Archive for July 31, 2015

July 31, 2015

Violence / Attacks / Suppression of protests / Detentions — West Bank and Jerusalem

Israeli forces shoot, kill Palestinian teen near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 July — Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian teen late Friday evening near Ramallah during clashes at Atara checkpoint, medical sources said. Laith al-Khaldi,17, from Jifna village near Ramallah, was shot in the chest late Friday evening and later died from his injuries at Palestine Medical Complex near Ramallah, medical sources told Ma‘an.  The teen underwent two surgeries before succumbing to his injuries.  Medical sources said he lost a lot of blood on his way to the hospital. Several other Palestinians were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets during the clashes.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=766789

Palestinians injured, one seriously, in clashes across Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 31 July — Several Palestinians were injured, one seriously in clashes with Israeli forces throughout Jerusalem, in the aftermath of the settler attack that killed an infant in Duma village near Nablus, sources told Ma‘an.  In Shu‘afat refugee camp, a Palestinian was seriously injured with a rubber-[coated steel] bullet to the head and 11 others were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets, five in the head, one in the chest, one in the back and four in their extremities. Another Palestinian suffered injuries to his hand after being hit by a stun grenade, Fatah spokesman for the camp Thaer Fasfous said.  In al-‘Issawiyah village, clashes continued for several hours at the entrance and center of the village, where Israeli soldiers fired tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber-coated bullets, Monitoring committee member Mohammad Abu al-Homos said.  Abu al-Homos added that Israeli forces also sprayed skunk water at homes, causing Amna Mahmoud,93, and Umm Fadi Mahmoud,48, to have severe difficulty breathing.  They were taken to local medical centers for treatment.  Israeli forces fired tear gas at houses and land in al-‘Issawiya causing a fire in several trees near a house. He added that Israeli forces closed the eastern entrance of the village with earth and rocks.  Clashes also broke out in al-Swana neighborhood, where youths launched fireworks at Beit Orot settlement.  In Beit Hanina, fire bombs were thrown at a settlement near the town.  Clashes also broke out in al-Tur village and Silwan neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem as well.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=766792

Palestinian attacked, detained for wishing an Israeli soldier a good day
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 29 July – A Palestinian youth was assaulted by an Israeli soldier as he was crossing Jabara police station to cross into Hebron, for simply wishing the soldier a ‘good day’, Wednesday reported the Palestinian detainees and ex-detainees affairs committee. The committee reported on Naser Jaber, 22, saying after he got his identity card checked by an Israeli soldier at the police station in order to allow him to cross into Hebron, Jaber wished the soldier a ‘good day’, when the soldier stopped him immediately, asking him, ‘Am I your friend to wish me a good day?’ The soldier then smacked Jaber on his chin and on the back of his head with his riffle, causing him serious cuts and fractures in his chin and jaw, as well as an intensive internal bleeding in his head. Jaber was then detained and left to bleed for two hours before transferring him to hospital for treatment. He was taken to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem, where he received medical care. Jaber was then transferred to Etzion Israeli jail in Hebron, however, the prison administration refused to take him due to the severity of his health condition. He was taken back to Jabara police station and back to Etzion jail shortly after. Jaber told the committee that he has not been provided with any additional treatment despite of his bad condition following the assault; he said that he suffers from severe pain in his head, a high fever, and walking problems.
http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=28954

Group: Israeli settler runs over Palestinian in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 31 July — An Israeli settler ran over a Palestinian with a car while he was performing prayers in an occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood on Friday, a local group said.  Majdi Abbassi from the Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan said that the settler deliberately ran over the man while he was praying in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood.  Abbassi added that the settler fled the scene to a nearby settlement built on private land land confiscated from Palestinian residents of Ras al-Amud.  He said that Israeli forces were deployed in the area and “provided the settler with protection.”  The current condition of the man is unknown.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=766771

Palestinians pray across streets of Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) — Hundreds of Palestinians performed Friday prayers in the streets of Jerusalem and at the gates of the Old City and Al-Aqsa Mosque as Israeli authorities prevented men under the age of 50 from entering the mosque.  Israeli forces were deployed across Jerusalem streets leading to the Old City and Al-Aqsa Mosque.  Worshipers performed group prayers across the Wadi al-Juz and Ras al-Amud neighborhoods, the Damascus Gate and Salah al-Din Street and the Moroccans Gate while others prayed at the gates of Al-Aqsa.  Sheikhs and speakers at the prayers condemned the arson attack that took place early Friday morning, where 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha was killed.  Speakers said that Israel’s lack of action and punishment of those responsible for the burning and murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 16, last year and the burning of religious sites and Palestinian properties led to this “crime.”  Speakers also condemned Israeli preventing Palestinians from reaching the Al-Aqsa Mosque.  In the Bab Hatta neighborhood, Israeli forces detained a Palestinian youth and took him to a police station for interrogation.  Israeli forces assaulted a paramedic, identified as Arin al-Zaanin, at the Lions Gate, witnesses said.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=766779

Israeli settler runs over Palestinian firefighter near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 31 July — A Palestinian firefighter was lightly injured on Friday after being hit by an Israeli settler driving near Beit Hagai settlement south of Hebron, witnesses said. Locals said firefighter Imad al-Salayma was hit by a settler’s car while Palestinian firefighters were putting out a fire in the woods near the settlement. Al-Salayma suffered from bruises. The Israeli radio said the fire was caused by the high temperatures, while Israeli newspaper the Jerusalem Post said it was caused by a Palestinian arson attack.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=766787

Israeli forces injure 4 Palestinians during clashes at Qalandiya
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 July — Four Palestinian youths were injured with live and rubber-coated steel bullets during clashes with Israeli forces at the Qalandiya checkpoint on Friday, witnesses said. One of the youths sustained critical injuries. According to locals,Israeli forces opened fire with live rounds at one of the youths who was walking towards the checkpoint, hitting him in the back.  Israeli soldiers used rubber-coated steel bullets, tear-gas and stun grenades during the clashes, while youths responded with rocks and empty bottles, witnesses said. . . . The Qalandiya checkpoint lies between the city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem and is known for frequent upheaval. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs an average of 39 Palestinians are injured by Israeli forces per week.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=766777

Israel arrests eight Palestinians in West Bank, Jerusalem
HEBRON (WAFA) 29 July – At least eight Palestinians, including minors, were arrested on Wednesday by Israeli authorities from across the West Bank and Jerusalem, according to local and security sources. In Hebron area, in southern West Bank, Israeli army arrested three Palestinians, including two minors. They were identified as two minors Baraa and Ismail Jaber, and Nasir Jaber. The army also broke into Yatta, a nearby town, and arrested 21-year-old Mohammad Basal after raiding and searching his house. Meanwhile, Israeli police arrested a Palestinian from Hebron while he was present at his workplace in the town of Kafr Qasem, a hilltop city located about 20 km east of Tel Aviv, near the Green Line separating Israel and the West Bank. He was identified as Abdullah al-Halaikah, 24. Al-Halaikah’s arrest came concurrent with an Israeli army raid on his house in Hebron’s town of Ash-Shoukh. In Jerusalem, Israeli police arrested two Palestinian minors, both age 15, in the neighborhood of Ras al-Amoud, for purportedly throwing Molotov cocktails at homes in the nearby illegal  settlement of Ma’ale Hazeitim. Israeli media sources said both minors will be referred to the Israeli court of magistrate in Jerusalem later on Wednesday.  Meanwhile, Israeli police arrested Hazem al-Sa‘iri after raiding his family‘s home located near Shu‘fat refugee camp. He was taken to a detention and an interrogation center in Jerusalem. According to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (PPC), “Arrest campaigns against Palestinian minors increased after mid-2014, particularly after recent tension in Jerusalem where hundreds of children have been detained for various periods of time.” ‘Israel arrests at least two Palestinian children in Jerusalem every day,’ said PPC.
http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=28944

