Archive for April 29, 2016

April 29, 2016

Violence / Detentions — West Bank, Jerusalem

Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian, detain another after stab attempt
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Apr — Two Palestinian teens were arrested, one of whom was shot and injured by Israeli forces, after the two allegedly attempted to stab an Israeli soldier Thursday at a military checkpoint in the village of Beit Ur al-Tahta in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that “assailants attempted to stab soldiers stationed at a security crossing adjacent to route 443. Responding to the imminent danger, forces fired towards one of the attackers and she is now receiving medical care.” She was taken to Israel’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem where she was in moderate to serious condition, according to Israeli media. The second assailant reportedly attempted to escape at the scene, but was later apprehended without being fired on and taken in for interrogation by Israeli forces. According to Israeli news outlet The Jerusalem Post, the two were both 14-year-old females. There were no injuries on the Israeli side.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771333

Israeli soldiers injure Palestinian teen after settlers break into historical site
NABLUS (WAFA) 28 Apr – Israeli soldiers Thursday shot a Palestinian teen during confrontations that erupted with Palestinians youth near Joseph tomb east of Nablus, said security sources. The teen, identified as Ahmad Masoud, 17, from Balata refugee camp was hit with a live bullet in the hip area after confrontations erupted when Israeli settlers broke into the area. According to the same sources, a number of Israeli settlers in buses arrived in the city under heavy protection by the Israeli army.
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=xH7yORa34521984816axH7yOR

Israeli forces injure 3 Palestinians during Kafr Qaddum protests
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 29 Apr — Three Palestinians were injured and dozens suffered from tear gas inhalation as Israeli forces dispersed weekly protests in Kafr Qaddum in the northern West Bank district of Qalqiliya. Coordinator for a popular resistance committee in the village Murad Shtewi said Israeli forces raided the village firing rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades. Two were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets in the back and stomach, and a third suffered from burns after a tear gas canister hit his hand. They were all treated on the scene. Ishtewei added hundreds took part in the protest and raised Palestinian and South African flags … Residents of Kafr Qaddum stage regular protests against land confiscations as well as the closure of the village’s southern road by Israeli forces. The road, which has been closed 13 years, is the main route to the nearby city of Nablus, the nearest economic hub.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771346

Abbas, Hamas slam Israel for ‘execution’ of Palestinian siblings
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Apr — The Palestinian leadership across the political spectrum on Thursday issued official condemnations of the “execution” of two Palestinian siblings shot dead by Israeli forces in Ramallah after an alleged stab attack the day prior. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ cabinet denounced the silence of the international community after Israeli officers shot Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail and her younger brother Ibrahim at a military checkpoint, government spokesman Yousef Mahmoud said in a press release. “There is nothing that can justify the crime that has been committed against a pregnant mother and her brother,” Yousef said, referring to the siblings, adding that the Israeli government has a “mafia-like mentality.” Hamas leader Abdul Rahman Shadid for his part called on “intifada activists to exact a price from occupation forces for the crime in Qalandiya, and to deter the occupation from shedding more Palestinian blood.” Twenty-four-year-old Maram and her 16-year-old brother Ibrahim were both shot dead after Israeli police said Maram threw a knife at an officer stationed at Qalandiya military checkpoint near Ramallah. Witnesses to the incident told Ma‘an the siblings were not carrying knives, and that the Israeli officer who first opened fire on Maram was stationed some 20 meters away behind a concrete block, arguing the two posed no threat at the time that they were shot down. Israeli officers reportedly unloaded at least 15 rounds into Maram’s body during the incident, according to witnesses.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771327

The West Bank, where one wrong move can get you killed
[with photos] KATANA [QOTNA, QATANNAH], West Bank 28 Apr by Sheren Khalel & Abed al Qaisi — Two Palestinians were walking to the checkpoint at Qalandiya, but for some unknown reason turned towards the vehicle access area. Israeli guns were raised, warnings were shouted, something was thrown. Within moments the crackle of gunfire was heard and both Palestinians lay dead or dying on the ground. Israel says 24-year-old Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail threw a knife at checkpoint guards, who responded with deadly force – killing her and her 15-year-old brother Ibrahim. It refers to both as “terrorists”. Israeli police posted a picture on Twitter of three knives they say were retrieved from the scene of Wednesday’s attack. But for Palestinian witnesses, that account could not be further from the truth. Abu Ismail was on her way to a medical specialist in Jerusalem, they say, and her confusion about where to pass through the checkpoint led to her death. What she threw, Palestinian witnesses say, was not a knife. It was her medical papers. In the volatile atmosphere of the West Bank, where hundreds of Palestinians have died since October in attempts to stab Israeli police and soldiers, walking the wrong way can prove fatal. Hyat Taha, Abu Ismail’s aunt, said that she had spoken to several witnesses at the checkpoint and watched video footage of the attack. According to Hyat, Abu Ismail had accidentally tried to enter the crossing’s vehicle-only area, when soldiers lifted their guns and began shouting at her to get back. “The people at the checkpoint said Abu Ismail lifted her hands and was trying to explain to the soldiers that it was an accident. Guns were aimed at her, then she reached into her purse and pulled out a folder of papers and tossed it at the border police, right before the police opened fire,” Hyat said. The dead siblings’ mother, Fatma, said the papers her daughter would have been holding were medical records. According to Fatma, her daughter was at the checkpoint with her brother after being referred to a specialistin Jerusalem by doctors in Ramallah. She had been having problems with one of her legs, Fatma said. Abu Ismail was shot, more than a dozen times according to accounts, her brother was fired on as he rushed to his sister’s aid. Both were left on the ground for nearly an hour before their bodies were moved, witnesses said. While Fatma’s daughter died almost instantly, Ibrahim is believed to have bled to death. But Israeli authorities have not commented on the claims of the Palestinian witnesses, and have not indicated any need for further investigation into their deaths. And what follow-up investigations have been carried out have focused on the family of the dead siblings….
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/qalandiya-stabbing-west-bank-1472040462

