Archive for April 4, 2017

April 4, 2017

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Palestinian critically injured with live fire during clashes in al-Duheisha refugee camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — A 23-year-old Palestinian was critically injured with live fire during clashes Wednesday before dawn in the al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank Bethlehem district, as Israeli forces conducted a detention raid in the camp. Local sources told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided several houses in the camp, causing clashes to erupt between Palestinian youth of the camp and Israeli forces who opened live fire at youth, injuring Akram al-Atrash with three bullets. Sources said that al-Atrash sustained critical injuries and was transferred to the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem. During the raid on the camp, Israeli forces detained three Palestinians identified by locals as Mutasem Raqban, Ahmad Sarar and Ahmad al-Sarawi. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the reported to Ma‘an, saying that “during operational activity in the al-Duheisha camp earlier this morning, a Palestinian threw a molotov cocktail and rocks at Israeli army forces. In response to the immediate threat, soldiers fired shots towards the main instigator and a hit was confirmed.” …
Al-Duheisha was the site of a violent Israeli military raid last month, when 34-year-old Iyad Ibrahim Ramadan was shot in the leg while he was standing unarmed on his rooftop, attempting to observe the clashes at the time to see if it would be possible to go to work that morning. After his brothers Mahmoud and Shadi rushed him the Arab Society Hospital in Beit Jala for treatment, Israeli forces opened fire on their vehicle, with Mahmoud sustaining a head wound from shrapnel. Three other locals were shot and injured amid the clashes. One of the three, a now wheelchair bound 22-year-old who asked to remain anonymous, told Ma‘an after undergoing knee surgery that he was shot while trying to rescue another young man who had also just been shot. Following the raid, locals in the camp warned of Israeli forces deliberately targeting unarmed Palestinians in the camp with live fire without justification….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776276

Israeli border police killed Siham Nimer in unjustified shooting after she brandished scissors at them
B’Tselem 4 Apr — On the afternoon of 29 March 2017, Siham Nimer, 49, approached a metal police barrier near Damascus Gate, the Old City, East Jerusalem. She brandished a pair of scissors at Border Police officers who were standing on the other side of the barrier, and they shot and killed her. A screenshot from a security camera installed in the area, released by the police, shows Siham holding up the scissors while standing behind the police barrier. It is quite doubtful whether Siham could have, in the circumstances, crossed the barrier, proceeded toward the officers and put them in danger. Moreover, given the officers’ protective gear and the means they had at their disposal, it stands to reason that they would have been able to subdue her and take her into custody without resorting to gunfire, let alone lethal gunfire. Nevertheless, they shot and killed her. Jerusalem District Police Commander Major General Yoram Halevy said of the officers’ actions that their “determined, uncompromising response nipped the attempted attack in the bud and prevented further harm to innocents”. There is an irreconcilable gap between the facts of the case and the district commander’s statement which, coupled with similar sentiments expressed by other senior ranking officials and a mood of general hostility ever since October 2015, encourages security personnel to shoot to kill even in cases such as this one, where lethal measures are unjustified. Siham Nimer was the mother of Mustafa Nimer, 26, who was shot and killed by police in Shu‘fat Refugee Camp on 5 September 2016. The police said the driver of the car he was a passenger in at the time had been driving erratically under the influence of drugs and alcohol. In both cases, the security forces’ trigger-happy policies with regard to Palestinians have resulted in needless death. B’Tselem has already repeatedly stated that shooting to kill is permissible only when the target puts others’ lives at risk. This is yet another case in which security forces acted completely at variance with this, and received full support for their actions….
http://www.btselem.org/firearms/20170404_killing_of_siham_nimer

Most Palestinian minors arrested by Israel claim physical violence during detention
Haaretz 3 Apr by Amira Hass — 60 percent say experienced violence, only 10 percent met with a lawyer | In 2013, a UNICEF report said Israel was systematically abusing young detainees, new data shows little has changed — S.H., who lives in Bir Zeit, was 12.5 when he was arrested on Thursday January 26. He is one of 111 Palestinian minors who, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, have been arrested by the Israeli army or police since the beginning of the year in the West Bank. A further 125 were arrested in East Jerusalem. The military judge accepted a plea bargain between the prosecution and the boy’s lawyer, Khaled el-Aaraj, and sentenced S.H. to 31 days in Ofer Prison, three months probation and a 500-shekel fine. S.H. could have been released on January 29 if his mother had been willing to pay a 5,000-shekel fine. “Where would I have gotten the money?” she shouted at el-Aaraj outside the Ofer military court, when he informed her of the prosecution’s offer. “What do they want, for us to finance the occupation?” S.H., a tall youngster whose height is a bit confusing but whose face accords with his age, was released on the evening of February 26, after being in prison for a month. With a wide smile, he hugged his father and brothers who had been waiting for him at the Ofer checkpoint since the morning. The modest convoy of cars that brought him and his friends and relatives home honked and waved Fatah flags. However, a week later, his father related that S.H. “wasn’t how he used to be before he was arrested. “He used to joke, and he stopped doing that. He talked a lot, and now he is silent. It was hard for him to go back to his studies, and it was hard to get anything more than five-word sentences from him to describe his experience.” … It has been just over four years since the publication of a UNICEF report which found that Israel was extensively and systematically abusing detained Palestinian children and youth. But the stories of physical violence, threats, painful plastic handcuffs and naked body searches remain almost identical….
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.780996

One night’s detentions
Israeli forces detain 19 Palestinians, including 4 minors, in overnight raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 4 Apr — Israeli forces detained at least 19 Palestinians, including at least four minors, in predawn detention raids Tuesday, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources …
Northern West Bank The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement on Tuesday that Israeli forces detained three Palestinians from the northernmost West Bank district of Jenin. According to the statement, Israeli forces detained Omar Hamarsha from the village of Yaabad and confiscated a vehicle belonging to his father, Adnan Hamarsha, who is a former prisoner in Israel. In the village of Bartaa, Israeli forces detained Muhammad Hamdan Kanash, 27, and Muhammad Jamal Masoud, 22 … Meanwhile in the district of Tulkarem, three Palestinians were detained, according to PPS. The three were identified as Hamza Abdullah Yousif and Mumin Abu Sbeika from the village of Farun, and Bassam Abd al-Fattah Hamshari from the village of Izbat al-Jarad.
Central & Southern West Bank  In the al-Jalazun refugee camp, located in the central Ramallah district, Israeli forces detained three Palestinian teenagers, according to PPS. The three were identified as Usayd Murad Nakhla, 17, Sufian Muhammad Sharaka, 18, and Muhammad Nidal Elayyan, 16. The Israeli army confirmed three detentions from al-Jalazun. In the Jerusalem district, PPS reported that Israeli forces detained Muhammad Ziyad Shamasna, 18, and Bilal Mustafa Shamasna, 19, from the town of Qatanna. The Israeli army spokesperson confirmed two detentions from Qatanna, adding that one Palestinian was detained from the Jerusalem-area town of Biddu. In the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem, Israeli forces detained Mustafa Bassam, according to PPS. In the Hebron district, Israeli forces detained three “teenagers” from the al-‘Arrub refugee camp, a young man from the village of Idhna, and a young man from the town of Yatta. PPS identified the detainees as Wadi Muhammad Badawi, 16, Abd al-Fattah Khalid Mahfouth, 16, and Muntasir Ahmad from al-Arrub camp, in addition to Mutasem Billah al-Jiyawi from Idhna, Ali Abdullah al-Arouri, 22 from Yatta. The Israeli army confirmed one detention from Idhna and one from Yatta, saying the detainees were “Hamas operatives.”
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776261