Army kidnaps three Palestinians in Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies 30 July — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Thursday at dawn, the ‘Aida refugee camp, north of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and kidnapped three young Palestinian men. Eyewitnesses said several military vehicles invaded the refugee camp, before the soldiers broke into and searched a few homes, and kidnapped three Palestinians. The kidnapped have been identified as Sabri Darweesh, ‘Atiyya Mohammad Abu ‘Aker and Mos‘ab Badawna. In addition, soldiers also invaded the family home of Laith Nabhan in an attempt to kidnap him, but he wasn’t at home during the attack. Limited clashes took place between the invading soldiers and local youths.
http://www.imemc.org/article/72425

Detaining a ‘wedding’ bus, searching the passengers and arresting one young man after assaulting him
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 31 July — The occupation forces arrested one Jerusalemite young man one Wednesday night after he passed through Al-Z’ayem checkpoint. Wadi Hilweh Information Center was informed that the occupation forces arrested the 19-year old Baha’ Ahmad Abulhawa and severely beat him while he was passing through Al-Z’ayem checkpoint. Ahmad Abulhawa explained that his son was coming back from a wedding in a bus that was transferring dozens of people from the family including women, children and old people. The bus was stopped and the passengers were asked to get out and the forces searched the bus. When the passengers were allowed to go back to the bus, the forces provoked the young men by pushing them and assaulted some of them after they refused to be pushed . . . One officer told me that my son will be transferred to the police station in the settlement of Maale Adomim on charges of assaulting Israeli soldiers.
http://silwanic.net/?p=60493

The Must‘aribeen unit arrests three Jerusalemites from the village of Esawyeh
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 31 July — The Must‘aribeen (undercover police) unit raided on Wednesday night the village of Esawyeh and arrested two young men and one child. Mohammad Abu Hummos, member of follow-up in the village of Esawyeh, explained that violent clashes broke out in some of the village’s neighborhoods and the forces were stationed near the schools’ area, the neighborhood of “Mahmoud” and the neighborhood of “Dari”. During the clashes, the Must‘aribeen unit broke in with their vehicle and fired live bullets in the air and then arrested a group of young men with the support of Special Forces. Abu Hummos added that the forces assaulted the young men and children during the arrest. He also added that many young men were injured with rubber bullets and shrapnel of sound grenades and others suffocated during the clashes. Wadi Hilweh Information Center was informed that the Musta’ribeen unit arrested the 18-year old Amir Mahmoud, Mohammad Kiswani and Majd Ahmad.
http://silwanic.net/?p=60489

Prisoners / Court actions

Israel legalizes torture against Palestinian prisoners; Israeli Knesset approves amendment allowing force feeding of prisoners on hunger strike
PCHR 30 July — On Thursday, 30 July 2015, the Israeli Knesset passed in the second and third readings an amendment to the so-called “Law to Prevent Harm of Hunger Strike” allowing force-feeding of prisoners. This step came in challenge of all international warnings to Israel to prevent passing the law which legalizes torture. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) calls upon the international community to go beyond condemnation and denunciation and immediately act to stop the application of this law.  The Israeli Minister of Internal Security, Gilad Erdan, from the Likud Party, presented the bill that allows force-feeding of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strikes to the Israeli Knesset. The amendment, rejected by the Israeli Medical Association, was supported by 46 members of the Israeli Knesset and rejected by 40 others. Commenting on the approval of the amendment, Raji Sourani, Director of PCHR, stated: “Hunger strike is the last resort for a Palestinian prisoner. When all other means fail, a prisoner resorts to struggle using his body cells and empty stomach in protest against inhuman detention conditions and to claim his legitimate rights as enshrined in international law, including international human rights law and international humanitarian law.  This has become impossible after this latest amendment.”  Sourani added: “Approval of this amendment reflects the state of moral retrogression of Israel, which perpetrates violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law in cold blood with consent of state official bodies and the Knesset.”
http://www.pchrgaza.org/portal/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11186

Israel releases Palestinian detainee after 42-day hunger strike
+972 Blog 30 July by Noam Rotem — Even before the Knesset passed its force-feeding bill early Thursday morning, the state reached an agreement with Oday Stiti, a Palestinian administrative detainee who went on hunger-strike for 42 days. Stiti, a 24-year-old administrative detainee from Kafr Qud, a village near Jenin, was arrested on November 16, 2014 under administrative order, after which he went on hunger strike to protest his detention without being sentenced or put on trial. According to his attorney, Stiti was abused and humiliated by his prison guards, who would cook meat outside his cell in order to force an end to his strike . . . Until recently, says his attorney, the Israel Prison Service’s preliminary condition for entering negotiations was an end to the hunger strike. On Wednesday, however, the two sides reached an agreement according to which Stiti’s administrative detention would not be extended in exchange for an end to his hunger strike. He is scheduled to be released on October 20th. There are now three remaining Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons: Mohamed Allan, a 33-year-old lawyer from the village Einbus near Nablus, who is currently on his 43rd day of hunger strike; Musa Sufan, who is striking over a lack of medical treatment; and Abdullah Abu Jabar, who is on hunger strike to demand his deportation to Jordan upon completing his prison sentence.
http://972mag.com/israel-releases-palestinian-detainee-after-42-day-hunger-strike/109432/

Israel charges third Jewish suspect after ‘miracle’ church arson
JERUSALEM (AFP) 30 July — Israeli prosecutors on Thursday charged a third Jewish suspect in a probe linked to a June arson attack at a shrine where Christians believe Jesus performed the miracle of loaves and fishes. Authorities accused Moshe Orbach of writing and distributing a document detailing the “necessity” of attacking non-Jewish property and people as well as laying out practical advice to do so, the justice ministry said. The document was part of the evidence found during the investigation over the June 18 arson attack at the Church of the Multiplication in northern Israel. On Wednesday, charges were filed against Yinon Reuveni and Yehuda Asraf for allegedly setting fire to part of the church complex and writing “Idols will be cast out” on a nearby wall.
http://news.yahoo.com/israel-charges-third-jewish-suspect-miracle-church-arson-180133162.html

Gaza

Israeli forces kill one, injure another in northern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 July — Israeli forces killed a Palestinian and injured another on Friday after opening fire at them near Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, sources told Ma‘an.  Medical sources told Ma‘an that Mohammad Hamid al-Masri,17, was shot by Israeli forces and died instantly, and another Palestinian was moderately wounded.  Witnesses said the two were shot suddenly while walking near the buffer zone. . .
Israeli forces opened fire towards civilians in the “security buffer zone” on land and at sea on at least 23 occasions during the last two weeks, according to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. On two occasions, Israeli forces entered and leveled land near the fence inside the Gaza Strip.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=766790

