Violence / Attacks / Incursions / Clashes / Detentions
Soldiers attack ambulances, kidnap wounded Palestinian
IMEMC/Agencies 30 Sept — Israeli soldiers attacked, Tuesday, several Palestinian ambulances while transporting wounded Palestinians to hospitals in Ramallah, kidnapped one Palestinian after dragging him out of the ambulance, and attempted to abduct another. Medical sources said at least two Palestinians were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, and dozens suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, after the soldiers assaulted hundreds of Palestinians protesting the ongoing Israeli invasions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem. The soldiers stopped Palestinian ambulances trying to transfer injured residents to hospitals in Ramallah, and kidnapped a wounded Palestinian, identified as Mohammad Ouri, after forcibly removing him from the ambulance. They also attacked another ambulance, transferring a wounded Palestinian, but were unable to abduct him. The assaults took place near the Beit El roadblock, north of Ramallah, when the soldiers assaulted dozens of protesters, including various political leaders of different Palestinian factions. The army fired rounds of live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, concussion grenades and gas bombs, in addition to spraying the protesters with wastewater mixed with chemicals.
In Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, soldiers kidnapped a Palestinian child identified as Bassel Issa Shawaheen, 12 years of age, after breaking into his family’s home and searching it.
Israeli settler assaults, pepper sprays Palestinian in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 29 Sept – An Israeli settler Tuesday assaulted and pepper sprayed a Palestinian near Bab al-Qatanin Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, according to WAFA correspondent. A settler pepper sprayed a Palestinian from Jerusalem directly in the face, causing him serious burns. The man, whose identity remains unidentified, was transferred to a nearby hospital for medical treatment…
In the meantime, dozens of Israeli settlers accompanied by a military escort broke into an archaeological site in the village of Sebastia, to the north of Nablus, to mark the Sukkot holiday.
18 Palestinians injured in West Bank clashes
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 Sept — At least 18 Palestinians were injured on Tuesday as Israeli forces suppressed demonstrations across the occupied West Bank in support of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Twelve Palestinians were injured as Israeli forces suppressed a protest near Ramallah, with three demonstrators reportedly injured by live fire. Demonstrators had marched from the center of Ramallah to the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El north of el-Bireh to protest ongoing violations and clashes at the Jerusalem holy site. Israeli forces fired tear gas, water cannons, live fire, and rubber-coated steel bullets at the demonstrators. Dozens suffered tear gas inhalation, including journalists who were covering the demonstration. PLO Executive Committee member Wasil Abu Yousef urged the international community to stop Israeli restrictions and violations at Al-Aqsa, as a general strike across the occupied West Bank saw stores close for two hours in solidarity with the holy site. Amin Shouman, head of a Palestinian prisoners’ committee, said popular mobilization will continue in support of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestinians jailed by Israel. An Israeli army spokeswoman said around 300 Palestinians marched near Beit El, with Israeli forces using riot dispersal means before firing rubber-coated bullets at the “main instigators.” She confirmed seven Palestinians were hit. In Bethlehem, dozens of youths suffered tear gas inhalation as Israeli forces suppressed a protest near ‘Aida refugee camp, while in the nearby village of Tuqu‘, dozens of schoolchildren suffered from tear gas inhalation after Israeli forces opened fire at a demonstration in support of al-Aqsa. Clashes were also reported in Tulkarem as Israeli forces fired tear gas at demonstrators marching in solidarity with the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
2 Palestinian children detained in Jerusalem for ‘throwing stones’
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 29 Sept — Israeli police on Tuesday detained three Palestinians, including two minors, in occupied East Jerusalem for reportedly throwing stones at an Israeli bus and passing vehicles, injuring two tourists. Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told Ma‘an that the three were detained on the outskirts of the Old City after hitting an ‘Egged’ bus and several vehicles. The two tourists sustained light injuries, he said, adding that Israeli police were “continuing security operations” in the area in order to prevent future incidents. Israeli news sources identified one of those detained Tuesday as a 15-year-old who reportedly hit the Israeli bus on Sultan Suleiman street adjacent to the Old City. The youth was found carrying “brass knuckles” and tear gas spray. Another detainee was an 11-year-old who allegedly threw stones at a taxi while it was passing near his home in the neighborhood of al-Tur, the sources added, saying that the forces are now searching for the parents of the two minors, and had transferred their cases to authorities specializing in detained minors. A new law was implemented last week by Israel’s security cabinet regarding harsher punishments for stone throwers. The use of .22 caliber bullets is now allowed in occupied East Jerusalem in circumstances that Israeli forces determine as life-threatening, and stone throwers face a minimum four-year prison sentence. The new law also authorizes larger fines for minors and their parents.
Haaretz editorial: Mandatory minimum sentences for stone-throwing in Israel will lead to injustice
28 Sept — Why should Israeli law include a minimum sentence for stone throwing when there is none for manslaughter, rape or bribery? —Late last week, and in keeping with a security cabinet decision, the Justice Ministry published the preliminary draft of a law that would mandate a minimum sentence for stone throwers. Like all legislation that seeks to interfere with sentencing, this is a bad bill that will create distortions, injustice and lack of coherence. It is also an unnecessary bill that will not change the current reality, since the law enforcement authorities’ legal toolkit already offers sufficient possibilities without it . . . The problem with legislating minimum sentences is the arbitrary manner in which the Knesset operates. It does not bother legislating minimum sentences for offenses such as manslaughter, rape or bribery – but it does for stone throwers. The distortion this creates is not theoretical; it manifests itself in imposing long prison terms on individuals convicted of relatively minor offenses, while criminals who have committed more serious crimes will be released from prison before them . . . The bill is also political in the sense that it is driven by a desire to demonstrate that something is being done, and does not meet a real need.
