Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
Israeli troops shoot and kill 28-year-old Palestinian at Qalandia checkpoint after alleged knife attack
IMEMC 1 Oct by Celine Hagbard — A 28-year-old Palestinian identified as Naseem Abu Mazer, from Kafr ‘Aqab village was shot and killed Friday night by Israeli troops at the Qalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah, after allegedly pulling a knife and stabbing an Israeli soldier. Abu Mazer was left bleeding on the ground with no medical attention for an entire hour, from 10 pm to 11 pm, at which point he was pronounced dead. The Israeli who was wounded was identified by different sources as a soldier from the Israeli military or an Israeli border control officer …. The Israeli was allegedly stabbed in the neck and was moderately wounded. No further information is known about him at this time. Following the death of Abu Mazer, clashes broke out between stone-throwing Palestinian youth and the heavily armed Israeli soldiers and border police stationed at the Qalandia checkpoint. The soldiers fired tear gas and chemical-laced wastewater at the youth. Ten teenagers and young men were wounded in the clashes, according to local sources.
Palestinian suffers severe skull injuries after being hit by Israeli sound bomb
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 29 Sept — A 20 year-old Palestinian was being treated in the hospital on Thursday after being hit by a sound bomb in the back of the head during an Israeli forces raid in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur. A doctor at the al-Makassed hospital told Ma‘an that Muhammad Hussein Khweis was being treated in the intensive care unit after a sound bomb fired by Israeli forces in his direction hit him in the back of the head, causing him to fall to the ground and faint. The doctor said that Khweis suffered from fractures in the back and front of his skull, forehead wounds, ear bleeding, and fractured teeth.
Human Rights groups up pressure on Obama to investigate Israeli killing of U.S. citizen
Mondoweiss 28 Sept — Earlier this month we reported the call by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) for a U.S. investigation into killing of Mahmoud Shaalan, a Palestinian-American teen killed by Israeli forces in West Bank. The following is an update, AFSC’s latest press release, about a letter sent to President Obama today by 15 organizations, reiterating the call for a U.S. investigation and demanding Israel publicly release all evidence related to Israel’s investigation into Shaalan’s killing, thus far undisclosed by Israeli authorities. “Fifteen human rights, civil rights, and faith organizations today sent a letter calling on President Obama to demand that Israel publicly release all evidence related to the recent investigation into the fatal shooting of U.S. citizen Mahmoud Shaalan by Israeli soldiers. Signatories of the letter include the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the Presbyterian Church (USA), Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Defense for Children International – Palestine, and the National Lawyers Guild. (Read the full text of the letter here.) On February 26, Shaalan, a 16-year-old Palestinian-American born and raised in Florida, was shot by Israeli soldiers multiple times at a checkpoint near the Beit El settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. After Shaalan was shot, soldiers reportedly stripped his body, left him bleeding on the road for more than two hours, and prevented a Palestinian ambulance from approaching Israeli authorities have informed U.S. officials that they found no criminal wrongdoing and that Israel will not further pursue the case. Israel has not released any details or evidence collected from the investigation. “We are also calling on the administration to conduct an independent investigation into the killing of Mahmoud Shaalan,” said Raed Jarrar, Government Relations Manager at American Friends Service Committee. “As the largest supplier of military aid to Israel, the U.S. has a responsibility to make sure weapons we supplied were not used in this unlawful killing.” “At a time when cameras have documented officer-involved shootings of civilians in the US, it is shocking that the White House has yet to publicly demand that Israel release the video footage from its own fatal shooting of U.S. citizen Mahmoud Shaalan,” said Sunjeev Bery, Middle East North Africa Advocacy Director for Amnesty International USA…..
As Lehava extremists terrorize Jerusalem, where are the police?
Al-Monitor 30 Sept by Shlomi Eldar — Jerusalem restaurant owners claim that members of the radical right group Lehava — the Hebrew acronym for Prevention of Assimilation in the Holy Land — are threatening them with violence if they employ Arabs. In addition to making threats, Lehava activists have also carried out a series of violent attacks in Jerusalem against Arab laborers, taxi drivers and passersby. The attacks began soon after three Israeli youths were kidnapped and murdered by Palestinians on the West Bank in June 2014, and according to city restaurateurs, there has been a dramatic rise in such incidents since then. They claim that dozens of Lehava thugs go “Arab hunting,” especially on Thursdays, when yeshiva students begin their break for Sabbath, and on Saturday evenings, when they head back to their seminaries. “It has become routine,” the owner of one of Jerusalem’s better known restaurants told Al-Monitor, requesting anonymity. “Each one of us restaurant owners knows that Thursdays and Saturday nights are terrible days on which we declare an emergency alert.” Business owners and their Jewish employees are having to physically defend Arab workers and confront the right-wing radicals despite the danger in doing so. “We don’t relax until the last of the Lehava activists disappears from the center of town and the pedestrian mall, and we make sure our workers don’t go home on their own,” the owner said. “We always try to make some arrangement to avoid a catastrophe. Saturday evening is the worst. They [yeshiva students] don’t go back to their schools until they have finished venting their rage on the Arab staff and threatening the employers.” He added, “A series of brutal attacks by Lehava activists have taken place in my restaurant in recent weeks, because most of my employees are Arabs.” Calls to the police, he said, are usually met with indifference….
Year of atrocities in Palestine
EI 30 Sept by Maureen Clare Murphy — Sixteen-year-old Abd al-Rahman Ahmad al-Dabbagh had asked one of his friends to take his photo during a protest near the boundary between Gaza and Israel earlier this month. A few minutes later, there was an explosion. The teenager was directly hit by a flare bomb fired by an Israeli soldier, killing him instantly, an investigation by the human rights group Al-Haq has found. “Abd al-Rahman was then seen lying on the ground, with his head on fire,” Al-Haq’s report on the incident states. “His shocked friends ran to help him, but the Israeli soldiers pointed their weapons at them, and stated, ‘whoever will dare and try to approach will suffer the same fate as him.’” The youth is one of 21 Palestinians who have been killed while demonstrating near the so-called buffer zone inside Gaza during the past year. The demonstrations have occurred on a weekly basis since October, which witnessed the beginning of a new phase of confrontation – often deadly – between Palestinians and Israeli forces….
2 Palestinians detained by Israeli forces during Bil‘in protest
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 30 Sept — Two Palestinians were reportedly detained on Friday in the West Bank village of Bil‘in following a protest. As part of Bil‘in’s weekly Friday protests, demonstrators headed to a newly built section of the Israeli separation wall, when Israeli forces dispersed them and raided the village, local popular committee coordinator Abdullah Abu Rahmeh told Ma‘an. Abu Rahmeh identified the two detained Palestinians as Abd al-Fattah Burnat and Hamudah al-Sabaawy, adding that Israeli forces seized their vehicles …. Bil‘in is one of the most active Palestinian villages in peaceful organized opposition against Israeli policies, as residents have protested every Friday for 11 consecutive years, and have often been met with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and stun grenades from Israeli forces. Earlier this month, Israeli forces raided Bil‘in in the early morning hours, searching several houses and confiscating cell phones and computers belonging to activists from the local popular resistance committee, including Abu Rahmeh.
