Archive for April 7, 2017

April 7, 2017

Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem

Israeli soldier killed in alleged car-ramming attack, Palestinian detained
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Updated 7 Apr — An alleged car-ramming attack occurred at a junction near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ofra in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah on Thursday morning, according to the Israeli army, killing an Israeli soldier and lightly injuring another, while the driver, a Palestinian from the village of Silwad, was detained by Israeli forces. An Israeli army spokesperson identified the slain Israeli soldier on social media as 20-year-old Elchay Teharlev. According to Israeli media, Israeli soldiers opened fire at the Palestinian driver of the vehicle. The scope of the Palestinian’s injuries was not yet known.
The detained Palestinian was later identified as Malik Ahmad Moussa Hamid, 23, from the village of Silwad in northeastern Ramallah … Israeli forces reportedly tightened security at the military checkpoint installed at the western entrance of Silwad. Locals told Ma‘an that Hamid had borrowed his father’s car on Thursday morning, before driving in the direction of Ofra. They described Hamid as a calm and well behaved young man, whose two best friends, Anas Bassam Hammad and Muhammad Abd al-Rahman Ayyad, were killed by Israeli forces two weeks apart in December 2015 while carrying out vehicular attacks, adding that Hamid would frequently talk about his two friends….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776300

Israeli forces raid Silwad, detain relatives of deadly car ramming suspect
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — Israeli forces raided the central occupied West Bank village of Silwad before dawn on Friday, detaining two relatives of a Palestinian accused of carrying out an alleged car-ramming attack which killed an Israeli soldier a day earlier. Malik Hamid, 23, was detained on Thursday after his car ran into two Israeli soldiers at an intersection near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ofra in the Ramallah district, killing 20-year-old Elchay Teharlev and injuring the other. Israeli forces detained Ahmad Moussa Hamid, 52, and Moussa Ahmad Hamid, 17, Hamid’s father and brother, during the raid in Silwad, locals said, adding that two other residents — Muhammad Omar Hamid, 23, and Mutasem Abd al-Majid Hammad — were also detained. An Israeli army spokesperson only confirmed one overnight detention in Silwad. According to Israeli news outlet Arutz Sheva, Israeli forces also confiscated six allegedly stolen vehicles, 40,000 shekels ($10,970) in “terror funds,” as well as the work permits of an unspecified number of Hamid’s relatives. Arutz Sheva added that the army also took measurements of Hamid’s home, likely in preparation for a punitive demolition … Israeli forces also reportedly prevented Silwad’s mosques from opening their doors for dawn prayer. Hamid is currently held at the notorious Russian Compound detention center, where the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said he was assaulted and stripped by interrogators. A PPS lawyer who visited Hamid at the detention center said however that Hamid was not injured.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776318

Israeli settlers close Nablus-area road in protest of deadly car ramming, vow revenge
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — Dozens of Israeli settlers blocked off a road near the illegal Yizhar settlement in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus on Thursday, holding signs that called for revenge on Palestinians after an alleged car-ramming attack was carried out earlier in the day near the illegal Israeli Ofra settlement in Ramallah, which killed an Israeli soldier and wounded another moderately. Hebrew-language media reported that some 30 Israeli settlers, residing in the occupied Palestinian territory in contravention of international law, protested at the road under protection of armed Israeli forces, blocking Palestinian cars from passing through. The settlers held signs reading “revenge” in Hebrew. Earlier on Thursday, an Israeli soldier — 20-year-old Elchay Teharlev — was killed and another moderately injured, after a Palestinian car slammed into them at the Ofra junction near the illegal Israeli settlement by the same name. Israeli forces detained the Palestinian driver at the scene….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776306

Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — Israeli forces injured a Palestinian with live ammunition on Wednesday in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron. The Palestinian was identified as Marwan Zakariya al-Asous, 28, from the northern West Bank district of Nablus and was transferred to the Muhammad Ali al-Muhtaseb Hospital for treatment. Medical sources told Ma‘an that al-Asous was injured in the legs and was in moderate condition. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an she would look into reports of the shooting. Some 3,393 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces in 2016, while 213 have been injured as of March 20 this year, according to UN documentation.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776294

Israeli settler attempts to run over Palestinians near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — Two Palestinians from the Hebron-area village of Beit Ummar were lightly injured Friday after an Israeli settler attempted to run them over on a main road connecting the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron to Jerusalem.  Local activist Muhammad Awad told Ma‘an that an Israeli settler was driving on the road, located near Beit Ummar, when the settler attempted to to run over Palestinians Muhammad Basem Khader al-Alami, 25, and Saed Samir Hassan al-Salibi, 20.“The Israeli settler drove very fast with his car towards the two, who noticed the settler’s car rushing towards them at the last moment, causing them to fall on the side of the street, while the Israeli settler escaped,” Awad said, describing the scene to Ma‘an …  Incidents involving Israeli settlers hitting Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory are a relatively regular occurrence, and are usually treated by Israeli security forces as accidents, even in cases when witnesses claim the car rammings were deliberate.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776329

Army injures nine Palestinians in Kufur Qaddoum
IMEMC 8 Apr — Israeli soldiers attacked, Friday, the weekly protest in Kafr Qaddoum town, in the northern West Bank governorate of Qalqilia, wounding two Palestinians and causing seven others to suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation. Morad Eshteiwy, the media coordinator of the Popular Committee in Kafr Qaddoum, said the soldiers invaded the town and fired rubber-coated steel bullets and gas bombs at the protesters. He added that two young men were mildly wounded after being shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, while five others suffered the severe effects of teargas inhalation. The protest marked the Palestinian Child’s Day, and was attended by dozens of residents, including many children, who carried signs calling for a safe childhood, and to be able to live in peace and dignity without the constant threat of the Israeli occupation, ongoing violations and its illegal colonies.
http://imemc.org/article/army-injures-nine-palestinians-in-kufur-qaddoum/

Weekly march set off in Bil‘in to mark 69th anniversary of Deir Yassin massacre
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — Protesters in the central occupied West Bank village of Bil‘in set off on Friday for the village’s weekly march, in commemoration of the 69th anniversary of the Deir Yassin massacre of 1948 when at least 100 Palestinians were killed by Zionist militias in the Jerusalem-area village of Deir Yassin. Israeli forces flew drones above protesters, taking pictures of activists and youths participating in the march, while protesters threw rocks at the drones and set fire to rubber tires in front of a gate in the nearby Israeli separation apartheid wall, which Israel had previously closed, preventing Palestinian farmers from the village to access their lands. Protesters, locals and foreign activists, marched the village’s streets carrying the Palestinian and Algerian flags, shouting national slogans, demanding national unity and the release of all Palestinian prisoners….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776328

Shots fired overnight toward Israeli military tower in Ramallah area
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — Unknown gunmen opened fire towards an Israeli military tower in the central occupied West Bank late on Thursday, causing no casualties. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that a “shooting incident” occurred at the military position near the illegal settlement of Pesagot in the West Bank district of Ramallah, with shots fired from a passing vehicle. The spokesperson confirmed that no injuries were reported, and added that the circumstances of the incident were “being reviewed.” The spokesperson had no information as on Friday morning regarding whether anyone had been detained in connection with the shooting.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776317

Israeli forces detain 12-year-old Palestinian in Hebron for possessing ‘fruit knife’
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 6 Apr –Israeli forces detained a Palestinian child at a military checkpoint near the Ibrahimi Mosque in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday for having a “fruit knife” on his person after being searched by Israeli forces. Locals said that Israeli soldiers detained Ahmad Idriss Ghaith, 12, at the Israeli Abu al-Rish checkpoint for having a “fruit knife” in his possession. An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available to comment.
Scores of Palestinians have been detained in previous months for alleged possession of knives, with a concentration of detentions at military checkpoints around the Ibrahimi Mosque. Palestinians have often expressed fear over routine detentions, particularly of Palestinian youth, for allegedly having sharp objects on their persons after being searched by Israeli forces. A knife and even something as innocuous as a house key can be considered as a potential weapon for an attack, according to Palestinians who have been detained and interrogated by Israel forces for such incidents.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776299

Israeli army gunfire paralyzed this young Palestinian, and his entire family
Haaretz 8 Apr by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — A Palestinian boy was shot in the stomach and spine on his way home from school, his family says. After eight years in and out of hospitals, his leg has been amputated — Here’s what someone who was wounded by Israel Defense Forces gunfire looks like, eight years later: Half a person, he’s carried like a sack into the living room of his family’s meager home in Al-Fawwar refugee camp, southwest of Hebron. He sobs silently. He’s gaunt, ashen and paralyzed from the waist down. For eight years he’s been in and out of hospitals – most recently a few weeks ago, when his right leg had to be removed at the groin. Life-threatening gangrene had set in, caused by bedsores that developed from prolonged sitting in a wheelchair. He’s from a refugee family that can’t afford the never-ending treatments and hospitalization. But his mother, Maryam, refuses to give up, fighting like a lioness for her son’s life. As he lay on the sofa in their well-kept home when we visited on Monday, head drooping, tears welling, she recounted his story – the chronicle of their ordeals – as though she herself were not one of the protagonists. Actually, it is the soldier who shot Yakub Nassar – then 13, on his way home from school, on January 8, 2009 – who needs to hear this story and see the consequences of his action. But that’s unlikely to happen. Does he even remember the event? For him it was probably just one in a series of similar incidents. It happened during the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead. Demonstrations against the killings of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were widespread, and Al-Fawwar, in the West Bank, was no exception. On that January day, Yakub, a seventh-grader, encountered a melee of stone throwing aimed at soldiers who had entered the center of the camp. It would be the last school day of his life. One dumdum bullet fired by an IDF soldier smashed into his stomach and spine. Yakub’s life, as he knew it, came to a halt. He was hospitalized in the intensive care ward of a Hebron hospital, but it soon became clear that the staff there could not help him. After Israel denied him access to its medical facilities – Yakub’s parents wanted him to be transferred to Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem – he was sent to Ibn al-Haitham Hospital in Amman, Jordan, where he spent three months. His parents accompanied him, of course, leaving their other children behind and renting an apartment in the Jordanian capital. The physicians in Amman concluded that Yakub would never walk again.
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.782045