Explosion likely caused death of young Palestinian: PA medic
KHURSA, Occupied Palestinian Territories (MEE) 28 Sept by George Hale — A young Palestinian who died under disputed circumstances late on Monday suffered injuries consistent with an explosion, a Palestinian medical official has concluded. The findings by the ER doctor who treated Diaa al-Talahmeh contradict claims by Palestinian security and political officials who have blamed Israeli gunfire for the 21-year-old’s death. Echoing Talahmeh’s family, the Ramallah-based Palestinian government accused Israeli forces of shooting the young man to death in an unprovoked attack. Talahmeh was the first of three young Palestinians to die in quick succession since Monday; Israel has been implicated in all three deaths. But its forces have disputed any role in Talahmeh’s death, insisting he accidentally killed himself while hurling a bomb. On Friday, Dr Ahmad Abu Sneid told Middle East Eye that his examinations of the body “did not confirm” a bullet wound. Rather, al-Talahmeh’s injuries – among them cuts to his hand, chest and neck – appeared to be “from explosive material” rather than gunfire. Abu Sneid stopped short of identifying those he believed were responsible. But his findings were likely to be welcomed by Israeli officials who are facing unusually intense scrutiny and international attention this week over the use of deadly force against Palestinians . . . Family members and neighbours described Talahmeh as a typical university student. He was studying computer science at al-Quds University, they said, insisting he showed little interest in politics. They described Talahmeh as the last person they would suspect of possessing – and much less attempting to detonate – an explosive device. Mourners gathered outside Talahmeh’s family home in Khursa village near Hebron on Thursday dismissed the military’s account as a fabrication . . . Ali Manaa, the supervisor at Alia Hospital who was present when Talahmeh’s body arrived early Tuesday, told MEE that the hand injury, apparently the result of burns, was superficial and could not have caused his death. He believed the injury offered evidence that any explosive device Talahmeh might have been handling was not powerful enough to cause his death. His fingers were blackened but remained intact, he said. Manaa agreed with the family that the cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head. With the exception of a single bullet hole above Talahmeh’s right temple, the medic said the young man had received no other significant wounds.
Security forces arrest 2 terror suspect for gas station ‘revenge’ firebombing
JPost 29 Sept by Yaakov Lappin — Security forces announced on Tuesday the arrest of two members of an alleged terror cell from the village of ‘Awarta, near Nablus, on suspicion of hurling a Molotov cocktail at a gas station and igniting a fire. The incident occurred in the settlement of Ali in August. On August 14, the Samaria gas station was targeted in an arson attack, and red graffiti affiliated with the PFLP terror organization was spray painted at the scene. In a joint Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), IDF, and Israel Police – Judea and Samaria District operation, security forces arrested two Palestinians, described by the Shin Bet as PFLP operatives, on suspicion of carrying out the attack. Evidence gathered by a police crime scene investigation unit, and the testimony of a female eye witness, led to the arrests, the domestic intelligence agency stated. It named the suspects as Majdi Kuarik, 22, and Ahmed Abdat, 23. “During questioning by the Shin Bet, the two confessed to carrying out the attack,” the Shin Bet said. “Kuarik initiated the attack and drove a vehicle, while Abdat threw the firebomb, which ignited a fire at the station. They claimed the attack was revenge for the death of Ali Dawabsheh, the [Palestinian] baby killed in an arson attack on his home [in the West Bank[ village of Duma at the end of July,” the Shin Bet said. The case material will be sent to the Judea and Samaria military prosecution soon, which will press charges against the men.
Army kidnaps nine Palestinians in Jerusalem, attacks worshipers
IMEMC 29 Sept — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Tuesday, nine Palestinians, including three women, in occupied East Jerusalem, attacked several men and women near Al-Aqsa Mosque, and prevented them from entering it. The head of the Detainees’ Parents Committee in Jerusalem, Amjad Abu ‘Asab, said the army invaded homes, and violently searched them, in different neighborhoods in Jerusalem’s Old City, and kidnapped three men. The three have been identified Mohammad ‘Ebada Najeeb, his brother Laith, and Rami al-Fakhouri. The soldiers also invaded Jabal al-Mokabber, in Jerusalem, searched homes, and kidnapped ‘Abed Mohammad ‘Oweisat, 45, Khaled ‘Oleyyan ‘Oweisat, and Mohammad ‘Ata ‘Oweisat.
In addition, soldiers continued to block all gates leading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, attacked many Muslim worshipers before kidnapping three women, and wounded several Palestinians. Abu “Asab said ‘Aida Saidawi was taken prisoner in the Suq al-Qattanin area, Najwa Mteir near the Council Gate, and Seena Sheikha near the Chain Gate. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) has reported that nearly 150 Israeli extremists stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque through the al-Magharba Gate, under heavy army accompaniment, and that the soldiers closed most of the Al-Aqsa Mosque Gates, except for Bab Hatta, The Council Gate and The Chain Gate. The army also installed iron barriers on the open gates of the mosque, and prevented all men and women, who are below the age of 50 from entering it, for the third consecutive day. Silwanic said that Israeli extremists sprayed pepper spray in the faces of many Palestinians, causing several injuries, while the soldiers chased dozens of residents in an attempt to force them to leave the area. Dozens of worshipers held dawn prayers near the Gates of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, due to Israeli restrictions preventing them from entering it. In related news, soldiers detained a young Palestinian man, identified as Jihad Bodeir, and handed him a warrant preventing him from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque and its courtyards for fifteen days.
Nablus to halt business for two hours in support of Aqsa
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 29 Sept — All civil and commercial activity in in the northern West Bank district of Nablus is scheduled to go on halt for two hours on Tuesday afternoon in solidarity with the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which has seen fierce clashes in recent weeks. The action was announced by a committee in charge of coordination between Palestinian factions in Nablus. A committee spokesman, Imad Ishtewi, told Ma‘an that business would stop between 12 to 2 p.m. Ishtewi urged residents of Nablus to gather at Shuhad Square in the city center during the two-hour period. On Monday, similar action was announced for Tuesday afternoon across Jenin district, also in the northern West Bank.