Soldiers attack the weekly protest in Ni‘lin
IMEMC 1 Oct — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly nonviolent protest in Ni‘lin village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah. The Popular Committee in Ni‘lin said the soldiers used excessive force against the protesters, as they marched towards the Annexation Wall, separating the villagers from their lands and orchards. The committee added that the soldiers fired concussion grenades and gas bombs at the protesters, and prevented them from advancing. The soldiers also detained a peace activist, and released him later after taking his information, in addition to chasing Mohammad ‘Ameera, the coordinator of the Popular Committee, in the olive orchards.
Weekly protest held in Kufur Qaddoum
IMEMC 1 Oct — Dozens of Palestinians and international peace activists held, Friday, the weekly protest in Kufur Qaddoum town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, demanding Israel to reopen the town’s main road that was closed 14 years ago, and denouncing the death of detainee Yasser Hamdouna. Morad Eshteiwy, the media coordinator of the Popular Committee in Kufur Qaddoum, said the protesters marched from the center of the town, while chanting against the ongoing Israeli occupation and demanding the release of all political prisoners, held by Israel. Eshteiwy added that the marches reached the gate that closes their town’s main road, where dozens of soldiers were stationed just a few dozen meters away. The protesters were holding Palestinian flags, posters of Hamdouna, who died in Israeli custody last Sunday morning, and various other detainees. Several youngsters later burnt tires, and placed rocks in the middle of the street, while the soldiers retreated to a distance and, unlike previous weeks, did not invade the town or assault the protesters. The Popular Committee in Kufur Qaddoum called on the residents, especially young men, to remain alert and avoid walking towards the soldiers, particularly because the army has recently started a new technique in which the soldiers retreat, while others hide behind trees, to ambush and arrest the protesters who march in their direction.
IOF thwarts alleged stabbing attack in al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 30 Sept — The Israeli Occupation Forces thwarted an alleged stabbing attack against an Israeli soldier Friday afternoon in al-Khalil [Hebron] in the south of the West Bank, Israeli media sources claimed. A Palestinian young man allegedly holding a knife in his possession reportedly approached an Israeli military vehicle stationed near Negohut settlement illegally built in al-Khalil, the sources claimed. However, the Israeli soldiers managed to arrest him. He was then taken for investigation.
Families rally in al-Khalil to demand release of relatives’ bodies
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 30 Sept — Palestinian families on Thursday organized a protest rally in al-Khalil [Hebron] city to demand the Israeli security authorities to release the bodies of their relatives. According to Quds Press, dozens of families staged a sit-in near Ibn Rushd intersection in al-Khalil to protest the detention of 17 bodies belonging to their relatives for several months and to demand their release. In speeches during the protest, relatives of martyrs and representatives of national institutions called on the Palestinian Authority to intervene for the release of those bodies. The relatives condemned Israel’s persistence in detaining the bodies of their sons and brothers and demolishing their homes as part of its mass punishment policy against the Palestinians.
PCHR weekly report: 6 Palestinian civilians wounded, 114 abducted by Israel this week (22-28 Sept)
PCHR-Gaza 30 Sept — In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week of 22–28 September 2016, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) found that Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. 6 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In addition, Israeli forces conducted 68 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 15 ones in Jerusalem and its suburbs. 114 civilians, including 16 children, were abducted. 51 of them, including 9 children, were abducted in occupied Jerusalem. Among the abducted was Jamal al-Natsha, a PLC member from Hamas’ Change and Reform Bloc. See the full report here.
Report: Extrajudicial killings in Old City Hebron since September 2015
IMEMC/Agencies 30 Sept — On the 25th of September, 2016, the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee submitted a comprehensive complaint to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, regarding the frequent and systematic extrajudicial killing of Palestinians in the Hebron’s Old City district since September of 2015. Since then, 32 Palestinians were slain there. 4 of the 32 killings have occurred within the past 10 days. The use of force by Israeli military personnel has shown, according to the PNN, not to be in proportion to perceived threats — if such a threat exists — in direct contravention of international law. Additionally, in all cases, Israeli military forces prevented Palestinian medical staff from rendering life-saving medical care to victims. Israeli military medics offered no aid and, instead, forced Palestinian victims to lie on the ground bleeding and suffering for nearly one hour before Israeli ambulances arrived. This intentional prevention of medical aid directly violates international law and constitutes torture, under the internationally accepted definitions. The complaint also states how Israeli government forces and settlers strategically use instances where Palestinians are killed to expand settlement activities and further expel Palestinians from the Old City of Hebron. The killings, related impunity and settlement expansion are all methods used in a larger attempt by the Israeli government to ethnically cleanse the Old City of Palestinians. Urgent intervention is needed by human rights organizations, diplomats, foreign governments, UN agencies and other actors. The Hebron Rehabilitation Committee has called on these organizations, individuals and groups to work quickly, in an attempt to protect Palestinians in Old City Hebron, and to pressure the Israeli government to meet their human rights obligations and abide by international law. All forms of assistance are needed and advocacy initiatives must take place without delay.
Prisoners / Court actions
Israel to release Palestinian woman shot and wounded after alleged vehicular attack
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 30 Sept — Israeli authorities issued an order on Thursday to release a Palestinian woman who was grievously wounded when Israeli forces shot at her and her fiancé, killing him, earlier this month. Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs lawyer Karim Ajwah said that Raghad Khaddour, who is currently being treated at the Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem after having been shot in the abdomen, would be transferred to the Palestine Medical Center in Ramallah within 48 hours. Khaddour, an 18-year-old resident of the village of Bani Naim in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, was riding in a car with her fiancé Fares Moussa Muhammad Khaddour, 18, on Sept. 16, when Israeli forces opened fire at the vehicle, claiming that the two young Palestinians were attempting to carry out a car ramming attack. Fares Khaddour was one of seven Palestinians to have been killed by Israeli forces in the span of five days earlier this month. Meanwhile, it was initially reported that three Israeli civilians were injured in the incident, though Israeli news site Ynet later said the three were “treated for shock but were physically unharmed.” Rights groups have denounced what they have termed a “shoot-to-kill” policy by the Israeli forces, which they say has led to the death of numerous Palestinians who did not constitute a threat or who could have been subdued in a non-lethal manner. Meanwhile, the Israeli army blockaded Bani Naim and deployed an additional battalion to the Hebron district, while an Israeli army officer vowed strict punitive measures would be would be imposed on Palestinian civilians in the area.