Palestinian assaulted by officers recounts the attack
Ynetnews 5 Apr by Roi Yanovsky — A day after two former Border Police officers were indicted for assaulting a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem who they thought was a terrorist, the victim recounts the attack. At the time of the incident, which occurred in May of 2016, M was speaking to his wife on the phone when two Border Police officers Yosef Abadi, 22, and Oshri Ohayon, 23, arrived at the Christian Quarter in the Old City following a report of a stabbing attack. When the two noticed him, they suspected that he was the assailant, even though he was unarmed. “They saw me speaking to my wife on the phone — they didn’t say a word to me. They pinned me to a door and started beating me. They hit my legs, back and head. One of them pinned me to the ground and started shouting ‘there’s the knife, there’s the knife.’” One of the officers, the indictment read, told the other “he’s got a knife, he’s got a knife. He put his hand in his pocket.” According to M, he carried nothing but his car keys. M suffered bruising all over his body. According to the indictment, the officers kept beating him with the butt of their rifle without informing him that he was being arrested or detained and without questioning him. “It was terrifying, they nearly killed me,” said 33-year-old M, who at the time had just become a father. “I tried to tell them (to stop), that I had a baby at home, but they didn’t even give me a chance to speak.” At this stage, the indictment continues, the officers hit him with their rifles and closed hands in his back, head and hip, and even cocked their weapons and shouted at another officer who arrived at the scene to “shoot him.”“ A third officer arrived, and he told them ‘he’s got nothing, move on,” M said. “I yelled at them that I’ll sue them, that I’m going to inform Police Internal Affairs about what they did, and suddenly one of them came back, jabbed the butt of his rifle into my chest and left.” “What is this country that we’re living in?” M wondered. “I’m 33 and never in my life have I seen something like this. I grew up in the Old City with six Jewish families, very good friends of mine. I live with Jews, work with Jews. We live together, all of us, with all religions; Christians, Muslims and Jews….
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4945742,00.html

One night’s detentions:
Israeli forces detain 33 Palestinians during overnight raids in West Bank, East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — Israeli forces detained at least 33 Palestinians between Wednesday and Thursday during overnight raids carried out in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that 18 of those confirmed as detained by the army were suspected of “terrorist activities.” In the Shu‘fat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem, Yasin Khamis Ibrahim was detained by Israeli forces, according to the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS). In the neighborhood of ‘Issawiya in East Jerusalem, a member of a local follow-up committee Muhammad Abu al-Hummus said that undercover Israeli forces dressed as civilians raided the central part of the neighborhood late on Wednesday, causing clashes to erupt between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces. According to Abu al-Hummus, an Israeli undercover unit raided the area, detaining two youths who he identified as Muhammad Ahmad Ubeid and Nimr Nasser Mahmoud. He also reported that Israeli forces had opened live fire on the community during the clashes, and fired rubber-coated steel bullets “randomly” at Palestinian homes in the area.
In the northern occupied West Bank, Israeli forces carried out raids in the Jenin district, detaining a Palestinian from the Jenin refugee camp for being an alleged Hamas operative, according to an Israeli army spokesperson. A statement released by PPS confirmed the detention in the Jenin refugee camp, identifying the Palestinian as Islam Ali Azaiza.
In Tulkarem, Israeli forces detained three Palestinians from Nur Shams refugee camp, identified by PPS as Ismail Izzat Jaber, 24, Ramez Abd al-Hakim Elayyan, 20, and Imad Mahmoud Masharqa, 30. Adel Hani Omar, 22, was also detained in the Tulkarem-area village of Farun, while Ahmad al-Araj, 26, and Bassam Mari, 46, were detained in the village of Dhinnaba….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776302

Prisoners / Court actions

42 days in prison for soldiers who beat a Palestinian detainee
Ynetnews 5 Apr by Yoav Zitun — The military court in Qastina sentenced Wednesday three IDF soldiers to 42 days in prison. The three were convicted of violation of authority, after having beaten a Palestinian detainee in Hebron who was suspected of terrorist activity six months ago. The footage [below] shows the three soldiers forcefully arresting the terrorist, after he resisted, tore off the handcuffs and attacked the company commander. Despite the posting of the video, the Military Police Corps opened a criminal investigation against the soldiers last month on suspicion of ill-treatment, in light of the testimony of another soldier in the company according to which the three continued to physically assault the detainee even later, during the jeep ride, after he was under their full control. The interrogation revealed that the force they used against the detainee in the military vehicle was excessive, including shouting at him and humiliating him. The commander of the force in the jeep was the one who later testified about the behavior of his subordinates after he ordered them to stop their actions. This testimony was accompanied by additional evidence and further testimonies that reinforced the suspicions against the soldiers. According to the prosecution, the soldiers’ violence was tainted by a moral flaw. On the other hand, the soldiers’ defense claimed the terrorist was terrifying, using tremendous force, and that the soldiers’ response throughout the operation was intended to restrain him. The military court stated: “This is not a matter of violence for its own sake, nor of spontaneous eruption. It was a misjudgment regarding the extent of the force required (for the situation).” The conviction does not carry a criminal record, and it also was decided to take into account their considerable contribution, in volunteering within the community. It was also decided to demote the soldiers to the rank of corporal.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4945874,00.html

Israel’s most controversial new TV series reveals the lives of Palestinian inmates
Haaretz 2 Apr by Itay Stern — The new documentary series “Megiddo” is rocking Israel’s culture world now that the Culture Ministry has demanded that Israeli film foundations reveal who has approved or rejected scripts in recent years. The demand, made by a committee set up by Culture Minister Miri Regev, called out the series, which documents the lives of Palestinian security prisoners in Megiddo Prison. The ministry demanded that the New Fund for Cinema and TV provide without delay information on the process which resulted in the approving of funding for “Megiddo.” Among other things, the representatives of the fund were told to provide the names of the lectors who supported the production of the series, including the raw materials provided with the application for support and the amount of funding that was ultimately given to the project. A source familiar with the details says the demand to provide information on the lectors is the first stage in attaining government control of films critical of its positions.  What makes “Megiddo” so controversial? During the shooting of the series Director Itzik Lerner’s film crew spent a year and half at the huge prison, where more than 1,000 Palestinian security prisoners are held, documenting the tense reality there. The result is a three-part series, which reveals the complex dialogue between the prisoners and the warders, and especially between Fatah and Hamas commanders in the prison and the commanders of the prison itself … One of the great achievements of the film – and perhaps the source of the criticism it is receiving – is that even in the most difficult moments depicted in it, nothing is black and white. All the people in it have a face and a voice. And all of them hold suppressed anger in them….
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/culture/.premium-1.780322

Al-Aqsa / Temple Mount area

‘Muslims – Clear the Temple Mount’
Ynet 7 Apr by Roi Yanovsky — A video that will be published in the coming days by the Temple Mount Movement, which is working for the rights of Jews on the Temple Mount and aspires to build the third Jewish Temple, is asking Muslims to evacuate the compound this coming Monday to allow the performance of the Passover sacrifice. “On Monday, April 10, we, the Jewish people, are commanded to perform a special sacrifice on the Temple Mount. Over the years, the Jewish people have been looking forward to the moment when they would be able to renew this mitzvah. So please, evacuate the Temple Mount compound on this day to allow the Jewish people to perform the Passover sacrifice in its rightful time and place,” said Rafael Morris in Arabic. In a conversation with Ynet on Tuesday, Morris rejected the claim that his intentions were fanning the flames. “Whoever wants to do this (perform a sacrifice) will do it, no matter what we say. Our goal is to make the Temple Mount a place of brotherhood among all and build a Jewish Temple. We ask them to evacuate the mountain to fulfill one of the most serious commandments in the Torah. It is possible and realistic.” Last week, the Jerusalem district commander, Yoram Halevi, prohibited the holding of a rehearsal of the Passover sacrifice event at the foot of the Temple Mount. At the event, they planned to slaughter sheep on an altar and then roast the lamb on coals. The organizers petitioned the High Court of Justice against Halevi and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh, demanding that the police decision be canceled, but on Sunday they were rejected.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4946385,00.html

