Violence / Clashes / Arrests — West Bank, Jerusalem
Israeli forces shoot Palestinian at Qalandiya checkpoint
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 June — Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian man at Qalandiya checkpoint on Tuesday, Israeli police said. Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told Ma‘an that a Palestinian man ran toward a security guard at the vehicle crossing of the military checkpoint shouting “Allahu Akbar.” Israeli forces fired shots in the air and then shot the man after he continued running, Rosenfeld added. The man was moderately wounded and taken to hospital for treatment. It is unclear if the man was armed or not. [Reuters: The man’s identity was not immediately clear. Witnesses said police searching him found an Israeli identity card, suggesting he might be from Israel’s 20 percent Arab minority or a Palestinian from Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem. One witness disputed the police account of the incident, telling Reuters that the man was shot without provocation. “He was coming through the checkpoint, he was raising both his hands very naturally,” she said. “They (Israelis) were shouting at him and he seemed not to have heard them and they fired at him right away.”]
Earlier on Monday a Palestinian woman was arrested after she stabbed an Israeli soldier at the 300 checkpoint in Bethlehem, and on June 21 another Palestinian was shot after stabbing an Israeli border policeman in occupied East Jerusalem. An average of two Israeli civilians per week have sustained injuries by Palestinians so far in 2015, with one Israeli killed, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. In the same time period, however, an average of 39 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli forces per week and 13 killed, including two since the beginning of this month.
Israeli wounded in West Bank shooting dies
JERUSALEM (AFP/Ma‘an) 30 June — An Israeli wounded in a shooting near a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank died in hospital on Tuesday, his family said in a statement. “With great sorrow the Rosenfeld family announce the death of Moshe Malachi Rosenfeld,” it said, referring to one of four Israelis wounded in Monday night’s attack. On Monday, four settlers were injured by a Palestinian gunman near the illegal settlement of Shilo in the Nablus district. The shots were fired at a crossroads near the settlement in the northern West Bank, and, despite the army’s setting up of roadblocks, the perpetrator or perpetrators got away. Israeli army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told AFP it was not yet possible to determine whether the shooting was carried out by a lone attacker or small group, or was the work of a larger network. Palestinian locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces arrived on the scene soon after the search and began a search operation for the attackers. They added that dozens of soldiers stormed the nearby village of Qaryout, where they imposed a curfew. A Ma‘an reporter said that Israeli soldiers had set up military checkpoints on the road between the site of the shooting and Nablus, and were firing dozens of flares into the sky.
Israeli forces, settlers carry out reprisals for West Bank shooting
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 30 June — Israeli forces carried out multiple detention raids across the occupied West Bank overnight Monday after four Israeli settlers were injured in a shooting south of Nablus and an explosive device was allegedly hurled at a settler vehicle near Ramallah. Dozens of settlers from the illegal settlement of Beit El were also reported to have attacked Palestinian vehicles on the road between Ramallah and Nablus. The violent reprisals come as the president of the Shomron regional council, which groups together illegal Israeli settlements in the northern West Bank, said in a statement that “we must not let terrorism spread.” “I call on the government to authorize the army to act without pity against these savages who take civilians for targets,” he said. The Israeli army reported that four Israeli settlers were injured in Monday’s shooting while driving near the West Bank village of al-Mughayir. Israeli forces in the early hours of Tuesday stormed al-Mughayir and made multiple detention raids. Witnesses said large numbers of Israeli soldiers ransacked Palestinian homes, “detaining young men haphazardly.” They added that the soldiers deployed on every street corner in the village after setting up military checkpoints at its entrances. Worshipers who tried to go to mosques for dawn prayer were denied access and forced to return to their homes, they said. Meanwhile, fierce clashes broke out between young Palestinians and Israeli soldiers late Monday after they stormed the village of Kafr Malik east of Ramallah. Locals told Ma‘an that after soldiers seized surveillance cameras from shops and gas stations inside the village, Palestinian youths confronted the soldiers with stones and empty bottles. Israeli forces also raided the nearby villages of Qusra and Qaryout in southern Nablus. They sealed the entrance of Qaryout overnight, and raided and searched several shops in Qusra, checking surveillance cameras. Palestinian security sources added that Israeli soldiers detained four Palestinians before leaving the village, identified as Usama Abu Shihab, 26, Suleiman Qadri, 42, Shadi Fawzi, 27, and Wajdi Fathallah, 26. Palestinian security forces said that Israeli soldiers also raided a shop in Duma village. In Tell village, Amir Khader Taleb Hamad, 19, was injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his foot during clashes with Israeli soldiers when they raided the village early Tuesday. In Asira al-Shamaliya, soldiers detained Muhammad Amr Muhammad Shuli, 30m after raiding and searching his home. Israeli forces were also reported to have stormed the villages of Deir Jarir, ‘Ibwein and ‘Ajjul north of Ramallah and seized surveillance cameras from shops. Witnesses said a checkpoint was set up at the entrance to the village of ‘Atara north of Ramallah.
– Settler reprisals – Separately, dozens of Israeli settlers from the illegal Beit El settlement near Ramallah threw stones at Palestinian vehicles traveling between Ramallah and Nablus. Witnesses said that several vehicles were hit and many drivers chose to take other roads to avoid the section close to the illegal settlement. Clashes later broke out when Palestinians from nearby al-Jalazoun refugee camp threw stones and fireworks at the settlers and Israeli soldiers rushed in to defend them, firing tear gas canisters, stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets.
Israel restricts the entry of Palestinians to Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 1 July — Israeli authorities set new restrictions Tuesday on Palestinians allowed to enter Jerusalem during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan after alleged attacks targeting Israeli military and settlers. The new restrictions now require a permit for women aged between 16 and 30 to enter Jerusalem on Fridays. The same applies for men aged 30-50, while those under the age of 12 and over 50 can enter without a permit. Israel announced at the beginning of Ramadan that women of all ages and men over 40 from the West Bank would be allowed to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque in occupied East Jerusalem for the duration of the holy month. While Israel initially eased travel restrictions for Palestinians this year, authorities said such increases in movement came on the condition that security wasn’t “breached.” Ramadan often offers a rare opportunity for Palestinians to visit East Jerusalem, part of Palestinian territory occupied by Israel, as entry to the city remains strictly limited during rest of the year.
Attacks continue in West Bank as settlers assault Palestinian man
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 1 July – Attacks continued in the occupied West Bank overnight Tuesday when Israeli settlers attacked and moderately injured a 60-year-old man from the central West Bank village of Ras Karkar west of Ramallah, relatives say. Mahmoud Salih Nofal was surrounded by a “mob of settlers” who assaulted him with pepper spray before violently beating him with rods, causing bruises over his body, the man’s nephew Muhammad Nofal told Ma‘an. The attack, he added, took place at 7 p.m. near the main entrance of the village.The settlers allegedly left Nofal bleeding in a field and fled the scene. When he regained consciousness, the man walked to the nearest main road where locals saw him and immediately evacuated him to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah.
Video: Palestinian home and market attacked by settlers from illegal settlement of Beit Hadassah
Al-KHALIL, Occupied Palestine 29 June by ISM Al-Khalil Team — At 18:30 PM on the 29th of June 2015, masked settlers from the nearby illegal settlement of Beit Hadassah attacked Palestinian houses and souq (market) with a water hose and stones. Shadi Sider, a Palestinian man, had to be hospitalized due to a stone thrown by a settler that hit him in the knee. The settlers attacked the Sider family home, the water went inside the living room, completely soaking the interior including a computer. During the attack, an Israeli settler arrived with an assault rifle. Israeli soldiers were present throughout the entire incident, they stood and watched but never intervened to stop the settler violence. They were standing above the Palestinian market, which they occupy.