Gaza man found under rubble one year later
IMEMC/Agencies 30 July — On Wednesday morning, a man’s body was found under the rubble in Gaza, one year after the Israeli assault, during bulldozing works. Locals said that Mo’men Al-Batsh was found one year after his death under the rubble in Hayy Al-Tuffah, east of Gaza city. 18 members of Al-Batsh family were killed during last year’s Israeli genocide on Gaza. Of the 18, six were children, and three were women, including one pregnant woman. Sixteen others were injured, including three children and three women. Four of the injuries were described by medical sources as “critical.”
http://www.imemc.org/article/72421

Israel delays Qatari fuel bound for Gaza electricity plant
Middle East Monitor 30 July  — The head of the Palestinian Energy Authority said on Thursday that the Qatari fuel bound for the sole Gaza electricity plant had arrived at the Karem Abu-Salem Crossing, but Israel has delayed its entrance to the territory, the Safa news agency has reported. “The fuel has arrived at the Israel side of the crossing,” explained Omar Kitana, “but the Israeli authorities have put forward new conditions before it will be allowed into Gaza.” He said that a fuel tank at the crossing exploded two months ago and major repairs were made to its infrastructure and other issues. “But the Israelis have just demanded new measures at the last minute. Such measures were not demanded before.” To solve the problem, Kitana said that “intensive contacts” have been made with political parties, the Palestinian ministerial council and the civil affairs committee in order to allow the fuel to cross the border. “If the Israelis insist, though, we will be obliged to do what they say.” The fuel at the crossing is enough for one day only, he pointed out, noting that the energy authority has agreed with Egypt to transfer the Qatari donation on a daily basis directly from an Egyptian port to the plant. The storage tanks at the plant were destroyed by the Israelis during last year’s war on Gaza.
Meanwhile, Kitana pointed out that delivery of the fuel bought from Israel for the electricity plant was resumed today after 5million shekels (around $1.25m) was transferred from Gaza to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. The delivery of fuel is dependent on such payments to the PA. “If this continues, we will be able to run a third electricity generation unit and we will have 18 hours of electricity every day,” he added.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/20127-israel-delays-qatari-fuel-bound-for-gaza-electricity-plant

Gaza destruction comes under forensic lens in Amnesty report
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) 29 July by Tristan Martin — About two weeks into last year’s conflict in Gaza, Palestinian photographer Jehad Saftawi began to tire of venturing into the city every day to take images of the wreckage. He decided instead to set up a video camera showing the Gaza skyline in his apartment, and livestream the footage, so that viewers could see for themselves. For several weeks, Saftawi became one of hundreds of Gazans to document the impact of “Operation Protective Edge”, launched by Israel in response to rockets and mortar bombs fired by Hamas and other militant groups out of Gaza into Israel. “When we started the idea to have a livestream, we were not asking to achieve anything. We were just searching for any channel, for any way to the world, to make them understand (the situation) Gaza people are living in,” Saftawi, 24, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a Skype interview . . . 3D MODELING Using architectural techniques such as 3D modeling and two-point perspective, Forensic Architecture researchers were able to verify the time and location of numerous missile and tank strikes. “What is distinct about the 2014 conflict in Gaza, is that most testimony is not happening after the fact, but on the spot, real time record of what is happening … Palestinians taking photographs or videos of what happens next to them and uploading them online,” said Eyal Weizman from Forensic Architecture. By creating a 3D architectural model of Rafah, they were able to analyze smoke plumes and shadows, to verify the exact time and location of individual photos and videos. They could also assess the exact size of missiles moments before they reached their target. “The evidence for us is not within any single image. It is only through the architectural model that we are able to see the relation between images,” Weizman said . . . Weizman said his team developed its technique of forensic analysis in response to the growing number of contemporary conflicts taking take place in urban areas. “When violence takes place in cities, people die in buildings, and buildings become evidence,” he said. Amnesty said these techniques showed considerable potential, and could be used in other conflict zones that were hard for human rights activists to reach, such as Syria.
http://news.yahoo.com/gaza-destruction-comes-under-forensic-lens-amnesty-report-083333113.html

‘Strong evidence of Israeli war crimes on ‘Black Friday’: Amnesty
JERUSALEM (AFP) 29 July by Sarah Benhaida — An analysis of an Israeli assault in the Gaza Strip following the capture of one of its soldiers during last year’s war in the Palestinian territory shows “strong evidence” of war crimes, Amnesty International said Wednesday.  The London-based rights group called for those responsible for the alleged offences to be prosecuted as it published a detailed analysis of the Israeli military operation using eyewitness accounts, satellite imagery, photos and videos. “There is strong evidence that Israeli forces committed war crimes in their relentless and massive bombardment of residential areas of Rafah in order to foil the capture of Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, displaying a shocking disregard for civilian lives,” Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International, said in a statement. “They carried out a series of disproportionate or otherwise indiscriminate attacks, which they have completely failed to investigate independently.” Israel strongly denied the accusations, calling Amnesty’s report “fundamentally flawed in its methodologies, in its facts, in its legal analysis and in its conclusions.”
http://news.yahoo.com/strong-evidence-israel-war-crimes-black-friday-amnesty-150646122.html

Video: Journalist Max Blumenthal on the 51-day war against Gaza
Middle East Eye 30 July — The 51-day war against Gaza last year differed from other military operations against the enclave in two respects. The amount of explosives and ammunition used by the Israeli military was unprecedented. By the military’s own admission, it fired two bullets for every inhabitant of Gaza. And Israeli public opinion was wholly supportive. Anti-war protests were hounded off the streets by right-wing mobs. Colonel Ofer Winter, the national religious commander of the Givati Brigade, responsible for mass civilian casualties in Khuzaa and Rafah, was welcomed home as a hero, and a poll by the Israel Democracy Institute found that while 95 percent supported the war, 45 percent thought the army did not use enough force. Max Blumenthal, author of The 51 Day War, told MEE: “We see a steady transformation within Israeli society from labour socialism, which was responsible for the Nakba and the mass disposition of Palestinian society, into a religious nationalist form of government, and a major transformation within society where key figures fall under religious nationalists.”
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/video-journalist-max-blumenthal-51-day-war-against-gaza-1337022969

One year since Gaza, a photo a day: July 29, 2014
+972 — Female Israeli activists stage a protest against the attack on Gaza at Hatzor Air Force base, Israel, July 29, 2014. The activists wore white coveralls stained with red paint calling on the Israeli government to stop its air strikes and bring an end to the siege on Gaza, also expressing concern regarding the suffering of civilians in southern Israel. Signs in Hebrew read (from R to L): “Blood of children on your hands”, “Bombing civilians will not bring security”, “Stop the massacre in Gaza” and “Remove the siege”. (Keren Manor/Activestills.org)
http://972mag.com/nstt_feeditem/one-year-since-gaza-a-photo-a-day-july-29-2014/