Regev calls for expulsion of Arab MK over Temple Mount video
Haaretz 29 Sept — Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev (Likud) called on Joint List chairman Aymen Odeh on Tuesday to remove Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka and two of his Balad faction colleagues from the united Arab party. Regev’s call followed Zahalka’s release of four videos of himself on the Temple Mount, shouting at Israeli policemen and telling Jews entering the sanctuary to “Get out of here! Go home,” according to reports in the Israeli media.The Balad Knesset members, who also include Haneen Zoabi and Bassel Ghattas, were described by Regev as “experts in provocations who wave a flag of hatred. “They don’t serve the public that elected them; they just do damage.” . . . Several other Knesset members joined Regev’s call for the expulsion of the Balad representatives, with Yisrael Beitein chairman and former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman calling for Zahalka’s arrest . . . Zahalka said in response that he was aware that his actions and those of his colleagues annoy the racists, which encourages him to continue. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is under occupation and the struggle against occupation is a moral imperative, he said. The Palestinian people would defend the mosque and would not allow radical settlers to enter the sanctuary without response. . . Knesset Member Aymen Odeh supported Zahalka, saying in a statement that “The things said today by my friend Jamal Zahalka represent the position of the entire Joint List.” “Our position is clear and uncompromising,” he added. “The Al-Aqsa Mosque belongs to Muslims and the only way to safeguard it is to continue our struggle to end the occupation and create a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.”
UK government: 700 Israeli attacks on Gaza since 2014 ceasefire
MEMO 28 Sept by Ben White — Israel has opened fire on the Gaza Strip on “at least 696 occasions” since the August 2014 ceasefire, the UK government has told Parliament. These incidents are in addition to 29 strikes on Gaza conducted in response to rocket fire. The figures were provided by Tobias Ellwood, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, citing UN agency figures, and in response to a question by Labour MP Alex Cunningham . . . He added that British officials in Tel Aviv have “raised our concerns over the Israel Defence Force’s use of live fire in Gaza with the Israeli Government. We are continuing to urge the parties to prioritise progress towards reaching a durable solution for Gaza.” As described by Middle East Monitor here, Israeli forces’ attacks on the Gaza Strip are routine, targeting farmers, fishermen, and unarmed civilian protesters. Israel’s unilateral imposition of a ‘no go’ buffer zone by the border fence and at sea is an important part of the ongoing blockade. Earlier this month, the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights said it had documented 82 incidents by land in 2015 to date, in addition to 88 incidents of Israeli forces opening fire on fishermen. These attacks have killed 2 and injured 54. On September 17, Israeli forces permitted Palestinian farmers to access their land close to the border fence “for the first time in 15 years.” It remains to be seen how this works out in practice; on September 21, Israeli forces crossed the fence again and bulldozed agricultural land.
Israel strikes Gaza targets after rocket intercepted over southern Israel
Haaretz 30 Sept by Amos Harel — Israeli air force planes struck a number of targets in Gaza overnight Tuesday in response to a rocket fired from the Strip at the southern Israel city of Ashdod earlier Tuesday. The rocket was intercepted by the Iron Defense air defense system and no damage or casualties were caused. The Grad-type rocket was the first rocket to be fired from Gaza at Ashdod since the summer conflict between Gaza and Israel ended in August 2014. The radical Salafist group the Omar Hadid Brigade, which is affiliated with ISIS, claimed responsibility for the attack, despite initial assessments that the Islamic Jihad was behind the rocket fire. On its Twitter account, the group said that the rocket fire was retribution for the death of Hadeel al-Hashlamun, a 19-year-old Palestinian woman who was shot dead after [allegedly] attempting to stab a soldier near Hebron last week, and in honor of Iman Kanjou, an Israeli Arab mother of five who faces charges for allegedly attempting to join ISIS. According to a statement by the Israeli military, air force planes targeted four sites in Gaza, all tied to Hamas, which the IDF considers responsible for the Strip. “The IDF will not accept any fire into Israel’s territory by terror groups and will continue to respond with severity to any attempt to break the calm in the south. The terrorist organization Hamas responsible,” the Israeli army said in a statement. The incident comes a little over a week after a rocket fired from Gaza exploded in an open area in Hof Ashkelon Regional Council in southern Israel, in an attack also claimed by the group. Tuesday’s incident involved a long-range rocket, pointing to the Islamic Jihad, which has Grads in its arsenal . . . Israeli military intelligence believe that Hamas’ Gaza leadership is still interested in maintaining the calm and is working to rein in smaller terrorist organizations, fearing an additional conflict with Israel.
Israel reopens Karem Abu Salem crossing with Gaza
GAZA (Petra) 29 Sept — Israeli occupation authorities on Tuesday reopened the Karem Abu Salem commercial crossing with the Gaza Strip, following a week-long closure, under the pretext of Jewish holidays. Chairman of the committee for the Coordination of the Entry of Goods into Gaza, Raed Fattouh, said in a statement that 900 trucks, laden with aid and goods for commercial and agricultural sectors were admitted into the strip through the crossing. Fattouh added that some 218 trucks laden with construction materials for the international projects as well as fuel will enter the enclave to cover the severe shortage it suffers.
Palestinian fishing boat destroyed by Israeli navy off Gaza shore
KHAN YOUNIS (PIC) 27 Sept — The Israeli occupation navy afternoon Saturday destroyed a Palestinian fishing boat docked within the authorized nautical miles off Khan Younis shores, in southern Gaza. A PIC news reporter quoted local fishermen as stating that an Israeli gunboat moved toward a Palestinian fishing vessel docked [anchored?] some three kilometers away from Gaza shores shortly before they smashed the vessel and sank it. The fishermen said the boat, owned by the chairman of the fishermen syndicate in Khan Younis, Fouad al-Amoudi, and three other partners of his, was attacked while disembarked in the authorized fishing zone.
