Archive for August 31, 2016

August 31, 2016

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

After 325 days, Israel returns body of slain Palestinian Bahaa Elayyan to his family
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 1 Sept — Israeli authorities returned the body of Palestinian Bahaa Elayyan on Thursday at dawn, allowing his family — which has been leading the movement advocating for Israel to release slain Palestinians’ bodies — to bury him 325 days after his death. Elayyan, a 22-year-old resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabbir, was killed alongside another Palestinian after they attacked an Israeli bus with on Oct. 13, killing three Israelis with knives and a gun. His body was buried at the al-Mujahidin cemetery near the Old City of Jerusalem, in accordance with stipulations from Israeli police, which has allowed the release of bodies of slain Palestinians from East Jerusalem accused of “terrorism” on the condition that they no longer have funerals in their neighborhoods or villages, but would instead be buried in cemeteries chosen by the police. The stipulation comes amid a wider set of preconditions for the release, as only 25 people were allowed to attend Elayyan’s funeral, and his family was made to pay a 20,000 shekel ($5,292) “insurance fee” to make sure they abided by the rules. Israeli forces were heavily deployed in the area ahead of the funeral, as attendees were searched three times at checkpoints and saw their phones confiscated during the burial. Israeli forces also reportedly prevented people who were not on the submitted list from entering the cemetery. Israeli police also reportedly photographed people inside the cemetery. “One of the most difficult moments in life is for parents to bury their children,” Muhammad Elayyan, Elayyan’s father, told reporters. “Israel holds the bodies of martyrs as a policy to punish parents and pressure them.” A lawyer and activist, Muhammad Elayyan has spearheaded a movement by the families of slain Palestinians demanding that Israeli authorities return the bodies, said that his son’s body was severely altered by the long period of time it had spent frozen in Israeli morgues. “Since the body was held in freezers for ten months, substantial changes occurred to Bahaa’s features and color,” Muhammad Elayyan said. “His eyes sunk inside his skull as if he did not have any, muscles atrophied and his skin peeled off easily.” “It was difficult to identify him; except that I am his father and I know him well,” he added. Muhammad Elayyan said that there were three bullet marks on Bahaa’s body, including one in the chest, near the heart … Israeli authorities continue to hold the bodies of 12 slain Palestinians accused of committing attacks against Israelis, including including three women and two residents of occupied East Jerusalem, among them Abd al-Muhsen Hassuneh, 21, and Muhammad Abu Khalaf, 20….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=772944

Israeli forces reportedly assault 11 Palestinian youths in East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Aug — Israeli forces reportedly assaulted 11 Palestinians in two separate incidents in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, according to Palestinian sources. Israeli forces reportedly assaulted six Palestinian youths while they were walking in the Bab al-Hitta neighborhood of the Old City on Tuesday night, according to medical sources. Israeli forces were stationed near the area when they assaulted a group of Palestinian youths who were walking by, using their rifles and batons. The Palestinians reportedly suffered from bruising and were taken to the Makassed hospital for treatment.
Meanwhile, Executive Manager of the Burj Al-Luqluq Social Center Society Muntaser Dkaidek said that Israeli forces assaulted five Palestinian football players with their rifles Wednesday morning. The players, who practice at the center in the Old City, were identified as Awni Saida, Ahmad al-Halawani, Muhammad Waleed, Ahmad al-Salayma, Yahya Farah, and Ihab Teiba from the neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz, north of the Old City of Jerusalem. According to Dkaidek, Israeli forces assaulted the players when they were leaving the center on the street leading to Herod’s Gate as they were still dressed in their football uniforms. Saida, Farah and al-Halawani were taken to the hospital to receive medical care, Dkaidek said.Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Ma ‘an that he was not aware of either event, and rejected the description of the incidents as ‘attacks,’ telling Ma‘an that “Israeli police don’t attack Palestinians.”….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=772938

Palestinian injured by settler dogs
IMEMC/Agencies 31 Aug — An elderly Palestinian man sustained serious to moderate injuries Tuesday after an Israeli settler unleashed his dogs on him, according to a Palestinian official. Rizeq Abu Nasir, coordinator of the popular committee against the apartheid wall, told WAFA correspondence that Tawfiq Khaled, aged 66, was picking figs on his land in Deir Istiya, a village in the north of the West Bank, when he was attacked by the settler’s dogs. He said that the settler stood by watching as the dogs attacked Khaled, but restrained them only after Palestinian shepherds, who happened to be in the area, intervened to help him. Khaled was transferred to a hospital for medical treatment.
http://imemc.org/article/palestinian-injured-by-settler-dogs/

One soldier injured by Palestinian fire as Israeli army invades Nablus
IMEMC 1 Sept — Israeli military sources have reported, late at night Wednesday, that one soldier was shot and injured by Palestinian gunfire, after the army invaded the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The sources said the soldier suffered a moderate injury, and received the needed treatment before he was moved to an Israeli hospital. The shots were fired after a number of Israeli military vehicles, and buses transporting colonists, invaded Nablus and headed towards Joseph’s Tomb, near Balata refugee camp. Many local youths hurled stones and empty bottles at the invading vehicles, and apparently a number of armed fighters also opened fire on the military forces, wounding one soldier.
In related news, the Israeli army kidnapped, at dawn Thursday, at least six Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including three in Hebron. The army claimed the kidnapped Palestinians are members and supporters of Hamas.
http://imemc.org/article/one-soldier-injured-by-palestinian-fire-as-israeli-army-invades-nablus/

Schoolchildren tear-gassed on 2nd day of school
HEBRON, occupied Palestine 29 Aug by ISM, al-Khalil Team — On 29th August 2016 Israeli forces at Salaymeh checkpoint in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron), fired rounds of tear gas as schoolchildren attempted to make their way home through the highly militarised checkpoint. The Salaymeh checkpoint, for many schoolchildren, is one of the unavoidable checkpoints on the daily way to school and back home. At the highly militarised structures, the children attending schools and kindergartens in the area, are subject to bag-searches, harassment, questioning and detention by the Israeli forces. On Monday, the second day of school after the 3-month summer holidays, as children were starting to pour out of the schools around noon, Israeli forces threw a stun grenade towards a group of children. Instead, it landed right in front of a girl quietly making her way towards the checkpoint on her way home. Scared by the stun grenade flying towards her and the loud boom of the explosion, she ran away in the opposite direction in tears. In the meantime, at the checkpoint, children were repeatedly yelled at ‘to wait’ as Israeli forces refused to open the gate for them to go through the checkpoint in order to reach the other side. Israeli forces were heard yelling at children several times, and ordered a few boys to show them their hands in order to ‘prove’ stone-throwing if they are having dirty hands. Just a little later, Israeli forces fired rounds of tear gas in the direction of the schools, thus collectively punishing not only all the schoolchildren, but the whole neighborhood. As the tear gas canisters spread their supposedly ‘less-lethal’ gas and covered the area with the poisonous gas, some children escaped the clouds crying with their eyes red from the gas and coughing when choking on the gas.
https://palsolidarity.org/2016/08/school-children-tear-gassed-on-2nd-day-of-school/