Israel extends detention of Palestinian critically injured after carrying out Jerusalem stabbing
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 29 Sept — An Israeli magistrate court extended on Thursday the detention of a Palestinian who was critically injured while carrying out a stabbing attack on Israeli security forces in occupied East Jerusalem earlier this month. Ayman al-Kurd, a 20-year-old resident of the Ras al-Amoud neighborhood of East Jerusalem, stabbed and wounded two Israeli police officers on Sept. 19 just north of the Old City. His detention has been extended to Oct. 5, according to Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud, who recently met with al-Kurd. One of the officers shot and critically injured al-Kurd on the scene, causing hemiparesis — weakness on one side of the body — Mahmoud said, adding that al-Kurd was still being treated at the Hadassa Ein Karem hospital in Jerusalem. A video recorded by a bystander following the attack showed a large number of forces deployed in the area as emergency health services treated the Israeli police officers. Al-Kurd was seen largely unattended to in the video despite having been shot, with at least two people stepping over him without checking his health condition.
2 Palestinian prisoners continue open hunger strike over forcible prison transfers
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Sept — Two Palestinian prisoners from the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem have said they would escalate their hunger strikes about a week after they first began refusing food in protest of being held in solitary confinement and Israel’s tactical use of prison transfers. Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs lawyer Karim Ajweh visited hunger-striking prisoners Jawad Ibrahim al-Jawarish, 40, and Maher Moussa Ibayyat, 38, in the Ashkelon prison. Ajweh said that Jawarish, who is serving a life sentence, has been on hunger strike for six days to protest Israel’s use of torture and the tactical transfer of prisoners from one detention facility to another. Al-Jawarish was among 120 Fatah-affiliated prisoners who were recently transferred by the Israel Prison Service (IPS) from Eshel prison to the Nafha detention facility. Shortly after arriving in Nafha, IPS moved al-Jawarish again, this time to the Ramon prison, where he was placed in a smaller cell. Since beginning his strike, al-Jawarish has been moved to the Ramle prison, and then to Ashkelon, where he is being held in solitary confinement….
Abbas visits former hunger-striking prisoner Malik al-Qadi in hospital
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 30 Sept — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited former prisoner and hunger striker Malik al-Qadi on Friday morning at a hospital in Ramallah. While meeting al-Qadi at the Arab Istishari Hospital in Ramallah, Abbas congratulated the young man for obtaining his release after going 68 days without food to protest being held by Israel in administrative detention — internment without trial or charges. Abbas stressed that the cause of Palestinian prisoners was a priority for Palestinian leadership and that he would continuously strive to end their suffering and obtain their release. Al-Qadi was released by Israeli authorities and transferred to a Palestinian hospital on Sept. 24, days after he ended his hunger strike. Al-Qadi, along with fellow hunger-striking prisoners Muhammad and Mahmoud Balboul, ended his strike on Sept. 21 after reaching an agreement with the Israel Prisons Service not to renew their administrative detentions.
Israel sentences ex-Palestinian minister to 12 months in jail
JENIN (PIC) 29 Sept — An Israeli occupation court on Wednesday morning sentenced the former Palestinian Minister of Detainees, Wasfi Qubha, to 12 months in jail. Qubha’s family said the Israeli Salem military court in western Jenin province issued a 12-month prison term and another 18-month suspended sentence, along with a fine of 2,000 shekels, against their relative. Qubha’s wife said the occupation court charged her husband with involvement in popular campaigns to support Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails. She added that her husband was arrested in May from his own family home in Jenin and is currently locked up in the Israeli Meggido jail, in 1948 Occupied Palestine. Qubha has spent a total of over 12 years in Israeli lock-ups. He has been diagnosed with chronic diseases, including hypertension and diabetes.
Palestinian killed, 3 injured in tunnel collapse in northern Gaza Strip
GAZA (Ma‘an) 29 Sept — A Palestinian was killed and three others were critically injured when a tunnel between the northern besieged Gaza Strip and Israel collapsed on Thursday afternoon. Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra identified the deceased Palestinian as Ahmad Asaad Mayt, 30, saying that he died in a tunnel located near the town of Beit Hanoun. A number of Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in the vast tunnel networks that lie below the besieged enclave, which are largely used for smuggling in the coastal enclave’s south and military purposes in the north … The Institute for Palestine Studies reported in 2012 that Hamas authorities had counted 160 deaths inside the tunnels since the Israeli blockade began in 2007, and in August 2014, al-Jazeera reported that figure to be as high as 400.
Palestinian killed, three injured, while trying to defuse Israeli missile
IMEMC 30 Sept — The Palestinian Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip has reported that one Palestinian was killed on Thursday evening and three others were injured, while trying to defuse an Israeli missile, in Beit Hanoun, in the northern part of the coastal region. Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Palestinian Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip, said the young man has been identified as Ahmad As‘ad Meit, 30. Al-Qedra added that Meit was killed, and the three other Palestinians were injured, after inhaling chemicals and gas released by one of the unexploded Israeli missiles. The incident took place as many Palestinian experts, including fighters, have recently been trying to remove and safely defuse unexploded Israeli missiles that were fired during the 2014 Israeli aggression on the coastal region.
Israeli army injures five Palestinians in Gaza
IMEMC 1 Oct — Israeli soldiers shot and injured, on Friday evening, five Palestinians east of the Sheja‘eyya neighborhood, east of Gaza city, and east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza, Palestinian medical sources said. The sources stated that the soldiers, stationed on military towers in Nahal Oz base, across the border fence east of Gaza city, fired many live rounds on Palestinian youngsters protesting close to the border fence, wounding three. The three wounded Palestinians were shot in their lower extremities, and suffered moderate injuries, before local medics moved them to the Shifa Hospital. Clashes were also reported east of the al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza, while the soldiers fired live rounds, moderately wounding two Palestinians in their legs, before they were moved to the Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah nearby city.
Army to flood Gaza border
IMEMC/Agencies 29 Sept — The Israeli army intends to flood Gaza border areas with water in order to destroy underground tunnels built by the Palestinian resistance. An Israeli military official told Maariv newspaper, on condition of anonymity, that the army plans to flood underground cross-border tunnels, as Egypt has done on its border with Gaza. 60 miles of land extending along the border of Gaza will be flooded with water, according to the official.