Hamas: Abbas is leading conspiracy to strangle Gaza
MEMO 28 Sept — Hamas accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of conspiring to strangle the Gaza Strip. The movement’s spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said yesterday that statements made by Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi that his military’s flooding of the Egypt-Gaza borders are being carried out “in full coordination with the Palestinian Authority” constitute clear proof that Abbas is leading a conspiracy against Gaza. This entails “taking a national position against Abbas’s practices which brought disasters onto Gaza,” Abu Zuhri said in a press statement. During a UN summit in New York, Al-Sisi said: “The measures taken by Egypt to secure its eastern borders are in full coordination with the Palestinian Authority and do not aim to harm our Palestinian brothers in the Gaza Strip.” “The measures seek to protect the Egyptian borders and maintain Egyptian and Palestinian national security,” Al-Sisi was quoted as saying in a statement released by his office. The Egyptian army recently began flooding the tunnels along the Egyptian borders with Gaza. Television interviews with Abbas dating back to July last year appear to show that it was his idea to flood tunnels used by Palestinians to alleviate the impact of the siege imposed on them.
‘Sisi’s sea’ . . . part of Israeli scheme to turn Gaza into an island (report)
‘Sisi’s sea’ as referred to by activists on social network pages in their talk about the waterway that the Egyptian military is digging on the borders with Gaza Strip, is not an “Egyptian-planned sea”; basically, it is the first part of an old Israeli scheme to turn Gaza into a “hostile island”, separating it geographically and isolating it in the middle of water. Implementing this scheme on the ground, however, was postponed several times without obvious reasons. It was found in the archive of 2004 of “Yediot Ahronot” Hebrew newspaper that the Israeli Ministry of War had announced a tender between companies on the project of drilling a buffering-water canal along the border with Egypt or the so-called Philadelphia line, to meet the security assessments that pointed at the time to the accelerated pace of smuggling weapons from Sinai and to the increasing security risks in the long term because of that, and to the risk of digging more tunnels if the borders remained open. The newspaper quoted Israeli officials as saying that the canal to be dug stretches 4 kilometers long and ranges between 15 to 25 meters depth . . . Hence it is clear that the current Egyptian project is only part of the Israeli scheme that was postponed until finding an “ally” from the Egyptian authority to bear the burden. But the Zionist project is not limited to isolate Gaza from Egypt only; it also extends to the border between the Gaza Strip and the occupied Palestinian territories in 1948.
New mediator between Hamas and Israel
MEMO 28 Sept — Tony Blair’s mediation to reach a long-term truce between Hamas and Israel has failed and a new mediator has taken up the mission, Al-Khaleej Online reported a senior Hamas member as saying yesterday. Member of Hamas political bureau Ziad Al-Zaza revealed that his movement insisted on having a written document outlining the Israeli obligations following an agreement. “Israel refusal to give written pledges and the non-response of Israel and the other sides undermined Blair’s efforts,” he said, noting that Israel had ignored its obligations made in the ceasefire announced on 26 August 2014 which ended last year’s Israeli offensive on Gaza. The official also revealed that there have been “many” mediators who exchanged messages between Hamas and Israel, including “senior” Arab and international envoys and Palestinian businessmen. He also said that the current “active” mediator is the UN envoy Nikolay Mladenov who is “highly respected” by Hamas. “This man is currently holding actual official meetings discussing several important files, mainly the truce, lifting the siege, opening crossings, internal reconciliation and rebuilding the Gaza Strip,” Al-Zaza said. “We hope his efforts succeed to achieve Palestinian interests and completely lift the siege.” Al-Zaza stressed that Hamas would not concede any of the Palestinian rights in return for any development in the discussions. “Hamas is still sticking to its stance – no truce at the expense of any political concession,” he said, “Hamas is clear regarding this issue. Any solution must keep up with the interests and rights of the Palestinians.”
Israeli forces detain 4 Gazans crossing into Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Sept — Israeli forces on Monday detained four Palestinians caught crossing into Israel from the besieged Gaza Strip. An Israeli army spokeswoman said the four men were found “crossing the border fence” out of central Gaza, near Ein HaShlosha in southern Israel. She said they had been taken into police custody for interrogation. Around 200 Palestinians from Gaza have tried to enter Israel since the beginning of 2015, according to Israeli media reports. In June last year, a local poll reported that over half of Gazans would choose to leave the besieged strip if they had the choice, the highest number ever recorded.
Electricity crisis tests right to protest in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 29 Sept by Rasha Abou Jalal — Popular protests in Gaza in mid-September were met with repression by the police, who detained demonstrators and dispersed gatherings, sparking outrage among human rights organizations, which demanded that the security forces abide by the law and respect the people’s right to protest and peaceably assemble. Massive protests Sept. 12-14 were triggered by ongoing chronic power outages.. . . The protesters blame President Mahmoud Abbas, the consensus government as well as Hamas and Fatah for the situation and are demanding that the parties separate their political bickering from the electricity crisis paralyzing all aspects of life in Gaza. M.R., a 27-year-old protest organizer who requested anonymity for reasons of safety, told Al-Monitor, “The police suppressed the protests and detained a number of participants under the pretext of failure to obtain authorization from the Ministry of Interior.” He said that the requirement to obtain prior authorization is a violation of the law, stressing the right of citizens to protest peacefully and spontaneously.
Gaza’s caretakers become its breadwinners
GAZA STRIP (EI) 29 Sept by Isra Saleh el-Namey — Five years ago, Soha Masri lost her husband because of an Israeli air strike on Gaza. Becoming a widow placed her in financial peril. She had three daughters, all of whom had plans to study at university. How could she support them? Masri, now aged 45, took the initiative of setting up a small poultry farm in Nuseirat refugee camp. She began selling the food produced on it to relatives and neighbors. “It is not an easy job to take care of the chickens,” she said. “But I try my best so that I can make enough to pay part of my children’s expenses.” Many other women in Gaza are in a similar situation. Although men are usually the main breadwinners for their families here, their death or injury leaves their wives having to perform that role. Manal Azizi set up an embroidery business for traditional Palestinian dresses after her husband was left paralyzed when Israel bombed Gaza for eight consecutive days in November 2012.