Three bikers’ tale shows why Palestinians don’t go riding around the West Bank
Haaretz 31 Aug by Amira Hass — They were guilty by virtue of being Palestinian – and miraculously, the Israeli soldiers did not sentence them to death. A few short hours later, an unarmed man was not so lucky — Three Palestinian friends, two of whom are tall and one relatively short, ages 55, 60 and 50 respectively, go for a motorcycle ride every Friday. The West Bank, beyond which they and their wheels are not allowed to go, is small. When you subtract the Jewish settlements and army bases and springs and other areas where Israel has taken over completely, the West Bank becomes even smaller. But there is no end to the nice spots that the three can discover, and familiar paths also invite adventure and new perspectives. But they would have been happy to forgo the perspective they came across last Friday. Three days later, when they called to recount what had happened, the trio, two of them in particular, still sounded alarmedWhen a soldier opened one of the motorcycle storage compartments and began rummaging through it, a second soldier stood with a rifle pointed at the head of the biker whose cycle was being inspected – positioned a half-meter away. A third soldier was taking pictures of all of the bikers’ ID cards and their motorcycle license plates. The first soldier left the storage compartment open and moved to disassemble the engine cover and root around there, the rifle all the while at the biker’s head. Omar tried to say something. The soldier said something in Hebrew, of which the Palestinian understood only the words: “Not a word.” Just after Omar was checked out, a pedestrian, a man of about 60, appeared with a boy of about 10 – unarmed, of course. The soldiers stopped them, Omar recounts, with one checking out the older man as one would a criminal, hitting the man’s legs while the second soldier aimed his rifle. At the man’s head….
http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.739464

Israeli soldiers routinely shoot heads of injured Palestinians, court told
EI 30 Aug by Maureen Clare Murphy — Shooting at the heads of incapacitated alleged Palestinian attackers is a common practice by Israeli occupation forces, a settler security chief told a military court hearing on Sunday. Eliyahu Liebman testified as a witness for the defense in the trial of Elor Azarya, an Israeli soldier indicted for manslaughter after he was caught on video shooting the head of a wounded and incapacitated Palestinian lying in the street, killing him. Abd al-Fattah al-Sharif and Ramzi al-Qasrawi were fatally wounded after they allegedly attempted to stab soldiers in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron in late March. Multiple videos of the scene show al-Sharif and al-Qasrawi in the street, badly injured. But video released thus far only shows the fatal shooting of al-Sharif. “In terrorist incidents I witnessed, I saw with my own eyes that in every instance in which a terrorist attacked, soldiers shot him in the center of mass until he was neutralized … and [shot] a bullet to the head to ensure that the terrorist could not set off a suicide belt or continue the attack. These soldiers never went to court,” Liebman, the longtime civilian security chief for Jewish settlers in Hebron, told the court….
https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/maureen-clare-murphy/israeli-soldiers-routinely-shoot-heads-injured-palestinians-court-told

Gag order extended as police refuse to release CCTV footage of Qalandiya killing
+972 blog 21 Aug by John Brown* — A Palestinian mother of two and her 16-year-old brother were shot and killed by Israeli security guards at Qalandiya checkpoint in April, even though eyewitnesses say they posed no risk. The police refuse to release the CCTV footage – maybe they know something we don’t? — More than four months after a shooting incident at Qalandiya checkpoint that led to the death of a Palestinian woman and her 16-year-old brother, the Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court on Monday upheld Israel Police’s request to extend the gag order on the details of the affair by another month. The police said that Maram Salah Hassan Abu Ismail, a 23-year-old mother of two from East Jerusalem, and Ibrahim Salah Taha, were shot after trying to carry out a stabbing attack, but eyewitnesses say told B’Tselem that they were shot without posing any risk to anyone. The mystery would have been solved easily by releasing the CCTV footage from the scene, but the police have refused to do so. Right after the shooting on April 27, the police placed a gag order that was endorsed by a Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court judge who said that the order was “required to carry out an unbiased investigation and ensure public security. This week it was extended until September 27. How does it ensure public security? Why does the publication of Elor Azaria’s manslaughter charges not harm public security? And the publication of details of other similar cases?….
http://972mag.com/gag-order-extended-as-police-refuse-to-release-cctv-footage-of-qalandiya-killing/121661/

Video: Border Police filmed vandalizing scooter in Old City
Ynet 31 Aug by Roi Yanovsky — A video filmed overnight Tuesday by a resident of Jerusalem’s Old City allegedly shows two Border Police officers striking a scooter and breaking its mirrors. The Border Police have stated that they “take this incident seriously and are distressed by it.” They related that the footage was transferred to the Police Investigation Division (PID) to be checked. The Jerusalem District Commander of the Israel PolHilal Masharqeh, 28, a resident of Hadera, who was stabbed while trying to break up a fight between Jews and Arabs in Givat Olga last week, died at Hillel Yaffe Hospital on Sunday.ice, Yoram Halevy, ordered that the scooter’s owner, Kamal Jamal, be compensated for damages, depending on the results of this check. The video shows the vandalism and plays the sound of breaking glass, but the Border Policemen are not seen actually striking the scooter. As evidence, residents presented photographs of the scooter as they found it in the morning with its mirrors broken. Jamal’s brother, Najib Jamal, said that he saw what happened but didn’t file a complaint with the PID because “I don’t believe that it’ll help.” The Border Police were on a widespread operation in the Old City that night to prevent stone-throwing.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4848753,00.html

Man stabbed while trying to break up fight between Jews and Arabs dies
Ynet 28 Aug by Hassan Shaalan — Hilal Masharqeh, 28, a resident of Hadera, who was stabbed while trying to break up a fight between Jews and Arabs in Givat Olga last week, died at Hillel Yaffe Hospital on Sunday. His body was sent for an autopsy to the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir. Masharqeh was rushed to the hospital after being stabbed in the upper body.  Family members said he was stabbed while attempting to break up a fight between young family members of his and young Jews. A family member said, “He wasn’t involved in anything. He got stabbed in the neck and wounded very seriously. “The day he was injured, he wanted to calm tensions down, but in the end, he paid with his life. I hope the police find out who stabbed him. Every week we prayed he would recover and come back to his family.” ….
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4847340,00.html

PPS: ‘Army kidnaps twenty-one Palestinians in the West Bank’
IMEMC 30 Aug — The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) has reported that Israeli soldiers have kidnapped, overnight [Monday] and on Tuesday, twenty-one Palestinians, during massive military invasions and searches of homes, in different parts of the occupied West Bank. The PPS said the soldiers invaded several towns in the southern West Bank district of Hebron, violently searched homes and kidnapped nine Palestinians, including children [minors]. The kidnapped have been identified as Waseem Ibrahim Mohammad Bahar, 16, Mohammad Ibrahim Ali Abu Mariya, 17 … The soldiers also invaded the central West Bank district of Ramallah and al-Biereh, searched many homes and kidnapped Abdul-Salam Fahim ‘Aabed, 28, Mousa No’man ‘Aassi, 48, and his brother Nayef, 50. In Tulkarem, in the northern part of the West Bank, the soldiers kidnapped two siblings, identified as Bilal Kamel Ahmad, 25, and his brother Tamer, 22, from their home in the Thannaba area. In Jenin, also in the northern part of the West Bank, the soldiers kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Noureddin Ibrahim Qararya [from al-Fandaqumiya village.] In addition, the army invaded the al-Far‘a refugee camp, in the West Bank district of Tubas, searched a number of homes and kidnapped three Palestinians, identified as Abdullah Odeh, Saher Abdullah Odeh, 23, and his brother Hamza, 27. In Occupied Jerusalem, the soldiers kidnapped three teenagers, identified as Laith Abed-Rabbo, 17, Bilal Hroub, 17, and Mofeed Sa’ida, 17.
http://imemc./orgarticle/israeli-soldiers-kidnap-sixteen-palestinians-in-the-west-bank/