Far-rightists stage sacrifice away from Temple Mount, but closer than before
Haaretz 8 Apr by Yair Ettinger — For the first time the group was allowed to hold the ceremony just a few hundred meters from the Mount − which is administered by a Muslim religious trust — The drops of blood formed a long trail in one of the main plazas of Jerusalem’s Old City. This time it wasn’t a terror attack but it definitely was a sensitive event from a Middle Eastern perspective.  It was a reenactment of the Paschal sacrifice, staged by activists seeking to expand the Jewish presence on the Temple Mount and attended by hundreds of right-wing Jewish men, women and children. The bloody trail marked the route from the place where the lamb was slaughtered to the altar put up in the middle of the plaza. This is the sixth year in which Temple Mount activists have staged the reenactment, with barefoot priests in white garments resembling those worn by priests in the ancient Temples and gold-painted vessels modeled after those of the Temples strewn about the altar. But Thursday’s event marked a real achievement. For the first time the group was allowed to hold the ceremony in the heart of the Jewish Quarter, outside the Hurva Synagogue, just a few hundred meters from the Temple Mount − which is administered by a Muslim religious trust. The activists had originally sought to hold the event at the Davidson Center in an archaeological park next to the Temple Mount. But the police scuttled that idea, and the High Court of Justice upheld the decision. “When you ask for 100 percent, you get 70 percent,” said Raphael Morris, head of the group Hozrim Lahar, explaining how a fringe right-wing outfit had managed to snare such a prestigious location.
It’s a big step up from just two years ago, when the ceremony was held almost in secret in a school courtyard in one of the capital’s religious neighborhoods. Thursday’s reenactment was full of snags. The electricity went out for more than two hours; no famous rabbis attended, in contrast to last year’s ceremony; and the many liters of blood the priests had hoped to collect from the slaughtered lamb and splash on the altar ran out even before they reached the specially prepared vessels….
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.782280

Isolating five Jerusalemites from Al-Aqsa Mosque
[with photos] Silwanic 5 Apr — The occupation authorities isolated [banned] on Wednesday five Jerusalemites from Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Islamic Awqaf department explained that the occupation intelligence at Al-Qishleh police station requested the Information Manger in the Islamic Awqaf department, Tarek Hashlamon, and Al-Aqsa guard, Hamzeh Nimer, and handed them isolation orders from Al-Aqsa Mosque for 6 months. They also requested the head of Jerusalemite detainees and prisoners families committee, Amjad Abu Asab, And handed him an isolation order for one month. Jamil Abbasi was arrested while exiting Al-Aqsa Mosque and was handed an isolation order for 4 months. The police released Khaled Al-Zeer on condition of isolation from Al-Aqsa Mosque for one month; he was arrested on Wednesday early morning after raiding his home in Silwan.
http://www.silwanic.net/index.php/article/news/76918

Palestinians banned from entering Al-Aqsa perform Friday prayer at mosque’s gate
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — A group of Palestinian worshipers performed Friday prayers at the Lion’s Gate outside the walls to the Old City in occupied East Jerusalem, in protest of the Israeli ban against them, preventing them from entering the Al-Aqsa mosque for prayers. The Jerusalemites, mostly young men, were previously banned from entering the Al-Aqsa mosque by Israeli authorities for time periods ranging between one to six months, for various reasons. Israeli forces deployed in the area during the prayer and detained two youths identified as Hamza Milhis and Muhammad al-Shalabi for allegedly being banned from approaching the gates of Al-Aqsa, despite locals’ claims that the original orders issued against them did not ban them from approaching the gates. An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
An employee of the Islamic Waqf, the organization in charge of managing the affairs of the compound, Tariq al-Hashlamoun, who was banned from entering the mosque for six months, told Ma‘an that the worshipers prayed to show Israeli authorities that even if they are banned from entering Al-Aqsa mosque, they will pray at the gates of the mosque. Jerusalemite Thaer Abu Sbeih, who was banned from entering al-Aqsa mosque for 6 months, said that Israeli authorities have banned him from entering al-Aqsa mosque seven consecutive times, for periods between three to six months. Abu Sbeih told Ma‘an that the bans “increase our love and determination for Al-Aqsa mosque,” as he called upon all Palestinians who are allowed to access the holy site to “reinforce their presence and visits to al-Aqsa mosque.”
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776324

Silwan Palestinians receive evacuation orders due to damage caused by Israeli tunnels
[with photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — The Israeli municipality of Jerusalem issued evacuation orders for three housing apartments in the Wadi Hilweh area of the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Wednesday evening, due to fractures and cracks formed at the base of the houses, as Israeli authorities continued work on a tunnel network expected to be used to provide services to Israeli settlers. According to the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, the houses belong to Hamed Oweida, Abed Oweida, and Suleiman Oweida. Sixteen family members, including ten children, reside in the houses. The Oweida family said that Israeli tunnel-digging under their homes has increased over the past three days, adding that loud noises from the digging would last for several hours, while the family could feel their houses shaking during the construction.  They said that the digging had caused severe damage of fractures and cracks in the walls and the bases of the houses. The family added that they had called the Israeli police, who had then summoned a municipality team to inspect the houses. After taking photographs and inspecting the damage, an architect for the municipality decided to issue an emergency order for the families to evacuate and seal the houses, saying that it was dangerous to remain inside. Suleiman Oweida had left his house several days ago after fractures in the walls had become more severe.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776297

Closure

Israel announces closure of West Bank for upcoming Jewish holiday
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Apr — Israeli authorities announced on Friday that the occupied West Bank will be sealed by the Israeli military for more than a week this month to mark the Jewish holiday of Pesah. Israeli sources said that the closure begins at midnight on Sunday, April 9, until midnight on Monday, April 17th. An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the closure, telling Ma‘an that all crossings between Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank would be closed “except for special circumstances and humanitarian cases.”  Last month, Israeli authorities sealed the West Bank and tightened the decade-long closure of the Gaza Strip for the Jewish holiday of Purim, preventing movement both in and out of the occupied territory. Severe restrictions on movement for Palestinians are typically implemented by Israeli authorities during Jewish holidays for alleged security purposes. Meanwhile, such policies have been strongly criticized by rights groups for amounting to collective punishment, while blocking Palestinians who work in Israel and Jerusalem from accessing their jobs, exacerbating economic suffering in the territory.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776319

Easter

Christians hope for an ‘open Jerusalem’ for Easter
AFP 6 Apr — Christians in Jerusalem said Thursday that they are hoping for an “open Jerusalem” ahead of Passover and Easter celebrations in the city. Palestinian Christians from the West Bank and Gaza receive special permits to enter Jerusalem for Easter, where the traditional sites of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection are located in the Israeli-occupied east of the city. But Palestinian Christian Youssef Daher said the sparse allocation of permits can sometimes cut across families. “Many families, in Gaza for example, get them only for some members and are therefore separated for the festival,” said Daher of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Center. In 1980, the Jewish state annexed east Jerusalem in an act never recognised by the international community. Israel says the whole city is its united capital, while the Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. Sites holy to Christians, Muslims and Jews are on the east side, under Israeli control. This Easter Sunday falls on April 16, during the Jewish Passover festival which runs from sunset April 10 until the evening of April 17. But during Passover, when Jewish worshippers flock to the Western Wall, even Palestinians from east Jerusalem need a permit to enter its walled Old City, site of the wall and the church of the Holy Sepulchre, said local Christian resident Nora Karmi. “Gradually, with the occupation and the introduction of permits and checkpoints, we became further and further removed from Jerusalem,” Father Jamal Khader, director of the Latin Patriarchate seminary, told AFP in Arabic. “It is awful to see young Palestinians living all their lives without seeing Jerusalem,” he said. “They don’t know the Holy Sepulchre or the Dome of the Rock (Muslim shrine) except from pictures,” he added. “They are forbidden to enter (by Israel) on the pretext of security reasons.” “We want an open Jerusalem: Jerusalem should receive all Christian, Muslim and Jewish visitors and pilgrims.” In the past, Karmi said, Palestinians were not the only Arab visitors to the Old City….
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/afp/2017/04/israel-palestinians-religion-easter.html

Jerusalem’s Old City braces for massive Easter crowds
Al-Monitor 6 Apr by Daoud Kuttab — The Old City of Jerusalem is expected to be extremely crowded this year as all the churches will celebrate Easter on the same schedule, renovations have attracted a higher pilgrim turnout and Passover visitors will add to the throngs — Calculating Easter is complicated. In 325 C.E., the Council of Nicaea, a gathering of Christian bishops, decided that the remembrance of the resurrection of Jesus would be held the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox. The date for the vernal equinox was based on the ecclesiastical approximation of March 21. If the full moon falls on a Sunday, Easter is delayed a week. When the calendar was adjusted during the reign of Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, Eastern Orthodox churches continued to go by the Julian calendar. Now, every few years, Easter falls on the same day in both, and in 2017, all Christians will celebrate Easter on April 16. Issa Musleh, the spokesman of the Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem, said that the Old City of Jerusalem will be even more crowded for another reason. He told Al-Monitor, “For the first time in 200 years, the three main churches — Orthodox, Franciscan and Armenian — agreed to have the holy grave refurbished.” Musleh said that the newly renovated tomb was opened to the public in a ceremony attended by church and other leaders … Father Ibrahim Faltas, a Franciscan pastor in the Custody of the Holy Land, told Al-Monitor that he expects large crowds this Easter due to the increase of Coptic Christian pilgrims. “Each church will be able to celebrate according to the 19th-century agreement. … I expect we’ll be seeing 15,000 Coptic Christian pilgrims this year.”…
Palestinian leaders interviewed by Al-Monitor expect multiple Israeli restrictions this Easter, which also coincides with the Jewish holidays. Bernard Sabella, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a sociology professor at Bethlehem University, told Al-Monitor that security will be tighter both within and beyond the Old City. “Because of the Jewish Passover holidays, Israel will be restricting Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza from entering the entire city of Jerusalem,” he said. Sabella added that the measures will affect not only Palestinians, but also foreign pilgrims….
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/04/jerusalem-old-city-christians-easter-jewish-passover.html