Ice industry in Gaza crystallizes as power cuts increase
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 27 Sept by Rasha Abou Jalal — The worsening electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip has caused a boom in the ice manufacturing and selling industry. The industry is thriving due to the increasing public demand on it by citizens and meat and fish vendors who are keen to preserve their products. The Gaza Strip has been suffering from an acute electricity crisis since Israeli warplanes bombed the only power plant in Gaza in 2006, following the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in June of the same year. As a result, electrical power is only provided for six hours daily, and eight at best. Mohammed Qassem, from Gaza City, complains about food in his refrigerator going bad as a result of the long hours of power cuts. “Two days ago, I threw away 5 kilograms [11 pounds] of meat and large amounts of cheese and vegetables, as they had gone bad as a result of the long hours of power cuts,” Qassem told Al-Monitor. Qassem, who supports a family of seven, said that the six hours of electricity a day are not enough to preserve food, stressing that power is not being supplied for six hours in a row, but at two-hour intervals . . . There are no accurate statistics about the number of ice factories in the Gaza Strip. However, according to unofficial research conducted by Al-Monitor, there are eight factories in the Gaza Strip, four of which are located in Gaza City alone. Mounir Abu Hasira, an owner of one of the ice factories in Gaza City, told Al-Monitor, “Ice manufacturing has existed for decades, and most of our customers were fishermen. However, the industry has [recently] greatly boomed in light of the worsening electricity crisis.” He added that he established his factory six years ago, but that demand for ice increased last year by 600% at the very least, in an attempt to adapt to the power crisis in Gaza.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid
Palestinians bring plight of threatened village to US
WASHINGTON (AFP) 28 Sept by Ivan Couronne- Six Palestinians came to Washington to secure support against Israeli plans to raze their tiny West Bank village of Susiya, and at the last minute found assistance from US Senator Dianne Feinstein. The hamlet, which has already been torn down before and mainly consists of tents and makeshift structures for homes, is among a number of communities threatened with demolition by the Israeli army and has become a symbol of the occupation of the West Bank. For Susiya’s proponents, any gesture or public recognition, regardless of how small, by an elected member of the US Congress is a boost they can use as leverage in pressuring Israel’s authorities. The State Department warned this summer that demolition of the village would be “harmful and provocative.” Since then the army has been deliberating about the issue, and a deadline has been set for 13 October. In an attempt to win over powerful potential backers in Congress, many of whom are supportive of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, members of two Palestinian families arrived September 19 in the US capital. They leave Thursday. “We are here to ask you to support us. It’s enough. We are very tired,” Fatma Nawajaa, a Susiya resident, told a US Senate briefing Monday that consisted of 15 Senate staffers.
Israel notifies Salfit farmers of plans to remove 140 olive trees
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 28 Sept — Israeli authorities on Monday delivered notices to Palestinian farmers informing them of plans to remove 140 olive trees from the town of Qarawat Bani Hassan in Salfit district in the occupied West Bank, the farmers told Ma’an. They said that the trees are located in the al-Safar area of the town, which Israeli officials consider a nature reserve. The farmers did not provide any further details, and an Israeli nature authority spokesperson could not be reached for comment. Khalid Maali, who monitors settler activity in Salfit, said that Israel often use nature reserves as a pretext to take over Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank. Maali said there are three nature reserves in Salfit alone that have been used as a pretext for settlement expansion. According to the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ), there are at least 48 nature reserves — which take up 12.4 percent of land — across the occupied West Bank. “The destruction and distortion of nature reserves in the occupied West Bank for the implementation of the various Israeli colonial projects is just an integral part of what happens in the occupied West Bank,” ARIJ said in a report. Maali called on local and international rights organizations to pressure Israeli authorities to stop confiscating land in Salfit for settlements, which are considered illegal under international law. The olive industry supports the livelihoods of roughly 80,000 families in the occupied West Bank, and the Salfit district in particular is known for its fertile soil and large olive trees. Since 1967, approximately 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted in the occupied West Bank, according to a joint report by the Palestinian Authority and ARIJ.
West Bank wall threatens Palestine’s flora, fauna
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 27 Sept by Ahmad Melhem — The West Bank barrier project has been condemned by many for its crushing effects on the Palestinian people. Now steps are underway to document its devastation of nature and wildlife as well. The Palestinian Environment Quality Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture plan to prepare and present to the United Nations a comprehensive study on the direct consequences of the wall and its long-term hazardous effects on the environment. The barrier has led to the destruction of green cover by uprooting hundreds of thousands of carob, olive, almond and palm trees, eradicating rare wild plants, eroding fertile surface soil and endangering the dynamic diversity of the region. Its construction is threatening some animal species with extinction, including wild birds, gazelles, stone hedgehogs, wolves and hyenas, said George Karzam, an environmental expert for Afaq, an environmental magazine. He told Al-Monitor the wall constitutes an obstacle to the preservation of ecosystems and natural attractions, as well as the connectivity between protected areas. “The wall has deadly effects on the movement of wild animals as a result of the fragmentation of ecosystems between the land occupied in 1948 and the West Bank on the one hand, and the lack of communication among environmental corridors on the other.” The wall, he added, “caused the deterioration of vegetation in the West Bank as a result of the isolation of about 41 square kilometers [16 square miles] of natural forest plantations — or approximately 51% of the total forest areas.”
