive Committee of the PLO to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the issue and “settle account with” those behind the decision … PFLP maintained that Palestinian Football Association President Jibril Rajoub should be questioned over his position and his exact actions during the FIFA congress meeting. Such behavior is a “slap to Palestinian sport,” the group said, pointing to the decision as a waste of the blood lost by all those who have sacrificed for Palestinian movement and independence from Israeli occupation. The group also described dropping the bid at the last moment as “an act of betrayal” towards international solidarity and the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which struggled until the last moment to support the bid.
Haaretz editorial: Israel must not feel complacent after staving off Palestinian FIFA expulsion bid
31 May — FIFA made it clear to Israel: The occupation is unacceptable, and its continuation will result in a series of boycotts whose cost would be unbearable to Israel — A sigh of relief was heard in Israel after a Palestinian bid to oust it from soccer’s world governing body, FIFA, was dropped on Friday. The fear that the country would be expelled from this important sporting federation has dissipated, but Israel must not think that this means it is no longer under threat, or at risk of suspension from the family of nations. The Palestinians withdrew their proposal after it was decided that FIFA would form a committee that would monitor Israel’s approach to Palestinian soccer players from the West Bank and Gaza, and their freedom of movement, as well as claims of racism against Arabs in Israeli soccer and the participation of teams from West Bank settlements in the Israeli national league. Anyone who thinks Israel can ignore this committee – and Palestinian demands for freedom to play and freedom of movement, to ban settler teams and to end racism in Israeli soccer – is mistaken. This kind of assumption could lead to Israel’s suspension from world soccer as early as next year. The truth must be told: Most, if not all, of the Palestinian demands are reasonable and justified. They were raised in principle two years ago, but Israel preferred to ignore them, as well as the risk of penalization for doing so.
Israel’s next battle will be over Olympics, diplomats say
Ynet 30 May by Itamar Eicnher & Eldad Beck — After Palestinians withdraw proposal to ban Israel from FIFA, Foreign Ministry and sports officials warn Israel’s deterrence is eroding, saying attempts to de-legitimize Israel will continue in other fields — While the fight over the Palestinian attempt to suspend Israel from FIFA has ended on Friday in Zurich, Israeli diplomats warn that the next battle is near – the Olympics. “Rajoub has three roles – he’s the head of the football association, the minister of sports and the chairman of the Palestinian Olympic Committee,” a Foreign Ministry official said. “The Olympics are in a year. Today it started with soccer, tomorrow it could be volleyball, handball or basketball,” the official continued. “We have to stay on our toes and realize there is now a political dimension to Israeli sports.” … “My conclusion is that Israel must be diplomatically prepared to deal with fields and areas we have not had cause to deal with in the past, because the Palestinians are taking this issue of de-legitimizing Israel to new arenas and places – to science, sports, culture, arts, and others,” said Yuval Rotem, the head of the Foreign Ministry’s Public Diplomacy Division who led the effort to thwart the Palestinian move to suspend Israel from FIFA.
The Month in Photos: Marking the past, demanding a better future
Activestills 30 May — Palestinians commemorate the Nakba, right-wing Israelis celebrate the capture of East Jerusalem, modern-day migrants demand their human rights across the globe, and Palestinian villagers struggle with restrictions on their movement.
Palestine’s abandoned parliament – a history of cities in 50 buildings, day 46
The Guardian 29 May by Ilene Prusher — Just beyond an 8-metre-high grey concrete wall – in some places decorated with graffiti and in some places burnt black by demonstrators – lies the building that was slated to become the Palestinian parliament. Today, it is a white behemoth of a building that sits hollow and unfinished, locked behind towering gates on a road that leads from Jerusalem into Abu Dis, a West Bank village just outside the Israeli-declared municipal boundaries of its capital. A nearby guard provides the key to a building that seems to embody the dashed hopes of a failed peace process, and in particular, of a people who were told that the Oslo Peace Accords signed by Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation in 1993 would lead to the creation of a Palestinian state … Inside, we tread over parched earth and stones, broken glass, a discarded bottle of Israeli-made Maccabi beer. One can almost imagine the political life that was envisaged here when Ahmad Qurei – widely known as Abu Alaa and one of the architects of the now-defunct peace process – invested personal and political capital in the project, and brought in his friend, prominent Palestinian-Jordanian architect Ja’afar Touqan, to design it. Qurei, now retired, describes in a film by DAAR (Decolonising Architecture Art Residency), that one of the reasons he chose this spot was that it would have a view with the Al-Aqsa mosque in the background.
High school exams kick off in the West Bank, Gaza Strip
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 May — Nearly 81,000 Palestinian students sat for the first session of their high school exams seeking to obtain the General Secondary Certificate, or Tawjihi, across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on Saturday. Saturday’s exams will begin with the Islamic education exam, and will run until June 17 to cover all other subjects, the Palestinian Ministry of Education said. Last year around 86,000 students took part in exams, 53 percent of which were female and the remainder male. The Tawjihi certificate is equivalent to a high school completion certificate, and is required for students who wish to pursue undergraduate studies. In Palestine and other Arab countries, the score on the test determines which programs a student can enter, generating high levels of stress among the student populations.