Six children, all under the age of five years old, were present in the family home at the time of the attack; stones were also thrown at the property. This is not the first time that the family home has been attacked by settlers. Just last Saturday, the settlers sprayed water at the same home and threw stones. The Sider family home overlooks the settler basketball court and illegal settlement of Beit Hadassah. Twenty Israeli soldiers were present in the souq after the incident today. They came into the Sider home, looked around, and left without speaking to Shadi Sider’s wife, whose home was just attacked by settlers. Time and time again settlers have attacked the Sider family home yet none of them are ever reprimanded for doing so. Video provided to ISM by the Sider family.
Military Police arrest machine gun-toting Palestinian teen, thwarting possible terrorist attack
JPost 29 June by Daniel K. Eisenbud — Military Police arrested a 15-year-old Palestinian boy armed with a submachine gun who attempted to pass a Shu‘afat security checkpoint in northern Jerusalem during the early hours of Monday morning. According to police, the unidentified teen entered the checkpoint shortly before 3 a.m. to gain passage to central Jerusalem. When the suspect passed through a metal detector, officers found a light-weight automatic Carl Gustav machine gun [see photo] concealed under his sweatshirt, jutting out of his pants waistline, police said. Military Police Officer Corp. Daniel Malka then immediately disarmed the teen and placed him under arrest before he was transferred to a holding facility for questioning in Jerusalem. The teen was later arraigned at Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Monday morning, where a judge ordered him remanded for several days pending an investigation into how he procured the weapon, and if he had accomplices.
Palestinian jailed for Facebook posts rearrested hours after release
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 30 June — Israeli forces on Tuesday rearrested a young Palestinian man from his home in East Jerusalem’s Old City hours after he was released from an Israeli prison where he spent six months for Facebook posts.A spokesperson for prisoners’ rights group Addameer, Randa Wahbe, told Ma‘an that Tareq Qurd, 21, was released on Monday night after a six-month detention for “incitement on Facebook.” His family held a celebration following his release Monday night, Wahbe said. “This morning at dawn he was re-arrested and is currently in detention, but whether he will be charged yet is unknown.” The head of Jerusalem’s detainees committee, Amjad Abu Asab, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces also detained Qurd’s father for questioning, although it seems they later released him. Kurd was one of eight Palestinians convicted of “incitement via Facebook” in December last year. Their indictment said that Israeli intelligence had monitored the men’s Facebook postings since last June, after three Israeli settlers were kidnapped and killed in the occupied West Bank. The intelligence said that their online comments had raised tensions across Jerusalem and encouraged acts of “terrorism.” They cited in particular postings on the murder of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir, who was kidnapped and killed by a group of Jewish extremists in July, as well as on a spate of Palestinian attacks on Israeli military and civilians that mostly took place in occupied East Jerusalem …Israelis on social media routinely and openly incite violence against Palestinians, especially during heightened periods of tensions such as this summer’s military offensive on Gaza, but none have yet faced prosecution.
Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Jerusalem municipality to confiscate land in al-Isawiya
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 29 June – Officers of the Israeli municipal council of Jerusalem on Monday posted confiscation orders on vast areas of private Palestinian land in the East Jerusalem town of al-‘Issawiya, says a local committee member. Muhammad Abu al-Hummus told Ma‘an that the maps and confiscation warrants were left in the land in the southern outskirt of al-‘Issawiya. The warrants, signed by the mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barakat, say that the land will be planted with trees so as to serve as a public park because “its owners have deserted it.” Slamming the Israeli move, Abu al-Hummus said it would be an “introductory step before confiscating the land” to build the so-called national park. “What public is the occupation municipality talking about? The people of al-‘Issawiya need these lands to build houses and schools for their children rather than open parks,” said Abu al-Hummus. The claims that the land was deserted are “false,” added Abu al-Hummus, highlighting that vast areas were planted with trees but “crews of Jerusalem municipality and the Israeli nature authority from time to time level the land and uproot all trees.” Abu al-Hummus pointed out that “the so-called national planning and zoning committee” had decided in September 2014 to cancel the national park project which was supposed to be established on 740 dunams of Palestinian land of al-Tur and al-‘Issawiya neighborhoods.
Israeli forces deliver demolition, stop-work orders in southern Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 30 June — Israeli forces on Monday delivered stop-work and demolition orders to 10 Palestinian families in the village of Jinba in southern Hebron. Ratib al-Jubour, a local popular resistance committee coordinator, said that officers from Israel’s planning and zoning department entered the village under army escort. They delivered three demolition orders and five stop-work orders to Ahmad Issa Younis, Ali Jabarin, Nabil Hussein Jabarin, Issa Ahmad Younis, Ibrahim Ahmad Younis, Mahmoud Ahmad Younis, Mousa Ibrahim Abu Younis, Issa Younis Abu Younis, Muhammad Mahmoud Hoshiya and Issam Issa Abu Younis. Jinba is one of a group of small villages collectively known as Masafir Yatta in southernmost Hebron. Masafir Yatta’s mayor, Othman Jabarin, said the orders were for tin shacks and tents.He alleged that the Israeli authorities are planning to confiscate 50,000 dunams (12,500 acres) of private Palestinian land in the area. The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem reports that Masafir Yatta is “subjected to Israeli aggression” due to its remoteness. Four illegal Israeli settlements currently surround the collection of Palestinian villages.
Israeli army to seize land in Salfit for military post
SALFIT (PIC) 29 June — The Israeli occupation army on Sunday notified Palestinian farmers in Bruqin town, west of Salfit, of its intention to appropriate parts of their land. The farmers reported that the Israeli army decided to build a watchtower on four dunums of their agricultural land. The farmer complained that the town became surrounded by three expanding settlement, Ariel, Barkan, and Bruchin. They have appealed to human rights groups to intervene to stop Israel from expanding its settlements at the expense of their agricultural areas, which they described as their only source of livelihood.
Israel to demolish animal shelter south of Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 29 June – Israeli forces Monday notified a resident of the town of al-Khader to the south of Bethlehem of an order to demolish his privately owned shed, used as an animal shelter, according to a local activist. Coordinator of the anti wall and settlement committee in the town, Ahmad Salah, told WAFA that Israeli soldiers handed Ibrahim Sbaih a notice to demolish his shed which is adjacent to the illegal settlement of Itamar, citing lack of a building permit as a pretext. He said that Israeli forces began its work in the Batin Almasi area over a month ago. He said it aims to take over vast areas of land adjacent to the settlement of Itamar as a prelude to expand the illegal settlement. According to B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, several hundred hectares were declared state land in the 1970s, and it was on that land that Israel built the settlement of Efrat – directly south of al-Khader, Neve Daniel and El’azar.” It said that the town was left with only about 800 hectares of land out of over 2,200 hectares, which it once encompassed. As for the town’s land located in Area C, the center reported that “Israel permits no building there, and besides, most of that land has ended up on the other side of the Separation Barrier.”
Shuhada Street 2015: Suffering from Israeli propaganda and ongoing military closure
Hundreds of Palestinian shops and warehouses were closed on Shuhada Street by the Israeli army in 1994 following the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, in which twenty-nine Muslims were murdered during prayer inside Ibrahimi Mosque by Baruch Goldstein, a Jewish settler from Kiryat Arba. In the name of protecting Jewish settlers after the massacre of Palestinians during Ramadan, Palestinian vehicular traffic was prohibited and pedestrian access restricted in addition to the closure of businesses and municipal offices. In 1997 Israel agreed to reopen Shuhada Street to Palestinians and to restore closed shops in order to reestablish pre-1994 conditions. To this day, nearly twenty years later, none of the shops have been reopened and the street remains closed to Palestinian vehicles. Lately, news about a reopening of parts of Shuhada streets has been circling international media, and has been reported on in newspapers as prominent as the New York Times. According to these articles, the Israeli Civil Administration, through the mayor of Hebron, has promised that either seven (which was confirmed by an IDF spokesperson) or 70 stores would be allowed to reopen, with 70 being the most cited number. We, human rights workers from the International Solidarity Movement that are based in Hebron, have seen that, unfortunately, there is little to support these claims. The same days that the news broke, two stores were indeed allowed to open for about an hour, before they were forced to close again by the Israeli forces present….