Gaza

Gaza authorities lift restrictions after 12-day lockdown over Fuqahaa killing
GAZA (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — The Gazan Ministry of Interior lifted its closure of the Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip on Thursday after nearly two weeks of unprecedented restrictions by Hamas-led authorities on Palestinian freedom of movement in the besieged coastal enclave following the killing of Hamas member Mazen Fuqahaa. The Erez crossing is the only land crossing between Gaza and Israel, through which the movement of people is already heavily restricted by Israeli authorities as part of a crippling blockade on the coastal enclave in place since 2007. Ministry spokesman Iyad al-Buzm said that Palestinian fishermen could also resume activities after being prevented from sailing for 12 days as part of the lockdown seeking to prevent suspects tied to Fuqahaa’s death from escaping the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian NGOs Network condemned the lockdown last week, stating that “the imposed restrictions violate a wide range of fundamental rights.” Al-Buzm told Ma‘an on Wednesday that investigations carried out by the ministry had uncovered the role of Palestinians collaborating with Israel in Fuqahaa’s killing. Hamas has yet to make public evidence to support its accusation that Israel was responsible for Fuqahaa’s killing, and the attorney general in the small Palestinian territory has meanwhile issued a gag order banning publication of any information about the ongoing investigation….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776312

Gaza children rejoice at prolific eagle ray fishing
[with photos] GAZA (PIC) 8 Apr — Hundreds of children flocked to Gaza beaches as dozens of eagle rays have been caught off the Strip’s seashores, signaling a long-awaited revitalization of the fishing activity following a 10-day hiatus. Palestinian fishermen in the besieged coastal enclave of Gaza have managed to ensnare dozens of eagle rays using their ad hoc fishing gear and lures. In a scene that rarely occurs in the blockaded Gaza Strip, men, women, and children gathered near the seaside, drawing heartfelt pleasure from an event that has given them a short respite from the daily images of destruction, abductions by the Israeli navy, confiscation of fishing vessels, and air raids rocking the enclave on a sporadic basis. The eagle rays are a group of cartilaginous fishes in the family Myliobatidae, consisting mostly of large species living in the open ocean rather than on the sea bottom. Eagle rays feed on mollusks and crustaceans, crushing their shells with their flattened teeth. They are excellent swimmers and are able to breach the water up to several meters above the surface. They can give birth to up to six young at a time. They range from 0.48 to 9.1 m (1.6 to 29.9 ft) in length. In Gaza, eagle rays are usually caught as of the end of February until early April. It is bought at eight to ten shekels a kilogram, considered by many an up-to-standard price in an area that has long been stricken by poverty, unemployment, and lack of financial resources due to the decade-long Israeli blockade.
https://english.palinfo.com/news/2017/4/7/Gaza-children-rejoice-at-prolific-eagle-ray-fishing

Egyptian power line to resume service to southern Gaza after 2 years of disrepair
GAZA (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — An Egyptian electricity line, named “Palestine” line, is expected to resume supplying electricity to the southern Gaza Strip after being inoperable for some two years, Gaza’s electricity company said in a statement on Wednesday. The company said that work crews were preparing the power line to supply electricity to the Khan Yunis and Rafah governorates in southern Gaza. Even at full capacity, Egyptian and Israeli electricity grids, together with Gaza’s sole power plant, fail to cover the Gaza Strip’s energy needs, as the usual electricity schedule alternates eight hours of power followed by eight hours without….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776291

Israeli bulldozers enter Gaza Strip for second time Thursday
GAZA (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — Israeli military bulldozers entered the northern part of the besieged Gaza Strip for the second time on Thursday, following a similar incursion into the lands of Beit Lahiya earlier in the day. Witnesses told Ma‘an that four Israeli military bulldozers launched a limited incursion into the northern lands of Beit Hanoun, and leveled the lands there around noon. Earlier in the day, witnesses had told Ma‘an that seven Israeli bulldozers entered dozens of meters into Beit Lahiya from the Israeli Zikim military site along the border with the besieged Gaza Strip. Witnesses added that Israeli drones were also flying above the area at the time.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776309

Gaza: Citizens protest US terrorist designation of Ghandour
GAZA (PIC) 7 Apr — Scores of Palestinian citizens on Thursday evening participated in a sit-in staged in solidarity with Ahmed al-Ghandour, a commander of al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas, after he was added to the US department of state’s terror list. The sit-in took place outside the house of Ghandour north of Gaza, where the participants carried pictures of the commander and placards condemning the US decision and defending the Palestinian people’s right to resist the Israeli occupation. Some of the banners defended al-Qassam Brigades and described it as “the honor of the nation” and one questioned, “How can defending our land and holy sites be terrorism?”  Member of Hamas’s political bureau Fathi Hammad, who was added to the same list in September 2016, also joined the rally outside the house. In a speech, senior Hamas official Mushir al-Masri stressed that such US decision would not intimidate his Movement and its leaders and dissuade them from their legitimate resistance of the occupation, affirming that terrorism is committed by Israel.
https://english.palinfo.com/news/2017/4/7/Gaza-Citizens-protest-US-terrorist-designation-of-Ghandour

Read the full translated text of the leaked Hamas charter
Mondoweiss 5 Apr by Adam Horowitz & Sheren Khalel — The Lebanese al-Mayadeen news channel published on Monday a leaked new charter for the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. The charter was allegedly planned to be officially released by Khalid Mashaal, the president of the political office of Hamas, at his last press conference before leaving office. The leak has since been confirmed by Hamas official Ahmad Yousif. Toufic Haddad, the author of the book Palestine Ltd: Neoliberalism and National Liberation in the Occupied Territory, offered his analysis of the document and said it illustrates the movement’s maturation as a major domestic political actor. Haddad pointed out that it responds to broader regional and international trends of sectarianism and the “war on terror” by repeatedly emphasizing Islam and Hamas’ tolerance, moderation and opposition to all forms of oppression, including making a clear distinction between Zionism and Judaism, a distinction that has been noted elsewhere. Mondoweiss obtained the details of the charter released by al-Mayadeen and translated the full text. This translation was provided by a resident of Aida refugee camp who would rather not have their name published out of fear of reprisals from Israeli authorities.
http://mondoweiss.net/2017/04/translated-leaked-charter/

Palestinian government slashes salaries for Gaza employees
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) 5 Apr by Fares Akram & Mohammed Daraghmeh — The cash-strapped Palestinian Authority on Wednesday said it was slashing by nearly one third the salaries of tens of thousands of government employees in the Gaza Strip who have been sitting idly since the rival Hamas militant group took over the coastal territory a decade ago. The decision deepened the divide between the West Bank and Gaza — two territories that the Palestinians hope to turn into an independent state — and increased hardship in already impoverished Gaza. “This cut has worsened our situation. I don’t know how I will get by until the end of the month. Shall I beg?” said Rizq al-Haddad, a former maintenance worker at the Health Ministry. Al-Haddad, a father of 10, supports his family on a salary of about 2,200 shekels, or $600, a month. That income will now drop by nearly $200 a month. “Our situation was desperate even before they made the cuts,” he said in his dilapidated two-bedroom home. “We barely bought thyme and bread for the kids and we can’t buy tomatoes because of the desperate situation.” The internationally backed Palestinian Authority, which is based in the West Bank, ordered all of its roughly 50,000 workers to step down after the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power in 2007. But it has continued to pay the salaries of the former policemen, teachers and civil servants like al-Haddad. In the West Bank, government spokesman Yousif al-Mahmoud said a reduction in foreign aid had forced the Palestinian Authority to cut Gaza salaries by 30 percent. “Without this step, the government cannot pay the salaries of its employees,” he said. Affected workers expressed shock, anger and frustration as they gathered outside Gaza banks. In Gaza City, nearly 200 people joined a protest outside a Bank of Palestine branch. “The salary is our children’s right,” said one of the banners.
http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/cae69a7523db45408eeb2b3a98c0c9c5/Article_2017-04-05-ML–Palestinians-Gaza/id-79e33b9c73d64c41a82f3726b97d1f90