The West Bank’s drug problem
RAMALLAH, West Bak 31 May by Aziza Nofal — Drug trafficking, dealing and consumption have quickly spread in the West Bank, where security is loose — Mohammed Mohammed, who prefers to go by the pseudonym, is not ashamed to talk about his experiences of drug abuse. He was working as a construction worker in Israel when someone first gave him some hash to try. Mohammed, 31, makes around 5,000 shekels a month (about $2,000) from his construction work and spends it all on drugs. Although Palestinian police have arrested him five times — he spent less than a month in jail each time — he has not stopped consuming drugs. The residents of his village Sanniriya, located north of the town of Qalqilya, whisper among themselves about Mohammed and the other young men who buy and use drugs from Israel, which is nearby since the village is located close to the demarcation line between it and the West Bank … Drug usage is not the only problem the West Bank faces: residents are also selling and even planting or manufacturing drugs … Afaf Abu Rabih, an official at Al-Sadiq Al-Taieb Association, a drug awareness program, said, “There is a terrible rise in drug abuse in the West Bank.” Over the past four years, Abu Rabih said, a new kind of drug has emerged — a homemade chemical drug, so-called Amsterdam or Oxygen, that is considered extremely dangerous. Even more dangerous is the spread of drug abuse among youths aged 11-14, according to Abu Rabih….http://www.al-
Bold Knot is a cute top-up charger built by a startup from the West Bank
TechCrunch 29 May by Natasha Lomas — The Bold Knot is a neatly designed top-up battery pack aiming to prevent smartphone users from running out of battery towards the end of the day. Plug it in and your beloved handset will get a fuel injection (equivalent to three hours’ extra talk time). The idea is to offer a more portable — and more stylish — alternative to carrying a full-size power pack. The top-up charger can also double as a USB cable, allowing for sequential charging of the Knot’s 700mAh cell immediately after it’s charged your phone — all from the same USB port. The team also claims their device charges your phone 2x faster than other USB cables. While it’s a neat looking prototype at this point, what’s most interesting about the Bold Knot — aside from its cute, keyring-esque design — is the team behind it hails from the West Bank. The founders, business development consultant Lama Mansour and engineer Ismat Tuffaha, are both 22 years old and both Palestinian. They met at university and started work on one startup but found it too difficult to grow the business there because of border restrictions where they lived. Bold Knot is their second attempt at a startup. They’re currently raising crowdfunds on Indiegogo to get the device to market — but even getting to this pre-launch stage of business development required they leave the West Bank, so they’re now building the business out of Europe.
The boys from Balata — Part 1 of ‘Walking the Green Line’
Haaretz 30 May by Nir Baram — A youth in an undershirt kneels on a patch of ground along the roadside. He’s blindfolded, his back bent, head lowered, hands tied behind his back. His arms are muscular, exuding strength. The winter sky is a vivid blue dome above. Nearby are Mount Gerizim and the dwellings of the Palestinian village of Burin; farther off, green hills glisten in the sunlight. Soldiers stand around the boy, weapons drawn. Cars pass by. Not one of them stops. We can’t hear sounds from our car and just stare at the odd picture outside: the youth, the soldiers, no one moving, everything seemingly frozen. We get out of the car and the soldiers charge at us, shouting, “Military zone! Get out of here, now!” Over and over we ask why the youth is bound, but the soldiers ignore us. The photographer skirts around them and takes a picture of the youth. The Israeli soldiers scurry after him, then relent and ask him to back away, their tone of voice shifting abruptly from shouted command to friendly request. Possibly the procedures aren’t clear to them, or maybe there are no procedures. Now I see that there’s another bound youth behind the jeep. He’s completely hunched up. His hair is shaved off at the sides – the way youngsters went around when the soccer World Cup was on in Brazil. The soldiers gradually calm down. One of them, black-haired and bespectacled, is still agitated and tells us, “They came toward us and shouted something in Arabic. Suddenly they pulled out knives and rushed at me.” Another adds, “They shouted ‘Allahu akbar’ and charged at us!” … A few minutes ago, this Palestinian policeman was called over to the checkpoint, where Israel handed over the two youths who earlier were suspected of charging at soldiers with intent to stab them. It’s not likely that Israel would release two people who were out to stab soldiers, still less on the day the incident occurred – so why are they free? We ask them. On the policeman’s order they say nothing, only wave and smile. We ask the policeman; he doesn’t know. Zakaria says if they really had charged at soldiers in order to stab them, there’s no way they would be sitting here now. Apparently the soldiers exaggerated or even made up the story. But we saw the knives, I say to Zakaria. He asks the Palestinian policeman about the knives, but doesn’t get a reply. He asks the youths again. Silence. “Sometimes you don’t know everything,” the policeman says … Two months have passed since my visit to Balata. I meet with attorney Zidan in a small café in Hawara, south of Nablus … When I tell him about the scene I saw outside Burin, a few minutes after they seemingly intended to stab the soldiers, he responds with an indulgent smile. “Actually,” he tells me, “they came to the checkpoint and said to the soldiers, ‘We have knives, we want you to arrest us.’” When I tell him the soldiers claimed they shouted “Allahu akbar,” he guffaws. “Maybe they also shouted ‘Allahu akbar, please arrest us.’” Why would they want to be arrested? “All kinds of reasons,” he replies. “Sometimes, young Palestinians come to a checkpoint with knives – not in order to stab soldiers, but to be incarcerated so their families will receive money, to obtain a matriculation certificate, or because someone in their family is accused of collaborating with Israel.” [very long and interesting article, not just about this incident]