How Israel weaponized water
Counterpunch 30 June by Laith Shakir — … In fact, the very existence of water crises is official state policy for one country: Israel. Despite its location in a region thought to be perennially dry, the Holy Land actually has ample natural freshwater resources — namely in the form of underwater aquifers and the Jordan River. Palestinians in the West Bank and Israeli settlers live in roughly equal proximity to these resources, which theoretically would allow for equal consumption. Israeli water policy, however, has made this prospect virtually impossible. In fact, there’s a shocking disparity. A report from the United Nations found that the average Israeli settler consumes 300 liters of water per day — a figure surpassing even the average Californian’s 290. But thanks to Israeli military action and legal restrictions on access, the average Palestinian in the occupied West Bank only gets about 70. And for the tens of thousands of Palestinians who live off the water grid altogether, daily consumption hovers at around 30. That’s just 10 percent of the Israeli figure. Both figures are well below the minimum 100 liters per day recommended by the World Health Organization. While Israelis are watering their lawns and swimming in Olympic-sized pools, Palestinians a few kilometers away are literally dying of thirst. – Weaponizing Water – This inequality has deep roots — and it’s no accident. Almost immediately after the creation of Israel in 1948, the fledgling country took comprehensive action to secure control of the region’s water. These policies were ramped up again following the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, when Israel first assumed control of the Palestinian territories … Although control of water resources is now officially the domain of Mekorot, Israel’s national water company, Israeli forces routinely perform operations with the explicit intent of destroying Palestinian water infrastructure … Even in Palestinian-administered portions of the West Bank, Israeli troops regularly demolish rain cisterns, pipelines, and agricultural water structures. The Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq has meticulously documented a number of these instances, compiling them in a report examining the extent of the hardship these operations cause to West Bank residents.
June in the Jordan Valley: In 7 days of maneuvers, military temporarily displaces hundreds and causes fires in farmland
B’Tselem 29 June — This past month, June 2015, the Israeli military temporarily displaced hundreds of Palestinians from communities in the Jordan Valley, forcing them to leave their homes for varying periods of time over seven days in which maneuvers were held in the area. Since the beginning of the year, Palestinians in the Jordan Valley have been temporarily displaced over 20 days of military training. B’Tselem has documented the displacement of the residents and its impact on the lives of their communities. – Khirbet Humsah: Four displacements of some members of the community – On 10 and 16 June, ten families from the community of Khirbet Humsah were made to leave their homes for seven hours as of 7:00 A.M. The families, numbering 69 people, 43 of them minors, went to areas several kilometers from their homes, sometimes using carts dragged by tractors and sometimes on foot. On 10 June, when the residents returned to their homes, they found that grazing areas and cultivated farmland had gone up in flames, presumably as the result of firing by the military. In addition, water tanks used to water the flocks were pierced by bullets. The residents also reported that they found unexploded ammunition in areas close to their homes. On the morning of 16 June, Civil Administration representatives informed the same residents that they would be required to leave their homes again, together with five other families from the community, on 22 June and 25 June 2015….
Racism / Intolerance for the religion of others
Police admit they don’t escort ambulances to Palestinian Jerusalem suburbs
Haaretz 1 July by Nir Hasson — Police have for the first time admitted in an official document that they will not escort Israeli ambulances to Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem east of the separation fence, even though these neighborhoods are within the city limits. The policy has been in place for about a decade now. As a result, only Palestinian ambulances serve these neighborhoods. The admission was included in the minutes of a meeting between Jerusalem’s police chief, Moshe Edri, and representatives of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel that took place two weeks ago. At this meeting, ACRI raised various complaints about police tactics in East Jerusalem, including use of the “skunk,” a crowd-control device that sprays a malodorous liquid – sometimes even inside people’s houses. ACRI also raised the issue of government services in neighborhoods outside the separation fence. Between 80,000 and 100,000 people live in these neighborhoods, and most have permanent residency in Israel. But since the fence was built, most government agencies have stopped serving these neighborhoods. Ten years ago, the cabinet passed a detailed resolution to ensure that government and municipal services to these neighborhoods would continue. But most of its provisions were never implemented.
Anti-Arab graffiti found near Jerusalem bilingual school
Haaretz 30 June by Nir Hasson — On last day of the school year, children arrived to find swastikas, hateful slogans sprayed on the wall — Racist graffiti was found on Tuesday morning near the Max Rayne Hand in Hand bilingual school in Jerusalem. The graffiti on walls adjacent to the school included racist remarks about Arabs, as well as swastikas, and was reported to Israel Police. The Max Rayne Hand in Hand Jerusalem School is the country’s largest Jewish-Arab institution. It has been co-run by a Jewish and an Arab principal since its founding in 1998 by the Hand in Hand non-governmental organization. The Hand in Hand organization posted pictures of the graffiti on its Facebook page, along with the following statement :”Like kids throughout the country, the elementary school students at the Max Rayne Hand in Hand Jerusalem school arrived excited for their last day of school today. Their excitement was cut short at the sight of hateful anti-Arab graffiti that was painted on the side of the school. The school principals, that have experienced this hateful vandalism many times before, made sure to clean it off right away. The students decided to get right to work – they made signs that said “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies” and put it up over where the graffiti had been.This is our answer, and we continue to believe and live this every day.” Last November, the school was the target of arsonists, who set fire to the school, and also sprayed racist graffiti at the scene. The arsonists were subsequently arrested, admitted to their crimes and their ties to the right-wing Lehava organization.
Anti-Palestinian graffiti found in Jerusalem neighborhood
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 30 June — Suspected Jewish extremists spray-painted racist graffiti in the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Safafa in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Israeli police said. Luba al-Samri, spokeswoman for Arabic-language media, told Ma‘an that “Arab blood is a public property,” “Kill Arabs,” and other racist phrases were sprayed on a wall in Hebrew. The Green Line runs through the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Safafa, meaning that it is divided between Israeli West Jerusalem and the occupied East Jerusalem.
Dismay at continued vandalism at Mount of Olives cemetery
Tazpit 29 June by Anav Silverman — Yochanan Gol looks at his uncle’s tombstone in dismay. A huge black burnt circle marks his grave, remnants of a torching that has blacked out the date of his birth and passing. “This is the new tombstone that I had just purchased to replace the original that they smashed into bits,” he explained in an interview with Tazpit News Agency. Gol’s uncle’s grave is among the dozen or so that have been defaced – either shattered or blackened by fire – in attacks on the Afghan Jewish section of the Mount of Olives cemetery by Palestinians from local neighborhoods nearby. Plastic bags full of garbage and baby diapers were also left on the tombstones.
Lest anyone think this intolerance is one-sided, let us repeat this article from the 22 May 2015 list:
Israel builds nightclub, cafe over Islamic cemetery in Jerusalem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 21 May — Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) established a nightclub and café over an Islamic historic cemetery in Occupied Jerusalem within the Israeli accelerated moves to Judaize the Islamic landmarks in the city. In a press statement, the Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage condemned the Israeli continuation of desecrating the cemetery. The Foundation which visited the cemetery asked the Islamic and Arab countries as well as the Palestinian people to urgently work on confronting such desecration of the cemetery in which a number of the Sahaba (Prophet Mohammad’s friends) and many of the Islamic scientists were buried over 1400 years. It added that the construction and equipment of the nightclub has been completed for a soon opening after confiscating the cemetery and turning it into a public park. The cemetery is the biggest and oldest graveyard in Palestine. According to Israeli media sources, the facility will be opened in May. It lies on an area of 250 square meters over a land of an area of 450 square meters. It is equipped for public ceremonies with 110 chairs including a bar and a wide courtyard and will be run by an Israeli company.