Palestinians disavow video threatening Americans in Gaza
GAZA CITY 28 Sept by Ahmad Abu Amer — On Sept. 16, the US State Department added Hamas leader and former Interior Minister Fathi Hammad to its global terror list. The State Department said in a press release that Hammad engaged in terrorist activities including coordinating terrorist cells as interior minister in the Hamas government and establishing Al-Aqsa TV, which broadcasts children’s programs urging them to become armed fighters in the future. In response, a Palestinian gunman who identified himself as a leader in al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades, the Popular Resistance Committees’ military wing, posted a video online on the same day, threatening any American nationals who might enter the Gaza Strip. His statement was quickly denounced across the board. The gunman, who did not give his name in the video, said, “We, as leaders of al-Nasser Salah al-Deen Brigades, condemn the American statements that side with the Zionist enemy against Fathi Hammad, the leader of the liberation movements in Palestine.” He added, “We warn Americans against entering the Gaza Strip because they are no longer welcome following this decision, and we demand the American people pressure the US government to retract the decision so we do not have to expand the conflict outside of occupied Palestine.” On Sept. 18, Eyad al-Bozom, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, stressed the ministry’s commitment to ensuring security and providing protection to all foreign nationals visiting and residing in the Gaza Strip, adding that it would not allow anyone to threaten the security and stability of Gaza or any citizens or foreign nationals, whatever their nationality. Bozom continued, “The ministry has taken all appropriate legal measures against the person in the video,” who was summoned and questioned before being released. “The threats made by this person affiliated with a resistance faction are unacceptable and illegal.” Speaking to Al-Monitor, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees identifying himself as Abu Mujahid denied any affiliation with the person in the video. He noted that no member of the organization has made any official statements against foreign nationals in Gaza. “The way we see foreign nationals is very clear: They did not come [to Gaza] as fighters, but rather to help our people in exposing how Palestinians are suffering under the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip,” he said.
Why Gaza’s intellectuals are fleeing abroad
Al-Monitor 28 Sept by Asmaa al-Ghoul — Lack of freedom of thought and expression is leading creative young Palestinians to flee Gaza in search of a place where they can work freely — Khaled Juma, a poet from Gaza and culture editor for WAFA, the Palestinian news agency, has written more than 30 books, including poetry, children’s literature and plays. A Sept. 18 book-signing event in Ramallah celebrated “In the War, Far from the War,” Juma’s latest collection of poems, the first he has produced while living in the West Bank. The collection revolves around his experience in the summer 2014 war with Israel from a distance. Juma had lived in Gaza during the previous Israeli wars on Gaza, in 2008-2009 and 2012. Juma is only one of a notable group of writers and intellectuals who have left the Gaza Strip in recent years, heading for Europe, Turkey, Egypt and the West Bank, given the lack of horizons in Gaza to develop their talent and other obstacles. “I moved to Ramallah in 2013 by sheer chance after I got permission to go to the West Bank,” Juma told Al-Monitor. His main reason for moving to Ramallah was to spend more time writing. “It took me two years to write album lyrics for the artist Reem Talhami and composer Said Murad due to power cuts and interrupted Skype meetings,” he said. Juma stressed, however, that not a day goes by when he doesn’t think or write about Gaza. “I keep in my refrigerator a kilo and a half of Gazan coffee,” he said. The writer Ahmed Baalousha also made the move to Ramallah. A satirist, Baalousha told Al-Monitor that he left because he began to feel he was wasting his years in Gaza. “I was losing a part of my life in an area susceptible to a lot of escalating crises,” he said. Baalousha spoke of the other creative young people who have left Gaza in the fields of literature, community work and science. “They know very well that opportunities await them overseas and that Gaza does not have the time to appreciate any of them.” Indeed, the work of Gaza’s cultural and other innovators generally fails to find a receptive local audience given that it is often critical of the economic, social and political situation in Gaza since Hamas seized control in June 2007….
Interview: Trade union head says labor laws don’t protect Gaza’s workers
GAZA CITY 28 Sept by Rasha Abou Jalal — In 1965, the PLO established the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), an independent labor organization with the mission of defending the interests of the Palestinian working class against potential violations by their employers or the ruling authorities and ensuring workers’ rights in accordance with Palestinian Labor Law. There are approximately 70,000 members in the PGFTU, which consists of 12 unions for workers in the following sectors: hotels, restaurants and tourism; agriculture and industry; petrochemicals; construction; health; municipalities; banking and insurance; public services; transportation; communications and information technology; weaving; and fishing. Al-Monitor interviewed PGFTU head Sami al-Amasi in his Gaza City office to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip, where poverty and unemployment rates are growing. He highlighted violations committed by employers against their workers and addressed the federation’s main suggested solutions in light of rising unemployment rates. There are 360,000 Palestinians over age 15, male and female, who work or have worked in the private sector in the Gaza Strip, where the total population is estimated at 1.88 million. The Israeli siege on Gaza since 2007 has negatively affected all aspects of life there. As a result, 220,000 of those 360,000 workers are unemployed, and the unemployment rate for both men and women of working age in the private sector reached 61%….
This teacher in Gaza with Down’s Syndrome is a true inspiration for her students
Muslim.com 29 Sept — Exceptional personalities are needed to move people and make a memorable mark. Hiba Al Sharfa is one of those exceptional people. Looking at her can give a glimps of her struggles and also her lifelong effort to become a teacher with down syndrome. She is making her mark by teaching students with the same disability in the West Bank of Palestine. People living in war-torn and poor areas are not aware of the problems faced by special-needs kids with Down syndrome and how to properly care of these kids. Nabeel Aljaneed is the director of the Right to Live Society a foundation which has enrolled 400 kids with Down syndrome to give them a productive lifestyle and a healthy connection with society. Al Sharfa is a former student of the foundation and is now teaching there. Despite having the condition herself, Al Sharfa is teaching in the foundation. Perhaps because of this, she is better at understanding and connecting with her students and guiding them. She is a shining example of what the foundation aims at: incorporating children with Down syndrome with mainstream society….
Photographer beautifies refugees’ homes in Gaza
GAZA (Xinhua) 27 Sept by Osama Radi, Saud Abu Ramadan — A young Palestinian photographer attracted dozens of children at one of the Palestinian refugee camps in Gaza when he decorated the walls of their homes with beautiful photos he took during the past few years to bring them cheerfulness and bliss. Izz Zanoon, a 24-year-old photo-journalist from Gaza, hanged his photos on plates at the narrow alleys and side streets of al-Shatti refugee camp in western Gaza City, one of the poorest refugee camps in the coastal enclave that has been under Israeli blockade since 2007. Children and adults came from all over and gathered to look at Zanoon’s photos, which decorated the gloomy gray walls of the refugees’ homes in the poor and densely populated refugee camp. “My initiative came in a bid to bring joy and happiness to children who suffer a lot through their hard daily life,” Zanoon told Xinhua as he explained to the kids when he took those photos and what does it mean to show it for them. He added that he wants “to contribute to inculcate the culture of art in the Palestinian society and develop the love of a beautiful life in the hearts of our children.” Around 50 different photos were hanged on Zanoon’s plates; all related to beauty of nature and love. Zanoon said he really wanted to show a different stereotype and a different face of life in Gaza….