Hindi slams gov’t for justifying Gaza salary cuts
GAZA (PIC) 7 Apr — Senior Islamic Jihad official Mohamed al-Hindi has strongly denounced the government of Rami al-Hamdallah for justifying its decision to slash the salaries of its employees in the Gaza Strip. “I do not think that cutting the salaries of Gaza employees are due to a financial crisis in Ramallah. All the arguments that were provided by the government were unconvincing,” Hindi told al-Aqsa satellite channel on Friday. “If there was a financial crisis in salaries, why is it only at the expense of Gaza, without the West Bank?” he underlined. Consequently, markets and stores in Gaza suffered a slump in sales after the government in Ramallah decided to cut salaries paid to Gaza employees by 30-50 percent on the pretext it had financial hardships.
https://english.palinfo.com/news/2017/4/8/Hindi-slams-gov-t-for-justifying-Gaza-salary-cuts

Gaza authorities increase tariffs on certain goods to encourage local production
GAZA (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — The Gaza Ministry of Economy announced on Thursday that it would increase tariffs on seven types of goods imported through the Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing with Israel, in an effort to support local production. Ministry spokesman Tariq Libd told Ma‘an that the Hamas-led authorities in the besieged Palestinian enclave had decided to raise the costs of these imported products in order to encourage the consumption of locally produced alternatives and lessen unemployment in the Gaza Strip. The items include tahini, halaweh, paper tissues, and diapers. Libd said he hoped that local production would go on to represent 40 percent of products on the market, up from 15 percent currently, and produce at least 500 jobs.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776314

Young entrepreneurs are using Instagram to bring e-commerce to Gaza
Fast Company 6 Apr by Miriam Berger — If you want a personalized notebook in the Gaza Strip these days, 24-year-old Mohammed Hammed is your guy. The Islamic law student and self-taught graphic designer runs Dfter, the coastal enclave’s first and only hand-designed notebook business, offering pads personalized with the print, name, or saying of your choice on the cover. “I decided to use my design talent to start my own business rather than waiting for a job in the government, as there are no jobs or salaries,” he tells Fast Company. And like many entrepreneurs in Gaza -– where a staggering 58% of young people and 40% of adults are unemployed, according to the World Bank -– Hammed runs his business through Instagram and Facebook. Social media-based business is a worldwide trend, but it’s of particular import in war-ravaged Gaza, which since 2007 has been besieged by an Israeli and Egyptian blockade and the heavy-handed rule of the Islamist Hamas. Palestinians can’t simply import or export a product from anywhere in the world, as the typical e-commerce model envisions. So instead people are creating their own internet-based domestic economies through social media, at once connected and disconnected from markets outside of Gaza … Amany El Kahlout, 24, launched her own insta-business this year selling imported goods and other daily products. The Arabic-English translator first used Instagram for fun to share pictures of her coffees and meals. Soon, she was gaining followers, who were asking her for recommendations and recipes. Recently, El Kahlout advertised her sister-in-law’s makeup skills on Instagram and 30 brides then went to her salon, El Kahlout says. Now she still posts beautiful food photos along with kitchen tools and decorations, among other items, that she imports from Israel, Turkey, and Palestinian cities in the West Bank….
https://www.fastcompany.com/3069236/gaza-instagram

Gaza’s only fisherwoman navigates dangerous waters
GAZA CITY (A Jazeera) 7 Apr by Ghada Al-Haddad — Madleen Kullab’s love for the sea has allowed her to overcome the physical and social challenges of her unusual job — The world may not know her name, but anyone who has visited Gaza’s seaport will recognise Madleen Kullab. The daughter of a fisherman, 22-year-old Kullab is the only female fisher in Gaza. It was not her choice to follow her father’s path: As a child, she dreamed of becoming a fashion designer, but the winds do not always blow as the vessels wish. The first time Kullab took to the sea with her father, she was just six years old. After her father was diagnosed with acute myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord, he lost his ability to work. Kullab, then 13, made the unusual decision to pick up her father’s fishing gear. “The first time I went fishing by myself, on a motor boat, was frightening … but I picked it up pretty quickly,” Kullab told Al Jazeera, while sitting on a cement step at the edge of Gaza City’s fishing harbour. As a 13-year-old girl, Kullab faced multiple challenges, including the physical strength needed for the job and the community’s scepticism towards her role in an industry dominated by men. The best way to combat such criticism, she found, was to showcase her fishing prowess. She learned by heart all the different types of local fish, the best times to cast a line, what kinds of rods and hooks to use, and what types of fish are most affordable for Palestinian families in Gaza: “Sardines, definitely.” At night, Kullab prepares her nets. In the morning, she pulls her boat out into the water. As the waves slap against its sides, she casts her net into the sea, hoping to make a sufficient catch to feed her six-member family and put some out for sale….
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/03/170304102145309.html

Hamas executes three Palestinians in Gaza, says they collaborated with Israel
GAZA (Reuters) 6 Apr by Nidal al-Mughrabi — Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement executed three Palestinians on Thursday convicted of collaborating with Israel, hanging the men during a campaign to persuade any Israeli-recruited agents to come forward in return for more lenient punishment. Hamas leaders and officials, along with the heads of Gaza clans and local security chiefs, watched the execution in the courtyard of the enclave’s main police headquarters. The Hamas-run Interior Ministry said the men, aged 32, 42 and 55, were convicted of treason and spying for hostile foreign parties and had provided information that helped Israel track and kill Palestinians, including leaders of militant factions. Their trials were conducted by Hamas-run security courts in the past two years and they were put to death after all legal procedures were exhausted, the ministry said. Since seizing control of Gaza from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party in 2007, Hamas-run courts have sentenced 106 people to death and executed 22 of them, Palestinian and international rights groups say. New York-based Human Rights Watch condemned Thursday’s hangings….
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-palestinians-gaza-spies-idUSKBN1781FE

Qatari doctors arrive in Gaza to perform hearing implant surgeries for children
GAZA (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — A Qatari medical delegation arrived in the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning to perform a number of cochlear hearing implant surgeries for 22 Palestinian children in collaboration with the Palestinian Ministry of Health and the Palestinian Red Crescent office in Gaza. The delegation was escorted by the Deputy Head of the reconstruction commitee in Gaza Khalid al-Hardan. The medical delegation included Khalid Abd al-Hadi, head of the Audiology and Balance Unit in Hamad Medical Corporation, and Abd al-Salam al-Qahtani, head of ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) department and the cochlear implant department in the same corporation. The surgeries will be done at Al-Quds hospital, which is managed by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Gaza. The delegation will also check up on children who had undergone the surgery in February.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776285

For Gazans, exit permits can mean life or death
AFP 8 Apr — Fuad Skik has been waiting in vain since December for permission from Israel to leave the Gaza Strip for cancer treatments, illustrating a problem that has concerned global health officials. “At the end of 2016, I asked for an Israeli exit permit and I registered my wife to accompany me, but I still have not received a response,” the 53-year-old said, adding that his cancer had since spread. Palestinian officials say the problem for those in situations similar to Skik’s has recently become worse due to an increase in the number of those needing treatment and the slow process of getting permits. For many, this means delays and for some a refusal means they can’t even go. Israeli authorities say more permits are being granted than in the past and note that careful consideration must be given to each due to security risks … The World Health Organization and others have pointed to the effect the Israeli blockade has had on medical crossings, a crucial issue for impoverished Gaza, which lacks proper medical equipment in many cases. Many patients seek treatment in Israel, and some in the occupied West Bank, the other Palestinian territory separated geographically from Gaza. Slowed by security Permission from Israeli authorities is required to cross, and the WHO has in particular highlighted the case of a 17-year-old who died in January while waiting. According to the WHO, more than 53 percent of nearly 3,000 patients who requested an exit permit in January were refused or did not receive a response. The number was more than 61 percent for those meant to accompany them … The defence ministry unit, known as COGAT, also alleged there has been “an increase in attempts by Hamas to take advantage of Israeli assistance for terrorist aims,” requiring careful scrutiny of applications. It is a difficult explanation to accept for those legitimately sick and required to wait…
http://al-monitor.com/pulse/afp/2017/04/palestinians-israel-conflict-gaza-health.html

UNICEF seawater desalination plant helps head off Gaza water crisis
GAZA, State of Palestine (UNICEF) 6 Apr by Catherine Weibel — For 13-year-old Ahmad, the idea of drinking water from the tap did not make sense. “I have never drunk tap water because it is not clean, and it could make me sick,” he says. “My parents told me that they used to drink tap water at home, but it must have been many years ago, before I was born.” In January, UNICEF and partners completed the construction of a €10 million seawater desalination plant funded by the European Union. It will initially produce 6,000 cubic metres of safe drinking water a day, providing it to 75,000 people living in the southern Gaza Strip – about 35,000 people in Khan Younis and 40,000 people in Rafah. Ahmad is among those who will receive safe drinking water at home … Water resources have long been critically scarce in the Gaza Strip, and the situation is getting beyond dire. Ninety five percent of the water extracted from the coastal aquifer is now considered unfit for human consumption … Seawater desalination is one of the strategic options chosen by the Palestinian Water Authority to help provide 2 million Palestinians in the coastal enclave – including one million children – with safe drinking water. The desalination of seawater from the Mediterranean is essential to curb over-extraction of groundwater from the coastal aquifer, to prevent an environmental disaster and to start the slow process of aquifer restoration … The completion of the plant, which started a little over two years ago in partnership with the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) and CMWU, is not an end but a beginning. The European Union has granted an additional funding of €10 million to double its capacity. The works of this second phase, which have just started, will enable the plant to produce a total of 12,000 m3 of safe drinkable water daily, serving around 150,000 Palestinians [out of a population of around 2 million].
https://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/oPt_95521.html?utm_source=unicef_news&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rss_link