Israeli security forces enter 2 homes in Hebron area, strip search family members – including children – and wreak havoc
B’Tselem 2 Apr — In January and February of 2017, B’Tselem documented two incidents in which Israeli security forces, some of them masked, entered homes, ordered family members to take off their clothes in one room, and searched the house, leaving behind chaos and damage. One incident took place in the town of Dura and the other in al-Muhawel, a neighborhood in the city of Hebron. It was about midnight when Bassam a-Zir, 52, and his wife, Sarah, 50, were awakened by loud pounding on the door of their home in Wadi Abu al-Qamra, a neighborhood on the eastern outskirts of Dura. Bassam opened the door, and a soldier grabbed his arm, twisted it behind his back, and shoved him back inside. A group of soldiers, police and ISA agents, some masked, entered the home. An officer who came with the force alleged Bassam was hiding weapons, gold and money in the house and demanded he hand them over. Bassam denied the allegation. At that point, Sarah a-Zir reached the foyer, and the officer told her and Bassam to wake up their children. The parents woke their six children – four boys and two girls, aged five to 18 – and brought them into the foyer, some escorted by soldiers. The family sat in the foyer. At that point, some 15 to 20 of the security forces personnel entered the house and searched it. Sarah a-Zir spoke with B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash on 8 February 2017, and related what happened next: “The officer told us he had information my husband was hiding money from terrorist organizations in the house, and that the soldiers would search the house to find it. Bassam denied there was money in the house, but didn’t object to the soldiers searching it.  The officer ordered the soldiers to conduct the search, and they split up out into the rooms. I heard them moving furniture. They walked around the house with muddy shoes, stepping on clothes, bedding and carpets.” After about 30 minutes to an hour, the security forces ordered Bassam and the boys to go into the living room one by one, take off their clothes and stay there … After they finished searching Bassam and his sons, a female soldier took Sarah into the bathroom, where she ordered her to strip down to her undergarments and searched her. A few minutes later, Sarah returned to the foyer, and the female soldier ordered the two daughters – Mari, 15 and Masra, 11 – to go to their room. There, she ordered them to strip, and searched them when they were dressed only in their undergarments … After the soldiers left, neighbors came to our house and tidied up the mattresses and furniture the soldiers had searched. I didn’t fall asleep until 4:00 A.M. No one in our family could sleep. My sister Mari didn’t go to school in the morning so she could help my mother tidy up the house. When the security forces left, having found nothing, the family saw they had left the house in shambles….
The home of the al-Ja’bri family in the neighborhood of al-Muhawel, Hebron, 20 January 2017:
At around 1:00 A.M., the extended al-Ja’bri family were awakened by shouting and pounding on the doors … Anwar al-Ja’bri, 19, described what happened: “The policewoman and the female soldier told me to come with them. In the room, the policewoman told me to take off my clothes. I wouldn’t, but when she yelled at me, I did. I took off all my clothes, but refused to take off my undergarments. I saw the female soldier and the policewoman joking together. I felt that they were laughing at me. Then the soldier told me to get dressed. I was upset, embarrassed and humiliated. I got dressed, and the soldier took me to the room where they were holding Ayat and Warud. Later, I found out that they had also strip-searched my mother-in-law Samira and her daughters Ayat, Kifaya and Warud.”  The soldiers and officers left the al-Ja‘bri home at about 4:00 A.M., having searched all the apartments in the building and returned Ayat’s camera. When the family members came out of the room they had been detained in, they saw the mayhem wreaked by the soldiers. In a testimony given to B’Tselem field researcher Manal al-Ja‘bri, ‘Abd al-Karim al-Ja‘bri described what he found: There was chaos and destruction throughout the house. The soldiers shattered two television screens, broke two toilet tanks, the washing machine cabinet, drawers in the bedroom, and kitchen cabinets. They had torn the couches and mixed the sheep feed, which is kept at the house, with food that was in the pantry on the roof. They mixed sugar, flour, rice and oil with the animal feed – fodder, hay and spelt. They scattered hay on the stairs and on the roof. They also broke three tiles on the stairs outside the house and an empty beehive.
http://www.btselem.org/harrasment/20170329_night_raids_in_hebron_area

Palestinians mark 15th anniversary of Israel’s deadly siege of the Nativity Church
[with photos] BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Apr — Dozens joined a sit-in in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem on Sunday to mark the 15th anniversary of the deadly Israeli siege of the Nativity Church, as well as express solidarity with tens of Palestinians who were deported from the West Bank following the 39-day Israeli blockade of the holy site. Around 220 locals, including several dozen resistance fighters and 40 priests and nuns, sought sanctuary inside the church on April 2, 2002 when Israeli tanks surrounded Bethlehem during the Second Intifada. The siege on the site, believed to be Jesus’ birthplace, sparked outrage in the Vatican, as monks sheltering inside pleaded for international assistance. The Israeli military shocked the world by attacking the church, killing eight Palestinians and injuring 27. The siege came to an end on May 10, when the Israelis struck a deal with Palestinian leaders that ultimately saw 39 Palestinians who had sought sanctuary in the church exiled to Gaza and Europe.
Family members and friends of the deportees, as well as personalities and representatives of political factions, attended the sit-in on Sunday outside of the church on Manger Square.  Fatah Revolutionary Council member Muhammad Lahham — who also works for Ma‘n news channel — delivered a speech during the sit-in in memory of the eight people who were killed by Israeli forces, and hailed three monks who were wounded by Israeli soldiers “who turned a blind eye to their religious position.” Lahham also urged Palestinian leadership to “work seriously” on the international stage and during negotiations with Israel to obtain the return of the deportees back home. Over the past 15 years, the deportees have appealed to the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the international community, and other organizations to convince Israel to allow them back to the West Bank, where their families remain. Fatah Revolutionary Council member Kifah Harb, whose husband Abdullah Daoud was one of the Nativity Church deportees and died in Algiers in 2010, told the protesters about her bitter experience. “Everybody must make serious and real efforts to help the deportees who have the right to return to their homeland as soon as possible,” she said.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776238

Israeli police officer who assaulted several Palestinians in Jerusalem resigns
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Apr — The Israeli police officer who was caught on video violently assaulting and injuring several Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem last month has resigned, Israeli news website Ynet reported on Monday. Ynet identified the police officer as Moshe Cohen, saying that he resigned on Monday at a hearing held at the National Headquarters of the Israel Police after his attorney apologized on his behalf. Ynet quoted Cohen’s attorney as saying that “the officer takes full responsibility and announced his resignation from the police at the beginning of the hearing. He expressed real and deep regret and this is his opportunity to apologize to the citizen and tens of thousands of officers.” An indictment was also filed against Cohen, accusing him of a series of violent offenses, Ynet reported. The video of the incident, which took place in the Wadi Joz neighborhood of East Jerusalem, showed Cohen, dressed in plainclothes, aggressively verbally confronting a Palestinian truck driver — later identified as 50-year-old Mazen Rafaat Shweiki — after the latter allegedly hit the officer’s car. Over the course of the nearly two-minute long video, Cohen proceeded to headbutt, slap, punch, kick, and knee Shweiki in the lower abdomen. Shweiki told Ma‘an that he sustained fractured ribs following the assault. Ahmad al-Tawil, a 26 year-old Jerusalemite who witnessed the scene, told Ma‘an that Shweiki was starting up his vehicle when Cohen, dressed in civilian clothing with a gun on his belt, went up to the truck driver and started berating him. Al-Tawil said that he tried to intervene once Cohen began assaulting Shweiki, only for Cohen to hit him several times in the head and stomach, injuring al-Tawil in the eye. The video then goes on to show at least two other Israeli police officers arriving at the scene, before the first officer violently kicks Shweiki in the back as he attempted to enter his vehicle. Al-Tawil said that three Israeli special forces officers arrived at the scene at the time when the video cut off, and assaulted Palestinian men present at the scene, pulling their guns on them while the first Israeli officer went on to assault Shweiki. Shweiki confirmed that the police officers who arrived later on the scene also assaulted him and the other Palestinians who had tried to defuse the situation.
Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri claimed in a statement at the time that the video showed “dangerous and unordinary individual behavior” that did not reflect the usual conduct of Israeli police forces. Despite al-Samri’s statement, Palestinians have long claimed that Israeli forces abuse their position of power to verbally and physically humiliate and assault Palestinians on a regular basis….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776253