Sharon’s Gaza disengagement was a necessary act of self-preservation / Chemi Shalev
Haaretz 29 July — The revisionist version of history has expunged from Israeli memories the untenable moral, material and human costs of occupation — On May 11, 2004, six Israeli soldiers were killed when their M-113 armored personnel carrier (APC) exploded in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza city. Islamic Jihad fighters were photographed celebrating around the bodies of the dead soldiers and mutilating them. The next day another five soldiers were killed when their identical APC was hit by RPG fire, near the Philadelphi route in Gaza’s south, where they had been operating against Palestinian tunnels. In the efforts to extricate the dead bodies, another two Israeli soldiers were killed. Collectively known as ason hanagmashim, the disaster of the APCs, the incidents horrified the Israeli public. Gruesome pictures of Israeli soldiers crawling on their hand and knees in the sand in search of remains were broadcast on the nightly news. A few days later, the IDF launched Operation Rainbow, in which 60 Palestinians were killed, hundreds of homes were destroyed, the Rafah zoo was demolished and most of its animals killed. Israel was roundly condemned by the international community. This happened over a year before Israel withdrew from Gaza, but it has been more or less expunged from collective Israeli memory, along with the rest of Israel’s troubled pre-disengagement history.  Hardly anyone mentions the 124 Israelis killed inside Gaza in the five years before the withdrawal, nor the seven felled by 500 Qassam rockets and 3,000 mortars fired across the Green Line, nor the tens of thousands of soldiers called up every year to reserve duty to safeguard the 8,000 Jewish settlers living in the 21 settlements of Gush Katif and northern Gaza.
http://www.haaretz.com/beta/.premium-1.667443

Gaza poverty rate reaches 38.8% due to blockade
Middle East Monitor 31 July — The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) has revealed that the Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip for over eight years has resulted in the rise of poverty in the coastal enclave. The poverty rate for the first half of this year has now reached 38.8 per cent, said the NGO; 21.1 per cent of the poor are regarded as suffering from “extreme poverty.” According to Anadolu, the PCHR said in a press release that the Israeli authorities continue to isolate Gaza and impose a strict ground and naval blockade on the territory. The NGO also noted that in addition to causing a rise in the poverty rate, the Israeli blockade has caused unemployment to rise to 44 per cent. This indicates the extent of the unprecedented economic deterioration suffered by the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/20146-gaza-poverty-rate-reaches-388-due-to-blockade

Extreme remote working at Gaza’s ‘weird news’ bureau
Financial Times [subscription] 29 July by John Reed — From his desk in a row of cubicles, Rawa Othman is scanning the shallows of the internet in search of what he calls “the weirdest news”. “My main task is to search the web for the most interesting news: the tallest man in the world, the shortest woman, the oldest pregnant woman and so on,” he says. The contractor, who works between 8am and 4pm, translates the items into Arabic for the Abu Nawaf Network, a client in Saudi Arabia. . . . Mr Othman’s office is run by Work Without Borders, one of two outfits in Gaza City that offer work for overseas clients, mostly, but not only, in the Arab world . . . Mr Othman’s office is run by Work Without Borders, one of two outfits in Gaza City that offer work for overseas clients, mostly, but not only, in the Arab world. Its clients pay the non-profit organisation, which is supported by Saudi donors, a rent of $200 per month per desk, allowing them to tap the talent of young Palestinians for web design, programming, translation and call-centre work. Offshoring, with its promises of a flat, connected world, is on the face of it a godsend for Gaza. . .
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/35a69696-2bc1-11e5-acfb-cbd2e1c81cca.html#axzz3hYjsF0VM

The murder of infant Ali Saad Dawabsha

‘Why did they burn a baby alive? What did he do?
[with PHOTOS] Activestills 31 July Text and photos by Oren Ziv — Hours after the terrorist attack that took the life of Palestinian toddler Ali Saad Dawabshe, relatives and friends are still trying to make sense of what happened in the early hours of Friday morning. In the hours of the morning, the road leading from Nablus and the nearby settlements to the West Bank village of Duma is empty. Generally, when Palestinians attack Jewish settlers, the army hermetically seals the roads and raids the neighboring villages. Things are different this time around. Inside Duma, dozens gather around the two homes that were set ablaze in the early hours of Friday morning. In one of them, 18-month-old Ali Dawabshe was burned to death in an attack by Jewish Israelis. His mother, father and four-year-old brother Ahmed were badly wounded. The family’s home is almost entirely burned, including the bedroom, the kitchen and part of the living room. It is hard to recognize the remains of furniture or even clothing. Relatives are busy trying to salvage whatever they can. Inside the charred bedroom, relatives have placed photographs of Ali on the ground as a makeshift memorial . . . A relative of the Dawabshe family who lives next door — and whose house was also targeted in the attack — also described the incident: “I woke up from a noise at 2 a.m. Luckily my children were sleeping in Nablus, otherwise they would have been killed,” he explains while pointing at the burned-down bedroom next to the entrance of the house. He walks around the house restlessly, still staring incredulously at the soot-covered walls hours after the attack itself. “When I woke up,” he continues, “I saw the entire house in flames. They threw something through the window and everything just lit up.” . . . A veteran Palestinian photographer who made his way from Nablus tells me that this is the first time he has ever seen soldiers stopping settlers on the road. “And me, with my Palestinian license plate — they just let me pass without a problem.” Despite the irregularity of stopping settler cars, the army has yet to arrest a single person for the attack. In West Bank funerals, the body is first brought to the family house, so that the women can part from the deceased. On Friday there was no family to bring the body to, so Ali is taken straight to the mosque in the village center, where hundreds arrived for Friday prayers. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah comes to the village, flanked by a large Palestinian police force. The local residents, whose village receives very little attention from the Palestinian Authority, don’t seem too happy with his visit.
http://972mag.com/why-did-they-burn-a-baby-alive-what-did-he-do/109508/

Relative of arson attack victims: I saw two masked men standing by as they burned
Haaretz 31 July by Amira Hass — A relative of the Daobasa family, whose house was torched early Friday in a terror attack that killed 18-month old Ali Saad Daobasa, has told Haaretz that he saw two masked men standing next to the infant’s parents as they lay burning on the ground outside their home. Ibrahim Mohammed Daobasa is a relative and neighbor of the family. He told Haaretz how he ran to the burning house at 2 A.M. on Friday when he heard Sa’ad Daobasa, Ali’s father, crying for help. Ibrahim, who is in his twenties, says that he was awake talking to his fiancée over the phone. The rest of the household was asleep. Suddenly he heard screaming from the Doabasa’s house, which is 20 meters from his own. He managed to wake up his father and brother, and ran towards the screaming. “I saw Sa’ad and Reham burning on the ground. Next to them were two masked men, one beside each of them. They were dressed in jeans and black long-sleeved shirts,” he told Haaretz. “Their faces were covered with a balaclava, with only the mouth and eyes visible. The street light  shone directly on them. I was horrified by what I saw. They saw me and I was frightened and ran back home. I told my brother Bishar to get help and returned to Saad’s house where I no longer saw the two masked men” said Ibrahim, adding that they were unarmed.  When Ibrahim returned to the torched house he saw that Saad was unconscious. Ibrahim roused him and tried to extinguish the flames with his bare hands but was unsuccessful. He raised him on his feet and pulled him towards the house.  “He told me to go and get his wife. I didn’t think of anything, of the possibility that my clothes might catch on fire,” he said. On the way, other family members took Sa’ad from him and he ran back to Reham who was unclothed, with a burning blanket stuck to her back. Glass from a shattered neon light was also stuck to her skin. She was also unconscious and Ibrahim roused her as well, telling her that he was her brother in order to calm her down. She said that her son Ahmed was inside and he promised to get him out right away. He led her to his family’s yard, where his father took hold of her, leading her inside in order to cover her. She was bleeding. Ibrahim ran back to Reham’s house and managed to extricate four-year-old Ahmed, whose leg was burning. Then he heard everyone talking about baby Ali, one-and-a-half years old, who was sleeping on the bedroom floor. People were bringing water in order to douse the flames but they spread so that it was impossible to enter the house and get the baby out. Palestinian firefighters arrived after forty minutes from the village of Burin. They found Ali’s charred body inside. . . .
http://www.haaretz.com/beta/.premium-1.668947