Israeli forces detain 18 Palestinians in overnight raids in West Bank, East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Aug — Israeli forces raided several areas of the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem overnight Tuesday, detaining at least 18 Palestinians. In the village of Salim in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, Israeli forces detained a former prisoner identified by locals as Musab Aked Ishtayyeh, 25. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the detention, claiming that Ishtayyeh was a suspected Hamas operative and detained for involvement in “terror activity.” Israeli forces also detained three residents of the Nablus-area ‘Askar refugee camp, Nabil al-Sirfi, Ahmad al-Zaghal, and Muntaser Arayshi, at the Huwwara checkpoint south of Nablus city, locals said. Three former prisoners were detained from the southern district of Bethlehem, identified as Youssef Luay Thawabteh in the village of Beit Fajjar, while Muhammad al-Masaid and Muhammad Hamzeh al-Kurdi were detained in the ‘Ayda refugee camp. The three detentions were confirmed by the Israeli army. In the Bethlehem district village of Dar Salah, locals said Israeli forces also detained Taysir Ahmad Salim while he was on his way to his work in Israel. In the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of ‘Issawiya, Israeli forces detained Jamil Mheisen, local sources said … Meanwhile, an Israeli army spokesperson informed Ma‘an of four additional detentions, one in the village of ‘Asira al-Qibliya in the Nablus district, an alleged suspected Hamas operative in Hebron City, and two in the Hebron area village of al-Samu‘. Israeli forces raid the occupied Palestinian territory on a near-nightly basis, with an average of 71 raids each week in 2016, according to UN documentation.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=772931

Prisoners / Court actions

3 Palestinian prisoners continue hunger strike as another reaches deal with Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Aug — Three Palestinian prisoners from the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem continued their hunger strikes against administrative detention, as another Palestinian prisoner suspended his hunger strike on Wednesday after reaching a deal with Israeli authorities. Sawt al-Asra (Voice of Prisoners) radio station warned in a report that the health conditions of the three hunger strikers were deteriorating sharply. Brothers Mahmoud and Muhammad Balboul began their hunger strikes on July 4 and 7 respectively. The brothers were detained on June 9 and sentenced to administrative detention, shortly before their younger sister Nuran, 16, was released after spending four months in Israeli jail. Meanwhile, 20-year-old Malik Salah Daoud al-Qadi has been on a hunger strike since July 11, after being detained on May 23. Al-Qadi had previously spent four months in Israeli custody after being detained in December 2015. Al-Qadi is a journalism and media student at the al-Quds University in Abu Dis.
Tareq Barghouthi, a lawyer for the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, told Sawt-al Asra after visiting Mahmoud Balboul at Israel’s Assaf Harofeh Hospital on Tuesday evening that Balboul’s health condition was very critical, as he has lost 30 kilograms, was having difficulty speaking, and suffered from severe fatigue. Israeli doctors warned last week that Mahmoud might be paralyzed if he was not given vitamins, but he has refused to take supplements and insisted on continuing his strike and only consuming water. Meanwhile, Palestinian prisoner Ayyad al-Hreimi suspended his hunger strike Tuesday night after going 48 days without food to protest of his administrative detention, following an agreement reached between his lawyer and Israeli prosecutors to release him in February 2017. By February 2017, Israeli will have renewed his administrative detention three times. Four days after last being released from serving a four-year prison sentence, Israeli forces detained al-Hreimi again alongside his two brothers and two cousins….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=772932

18-year-old daughter of Palestinian prisoner hugs her father for the first time ever
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 28 Aug — The 18-year-old daughter of a Palestinian prisoner serving a life sentence in Israeli prison was able to hug her father for the first time in her life on Sunday, according to Sawt al-Asra (Voice of the Prisoners) radio. Yara al-Sharabati, the daughter of 49-year-old Palestinian prisoner Ayman al-Sharabati from occupied East Jerusalem, was recently granted permission to visit her father after being banned from visits for the past three years. The teenager, who had reportedly only ever seen her father through a barrier, was allowed to embrace him for the first time in her life, as he was detained before she was born.
Ayman al-Sharabati, who is being held in Israel’s Gilboa prison, was detained on May 6, 1998, and was sentenced to life in prison for his affiliation with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of the Fatah party, and for carrying out an attack in Jerusalem which resulted in the death of an Israeli settler and the injury of another. The Israel Prison Service (IPS) has repeatedly denied family visitation for scores of Palestinian prisoners held in prisons across the state of Israel, with some families have reported being held at Israeli checkpoints and forced to return their homes in the occupied territory, despite being granted visitation permits.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=772886

Minor who spat on MK Tibi sentenced to community service
Ynet 31 Aug by Gilad Morad — The woman who spat on MK Ahmad Tibi four years ago at a conference has been sentenced to 60 hours community service, though the court has refrained from entering a conviction on her record “out of concern for her future.” The Magistrates’ Court for Youth in Tel Aviv made the judgment a few weeks ago, though it was only recently cleared for publication. The offending incident took place in 2012 at Bar Ilan University when the then-17-year-old offender spit on the MK as he exited the conference hall.  She was tried for attempting to attack a civil servant. After undergoing an evaluation and expressing remorse for her actions, the probation service and the police recommended community service. Tibi did not file a complaint against her.
The girl, who was familiar to the Hilltop Youth in the West Bank, has participated in various activities against African infiltrators and the evacuation of settler outposts. “(Tibi) should say thank you; he deserves much worse; he deserves a death sentence. There have to be people who give the enemies of Israel what they deserve.” she told Ynet shortly after the incident. … At the time, Tibi said in response to the incident, “I will not be daunted and will go anywhere, even if there are racists there. I will make my voice and that of the Arab public be heard with my head held high.”
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4848853,00.html

Witnesses return to Elor Azarya’s self-defense claim in Hebron shooting trial
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Aug — The trial for Israeli soldier Elor Azarya continued on Tuesday, as the court heard witness testimonies claiming the young soldier acted out of self defense when he shot and killed a prone Palestinian in Hebron in March … On Tuesday, a member of the illegal Jewish settlement in Hebron’s emergency response team, Asher Horowitz, testified in defense of Azarya, claiming that fears of explosives and a second stabbing attack were legitimate, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. “At first I thought that the terrorists were dead, until I heard the shouts of my friends from the emergency squad, ‘Careful, he moved, it’s quite possible that he has an explosive device, nobody go near him, nobody touch him, he could blow himself up here on all of us,'” Haaretz quoted Horowitz as saying. The claim contradicted the testimony of Colonel Yariv Ben Ezra, the highest ranking commander in the case, who said last month in court: “I heard no such claim about any such thing. The first time I heard of that suspicion was at noon, through the media, when the event was publicized. Not on my way to the site, not at the site — the subject of fear of a bomb never came up.” Horowitz, meanwhile, argued that the testimony of Major Tom Naaman, Azarya’s company commander, was motivated by “leftist” politics … On Monday, the platoon commander of Azarya, whose identity is being withheld by an Israeli army gag order, also testified in favor of the self-defense narrative, returning again to the claim that al-Sharif’s jacket seemed “unusual and strange.” Azarya had reportedly told military police that the day of the killing — March 24 — was a hot 30 degrees Celsius in Hebron. A meteorologist had previously presented the court with documentation showing that the actual temperature was 17 degrees Celsius, while the prosecution was able show that five other individuals in the area were wearing coats similar to al-Sharif’s … To be acquitted, Azarya need only convince the three judges that there is doubt as to the manslaughter charges against him, according to The Jerusalem Post….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=772920