Prisoners / Court actions

New Israeli indictment filed against journalist Qeiq
GAZA (PIC) 4 Apr — An Israeli prosecutor on Tuesday filed a new indictment against Palestinian journalist Mohamed al-Qeiq [or Qiq], who is supposed to be released. Accordingly, a court hearing will be held for him today in the military court of Ofer. His wife, Fayha Shalash, said that the new indictment was filed 10 days before her husband’s release, describing the step as “a dirty attempt to retain him in detention for as long as possible.” Shalash told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that the new charges could be related to Qeiq’s participation in marches in solidarity with prisoners and martyrs. Prisoner Qeiq had staged, for the second consecutive time, an open-ended hunger strike on February 6 before he extracted a pledge last month from his jailers to end his administrative detention in mid-April. He launched his hunger strike after he was ordered to administrative detention following 22 days of interrogation. This was his second hunger strike against administrative detention. In 2016, he refused food for 94 days to demand his freedom, winning his release in May 2016. Later on January 15, he was arrested anew at Beit El crossing after his participation in a march organized in protest at Israel’s detention of Palestinian martyrs from Bethlehem.
https://english.palinfo.com/news/2017/4/4/New-Israeli-indictment-filed-against-journalist-Qeiq

Palestinian prisoner ends hunger strike after reaching deal with Israel
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 3 Apr — After going 23 days without food, Palestinian prisoner Mahmoud Ali Saada ended his hunger strike in Israeli prison when an Israeli military court extended his detention by seven more days, after which Saada will either be released or indicted, according to a statement from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). The 41-year-old, a resident of Huwwara in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, launched his hunger strike inside Jalama detention center in protest of being held without trial or charge under Israel’s widely condemned policy of administrative detention. Saadah was detained on Feb. 16, 2017, and was undergoing “daily interrogations” while being held in Jalama, PPS lawyer Saleh Ayoub told Ma‘an two weeks ago.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776246

Palestinian student Kifah Quzmar ordered imprisoned for six months without charge or trial
Samidoun 3 Apr — Palestinian student Kifah Quzmar was ordered to administrative detention for six months by the Israeli occupation’s Ofer military court on Monday, 3 April.  Quzmar is an active student at Bir Zeit University, where he is in his final year of study for his degree in business administration. He is scheduled to be brought back before the Ofer military court on Thursday, 6 April to “confirm” his indefinitely-renewable imprisonment without charge or trial. Quzmar was seized by Israeli occupation forces on 7 March as he returned from Jordan via the Karameh/Allenby crossing. He was then subjected to interrogation for 20 days and denied access to his lawyer, sparking a four-day hunger strike demanding an end to his interrogation before he was moved to Ofer prison. Over 70 international organizations signed on to a collective statement initiated by student groups in Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, the United States and Palestine demanding Quzmar’s immediate release. The statement highlights the ongoing targeting of Palestinian students for arrest and persecution, especially for involvement in student activities, including annual student council elections. It also urges the academic boycott of Israel, particularly in response to the ongoing denial of Palestinians’ right to education. Kifah Quzmar is one of nearly 600 Palestinians – out of 7,000 total Palestinian prisoners – imprisoned without charge or trial under so-called “administrative detention.”….
http://samidoun.net/2017/04/palestinian-student-kifah-quzmar-ordered-imprisoned-for-six-months-without-charge-or-trial/

Hebron activists detained during Land Day event released from Israeli detention
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — Israeli authorities released four Palestinian activists from the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Monday night after they were detained during an activity organized to commemorate Land Day last week. Activists Anan Daana, Badie Dweik, Ishaq al-Khatib, and Younis Arrar, all of whom are part of the Defending Hebron Committee, were detained during a nonviolent activity in the Wadi al-Hassin area near the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba in eastern Hebron.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776270

Border Police officers indicted for assaulting Palestinian
Ynet 4 Apr by Roi Yanovsky — Two officers suspected a resident of Jerusalem’s Old City of having carried out a terrorist attack simply because he had been walking in the area and physically assaulted him — Two former Border Police officers were indicted Tuesday for assaulting a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem’s Old City who they thought was a terrorist. According to the indictment, Yosef Abadi, 22, from Rishon Lezion, and Oshri Ohayon, 23, from Beit Shemesh, had assaulted a Palestinian with the butt of their rifle and even threatened to kill him, because they thought he was suspected of having carried out a stabbing attack. The two arrived at the Christian Quarter in the Old City in May 2016 following a report of a stabbing attack. When they noticed a Palestinian walking by, they suspected that he was the assailant, even though he was unarmed. They approached him, and one of the soldiers struck him with the butt of his rifle, without informing him that he was being arrested or detained and without questioning him. When the Palestinian asked the policemen what they were doing, they cursed at him and one of them grabbed his neck in a chokehold, pressing him face first into the door of a nearby shop. At this point, the Border Police officers struck him with their rifles and punched him in the back, head, and waist, and even cocked their weapons, goading another policeman in the area to “Shoot him.” The Palestinian asked them to stop, telling them he had a baby. When he tried to turn around and face them, one of the officers hit him in the testicles. Then the officer said to his companion, “Shoot him, shoot him, here is the knife,” and the two continued to beat him. They finally departed, leaving the injured Palestinian behind….
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4944971,00.html

Palestinian to be charged with ‘hate crime’ for stabbing Israeli woman
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — Israeli forces said that a stabbing, which had initially been treated as an attempted burglary in the Israeli town of al-Ludd, was now being considered a “nationalistically motivated” attack, Israeli media reported on Monday evening. Israeli news outlet Ynet quoted the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence agency as saying that a stabbing attack which left a middle-aged Israeli woman moderately wounded in the Palestinian majority city of al-Ludd on March 27, was first treated as an attempted car theft. The assailant, who was identified as 19-year-old Malik Bassam Ismail Saada from the southern occupied West Bank village of Halhul, was detained a day later. The young Palestinian, who was reportedly working without a permit in a bakery in al-Ludd, said during interrogation that he “committed the act because he was fed up with his life,” Ynet wrote, and that he had purposefully planned to attack a Jewish woman. The Shin Bet said that Saada, who had no prior criminal history, would be charged with carrying out a “nationalistically motivated” attack and committing a hate crime.
Israeli authorities have imposed a massive crackdown on undocumented workers in Israel in recent months, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alleging in 2016 that since a wave of violence began the previous fall, “a large proportion of (Palestinian) attackers were present in Israel illegally or infiltrated into Israel illegally.” [But] Data gathered by Ma‘an showed that three Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territory were killed in 2016 while carrying out attacks inside Israel, out of 109 Palestinians who were killed while carrying out attacks that year. Only one deadly attack — in which four Israelis were killed — was conducted inside Israel by Palestinians from the occupied West Bank that year.
Tens of thousands of Palestinian workers are forced to seek a living by working in Israel due to crippling unemployment in the West Bank, as the growth of an independent Palestinian economy has been stifled under the ongoing Israeli military occupation, according to rights groups.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776254