Autopsy confirms infant was ‘burned alive’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 July — The Palestinian Justice Ministry autopsy confirmed that the 18-month-old Palestinian who was killed in an arson attack on Friday was burned alive.  Minister of Justice Salim al-Saqqa said there was soot inside of the baby’s body, which indicates he was alive when his body caught fire.  Al-Saqqa said the baby’s body was completely blackened, his features had melted, parts of his extremities disintegrated from the burns, while parts of the lungs and rib cage had melted.  The infant was killed when suspected Israeli settlers smashed the windows of two homes in Duma village near Nablus, throwing flammable liquids and Molotov cocktails inside and catching the homes ablaze.  The infant, Ali Saad Dawabsha, was trapped inside the family’s home as the fire spread and died shortly after.  His parents and four-year-old brother were left with severe burns. The mother was in critical condition with third-degree burns covering 90 percent of her body, an Israeli doctor told public radio. The father had burns on 80 percent of his body and the son 60 percent, with all of their lives in danger.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=766785

West Bank murder: Leaders fail to address nature of settler violence
+972 mag 31 July by Natasha Roth — Friday morning’s “price tag” arson attack in the West Bank village of Duma, which killed Palestinian baby Ali Saad Dawabsha and left his parents and brother in critical condition, has been labeled an act of terror by nearly all Israeli and Palestinian politicians alike . . . By and large, these responses sing from the same hymn sheet: all are big on condemnation, but most utterly fail to acknowledge the endemic nature of settler violence. Lacking, too, is any word on incitement by Israeli politicians. Bennett’s calls to annex the West Bank to Israel, coupled with his infamous statement about having personally killed many Arabs, sit rather awkwardly with his announcement this morning. Shaked, for her part, posted a notorious Facebook update during last summer’s Gaza war in which she called Palestinians “snakes” and suggested that Palestinian mothers and their houses “must go… Otherwise they will raise other little snakes there.” The only statements from Jewish Israeli politicians that mention the government and army’s systemic failures in stemming Jewish terrorism have come from either Meretz or the Joint List. In response to the murder, Meretz head Zehava Galon wrote that “the writing was on the wall” and criticized the right-wing leadership for being blind to the “direct line” between their failure to properly enforce the law in the West Bank and incidents such as last night’s lethal attack . . . Ahmed Tibi, also of the Joint List, wondered this morning whether Avigdor Liberman’s nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu still stood by their call to implement the death penalty for terrorists, satirically announcing that the houses of the settlers responsible for the arson would not be demolished by Israel . . . Since 2004, around 11,000 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians have been recorded, according to the statement from the State of Palestine. Hundreds of “price tag” attacks occur each year, the majority of which go largely unreported and involve, inter alia, arson, looting, defacement, destruction of olive trees and other acts of vandalism, as well as physical attacks on Palestinians. The scale of such attacks indicates the extent to which settler violence is part of the culture of the West Bank and not merely an issue of “bad apples.”
http://972mag.com/west-bank-murder-leaders-fail-to-address-nature-of-settler-violence/109485/

Abbas doubts suspects in arson attack will be brought to justice
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 July — President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday expressed doubt that Israel would bring the Israeli settlers suspected in the arson attack which killed a Palestinian infant and critically injured three others, to justice. Abbas said in a statement at the beginning of an emergency meeting of Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, that the international community should label settlement organizations in Israel and the West Bank as terrorist organizations . Abbas added that the killing of Dawabsha is a result of continuous Israeli settlement policies in the West Bank, and is not the first and won’t be the last crime by Israeli settlers.  Abbas reiterated that the issue will be taken to the International Criminal Court, and said that the PA will head to the UN to request protection for the Palestinian people.  The United States listed price-tag attacks for the first time in the country’s annual report on terrorism in 2013.  In response to the arson attack, Israeli rights group B’Tselem said the infant’s death was “only a matter of time.”  “Official condemnations of this attack are empty rhetoric as long as politicians continue their policy of avoiding enforcement of the law on Israelis who harm Palestinians, and do not deal with the public climate and the incitement which serve as backdrop to these acts,” the group said in a statement.  Under what B’Tselem has called an “undeclared policy of the Israeli authorities in response to these attacks as lenient and conciliatory,” Israeli perpetrators of attacks are rarely tried and elementary police investigations are often never started.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=766788

Hamas: ‘Settlers, soldiers’ legitimate targets after infant killing
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 July — Palestinian political factions strongly condemned an arson attack carried out by settlers which killed a Palestinian infant on Friday, holding the Israeli leadership fully responsible for the brutal attack and calling for revenge.  Hamas said that the killing of 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha in the Nablus village of Duma makes all “Israeli soldiers and settlers legitimate targets for resistance.”  A spokesperson for the group, Hussam Badran, called for popular action in response to the killing and said Israeli crimes can only be stopped by “comprehensive resistance in all its forms.”  He also demanded that the Palestinian Authority stop “chasing fighters” and release all political detainees currently held in PA jails.  The Islamic Jihad movement condemned the attack and said the Israeli government is responsible for protecting settlers who carry out acts of “terrorism.”
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=766766

Israeli government’s talk is cheap on ‘price tag’ violence
The Guardian 31 July by Harriet Sherwood — The killing of a Palestinian infant in a suspected arson attack by extremist Jewish settlers in the West Bank has been swiftly condemned as an act of terror by both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. This horrific act is not an isolated event, but part of a widespread campaign by extremist settlers against Palestinians and their property, and it will be instructive to compare the treatment of the perpetrators – if and when they are identified – with Palestinian youths accused of stone-throwing. Within hours of the attack, the Palestine Liberation Organisation released data showing a total of 369 attacks it says were committed by Israeli settlers from the beginning of 2015 up to July 27 – an average of more than 12 attacks each week. They include harassment and intimidation, the destruction and theft of olive trees, the poisoning of wells, stone-throwing, firing with live ammunition at people and property, assaults, verbal abuse, vandalism and the spraying of graffiti on property. B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights group which monitors settler activity, said that in the past three years, nine Palestinian homes in the West Bank had been set alight, and a Palestinian family had been severely burned when a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a Palestinian taxi. “In recent years, Israeli civilians set fire to dozens of Palestinian homes, mosques, businesses, agricultural land and vehicles in the West Bank. The vast majority of the these cases were never solved, and in many of them the Israeli police did not even bother to take elementary investigative actions,” B’Tselem said in a statement.
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/31/israel-talk-is-cheap-price-tag-violence

EU urges Israel to show ‘zero tolerance for settler violence’
BRUSSELS (AFP) 31 July — The EU urged Israel Friday to show “zero tolerance” for settler violence after an arson attack blamed on settlers in the occupied West Bank left a Palestinian toddler dead. “The Israeli authorities should … take resolute measures to protect the local population. We call for full accountability, effective law enforcement and zero tolerance for settler violence,” a spokesperson for EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogeherini said in a statement. “The cold-blooded killing of Palestinian toddler Ali Dawabsha, presumably by extremist settlers … highlights the urgent need for a political solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” it added.
http://news.yahoo.com/eu-urges-israel-show-zero-tolerance-settler-violence-111033401.html