IDF colonel: Hebron soldier had ‘no need to shoot’
Ynet 28 Apr by Yossi Yehoshua — Six colonels discuss the reduction in number of terrorist attacks, the Hebron shooting incident, IDF morale and how soldiers’ access to information has changed since their first days — …How can an attacker be prevented from carrying out an attack? Gofman: “We began to analyze and build an ‘attacker profile’ according to the attack that they carried out. Where did they come from? What age were they? What motivated them? With these criteria, we began implementing comprehensive and focused action. We realized, for instance, that between 50 and 60 per cent of the attacks were not the first instances of friction between the attackers and the security forces. Many of the attackers, such as the murderer of Hadar Bukris, were people who had engaged in rock throwing. Most of them had been arrested in the past. The majority had been stopped for illegally staying in Israel. We began to check the list of people whom we had arrested and created a list of dangerous groups comprising young people between the ages of 15 and 25. We searched people of this age group who were previously arrested for rock-throwing incidents, for being in Israel illegally or for disruption of public order and we began checking their Facebook pages.” And when you locate them? “We started to target them directly. We compiled a list of around 100–150 such people who matched our criteria in every village; in Beit Ummar or in Beit Fajjar, for example. Those that we could arrest, we arrested. For those who we had no reason to arrest, we warned, and for others we mapped their homes — every night we went to their houses and searched them. We also exerted pressure on their families. We made it clear that if their child involves themselves in terror, the equipment they used to provide for themselves — be it farming equipment or engineering tools — would be confiscated.”  “When we carry out these measures without stopping, every night, it has an effect,” the colonel says, continuing, “It also affects those whom we haven’t visited yet. The statistics began to illustrate a decline.” [Long, interesting article on IDF commanders’ methods and points of view]
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4797276,00.html

Abu Khudeir’s killer attempts suicide in prison, reports Israeli media
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 28 Apr – Israeli media sources Thursday reported that the convicted killer of 17-year-old Muhammad Abu Khudeir from Shufat neighborhood has attempted suicide in his prison cell in Ayalon Prison in Ramla. The convicted killer Ben-David, 31, confessed to being the ringleader of a group of three including two minors, which plotted and executed the heinous murder. Abu Khudeir was kidnapped from an East Jerusalem street in the early hours of July 2, 2014, and taken to a forest where he was beaten, doused in petrol and set on fire. Postmortem results revealed soot deposits in his lungs suggesting he was still breathing when he was set on fire.
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=xH7yORa34525791828axH7yOR

Bennett: I’ll keep backing IDF operations in entire West Bank
Times of Israel 28 Apr by Stuart Winer & ToI staff — Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Thursday that Israeli security forces must continue to operate across the West Bank, including in areas under full Palestinian Authority control, and vowed to continue backing their freedom of operation even if threatened with losing his ministerial position. Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to fire Bennett, who heads the Orthodox-nationalist Jewish Home party, in a row at the security cabinet over the issue. Bennett’s comments came amid recent reports on negotiations for a change in the status quo of Area A — regions of the West Bank that are under full control of the Palestinian Authority yet where the IDF continues to operate when judged necessary. In a post in Hebrew on his Facebook page that included an image of himself in IDF uniform, Bennett said that operating in the heart of the West Bank prevents attackers from reaching Israel….
http://www.timesofisrael.com/bennett-ill-keep-backing-idf-operations-in-entire-west-bank/

IDF investigators say Hebron soldier motivated twisted ideology
Times of Israel 29 Apr — Document obtained by Vice News says Elor Azaria repeatedly told troops at scene he shot assailant because he ‘needs to die’; report blasts soldiers’ failure to treat wounded man — An internal Israeli military document leaked to Vice News states that Sgt. Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier charged with manslaughter for shooting and killing a Palestinian attacker in Hebron last month after he had been neutralized, was motivated by a “twisted ideology,” the website said. The 17-page document issued by military prosecutors investigating the case, stated that Azaria, a 19-year-old sergeant in the Kfir infantry brigade, told other soldiers both before and after the shooting that the assailant “needs to die.” It also stated that Azaria changed his version of events during his questioning, saying he had shot “because I felt there was a threat to my life.” The shooting took place last month in Hebron….
http://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-investigators-say-hebron-soldier-motivated-by-twisted-ideology/

My daughter was tortured and forced to spout lies
The National (UAE) 26 Apr by Sabha Al Wawi — Sunday I will be released! Next Sunday, Mama,” Dima cried. Those were the words I replayed each agonising night after her arrest. At the age of 12, my child had been locked up in a small cell in Israel’s Hasharon prison. Her innocent voice informed me of her impending release. On the morning of February 9, Israel’s occupying forces arrested my daughter Dima. The news hit me like a thunderbolt … I realised Dima could have wandered from our land, which is unfortunately adjacent to the illegal settlement. Perhaps she had been on our land to harvest the season’s broccoli, as we planned a few days earlier, for a family feast using only ingredients of what our land has to offer. The same family land on which we frequently face assaults by the Israeli occupying forces and the settlers they protect. Dima was treated in the most brutal way and underwent a terrifying and traumatic interrogation. We were fooled into believing that we would be permitted to attend her interrogation, instead we were interrogated ourselves. She was interrogated by at least seven officials who screamed, cursed and insulted her, and then threatened to burn her alive. She was stripped of her clothes and violently beaten … “My shoes are muddy, Mama. I feel embarrassed and ashamed, I bled from the torture, I feel humiliated, I’m terrified and my body trembles from the cold,” Dima said as she broke down during one visit. “I was forced to invent stories and lie that I was there to stab a settler. Mama, don’t be angry, don’t believe anything they tell you, but this was the only way to stay alive.”….
http://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/my-daughter-was-tortured-and-forced-to-spout-lies

Hebron shooter called to ‘kill everyone in Gaza’
+972 Blog 29 Apr by John Brown* — Palestinian citizens are being incarcerated left and right for Facebook statuses. But IDF soldier Elor Azaria, indicted for manslaughter, wasn’t even taken in for questioning over tweets calling for massacres of Palestinians. On the double standards in Israeli law.
http://972mag.com/hebron-shooter-called-to-kill-everyone-in-gaza/118869/