Lebanese singer chosen by PA to sing new anthem for Palestinian prisoners
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — The Palestinian Authority’s Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs announced Monday that a new anthem has been composed in support of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, which will be sung by the celebrated Lebanese singer Assi Helani. According to state-run Palestinian news agency Wafa, the anthem was created to honor Karim Younis, the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner who has been held in Israeli custody for 34 years. Younis, a Palestinian citizen of Israel from the Palestinian town of Arara in Israel, was sentenced in 1983 to life in Israeli prison for allegedly carrying out an attack on an Israeli soldier in the occupied Golan Heights as part of the Fatah resistance movement in 1980. While Younis is one of some 20 imprisoned Palestinian citizens of Israel who were expected to be released as part of the Oslo peace accords in the 1990s, Israeli authorities have yet to release them. The anthem honoring Younis and Palestinian prisoners will be sung by the celebrated Lebanese singer Assi Helani, and was written by Rami al-Yousif. A news conference, attended by Helani, was held in the Jordanian capital of Amman on Tuesday to launch the anthem.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776255

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Jerusalem family self-demolishes its own home to avoid high penalties and fines
IMEMC 5 Apr — A Jerusalem family from the Beit Hanina neighborhood, north of occupied East Jerusalem, demolished its own home Tuesday to avoid excessively high penalties and fines imposed by the City Council, in addition to the extremely expensive bills it would pay, if the city demolished their property. The family of Hafeth Rajabi said it built the home fifteen years ago, and that the property has been providing shelter to several persons. Linda Rajabi, the owner of the home, said the family has no other option but to demolish its own home, because the bills the Council would send after demolishing the home would be as high as 250.000 Israeli Shekels. “This was a very difficult, heart-breaking, decision that we had to make,” she stated, “We lived here for 15 years, now we are homeless, but this is our land, and we will never abandon it.” She added that the family has already been paying high fines, in addition to lawyers’ costs, and engineers to obtain all needed licenses, but the City Council always denied the applications, and moved to demolish the property.
http://imemc.org/article/jerusalem-family-self-demolishes-its-own-home-to-avoid-high-penalties-and-fines/

Israeli forces demolish 4 apartment buildings in Jerusalem-area village
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — Israeli authorities demolished several Palestinian-owned structures in the village of al-Zaayyem in the central occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem on Tuesday morning, including three inhabited apartment buildings, an agricultural shed, and five retaining walls. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that police and border police forces escorted Israeli officials, “who enforced court orders obtained by the (Israeli) Ministry of Finance to demolish five structures built without legal permits.” The apartment buildings’ owners — Othman Abu Sbeitan, Ahmad Shibr, and Ayman al-Dayah — told Ma‘an that Israeli forces demolished four residential apartment buildings, one of which was under construction. The three inhabited apartment buildings were comprised of two, three, and eight units — a total of 13 homes. According to the owners, bulldozers under heavily armed protection stormed the village and blockaded the Sheikh Anbar neighborhood as bulldozers started to tear down the structures. Israeli forces also demolished five retailing walls belonging to the Natsheh, al-Abbasi, and Alqam families, as well as an agricultural shed belonging to the Alqam family, and delivered a demolition warrant to Issa Imtur for a four-unit apartment building he owns in the village.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776260

Israeli authorities uproot 150 olive trees in Salfit for ‘damaging view of nature reserve’
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 3 Apr — Israeli forces uprooted 150 olive trees in the Wadi Qana valley in the central occupied West Bank district of Salfit on Monday morning without prior notice, locals told Ma‘an. Mayor of the nearby village of Deir Istiya Said Zeidan told Ma‘an that the “Israeli occupation” uprooted 135 trees, all of which were between two and four years old, and also destroyed a 40-meter-long dry-stone wall in the area. However, a spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma‘an that a total of 150 trees were uprooted. In response to a request for comment, the spokesperson described the “illegally planted” trees as “an incursion into a declared nature reserve in the Qana stream,” confirming that the 150 trees were “evicted” on Monday morning for “damaging the natural view and values of the nature resort.” Deir Istiya’s municipal council member Nathmi Salman told Ma‘an that the trees were uprooted without prior notice. He argued that Israeli authorities “are attempting to control the Wadi Qana area and deprive the (Palestinian) landowners from benefiting from their land under the pretext that it is a natural reserve.” The uprooted trees belonged to Abd al-Aziz Abd al-Qadir Aqil and Muqbil Muhammad Awwad. Salman added that the Israelis “confiscated” the trees after they uprooted them. The valley, which has historically served agricultural and recreational purposes for local Palestinians who own land in the area, was declared a nature reserve by Israel’s Civil Administration in 1983. Israel has used this designation for years to justify uprooting Palestinian crops and forcing Palestinians from the area, according to Israeli rights group B’Tselem….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776242

Masoudiyya: Ottoman heritage facing Israeli threats
[with photos] NABLUS (PIC) 3 Apr — The archaeological site of al-Masoudiyya is located to the north of Nablus city between the towns of Burqa and Sebastia and dates back to 1914. During the Ottoman era, a main station for the Hejaz railway was built on al-Masoudiyya to link the main cities of Palestine with the Hejaz region (Saudi Arabia) for the purpose of facilitating the travel of Muslim pilgrims to Makkah and Medina. Local sources said, according to the residents of Burqa village, that the family of al-Masoud donated a 38-dunum land lot in 1914 to the Hejaz Company for the purpose of constructing a railway station in the area.
Al-Masoudiyya was heavily affected by the Israeli practices after the occupation of the West Bank in 1948. The Israeli army turned the area into military barracks for five years. During that period, the Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) changed the features of the area and dismantled its railway. At the present time, the IOA prevents any attempts by the Palestinian official authorities to restore the area to preserve its history, and issues repeated demolition decisions against al-Masoudiyya’s park which includes a children’s playground, a health unit, and a small cafeteria.
https://english.palinfo.com/news/2017/4/3/Masoudiyya-Ottoman-heritage-facing-Israeli-threats

Khirbet a-Ras al-Ahmar families served substitute all-night evacuation orders
B’Tselem 4 Apr — On the morning of Mon. 3 April 2017, the Civil Administration (CA) arrived at Kh. a-Ras al-Ahmar in the northern Jordan Valley and served nine families with evacuation orders from Wed. 5 April 2017 at 5:00 P.M. to 5:00 A.M. next morning. As a result, 40 people, incl. some 15 minors, will have to spend an entire night away from home. Last week, the CA served ten families with evacuation orders for Wed. afternoon to Thurs. morning. Yet no military training was then carried out on land near their homes and, contrary to past practice, the CA did not arrive to evacuate them. Residents remained in a state of uncertainty all night long, concerned they might be evacuated. Kh. a-Ras al-Ahmar is a small shepherding community located east of the village of Tammun; the settlements of Ro’i and Beka’ot were built nearby it. In 2016, families from this community were temporarily displaced on ten different occasions by the CA and the military, citing essential military training train on their land. Israel must immediately cease the temporary displacement of communities as well as all other measures it takes in a bid to force Palestinians living in the Jordan Velley out of the area. [following are several descriptions of other Israeli actions in the Jordan Valley, including confiscations of trailers donated as homes]
http://www.btselem.org/facing_expulsion_blog?nid=151968