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Nakba / Jewish immigration

Destruction of Palestinian villages is not a matter of perspective
Haaretz 31 July by Amira Hass — An NGO has issued a second edition of its successful Nakba map, showing 601 Palestinian villages and 194 Syrian villages destroyed in 1948 and 1967, respectively, as well as destroyed Jewish communities — The Zochrot NGO has published an updated Hebrew version of its dual-layer map of the Holy Land, highlighting destroyed communities set against the backdrop of currently populated areas. Called the Nakba Map, it is not limited to destroyed Palestinian villages but also includes destroyed Jewish and Syrian communities. Most Israelis are not familiar with the map, which hangs in nearly every Palestinian home and bears the dense dots that represent the numerous Palestinian villages that existed before 1948. Zochrot published the first version in 2013. The editors of the two maps, Noga Kadman and Eitan Bronstein Aparicio, remember Israelis’ shock when they saw for the first time the Palestinian villages that are no longer here. They hadn’t imagined the extent of Palestinian life before 1948 and the scale of destruction, said Kadman, whose groundbreaking research into Israeli ignorance about the destroyed villages pushed Bronstein Aparicio to produce the map . . . The map is not limited to 1948. Much earlier, village lands the Zionist movement had purchased were emptied out and destroyed. Mlabas (Petah Tikva), Shatta (Mizra) and Jinjar (Ginegar) are just three of 57 villages whose residents were expelled by Zionist settlers, like chattels one disposes of. The new research – based in part on research by Golan settler Yigal Kipnis, who examined Syrian censuses – revealed that Israel destroyed 194 Syrian villages and farms in 1967, containing 82,709 residents, and not 127 as previously thought. Israel also destroyed six Palestinian villages following the Six-Day War: three in the Latrun corridor; Qa’oun in the northern Jordan Valley; Al-Hama (today Hamat Gader – in the previous map it was errantly included among destroyed Syrian villages); and one place the mapping team found by chance: the tin-shack neighborhood of Arad Al Ramel in what is now the Hof Shemen industrial zone in Israel proper, where some 200 Palestinians lived, including 1948 refugees. Israel used the cover of war to dismantle the shacks and disperse the residents.
http://www.haaretz.com/beta/.premium-1.668820

Israel PM approves 300 settler homes in occupied West Bank
JERUSALEM (AFP) 29 July by Michael Blum — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved Wednesday the “immediate” construction of 300 settler homes in the occupied West Bank as his government came under pressure from right-wing Jewish groups. A senior Palestine Liberation Organisation official denounced the plans to build new homes as “war crimes” and accused Israel of sabotaging peace efforts. West Bank settlements are major impediments to peace negotiations with the Palestinians, who see the land as part of a future independent state, and Western nations have called on Israel to halt such projects. Both the United Nations and the European Union condemned Wednesday’s announcement.  UN chief Ban Ki-moon said “settlements are illegal under international law, an impediment to peace and cannot be reconciled” with Israel’s “stated intention to pursue a two-state solution,” his spokesman said in a statement released in New York. Ban urged Israel “to halt and reverse such decisions in the interest of peace.”
http://news.yahoo.com/israel-pm-approves-300-settler-homes-occupied-west-095351576.html

Israeli forces halt construction of water well in northern Jordan Valley village
NORTHERN JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA) 30 July – Israeli forces Thursday morning ordered halted the construction of a water well in Kardala, a village in the northern Jordan Valley near the city of Tubas, said a municipal source. Mayor of al-Maleh ‘Aref Daraghmeh told WAFA Israeli forces raided Kardala, where they handed him an order to halt the construction of a UNDP-funded water well that has a capacity of 205 cubic meters. Daraghmeh added this was the second time he received a stop construction order for this well in particular, purportedly for being constructed without proper license. Khirbet Kardala is a small locality of 800 dunums. It has a population of 121 persons according to ARIJ’s 2006 statistics. The village’s population is mainly involved in agricultural activities.
http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=28964

Israel hands [out] demolition, stop construction notices for nine residential structures
HEBRON (WAFA) 29 July – Israeli forces Wednesday handed Palestinians in Masafer Yatta, an area to the south of Hebron, notices notifying them of their intentions to demolish two residential tents and ordering them to stop the construction work on seven residential structures, according to a local activist. Coordinator of the anti wall and settlement popular committee in southern Hebron, Rateb al-Jabour, informed WAFA that forces stormed two areas in Yatta and handed locals there notices ordering them to stop the construction work on their homes, which shelter them and their families. The locals who received notices were identified as Ahmad, Jibril, Mahmoud, Jamil, Ali, Yasir, Khalil, and Ismail Abu Ira’am. Forces further handed Othman Abu Qabita a notice informing him of their intentions to demolish his two residential tents, which shelter him and his family of 11 members.
http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=28956

A settler attempts to break into Al-Aqsa in her wedding gown!!!
SILWAN, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 30 July — One female settler attempted on Wednesday to break into Al-Aqsa Mosque in her wedding gown to bless her marriage inside Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Islamic Awqaf department explained that a female settler was wearing her white wedding gown and attempted to break into Al-Aqsa Mosque through Dung Gate but the police prevented her. The Islamic Awqaf added that the “bride” changed her gown into regular clothes and broke into Al-Aqsa with a group of settlers including the sons of the Rabbi Yehuda Glick. The group attempted to practice their religious rituals immediately after breaking into the Mosque but the police stopped them and made them leave through Al-Silsileh Gate after Al-Aqsa guards complained. The police arrested two females immediately after leaving Al-Aqsa Mosque.
http://silwanic.net/?p=60424

Yehuda Glick enters Al Aqsa under armed guard
IMEMC/Agencies 30 July — Controversial Israeli right-wing rabbi activist Yehuda Glick was escorted, under armed protection, into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound Wednesday, as groups of right-wing Israelis entered the area for the third time this week. The raid came despite the UN’s condemnation earlier this week of “religious provocations” in and around holy sites in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem. Sources in the Islamic Endowment Department told Ma’an News Agency that Glick as well as a group of 63 rightists stormed the compound and carried out religious rituals. Israeli forces were deployed in and around the compound to secure the raid, the department added.  Separately, an Israeli bride and groom attempted to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque but were prevented by Israeli police, and two Palestinian women were detained as they were leaving the compound.
http://www.imemc.org/article/72412

VIDEO: The journey to Al-Aqsa Mosque
Middle East Eye 31 July by Oren Ziv, Yotam Ronen & Faiz Abu Rmeleh — It’s a daily struggle for Palestinians trying to get from the West Bank to Jerusalem – especially for Muslims who want to attend prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque on Fridays. Held sacred by bothJews and Muslims, access for Muslims to al-Aqsa has regularly been limited to women and men over the age of 40 or 50, particularly during times of political tensions. Meanwhile tourists and Jews have been able to enter the compound on weekdays, escorted by police, and are prohibited from praying or performing religious ceremonies. For Palestinians living in the West Bank, though, even before trying to gain access to the Aqsa complex once in Jerusalem they struggle with the journey to the city, having to cross through Israeli checkpoints. People start to line up early in the morning, but getting past the Israeli army – who use age, family background and security profiling to decide who crosses – can be difficult. Those not allowed to pass, however, find other ways.
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/video-journey-al-aqsa-mosque-228201677