Israeli soldiers arrest Palestinian customs policemen in al-Khalil
RAMALLAH (PIC) 28 Apr — The Palestinian customs police in the West Bank said that Israeli soldiers deliberately arrested a number of its patrol officers on duty near Tarqumya checkpoint in al-Khalil province. In a press release, the customs police explained that the incident happened after one of its patrols found and seized five trucks laden with rotten chicken meat smuggled from Israel. The police added that the Israeli soldiers attacked its customs men and arrested them after receiving a phone call from the smugglers of the confiscated meat shipments. The customs police have recently launched a campaign to locate and confiscate shipments of expired chicken meat smuggled from Israel.
http://english.palinfo.com/site/pages/details.aspx?itemid=78273

Is the PA coordinating arrests with Israel?
Al-Monitor 28 Apr by Adnan Abu Amer — In light of the climaxing uprising, some claim the Palestinian Authority’s security services are coordinating arrests, so that after a Palestinian suspect is released by the PA he is shortly thereafter detained by Israel — The Palestinian arena has recently been dealing with the repercussions of an incident that suggests the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel exchange information on prisoners in order to prevent armed operations against Israel. On April 9, three Palestinian men were arrested in Ramallah by the Palestinian security services in coordination with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which brought back to the minds of the Palestinians the issue of security coordination between the PA and the IDF….
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/04/paslestine-ramallah-security-coordination-three-young-men.html

Al-Aqsa

Seven detained elderly Palestinian men face indictments
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Apr — The Israeli District Court, in occupied Jerusalem, indicted seven elderly Palestinian men of what it called “joining a hostile organization,” for their activities — nonviolently resisting the provocative tours conducted by Israeli extremists into the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The indictments were filed against Sa’adi Rajabi, Anwar al-Qaaq, ‘Adli Abu Ermeila, Mohammad Taher Arafa, Jamal Natsha and Khader Abu Sneina. The Court will be holding a hearing into the indictments on May 17, and also decided to prevent the men from entering the Old City of occupied Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, until that date. The seven Palestinians were among fourteen elderly men who were kidnapped by the Israeli army in different parts of occupied Jerusalem, on April 14.
http://imemc.org/article/seven-detained-elderly-palestinian-men-face-indictments/

Israeli forces detain dozens of Palestinian youths for stone-throwing at Aqsa
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 29 Oct — Israeli forces detained dozens of Palestinians youths on Friday afternoon as they were exiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources. Lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud told Ma‘an that Israeli police detained between 30 to 40 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem as they were exiting the compound to interrogate them on suspicion of throwing stones at Israeli forces on the site. Limited clashes had erupted between Israeli forces and Palestinians at the Moroccan Gate as Palestinians protested the entry of some 1,000 Israeli Jews to the compound over the Jewish holiday of Passover that began Friday last week and ends Saturday. Spokesperson for the Israeli police Luba al-Samri said in a statement that Israeli forces asked Waqf (Islamic endowment) officials to contain the clashes without Israeli forces having to enter the compound. She added the officials were successful and “calm was restored to the area.” Witnesses said Israeli police detained the youths as they were exiting Al-Aqsa, searched them, and took their photos. Another group of Israeli forces evacuated the compound of the remaining Palestinian youths and detained some of them as well. Al-Samri said that in addition to the 30 detained, eight suspects were formally arrested Friday for suspected involvement in the stone-throwing. All were taken to the al-Qashla police station in the Old City.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771344

Demolitions

IN PICTURES: Life unraveled as Israel demolishes Palestinian home
+972 Blog 28 Apr by Tamar Fleishman — Hassin Mohammed Hassin Abu Gosh, 17, stabbed an Israeli woman to death and was killed in the act. Last week, in retaliation, Israel demolished his home in the Qalandia refugee camp. The ruins are a silent testament to a once thriving life — …The demolition of their third-floor apartment, on the night of April 20, went on for three hours, during which their downstairs and next-door neighbors listened with dread to the sounds of walls being shattered and household appliances smashed. When the sun rose, it shone on the empty, dilapidated third floor that stood out like a severed limb of an otherwise functioning body. Nine people lived there: two adults, four girls and three boys. It wasn’t hard to guess, according to the colors of the walls, which rooms were the boys’ and which the girls’. The rooms were bereft of life, of content, of a homey ambiance. The walls were decorated not with paintings, but with ugly black inscriptions, probably written by the troops as instructions to their comrades. Between the broken pieces, between the nothingness and the lifelessness, through the shattered walls, one’s eyes are focused on a stove that stands in the middle of what used to be the kitchen. Like a character in the theater of the absurd, the stove stands in the middle of the scene, unscathed. And life around the house goes on, because that’s what life does – go on. New laundry has been put out to dry in the floor below, and across the street people pass by, look up, and nod their heads in despair … The house was demolished “in keeping with the government’s decisions,” the IDF said. But why? Can these be seen as a just punishment at all? The criminal is no longer alive, so his family is being punished for something they didn’t do. Can anyone call this justice?
http://972mag.com/in-pictures-life-unravels-as-israel-demolishes-palestinian-home/118907/

UN: Four-fold increase in Israeli demolitions this year
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Apr — UN figures released Thursday revealed a four-fold increase from last year in the rate of Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes and structures, that have left a record-high 808 Palestinians displaced since the start of 2016. According to UN documentation, the Israeli authorities have destroyed some 588 Palestinian structures across the occupied Palestinian territory since January. The over 800 Palestinians to be displaced this year far surpasses the number displaced during the entirety of 2015, while well over 1,000 Palestinians were also affected after losing structures related to their source of income. A number of homes have been targeted in punitive demolitions of the family homes of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis, most recently implemented in Qalandiya refugee camp last week. The policy has been widely condemned by the international community as collective punishment, executed in direct violation of international law on family members who have not carried out crimes. However, the majority of demolitions took place in Area C of the West Bank — the more than 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military control. The Israeli authorities have regularly demolished Palestinian homes in Area C since occupying the West Bank in 1967, but rights groups and Palestinian officials have grown increasingly alarmed by Israel’s renewed demolition campaign this year, accompanied by unprecedented land grabs. In the first week of April, 124 Palestinians were displaced in a single day from nine different communities, including the village of Khirbet Tana which has been destroyed four times over since the start of the year alone … The demolitions come as Israel’s mass confiscation of land south of Jericho in March and last week’s retroactive confiscation of land near Nablus paved the way for the expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771336