EU criticises Israel’s West Bank demolitions policy
Al Jazeera 4 Apr — The European Union expressed frustration with Israel’s continued demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank in a high-level meeting last week, according to Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. In the  meeting with the Israeli foreign ministry’s newly appointed director-general, the EU ambassador read out a stern joint statement message, saying Israel was failing in its international legal obligations and needed to change its policy. The issue came to a head after Israel issued demolition orders last month against 42 homes in the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem, where EU member states Belgium and Italy have funded a school and helped to build structures for the local population of around 150. “The practice of enforcement measures such as forced transfers, evictions, demolitions and confiscations of homes and humanitarian assets (including EU-funded) and the obstruction of delivery of humanitarian assistance are contrary to Israel’s obligations under international law,” Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen was quoted as saying by Haaretz, with envoys from all EU member states present. “We therefore call on Israel, as the occupying power, to meet its obligations vis-à-vis the Palestinian population … completely stop these demolitions and confiscations and allow full access of humanitarian assistance.”….
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/04/eu-denounces-israel-west-bank-demolitions-policy-170404130938090.html

Israeli forces move cement blocks, expanding control of area in Hebron’s Old City
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 2 Apr — Israeli forces tightened security in the Old City of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank on Saturday night, expanding the area under army control by several meters with cement blocks. Israeli soldiers moved cement blocks which were installed at the entrance of al-Shuhada Street some 10 meters further within the adjacent Bab al-Zawiya neighborhood. Local activist Issa Amro told Ma‘an that the cement blocks had been moved near a checkpoint at the main entrance of al-Shuhada without warning or explanation, adding that a number of Palestinian-owned stores were no longer accessible by car due to the change. Amro added that one of the blocks had been set up to serve as cover for army snipers. The activist hypothesized that the measures had been taken ahead of the Jewish holiday of Passover, set to begin on April 10, although Amro said that this was the first time that such a move had been made in the area.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776235

Israel delays eviction of Umm al-Hiran village
MEMO 4 Apr — The Israeli authorities today delayed the final evacuation date of the Bedouin village of Umm Al-Hiran in the south of the country for three months, in order to reach a solution with its residents, the official Palestinian news agency reported. The final houses in the village were due to be evacuated and demolished in the end of March but this was postponed. On 18 January, the Israeli authorities demolished 15 houses of Arab citizens in the town of Umm Al-Hiran on the grounds that the properties were built without the impossible to obtain building permits. During confrontations between Arab citizens and the Israeli police, following the demolition of houses, Arab citizen Yaqoub Abu Al-Qiyan and an Israeli policeman, Erez Levy, were killed. Abu Al-Qiyan was shot by Israeli police while he was driving, forcing him to lose control of his car. To date, Israeli police have not announced the results of their investigation into the events surrounding his death. The Bedouin village in Israel’s southern Negev Desert, where the state has ordered several homes destroyed to make way for Jewish-only housing projects.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170404-israel-delays-eviction-of-umm-al-hiran-village/

Planned Amona 2.0 might not house West Bank settlers for 3 years
[with map] Times of Israel 3 Apr by Raphael Ahren — While the government gave its official approval last week to the establishment of a new settlement in the West Bank to replace the razed illegal outpost of Amona, no settlers are going to be moving in any time soon. A host of bureaucratic and logistic hurdles have to cleared first, and settler leaders fear that deliberate foot-dragging on the government’s part could delay the settlement’s creation for an indeterminate period. Even leftists who oppose settlement expansion estimate that it may take up to three years before anyone can move into the new community — even if the government goes full speed ahead. “It takes time to approve a new settlement; it’s a lot of work,” said Hagit Ofran, who analyzes settlement growth for Peace Now, a dovish organization opposed to Israel’s presence in the West Bank … If the government does decide to move fast on establishing the new settlement, it could take 12 to 24 months for the bulldozers to start rolling, and “another year, at least, until people can move in,” she said. On Thursday evening, the security cabinet voted unanimously in favor of a plan to establish a new community adjacent to Shiloh in the northern West Bank to resettle the evicted residents from Amona, an outpost razed in early February because the High Court of Justice ruled it had been built illegally on private Palestinian land.
http://www.timesofisrael.com/planned-amona-2-0-might-not-house-west-bank-settlers-for-3-years/

Gaza

Ministry in Gaza opens door for repentance for collaborators
GAZA,(PIC) 4 Apr — The Ministry of Interior in Gaza announced on Tuesday opening the door for repentance for the collaborators who have fallen in the traps set by the Israeli intelligence services. In a statement by the ministry, collaborators were given a time limit starting from 4th April until 11th April 2017 to turn themselves in by communicating with the closest trusted person who has a direct relation with the security services. The ministry vowed to provide security and legal protection for those who turn themselves in and to deal with their cases under conditions of complete confidentiality away from the security offices. It affirmed that the collaborators who had turned themselves in during previous campaigns are now living a safe life, warning those who will not turn themselves in during the given time limit that they will fall into the hands of the security services soon. According to the PIC reporter, big posters were spread in Gaza Strip’s main roundabouts urging collaborators to turn themselves in to avoid retribution. An intensive security campaign was launched by the Ministry of Interior against the Israeli agents in Gaza following the assassination of the Qassam Brigades’ commander Mazen Fuqaha.
https://english.palinfo.com/news/2017/4/4/Ministry-in-Gaza-opens-door-for-repentance-for-collaborators

Gaza: Qatari-paid fuel for power generation to end soon
GAZA (PIC) 3 Apr — The Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority (PENRA) has warned that the fuel supplies that were funded by Qatar for the Gaza power plant three months ago will run out within a few days. “If taxes on the power station’s fuel were not cancelled, we would face great difficulty in securing fuel for it and ensuring its continuity,” the PENRA stated in a press release on Monday. It called on all concerned parties to assume their responsibilities towards Gaza and prevent the power crisis from happening again. Three months ago, Qatar had donated 12 million dollars to buy fuel for the Gaza’s lone power plant in order to ease the electricity crisis. The Qatari-funded fuel operated a third generator at the power plant and helped to provide electricity in eight-hour cycles for three months.
https://english.palinfo.com/news/2017/4/3/Gaza-Qatari-paid-fuel-for-power-generation-to-end-soon

Qatar’s lifeline to Gaza
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 3 Apr by Khaled Abu Amer — In an interview with Al-Monitor, Yousef al-Ghariz, adviser to the chair of the Qatari Committee for Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, discussed the ins and outs of the $400 million worth of projects the committee has implemented — Yousef al-Ghariz, adviser to Mohammed al-Emadi, Qatar’s ambassador to the Palestinian territories and head of the Qatari Committee for Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, told Al-Monitor that the committee is in constant communication with the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah to carry out its work in Gaza. He said the committee coordinates with Egypt and Israel on the delivery of raw materials for construction projects and discussed its involvement in addressing various emergencies in Gaza — in particular, paying the salaries of public sector employees and tackling the energy crisis….
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/03/palestine-qatar-reconstruction-committee-gaza-consensus.html

Egypt allows return of the bodies of 3 Palestinians to Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 4 Apr — The Egyptian authorities exceptionally opened the Rafah crossing on Tuesday to allow the bodies of 3 Gazan citizens who died while receiving treatment in Egypt to be transferred to the Gaza Strip. The media director at the Rafah crossing, Wael Abu Mohsen, said that the bodies of Mohammed Hassan, 25, Ahmad al-Ghouti, 55, and Hanan al-Jbour, 40, were transferred through ambulances from the Egyptian side to the Palestinian side to be handed over to their families. The Egyptian authorities have been closing the Rafah crossing almost completely since 2013 due to the security situation in north Sinai, and they open it exceptionally for humanitarian cases. The Ministry of Interior in Gaza said that there are 30,000 registered passengers who need to travel through the crossing.
https://english.palinfo.com/news/2017/4/4/Egypt-allows-return-of-the-bodies-of-3-Palestinians-to-Gaza