Israeli forces evacuate 200 activists squatting on former West Bank settlement
Haaretz 30 July by Chaim Levinson — Israeli security forces overnight cleared some 200 activists squatting on the ruins of the former settlement of Sa-Nur in the northern West Bank, a site which was evacuated during the 2005 disengagement. The activists, which included dozens of former residents as well as MK Bezalel Smotrich, reentered the site overnight Tuesday. They set up camp in a former British fortress which remained intact. Security forces arrived at the scene about two hours after the activists, and were told that the residents had decided to return home after 10 years.  The activists demanded that the state form a committee to discuss the return of settlers to northern Samaria in return for their leaving the place peacefully.
Meanwhile, Israeli authorities completed the demolition of two buildings in Beit El Wednesday, five years after demolition orders were first issued. The end of the demolition work in the Dreinoff buildings also marked the end of 48 hours of confrontations between settlers and Israeli security personnel, which began on Monday when the IDF occupied the buildings and cleared it from teenagers, who were planning on barricading themselves in the building to prevent the demolition. On Tuesday, the clashes resumed when police special forces rushed into Beit El and positioned themselves near the building.
http://www.haaretz.com/beta/.premium-1.668630

Israel receives 200 French immigrants; tens of thousands expected worldwide
IMEMC/Agencies 30 July — Two-hundred French Jewish immigrants have arrived in Israel, according to a Tuesday statement issued by The Jewish Agency for Israel. The newcomers – half of whom are children – were brought to the self-proclaimed Jewish state on a flight jointly organized by the agency and Israel’s Immigration Ministry, the statement noted. Immigration Minister Zeev Elkin said his ministry hoped to receive between 30,000 and 35,000 additional Jewish immigrants from around the world, the statement added, according to Press TV/Al Ray. Over the past five years, Israel has taken in more than 20,000 French Jewish immigrants, including 7,500 in 2014 and 4,260 in 2015.
http://www.imemc.org/article/72413

Other news, analyses

New ministers sworn in following Thursday’s reshuffle announcement
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 July — Five new ministers in the Palestinian cabinet were sworn in on Friday at the President’s headquarters in Ramallah in the presence of President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.  The five ministers are as follows: . . .  The swearing-in ceremony was done without media coverage out of respect to the Palestinian infant who was killed when suspected Israeli settlers torched a family home on Friday, leaving the child’s mother and father in a critical condition. The new ministry positions were announced on Thursday. There had been talk of a government reshuffle for months, but in mid-June it was announced at a Fatah council meeting that the entire government would soon be dissolved. The reshuffle is an attempt to preserve and reform the unity government, instead of dissolving it. The unity government was formed in June 2014 in a bid to end division between the Fatah-led PLO and Hamas, but has so far been unsuccessful in doing so. The Hamas movement said Thursday that it disapproved of the unity government’s reshuffle and called the move “unconstitutional and outside consensus.” Hamas spokesperson, Sami Abu Zuhri, added that the reshuffle represents a coup on the unity deal and said that the PA has become a separatist government. Officials told Ma‘an in June that Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s resignation was an imminent part of the reshuffle, but it has yet to officially materialize.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=766784

Abbas meets newly appointed US Consul General in Jerusalem at headquarters in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 30 July – The new American Consul General in Jerusalem Donald Blome Thursday joined the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in an introductory meeting at the presidential compound in Ramallah. Blome replaced Michael Ratney, who serves now as the U.S. Special Envoy for Syria), officially assumed his duties last Monday. Blome said in an official statement which WAFA received, “I assured the President of America’s commitment to the Palestinian Authority and to two-states for two peoples.  I also noted the importance of further enhancing our relationship with the Palestinian people.” Prior to this position, Blome worked as Director of the State Department’s Office of Arabian Peninsula Affairs from 2013 – 2015. He had served in a variety of posts in the Near East and South Asia, including as Political Counselor at US Embassy Kabul from 2012 – 2013.
http://english.wafa.ps/index.php?action=detail&id=28963

Tobacco eats away West Bank agricultural lands
JENIN (Al-Monitor) 30 July by Aziza Nofal — Four years ago, Moazzaz Fares used to grow vegetables. Now he is cultivating tobacco on his 10 dunams of land — doubling his financial return. Fares told Al-Monitor that growing tobacco is inexpensive and uncomplicated, yet profitable. Unlike vegetables, tobacco does not require a lot of water, and fertilizer is not affected by weather fluctuations and is very easy to market. Fares is not the only farmer who has shifted from the cultivation of vegetables and other crops to tobacco. In the town of Baqa ash-Sharqiyya, east of Tulkarm, tobacco is the main crop grown by dozens of farmers. As farmers seek first and foremost to make a decent profit, in the difficult economic conditions, tobacco cultivation is threatening to take over agricultural lands. Officials have yet to form a plan to regulate the industry. Tobacco cultivation — which has spread rapidly since 2012 — depletes the soil and the Palestinian economy, particularly since the cultivation is unregulated and is expanding at the expense of other crops in the most fertile agricultural lands in the northern West Bank, more precisely in Jenin.  Fares is well aware of that but has no other alternative, he said.
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/07/west-bank-tobacco-cultivation-agriculture.html

In the West Bank, a rough start doesn’t deter new Arab TV channel
NPR 30 July by Daniel Estrin — One out of every five people in Israel is Arab. But Israeli TV only sets aside a few hours a week for Arabic-language programming. And Arabs in Israel don’t have many opportunities to see their own cities and lives reflected on the screen. That’s the idea behind a new TV channel. It’s called Palestine 48, a reference to the year Israel was founded. The channel’s new morning show is called Our Morning Is Different. It’s like an Arabic version of the Today show, with a breezy opening jingle and stock footage of sunlight peeking through a field . . . They start with a weather report: Nazareth, 30 degrees Celsius. Haifa, 29. The temperatures are all pretty much the same. But this is actually one of the most satisfying parts of the show for co-host Liddawi, because he’s talking about Israeli cities with significant Arab populations. “I’m not a weather reporter,” Liddawi says. “But it’s nice to say the name of the city: Tarshiha. Nasara. Haifa. That’s Tarshiha, Nazareth and Haifa. Just to mention these words, it’s something for us. For me.” . . . It started broadcasting last month from Nazareth, an Arab city in Israel. There was a cooking segment and field reports on historical and religious sites. But just days after Palestine 48 went on the air, Israel ordered the studio closed. It had no Israeli operating permit. And the backing from Abbas violates Israel’s ban on the Palestinian Authority establishing organizations in Israel. Israel’s public security minister said he wouldn’t let the Palestinian government gain a “foothold” in Israel. So now Palestine 48 broadcasts from the roof of a hotel in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The hosts are their same bubbly selves — but without the field reports from Israel, they’re struggling to fill airtime.
http://www.kpbs.org/news/2015/jul/30/in-the-west-bank-a-rough-start-doesnt-deter-new/

Two Haifa cinemas refuse to allow screening of films about Palestinian Nakba
Haaretz 31 July by Nirit Anderman — Cinematheque, Tikotin Museum claim technical difficulties in renting hall to NGO Zochrot, but anonymous requests from group were filled immediately — Two municipal cultural institutions in Haifa – the Haifa Cinematheque and the Tikotin Museum – refused in recent months to allow the group Zochrot to rent a theater to screen short films that were shown in the past at the International Festival for the Nakba . . . The Nakba film festival, produced by Zochrot, has already taken place twice in the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. The second time, in November 2014, the previous minister of culture, Limor Livnat, threatened to remove her ministry’s support for the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, claiming that it is not reasonable for “an organization supported by the State of Israel to permit an entire festival devoted to preaching that the day of the establishment of the State of Israel is a day of mourning.” . . . Rosenberg says that she “found it strange that the Haifa Municipality, which boasts of coexistence between Palestinian and Jewish residents, systematically, and even formally and openly, refuses to allow a discourse about complex issues that definitely have a place, and excludes them in a manner befitting benighted regimes.
http://www.haaretz.com/beta/.premium-1.668834