Prisoners / Court actions

Palestinian enters 57th day of hunger strike while in solitary confinement
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 28 Apr — A Palestinian detainee entered his 57th day of a hunger strike on Thursday while in solitary confinement in Israel’s Ela prison in Beersheba. A resident of al-Fawwar refugee camp near Hebron, Sami Janazreh, 43, was initially detained in November and openly declared his hunger strike in March after the Israeli Authorities renewed his administrative detention — internment without trial or charge. Prison authorities have since moved the hunger-striker between Israeli prisons as a way of pressuring him to end the strike, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), before placing him in solitary confinement at the start of this week. Janazreh’s health has continued to deteriorate since the end of March when he began suffering kidney, chest, and teeth pain, eventually having difficulty walking and experiencing permanent dizziness. Last week Janazreh began suffering from seizures and was taken to a hospital to treat a wound after he fainted and injured his head. Upon his release on Monday, he was transferred back into solitary confinement at Ela prison.Janazreh was recently appointed a hearing at the Israeli Supreme Court to be held on May 16th after an initial appeal was rejected earlier in April at the Ofer military court. He is one of several Palestinian prisoners currently on hunger strike in an attempt to hold Israel accountable for its arbitrary arrest and detention of Palestinians. According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, there are currently 700 Palestinians being held in administrative detention.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771328

What it’s like to be a 12-year-old Palestinian girl in Israeli jail
Haaretz 29 Apr by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — A day after her release, D. is already weary of the receptions and interviews, and of being the heroine of the hour. She replies to questions with the demonstrative reluctance of an adolescent whose parents are driving her nuts with their tiresome nagging. Her expression is one of weariness and revulsion, possibly tinged with sadness. Her face lights up for a second, however, when we ask whether she was happy to be released. No, she wasn’t happy, she tells us. She misses S.P., a boy from Kafr Aqab, a Palestinian suburb of Jerusalem. She saw him very briefly in the posta (slang for prisoners van) on one of her trips to court, and hasn’t stopped thinking about him since … D. and S.P. are both 12. With Israel packing its jails with children, child-prisoner experiences are taking place. D. and S.P. forever. A perfect pair behind bars, children who met in prison. A romantic episode – watch for the movie. But little was romantic about the 75 days D. spent in jail. She was 12 years and 2 months old at the time of her arrest, just two months above the age of criminal responsibility. Still, the military justice system had no compunctions about jailing her for four and a half months in February, to the tune of the self-righteous words uttered by the military judge … In the end, the Israel Prison Service reduced her sentence by a third, after her incarceration stirred some sort of reaction internationally … D. suffered in jail. She was the youngest of the seven girls in her cell. The food was bad and skimpy, she says, and the meals often left her hungry. She missed her parents. Only her mother and her younger siblings were allowed to visit her, and only twice during the 75 days of her incarceration: 45 minutes from behind armored glass … Guests come and go all the time, families and individuals, and the house is covered with huge, colorful posters welcoming D. home. Only her father, Ismail, is feeling forlorn: Not only did his daughter spend time in prison, but the permit he had for working and spending the night in Israel – one of the most comprehensive that the Israeli authorities issue – was revoked. Until D.’s arrest, Ismail was employed in building the new high-speed rail line to Jerusalem. Now he’s been deprived of that income and his world has crumbled. This is how Israel behaves with all the relatives of terror suspects – with vengeance, visiting the sins of the daughter on the father. The authorities he contacted suggested that he try again in a year. Maybe they’ll relent by then. How will he make a living in the meantime?
http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.716838

Israeli military courts issue new administrative detention orders against 27 detainees
IMEMC 28 Apr A number of Israeli military courts issued new Administrative Detention orders against 27 detainees for periods varying between three and six months, subject to renewal without a hearing. 14 of the new orders are new Administrative Detention, while the rest were issued against detainees who have been held for several months, and even years, under the pretext of a “secret security file,” that neither the detainees nor their lawyers can ever see, or know their contents. The detainees have been identified as: Mohsen Mahmoud Shreim, Qalqilia – four additional months. Osama Nasser Saleh, Jenin – six additional months. Jihad Ali Hamran, Jenin – six additional months….
http://imemc.org/article/israeli-military-courts-issue-new-administrative-detention-orders-against-27-detainees/

IOA continues the arrest of female journalist for 17 days
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 28 Apr — The Israeli Occupation Authority (IOA) has been detaining the Jerusalemite journalist Samah Duwaik, 25, for 17 consecutive days after charging her with incitement against occupation over Facebook. The IOA has been preventing detainee Duwiak from family visitation since she was arrested on April 10, under the pretext of the ongoing Jewish holidays. Palestinian Prisoner Society revealed that Duwaik is one of 19 journalists who are detained in Israeli jails. The captive’s sister, Israa, told Quds Press on Wednesday that her sister was arrested from her home in Silwan neighborhood and held in Hasharon Israeli jail with 10 other female detainees. An Israeli court extended her detention order last week for the completion of judicial procedures.
http://english.palinfo.com/site/pages/details.aspx?itemid=78263

Israeli doctors condone solitary confinement for Palestinian prisoners
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Apr — During his harrowing 65-day placement in solitary confinement in Israeli custody, Muhammad Hammad suffered from injuries in three places that had been inflicted by Israeli forces during his 2002 arrest. Despite his desperate need for surgery, the only medical treatment he received consisted of a couple tablets of Advil. Hammad told Ma‘an he wasn’t seen by a doctor until he was transferred from al-Maskoubia interrogation center to prison more than two months later, where he would serve a three-year sentence without ever receiving treatment. “Whatever you say to the doctor, he doesn’t care. It’s just a routine. The only thing that matters is that the doctor sees you. The result is irrelevant,” Hammad said. As a result of Hammad’s mistreatment by Israeli Prison Service (IPS) medics in solitary confinement, the ex-prisoner has suffered from lifelong medical complications. A report by Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHRI) released last month revealed that Hammad’s experiences were commonplace. The group reported that Israeli doctors condone the mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners — particularly those in solitary confinement — as a matter of routine, in violation of medical ethics and international law that in some cases equates solitary confinement to torture….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771343