Moroccan flotilla to Gaza in next few days
PARIS (Ma‘an/AFP) 30 June — Tunisian ex-president Moncef Marzouki said Tuesday that a Moroccan flotilla will be heading to the Gaza Strip within a few days. Marzouki reached Charl Degol airport in Paris Tuesday morning after he was arrested by Israeli forces on Sunday night. Marzouki was forced to fly to Paris on Tuesday. Marzouki, according to news reports, described what the Israeli navy did to the flotilla as “piracy which won’t stop us from supporting the Gaza Strip.” On Monday, Israel deported Tunisian ex-president Moncef Marzouki and European parliament member Ana Miranda after they took part in a flotilla seeking to defy its Gaza blockade, an official said. “The (former) president of Tunisia and the Spanish lawmaker flew this morning. There are another 14 who have begun the expulsion process,” a spokeswoman for Israel’s immigration authority told AFP. Marzouki, who is widely known as a human rights activist, sailed aboard the Swedish ship the Marianne of Gothenburg as part of a four-boat flotilla that set sail from Europe last month. Israel commandeered the Swedish-flagged Marianne on Monday and accompanied it to the port of Ashdod. Sixteen foreign nationals were on board along with two Israeli citizens, Palestinian Knesset member Basel Ghattas and a television reporter. The two Israelis have been released, though Ghattas could face a parliamentary hearing on whether he should face sanctions.
Israel once again commits an act of state piracy in the Mediterranean
Freedom Flotilla Press Release 29 June — At 02:06AM today (Gaza time) the “Marianne” contacted Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) and informed us that three boats of the Israeli navy had surrounded her in international waters, while sailing approximately 100NM from Gaza coast. After that we lost contact with the “Marianne” and at 05:11AM (Gaza time) the IDF announced that they had “visited and searched” Marianne. They had captured the boat and detained all on board “in international waters” as they admitted themselves. The only positive content in the IDF announcement was that they still recognize that there is a naval blockade of Gaza, despite Netanyahu’s government recent denial that one exists … It is disappointing that the Israeli government chose to continue the absolutely fruitless policy of “no tolerance”, meaning it will continue to enforce an inhumane and illegal collective punishment against 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza. Israel’s repeated acts of state piracy in international waters are worrying signs that the occupation and blockade policy extends to the entire eastern Mediterranean. We demand that the Israeli government cease and desist the illegal detainment of peaceful civilians travelling in international waters in support of humanitarian aid. We call on our governments to ensure that all passengers and crew from the “Marianne” are safe, and to strongly protest against the violation of international maritime law by the Israeli state….
Flotilla passengers say Israeli navy tasered activist during raid
Middle East Eye 29 June by Graham Liddell — A ship that was seized by the Israeli navy after attempting to breach the siege on Gaza has arrived at the coastal Israeli city of Ashdod, just north of the Strip, Middle East Eye has learned. The Israeli army released a statement in Hebrew saying that the Marianne, a boat from the self-styled Freedom Flotilla that the navy captured in the early morning hours, has arrived at the port. Basil Ghattas, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset who was onboard the ship, told MEE that the Israeli navy “violently” took over the Marianne at 2am Palestine time. Ghattas said the some of the activists used “passive resistence tactics” during the raid and that Swedish activist Charlie Andreasson was injured after a navy soldier used a taser on him. This differed from the Israeli military’s version of events. The Hebrew statement said that there had been no violence used by either the protesters or the soldiers. “This is clearly pirate work,” Ghattas said. “We were kidnapped for 24 hours.” He and former Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki, who will be flown to Paris in the morning, were released immediately, Ghattas told MEE. The other activists on board were detained and will likely be held for a few days before being deported.
Video: IDF violence against ‘Marianne’ peace sailors
posted 30 June by Freedom Flotilla Coalition 1:29 minutes
State of Palestine: Flotilla staged in Gazan waters after IDF intercepts Freedom Flotilla
Ruptly TV 29 June 46 second video
Israeli forces begin military maneuvers around Gaza Strip
RAMALLAH (Press TV) 29 June with Mona Kandil — Israeli forces have begun a week-long military drill in areas surrounding the besieged Gaza Strip, Press TV reports. The military maneuvers started on Sunday and will continue for the next several days. Tel Aviv has said that the military exercises are aimed at keeping Israeli soldiers in the Gaza front “ready” for any potential aggression on the coastal enclave. The drills were taking place mainly in the western Negev desert near the Israeli settlement of Sderot.
Ya’alon: There is no humanitarian distress in Gaza
Haaretz 29 June by Barak Ravid — Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Monday in a briefing to the diplomatic correspondents that “there is no humanitarian distress in Gaza.” The situation in Gaza “isn’t pleasant,” Ya’alon said, but added that “if they were to decide to export strawberries from Gaza instead of rockets, the situation would be entirely different.” Ya’alon’s words, coming a year after Operation Protective Edge, when according to United Nations figures almost 1,500 Palestinian civilians were killed, including 500 children, and hundreds of thousands lost their homes, contradict a series of international reports on the situation in Gaza. For example, a report published by the World Bank a month ago presented a harsh picture of the economic situation in Gaza and asserted that unemployment in the Strip is the highest in the world … During the briefing, Ya’alon denied the existence of direct or indirect contacts between Israel and Hamas regarding a long-term cease-fire, by means of intermediaries. “We are allowing the Qataris to build infrastructure there, but the Qataris have no diplomatic role nor is there mediation by any European country. The ideas raised by various elements for a tahadiya (cease-fire) are not being discussed between us and Hamas. Israel will not violate the conditions of the Quartet. There are no diplomatic negotiations regarding a tahadiya or anything else. There is coordination for the purposes of rehabilitation in the Gaza Strip. There are no negotiations. It’s true that Hamas has an interest in annoying Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] – but there’s no truth to it [to the reports of contacts].” The defense minister also emphasized that at present the smuggling of combat material from Egypt to the Gaza Strip has stopped, and that Hamas and the other organizations in Gaza are trying to produce the rockets and other weapons on their own.
Robert Fisk: Israeli disinformation sullies a rare moment of wartime compassion
The Independent 28 June — When will the Israeli government stop misusing the RAF’s wartime raid on the Gestapo’s Danish headquarters to justify their killing of children? Their shameful and dishonest version of the 1945 air attack in Copenhagen is repeated constantly by Israeli spokesmen whenever the world responds in horror to the country’s pulverisation of Arab civilians. It popped up again last week when the Israeli spokesman, Mark Regev, tried to avoid Channel 4’s questions about the UN’s latest report on the 2014 Gaza bloodbath and the killing of four children on a beach a year ago. The four had been playing next to a fisherman’s hut – witnessed by many foreign journalists at the time. A tragic mistake, announced Regev. The Israelis had not intended to kill the children. And he launched into an old canard. The RAF had attacked Gestapo headquarters in Copenhagen, he said, “and the bombs went astray and hit an orphanage and that was a tragedy, a real tragedy”. It wasn’t an orphanage, but no matter. The Israelis went on promiscuously shooting into built-up areas of Gaza
Cement shortage hinders reconstruction efforts in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 June — A Palestinian Authority official said Monday that the Gaza Strip was in desperate need of cement, a year after a devastating Israeli offensive left large swathes of the coastal enclave in ruin. Imad al-Baz, an assistant undersecretary in the Palestinian Ministry of the Economy, said that while Gaza required more than 1.5 million tons of cement to rebuild, so far only 16,000 tons had entered through the Rafah crossing since the war ended. Meanwhile, the Palestinian housing minister, Mufid Hasayneh, said last week that Israel had allowed 128,000 tons of cement in the same time period. Al-Baz told Ma‘an that during the Rafah crossing’s rare opening last week, Gazans had submitted 2,000 applications to the PA requesting that 25,000 tons of cement be imported, although only 9,500 tons made it through in the end. Al-Baz said that Palestinian traders were later found selling the cement on the black market at extremely high prices. Although he ministry sets a minimum price, few traders follow the regulations. While up to 90,000 partially damaged homes in Gaza have been repaired in coordination with the UN since last summer’s war, thousands more remain damaged or totally destroyed. Husayneh said last week reconstruction efforts would soon focus on homes that were totally destroyed, which number approximately 18,000 according to the UN.