Gaza refugee gets prosthetics, specialty bike ‘to live his life like any other kid’
KATU News (Oregon) 26 Sept — At eleven years old, Thaer Joudah has already lived a lifetime of loss. Through the kindness of strangers, however, he has the chance to feel something else. “I saw a video of him and it truly broke my heart … especially with the tragedy he endured,” said Luciana Elmashni of the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund. “I want him to live his life like any other kid.” Thaer is from Gaza. He was only nine when his home was hit by a bomb. The drone strike killed his two brothers, his two sisters, and his mother. It took his leg and part of his hand, and meant he’d have to endure 18 surgeries. The Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund brought Thaer to Oregon for help. He’ll be going home to his father in a few weeks with a prosthetic leg from Shriners Hospital. On Sunday, Luciana Elmashni put the finishing touches on a surprise for the boy – a brand new handcycle thanks to the group Athletes Helping Athletes. When Thaer first saw his surprise at Road Runner Sports in Tualatin, he didn’t quite know what to make of everyone gathered to support him. The generous gift will let him go home with a piece of his childhood reclaimed. “He says absolutely. It’s not just a small joy, it’s a huge joy to be able to walk again and to have freedom to ride my bike and not stuck in a wheelchair,” said Elmashni.
Gaza: Painting day in solidarity with Zaytouna and Amal boats
GAZA (PIC) 30 Sept — An open-air painting event was organized Thursday for female artists on the beach of Gaza port in solidarity with the women aboard the Gaza-bound boats, Zaytouna-Oliva and Amal-Hope. The event was staged by the Global Campaign to Champion the Women’s Boats to Gaza and al-Marsam Center for Fine Arts. The beach art exhibition contained more than 10 meaningful paintings sending messages of solidarity and love for the female activists aboard the boats as well as messages of freedom and peace to the world. Spokeswoman for Miles of Smiles in Gaza Sundos Farwana told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that this event was part of several welcoming activities to be organized for the Women’s Boat to Gaza campaign in the coming days. Farwana expressed her thanks to the female activists on the boats, describing them as “the world’s free women.”
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
In Pictures: Life in a Jordan Valley firing zone
Al Jazeera 1 Oct by Kobi Wolf — Nearly 3,000 people live in some 20 shepherding communities in the Jordan Valley, either in areas declared as military firing zones or on the peripheries of these areas. In 2009, decades after the firing zones were declared, the Israeli army placed cement slabs near each of these communities and posted notices stating that entry was prohibited. The army occasionally orders the temporary evacuation of these Jordan Valley communities in order to conduct military exercises. The orders require residents to leave their homes for periods of time ranging from a few hours to a couple of days. If the residents do not leave voluntarily, they may be removed forcibly and have their livestock confiscated. In parts of these military training areas used by Palestinian farmers as plantations, the army accidentally leaves behind unexploded shells and ammunition, killing or injuring farmers and children as they try to work their land.
Demolition orders – between a rock and a hard place
PSP 30 Sept — On September 24th, the Center for Freedom and Justice received a demolition order from the Israeli military for one of its project sites, which lies at the edge of Beit Ommar in Area C. As a matter of fact, saying that we “received” the order does not do the deed justice. In reality, we found the piece of paper by chance, as it was stuck between two bricks of a low wall on the site itself. Had we not noticed this small, inconspicuous slip of paper, we would not have any information or knowledge about this planned demolition and would not have been able to make any appeal in court. The project site in question is one of the Center’s larger projects and is located next to Road 60, the main road that connects Jerusalem to Hebron. As part of a long-term plan, the Center has been working on making this area a future market space, where local farmers from Beit Ommar would be able to sell their agricultural products, instead of having to travel to outside towns to move their stock (which is often a problem with fresh fruits). As over 70% of Beit Ommar’s economy is based on agriculture, the benefits of such a project would thus be considerable. In recent years, we have made much progress and managed to build a water-well and plant new trees, laying the foundation to transform this area from an arid site to a rich agricultural field. The market project would also be accompanied by the construction of a small factory in Beit Ommar, which would allow farmers to use part of their harvests to make juice, jams, and other products which can be stored and sold for a longer time.
Despite our progress and future aspirations, the Center’s activities on the market project have been halted due to the demolition orders. The legal base on which these demolitions take place however, as is commonplace in the Occupied Territories, are not mentioned, either on the order slip or in courts. All that is mentioned is that the site, at some unspecified point in time, will be bulldozed. The fact that the Israeli military places (if not hides) its demolition orders away from plain sight does not change the authority of the military to take action. In other words, in cases where local Palestinians do not see or find the demolition orders, the military can still come at any given day and demolish the building or site without any prior knowledge of such actions from the Palestinian side. Legally, Palestinians are allowed to build projects on their land located in Area C, given that it is for agricultural purposes. Yet although our project falls within these criteria, our site is currently ordered for demolition, with exact and concrete reasons lacking….
Israelis seek to uncover government’s secret war against BDS
EI 30 Sept by Ali Abunimah — A group of Israeli citizens is seeking information on their government’s covert activities against the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Attorney Eitay Mack and human rights activists Sahar Vardi, Ofer Neiman, Rachel Giora and Kobi Snitz have filed requests under Israel’s freedom of information law, to both the foreign ministry and the strategic affairs ministry. They are asking the government to reveal its financial support to foreign organizations, individuals, journalists or bloggers assisting Israel in its battle against what it calls “delegitimization.” The strategic affairs ministry, led by Likud minister Gilad Erdan, has taken the lead, gearing up to fight the nonviolent BDS movement as if it were a military challenge. Armed with a $45 million budget for this year, the ministry is engaging in what a veteran Israeli analyst is calling “black ops.” This may include defamation campaigns, harassment and threats to the lives of activists as well as infringing on and violating their privacy, according to the analyst. “We want most of the [strategic affairs] ministry’s work to be classified,” its director general Sima Vaknin-Gil recently told the transparency committee of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. Earlier this month, Erdan’s ministry and the Association of University Heads of Israel were linked to a “secret” effort to push for the cancellation of a course on Palestine at the University of California, Berkeley….
Abbas had to ask the Israeli army for permission to attend Peres’s funeral
+972 mag 29 Sept by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man — As a matter of diplomatic protocol, visits by heads of state are handled by the Foreign Ministry. The issue is so immutable that when the Israeli Foreign Ministry staff went on strike a few years, even a strategically important visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had to be canceled. Therefore, when former Israeli President Shimon Peres died earlier this week, the Israeli Foreign Ministry opened an emergency situation room to handle the expected flood of foreign leaders and heads of state lining up to attend the state funeral on Friday. All of the logistics of those visits, as is protocol, are being handled by the Foreign Ministry. Except for one. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had to make his request to the Israeli army. What irony that in order to attend the funeral of the man with whom he negotiated Palestinian autonomy and national self-determination, the Palestinian president had to ask the permission of an occupying army. COGAT, the Israeli army’s branch dedicated to administering the occupation of Palestinian territories, reportedly passed along the request to the Prime Minister’s Office, which “approved” Abbas’s attendance. Alternatively, Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh, the highest ranking elected Arab official in Israel, announced on Thursday that he would not be attending Peres’s funeral. While heaping praising Peres for advancing peace and domestic relations with Palestinian citizens of Israel in the 1990s, Odeh told Army Radio that Peres’s record — including his role in Israel’s nuclear proliferation and the Qana Massacre — has been “disastrous for other peoples, and on my people in 1948.”….