Egypt destroys 2 Gaza border tunnels
CAIRO (Anadolu Agency) 2 Apr by Hussein Qabani — Egyptian army forces destroyed two cross-border tunnels linking Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula with the blockaded Gaza Strip, a military spokesman said Sunday. In a statement, Army Colonel Tamer al-Rifai said the openings of the two tunnels were demolished during security swoops in the North Sinai city of Rafah. He said six militants were killed and 29 suspects detained during the operation. Egyptian army forces have destroyed a total of 21 cross-border tunnels along border with Gaza since mid-January. Blockaded by both Israel and Egypt since 2007, the Palestinian Gaza Strip has relied on the network of cross-border tunnels for years to import badly-needed supplies, including food, fuel and medicine.  Since the 2013 ouster of elected President Mohamed Morsi by the military, however, the Egyptian army has destroyed many of the tunnels, which it says are used to support militant activity in Sinai [though Hamas denies this]. In recent months, the Egyptian army has been methodically flooding the cross-border tunnel network with seawater from the Mediterranean.
http://aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/egypt-destroys-2-gaza-border-tunnel/786149

HRW: Israel denying human rights workers access to Gaza
Al Jazeera 4 Apr by Farah Najjar — Israel has been barring entry to and from the besieged Gaza Strip for human rights workers and researchers, according to a new report by international rights organisation, Human Rights Watch (HRW). In the report, titled “Unwilling or Unable: Israel Restrictions on Travel to and from Gaza for Human Rights Workers”, the US-based organisation expressed concerns over the restriction of entry to human rights workers who require access to the strip in order to investigate possible crimes committed during the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza. “For the last two decades, Israel has kept the strip mostly closed off,” with exceptions for humanitarian circumstances, Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine advocacy director at HRW, told Al Jazeers …  The report also calls into question the Israeli military’s claim to rely on human rights organisations as a vital source of data for their investigations into potential crimes and rights violations committed during the war. HRW said such restrictions on entry” raises questions not just about the willingness of Israel’s military authorities to conduct genuine investigations, but also their ability to do so….
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/04/hrw-israel-denying-human-rights-workers-access-gaza-170403112527308.html

Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian homes, spray pesticides on crops in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — Israeli forces opened fire on Tuesday morning at Palestinian houses and agricultural lands in eastern Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. Witnesses told Ma‘an that gunshots were fired from Israeli military pillboxes across the border fence, causing material damage to a number of houses. No injuries were reported.
Separately, in the southeastern and central eastern parts of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian farmers reported that Israeli drones sprayed “poisonous pesticides” on crops near the borders with Israel. They added that fields of melon, watermelon, okra, and wheat were sprayed with pesticides that may harm the crops …
Earlier this year, a similar incident took place in the Khan Yunis area when Israeli forces sprayed weedkillers on Gazan farmlands near the border, burning crops belonging to Palestinian farmers. A Palestinian farmer called Abu Ahmad told Ma‘an at the time that Israeli forces spray weed killers to dry wild plants on both sides of the border fence in order to “guarantee clear vision for the Israeli army to watch the area and prevent entry of Palestinians into Israel.” He highlighted that the spray travels “dozens of meters” throughout the air away from the targeted area, causing serious damages to Palestinian crops far beyond the buffer zone.
Agronomist Wael Thabet of the Gaza Ministry of Agriculture told Ma‘an that the ministry had asked several international human rights groups two years ago to intervene and ask Israel to stop spraying weed killers near the border area. “[The Israeli] occupation didn’t respond positively and claimed that the process is meant to get rid of wild plants and weeds.” Reiterating Abu Ahmad’s point, Thabet said that the excess spray can travel up to 1,200 meters through the air away from the buffer zone, burning crops and causing Palestinian farmers huge economic losses. Thabet added that the farmlands near the border area constitute about one third of the agricultural space in the besieged coastal enclave….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776259

Dozens of Palestinian teachers protest in front o UNRWA headquarters
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — Dozens of Palestinian teachers working for schools administered by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the besieged Gaza Strip protested in front of UNRWA’s headquarters in Gaza City on Tuesday, demanding to be granted fixed contracts. After 450 teachers launched protest measures, 412 have so far been granted fixed contracts and the corresponding benefits, while 38 remaining teachers of Arabic and English still held temporary contracts, according to Mahdi Nassar, one of the teachers. Nasser said that the teachers had received assurances from UNRWA that they would be granted fixed contracts, but were still waiting for their demands to be met. In response to a request for comment, UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness told Ma‘an that since February UNRWA established more than 400 fixed contract posts for Palestinian teachers “to deal with the increased number of students entering UNRWA schools for the school year 2016/17.” “There are fewer than 40 teachers still working on daily paid contracts,” Gunness said, adding that UNRWA has not been able to offer these teachers fixed term contracts due to “issues linked to outstanding planning issues and changes that are being planned by the PA Ministry of Education for the next school year 2017/18.” In addition, “the question of ensuring a gender balance in the number of male and female teachers in UNRWA schools,” was also cited by Gunness as reason for the organization’s inability to increase the number of fixed contracts.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776266

‘Accidental explosion’ leaves three injured in southern Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 3 Apr — Three young Palestinian men were injured in an “accidental” explosion in the town of Rafah in the besieged Gaza Strip on Monday morning. Ashraf al-Qidra, the spokesman for Gaza’s Ministry of Health, said that three wounded were admitted to the Abu Yousif al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah. Meanwhile, pro-Hamas news site Palestinian Information Center reported that the three men were wounded “in an accidental explosion inside a resistance military post” in the neighborhood of Tal al-Sultan in Rafah, without giving any more details. Israeli officials have accused Hamas of “preparing” for another war with Israel and have threatened retaliatory measures against the Gaza Strip as a whole. However, despite Hamas’ inflammatory rhetoric against Israel, the movement has not officially claimed responsibility for any military action from Gaza against Israel since the 2014 war.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776243

Israeli army reportedly foils attempt to smuggle diving suits into Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 3 Apr — The Israeli army released a statement on Monday saying that Israeli security forces at the Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing had “foiled an attempt to smuggle 30 diving suits into the Gaza Strip through the crossing.” Israeli news sites reported that the diving suits were sent from a merchant in the occupied West Bank and were “hidden between sports clothing,” adding that the suits were “meant to be delivered to members of the Hamas movement’s armed wing.”
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776250

Desperation is palpable among the Palestinians
The National 2 Apr by Antony Loewenstein — A group of old women sat outside in plastic chairs on a warm, Gaza day and sang traditional Palestinian songs. It was a happy mood at the Aged Care Foundation, the only community club for the elderly in the entire territory of two million people. The head of the organisation, Nadia Alhashim, told me that there was a desperate need for her group because of social isolation in Gaza. “Old people are bored at home,” she said, “and we organise entertainment like dabke dancing, trips to the beach and exercise. It puts a smile on their faces.” Men and women meet separately three times a week to share laughs and advice. Ms Alhashim said that the ­Israeli- and Egyptian-imposed siege on Gaza, now 10 years old, deprived many Gazans of essential medication and care including cancer treatment. Om Ali Suhayla Abdu Al Qader Abulalreesh, 63, who lives with her mentally ill son in dire conditions, sang joyously to forget her problems and please her friends. It was a brief respite from the desperate, humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The people of Palestine are often forgotten amid the calamities befalling the Middle East. Although the Israel/Palestine conflict was once a stated priority of successive American administrations, such attention only led to further misery and the entrenchment of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. Palestinian freedom would, probably, come sooner if Washington disengaged from the region entirely….
http://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/desperation-is-palpable-among-the-palestinians