Creating a tech hub in Gaza
Bloomberg 30 June by Matthew Campbell & Saud Abu Ramadan — When Iliana Montauk moved to the Gaza Strip in 2013, what most struck the former Google staffer and Harvard graduate wasn’t the poverty, the rubble from decades of conflict, or the lack of reliable electricity. It was the drive and focus of the citizens. “I had never seen such hard-working people except at Harvard and in Silicon Valley,” Montauk recalled. “People just want to lead a normal life.” Montauk is seeking to harness that energy with Gaza Sky Geeks, a startup “accelerator” she runs in Gaza City. Backed by Google and operated by the U.S. charity Mercy Corps, it nurtures business ideas and connects entrepreneurs with investors. The native of Berkeley, California, is convinced Gaza’s young population and adaptable spirit can create unlikely tech success stories in the Philadelphia-sized territory, which is ruled by the Islamist group Hamas. So far, four GSG companies have secured outside investment from Arab-focused venture funds. Tevy lets television viewers chat about shows as they’re broadcast; Datrios is a social network for Arab soccer lovers; Wasselni is a carpooling and taxi app for traffic-choked Middle Eastern cities; and DWBI Solutions automates data analysis. Montauk aims to secure funding for another four GSG startups this year.
Islamic State threatens to topple Hamas in Gaza
CAIRO (Reuters) 30 June Reporting by Ali Abdelaty, Writing by Dan Williams & Nidal al-Mughrabi– Islamic State insurgents threatened on Tuesday to turn the Gaza Strip into another of their Middle East fiefdoms, accusing Hamas, the organization that rules the Palestinian territory, of being insufficiently stringent about religious enforcement. The video statement, issued from an Islamic State stronghold in Syria, was a rare public challenge to Hamas, which has been cracking down on jihadis in Gaza who oppose its truces with Israel and reconciliation with the U.S.-backed rival Palestinian faction Fatah. “We will uproot the state of the Jews (Israel) and you and Fatah, and all of the secularists are nothing and you will be over-run by our creeping multitudes,” said a masked Islamic State member in the message addressed to the “tyrants of Hamas.” “The rule of sharia (Islamic law) will be implemented in Gaza, in spite of you. We swear that what is happening in the Levant today, and in particular the Yarmouk camp, will happen in Gaza,” he said, referring to Islamic State advances in Syria, including in a Damascus district founded by Palestinian refugees. Islamic State has also taken over swathes of Iraq and has claimed attacks in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen. Hamas is an Islamist movement that shares the jihadis’ hostility to Israel but not their quest for a global religious war, defining itself more within the framework of Palestinian nationalism. Deemed a terrorist group by Israel, the United States and the European Union, and viewed by neighboring Arab power Egypt as a regional security threat, Hamas’s struggle against Islamic State-linked jihadis has not won sympathy abroad. Israel’s intelligence minister, Israel Katz, accused Hamas on Tuesday of partnering with Islamic State affiliates in the Egyptian Sinai – a charge long denied by the Palestinian group.
Detention without trial? All of Gaza is suffering from that / Zvi Bar’el
Haaretz 30 June — The prisoner Khader Adnan is ending his hunger strike, but giving Gazans freedom of movement or letting them export their crops? Forget it — “Terror wins. Khader Adnan to be released,” said the headline on some websites covering the “agreement” between the Shin Bet security service and the prisoner on a 55-day hunger strike. The headline got it wrong. Terror lost. The legal terror that gives an army officer the authority to detain someone without trial — “administrative detention” — without evidence, due process or a time restriction is a terror-inducing process from which no Palestinian or Israeli is immune. The problem with administrative detention is that it obliges the public to believe in “the system” and not the courts — just as it was designed. But in Israel this isn’t really much of a problem because of the blind faith in the Shin Bet. If anything, the complaint is that the Shin Bet doesn’t make enough of these arrests. In other words, every Palestinian is basically an enemy, and if he doesn’t know why he has been arrested, he’ll know soon enough … As far as Israelis are concerned, what goes for Adnan, the lone administrative prisoner, goes for Gaza, the collective administrative prisoner. Yes, everyone is in favor of Israel transferring food, medicine and building materials to Gaza piecemeal. But freedom, lifting the sanctions, ending the naval blockade — not, heaven forfend, a port — or letting Gazans travel to the West Bank or freely export their crops — none of that. For eight years now, 1.8 million people have been trapped there in collective administrative detention — and as with Adnan, they merely need to be kept alive. Nothing more.
Palestinians pay high cost to conceive
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 30 June by Huda Baroud — Infertility and delayed childbearing seem to be on the rise in the Gaza Strip, so families struggle to get expensive treatment while they can barely acquire their most basic needs — …Dr. Maher Aajour, head of Zenat al-Hayat Fertility Center in Gaza City, shares Talaba’s point of view. He said male infertility has increased significantly in Gaza, although there are no official statistics for male and female infertility in Gaza. He said men suffer infertility at an early age, and many suffer different problems while still in their 20s, such as weak sperm production and varicocele, among others. Aajour said that repeated miscarriages and embryonic deformities are among the main complications Gazan women face. “The majority of people resorting to the center for [reasons such as] delayed childbearing and repeated miscarriage are residents of border areas,” Aajour said. He added, “The majority of people seeking IVFs live in border areas, such as Rafah, Beit Hanoun or Beit Lahiya, and areas that are constantly subjected to Israeli attacks, such as Shaja‘iya and the Zaytoun neighborhoods.” He added, “I cannot say that the chemicals used in Israeli weapons are a main reason behind infertility, because I am not specialized in determining [the weapons’] effects. However, medically, we believe that 30% of the reasons for delayed childbearing are related to the husband, 30% to the wife and 40% are unknown reasons, under which the effects of the Israeli wars are listed.”
The 2014 conflict left Gaza’s healthcare shattered. When will justice be done? / Helena Kennedy
The Guardian 29 June — The violation of hospitals is a war crime, but the international community is failing to scrutinise Israel and Hamas on their actions last year — As the first anniversary of the Gaza conflict approaches, the battle for the narrative is again raging. The UN’s commission of inquiry into the conflict released its report to the human rights council in Geneva last week. Israel’s government, which refused to cooperate with their investigation, has already denounced the report. Its own findings have exonerated the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) from wrongdoing during Operation Protective Edge, and the IDF’s investigation into the deaths of four boys, killed by shelling while on a Gaza beach last July, exonerated the soldiers involved. It was the legal equivalent of marking your own homework. For Palestinians in Gaza, however, the continuing impact of the conflict is nothing short of catastrophic … New figures show that medical assistance was obstructed for 511 of those who died last year, including 67 children. Obstacles such as live military zones, Israeli checkpoints and a lack of coordination meant that these individuals, all alive when reported to ambulance services, either died before the paramedics were able to access them, or before they reached hospital after being picked up. Behind these statistics are devastating human stories. Bader, a seven-year-old boy from Khuza‘a, was wounded by shrapnel and died after ambulances were initially unable to reach him for four hours, and were then held at a checkpoint on the way to the hospital. From the destruction of al-Wafa – Gaza’s only rehabilitation hospital – to the deaths of ambulance drivers and volunteer medics, even those seeking to aid the injured were not protected, placing them on the front lines of the conflict. It is crucial that respect for the neutrality of medical space is observed by all armed actors.