New film highlights struggles of gay Palestinians in Israel
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) 30 July by Isaac Scharf and Miriam Berger—  During last summer’s Gaza war, Khader Abu Seif was living with his then Israeli boyfriend in Tel Aviv, wondering whether Hamas rockets could reach them from the coastal strip. He thought yet again of the dichotomy of his life as a gay Arab Israeli citizen considered an outcast by the Palestinian society for his sexuality and viewed with unease by some Israelis for his brand of nationality. The rockets were not the only thing that made him feel unsafe. Outside, Israeli extremists rallied on the streets against Hamas’ attacks with chants of “Death to Arabs.” Abu Seif was afraid to speak Arabic, his mother tongue, in his native Tel Aviv, the Middle East’s most gay-friendly city.  For the 27-year-old, a well-known socialite in Tel Aviv’s LGBT community, the city is a haven for gay men, but Abu Seif says he considers himself a Palestinian and that as such, he can never fully integrate. His struggles, along with those of two other protagonists are the subject of “Oriented,” a new Israeli documentary, touted as the first to focus on gay Palestinian citizens. The privately funded film is British director Jake Witzenfeld’s first feature documentary. It premiered in June at the Sheffield Film Festival in England and the Los Angeles Film Festival in the United States but has not made it to the Middle East yet.
http://news.yahoo.com/film-highlights-struggles-gay-palestinians-israel-064633490.html

Man stabs several people at Jerusalem gay pride parade
JERUSALEM (AP) 30 July  by Miriam Berger — Revelers dancing and singing through the streets of Jerusalem during the holy city’s annual gay pride parade were left shrieking in pain and panic Thursday night, as an anti-gay extremist lunged into a group leading the march and stabbed six people, Israeli police and witnesses said. Police said the attacker, Yishai Schlissel, who was arrested at the scene for Thursday’s attack, had been released from prison just three weeks ago, after serving a sentence for stabbing several people at the parade in 2005. Six people were wounded in the attack, two of them seriously, Eli Bin of Israel’s emergency service said.
http://news.yahoo.com/man-stabs-several-people-jerusalem-gay-pride-parade-163839733.html#

ICC postpones visit to Palestine
IMEMC/Agencies 29 July — A Palestinian diplomat on Monday announced that a planned visit to Palestine later this month by a delegation from The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) would be postponed. “The ICC has informed the Palestinian government of the postponement of the delegation’s visit – initially slated for the end of July – to next fall,” Nabil Abu Zened, Palestinian ambassador to the Netherlands, told Palestinian public radio. The court, he added, had attributed the move to technical and procedural reasons. World Bulletin reports, via Al Ray, that Abu Zened went on, however, to suggest the delay may have been due to Israeli pressure.
http://www.imemc.org/article/72402

US delivers F-16s to Egypt ahead of Kerry visit: embassy
CAIRO (AFP) 30 July — The United States began Thursday delivery of eight F-16 fighter jets to Egypt, according to its embassy in Cairo, the first since Washington fully lifted in March a freeze on arms delivery.  The operation comes as Secretary of State John Kerry’s prepares to visit Cairo for a “strategic dialogue” Sunday amid a warming in ties that were strained after the army ousted president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.  Following the overthrow of Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected leader, Washington froze $1.3 billion (1.2 billion euros) in annual military aid to Egypt.  It fully resumed assistance in March, and Cairo took delivery of two US fast missile boats last month. Washington had already delivered 10 Apache helicopters in December.
http://news.yahoo.com/us-delivers-f-16s-egypt-ahead-kerry-visit-140719441.html

Go ahead, tear down the High Court — watch the occupation crumble / Noam Sheizaf
+972 29 July — In response to the demolition of two high-profile settlement buildings, an MK in the ruling coalition calls for the destruction of the High Court itself. He may not have thought that one through —  Israel’s High Court of Justice on Monday ordered the state to demolish two apartment buildings in the settlement of Beit El. Israeli police and military forces carried out the order within hours, leading to physical clashes with settlers and exceptionally harsh attacks on the court by right-wing members of the government. Human rights groups hailed the ruling as a victory. But today of all days, it is important to remember that the High Court itself is one of the most important cornerstones propping up the occupation. The Israeli High Court of Justice has never written a single ruling (not even one!) that has come close to putting a wrench in the gears of the occupation. Quite the opposite. The court’s justices have given their stamp of approval to each and every instrument the State of Israel uses to impose its apartheid regime on the Palestinian population. The argument that settlements are not a violation of international law has been endorsed by the High Court. Demolishing Palestinian homes as collective punishment meted out on innocent family members — approved by the court. Imprisonment without charge or trial, even of minors — approved. Deportations — approved. Extrajudicial assassinations — approved. Torture — approved. The separation fence and its route that annexes occupied territory — approved. Exploiting Palestinian natural resources in the West Bank for the benefit of Israel and Israelis — approved. The High Court’s primary role is building a legal framework in which all of those things can be carried out: . . . .
http://972mag.com/go-ahead-tear-down-the-high-court-watch-the-occupation-crumble/109413/

The Postman knocks twice: Second thoughts about the Third Temple / Avraham Avi-hai
JPost 30 July — You will have to cooperate with me as you read this. It is an exercise in imagination. The time: Many decades into the future The place: Jerusalem  The scenario: The United Rabbis of Israel, a splinter group from the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, has decided to build the Third Temple on an artificially built extension of the Temple Mount (Haram esh-Sharif), with the agreement on the United Sunna and Shia Islamic League . . . Breaking news: • Bloody clashes between followers of the United Rabbis and the ultra-Orthodox Nachmanites, and between followers of the United Rabbis and the super-ultra-Orthodox Menachemites, have rocked Jerusalem. Each of the two ultra-Orthodox groups is demanding that construction begin only when its deceased rabbi returns and approves the Third Temple project. The Architects Union has declared a strike of all its members in protest. • Fifty ambulances have been ferrying the injured to all hospitals in the area of the Holy City . . .  • The United Muslim States has offered to mediate the dispute, and warns that no violence will be allowed to spill over onto the existing Temple Mount. Nepal has offered medical aid, and Haiti is ready to rush a field hospital . . ..  Decades afterwards:   The Israel government supported by the combined financing of oligarchs from the failed United States of America, diamond merchants and casino and slot-machine czars has built the Third Temple . . .  A decade later:  • Residents of all quarters of Jerusalem’s Old City have complained to the Ministry of Health over the slow collection of cow, sheep and goat droppings from the area. Some entrepreneurs have been importing made-in-former-China “genuine Lapland” snowshoes . . . • The Chief Priesthood has launched an investigation of the bird and animal suppliers’ price-setting cartel. Crime societies are reputed to have maintained control in order to launder money from their defecation-gathering operations.  • Sleep specialists have been called in to study the effect of hundreds of animals being herded into the area in the early morning hours. The lowing of the animals before dawn has lowered the abilities of the thousands of students living in the dormitories around the yeshivot which occupy the Jewish Quarter. . . .
http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/The-Postman-knocks-twice-Second-thoughts-about-the-Third-Temple-410702

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