Palestinian man succumbs to wounds 2 days after setting himself on fire in Gaza
GAZA (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — 27 year-old Palestinian Muhammad Juha died Wednesday after succumbing to wounds he sustained after setting himself on fire two days prior, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza. At the time of the incident, medical sources at the al-Shifa medical complex told Ma‘an that 80 percent of the Juha’s body sustained critical burns. Palestinian police spokesperson Ayman al-Bantaji said at the time that the reasons behind the incident remained unknown.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776287

Gaza police assault residents during demolition of homes in Beit Lahiya
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — Gaza police demolished Palestinian homes in the ‘American’ neighborhood of northwestern Beit Lahiya in the northern besieged Gaza Strip on Tuesday, reportedly beating and injuring several Palestinians during the incident. Kamal al-Ghoul, a member of the American neighborhood committee, told Ma‘an that Gaza police forces and employees of Gaza’s land authority escorted bulldozers and demolished two homes in the neighborhood. Al-Ghoul added that when residents and members of the neighborhood’s committee attempted to negotiate with police forces, they were assaulted and beaten, while Gazan authorities proceeded with the demolitions. The neighborhood, comprising 250 houses built on top of 39 dunums of government land without official permission, has reportedly held an agreement since Jan. 24 with Gaza’s ministry of interior that has permitted residents to keep their houses in exchange for residents paying the government for the land, Al-Ghoul said. However, it was unclear whether or not the agreement had yet been implemented by the Gazan government. Al-Ghoul added that residents were prepared for a compromise with the government that could allow them to pay in installments in order to keep their homes.
In Jan. 2016, Gaza’s land authority confirmed to Ma‘an that any government employees who were found living on what it referred to as “encroachment” lands or other “random lands” across the Gaza Strip would be prosecuted in a military court. Head of the land authority said at the time that Gazan authorities had offered cheaper lands to the residents as a solution, adding that it would be easier for them to afford it than the lands in the American neighborhood and offered a discount of up to 60 percent for those who were able to pay all at once….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776271

Israel says not seeking Gaza ‘adventures’
JERUSALEM (News24) 2 Apr — Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Sunday Israel did not seek “adventures” in Gaza after Hamas accused it of assassinating an official, and suggested the group itself could have killed him. Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, has blamed Israeli intelligence agency Mossad and its “collaborators” for the March 24 killing of Mazen Faqha in the Palestinian territory. Israeli officials had previously not commented on the killing. “We are not looking for adventures,” Lieberman said during a visit to the Israeli city of Sderot near the Gaza border, according to his office. “We are conducting security policy with responsibility and determination. “It does not matter what Hamas says, it’s important what the Jews do.” He added: “Let Hamas do what it wants and we will do what we need to do. Hamas is known for internal assassinations, for settling accounts. I suggest that they look there for it.” In response, both Hamas and its armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, accused Lieberman of seeking to evade responsibility for the killing. “The Israeli occupier bears all responsibility for the assassination of Mazen Faqha and the ensuing results,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said in a statement….
http://www.news24.com/World/News/israel-says-not-seeking-gaza-adventures-20170402

Jerusalem comes to Gaza
[with photos] MEMO 3 Apr by Mohammed Asad — The media production city in southern Gaza has taken on the characteristics and features of Jerusalem and its streets spread across 3,000 square metres. The city was established by Al-Aqsa satellite television and it was made to produce the series “Gate of Heaven”, a drama portraying the lives of Jerusalemites and their daily suffering in this day and age. Zuhair Al-Afrangi, the show’s director, told MEMO that it took a year to write the scenario and build the city. He says that the series’ events revolve around the lives of Jerusalemites in the Old City and Bab Al-Silsilah, one of Al-Aqsa’s gates. Al-Afrangi also said that the series will be aired in Ramadan and talks about the Jerusalemites’ defiance and resistance of the occupation and their resistance against Judaisation. It will also discuss how they face the policies issued by the occupation, such as forcing Jerusalemites to sell their homes through tactical indirect means, erecting checkpoints, attacking the elderly and causing harm to the people. The series will also showcase the role played by the resisting Jerusalemites, as well as the stabbings and clashes occurring at the checkpoints. Head of the filming department, Ramy Abu Daya, said that the city that has been built is small but this is because the available resources have limited what they have been able to build. However, it has been built to show a variety of perspectives. Visitors who have visited the city have been amazed. Bara‘a Al-Ghalayini, 22, told MEMO she was shocked when she entered the city: “I felt like I was walking in one of the Old City’s neighbourhoods, which we are now prohibited from entering. Only small numbers of elderly Palestinians are permitted to enter.” “We saw a café with the storyteller telling stories about the Crusades in Palestine, as well as alleyways, rooftops, a barber shop, stores and signs with names of streets we hadn’t seen before. We now have a general idea of what is happening in the city on the ground because it is a copy of what we see on the news every day,” she said.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170403-jerusalem-comes-to-gaza/

Other news

Video: Palestine: Political rivalry results in refugee camp violence
Al Jazeera 1 Apr — The Palestinian Authority is trying to clear gunmen linked to its political rivals from the largest refugee camp in the West Bank. Raids by both the PA and Israeli forces have sparked gun battles in recent weeks. Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan reports from Balata refugee camp.
http://www.aljazeera.com/video/news/2017/04/palestine-political-rivalry-results-refugee-camp-violence-170401122636259.html

21-year-old Palestinian killed, 2 injured in drive-by shooting in Jenin
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — A 21-year-old Palestinian was killed while two “children,” whose ages remained unknown, were injured after unidentified gunmen opened fire from a passing vehicle at a residential building in Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank. Palestinian police spokesperson Luay Irziqat told Ma‘an that the police have opened an investigation into the drive-by shooting. Various Palestinian social media pages reported that the shooting attack was carried out in the Kafr Dan village west of Jenin, and identified the victim as Muhammad Hussam Majid Abu Jassir from the town of Silat al-Harithiya.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776275

PA detains 5 Palestinians, including 3 Birzeit University students, Hamas says
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Apr — Palestinian security forces detained five people in the occupied West Bank overnight Monday, including three Birzeit University students, according a statement from the Hamas movement, which accused the Palestinian Authority of carrying out “politically motivated” arrests.  Each of the three students were members of the Hamas-affiliated student bloc at Birzeit University, identified in the report as Yahiya Rabie, the representative of the Islamic bloc’s preparatory committee for elections; Waad Fuqahaa; and Yazid Kamal.  Kamal was released hours later. In response to the detentions, the Islamic bloc at the Birzeit scheduled a press conference Tuesday, to speak out on the “escalation of political arrests by security forces against students and activists,” the Hamas movement reported.
Separately, Fadi Abd al-Dayim was also detained by PA forces in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah overnight Monday. The Hamas statement quoted members of his family as saying that al-Dayim was released from PA prison only days prior, and was “assaulted and tortured” during his detention.  Al-Dayim has been previously arrested by the PA “several times,” the Hamas statement said, claiming the PA has targeted al-Dayim for political reasons.
In Hebron, PA preventive security forces arrested former prisoner Islam Younis Kawazba, from the town of Sair, which came two months after he was released from Israeli prison, according to Hamas. Kawazba is the brother of 18-year-old Ahmad Younis Kawazba, who was shot dead by Israeli forces in January 2016.
In the northern West Bank district of Qalqiliya, PA security forces arrested Amjad Hantash, a former political prisoner, the Hamas statement said….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776268