Islamic Jihad plans Gaza celebration for Khader Adnan
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 June — The Islamic Jihad group in Gaza said Monday that it was planning celebratory marches in front of 300 mosques, following news that Khader Adnan ended his hunger strike and will be released from Israeli jail. An official from the group — with which Adnan is affiliated — said a central march will take place in Gaza City after evening prayers involving all political factions. A program of other activities will take place at the same time in cities, villages and refugee camps across the Gaza Strip. Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan ended a 55-day hunger strike late Sunday night after reaching an agreement with Israeli authorities to free him from prison on July 12. “All the guarantees which Sheikh Khader asked for have been obtained, and so he triumphed over the occupation state after 55 days of hunger strike,” Adnan’s wife told Ma‘an. An Israeli official confirmed Adnan would be set free on July 12, telling AFP the deal was made possible after Adnan withdrew his demand that Israel undertake never again to place him under administrative detention.
Prisoner in Israeli jail initiates hunger strike over detention without charge, trial
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 30 June – A Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jails has entered an open-ended hunger strike over his administrative detention in Israeli jails without charge or trial, according to the Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs (CPA) and the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (PPC). The two organizations reported on prisoner Nour Elayyan from al-Jalazoun refugee camp near Ramallah who began a hunger strike to protest the renewal of his administrative detention. Elayyan was arrested six months ago and recently received a detention renewal order. This announcement comes only a day after Khader Adnan, the first prisoner to launch an open-ended hunger strike that lasted 66 days, reached a deal with Israel to be released on July 12 and not be detained again.
Report: Israel, Jordan in talks to readmit non-Muslim visitors to Temple Mount sites
Haaretz 30 June by Nir Hasson — More than 15 years after they were closed to non-Muslim visitors, the sites on the Temple Mount may be opened to them once again. Israel and Jordan have been negotiating over this issue for several months now. Israel, which controls security on the mount, including entrance to it, believes that opening the mosques to paying visitors would give the Muslim Waqf, which manages the site’s day-to-day religious affairs, an incentive to keep the peace on the mount. The Waqf, a religious trust, was once controlled by the Palestinian Authority. But it is now under growing Jordanian influence. Some details of the negotiations were revealed in a report by the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based NGO, which is slated for publication on Tuesday. After meeting with decision makers in Israel, Jordan and the PA, the report’s authors concluded that such a move could indeed help keep peace on the mount. But they warned that Israel’s new government might make a deal harder to achieve. An official in the Prime Minister’s Office, however, stated, “There are no negotiations and no change in the status quo at the Temple Mount.” Until 2000, Jewish and Christian visitors to the Temple Mount could enter the Dome of the Rock, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Islamic Museum on the mount by buying a ticket from the Waqf. But that practice ended when the second intifada erupted in September 2000. For the next three years, Israel barred Jews and tourists from the mount entirely. But in August 2003, it reopened the site to Jews and tourists despite opposition from both the Waqf and Amman. Ever since, there have been frequent clashes between Jewish visitors – mainly activists from groups that want Jews to be allowed to pray at the site – and Muslim activists, most of them brought to the mount for this purpose by the northern branch of Israel’s Islamic Movement….
New report outlines Al-Aqsa Mosque recommendations
Al-Monitor 30 June by Daoud Kuttab — The International Crisis Group report on Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem tackles this controversial issue for Muslim Palestinians and Israeli Jews, and proposes recommendations to de-escalate the tension between all concerned parties, including Jordan — The status of Islam’s third-holiest site, Al-Aqsa Mosque, has been the subject of many academic and research efforts, most of them with an ideological bias. Israeli Jews consider the site of utmost importance to them and most research associated with Israel reflects this view. Some right-wing Israelis often try to stir up other Jews about access to the compound that houses the mosque, emphasizing that the Jews who won the 1967 war still “don’t have unfettered access,” including the right to pray at the mosque. Arab Muslims fear Israeli attempts to Judaize the site, or, at best, to impose a policy where the site is shared with Jews, similar to the arrangement at Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque, where over the past 48 years prayer areas in parts of the mosque are shared by Jews and Muslims. For Muslims, the entire walled and guarded compound that includes Al-Aqsa Mosque — Masjid Omar, the Islamic Museum and the courtyards — is generally referred to as Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) and is regarded as one holy site. The highly sensitive issue of Al-Aqsa compound was addressed by the International Crisis Group (ICG) in Brussels with an unprecedented in-depth study. To avoid any linguistic bias, the nongovernmental organization referred to the compound — known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount — as the “Esplanade” ….
From lone soldier to military prison
Ynet 29 June by Yoav Zitun — He made aliyah from United States as a lone soldier, served as a fighter in the Givati Reconnaissance Battalion, was wounded in Operation Protective Edge, and was a short time away from being released and returning to his family in Los Angeles. But that was when he began his troubled path. After an investigation by the criminal investigation division, the police and the Shin Bet, David (not his real name) was arrested on suspicion of aiding an American extremist who planned to blow up the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, and sentenced to half a year in military prison. After his release from the army and his return to Los Angeles, David told Ynet about the difficult period he went through after being convicted of stealing explosive materials from the IDF. The 21-year-old recently finished serving a six months prison term, one of the heaviest penalties imposed on a conscript soldier in the last decade, for removing weapons from the army and selling some of them to Adam Livix, an American Christian who infiltrated Israel and allegedly planned to bomb the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. While David had to serve time in military prison, Livix managed to escape prosecution due to health reasons.
UN agency for Palestine refugees announces staff reductions amid funding shortfall
UN News Centre 29 June — The United Nations agency assisting Palestinian refugees across the Middle East announced today that it will begin reducing staff numbers in an effort to cut costs amid a wider budget shortfall facing the Organization’s presence in the region. In a statement issued earlier today, Chris Gunness, spokesperson for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), confirmed that 85 per cent of all 137 international personnel on short term contracts will be separated in a phased process lasting until the end of September. “UNRWA is taking this measure to reduce costs as much as possible without reducing services to refugees,” explained Mr. Gunness, noting that the UN agency retained a $101 million deficit but would continue nonetheless with “robust efforts in resource mobilisation.” “As things currently stand, with stringent austerity measures already in place beyond today’s announcement, the Agency should be able to continue with life-saving services to the end of the year,” he continued. Among the ongoing efforts, Mr. Gunness said UNRWA would maintain its health programmes, relief and social services, and sanitation and emergency projects for which it had remaining funds. At the same time, the agency’s school system – which currently services half a million children across Jordan, Lebanon, the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Syria – remains in a more precarious situation. “Some difficult decisions may be needed in coming weeks if the deficit is not filled,” he warned….
Fears of a blowup grow in Ain al-Hilweh
SIDON, Lebanon (Daily Star) 30 June by Mohammed Zaatari — The security situation in Ain al-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian camp in Lebanon, is on the verge of collapse, after an argument between two men escalated into an overnight shootout that left at least 10 people wounded. The dispute began before daybreak Monday at Hay al-Zeeb, before deteriorating into larger clashes between groups close to the Fatah movement and Shabab al-Muslim. The fighting comes despite the ongoing efforts of the joint elite force to control the volatile situation in the camp. Most of the wounded were members of the joint elite forces, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Islamic Jihad Movement, who were reportedly trying to defuse the situation. Although elements of the Palestinian leadership had promised to prevent such incidents from occurring, past failures to limit the violence provide little assurance to residents. The escalating number of security incidents casts a pall of uncertainty over the future of the camp.
United Church of Christ votes to divest from companies with ties to Israeli settlements
Haaretz/AP 30 June — …The U.S.-based denomination endorsed the action on a vote of 508-124, with 38 abstentions, during a national meeting. “As disciples of Jesus, we hear and seek to heed his call to be peacemakers, responding to violence with nonviolence and extending love to all,” said Rev. John Deckenback. “It is in that spirit of love for both Israelis and Palestinians, and a desire to support Palestinians in their nonviolent struggle for freedom, that the United Church of Christ has passed this resolution,” he said. Jewish Voice for Peace expressed their support for the vote, with board member Lev Hirschhorn praising the church for “a courageous step” that “put their words into action.” “We’re on the precipice of a new political moment. Progressives are speaking up, and it’s only a matter of time until Israel is held accountable for its human rights abuses,” Hirschhorn said … Delegates are calling on the denomination’s financial arms to sell off stock in any company profiting from what the church called human rights violations arising from the occupation. The church also voted to boycott products made in the territories.