Gaza

Army opens fire on Gaza farmers
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Apr — Israeli soldiers opened fire, on Thursday morning, on a number of Palestinian farmers in their lands, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, and east of Gaza city. The WAFA Palestinian News Agency said the soldiers, stationed across the border fence, fired many live rounds on the farmers, while working in their own lands, forcing them away. WAFA said the two latest attacks targeted Palestinian lands east of Khan Younis city, in the southern part of the coastal region, and east of Gaza city.
http://imemc.org/article/army-opens-fire-on-gaza-farmers/

Palestinian farmers, shepherds forced to leave fields by live fire
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Apr — Palestinian farmers and shepherds were forced to leave their fields after coming under live Israeli fire in eastern Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip early Friday, witnesses said. Israeli forces deployed on the borderline in the Khuza‘a and al-Fakhari area of eastern Khan Younis where they opened fire on farmers and shepherds working in their fields, witnesses told Ma‘an. The farmers and shepherds left the area following the shooting. No injuries were reported.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771337

Ayyash: Israeli navy continues targeting fishermen in Gaza
GAZA, (PIC) 28 Apr — Nizar Ayyash, head of the Palestinian fishermen syndicate, said that the Israeli navy forces have been intensively targeting Gazan fishermen since the fishing zone was increased from 6 to 9 nautical miles.  24 fishermen have been arrested and 9 boats have been confiscated since then, he added.  Ayyash told the PIC reporter that the Israeli aggressive practices against fishermen in Gaza affected the season of sardine fishing which ends after [lasts?] one month only.
http://english.palinfo.com/site/pages/details.aspx?itemid=78261

Israel bans Palestinian travel from Gaza to Aqsa for second week
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 29 Apr — The Israeli authorities for the second week in a row prevented Palestinians from traveling from the Gaza Strip to Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem for Friday worship due to the Jewish holiday of Passover. Sources at the Palestinian military liaison told Ma‘an that the ban on travel out of the besieged enclave was implemented for some 200 Palestinians above the age of 60 that are ordinarily permitted to cross through the Erez crossing to pray at the holy site. Israeli Ministry of Defense spokeswoman Arielle Heffez confirmed to Ma‘an Thursday that all movement through the two operating crossings between Gaza and Israel would be closed Friday due to Passover, with the exception of “passage for humanitarian emergencies.” While a ceasefire agreement that ended Israel’s 2014 offensive on the Gaza Strip allotted weekly visitation by elderly Palestinians from Gaza to Jerusalem’s Aqsa, the visits have been frequently interrupted for alleged security reasons and Jewish holidays since. Israel froze the agreement on March 16 due to allegations that Palestinians traveling for worship were not returning to the Gaza Strip on the same day of the visit, as the agreement stipulated, posing a “threat to security.” Palestinians were able to make the trip once following a month freeze, before visits were again halted due to Passover.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771334

Code red rocket alert siren heard in Gaza border communities: false alarmhttp://www.i24news.tv/en/
i24News 28 Apr — A code red rocket alert was heard in the Eshkol Regional Council in Israel, which borders the Gaza Strip, on Thursday afternoon. It was confirmed shortly after that the siren was a false alarm, and had been tripped off in error. The last rocket alert siren in southern Israel was heard two weeks ago, which [also] turned out to be a false alarm.
http://www.i24news.tv/en/

The southeastern border saw unusual military moves last night
GAZA (PIC) 28 Apr — The southeastern border of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday evening saw intensive Israeli military moves as flares were lighting up its sky. An official field observer told Quds Press that the border area between Kissufim military post and al-Sanatti area, east of Khan Younis town, had witnessed on Wednesday night active movement of military troops and armored vehicles, including tanks. As usual during such overnight military moves, he said, flare bombs were heavily fired over the area
http://english.palinfo.com/site/pages/details.aspx?itemid=78274

Hamas threatens explosions if Gaza’s siege continues
GAZA (Ma‘an) 28 Apr – Hamas’ military wing threatened in a rally Thursday to carry out future bomb attacks if Israel’s near-decade long siege on the Gaza Strip was not lifted. An al-Qassam Brigades spokesperson during a Hamas-organized event in the al-Saraya area of Gaza City said: “everyone must understand that no one can stop us from exploding (bombs) if the siege is not lifted.” Deputy head of the movement Ismail Haniyeh also addressed the rally saying, “the siege of two million Palestinians in Gaza cannot continue,” adding that, “patience has limits.” Haniyeh emphasized that there can be no Palestinian state without Gaza, and warned anyone “who tries to mess with Gaza’s security.” He reiterated his movement’s desire to hold national unity elections, affirming that Hamas supports joint national efforts and reconciliation.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771332

Opinion: Gazans’ only possible collective act of defiance against blockade / Amira Hass
Haaretz 27 Apr — …The other side of the tunnels is the skills and capabilities of the Gaza Strip’s Palestinians. Setting aside this underground development’s military purpose, we can only marvel at the resourcefulness, energy, daring, inventiveness and learning abilities of the designers and excavators. The talents invested — wasted, rather — in these tunnels, in the military delusions of a society under siege, are just a reminder of what is unrecognized or unexpressed. Before they were destroyed, the goods tunnels at Rafah, between Gaza and Egypt, siphoned off much of the skills and energy that are now reflected in the maze of defensive or offensive burrows.
If not for the tunnels and rockets, the Gaza Strip would never be mentioned in the Israeli media. From our perspective it nearly fell into the sea, together with its almost two million residents. So even if we don’t openly acknowledge the Gazan skills behind the tunnels, they are the only beneficiaries of free publicity from the Israeli machine for generating panic and concealing the true causes for concern. Occasionally Gaza pops up in our media as a mute or inarticulate community of welfare cases that needs the world’s generosity and the kindness of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (which rescues sick lions from Gaza’s zoo and facilitates their transfer to Tul Karm, in the West Bank) …
Like any society, the Gaza Strip is full of skills and capabilities in every area, together with the desire to develop them. Diplomats and aid workers who are allowed into Gaza by dint of their positions in the charity chain always marvel at the energy and talent (and humor) that they find. But the conditions of mass incarceration not only conceal these capabilities, they also limit and erode them. A large portion of personal, familial and societal time, energy and skills are wasted on daily actions that should be simple (turning on lights, drinking, using a computer, doing homework)….
http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.716568