Abbas, Netanyahu in rare handshake at Peres funeral
AFP 30 Sept — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas shook hands and spoke briefly at Shimon Peres’s funeral on Friday in a rare public encounter between the two men. The encounter took place as mourners gathered ahead of the funeral. It was believed to be their first handshake since a Paris climate meeting last November. “Good to see you. Long time,” Abbas said in broken English, a video posted by Netanyahu’s spokesman showed. Netanyahu and his wife thanked him for coming. The last substantial public meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu was in 2010, though there have been unconfirmed reports of secret meetings since then. Peace efforts have been at a complete standstill since April 2014. Abbas was given a front-row seat next to European Council President Donald Tusk. He was making a rare trip to Jerusalem from his base in the West Bank city of Ramallah, joining leaders from around the world for the funeral of the Israeli elder statesman and Nobel Peace Prize winner. On Wednesday, Abbas described Peres as a “brave” partner for peace. Abbas negotiated with Peres and signed the Oslo peace accord of 1993, which earned the then foreign minister the Nobel prize alongside prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. “Peres was a partner in making the brave peace with the martyr Yasser Arafat and prime minister Rabin, and made unremitting efforts to reach a lasting peace from the Oslo agreement until the final moments of his life,” Abbas said earlier. No other Arab leaders attended the funeral. Many in the Arab world accuse Peres of “war crimes” for his role in successive Middle East conflicts.
Abbas attends Shimon Peres funeral despite critiques
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 30 Sept — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attended the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres on Friday, in spite of critiques from rival Palestinian political factions … Abbas’ Fatah movement, the ruling party in the Palestinian Authority (PA) said in a statement that Abbas’ presence at the funeral was part of his responsibilities as president, particularly at such a widely watched event. The head of Fatah’s media committee, Munir al-Jaghoub, said that Abbas’ attendance would disprove Israeli claims that Palestinians only believe in violence, and that going showed his responsibility as a leader. “We are facing the political importance of the president attending the funeral, and his participation forces us as Palestinians to realize what is behind this step and the strong message of Palestinian peace sent to the world,” al-Jaghoub said. However, the Hamas movement had urged Abbas not to go to Peres’ funeral, saying that such a move would encourage normalization with Israel to the detriment of the Palestinian cause. Meanwhile, the Popular Resistance committees condemned the presence of Abbas, as well as Arab and Islamic delegations, at the funeral, saying that paying respects to one of Israel’s “biggest criminals” was “disregarding the feelings and sacrifices of the Palestinian people” and gave Israel “a pass for its crimes.” The movement went on to say that Peres was never a “peace dove,” but a “bloodthirsty assassin,” and call for a boycott of Israel and efforts to take its leaders to court for the crimes they committed. In a demonstration organized after Friday noon prayers in Gaza City, participants set fire to posters and effigies of Peres, Netanyahu, and US President Barack Obama.
The other, darker legacy of Shimon Peres
+972 mag 28 Sept by Haggai Matar — Shimon Peres, the last member of Israel’s founding generation, was feted internationally as a visionary man of peace. His legacy is in fact far more complex, and often nefarious — …Peres later served as a junior minister in the governments that followed the 1967 war, and which kicked off the settlement enterprise — an ongoing project of land theft and oppression, which the government knew violated international law from day one. But in those early days, Israel’s settlements in the West Bank, Gaza and Sinai were presented as the continuation of the same settlement movement that established dozens of kibbutzim across Israel in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. In 1975, it was Peres who lent government support to the first iteration of the “Hilltop Youth,” and actively supported the establishment of Kedumim and the Gush Emunim movement, which Rabin described as the settlers’ Trojan horse. As defense minister, Peres kept up the settlement movement’s momentum and opposed the return of territory (the West Bank) as part of a peace deal with Jordan. Today, the Hilltop Youth are the most violent, radicalized settlers in the West Bank. These were also the years that Peres, who would go on to win the Nobel Peace Prize, promoted arms sales to various countries across the world. An investigative report by The Guardian found documentation that Peres helped sell nuclear warheads to South Africa when it was governed by the apartheid regime. The Office of the President denied the claims….
Balad lawmakers Zoabi, Zahalka to be questioned by police
Haaretz 29 Sept by Jack Khoury — The investigation into financial irregularities and possible violations of the Parties Funding Law by the Balad party is expected to expand in the coming days when police speak to two of the party’s Knesset members. Haaretz has learned that Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit has authorized the questioning of MKs Jamal Zahalka and Haneen Zoabi of Balad, which is one of the component parties of the Joint Arab List. Balad attorneys and the Justice Ministry sources confirmed this development. It still isn’t clear whether the two will be questioned or just asked to make a statement; that decision will be made based on the evidence that police have accumulated. The Justice Ministry said that it could not confirm or deny whether the attorney general had authorized any kind of action relating to an ongoing investigation. The police gave a similar response. Balad officials and its attorneys believe that police are en route to recruiting a state’s witness, a former party activist who was exposed to financial irregularities and who had already confronted several of the suspects in the case. Meanwhile, the Haifa Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday released six Balad officials who still in custody, including former general secretary Awad Abd al-Fatah, but extended the detention of Morad Hadad, who had been a party administrator, until Sunday. Hadad has spent the past couple of days in hospital after he complained of weakness and chest pains….
For Israeli Druze, the war in Syria is a horrifying spectator sport
Haaretz 30 Sept by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — In this hidden spot in the Golan Heights, the fighting in Syria is just 300 meters away. For those who have come to watch, every exploding shell is harrowing: It’s their relatives who are being battered — …Someone brought a used sofa, bright-blue, here from Bukata. Old sofas were also brought to the hills around Sderot some years ago, so residents could sit back and view the sandy table known as the Gaza Strip as it was being bombarded by Israel in Operation Cast Lead and Operation Protective Edge. The people from Sderot cheered every bomb with a lust for revenge and a show of evil.
Here, opposite Syria, every exploding shell is harrowing for those who have come to watch: It’s their aunt and uncle who are being battered, and they are deeply anxious for them. The echoes of the shelling are unceasing. From side to side, shell after shell, and columns of smoke in their wake. War. It’s not the horrors of Aleppo, more a war of attrition that seems to have clear rules of its own. It’s said in the Golan Heights that Israel is preventing the Nusra Front rebels from capturing Khader, in Syria. All they can do is try to wear it down and terrorize its residents. Other than the area of Khader, however, a large Druze village of 11,000 people whose homes are scattered on the slopes of the hill across the way, the rebels here effectively control the whole boundary line with Israel, with either its support or its tacit agreement. Khader is on the left, defended by the local militia and the Syrian army, while to the right, seeking shelter among the trees, are the Nusra Front fighters. There’s one of their mortars, camouflaged under a tree. Once in a while, the fighters’ heads pop into view, too….