WATCH: Protesters attempt to prevent Christian worshipers at King David’s tomb
JPost 31 May by Jeremy Sharon — Hundreds of Jewish protesters sought on Sunday to prevent a group of Greek Orthodox Christians from entering the complex housing the sites where Jewish tradition says lies the tomb of King David and Christian tradition holds is the site of Jesus’s last supper. The protesters gathered by the site in Jerusalem’s Old City and conducted a mass prayer service and study session in an effort to block access to the building. A police spokeswoman for the Jerusalem region said that despite the efforts to prevent the Christian worshipers from entering, the police managed to ensure that they were able to gain access and conduct their religious ceremony. No one was arrested during the incident, the spokeswoman said. The tomb of King David is in a lower room of the complex while the site of the Last Supper is in a separate room above. Protests by Jewish radicals have intensified in recent years against Christian services in the complex. The status quo since the establishment of the state has been to allow Christian ceremonies at the site three times a year, including for the Pentecost holiday, which was celebrated by the Orthodox Church on Sunday. According to one of the organizers, Yehudah Puah, the protesters gathered “to prevent the desecration of King David’s tomb by an idolatrous ceremony of the Greek Church.”
Opinion: To most Israelis, a colonial regime is preferable / Zeev Sternhell
Haaretz 31 May — This is the reality that the Labor Party refuses to address for fear of losing half its voters — Israeli society’s fundamental problem lies in the fact that the first phase of the War of Independence ended only in 1966 with the lifting of military rule in Arab areas. The second phase began immediately thereafter, in June 1967. Israel transitioned smoothly from curfews on Taibeh to military rule over Nablus. The emergency regime under which Israelis lived for the first two decades after independence prevented the introduction of a constitution and created shameful habits of governance. In retrospect, one can ask whether our leaders intended, perhaps unconsciously, to make inferiority seem second nature to the vanquished people. The transition from this to the occupation regime in the territories was completely natural … The problem lies deep within Israeli society. After nearly half a century of controlling the territories, most Israelis view the colonial regime as something to be taken for granted and the invalidation of the Palestinians’ rights as part of the natural order of things. The segregation of the buses was an interesting symbolic test that reflected reality. The average Israeli will rebel against apartheid only the day he’s barred from trading with Europe and has to wait three months for a visa to visit Paris.
Israel reassures Iran, Hezbollah: Mass drill is not cover for attack
Ynet 1 June by Ron Ben-Yishai — Analysis: Jerusalem sends calming messages to increasingly edgy enemies as it embarks on five-day drill, says measures are purely defensive — Israel has in recent days sent calming messages to Iran and Hezbollah, Ynet has learned, stressing that the drills being held this week across the country are purely to practice emergency situations. The messages aim to prevent a mistaken assessment of Israeli intentions, given the current difficulties experienced by Hezbollah and the Assad regime in Syria, and the possibility of a nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers at the end of June. The Syrian, Iranian and Hezbollah intelligence agencies have undoubtedly seen the preparations for the exercise, and Israel is concerned that they will interpret it as Israeli preparations for a surprise attack. Western intelligence analysts recently noticed a growing nervousness among the Hezbollah and Tehran leaderships … It seems these concerns ahead of the start of the largest annual Emergency Exercise of Israel, “Turning Point 15”, which begins today. One source of added concern is that this is the first time that a major drill is being conducted simultaneously by the air, land and sea branches of the IDF – including the simulation of a large-scale conflagration in the north of Israel. Iran and Hezbollah have not hidden their concerns about the drill, even going so far as to make them public.
The Palestinian Bretton Woods
June 2015 by Nur Arafeh — Palestinian decision-makers have been talking about the introduction of a national Palestinian currency. Keeping in mind the national, economic, and financial repercussions of such a move, this article reviews the current monetary and financial system established by the 1994 Paris Protocol, and delves into the future prospects of issuing a national currency. – A look in the rear-view mirror – The Palestinian pound was introduced in 1927 following the establishment of a Palestinian currency board by the British Civil Administration in Palestine. The Palestinian pound replaced the Egyptian currency, which had been considered the country’s legal currency since 1917, and was equal in value to the pound sterling. It remained in circulation until the disastrous partitioning of Palestine and the creation of Israel in 1948. Between 1948 and 1967, the Jordanian dinar (JD) was the legal tender in the West Bank, while the Egyptian pound was used in the Gaza Strip. Then, following the illegal Occupation of the rest of the Palestinian territories in 1967, Israel imposed its own currency, the Israeli lira, which later became the Israeli new shekel (NIS).