How one Gaza crossing went from death trap to gate of hope
Al-Monitor 28 Apr by Shlomi Eldar — Tens of thousands of Gaza Strip residents, Palestinians who used to work in Israel, bear scars from the Erez crossing. They used to call it the “barrier of death” because the passage to Israel through the crowded crossing was life threatening. Hundreds required medical treatment after suffocating there or being trampled in the cruel battle for survival at the antiquated, congested security checkpoints. Injuries were par for the course. There isn’t a single Palestinian laborer who traveled from Gaza to work in Israel who has not experienced the travails of this crossing, with its notorious and nightmarish carousels – revolving steel barriers through which they passed to the Israeli side. More than 10 years ago, I arrived at the Erez crossing with a camera crew. The footage shot that night deeply shocked television viewers and decision-makers in Israel. The film crew and I barely escaped being trampled by the thousands of Palestinians who stormed the revolving turnstiles, rushing not to miss a day of work. We climbed onto the roof of the revolving barrier and the masses charged forward below us. The Israeli soldiers stationed at the facility controlled the barrier by pressing a button, every so often allowing small groups of laborers to push through the narrow passages leading to the turnstiles. Anyone not fast enough to slither through to the other side risked being trapped against the iron rails along the sides of the passageway. Two Palestinians laborers were crushed to death in this manner in 2004. Being stomped on, injured and humiliated was a daily routine for tens of thousands of Gaza residents for whom working in Israel was the only way to make a living.
Similarly horrifying spectacles reminiscent of the terrible years at the Erez crossing occur daily at the other crossings between Israel and the West Bank, including the one north of Bethlehem, known as the 300 Checkpoint, and the one at Qalandiya near Ramallah. The humiliation and horrendous conditions that the West Bank Palestinians endure at the crossings even riled Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel of the right-wing HaBayit Hayehudi …
The West Bank roadblocks are run by the Israel Defense Forces and the police, but the Erez crossing was handed over in 2006 to the Ministry of Defense, which reopened it with a new terminal in 2007… About two months after the new crossing was inaugurated, Hamas carried out a coup in the Gaza Strip and the residents have since been banned from working in Israel. Today, the Erez crossing serves mostly sick people, traders and the staff of welfare and aid agencies operating in Gaza. Some 1,000 people come through the Erez crossing daily … The Erez model should be applied at the West Bank crossings. Although the number of those passing daily through Erez cannot compare to the flow at the overloaded West Bank crossing points, the IDF should hand over responsibility for the crossings to the Ministry of Defense and the Port Authority. [It must be noted that most descriptions of the Erez crossing are not as favorable as this one.]
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/04/israel-gaza-strip-erez-crossing-west-bank-checkpoint-300.html

Israeli propaganda stunt exploits Gaza children
EI 27 Apr by Ali Abunimah — During the most brutal days of apartheid in South Africa, the racist regime produced reams of propaganda, including glossy magazines that “featured images of wonderful wild animals, sunsets and happy Black people on the beach.” As South African author Ron Nixon documents in two books, Operation Blackwash and Selling Apartheid, such propaganda was often generated under the guidance of the regime’s intelligence agencies, with the aim of counteracting growing international criticism and pressure … The manipulative South African propaganda came to mind when I saw a Facebook post by COGAT, the Israeli military authority that rules the lives of millions of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. “A few minutes ago, a group of 23 children from Gaza crossed through Erez Crossing to have a day of fun in Israel,” the Tuesday post stated. COGAT said the children “went for a walk through the #naturereserve Gan HaShlosha (Sahne) in the north of the country,” and wished them “a day full of fun and adventure.” The occupation authority posted photos of the children, including the one at the top of this article, with their faces blurred, on Facebook and Twitter. “Cool,” commented Gaza writer Refaat Alareer sarcastically, “Now we Palestinians feel OK about the thousands of kids Israel has murdered and the seven decades of occupation, oppression and humiliation.” It should be noted that this is the same COGAT that routinely blocks patients from Gaza, including children, from leaving the besieged territory for lifesaving treatment….
https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israeli-propaganda-stunt-exploits-gaza-children

Other news

PCHR Weekly Report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (21-27 April)
PCHR-Gaza 28 Apr — Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt  A Palestinian woman and her brother were killed at Qalandia military checkpoints, north of occupied Jerusalem. Four Palestinian civilians, including 2 children and a photojournalist, were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli forces conducted 56 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one in the central Gaza Strip. 44 civilians, including 5 children and a woman, were arrested. 34 of them, including 3 children and a woman, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. 600-gram jewellery, NIS 1,500 and JD 150 were confiscated from a house in Beit Ommer village. A Palestinian civilian was arrested while attempting to sneak from the Gaza Strip to Israel looking for work. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. Two fishermen were arrested in the northern Gaza Strip. [Details of these and other violations follow]
http://pchrgaza.org/en/?p=8073

80% of Palestinians struggle with poverty in Occupied Jerusalem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 28 Apr — 80% of Palestinians in Occupied Jerusalem are struggling with poverty, with four out of five Palestinians living with a daily wage of less than two U.S. dollars, a rights group reported Wednesday. A study conducted by the Unwan al-Amel organization campaigning for the workers’ rights said 85% of Palestinian children in Occupied Jerusalem are enduring extremely poor socio-economic conditions as the poverty rate rose from 75% to 80%. Head of the Working Palestinians Project, Raja Zaatra, said most of the Palestinian workers in Occupied Jerusalem are paid less than the minimum wage. Zaatara spoke out against the Israeli apartheid policy separating the occupied West Bank and Occupied Jerusalem, along with the rising tide of racist attacks on Palestinian workers and children over the past six months. He further denounced the Israeli restrictions on Palestinians’ movement and the policy of double standards pursued by the occupation government across the occupied territories.
http://english.palinfo.com/site/pages/details.aspx?itemid=78267