Israeli NGO hosts 70 lawyers from 7 countries in conference to counteract BDS
JPost 29 June by Yonah Jeremy Bob — Shurat Hadin-Israel Law Center on Monday opened a 2015 Activist Lawyers Training Task Force in Jerusalem to counter the increasingly virulent legal efforts of the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) movement. The intensive, week-long program aims to equip some 70 lawyers from seven countries with tactical tools and broad courtroom strategies to wage the fight. Shurat Hadin said that, “The seminar program includes cutting-edge lectures and hands-on workshops taught by the most prominent scholars and experts in the field, including Alan Dershowitz, Irwin Cotler, Kent Yalowitz, and other accomplished jurists involved in legal activism.” Lawyers and law professors are attending from the US, Singapore, Holland, South Africa, Germany, Canada, and Belgium. Topics covered at the conference include litigation on behalf of terrorism victims, the anti-Israel BDS movement, freedom-of-speech dilemmas arising on campus, anti-Semitic groups and their efforts, and confronting the “campaign to label Israel’s building in the territories as a crime against humanity.” The conference will also address defending IDF soldiers from war crimes allegations in courts around the globe.
State Dept: Trade bill can’t defend Israel’s territories
WASHINGTON (AP) 30 June — One day after President Barack Obama signed hard-fought trade legislation, his administration took issue with language meant to discourage boycotts of Israel. The “fast track” trade bill takes aim at international efforts to punish Israel economically for its treatment of Palestinians. A bipartisan amendment — which drew comparatively little attention in Congress’ long, multi-faceted trade debate — instructs U.S. negotiators to resist other countries’ actions that support the “boycott, divestment and sanctions” movement against Israel because of its policies in “Israeli-controlled territories.” Several pro-Israel groups and lawmakers backed the amendment. But the State Department said Tuesday that “by conflating Israel and ‘Israeli-controlled territories,'” the amendment “runs counter to longstanding U.S. policy” toward the disputed territories claimed by Palestinians. The statement, by spokesman John Kirby, said U.S. policy has “strongly opposed boycotts, divestment campaigns, and sanctions targeting the State of Israel, and will continue to do so.” But Kirby said Democratic and Republican presidents have consistently opposed Israeli settlements that violated borders drawn in 1967. Kirby said the government “does not pursue policies or activities that would legitimize them.” A spokeswoman for Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin, a key sponsor of the amendment, said it was never intended to make a judgment on the Israeli settlements. The fast track bill will allow Obama to present proposed trade deals that Congress can ratify or reject, but not change.
EU ambassador to Israel rules out academic boycott
IMEMC/Agencies 30 June — Hebrew media reported, today, that the European Union’s ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg, has ruled out the imposition of any European academic boycott of Israel. PNN reports that, in addition to rejecting a unified EU academic boycott of Israel, Faaborg also pledged to strengthen the EU-Israel ties in various fields and in particular the field of education. The Ambassador announced European participation in an international conference hosted by the Gordon College Academy of Teacher Training in Haifa. Academic boycott of Israel, usually in line with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, has been gaining in momentum across the world and in particular throughout Europe. Britain’s National Union of Students (NUS) last month announced their decision to affiliate with BDS in a huge victory for the movement.
Hamas calls emergency meeting to discuss new unity government
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 — The Hamas movement called Monday for an emergency meeting with Palestinian factions to discuss the formation of a new unity government, claiming it was “unacceptable” the PLO had taken charge of the task. Senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouq invited all factions who signed the 2012 Cairo Agreement to attend the meeting. He told Ma‘an that in keeping with the 2012 agreement — which saw Fatah and Hamas agree to form a joint interim government — the new unity government “must not have any political agendas.” Abu Marzouq made his comments two days after a committee appointed by the PLO Executive Committee began consulting Palestinian factions on forming a new government. The dissolution of the current government was announced earlier this month at an annual Fatah council meeting. While there has been talk of a government reshuffle for months, it is expected that the new government will have a completely different structure, with factional leaders replacing independent technocrats. However, Abu Marzouq said Monday that any unity government should be a “non-political” entity, completing tasks agreed upon by all factions. “It is unacceptable that the government adopts the agenda of the PLO because that has never been mentioned in any of our national agreements,” he said. “The PLO shouldn’t appoint a committee to consult on a unity government because it has no legal basis to do so.” … Abu Marzouq spoke strongly against Rami Hamdallah’s current government, saying that it had been “running the West Bank only and not a penny of its budget was allocated to the Gaza Strip.” He alleged that it had not implemented a single project in Gaza, with all projects instead organized by the UN and NGOs. “He hasn’t rebuilt any of the houses demolished by the offensive against Gaza,” he said, adding: “When Hamdallah talks about reconstructing 85,000 houses in Gaza it is not true.”
PLO official: Unity government talks ‘reached an impasse’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 June — Talks to form a new unity government have “reached an impasse,” the head of a PLO-appointed committee leading the talks told Ma’an Sunday.Azzam al-Ahmad, who is also a member of Fatah’s central committee, said that a meeting had been scheduled with President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday to address the political deadlock.Meanwhile, a Hamas spokesman alleged that the talks had not actually begun beyond “some phone calls.”Al-Ahmad’s announcement came in response to comments made earlier Monday by senior Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouq, who said his movement found it “unacceptable” that the PLO had taken charge of forming a new government.
Hamas demands taxes paid by Gazan companies to PA in Ramallah
Haaretz 29 June by Amira Hass –The Hamas general prosecutor on Thursday ordered the closing of the main office of Jawwal, the only cellular telephone company operating in the Gaza Strip, and demanded that it pay taxes to the Gaza government, leading to fears that similar demands would be made of other companies. Banks and other firms say that if forced to pay taxes to the Hamas government, they are liable to suffer international sanctions for supporting a terror organization. On Saturday the prosecutor, Ismail Jabar, told Jawwal it had 48 hours to put its affairs in order and stop evading tax payments to the government in the Palestinian enclave. He also warned that even worse measure than closure will be taken against other private companies that “evade taxes” to the Gaza treasury. These firms all pay their taxes to the Palestinian Finance Ministry in Ramallah. A financial adviser in Ramallah called Jawwal’s closure “the opening of a frontal campaign against the Palestinian private sector.” The closure announcement came the same week the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation government announced its resignation, without Hamas being a partner to the decision, in contravention of the principles governing the reconciliation process. It’s too early to know whether this was a purely economic decision because the Hamas government has no income; whether it was a tactical, political move, aimed at increasing Hamas’ bargaining position with the Islamic Movement during discussions on the establishment of a new government; or whether it was a strategic move indicating a final breaking off from the Palestinian Authority and the West Bank.”
Israel snubs UN rights body over Gaza war report
GENEVA (AFP) 29 June — Israel snubbed a United Nations Human Rights Council session Monday debating a scathing report detailing likely war crimes committed during last year’s Gaza war, with Israel’s ambassador slamming the body as “morally flawed.” “I am out here and not in there because the Human Rights Council has abandoned fairness, has become morally flawed and has entirely politicised its concern for universal human rights,” Israel’s representative to the council Eviatar Manor told reporters outside the council chambers at the UN in Geneva … The commission report especially decried the “huge firepower” Israel had used in Gaza, particularly against residential buildings and UN schools, and questioned whether a policy of civilian attacks had been “approved at least tacitly by decision-makers at the highest levels of the government of Israel.” The report also condemned the “indiscriminate” firing of thousands of rockets and mortars at Israel, which it said appeared to have been intended to “spread terror” among Israeli civilians. The Palestinian representative to the council, Ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi, hailed the report, but lamented that it had sought a false balance. “The language of the report did not take into consideration that the conflict is unbalanced… The losses are not equatable,” he told the council.