FIFA monitoring committee raises yellow card in Israel’s face, says official
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 3 Apr – The FIFA Monitoring Committee Israel-Palestine has decided to give Israel a yellow card for six months to prove that it is adhering to FIFA rules and regulations, Jibril Rjoub, president of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA), said on Monday. The Monitoring Committee was established by FIFA to look into PFA complaints of mistreatment by the Israeli authorities and of violating rules that ban any FIFA member from playing in occupied territories. Speaking at a press conference at PFA headquarters about the findings of the Monitoring Committee, Rjoub said the committee said in its report, which will be presented to the FIFA Congress, that Israeli violations against Palestinian sports and athletes are considered a violation of international sports and United Nations laws. He said that if Israel does not change the way it treats Palestinian sports within six months, the recommendation will go to the Congress to take action against it. Palestine had previously called for ousting the Israel Football Association (IFA) from FIFA because of these violations, but later withdrew its request after the IFA agreed to push its government for better treatment of Palestinian athletes and FIFA agreed to form a committee to monitor Israeli actions and present a report to the FIFA Congress … Rjoub said the Israeli response to the committee’s report included clear threats to the PFA if the committee continues in its work and saying that Israel will not allow anyone to tell it where its borders lie. Israel was referring to the football teams playing games in the illegal settlements located in the occupied Palestinian territories. Rjoub said the PFA is determined to bring a stop to all football games in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, and to demand that the PFA has the right to play abroad and receive football teams to play at home without any Israeli obstructions or interference.
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=2SQ6fUa72476942703a2SQ6fU

Egyptian presidency: Palestinian cause remains top Egyptian priority
WASHINGTON (WAFA) 2 Apr – The Egyptian presidency announced Sunday that the Palestinian cause will always remain top priority in Egypt’s foreign policy. “Egypt has saved no efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement based on an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders,” spokesman for Egyptian presidency Alaa Yousef told reporters in Washington. The spokesman added that the Egyptian President Abul Fattah al-Sisi, who is currently on an official visit to the United States, will brief the US President Donald Trump about Egypt’s stance regarding Trump’s intention to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “President Sisi will also exchange views with the Trump administration on the current conflicts in the Middle East,” the spokesman revealed. Yousef also said that the US-Egyptian relations have always played a key role in supporting peace stability in the Middle East.
http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=2SQ6fUa71520430938a2SQ6fU

Samidoun organizer Mohammed Khatib denied visa to United States
Samidoun 3 Apr — Palestinian organizer Mohammed Khatib, the Europe coordinator of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, was denied a visa to the United States, where he had been invited to speak at the Jewish Voice for Peace National Membership Meeting, which took place in Chicago from 31 March to 2 April. Along with Black4Palestine organizer Kristian Davis Bailey, Mohammed is working on a project to build Black-Palestinian transnational solidarity between liberation movements, focusing on youth organizing. Additional events in the United States, focusing on Palestinian political prisoners, the struggle for justice in Palestine, Black/Palestinian transnational organizing and liberation struggle and the struggle of refugees – from the urgent need to fight racism in Europe today to Palestinian refugees’ right to return – were also being planned for Mohammed. Mohammed is himself a Palestinian refugee from Ein el-Helweh refugee camp in Lebanon. A Convention-recognized refugee, the mere sight of his Belgium-issued refugee travel document led visa processing staff members at the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece to deny his travel to the US, rejecting even a review of his invitation letters and travel program scheduled in the United States.
As Davis Bailey spoke at the JVP plenary on Sunday, 2 April, he said: I would like to start by bringing into the room my dear friend and comrade Mohammed Khatib, who was scheduled to join us in person on this panel. Mohammed is the European coordinator of the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and a Palestinian refugee from Lebanon. It is explicitly because of his status as a refugee that he was refused the opportunity to even interview for a visa to the US. “There is nowhere to deport you to,” the embassy told him. This would have been Mohammed’s first time to the US and he was very eager to engage the membership of Jewish Voice for Peace as a refugee in exile, and as a descendant of survivors of the Nakba. He was subject to the double violence of being denied access to his homeland by Israel and being denied the ability to travel because of his status as a refugee by the US….
http://samidoun.net/2017/04/samidoun-organizer-mohammed-khatib-denied-visa-to-united-states/

Israel’s David’s Sling system goes on line amid heightened tension on multiple fronts
JNS 2 Apr by Adam Abrams — Israel’s David’s Sling anti-missile system became operational Sunday, marking the completion of the Jewish state’s three-tiered air defense arsenal. David’s Sling, also known as the “Magic Wand,” joins the Iron Dome and Arrow systems, with all three missile interceptors jointly developed and funded by the U.S. and Israel. As the middle tier of Israel’s missile defense apparatus, David’s Sling is designed to intercept mid-to-long-range ballistic missiles with ranges between 25-190 miles. Iron Dome intercepts short-range targets, and Arrow has the longest-range capabilities — its latest iteration can intercept long-range ballistic missiles outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Iron Dome has been widely praised for protecting Israeli civilians from indiscriminate rocket attacks emanating from Gaza, particularly during the 2012 and 2014 conflicts between Hamas and Israel. Arrow intercepted a Syrian missile last month in the system’s first operational use in its 17 years of existence. Sunday’s David’s Sling inauguration ceremony at Israel’s Hatzor military base was attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Israeli Air Force (IAF) Commander Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel and Brig.-Gen. Zvika Haimovich, commander of the air force’s Aerial Defense Division.
http://www.jns.org/latest-articles/2017/4/2/israels-davids-sling-system-goes-online-amid-heightened-tension-on-multiple-fronts

Israel appoints its first female Muslim diplomat
Times of Israel 5Apr by Dov Lieber — The Foreign Ministry on Wednesday appointed Rasha Atamny, 31, to represent the Jewish state in Ankara, Turkey, making her Israel’s first female Muslim diplomat. Atamny, who is completing the final months of the ministry’s cadet course, will serve as the embassy’s first secretary in the influential Muslim nation. Turkey is an important regional ally for Israel, with strong economic ties. The two countries signed a reconciliation agreement in June, 2016, ending a six-year rift. Atamny hails from the predominantly Arab town of Baqa al-Gharbiya in central Israel, located just inside the pre-1967 Green Line between Israel and the West Bank. She is not Israel’s first female Arab diplomat. Christian-Arab Rania Jubran, the daughter of Supreme Court Justice Salim Jubran, worked for the ministry from 2006 to 2009, but left shortly before she was due to be sent to Cairo. Israel also has several male Muslim and Christian diplomats…
One year after joining the Model UN club, Atamny applied for and was accepted to represent Israel at the actual UN in New York City as a youth ambassador for three months. “From the three months I was at the UN, one turning point will forever accompany me. One day, I sat at the Israeli seat as usual in the Human Rights Assembly Committee, and I listened with great interest to the discussion that took place — the violation of women’s rights,” she wrote. She continued: “By this point, I had become used to hearing the series of charges against Israel from many countries on the council, as [United States UN envoy] Nikki Haley recently described in the media. The discrimination against Israel is very prominent in the UN, and disappointing.”….
http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-appoints-its-first-female-muslim-diplomat/

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