Israel rejects map sketch of ‘Issawiya town
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 29 Sept — Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem refused a map sketch prepared by Palestinian inhabitants of al-‘Issawiya town in Occupied Jerusalem after being deprived of construction permits for years because of the unavailability of such a sketch. Iroshalim Hebrew newspaper disclosed that the municipality’s refusal of the sketch will lead to hindering the issuance of building permits so that Palestinians can construct over their own lands. The municipality justified the refusal by lack of funding and waiting for the coming budget. Meanwhile, it is working on establishing a public park on the expense of Palestinians’ lands in al-‘Issawiya and al-Tour towns. The Israeli environment authority, however, said there is no real value of establishing a park in that area. The Israeli appeal committee refused the municipality’s decision to establish the park, but the latter issued a new decision to garden the area. The gardening decision stipulates for the confiscation of Palestinians’ lands for five years for building a temporary park over the lands.
Israel land grab, one home at a time
JERUSALEM (The National) 29 Sept by Ben Lynfield — As Eid Al Adha drew to a close, three-year-old Nur Abu Sneineh sat outside her East Jerusalem home in Silwan, squeezing a toy sheep that made loud bleating sounds. It was a scene that could have taken place anywhere in the Muslim world, except that here in the lower income neighbourhood of Batin Al Hawa, the noise of the toy was drowned out by the sound of drilling. Jewish settlers are renovating one of the ten flats in a large concrete building they moved into late last month. They say they purchased the residences legitimately but Palestinians dispute that. Whatever the case, the Abu Sneineh household is the only Palestinian family left in the building, as Jewish settlers consolidate another strategic advance in their effort to lay claims to Batin Al Hawa. In the narrow, alley-like street where houses are adorned with drawings of Mecca’s grand mosque and messages welcoming the return of Haj pilgrims, Palestinians look flustered as two Ethiopian Israeli guards order them to move their children out of the way so that settlers can pass. “When I see what is happening in my neighbourhood, the place where my children play, and I see that the settlers are taking everything, it makes me feel like I am being choked, like I am under house arrest,” said Zuheir Rajabi, a community activist.
One border, two worlds
This Week in Palestine Sept 2015 by Fida Jiryis — I stand in the long line of cars waiting to leave Qalandia Checkpoint, my anger and frustration still boiling over, even after six years. I’ve never been able to get used to it, and I don’t think anyone does, really. We just grit our teeth and go through the motions . . . The dust, car fumes, and piles of garbage add to the choking feeling of the large, concrete checkpoint ahead. It’s one of the most depressing spaces I’ve ever had the misfortune to frequent. We inch forward, bumper-to-bumper, squeezing to within an inch of the next car, lest someone squeeze in ahead of us. Relief can’t come too soon. The road is battered, the passengers weary, the Israeli soldiers smug and insolent. We hope and pray that the line will move forward uneventfully and that the teenagers imprisoning us will see nothing wrong in our ID cards and let us through. I cross, and within a few minutes, the entire reality changes. About two kilometers is all it takes to be transported to a different world. Suddenly, dust and dirt are replaced by green and cleanliness. If you didn’t know where you were, you would imagine some civilized, peaceful country where law and order reign supreme and the system is expertly fine-tuned to the citizen’s rights and comfort. Wide, impeccably engineered highways, pothole-free and freshly tarred every season, lead you through the multifaceted landscape of open spaces, fields, and hills. The three-hour journey to the Upper Galilee, close to the Lebanese border where my village, Fassouta, lies, offers beautiful scenes of Palestine that change with the ascent, beginning with the more arid hills, moving to the greener, flat plains, and ending in thick, mountainous forests . . . The beauty, order, cleanliness, and structure all feel like a beautiful park built on a graveyard. There’s nothing organic about it; the entire country has a surreal, “created five minutes ago” feeling, almost like a giant hand wiped out the landscape and erected all this modern structure in its place. Which is, pretty much, an accurate representation of our recent history. So acute is this feeling that I was surprised recently to hear an Australian friend living here express it to me. “I hate the place,” he said. “It’s… fake. It’s ugly.”
Lawyer: Israel to release former hunger strike Allan in November
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 Sept — Israeli authorities will release Palestinian prisoner Muhammad Allan on Nov. 4, a lawyer said Tuesday, alleviating fears that his administrative detention would be renewed again. Jawad Boulos, the head of the legal unit at the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society, told Ma‘an that he visited Allan in Israel’s Ramla jail clinic on Tuesday and said an Israeli court has ruled that he be released once his current six-month detention period ends. Allan still requires medical treatment and suffers from nausea, Boulos said. Allan was held without charge or trial for seven months before he began a 66-day hunger strike to protest his administrative detention, which he ended after Israeli authorities agreed to suspend his sentence. However, the sentence was reinstated earlier this month as Allan was attempting to leave the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.
Release Mahmoud Abujoad Frarjah from Israeli custody
Jordan Valley Solidarity — On Tuesday 29th September 2015, Mahmoud Abujoad Frarjah had a hearing at the Israeli military court, which ruled to further imprison him under false allegations. He has been detained in Ofer prison near Ramallah in the West Bank, occupied Palestine, since his arrest on 9th September 2015. Mahmoud was illegally arrested whilst traveling to Jordan on a family holiday. He was blindfolded and detained for 8 hours, whilst being denied water, food and toilet facilities. He was charged with throwing stones on a demonstration a year ago; a demonstration which he didn’t attend. Mahmoud had his initial hearing on Wednesday 16th September, which was then postponed until Sunday 20th. At this, the judge ruled that Mahmoud should be released on Tuesday 29th September, in exchange for 8,000nis (approximately £1,300). Today, September 29th, the judge has refused to release him. The prosecution, having previously accused him of throwing stones, have since changed the charges brought against him. Under Israeli law, if a Palestinian is rearrested within 5 years of being released from prison, they can be held indefinitely. Mahmoud was released from prison for his previous sentence in 2008 and the evidence of the release date was today shown before the court. The prosecution however are claiming he was released in 2010 . . . Mahmoud is the youngest of 16 children, and lives in Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem. His family were originally from the village of Zakeria and were expelled from their homes during the catastrophe of 1948. He has recently married, and has just moved into his new home with his wife Sireen. He is a close friend of many international Palestinian supporters and constantly welcomes and hosts visitors to The West Bank, educating them about life under the occupation. To offer support to Mahmoud and his family, we are calling on all to share this information wherever they can.