Jordanians rally against Israeli gas deal
AFP 30 Sept — Hundreds of Jordanians took part in a demonstration Friday in the centre of Amman to protest a deal signed this week to import natural gas from Israel. Demonstrators carried banners reading “No to financing the Zionist entity from the pockets of Jordanian citizens” and “No to gas imports from the Zionist enemy.” The protest was called by trade unions and political parties opposed to the 1994 peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, half the population of which is of Palestinian origin. “Gas from the Zionists is a disgrace,” demonstrators chanted. A US-led consortium leading the development of Israel’s offshore gas reserves announced the signing on Monday of a deal to sell natural gas from its Leviathan field to Jordan. US firm Noble Energy, the lead partner, said the contract with the National Electric Power Company of Jordan (NEPCO) was for 300 million cubic feet (8.5 million cubic metres) per day over a 15-year term. It includes an option to purchase a further 50 million cubic feet, up to a total of 350 million daily.
White House snafu: Obama transcript puts Jerusalem in Israel
WASHINGTON (AP) 30 Sept — The White House rushed Friday to correct a diplomatic blooper after an official transcript listed Jerusalem as part of Israel, contradicting a delicate U.S. policy that takes no position on the city’s status. The mix-up came in a transcript of President Barack Obama’s eulogy at the funeral for former Israeli President Shimon Peres. The funeral took place at Mount Herzl, Israel’s national cemetery, in Jerusalem. The White House press office routinely issues transcripts of Obama’s speeches and includes the location of the speech at the top. A transcript released shortly after the funeral listed the location as “Jerusalem, Israel.” Hours later, while Obama was still flying back from Israel, the White House issued a corrected transcript listing merely “Jerusalem” and with “Israel” crossed out with a line. For decades, Jerusalem’s status has been one of the most difficult and emotional issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967, as the capital of their future state, but Israel’s government considers a united Jerusalem to be its eternal capital. Mount Herzl is on the western end of the city. U.S. policy refuses to recognize any nation’s sovereignty over Jerusalem until Israelis and Palestinians resolve the city’s status through negotiations. Although Israel’s parliament, high court and government offices are in Jerusalem, the American Embassy in Israel is in Tel Aviv, as are the vast majority of embassies in Israel. The tortured nature of a U.S. policy that tries to avoid taking a position about a heavily populated city has occasionally caused the U.S. headaches….
Safa news agency’s Facebook page removed
GAZA (PIC) 29 Sept — Facebook administration removed Wednesday evening Safa news agency’s page as part of its latest agreement with Israeli government. Safa’s Facebook page which has more than 1 million followers is mainly concerned with Palestinian daily news. The news agency strongly condemned the Facebook administration’s measure, calling for reconsidering it. It also called on its followers to subscribe on its social media accounts. The agency was earlier banned from publishing photos or videos on its Facebook page for a whole month. The Facebook administration closed over the past few days several pro-Palestinian pages and accounts, some of which were banned for the tenth time. A number of online activists accused the administration of online social networking service Facebook of deliberately suspending their accounts to silence the pro-Palestinian pages. Facebook’s restrictions came shortly after two Israeli government ministers met top Facebook officials to discuss ways of collaboration between the two parties. The Israeli ministers and Facebook officials have agreed to work together to determine “how to tackle incitement on the social media network.”
UNRWA employees planning strike over salaries, staff shortages
GAZA (Ma‘an) 29 Sept — The union of workers for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) announced on Thursday that they were planning a one-day strike in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank to protest cuts to aid and services. The announcement comes less than two weeks after the union staged a temporary strike in the occupied Palestinian territory, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan to protest abnormally low salaries and severe staff shortages. “There have been ongoing discussions with the UN local administration in Gaza Strip regarding the issues, but they didn’t lead to any results,” union spokesman Suheil al-Hindi told Ma‘an, leading the union to decide to stage a strike on Wednesday. Al-Hindi also claimed that the United Nations had turned down all of the union’s demands regarding wages, early retirement, and employee classification during its General Assembly in New York City one week earlier. Al-Hindi said that if the UN didn’t respond to the employees’ demands, an open strike would take place in all UNRWA facilities…..
Celtic receive UEFA fine for ‘illicit banner’ displayed during Champions League tie against Hapoel Be’er Sheva
Press Association 29 Sept — Celtic have been fined 10,000 euros (£8,616) by UEFA after fans displayed an ‘illicit banner’ during their recent Champions League qualifier against Hapoel Be’er Sheva. Fans flew Palestine flags before and during the match against Israeli opposition at Parkhead on August 17, drawing a charge from European football’s governing body. UEFA viewed the flags as illicit banners under article 16 of its disciplinary regulations and at a disciplinary hearing the complaint against the Scottish champions was upheld and the club was fined … Celtic have been punished eight times in five seasons by UEFA for supporter misconduct and the sanction on each occasion has been a fine from the governing body. They were fined around £16,000 two years ago after a Palestine flag was displayed at a Champions League qualifier against KR Reykjavik. Last month, some fans of the club launched an online campaign in a bid to raise funds for Palestinian charities, with the aim of matching the fine imposed by UEFA. The fundraiser has since collected in excess of £100,000 in donations
Palestinian electricity company still unaware of details of PA-Israel debt deal
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 29 Sept — The Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority (PENRA) has still not shared details of an agreement regarding an Israeli-Palestinian debt deal with the Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO), the electricity organization told Ma‘an. JDECO Director Hisham al-Umari told Ma‘an on Tuesday evening that he had high hopes for the agreement signed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel on Sept. 13, set to resolve longstanding debt issues between the PA and the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) and to position the PA as the sole authority over electricity distribution across the occupied West Bank. The PA’s debt to IEC, now amounting to some two billion shekels ($530 million), has been a source of tension between the two parties for years, as the IEC has repeatedly cut off electricity to the West Bank, most recently in April, when it targeted the Hebron, Bethlehem and Jericho districts in a move which was denounced as constituting collective punishment. Israeli authorities have withheld tax revenues collected on behalf of the PA in the past over unpaid bills owed to Israeli companies, threatening last year to deduct over 1 billion shekels from taxes withheld from the PA in order to cover missed electricity bills. Al-Umari said he hoped the agreement would improve electricity services in the West Bank and “free electricity from Israeli control.” However, two weeks after the signature of the agreement, JDECO was still unaware of the details of the agreement, al-Umari said. Al-Umari said that JDECO had filed some 4,000 lawsuits in Palestinian courts across the West Bank to try to collect debts amounting to about 300 million shekels ($79.8 million) from subscribers. The JDECO director added that the company had carried out major maintenance works and installed hundreds of new electricity poles and dozens of high tension transformers in preparation for winter months. However, al-Umari said he was still worried regarding the possibility of power cuts in Ramallah and north Jerusalem, “because Israel has rejected JDECO requests to increase power supply to the Palestinian territory.” JDECO, he said, paid Israel in 2012 to increase the power supply to the occupied Palestinian territory by 40 Megawatt, but the improvement has yet to be made….