Restriction of movement

Palestinian journalist prevented from traveling to collect prestigious award
MEMO 1 Sept — A Palestinian photojournalist from Gaza has been prevented by the Israeli-led siege from travelling to Moscow where he was due to receive a prestigious award for the second year running. Ashraf Amra, who lives in the Deir El-Balah Refugee Camp in the central Gaza Strip, won second place in the Top News category in the Andrei Stenin International Photo Contest. The contest is organised by the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency and sponsored by the UNESCO commission of the Russian Federation. More than 7,000 photographers from 71 countries submitted entries. The photograph which won Amra the award showed the father of a Palestinian baby, Rahaf Hassan, lying next to her body and hugging her for the last time. Rahaf was killed in an Israeli airstrike on her family home in Gaza in 2015. Her father was wounded in the attack. Amra explained that despite all of his efforts to travel to Moscow, they were in vain. He not only blamed the Israelis for this, but also the “disunity” of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160901-palestinian-journalist-prevented-from-travelling-to-collect-prestigious-award/

Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Judaization

Israel approves 284 new West Bank housing units, draws US ire
JERUSALEM/WASHINGTON (Reuters) 31 Aug by Jeffrey Heller & Arshad Mohammed — Israel approved on Wednesday 284 new housing units in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, drawing a U.S. accusation that its policies could expand settlements in a “potentially unlimited way.” U.S. officials said the criticism from the U.S. State Department marked the first time it has suggested in public that Israel may be moving toward unlimited settlement expansion on land the Palestinians seek to establish their own state. The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the latest language was unusually strong but reflected a change in tone rather than any major shift in U.S. policy. U.S.-backed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014 and there are no signs that they will resume any time soon. A planning committee of Israel’s military-run Civil Administration in the West Bank gave approved the construction of a 234-unit nursing home in Elkana, 30 houses in Beit Arye and 20 dwellings in Givat Zeev, according to Peace Now, an Israeli group that monitors and opposes settlement-building. In addition, 179 building permits were issued retroactively, legalising under Israeli law housing units that were erected in the settlement of Ofarim, Peace Now said. “We are deeply concerned by the government’s announcement to advance plans for these settlement units in the West Bank,” U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said at a news briefing in Washington. “We are particularly troubled by the policy of retroactively approving unauthorized settlement units and outposts that are themselves illegal under Israeli law. These policies have effectively given the Israeli government a green light for the pervasive advancement of settlement activity in a new and potentially unlimited way.” The Civil Administration decision came two days after a senior U.N. envoy said in a statement to the U.N. Security Council that a surge in such building, which most countries view as illegal, presented an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians….
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-3767917/Israel-approves-284-new-West-Bank-housing-units-draws-U-S-ire.html

Israel to hold wine festival on ruins of Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 28 Aug — The Israeli municipality of Jerusalem announced organizing a wine festival including drinking and dancing over the ruins of the Ma’man Allah Muslim cemetery next Wednesday and Thursday. QPress Center for the Aqsa and Jerusalem affairs revealed that Israeli and international musical bands will participate in the festival which is going to serve 120 kinds of wine in the “independence” park which was established over 200 dunums of land of the Muslim cemetery which was earlier confiscated by Israel. Israeli municipality made large-scale changes on the cemetery and transformed a part of it into a public park used for big ceremonies. [for more information on the recent history of this cemetery see here.]
http://english.palinfo.com/site/pages/details.aspx?itemid=80400

Israel demolishes homes in East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan, Sur Bahir
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 30 Aug — Israeli authorities tore down three houses — two of which were under construction — and two fences in occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday morning, leaving at least five Palestinians homeless. Bulldozers heavily escorted by Israeli troops and police officers stormed the neighborhood of Sur Bahir and demolished a house which housed a family of five, evacuating the family and removing only some of the furniture from the home, tearing down the house while much of the family’s belongings remained inside. The owner of the home, Wasim Atiyeh, told Ma‘an that the 120-square-meter house was demolished because it was built without a license issued by the Jerusalem municipality. “A court hearing was scheduled for the end of October at the Jerusalem municipality court to discuss the license issue,” Atiyeh said. “But bulldozers demolished the house this morning without a prior notice.” Atiyeh added that he and his family had moved to the house about a year ago.The Israeli municipality of Jerusalem confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that the Israeli Jerusalem Zoning Authority “enforced a court order” and demolished an “illegal structure” in Sur Bahir, claiming that it was built without a hard-to-obtain Israeli construction permit, and that the owners “violated a cease and desist order issued when construction began, and a commitment they made in court to demolish the structure.”
Meanwhile, in the neighborhood of Silwan, bulldozers escorted by Israeli troops demolished two houses under construction belonging to Iyad Nairoukh, who said the demolition was performed without prior notice, adding that he had only started the construction 20 days earlier. Israeli forces also demolished two fences in Silwan surrounding the homes of Aziz Burqan and Abed Shweiki. The owners said they were told the demolitions took place because they did not have Israeli-issued licenses. The Jerusalem municipality noted that “several fences and concrete walls erected illegally on public land in Wadi Yasul,” a section of Silwan, were demolished by the Israeli Ministry of Finance enforcement unit. The statement did not mention the demolition of the two homes under construction…
Testimonies collected by ARIJ from Palestinians in the neighborhoods of Silwan and Sur Bahir found that the procedures to apply for Israeli-issued building permits were lengthy, sometimes lasting for several years, while the application costs could reach up to 300,000 shekels ($79,180).  As a result, Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem tend to build without permits in order to accommodate the needs of their families, and only 7 percent of Jerusalem building permits go to Palestinian neighborhoods, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=772915

Israeli forces confiscate paving equipment in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 31 Aug — Israeli forces Wednesday confiscated paving equipment and machines in the area of Wad al-Rakhim in the village of Susiya in the occupied West Bank district of Hebron. The head of the Susiya local council, Jihad al-Nawajaa, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces confiscated the equipment used for paving the roads, claiming the vehicles entered an area where vehicles were prohibited. Al-Nawajaa said the vehicles entered the area by mistake, adding that he was assaulted by Israeli forces during the incident. Al-Nawajaa added that similar equipment was confiscated from the al-Litwana area in the south of Hebron. All of the roads in the area are paved through the financial support of international funds, al-Nawajaa added. A spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied territory, told Ma‘an that “two pieces of illegal paving equipment were caught without approval from authorities in Area C,” adding that the road to be paved led to structures deemed “illegal” by Israel, and rejecting “any claims that state that the activities in Area C were performed by accident.” Meanwhile, some 40 percent of Susiya is under threat of imminent demolition, as the Israeli Supreme Court awaits a decision from ultra-right Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to determine the fate of the village, expected to be made in October….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=772940