17 hunger strikers suspend protest as Israel makes concessions
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Sept — Some 17 Palestinian prisoners have agreed to suspend a hunger strike following concessions from Israel’s prison authorities, the head of the Palestinian Authority Committee for Prisoner’s Affairs said Tuesday. Issa Qaraqe said that the Israeli Prison Service would not extend the administrative detention — internment without trial or charge — of prisoners Nidal Abu Aker and Ghassan Zawahra, while it would reconsider the cases of the other prisoners. At least five of the prisoners had been on hunger strike 42 days, while seven were reported as being in urgent need of medical attention. The hunger strikers reportedly expressed gratitude to the Palestinian people and to all organizations that had supported them during their protest against Israeli’s policy of administrative detention. Earlier Tuesday, it looked doubtful that a deal would be reached after the Israeli Prison Service seemed ready to cancel scheduled negotiations. The PA prisoners’ committee had previously said that Israeli authorities had promised to gather the hunger strikers in Israel’s Negev jail in order to negotiate a deal. However, on Tuesday morning, the committee said that the Israeli Prison Service had transferred four of the hunger strikers out of the Negev jail . . . Nidal Abu Aker, one of the hunger strikers to be released, has been held in administrative detention since June 28, 2014, but has spent a total of nine years of his life in administrative detention.
Israel issues administrative detention orders against 28 Palestinians
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 29 Sept – Israeli military issued administrative detention orders against 28 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club (PPC). PPC stated that administrative detention – without charge or trial – was issued for the first time against six Palestinians, while it was renewed for the other 22 Palestinians.
Other news, reviews
World Bank: Palestinians are poorer for the third consecutive year
MEMO 29 Sept — A UN report issued by the World Bank revealed on Monday that the decline in aid from donor countries, last year’s war in the Gaza Strip and the freeze of tax revenues due to the Palestinian Authority during the first trimester of this year have caused severe damage to the Palestinian economy. According to the report, the Palestinians have been getting poorer over the past three years as a result of the political, security, economic and social conditions imposed on them. The World Bank report will be presented this week to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC). It recommends reforms to the current general economic trends to halt further deterioration in the economy. The World Bank Country Director for the West Bank and Gaza, Steen Jorgensen, said that the current situation in the Palestinian territories will lead to an increased level of anxiety and uncertainty that will cast a shadow on the Palestinians’ ability to imagine a brighter future. The report pointed out that a quarter of the Palestinians are living under poverty conditions while the unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip exceeded the barrier of 60 per cent in addition to the low GDP per capita. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said that the unemployment rate in the Palestinian territories as a whole is nearly 25 per cent. The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report, meanwhile, revealed that 72 per cent of Gaza’s population suffer from food insecurity.
Palestinians to raise flag at UN for first time
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) 30 Sept by Jennie Matthew — The Palestinians will raise their flag at the United Nations on Wednesday in what president Mahmud Abbas calls a beacon of hope at a time of growing despair of achieving an independent state. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Abbas will preside over the 15-minute ceremony in the rose garden, to begin at 1:00pm (1700 GMT) shortly after the Palestinian leader addresses the General Assembly. Abbas, 80, called it “our moment of hope,” in an op-ed published by The Huffington Post on the eve of the ceremony. Rain is forecast for much of the day, which could put a damper on an occasion condemned by Israel and the United States as a symbolic gesture that would not serve the cause of peace. Hundreds of world leaders are invited, but an official at the Palestinian mission to the UN could say only that “a large” number would attend.
Obama snub likely to set tone for Abbas’ UN speech
Haaretz 29 Sept by Jack Khoury — Palestinian president not expected to drop any bombshells, but could say the PA no longer sees itself bound by Oslo obligations — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will address the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday evening, in the shadow of the cold shoulder he received from United States President Barack Obama, who made no mention of the Palestinians during his own address on Monday. Abbas has hinted during several interviews with Arab media in recent weeks that he might drop a bombshell at the General Assembly. However, he has since clarified that his speech will not contain explosive material, such as a threat to disband the Palestinian Authority. The president’s speech is likely to differ from what he originally had in mind, if only in the terminology he uses, in the light of recent diplomatic meetings with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and others and Obama’s total neglect of the Palestinians during his speech [for the first time in a UN speech, according to a chart of keywords in the article], Palestinian sources told Haaretz. Abbas is also likely to deal with the deaths of three members of the Dawabsheh family in the village of Duma last month and how it represents a clear violation of all Israel’s commitments. In light of such incidents, the PA sees itself as being released from all its own undertakings, such as security coordination. The president is also expected to declare that any resumption of the diplomatic process must be on the basis of the principles set by the Palestinian leadership, specifically a settlement freeze and the release of all veteran prisoners held in Israeli prisons since before the Oslo Accords.
Abbas out of options, out of synch with angry Palestinians
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 28 Sept by Karin Laub and Mohammed Daraghmeh — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to drop a “bombshell” in a speech to the United Nations this week — prompting speculation that he will sever ties with Israel over its settlement expansion and other hard-line policies. The warning reflects desperation, but may not signal action. Abbas’ hopes of setting up a Palestinian state through negotiations with Israel have been derailed, and a new poll shows that a majority of Palestinians want the 80-year-old to resign and dissolve his self-rule government, the Palestinian Authority. Many no longer believe a two-state solution is realistic and support political violence. Abbas could try to align himself with a frustrated public by shifting to a more confrontational policy, including ending security cooperation with Israeli troops against a shared foe, the Islamic militant Hamas group. It’s a risky move that could cost him vital foreign aid, trigger chaos and end his 10-year rule. Abbas aides have suggested in recent days that despite his threats, he will make do with a general warning to Israel at the U.N. Yet more indecision could further turn Palestinians against him. The mood in the West Bank is explosive, with anger mounting over Palestinian Authority mismanagement, perceived Israeli threats to a major holy site in Jerusalem and a sense of having been abandoned by the Arab world, said veteran pollster Khalil Shikaki. “If a spark comes along, there is absolutely no doubt that the Palestinian situation today is very, very fertile for a major eruption,” he said. Here is a look at what lies ahead.