‘Partly free’? The real state of Israeli press freedom is much worse
972 mag 29 Apr by Lisa Goldman — Freedom House has downgraded its ranking of Israel’s media from ‘free’ to ‘partly free,’ citing closer ties to the government and a spike in paid media content. But it has one flagrant omission: Israel’s poor treatment of Palestinian journalists — …Leaving aside the all-but inevitable expressions of outrage from the Israel advocacy crowd over any criticism of Israeli policy or society, a more detached observer might note that there is no mention in the Freedom House report of Palestinian journalists. On the one hand this makes sense, since Palestinian residents of the occupied territories are not citizens of Israel. But on the other hand, Palestinian journalists work in territory that is controlled by Israel. And they do not have any of the legal protections afforded to their Israeli colleagues working in the same territory. In tangible terms, this means that Palestinian journalists going about their jobs reporting in the field are regularly subjected to verbal harassment, physical assault and arrest without charge at the hands of Israeli soldiers. In these cases, they can technically file a complaint — but there has never been a case of an Israeli soldier seriously censured for assaulting a Palestinian journalist….
http://972mag.com/partly-free-the-real-state-of-israeli-press-freedom-is-much-worse/118928/

PLO slams Israel’s rejection of French initiative
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 28 Apr — PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat slammed Israel’s official rejection of the upcoming French initiative as a “reaffirmation of the Israeli government’s decision to continue its crimes and violations,” in a press release published Thursday evening. Earlier on Thursday, a statement from the office of the Prime Minister of Israel rejected the peace initiative, saying the “best way to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestinians is direct, bilateral negotiations.” “Any other diplomatic initiative distances the Palestinians from direct negotiations,” the PM’s office said. Erekat responded by saying the “call for ‘bilateral negotiations’ is not a call for the achievement of the two-state solution, but an attempt at legitimizing its settlement enterprise and the imposition of an Apartheid regime.” He added that Israel’s statement came “a few hours after Israeli officials confirmed to the Palestinian side that the Israeli government has decided to continue violating its obligations under the signed agreements, including the daily military raids in vast areas of the Occupied State of Palestine.” … The initiative was also criticized by Palestinian factions Tuesday after it was announced that the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority was postponing the submission of a resolution against illegal Israeli settlements to the UN Security Council, to instead pursue the French initiative. Netanyahu’s call on the Palestinian leadership for direct negotiations comes despite the failure of decades of negotiations to bring the Palestinians any closer to an independent and continuous state.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=771331

Thousands of Egyptians enter Israel for Holy Fire rite in Jerusalem
Haaretz 29 Apr by Nir Hasson — Around 6,000 Egyptians, almost all of them Coptic Christians, have entered Israel to attend the annual Holy Fire ceremony at Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Saturday. There has been a sharp rise recently in pilgrimages to Jerusalem by Egyptian Copts, after the Coptic patriarch, Pope Tawadros II, in effect rolled back a ban imposed by a predecessor in 1980, in the wake of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Tawadros himself visited Israel in November for the funeral of Archbishop Anba Abraham, the Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan Archbishop of Jerusalem and the Near East.
 The accession of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi in June 2014 also helped break the taboo against visiting Jerusalem. The Egyptians generally travel through Jordan to reach Israel and stay at hotels in Bethlehem. The typical visit is one week long and it focuses on Christian holy sites in and around Jerusalem. The Holy Fire ceremony is considered one of the highlights of the Orthodox Easter rites….
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.716893

First food truck in West Bank opened by former Israeli prisoners
Malta Today 27 Apr — Khaldoun Barghouti, a 43-year-old, and 35-year-old Abdel Rahman Bibi, both former political prisoners jailed by Israel for nine and eight years respectively, former prisoners have just launched an environmentally friendly mobile kitchen in the occupied West Bank. The concept was conceived in the years leading up to their release, where they contemplated the various ways they could make a living. “We didn’t want to be a burden on society,” said Barghouti, a married father of six. “We wanted people to benefit from our work, to develop as individuals, and to provide a service. We didn’t want to subsist on welfare.” Having seen so much a tuna-and-corn concoction in their years behind bars, the two entrepreneurs decided to develop this as one of their many specialties, along with traditional fast-food options such as shawarma, burgers, and sausage, turkey and schnitzel sandwiches loaded with fries and pickled vegetables …  The cooking partners broke ground by being the first in the occupied West Bank to obtain a permit from Palestinian authorities for a mobile kitchen. But that was not enough! They looked for ways to make the truck as environmentally friendly as possible. With the help of a local green firm, the truck’s roof was affixed with two solar panels, which on a clear day can power the vehicle’s freezer, display fridges and fans….
http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/world/64510/first_food_truck_in_west_bank_opened_by_former_israeli_prisoners

Turkish, Israeli negotiating teams likely to meet in mid-May
ZAGREB, Croatia 28 Apr Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that negotiating teams of Turkey and Israel will meet again in mid-May to try to reach a reconciliation deal. Speaking at a press briefing here, he said that the two countries were discussing the establishment of a series of humanitarian projects in Gaza relating to electricity and water, as part of the negotiations surrounding Turkish demands toward lifting the embargo on Gaza. Erdogan said that Turkey offered during negotiations to send a ship, anchored in Israel’s Ashdod port, to provide electricity for Gaza to help cope with the Strip’s severe energy crisis. He said that Israel was reluctant, and offered the establishment of a power plant within Gaza, carried out between Turkey and Germany, as an alternative project. “We said that could be possible. We still haven’t given up on the ship. Israel is also positive towards our proposal to address Gaza’s water problem through water desalination plants or wells. There is also a need for schools and hospitals. We are seeking donors. Some have promised to contribute,” Erdogan said. In Jerusalem, a senior Israeli official said that the date of the next round of Israel-Turkey talks has not yet been determined but would presumably take place in mid-May. According to the official, Turkey has brought up the matter of sending a ship in the past but is no longer on the agenda. Instead, Israel has suggested other humanitarian projects Turkey can perform in Gaza. The official noted that Turkey’s status in Gaza concerning Israel will not be different from any other country.
http://dailytimes.com.pk/world/28-Apr-16/turkish-israeli-negotiating-teams-likely-to-meet-in-mid-may