Agreement averts financial crisis at Gaza’s Al-Aqsa University
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 5 Apr by Ahmad Abu Amer — The ministries of education in Gaza and the West Bank reached an agreement to end the standoff at Al-Aqsa University over administrative appointments, which had put the education of thousands of students in jeopardy — After months of deliberations between Gaza- and Ramallah-run education ministries, an agreement was reached March 29 ending the crisis at Al-Aqsa University in the Gaza Strip — the largest public university in the Palestinian territories. The crisis lasted for a year and a half and threatened the future of 1,000 employees and more than 27,000 students. The crisis broke out in September 2015 when the Hamas-run Ministry of Education and Higher Education appointed Mohammed Radwan — without consulting the Ramallah-based Ministry of Education and Higher Education — as acting president of the university. This occurred after former chairman Ali Abu Zuhri submitted his resignation. The ministry in Ramallah resisted this appointment and threatened to withdraw its accreditation of the university if its counterpart in Gaza did not take back its decision to appoint Radwan….
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/04/gaza-ramallah-education-ministries-al-aqsa-university.html

How this mentoring program is empowering young Arab women
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (Al-Monitor) 4 Apr by Amjad Yaghi — As part of the Big Sister/Little Sister program, girls 18-25 years old in the Gaza Strip and Beirut can choose a successful Arab businesswoman who lives either in an Arab or other foreign country as a big sister. They can consult with their big sisters by videoconference about the most important problems facing them in their educational or societal lives or even sensitive problems. The Big Sister/Little Sister guidance program, which is the first of its kind in the Gaza Strip, was launched in Gaza in December 2016 and in Beirut in March this year. The program aims to guide Palestinian girls in Gaza, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and Lebanese girls through key societal issues and empower them to confront the social challenges they encounter by connecting them with successful Arab women. These women play the role of Big Sister in video lectures specifically dedicated to them. The program is part of the Challenge to Change platform, founded by Dina Bseisu, a Palestinian born in Bahrain. Bseisu is the platform’s CEO and the person behind the idea of the program. She spent 25 years in Switzerland, and she currently lives in the United Arab Emirates. The program aims to help women in the Middle East gain mental well-being and motivate them to be active members of society. The girls targeted by the program live in marginalized areas and are the most vulnerable to psychological crises. In this context, the program looks to fight taboos that portray mental illness as a stigma. It also seeks to support and empower women to meet social and emotional challenges and instill the idea that they are not alone….
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/04/women-guidance-program-gaza-palestine-lebanon.html

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements

Scores join freedom march ‘Stop annexing the Jordan Valley’
[many photos] IMEMC 7 Apr by Ghassan Bannoura — Scores of Palestinian and Israeli activists joined on Friday the Freedom March ““Stop Annexing the Jordan Valley” that was organized by Combatants for Peace movement. The protest started at the nearby settler road until the Palestinian Israeli Peace Farming project Ecome at the entrance of Jericho city. The Israeli government imposes many policies on the Palestinians of the Jordan valley such as conducting live fire training near homes, depriving farmers from water, restrictions on sheep herders, and continued home demolishing, in a time Israeli settlers in the Jordan valley enjoy the full support of the Israeli government and army. The freedom march comes to support the residents of the Jordan valley and to protest the occupation policy aimed at forcing the Palestinians out of that region. At the start of the protest Israeli troops and police tried to stop however the protesters kept marching chanting slogans against occupation, settlements and calling to stop the Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley. The protest ended with speeches by the organizers …  The last speech was by Atalya Ben Abba, an Israeli Peace activist that refused military service for her anti occupation views, she said: “Many people think I feel alone and isolated in jail, but when I see you that gives me a great feeling and support to continue.” ….
http://imemc.org/article/scores-join-freedom-march-stop-annexing-the-jordan-valley/

Israel approves controversial law on house demolitions
AFP 5 Apr — Israel’s parliament on Wednesday voted in favour of a controversial law against illegal constructions that detractors say will mostly target Arab homes built without required, but hard-to-get, permits. The law, which has the backing of Prime Minister’s Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government, was passed with 43 votes for the bill and 33 against. Arab Israelis, descendants of the Palestinians who remained on their land after the 1948 creation of Israel, were quick to denounce the law. The bill provides punishment of up to three years in jail, increases fines and reduces the powers of courts to postpone the date of demolition orders. Arab Israelis, who make up around 17 percent of the population, say discrimination by the Jewish state makes it impossible for them to obtain planning permission to expand their communities. The result is that many families resort to building homes without permission, leaving them liable to demolition. The new law will also concern around 300,000 Palestinians living in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem. Druze lawmaker Abdullah Abu Maaruf accused the Israeli premier of wanting to “please the (political) right at whatever cost and at the expense of the Arabs”. The law threatens “50,000 Arab homes in which hundreds of thousands of people live”, he told AFP. Leaders of the Druze community, a minority among the Arab Israelis, called on their members of parliament to vote against the bill. Israeli daily Haaretz says that 97 percent of demolition orders between 2012 and 2014 targeted Arab families … Palestinians make up 37 percent of the city’s population, but only 15 percent of the area of east Jerusalem is considered suitable for Palestinian construction, it said….
http://al-monitor.com/pulse/afp/2017/04/israel-arabs-demolitions.html

Israeli forces demolish residential structures west of Salfit, displacing Palestinian fanily
SALFIT (Maan) 5 Apr — Israeli forces demolished three residential barracks and four tents in the village of Deir Ballut, west of Salfit in the central occupied West Bank on Wednesday, displacing a Palestinian family for the second time. The owner of the structures, Muhammad Shahbir, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces served him with demolition orders on Sunday under the pretext that the structures were built in Area C — the more than 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli military and civilian control — without the difficult-to-obtain Israeli-issued building permits. Shahbir said the demolitions were “part of the occupation government’s policies to exert pressure on Palestinians and push them towards forcible transfer off their lands.” He called upon all governmental, private and human rights organizations to stand by his family’s side and provide support to “strengthen their determination.”
Shahbir previously explained to Ma‘an that his family had moved to the Abu al-Raish area of the village after Israel forcibly expelled them from the Deit Daqla area, further south on Deir Ballut lands, after being told their homes were built too close to Israel’s illegal separation wall’s route. The Shahbir family is originally from Hebron, and have been residing in Salfit for the past 45 years, he added.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776289

Israel summons EU official over supprt for illegal construction in Area C
JPost 5 Apr by Tovah Lazaroff — The Foreign Ministry said it “summoned” the EU’s Deputy Head of Mission Mark Gallagher on Monday to demand the EU’s stop its “obsessive” support for illegal Palestinian building in Area C. In the last few years, the European Union has provided modular housing for Palestinian and Beduin herding villages, particularly in the area of Ma’aleh Adumim and in the South Hebron Hills. It has argued that such structures fall under the definition of humanitarian aid and that according to international law, the EU has a right to provide such housing to the Palestinians even if it runs counter to Israeli law. The Foreign Ministry told Gallagher that Israel was governed by the rule of law and that the EU should respect such laws. “We asked him to stop being about obsessive about it,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said Tuesday. “There are 32 humanitarian crises in the world, but [the EU] has chosen to disproportionately deal with what is happening in Area C, that without a doubt is not a humanitarian crisis.”….
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Israel-summons-EU-official-over-support-for-illegal-construction-in-Area-C-486114

Opinion: In the West Bank, the tail wags the dog / Amira Hass
Haaretz 2 Apr — When civilian security officers are dictating policy on the ground, to whom should Palestinian farmers in Urif turn? — The phone call came at 7 A.M. on Friday. “Were you sleeping?” the caller asked, but didn’t wait for a response. “Could you maybe come to Urif? There’s a farmer who went to work his land on Sunday and the army kicked him out. We want to go back there today. Will you join us?” I sent my regrets. Although Urif, a village south of Nablus, is just 45 minutes from me in El Bireh, I take a break from the occupation on Friday mornings. There is an insufferable disparity here between the simplicity of the words and the mute scream of their content. You, the non-reading readers, say that the soldiers are sent to the West Bank for our security. For reasons of convenience and profit, you choose to mislead and be misled.  The soldiers are sent to the West Bank to continue appropriating land for Jews so that your children and grandchildren can move to the beautiful landscape of Urif and hundreds of other Palestinian villages. So their young people can find a maintenance job in Nablus or the settlement of Ariel and forget about the land, or just get the hell out to Jordan. The Civil Administration in the territories, that national agency for looting and expulsion, announced last Wednesday that 1,000 dunams – 250 acres – of land from the villages of Sinjil, Luban Ash-Sharqiyyeh, Qariut and As-Sawiya had been declared “state land.” But for every official theft, there are also dozens of unreported incidents of soldiers expelling farmers and shepherds from their land every month. By prohibiting them from cultivating their land, the army and the national looting agency are laying the groundwork for a future declaration of ownership by the emperor … On that same Friday afternoon a group of about 25 settlers walked down to that same plot and from there threateningly approached the homes in Urif. Our wonderful, sweet soldiers, our fantastic children, fired tear gas canisters. No, not at the assailants, some of whose faces were masked, but at young residents of Urif who had gone out to defend the village from the invaders. The settlers then spread the false accusation that “our forces are chasing after Arabs who tried to infiltrate the Lehava neighborhood of Yitzhar.”….
http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.780981