Israeli settlers open the sewage water on the Palestinian fields in Husan village
Jai-Pal 30 Aug — On the early morning of August 20, 2016 the Israeli settlers from Bitar Eliet settlement opened the sewage water on the fields of the Palestinian farmers in Husan village which is located 20 km west of Bethlehem. More than 40 dunums (1 dunum = 1000 m2) of cultivated lands was affected by the sewage water damage. These fields were owned by 12 families from Husan. Wadi Qudis is a valley about 500 dunums located in the middle of Bitar Elit Settlement because the settlement was built on the lands of Husan village in the late 80s. Until this moment the farmers of the village are able to reach their lands and cultivate them despite all the daily harassments they face which include physical attacks from the settlers, burning of their crops, preventing them access to their land and now flooding the fields with sewage water. Access to their fields has always been limited. The farmers can reach their fields only using donkeys and horses because they must cross the main gate of the settlement every day. Only family members who have their names on the land’s ownership documents can cross and work in their fields, other members and Palestinians are not allowed. The valley used to be one of the most fertile lands in the area because it has more than 10 springs. The farmers used to depend on those springs for watering their trees. Currently most of the springs do not have enough water because of the ongoing settlement expansion and new restricted bypass roads. The farmers are worried that they will not have enough water for their fields. During the last 4 months, the Israeli settlers have opened the sewage water on the lands twice. The main crops are olive trees, grapes and figs….
http://www.jai-pal.org/en/campaigns/olive-tree-campaign/attacks-on-campaign-fields/714-israeli-settlers-open-the-sewage-water-on-the-palestinian-fields-in-husan-village

West Bank villagers suffer from sewer politics
EI 31 Aug by Clare Maxwell — For many residents in Bruqin village, Abu Mazen Square represents the Palestinian Authority’s misplaced priorities —  Abu Mazen Square has become a bit of a joke for Palestinian residents in the occupied West Bank town of Bruqin. To understand why, it is imperative to delve into recent history. Two years ago, the site of what is now a public square was an open cesspool. Wastewater pumped out of the nearby Israeli settlement Ariel, one of the largest in the West Bank. This wastewater mingled with overflow from nearby Salfit. Salfit, a town of some 9,000 Palestinians, has spent the past 22 years trying to update its sewage management system, according to chief municipal engineer Saleh Afaneh, but has not been able to get the necessary permits from the Israeli military authorities. Consequently, wastewater has been flowing down freely, joining the natural stream that runs through Bruqin village. The Salfit government has little power to reduce the amount of sewage entering Bruqin and the neighboring Palestinian village Kufr al-Dik, but it has supplied a few kilometers of pipeline to keep the mess underground in the most densely populated parts of the two towns. While only four out of 15 planned kilometers of pipeline have been built so far, the Palestinian Authority took the opportunity to build a lavishly decorated new town square, dedicated to Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president, directly over the line, giving Bruqin’s local residents Abu Mazen Square. A kilometer away, the sewage continues to flow openly. The story of Abu Mazen Square is an execrable reminder for many in Bruqin that their problems are being glossed over by the Palestinian Authority
https://electronicintifada.net/content/west-bank-villagers-suffer-sewer-politics/17811

Gaza

Israeli bulldozers raid central Gaza Strip refugee camp
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 Aug — Israeli bulldozers raided al-Bureij refugee camp and leveled lands in the central Gaza Strip district of Deir Al-Balah Wednesday morning. Witnesses told Ma‘an that four Israeli bulldozers crossed into the Gaza Strip from Israel and raided the eastern side of the camp as Israeli drones flew overhead. Witnesses added that Israeli soldiers randomly opened fire, though no injuries were reported … Israeli military incursions inside the besieged Gaza Strip and near the “buffer zone” which lies on both land and sea sides of Gaza, have long been a near-daily occurrence. Palestinians who work near the “buffer zone” between the Palestinian enclave and Israel often come under fire from military forces, as the Israeli military has not made clear the precise area of the designated zone. The Israeli army regularly opens fire on Palestinian fisherman and farmers along the border areas, despite a ceasefire agreement that ended the 2014 war. As of Aug. 22, the United Nations had documented 45 Israeli military incursions into the Gaza Strip so far this year.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=772928

Youth lightly injured after ‘suspicious object’ explodes in Gaza City
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 30 Aug — A 19-year-old Palestinian Tuesday was injured in the neighborhood of al-Tuffah in the eastern part of Gaza city after a “suspicious object” exploded. Spokesperson of the Gaza Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma’an that the Palestinian youth was injured with light wounds and was taken to the al-Shifa hospital for treatment. It remains unknown what kind of object exploded near the youth.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=772925

Israel allows entry of 300,000 new school books into Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 30 Aug — Israeli authorities allowed the entry of new school books into the besieged Gaza Strip on Tuesday through the Erez border crossing in northern Gaza. Head of the media office of Gaza’s Ministry of Education Mutasim al-Minawi told Ma‘an that Israel allowed the entry of the highly anticipated books containing new curricula in coordination with the Ministry of Education and the United Nations. Among the textbooks delivered were mathematics books for the second, third and fourth grades, science books for the third and fourth grades, and writing books for the first and second grades. According to the director’s assistant of planning at the ministry Azzam Abu Bakir, Israeli authorities had been stalling the entry of the more than 300,000 new books, which were printed in the occupied West Bank due to the lack of large-scale printers in the Gaza Strip. The 300,000 school books were transferred from the occupied West Bank to Gaza on Tuesday morning, and will be delivered to schools across the besieged coastal enclave starting Tuesday evening….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=772917

UN bodies call for improved access to building material in Gaza
MEMO 30 Aug — Sixteen UN bodies have called for an increase in the flow of construction materials and funding into the Gaza Strip to improve the enclave’s humanitarian situation. Around half of the residential buildings, which were partially destroyed during Israel’s 2014 war on the Strip, were renovated, while one third of those completely destroyed were reconstructed thanks to the UN, Palestinian government, NGOs, donors and with the help of the private sector, UN estimates show. The report noted that all the UN-run clinics and schools were renovated or rebuilt, including 78 clinics and hospitals and 252 schools. UN Coordinator  for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory Robert Piper warned that the situation in the Gaza Strip was bad before the 51-day Israeli offensive in 2014. He called for intensifying development work in the Gaza Strip which witnessed three destructive Israeli wars between 2008 and 2014 that killed thousands of Palestinians, as well as caused the destruction of thousands of residential buildings, schools, mosques, clinics and universities.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160830-un-bodies-call-for-improved-access-to-building-material-in-gaza/

Lieberman vows to recover Israeli bodies from Gaza
AFP 31 Aug — Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday he was determined to recover the bodies of two soldiers killed in Gaza but insisted he was not keen to negotiate with Hamas. Oron Shaul, a soldier in the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip, was believed by the Israeli army to have been killed along with Hadar Goldin, and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas is thought to hold their bodies. Channel 10 television on Monday quoted him as saying, in two private conversations, that the return of the soldiers’ remains was improbable and that he does not want to negotiate with Hamas. The report triggered an uproar with Goldin’s twin brother, Tzour, telling military radio that Lieberman was ignoring “his responsibilities and the army’s code of ethics.” Goldin’s family later issued a statement denouncing “the abandonment of soldiers on the battlefield by the minister of the defence”….
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3767687/Lieberman-vows-recover-Israeli-bodies-Gaza.html