Why is Jordan restricting Palestinians’ travel?
Al-Monitor 29 Apr by Daoud Kuttab — Palestinians have been fighting repressive Israeli travel restrictions for years, now they face Jordanian ones too — Like so many accomplished students, Benaz Someir, a Palestinian from Gaza, chose to attend Birzeit University. While pursuing her degree in journalism, Benaz met and later married Walid Batrawi, a fellow BA journalism student from Ramallah. For family and professional reasons, Benaz, a resident of Khan Yunis in Gaza, requested and was given permission to change her residency to the West Bank. Having successfully convinced the Israelis to change her residency to the West Bank, Benaz was now able to travel to different parts of the world using the King Hussein Bridge, which was easier than returning to Gaza. The choice was hard, but Benaz felt that it was best for her and her career as a media trainer and for her new family in Ramallah. That decision was made more than 20 years ago. But despite being married to a Palestinian and having proper residency in Ramallah for two decades, Benaz is being treated by Jordanian border control officers as a Gazan. Like all other West Bank and Gaza residents, Benaz holds the same Palestinian passport, yet she is treated differently than her husband … Palestinians deemed by Jordan as Gazans (namely, if they were born in Gaza or are children of Gazan parents) must apply for a special permit called an adam mumanaa — a no-objection document — issued by the Jordanian Ministry of Interior. This is costly, nonrevocable and time-consuming. The process takes weeks and sometimes months without any clarity of the rules. Despite this inconvenience, most Gazans with a legitimate reason to travel are granted this permit — until recently. Wafa Abdel Rahman, founder/director of Filasitynat, a leading women’s nongovernmental organization, is also a Gazan who has been living in the West Bank for decades. Abdel Rahman told Al-Monitor that the Jordanian authorities have in the past three months almost completely stopped approving these coveted permits. “They have turned down almost every application without any explanation or justification.”….
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/04/palestine-israel-jordan-travel-restrictions-west-bank-gaza.html

How the IDF eliminates border targets
Ynet 29 Apr by Yoav Zitun — The commanders at the ‘Canopy of Fire’ command and control center use flat screen TVs to monitor Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Syria, from where they make split-second decisions on opening fire on infiltrators, terror cells, or cannons firing at the Golan Heights — The IDF’s “target bank” has registered hundreds of successful kills over the past few years of terrorists both in the north and in south. The operations are managed from a command and control center called the “Canopy of Fire.” This mobile room is filled with flat screens showing its operators everything that is happening on Israel’s borders. The officers who command this center are the ones who order the use of firepower on the border fences, which at times makes the news….
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4797109,00.html

Occupation vacations: Settlement tourism in Israel
MEE 28 Apr by Belen Fernandez — For years, the Tel Aviv-based Shurat HaDin – also known as the Israel Law Centre – has organised tours to Israel while continuing its day-to-day activities of “fighting terrorism and safeguarding Jewish rights worldwide”. Billed as the “Ultimate Mission to Israel,” the weeklong excursion packages offer five-star accommodation, luxury bus transportation, and a cell phone for each participant. The cost: a mere $3,150 (not including airfare), plus an obligatory donation of between $600 and $5,000 per person. The itinerary, which promises a “dynamic and intensive… exploration of Israel’s struggle for survival and security in the Middle East,” includes the following items: “briefings by Mossad officials and commanders of the Shin Bet”; “a trial of Hamas terrorists in an IDF military court”; “tours of the Lebanese & Syrian front-line military positions and the Gaza border checkpoints”; a “meeting [with] Israel’s Arab agents who infiltrate the terrorist groups and provide real-time intelligence”; and a tour of “the controversial Security Fence and IDF military bases.” … A recent Washington Post article titled “Tourism is the new front in Israeli settlers’ battle for legitimacy” describes how settlements are deploying “zealous hospitality” as a means of fighting back against international criticism of their illegal status. A proliferation of boutique wineries and bed and breakfasts has accompanied the growth of settlement tourism; the article explains: “In this campaign, wine tastings are a new weapon against a two-state solution. Holiday chalets are new facts on the ground.”
http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/occupation-vacations-settlement-tourism-israel-1473410842

Opinion: Despite the murals, Belfast is no Bethlehem with rain / Giles Fraser
The Guardian 28 Apr — In a city of peace walls, Catholics feel occupied, Protestants that they’ve an ancient claim to the land. So both appropriate the narratives of the Israel-Palestine conflict — The Short Strand housing estate is a fiercely republican enclave in predominantly loyalist east Belfast. In these tightly packed streets, several thousand Catholics hunker down in an area of tens of thousands of Protestants. Close by one of the major routes of Orange Order marches, the Short Strand has long been a flashpoint. It was here that the IRA fought one of the first battles of the Troubles, resulting in three dead and 26 wounded … On a good day, the estate seems unremarkable – except for a huge mural that runs alongside a strip of wasteland next to the shops. “Short Strand supports Gaza,” it reads. Beside it the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, sits in a Gaza-shaped bath of blood, wielding a meat cleaver at drowning Palestinians as Barack Obama tries to avert Ban Ki-moon’s attention away from the massacre. Over on Northumberland Street, a very different mural has been erected by Protestant loyalists, celebrating the memory of Lieutenant-colonel John Henry Patterson, a Christian Zionist, and sometimes described as the inspiration behind the Israeli Defence Forces. A large star of David is underwritten with words from Netanyahu: “In all of Jewish history we have never had a Christian friend as understanding and devoted.”….
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2016/apr/28/despite-the-murals-belfast-is-not-bethlehem-with-rain

Palestine’s seed library — in pictures
The National (UAE) 27 Apr — Vivien Sansour is passionate about plants and in less than six weeks, she will launch a year-long project — pioneering the first Palestinian heirloom seed library and education programme in Ramallah. All photos by Heidi Levine for The National … The seed library intends to save seeds and maintain traditional forms of agriculture which could be lost, while educating young Palestinians about their agricultural heritage.
http://www.thenational.ae/world/middle-east/palestines-seed-library–in-pictures

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