Palestinian refugees – Lebanon

5 injured in armed clashes in Lebanon’s Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp
BEIRUT (Ma‘an) 7 Apr — Five people, including one child, were injured Friday after armed clashes erupted between Palestinian joint forces and an Islamic militant group in Lebanon’s Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, according to Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA).  Last month, two Palestinians were killed and four were injured during similar clashes. In February, armed violence in the refugee camp left an 18- and 12-year-old Palestinian dead, while at least eight others were injured — including a pregnant woman. The violence was strongly condemned by UNICEF and UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for providing services to some five million Palestinian refugees. A spike in armed violence between Fatah supporters and Islamist groups in Ain al-Hilweh in December left two dead and at least five injured, with UNRWA suspending its operations in the camp as a result. The largest and most crowded refugee camp in Lebanon, Ain al-Hilweh is home to some 54,116 registered refugees who fled their villages during the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, according to the UN. However, the population has significantly increased since 2011 as a result of the Syrian war, as Palestinians have been displaced a second time from refugee camps across Syria, with development nonprofit organization Anera estimating the camp’s population to be closer to 120,000….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776330

BDS

How Netanyahu’s dirty tricks squad targets boycotts
The National 3 Apr by Jonathan Cook — Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed cohorts of Israel loyalists in the United States by video link last week at the annual conference of Aipac, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. They should, he said, follow his government’s example and defend Israel on the “moral battlefield” against the growing threat of the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. In Mr Netanyahu’s simple-minded language, support for Palestinian rights, and opposition to the settlements, is equivalent to “delegitimisation” of Israel. The current obsession with BDS reflects a changing political environment for Israel.  According to an investigation by the Haaretz newspaper last month, Israeli agents subverted the human rights community in the 1970s and 1980s. Their job was to launder Israel’s image abroad. Yoram Dinstein, a professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, led the local chapter of Amnesty International, the world’s most influential rights organisation of the time, running it effectively as a wing of Israel’s foreign ministry. Mr Dinstein’s interference allowed Israel to falsely characterise the occupation as benevolent while presenting the Palestinians’ liberation struggle as terrorism. The reality of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians rarely reached outsiders.
Israel’s task is harder five decades on. The human rights community is more independent, while social media and mobile phone cameras have allowed Palestinians and their supporters to bypass the gatekeepers. Israel is already sealing itself off from outside scrutiny as best it can. Last month it passed a law denying entry into Israel or the occupied territories to those who support BDS or “delegitimise” Israel. But domestic critics have proved trickier. The Israel government has chipped away at the human rights community’s financial base. Media regulation has intensified. And the culture ministry is cracking down on film productions that criticise the occupation or government policy … The police minister, Gilad Erdan, has announced plans for a database of Israelis who support BDS, to mirror existing spying operations on BDS activists overseas. The information will help a “dirty tricks” unit whose job is to tarnish their reputations …  For the moment, the Israeli-engineered backlash is working. Western governments are characterising support for a boycott, even of the settlements, as anti-Semitic – driven by hatred of Jews rather than opposition to Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. ­Anti-BDS legislation has passed in France, Britain, Switzerland, Canada and the US. This is precisely how Mr Netanyahu wants to shape the “moral battlefield”….
http://www.jonathan-cook.net/2017-04-03/netanyahus-dirty-tricks-squad-targets-boycotts/

Israel buys social media monitoring system that can ‘plant ideas’ in online discourse
Haaretz 1 Apr by Oded Yaron — The Israeli government has purchased a software system enabling it to monitor social media in general and specific users in particular. The bid, which was won by a company called Buzzilla, specifies that the software must have the ability to “plant an idea in the debate on social networks, web news sites and forums,” reports Ido Kenan on the website Room 404 [Hebrew]. The main purpose of the software is to monitor debate on the internet and identify trends and feelings among the public … The problem, writes Kenan, lies in the optional abilities of the system, which include enabling the government to plant ideas in conversations on social networks and forums through an automated or semi-automated mechanism. As Kenan points out, the authors of the proposal request could have written “introduce an idea,” suggest it, present it or some other synonym. Instead, they wrote of the requirement to “plant” the idea using an automated or semi-automated mechanism – meaning without any, or with little, further human intervention. That does not smack of open, transparent discourse, he writes. In Kenan’s view, the system is a propaganda machine … There is the possibility of swaying an existing debate, which is worrying; but as the system also offers a breakdown of users, even more worrying is the theoretical ability of the ministries to focus on specific ones, such as supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel….
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.780152

Other news

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (30 March – 5 April 2017)
PCHR-GAZA 6 Apr — Israeli forces killed a Palestinian from Nablus in occupied Jerusalem. 22 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children and a journalist, were wounded. Israeli forces continued to target the border areas in the Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported. Israeli forces conducted 57 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 11 incursions into occupied Jerusalem and its suburbs. 73 civilians, including 16 children, were arrested in the West Bank. 23 of them, including 11 children, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem and its suburbs. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli forces demolished 16 residential apartments in al-Za‘yyim village and forced 3 civilians to self-demolish their houses. 34 civilians were displaced, including 16 children. Israeli forces continued their settlement activities in the West Bank. 20 dunums were demolished from Deir Ballout lands, and 135 olive trees were uprooted from Deir Istiyah in Salfit. Israeli forces turned the West Bank into cantons and continued to impose the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip for the tenth year. Dozens of temporary checkpoints were established in the West Bank and others were re-established to obstruct the movement of Palestinian civilians. 5 Palestinian civilians were arrested at military checkpoints in the West Bank.
http://pchrgaza.org/en/?p=8994

Dismissed Fatah leader rules out reconciliation with Abbas
Al-monitor 4 Apr by Adnan Abu Amer — In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, Mohammed Dahlan speaks about the stalled reconciliation efforts with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and recent developments in Hamas. Dahlan, who spoke from Cairo, is a senior Fatah leader, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), former member of the Fatah Central Committee, former head of the Preventive Security Service and a staunch opponent of Abbas. The dispute between the two erupted in 2011, when Abbas issued a decision to dismiss Dahlan from Fatah’s Central Committee in May of that year on charges of attempting to lead a coup against him. Dahlan remains to this day a source of concern for Abbas. Dahlan, also known as Abu Fadi, enjoys increasing influence and popularity among senior Fatah members in the Gaza Strip because of his support for them in light of Abbas’ marginalization of Gaza. In April 2016, Dahlan established the Democratic Reformist Current within Fatah, which includes a large number of Fatah leaders who oppose Abbas’ policies. He also has a growing network of regional and international relations in some Arab and Western countries. The dismissed leader sees himself a potential successor of Abbas in the political scene. The text of the interview follows:….
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/04/fatah-dimissed-leader-dahlan-abbas-weak-elections.html

Palestinian leaders slam Israeli bill cutting PA tax revenues over ‘martyrs’ compensation
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Apr — An Israeli bill that would deduct 1 billion shekels ($273,847,120) from tax revenues transferred from Israel to the Palestinian Authority (PA) over the controversial ‘martyrs’ compensation program was introduced to the Knesset last month, sparking condemnation among Palestinian leaders. Several Palestinian leaders spoke to Ma‘an on Tuesday concerning the controversial bill making its way through the Knesset. The bill targets a social program managed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) that provides financial allowances to Palestinians imprisoned in Israel and their families, those injured by Israeli forces, and families of Palestinian “martyrs” — those killed by Israeli forces, whether amid attacks against Israelis or in situations void of wrongdoing.  According to Israeli media outlet The Times of Israel, the legislation was introduced by Elazar Stern, from the Yesh Atid party, and will be discussed by Knesset members in mid-May. “The funds transferred to terrorists are not just part of the larger issue of incitement but they encourage Arabs to carry out terror attacks,” Stern reportedly said. “It’s a real incentive to murder Jews, and we must stop this insanity immediately.” Hassan Abd al-Rabbu, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs, told Ma‘an that all Palestinian prisoners and martyrs had the right to receive allowances, adding that there was no article in the Oslo peace agreements prohibiting the Palestinian government from providing financial support to families of Palestinians imprisoned or killed by Israel….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776279