First solar-power car in Gaza Strip
Reuters 30 Aug — Two engineering students from Gaza have built a prototype solar-powered vehicle, hoping to solve the energy crisis in their hometown where fuel and electricity are in short supply. Khaled Bardawil and Jamal al-Meqati, both 23-year-old, designed and built the solar power vehicle to combat fuel shortage and the constant electrical outage plaguing the Gaza Strip. Bardawil said that they decided to depend on a natural power provided by God, which is renewable, alternative and clean energy. … Bardawil and Meqati’s solar vehicle may bring some relief to the energy shortage; however they had some trouble finding parts needed to build the vehicle in Gaza. Meqati, the other student said that electricity generators are not available in Gaza and unfortunately they can’t be manufactured in the city; therefore, they had to bring an engine and to apply many alterations to it, which wasn’t an easy process. Lecturer at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, Mazen Abu Amer, hoped this project would help raise the awareness of solar power usage in the community. He added that by building this vehicle, they aimed at introducing a prototype as some European universities did. They also aimed at raising awareness and spread the culture of using solar power through these projects. [see video (Arabic) from the VOA News of car in operation here.]
http://english.aawsat.com/2016/08/article55357449/first-solar-power-car-gaza-strip

Youth movement: Gazans take up rollerblading
AFP 28 Aug — Young people have turned to rollerblading in the Gaza Strip, gliding along the Palestinian enclave’s waterfront with used equipment that can be bought at a popular flea market. The sport requires little gear — which is important in Gaza, hit by three wars with Israel since 2008 and under an Israeli blockade for a decade. Nearly half the 1.9 million population in the strip run by Islamist movement Hamas is unemployed. “The rollerblades are not available in Gaza. It’s complicated for us to find some,” said Rajab Al-Rifi, a 20-year-old rollerblader from Gaza City. “We go to the Yarmouk souk, which is a second-hand market with goods from Israel. They are considered cast-offs from Israel, but we buy them, we fix them and then we can use them.” The rollerbladers join bikers, joggers and horse- and camel-riders on Gaza’s Mediterranean coastline, weaving their movements and jumping from steps. They sometimes draw curious looks, including from city employees who stopped with their brooms in hand to watch. “When the people see us, they are happy,” said Mohammed Hajjaj, 17.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3762097/Youth-movement-Gazans-rollerblading.html

Activism / Solidarity / BDS

Ibdaa center in al-Duheisha holds activity in solidarity with Scottish Celtic Football Club
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Aug — The Ibdaa [Ibda‘] Cultural Center in Bethlehem’s al-Duheisha refugee camp organized an activity on Monday evening to support the Scottish Celtic Football Club after the club waved Palestinian flags during an international playoff game for qualification for the UEFA Champions League tournament against the Israeli Hapoel Beersheba club almost two weeks ago. Hundreds of children gathered to support the Scottish football club, following a decision by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) to impose a fine on the club for waving Palestinian flags. Some of the children donated their daily allowances as a show of solidarity to help the club pay the fine. Entire sections of Celtic supporters brought Palestinian flags to the Celtic Park stadium in Glasgow for the match, in spite of threats of arrest by Scottish police should it deem that flags and banners displayed at the match constitute “criminality.” “When someone is representing Israeli state institutions, it is sadly never merely a game,” a statement by the group Celtic Fans for Palestine, which organized the event on social media, read ahead of the game….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=772926

Brussels Airlines turns around on halva boycott
Ynet 30 Aug by Itamar Eichner — After being pressured by pro-Palestinian BDS groups to boycott Israeli halva snacks on their flights, Brussels Airlines has reversed its decision, saying it will continue to serve the Israeli-made sweet; move comes after diplomatic and social pressure were applied to the airline….
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4848133,00.html

Czech schools remove Jerusalem as the capital of Israel from books
BehindTheNews 30 Aug — Czech schools will no longer label Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, The Prague Daily Monitor reported, citing a Czech daily newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes on Monday. The decision came after the Palestinian Authority embassy complained to the Education Ministry due to an atlas used in local schools which listed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The books publisher, Shocart, will need to rewrite all the books listing Jerusalem as the capital or it will no longer be certified as a recognized Czech school book. Schools receive grants in order to buy certified books. Palestinian Authority ambassador to Prague, Khlaed Alattrash, stated that the complaint was filed after ‘Palestinians’ in the Czech Republic presented the atlas maps to him. According to Alattrash the maps were not only unacceptable from the view of the imaginary Palestinian citizens but do not follow international law or the official position of the EU. Czech Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Irena Valentova told Mlada fronta Dnes that “the Czech Republic does not consider East Jerusalem a part of the State of Israel.” “The EU member countries, including the Czech Republic, view Jerusalem as the future capital of both states, i.e. the State of Israel and the future State of Palestine,” Valentova continued. Shocart plans on updating the books, listing Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital, by the start of the new year. Managers at Shocart described the atlases listing Jerusalem as an a mistake that was overlooked….
https://behindthenewsisrael.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/czech-schools-remove-jerusalem-as-the-capital-of-israel-from-books/

Other news

Amnesty condemns secret Israeli trial of Christian charity’s official
EI 30 Aug by Ali Abunimah — Israel has begun the secret trial of an official from the Christian global development charity World Vision amid condemnation from human rights defenders.  On Tuesday, Mohammed El Halabi, the organization’s Gaza director, was brought before a pre-trial hearing in Bir al-Saba, a city in the south of present-day Israel. All media and World Vision staff were prevented from attending the hearing, Halabi’s lawyer told the AFP news agency.  “A trial is legitimate if it is transparent,” World Vision International’s CEO Kevin Jenkins said. “Secret trials are the most flagrant violation of the right to a public hearing. Holding these court proceedings behind closed doors would render any convictions obtained unsound,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program. Further court proceedings were reportedly postponed to October. Israel detained Halabi in June, interrogated him for more than 50 days and then charged him with diverting up to $50 million to the military wing of Hamas – an amount more than twice World Vision’s entire Gaza program budget for the last decade….
https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/amnesty-condemns-secret-israeli-trial-christian-charitys-official

World Vision says its review cleared staffer charged in Gaza
Philanthropy 30 Aug — Christian aid charity World Vision says it conducted an internal investigation of its Gaza director months before he was accused by Israeli authorities of diverting funds to militant Palestinian group Hamas and found no evidence of wrongdoing, The Wall Street Journal reports. Kevin Jenkins, president of World Vision International, said a former employee leveled allegations of financial impropriety against Mohammad El Halabi, but the internal review did not substantiate the claims. Mr. Halabi was detained in June and charged earlier this month with funneling tens of millions of dollars from the charity to Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and is considered a terrorist group by Israel and the United States. He was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing. World Vision has said Israel’s estimate of the amount Mr. Halabi allegedly steered to Hamas far exceeds its total spending in Gaza. Mr. Jenkins said the nonprofit has retained an independent accounting firm to take a new look at the charges. “We want the truth to come out,” he said. “I do have confidence in our systems.” The case has fueled concern among aid officials in the Palestinian territories that their operations are being exploited by anti-Israel groups, potentially putting donor funding at risk.
https://www.philanthropy.com/article/World-Vision-Says-Its-Review/237619?cid=cpfd_home

Identities of female Palestinian electoral candidates hidden
MEMO 31 Aug — Palestinian election documents have caused controversy after some female candidates were listed as “sister” or “the wife of …” instead of using their actual names. Questions have been raised about whether or not such candidates can partake in government if they are not comfortable with their names being disclosed. Director of a Coalition of Women’s Organisations in the Gaza Strip, Nadia Abu Nahla said the lack of publication of women’s name is a step back for the political parties. “Through this move we see a regression in our actions as Palestinians as we are a people who are proud of our women as an essential part of society who have equal roles and rights as men. Women were partners [with men] throughout the struggle. Therefore it is a disgrace for any national or independent list to withhold the names of women.” She added that the women’s names have not been withheld because of social conventions. She asked: “If we do not recognise their names how will they be able to attain positions to coordinate the needs of women in the planning and coordination committees of the municipality?” “If our names have become part of our modesty, then our voices do not need to back the lists that veil the names of women.”
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160831-identities-of-female-palestinian-electoral-candidates-hidden/