Netanyahu to tell Palestinians to stop ‘incitement’ in UN speech
JERUSALEM (AFP) 29 Sept – Israel’s prime minister said Tuesday he planned to use a speech at the UN to tell Palestinians to stop “incitement to violence” at a Jerusalem holy site shaken by clashes in recent weeks. Benjamin Netanyahu, who speaks at the General Assembly Thursday, also said he planned to review the situation in neighbouring Syria as well as the nuclear accord between major powers and Iran, which Israel strongly opposes. “Israel desires peace with the Palestinians, who continue to spread lies about our policy on the Temple Mount,” Netanyahu said in a statement, using the Jewish name for the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. “I’m going to demand an end to the incitation to violence.”
Al-Sisi: Palestinian state would remove pretext for terror
Ynet 29 Sept by Yitzhak Benhorin, Roi Kais — Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Egyptian president claims that establishing a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders would remove a central factor in regional instability — The creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital would remove one of the most problematic issues in the region, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in his speech to the UN General Assembly on Monday. Al-Sisi added that such a move would also effectively eliminate one of the most dangerous pretexts for extremism and terror, stressing that “the recent events at al-Aqsa emphasize the need for a comprehensive solution.”
Palestinian FA rejects FIFA ruling on Saudi qualifier
RAMALLAH (AFP) 29 Sept — Palestinian football’s governing body has said it is “impossible” to accept FIFA’s decision that it must play a 2018 World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia on neutral territory. The fixture, set for October 13, had been scheduled to take place in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, but Saudi Arabia on September 23 demanded that it be played on neutral ground . . . Palestinian FA officials said the Saudi decision could have been due to reluctance to pass through Israeli checkpoints on their way to the game . . . Many Arab national teams refuse to play in the West Bank, saying it “normalizes” Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory. Following the FIFA decision, Palestinian FA chief Jibril Rajoub said: “Depriving Palestine of the right to play at home is a dangerous precedent and impossible to accept under any conditions.” The Palestinian national team played a qualifier at home for the first time on September 8, holding the United Arab Emirates to a goalless draw at the Faisal Husseini stadium in Al-Ram, near Jerusalem. The World Cup organizing committee’s decision does not say where the game against Saudi Arabia will be played or explain either the reason for the decision or the Saudi FA’s objection to playing in the West Bank. Israel controls all access to the occupied Palestinian territory, and Saudi Arabia has no diplomatic relations with Israel.
Palestinian university staff announce 6 days on strike
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Sept — Palestinian university staff said Tuesday that they had decided to go on general strike for six days over the coming two weeks after the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education failed to meet their demands for better work conditions. The Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) said in a statement that the strike would take place across all Palestinian universities on Sept. 30, Oct. 5-6, and Oct. 12-14. The federation called on the the Ministry of Education to meet their demands, saying they were in line with previous agreements.
Israel’s Bedouin tennis champions
Ynet 29 Sept by Saar Git — Karin, Samar and Shadi al-Touri from the southern city of Rahat are only nine, 12 and 15 years old, but are already dreaming of becoming the next Roger Federer and Simona Halep as representatives of the Israeli Bedouin sector — . . Karin is not even 10 yet, but based on her large collection of trophies, one can definitely let the imagination run wild and imagine her as the next Shahar Peer. Samar and Shadi are among the top 30 players in Israel in their age category (Shadi is 34th in the 16-year-old category and Samar is 15th among 12-year-olds). The latter even reached the final of the doubles tournament in the latest Israel Championship and says “it was the best competition I ever had.” . . . “My goal is to be the Bedouin player ranked among the top 20 players in the world,” says Samar.
Video: Temple movement rabbi proselytizes for genocide
EI 28 Sept by David Sheen — While his public statements of compassion for marginalized groups have earned Pope Francis the respect of many, the Holy See’s diplomatic recognition of the Palestinian Authority as the “state of Palestine” in June ignited the fury of rabbis with links to the Israeli government, army and academia. On 9 September, a group calling itself the “Nascent Sanhedrin” (a reconstituted council of Jewish sages) held court in Jerusalem and accused the pontiff and other world leaders of crimes against the Jewish people. Speaking to a crowd of about 40 men and a handful of women at the Diaspora Yeshiva seminary in the Old City of Jerusalem, the leaders of the Sanhedrin gave a series of speeches excoriating Pope Francis, US President Barack Obama, the European Union, the United Nations and other international bodies for not supporting Israel’s claims to “exclusive patrimony” over all of historic Palestine. For three hours, the rabbis oscillated between accusing world leaders of plotting genocide against the Jewish people, and themselves calling for Jews to commit genocide against Muslims, Christians and other non-Jews.
Witness to a Catastrophe
Los Angeles Review of Books 15 Sept — Sandy Tolan on Night in Gaza by Dr. Mads Gilbert and The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza by Max Blumenthal.
Heartbreak and history collide in Palestinian drama
EI 28 Sept by Ellen McAteer — Inside/Outside — Six Plays from Palestine and the Diaspora, edited by Naomi Wallace and Ismail Khalidi (TGC Books); Sykes-Picot: The Legacy, edited by Kenneth Pickering (self-published) — While there is a long tradition of drama in Palestinian culture, it is not a written one. This point is made by Nathalie Handal in her excellent and detailed introduction to Inside/Outside, a collection of Palestinian plays. Palestinian theater was — and continues to be — created through collective improvisation. It has its roots in oral storytelling traditions.