Why some Palestinians don’t trust new electricity deal with Israel
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 27 Sept by Iyad Qatrawi — The Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority have reached an agreement under which the PA will begin paying its massive debt to Israel Electric Corp. (IEC), which in turn will forgive part of the debt. The agreement also will allow for competitive internet service in the West Bank … According to the IEC agreement, the PA will pay immediately about 570 million Israeli shekels (roughly $151 million) in one payment. About 500 million shekels ($133 million) will be waived. The rest (about 1 billion shekels) will be paid over 48 months. Mohammed Makadmeh, the general manager of media and international organizations in the General Authority for Civil Affairs, told Al-Monitor that the agreement was signed in the presence of representatives of the Israeli ministries of Finance and Defense and the Palestinian ministries of Civil Affairs and Finance. However, Makadmeh pointed out, “These understandings have no guarantee and Israel can disavow them based on the ‘logic’ of power and defiance of international and humanitarian law.” He added, “If and when we pay the full electricity bill, then Israel would stop deducting money from the taxes imposed on goods destined for the PA territories to settle the electricity debt.”
Israel also agreed to activate 3G service in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with no strings attached, according to Makadmeh, and to allow Wataniya Mobile to operate in Gaza based on a previous agreement. Wataniya Mobile Palestine is owned in part by the Palestinian Investment Fund. It launched its services in November 2009 in the West Bank, but has been unable to operate in the Gaza Strip because Israel said it failed to get permission from the proper authorities and to get the required frequencies. Although the company imported all the necessary equipment in 2013 for the operation of its network in Gaza and paid the Israeli custom fees, it has yet to get Israeli approval to introduce the equipment into Gaza. The equipment is currently in the company’s warehouses in the West Bank….
Vibrant Food Train empowers Palestinian ex-prisoners
[with photos] Palestine Monitor 28 Sept by Cynthia Wang — The classic food carts are pretty boring and utilitarian, and they all look the same. At the hustle and bustle of modern Ramallah city center, an eye-catching rolling restaurant airbrushed with a riot of color thus immediately draws not only hungry foodie’s but every passerby’s attention. This smiling food truck, named “Qitar Ata‘am” in Arabic, which means the “Food Train”, is the first restaurant that obtained permission from the Palestinian Authority to run in an automobile in Palestine. The project was initiated by two former political prisoners, Khaldoon Barghouti and Abdel Rahman Bibi, whom both were jailed for nearly nine years in Israeli prisons. “I want to move freely. I am tired of being trapped in a closed space,” Barghouti told the Palestine Monitor the idea behind this bright mobile restaurant. “Smile outside, smile inside. We want everything to be colorful. We were looking at the same brown color – of the inmate’s’ clothes – for so long.” Driving around in Ramallah from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and stationed at the al-Manara square in the evening until midnight, this food truck was once a two-people-built small enterprise. In less than 6 months, it expands to a four-shift business that supports four families. “We are all released prisoners. We want to be self-reliant. It is difficult to find jobs after you stay so long in the prison away from the society; but we need to work,” said Barghouti, father of six children.
Ahead of Jewish New Year, Israel’s population stands at 8.585 million
JPost 27 Sept by Lidar Gravé-Lazi — The average Jewish birth rate has risen while the average Muslim birth rate has fallen, closing the gap between the two sectors — As Israel prepares to ring in the Jewish New Year, the Central Bureau of Statistics released a report on Tuesday estimating its population on the eve of Rosh Hashana at 8.585 million. According to the annual report, there are 6.419 million Jewish residents – 74.8 percent of the total population – and the Arab Israeli population stands at 1.786 million, or 20.8% of the country’s inhabitants. The additional 4.4%, approximately 380,000 people, are non-Arab Christians or people of other religions, as well as those with no religious affiliation categorized as “other.” According to the report the overall population grew in 2015 by 2%, or 172,000 people, as the Jewish population grew by 1.9%, the Arab population by 2.2%, and the “other” population group increased by 3.8%. The population in Israel is considered a young population compared to other Western countries. In 2015 28.3% of the population was under the age of 14, while 11.1% of the population was aged 65 or older … the findings indicated that Jewish women had an average of 3.13 children in 2015, compared to 3.28 children in the first half of the 1970s, while Muslim women had 3.32 children on average in 2015, compared to 8.47 children during the first half of the 1970s….
Op-ed: Where death reigns / Nahum Barnea
Ynet 26 Sept — The young Palestinians heading to IDF roadblocks are not doing it for the sake of Palestine, for the sake of Islam or for the sake of killing Jews. Their goal is to die, and the soldiers are their tool — It’s the exact opposite of what happened in the previous waves of terror, when the soldiers were the goal and death was the tool. Like Bara‘a Ramadan Owaisi – the 12-year-old girl who arrived Wednesday at the Eliyahu crossing with a bag containing no weapon, not even a knife, and refused to obey the soldier’s orders – told her investigators: “My father earns a meager salary at the Qalqilya Municipality, my mother is unemployed. I wanted to die.” She ended up with a wounded knee.
I spent Tuesday in Hebron, which is called H2 in the agreements, an area where 40,000 Palestinians and 400 Jews were supposed to live under Israeli rule. The numbers have changed: The Arabs declined by several thousand, the Jews grew by several hundred. What remains unchanged is the depression. Every time I arrive in Hebron, I am struck by the depression all over again. There is no other place which is more depressing, troubling, hostile between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea – not even Gaza’s refugee camps … The depression was borne from the closed shops: There used to be hundreds of shops on this part of Hebron and all of them, apart from a few which received a permit to open, are locked with iron doors; it was borne from the fences, barbed-wire fences and net fences and security fences; from the abandoned homes; from the uncleared trash; from the large number of soldiers everywhere; and mainly from the emptiness, the silence, like a battlefield, like no man’s land. Death reigns here, wrote Yoram Taharlev in The Ballad of Yoel Moshe Salomon. Salomon heard birds sing and relaxed. In Hebron there are no birds; the gunshots drive them away.
‘Take them all away’ Near the Cave of the Patriarchs, opposite the Jewish souvenir shop, there is a store offering tourists pottery items …. “I don’t sell my goods here,” says the owner, Muhammad. “I sell at Jaffa’s flea market, at stores in Tel Aviv” …. Why do the young ones carry out terror attacks, I ask. “There is no work, no money,” says Muhammad. “If (someone) gets a job, how much will he earn? Maybe 1,500 shekels (about $400) a month. He can’t go to Jerusalem, to Tel Aviv, to the sea. The youth have nothing left to be afraid of….