Video: Palestinian Wedding
Al Jazeera 31 Aug — Weddings are a cause for celebration everywhere in the world. But for many Palestinians, the festivities help to keep valuable traditions alive and provide a way for them to deal with some of the problems of life under Israeli occupation. Despite some of the differences between Muslim and Christian marriage ceremonies, the family – and extended family – plays a pivotal role across the community in matchmaking, organising the wedding day and honouring age-old Palestinian customs and practice. Some Palestinians see weddings as absolutely key to their way of life, not only preserving a common cultural heritage but also bringing large, disparate families together. Slaughtering the sheep for the wedding feast, henna nights and shaving the groom in public are all established Palestinian traditions. So are poetry and traditional dabke dance – and they all often combine to produce wedding celebrations involving the whole town or village and can sometimes last an entire week. But all of these festivities take place in the shadow of checkpoint restrictions and a lack of freedom of movement for Palestinians in both Israel and the Occupied West Bank. These can often disrupt travel, divide extended families and mean not everyone gets to share in what should be a unifying event….
http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/aljazeeraworld/2016/08/palestinian-wedding-160830122422677.html

1.2m Palestinian students back at school
[with photos] MEMO 31 Aug — Some 1,200,000 students went back to school in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank on Sunday. Of those, 499,643 (42%) students were enrolled in the Gaza Strip and 693,165 were in the West Bank. In a press conference on the first academic day, the Under Secretary of Education in Gaza, Ziad Thabet, said the department is working towards providing everything that is required to ensure the school year runs smoothly in spite of  the unity government’s failure in carrying out its duties in the Strip. Thabit stressed that the ministry continues to suffer from shortages in the annual operational budget and an inability to meet its financial requirements, adding that it relies solely on funds from the school canteens. “The ministry suffers difficulties in maintaining schools that were bombed during the latest war, due to the occupation’s restrictions on the entry of building materials.” He called on the international community to step in and pressure the Israeli occupation authorities to end the violations of Palestinians’ right to education and the policies which hinder the educational process. He also called on the unity government to uphold its duties, including the allocation of operational budgets, payment teachers’ salaries, in addition to the maintenance of damaged schools. He emphasised that the ministry in Gaza continues to do its best to carry out its duties, despite all of these obstacles, with the support of local and international organisations. —  Exclusive images by MEMO photographer, Mohammed Asad.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160831-1-2m-palestinian-students-back-at-school/

Palestinian security forces arresting, abusing critics: HRW
AFP 30 Aug — Palestinian security forces have been arresting and abusing journalists and activists critical of their leaders, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday in a report weeks before local elections. The US-based group said abuses had occurred in both the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority is in power, and the Gaza Strip, run by Islamist movement Hamas. “Both Palestinian governments, operating independently, have apparently arrived at similar methods of harassment, intimidation and physical abuse of anyone who dares criticise them,” Sari Bashi, the organisation’s Israel and Palestine director, said in a statement.  “The Palestinian people fought hard to gain the protections that accompany membership in the international community, and their leaders should take their treaty obligations seriously.” A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank, Adnan al-Damiri, said: “We are committed to the international treaties that we signed and respect for human rights.” He said officers were trained to avoid rights abuses. In Gaza, interior ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bozum denied torture or political arrests. He said the Human Rights Watch report “includes many fallacies.” Human Rights Watch highlighted five cases in its report, including two in the West Bank and three in Gaza….
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3765132/Palestinian-security-forces-arresting-abusing-critics-HRW.html

Israeli ex-spy chief says Palestinian state crucial to peace
JERUSALEM (AP) 30 Aug — The former head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency on Tuesday said the establishment of an independent Palestinian state is crucial to region-wide peace in the Middle East, joining the ranks of retired security men to urge the government to seek a two-state solution. The comments by Tamir Pardo were his first foray into political issues since stepping down as Mossad chief early this year. With peace efforts with the Palestinians stalled for more than two years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instead sought to cultivate alliances across the Arab world. In addition to the decades-old peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, Netanyahu frequently boasts of what he calls strong behind-the-scenes contacts with moderate Sunni countries, presumably Saudi Arabia and smaller Gulf states. But Pardo said these ties cannot develop further without progress with the Palestinians. “In my opinion, we won’t be able to reach any agreement with any country beyond what we have now if we don’t solve the Palestinian issue,” he said. He noted that Netanyahu has endorsed the idea of establishing an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. “I think he is right and I think he needs to follow that path,” Pardo said. Although Netanyahu says he supports a two-state solution, he has given few details on where the Palestinian state would be formed. The Palestinians accuse Israel of sabotaging peace hopes by expanding settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem — captured territories where they hope to establish their state. Netanyahu has demanded the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state .Dozens of former Israeli commanders have urged Netanyahu to push harder to resolve the Palestinian issue, saying the continued occupation of millions of Palestinians endangers the country’s democracy. Many have accused him of mishandling the matter, though Pardo’s vague comments stopped short of doing so. In other remarks, Pardo warned of growing polarization in Israeli society, saying such divisions could lead to “civil war.”….
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-3765359/Israeli-ex-spy-chief-says-Palestinian-state-crucial-peace.html

Bill would cancel national service volunteers for foreign government-funded NGOs
JPost 30 Aug by Lahav Harkov — New legislation introduced this week seeks to reduce government ties to organizations that receive most of their funding from foreign governments by not allowing national and civilian service to be done via those NGOs … There are 25 such NGOs registered in Israel, five of which have a total of 12 volunteers doing national service, the civilian alternative for those who cannot serve in the IDF for religious, medical or other reasons. The government budget for national service is almost NIS 500 million per year, and the expenses for each individual volunteer, who receives a monthly stipend far below minimum wage, are split between the government and the place where he or she volunteers. According to a report by the rightwing organization Im Tirzu, which has advocated for legislation limiting the activities of foreign-funded NGOs, the organizations that would fall under the bill’s purview include B’Tselem, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and Gisha, which have repeatedly accused Israel of war crimes in international forums and are quoted in the Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead and the UN report on Operation Protective Edge. The other organizations are Israel Social TV, which features programming supporting the BDS movement, and the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, which has petitioned the High Court against the government’s policies to prevent illegal immigration.
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Bill-would-cancel-national-service-volunteers-for-foreign-government-funded-NGOs-466422

Israel shuts Palestinian radio station for ‘incitement’
AFP 31 Aug –Israeli authorities have shut down a Palestinian radio station in the occupied West Bank over “incitement” to violence, the army said Wednesday, the latest in a series of such raids. The overnight operation in Dura near Hebron led to five arrests, according to the Israeli army. Palestinian police confirmed the detentions and said one of those held was the director of the Al-Sanabel station. Broadcast equipment was also seized, the army said. According to Palestinian police, the station’s door was broken during the raid and a notice was given saying it was ordered closed for three months. An Israeli army spokeswoman could not provide examples of the type of content that led to the raid. “The radio station has repeatedly broadcast inciting content encouraging, celebrating and promoting violence and terrorism against Israelis,” she said. Israeli authorities have closed at least four Palestinian radio or TV stations since a wave of violence erupted in October. The violence has killed 222 Palestinians, 34 Israelis, two Americans, an Eritrean and a Sudanese, according to an AFP tally. Violence has steadily declined in recent months.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3766528/Israel-shuts-Palestinian-radio-station-incitement.html