Arab community protests appointment of acting Israel Police chief
Haaretz 30 June by Jack Khoury & Jonathan Lis — Leading figures in the Israeli-Arab community say they will not cooperate with the new acting police commissioner, because of his link to events in October 2000 that left 13 Arabs dead following violent clashes with the Israel Police. The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, the heads of Arab municipalities and Joint Arab List chairman Ayman Odeh called the planned appointment of Maj. Gen. Benzi Sao an insult to the Arab community. Sao was commander of the Wadi Ara region in October 2000. Sao’s appointment as acting police commissioner was brought to the cabinet on Sunday, in preparation for Wednesday’s retirement of police chief Yohanan Danino … Odeh said his party may petition the High Court of Justice against Sao’s appointment, citing the official government report into the October 2000 deaths. “The Or Commission determined in an unequivocal fashion that [Sao] was a partner in the crime, and recommended he not be promoted within the police for four years,” said Odeh. Sao was found innocent “not because of a lack of guilt, but because of a lack of evidence,” alleged Odeh. However, social activists in the Arab community noted that in recent years, when Sao served as commander of the Central District, he received full cooperation from the heads of Arab municipalities and there had never been any decision to boycott him.
Palestinian protesters whitewash rainbow flag from West Bank barrier
RAMALLAH (AP) 30 June — Palestinian protesters have whitewashed a rainbow flag painted on six slabs of the West Bank separation barrier. Khaled Jarrar, the Palestinian painter of the piece, said his art was meant as a reminder of Israeli occupation, at a time when gay rights are in the news after the US allowed same-sex marriage. But protesters perceived the painting as support for homosexuality, a taboo subject in Palestinian society where gay people are not tolerated. It ignited angry responses and activists whitewashed the flag on Monday night, just a few hours after it was painted on the best-known section of Israel’s graffiti-covered barrier, next to a portrait of Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian figures. Jarrar, 39, who has exhibited his work in Europe and the US, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that the destruction “reflects the absence of tolerance and freedoms in the Palestinian society”. “People don’t accept different thinking in our society,” he said, adding he painted the rainbow flag on the barrier to put a spotlight on Palestinian issues … Muhammad al-Amleh, a 46-year-old lawyer, approved of the action, saying “it would be shameful to have the flag of gays in our refugee camp”. Gay Palestinians tend to be secretive about their social lives and some have crossed into Israel to live safely. A 1951 Jordanian law banning homosexual acts remains in effect in the West Bank, as does a ban in Gaza passed by British authorities in 1936.
West Bank charity still fills ancient duty, hungry stomachs
HEBRON (Al-Monitor) 29 June by Aziza Nofal — For a millennium, an almshouse in Hebron has offered food for the needy all year round, and its activities become all the more vital during the holy month of Ramadan — Starting 10 a.m. on June 21, thousands of women, men, children and elderly line up in front of the Abraham almshouse building in the old town of Hebron, each carrying an empty container and passing it through a small window to the almshouse kitchen. There it will be filled with a meal of meat, soup, rice and bread. It is Sunday, and today’s meal consists of meat and yoghurt. Today, the almshouse workers will cook more than 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of lamb and distribute it with bread and rice. It is a popular meal. In the almshouse, food is cooked and distributed to the needy, the poor and whoever comes asking for food, including passers-by and visitors to the city of Hebron … The waqf director in Hebron, Ismail Abu Halawa, said that the establishment dates back to the pre-Mamluk era and was known as “Prophet Abraham’s Bread.” During the 1250-1516 Mamluk period, the almshouse’s work flourished and the current building was built. The generosity of the Mamluk rulers helped make the almshouse famous and its name has become associated with these rulers.
Twenty years of Quiz Night
This Week in Palestine 1 July by Afnan Mahmoud — Every Monday at 7:00 pm we convene. A team of twelve volunteers sets up the hall for the weekly game: sound system, projector, camera, questions, the black box, seating arrangements, reservations, winning-team table, and all the nitty-gritty details! We do it all, and we start the game at 8:00 pm sharp! Because after twenty years of quizzing, we know how it’s done. Quiz Night is the first and only trivia competition in Palestine. It started in 1996 on the second floor of a local café in downtown Ramallah then known as “Kan Bata Zaman,” by a group of friends who tested each other’s knowledge in various topics … Quiz Night is not just another get-together for the regular random chitchat! It is a weekly competition that takes priority when any of the participants need to schedule an important life event or plan a vacation. Teams convene in order to network, make new friends, learn new information, and compete.
Israel to build 30 km wall along border with Jordan
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an/AFP) 29 June — The Israeli government on Monday announced plans to build a 30-kilometer wall along its border with Jordan. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the announcement during a Knesset meeting on security and foreign affairs convened to discuss the recent flotilla which attempted to reach the shores of the Gaza Strip. He claimed the wall was a continuation of the one built along the Egyptian border, which “blocked the entry of illegal migrants into Israel and the various terrorist movements.” The wall will run from Eilat in the south to the site of the planned Timna airport north of the city, and has reportedly been accepted by the government’s security cabinet. Netanyahu’s office said that Israel was in contact with Jordan over the fence, which will be built solely on Israeli soil … The wall’s total projected length will be 708 kilometers, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, nearly twice the length of the 1949 Green Line.
Israel says asked Syrian rebels not to harm Druze
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 29 June by Dan Williams — Israel said on Monday it had made humanitarian aid to select Syrian rebel groups on its border conditional on their undertaking not to harm the Druze minority in the country’s civil war. The Nusra Front, an al Qaeda off-shoot hostile to Syrian Druze, was not among rebels getting Israeli help, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told lawmakers. Enraged by rumors Nusra fighters might be among the hundreds of Syrians admitted for medical treatment on the Israeli-held Golan Heights, Druze groups last week attacked two ambulances bringing in civil war casualties, killing one. Druze Arabs in Syria have long been loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, and their brethren in Israel and the Golan, captured in 1967, have been lobbying the government to safeguard the community. The Israelis, however, have sought to keep out of the more than four-year-old insurgency against Assad, an old foe who, they fear, may be toppled by more hostile Islamist militants. Briefing reporters on Monday, Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said that, from the outset, Israel knew there were rebels among those it was helping and “placed two conditions on this aid – that terrorist groups not approach the fence, and that the Druze not be touched.” He was referring to the southern Syrian Druze village of Hader on which rebels have encroached, setting off solidarity protests in the Golan and Israel where the Druze are an Arab minority with influence in the military and government.
Opinion: What last week’s historic changes in America mean for Israel / Peter Beinart
Haaretz 30 June — Without a two-state solution, Americans will one day embrace one non-Jewish state, in the name of equality — In 1995, the great South African journalist Allister Sparks titled his book about the transition from apartheid, “Tomorrow is Another Country.” That’s how it felt last week to live in the United States … Three days, three American revolutions, and a reminder: cultures change slowly and quietly over long periods of time, and then, suddenly, with little warning: the dam breaks. I wrote on the eve of Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection, “Over the past six years, and especially the past six weeks, Bibi has placed himself on the wrong side of the tectonic shifts that will shape American politics for decades to come.” In 1980, the United States was 80 percent white. Today, it is 63 percent white. By 2060, according to projections, it will be 44 percent white. Americans under the age of 24 are almost five times as likely as Americans over the age of 75 to express no religious affiliation … In debates pitting the advocates of cultural tradition, religious authority and capitalist theory against the advocates of equality, these demographic shifts are tipping the balance. Overwhelmingly, younger and non-white Americans simply do not believe that because white Southerners love their ancestors, conservative evangelicals read the Bible literally and Republicans revere capitalism, Americans should be denied health care, be denied the right to marry the person they love and be forced to watch their government honor a racist flag. Sooner or later, one way or another, unless the Israeli government changes course, these shifts will change American attitudes toward Israel too.