Israeli man seeks ouster of Palestinians from scout movement
JERUSALEM (AP) — The son of an American-Israeli man killed in a Palestinian attack last year said Wednesday he has asked the global scout movement to expel its Palestinian branch after local members dedicated a recent training course to one of his father’s killers. Micah Lakin Avni said the Palestinian scout branch is violating the world movement’s core ideals. “The scouts has really been for more than a century an international, nonpartisan organization dedicated to teaching kids to be good citizens of their neighborhood, of their world,” Avni said. “Tragically, they are teaching their kids to hate and be violent.” A Palestinian scout troop in east Jerusalem held a training course last week that was dedicated to Baha Alyan — one of two Palestinian attackers who shot and stabbed passengers on a Jerusalem bus last October. Avni’s father, Richard Lakin, was among three people killed in the attack. Alyan was killed by a security guard, while a second assailant survived and is now serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison. Palestinian scout leader Ahmed Mashahreh said Alyan was active for many years in the scouting movementand that the recognition had nothing to do with the bus attack. He said the activity was a “pure scout course” that talked about volunteer work and other activities. “This had nothing to do with politics,” Mashahreh said. “During his lifetime, Baha was very active in scout activities. That’s why we picked his name, not because of what he did on the last day of his life.”….
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-3767436/Israeli-man-seeks-ouster-Palestinians-scout-movement.htm

Israel’s defense chief okays Palestinian children’s hospital at Bethlehem
Haaretz 1 Sept by Yotam Berger — Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has approved the establishment of a children’s hospital for Palestinians in the Bethlehem area, drawing the ire of forces further to the right who fear Israel will make concessions on land. The defense minister’s office added that the move was part of the hard-liner’s “carrot and stick” program for fighting terrorism announced earlier this month. Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank said the plan, which has been delayed for around eight years, still needed its approval. This means the plan must go through the regular planning process, but Lieberman’s announcement is designed to get this process going. The children’s hospital is expected to be funded by international institutions, including American organizations. The hospital would be built at Shdema, near Beit Sahour, in the northwest part of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. The facility would be built in Area C, which is under full Israeli control. But critics on the right have harshly criticized Lieberman, including Oved Arad, a senior official at the nonprofit group Regavim that fights unauthorized Palestinian construction in the West Bank. He called Lieberman’s move “scandalous.” “The Palestinian Authority has a range of possibilities to establish a hospital in Areas A and B, in which it can plan and build without a need for permits from Israel,” Arad said, referring to areas where the Palestinians have full and civilian control, respectively….
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.739628

Jewish extremist camp under fire
Ynet 31 Aug by Amit Shabi — After Yedioth Ahronoth exposed a Lehava youth training camp in the southern Hebron hills, calls have been raised Wednesday to shut the camp down and outlaw the extreme right group. Participants at the camp were learning krav maga, Arabic, sabotage tactics and techniques for handling Shin Bet and police interrogations. MK Erel Margalit of the Zionist Union has said he will submit an urgent application to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in light of the investigation and will also officially ask Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett, to close the camp. “These are subversive activities, funded and organized to undermine the rule of law and the government. It seems the organizers of the camp see nothing wrong with what they’re doing while promoting messages of incitement, hate, rebellion and racism. All this under the watchful eye of the Ministry of Education and the minister himself. Any sensible person sees that Jewish terror is growing there,” said Margalit. MK Itzik Shmuli, also of the Zionist Union, and chairman of the lobby against “price tag” attacks, responded angrily, saying “this clandestine activity is extremely disturbing and extremely dangerous. Let no one be confused, this isn’t just some camp handing out chocolate milk and snacks. These are activities that are furthering an extremely radical, racist and nationalistic organization that incites and persecutes minorities and anyone that doesn’t agree with them.” MK and Maj. Gen. (res.) Eyal Ben-Reuven said, “We complain, and rightly so, about incitement on the Palestinian side, but incitement among us worries me even more.”….
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4848543,00.html

U.S. / Canada

Rasmea Odeh faces government torture examination
EI 31 Aug by Charlotte Silver — A government expert witness will conduct an 18-hour psychiatric examination of Rasmea Odeh in order to challenge the testimony of a defense expert that Odeh’s post-traumatic stress disorder may have affected her state of mind when she filled out immigration and citizenship documents as far back as 1995. The 69-year old Palestinian American activist was convicted of immigration fraud in a US federal court in Michigan in November 2014 for not disclosing a conviction in an Israeli military court more than 40 years ago. During her trial, Judge Gershwin Drain refused to let Odeh present her defense that her PTSD prevented her from recalling her violent arrest, prolonged interrogation, torture and prosecution by the Israeli military. Odeh had been examined by Mary Fabri, a clinical psychologist with an extensive background in treating victims of torture. Fabri served on the executive committee for the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs for eight years. After her own extensive examination, Fabri concluded that Odeh’s PTSD could have prevented her from recalling the traumatic torture and imprisonment she endured in 1969. As a result of Drain’s rulings, no mention of Odeh’s torture and abuse was allowed into trial. But government prosecutors were allowed to present her as a convicted terrorist who had confessed to coordinating two bombings in Jerusalem in 1969….
https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/rasmea-odeh-faces-government-torture-examination

US appeals court tosses out $654 million verdict for victims of Palestinian terror attacks
Reuters 31 Aug by Jonathan Stempel — A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday threw out a $655.5 million verdict against the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization for damages suffered by American families from terrorist attacks in Israel. By a 3-0 vote, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said a lower court judge erred in concluding he had jurisdiction over the case. The appeals court ordered that the civil lawsuit, which began in January 2004, be dismissed. “The terror machine gun attacks and suicide bombings that triggered this suit and victimized these plaintiffs were unquestionably horrific,” Judge John Koeltl wrote for the appeals court. “But the federal courts cannot exercise jurisdiction in a civil case beyond the limits prescribed by the due process clause of the Constitution, no matter how horrendous the underlying attacks or morally compelling the plaintiffs’ claims.” Wednesday’s decision is the latest in a series of setbacks for Americans seeking to hold foreign entities liable in U.S. courts for damages tied to international terrorism. The 10 families who won the verdict had sued under the Anti-Terrorism Act, which lets American victims of international terrorism sue in U.S. courts…..
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.739625

Canadian teacher fights suspension after Palestine speech
EI 31 Aug by Ali Abunimah — Schools open again next Tuesday in Mississauga after the summer break. But Nadia Shoufani does not know if she will be back in class with her students in the Southern Ontario city, just outside Toronto. The elementary school teacher has been suspended for more than a month, as the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board investigates her over a speech supporting Palestinian rights that she gave at a rally in Toronto. The rally on 2 July marked al-Quds Day, normally the last Friday of Ramadan, which many people observe as a day of solidarity with Palestinians. Since then, Shoufani has been the target of a campaign by pro-Israel groups in Canada which seek to have her dismissed for allegedly supporting “terrorism.” During her address, which can be seen on video, Shoufani defends the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation and colonization….
https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/canadian-teacher-fights-suspension-after-palestine-speech

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