Arab MK likens Syria to Gaza, accuses Israel of ‘hypocritical’ responses
JPost 6 Apr by Udi Shaham — Israelis are hypocrites for condemning and expressing shock at the harsh images of the deadly poison gas attacks in Syria, but remaining silent when it comes to Gaza, MK Haneen Zoabi (Joint List) said on Thursday. Zoabi, in an interview with Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet, asked why she was never asked to comment on the Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip in which children were killed. “This is hypocrisy,” she said. “Why didn’t you interview me when you [the IDF] slaughtered the children and babies in Gaza? If the Syrian Army were coming to liberate the occupied Golan Heights, would your conscience kick in or would you attack the children of Syria and bombard them?  “It is outrageous and hypocritical,” she added. Zoabi condemned Syrian President Bashar Assad, but added that the IDF is no better. “Bashar is war criminal, and what he is doing since the Syrian revolution started in 2011 is a massacre. I have been saying it not just since yesterday, when we found out about the use of chemical weapons, but for the past five years.  “But the Israeli army [soldiers] are war criminals as well,” she added. “Both of them [Assad and the IDF] should be put on trial in the [International Court of Justice in The] Hague. Both of them are saying that they do will whatever they can to win.” After a vocal argument with the hosts of the radio show, Zoabi was cut off the air.
http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Arab-MK-blames-Israel-of-hypocrisy-over-responses-to-Syria-Gaza-486305

PA, Israel sign agreement allowing Palestinian phone companies to offer 3G
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Apr – The Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel signed an agreement on Wednesday that would allow Palestinian mobile service providers to offer 3G services to their Palestinian customers. Hebrew language news outlets reported that the agreement was signed by the undersecretary of the Palestinian Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology Suleiman al-Zuheiri and a representative of the Israeli Ministry of Communication. A spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, confirmed the news in a statement.
The statement said that the agreement was deemed an important step for Palestinians in the field of telecommunications, adding that it was expected to assist the Palestinian economy through a dramatic increase of revenues telecommunications companies are expected to receive owing to the agreement. The statement also applauded COGAT’s own efforts to forge the agreement despite obstacles, while pointing out that some three million Palestinians already used mobile services from Palestinian companies, in addition to 300,000 who use Israeli mobile providers. Israeli authorities had previously barred Palestinian phone companies from offering 3G for alleged Israeli security concerns, leading many Palestinians to switch to Israeli phone providers. In a 2016 report, the World Bank reported that the Palestinian mobile sector lost more than $1 billion in revenue between 2013 and 2015….
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776293

PA to penalize Palestinians owning, selling Israeli SIM cards
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 6 Apr — The Palestinian Authority (PA)’s public prosecution released a statement on Thursday, announcing that after a period of two weeks, the prosecution will begin to take ‘legal procedures’ against any Palestinians who sell or own Israeli SIM cards, adding that the PA considered them ‘illegal cards’ bought and sold in violation of Palestinian law. The prosecution said in its statement that it would give commercial shops and Palestinians who own or sell Israeli SIM cards a period of two weeks to get rid of the cards and return them to their original sources. After two weeks, they will face legal penalties for owning or selling the cards. However, the statement did not specify what these penalties would be. Scores of Palestinians have switched to Israeli phone providers over the years largely due to the Israeli government barring Palestinian network providers from offering 3G services for alleged security concerns. Israeli phone providers also offer a cheaper option for some Palestinians. However, the PA and Israel signed an agreement on Wednesday allowing Palestinian companies to offer their customers 3G.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776307

Palestinian teachers seize golden opportunity in Kuwait
Gaza City (Al-Monitor) 6 Apr by Huda Baroud — The Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education on March 22 began considering over a thousand applications from Palestinian teachers seeking to work in Kuwait. According to Muhannad Abu Shama, the ministry’s director of staff affairs, 1,173 Palestinians working in the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) affiliated areas submitted applications. Palestinian Ambassador to Kuwait Rami Tahboub had announced in October 2016 at a press conference that the Kuwaiti Ministry of Education was willing to hire Palestinian teachers to help enhance education quality in the 2017-2018 school year, given the educational qualifications of Palestinian teachers who contributed to the building of Kuwait at the beginning of its rise … Abu Shima told Al-Monitor … We are currently working on selecting 180 candidates who have met the conditions provided by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Education in a letter sent to Minister Saidam.” … He said, “The Kuwait Ministry of Education wishes to hire scientific subject teachers only,” according to the following numbers: … “We received on the ministry’s official website 462 applications from the West Bank and 711 from the Gaza Strip….
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/04/palestine-teachers-employment-kuwait.html

How Palestine is working to stop antiquities theft
RAMALLAH (A-Monitor) 5 Apr by Aziza Nofal — On March 16, the Palestinian police foiled an attempt to smuggle an antique statue from the city of Nablus in the West Bank to be sold outside the country. A week before, the police had announced the arrest of five people on charges of illegal excavations of antiquities in Jenin. On March 5, the police seized a 2,500-year-old mill in a house in Hebron. Police spokesman Louay Zreikat told Al-Monitor that thwarting smuggling attempts of antiquities is seen as a major achievement by the police, because in the past it has been easy to smuggle antiquities abroad. Today, Palestinian police have been increasingly able to control and foil these operations. “We have lost several relics and antique statues in the past. We are better equipped today to track down illegal excavators and thus thwart more smuggling operations. In March, we were able to recover relics that are more than 4,000 years old.” These smuggling and illegal attempts are nothing new. Since its inception, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been dealing with ongoing attempts on the part of antiquity dealers stealing relics through illegal excavations. According to Saleh Sawafta, the director general of the Antiquity Protection Department at the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, this has caused the loss and smuggling of hundreds of pieces outside the country, first to Israel and then abroad. Sawafta told Al-Monitor that the theft of antiquities from Palestinian territories started with the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967. Many of the archaeological sites were looted, which made it difficult to keep records of the stolen pieces. Since it came to control the West Bank in 1995, the PA has been employing concerted efforts, specifically in the areas under its full control, to prevent theft attempts. However, the most challenging task to this effect, according to Sawafta, is in Area C, which is out of the PA control, and where 60% of the archaeological sites are located — estimated at about 7,000 sites and 50,000 historical buildings. Sawafta said that in 2015, the number of seized antiquities registered with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities was estimated at 20,000 pieces. This figure, however, dropped in 2016 to 2,400 pieces, most of them taken from Area C. The ministry has yet to determine the value of these pieces….
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/04/palestine-antiquities-theft-smuggling-recover.html

For Palestinian women, winning comes second to overcoming ‘outdated vision of girls playing football’
AFP 4 Apr — The Palestinian women’s football [soccer] team saw a crushing defeat in their first match in Asian Cup qualifiers — a 6-0 loss to Thailand — but for captain Claudie Salameh, the score means little. “Playing football for girls in Palestine is an enormous challenge,” she said after the match. “We face world football but also (challenges) in our country where an outdated vision of girls playing football exists.” Palestinian women football players have sought to overcome traditional attitudes and the difficulties imposed by Israel’s occupation to build a team now competing in Asian Cup qualifiers. The other teams in the Asian Cup qualifying group — Thailand and China — have been training together for a long time. But the members of the Palestinian team were only together for 20 days before their match on Monday in Al-Ram, the Palestinian city cut off from Jerusalem by Israel’s separation wall. “We have to prove to our own people that girls can and know how to play football,” said Salameh while waving her hands expressively, her fingernails painted with flamboyant red polish — the same colour as the Palestinian jerseys. On Wednesday, they will play their second cup qualifier against China as part of their aim to reach the 2018 tournament to be held in neighbouring Jordan. The two other countries meant to be in the group — Lebanon and Guam — have withdrawn. Palestinian women’s football has existed in organised form for less than 10 years….
http://www.thenational.ae/sport/football/for-palestine-women-winning-comes-second-to-overcoming-outdated-vision-of-girls-playing-football

Israeli cafe orders employees to stop speaking Arabic on the job
+972 Nlog 1 Apr by Yael Marom — A branch of “Aroma Espresso Bar,” one of Israel’s most popular coffee chains, told its Arab workers last week that they are no longer allowed to speak Arabic at work, following customer complaints. “I am reminding you that our goal is to make our customers feel wanted, and not uncomfortable,” wrote the franchise manager of the Kfar Saba branch, in central Israel, in a WhatsApp message sent to the workers last week. “It is important you understand that this is not against the Arabic language. By the same token, it could have been Russian or Ethiopian or any other language that the customers cannot understand. Speaking to people in a language they understand is a matter of basic manners,” she explained, requesting that the workers speak to customers in Hebrew only. The Arab workers were also allegedly summoned in pairs to speak to the manager about the new policy. During these conversations, it was made clear to the workers that the rule applies to conversations among them that take place during work. Some of the workers, who were insulted by the decision, called the policy racist and said they would not stand for it … There are approximately 10 Arab workers at Aroma’s Kfar Saba Branch — nearly half of the total staff. The branch serves many Arab customers from the neighboring towns and cities, including Tira and Taybeh, including doctors and medical staff who work at the nearby Meir Medical Center … This is certainly not the first time Arabic has frightened both customers or the authorities, leading to an attempt to erase it from the public space. Late last year, the Dan bus company gave in to boycott threats and stopped its Arabic announcements in the southern city of Be’er Sheva. Also last year, Tel Aviv University forbade employees at one of its call centers from speaking Arabic with callers, even if the latter were Arabic speakers….
https://972mag.com/israeli-cafe-orders-employees-to-stop-speaking-arabic-on-the-job/126340/

Opinion: Defend the Israeli Bedouin from Gaza rockets? Let them dig trenches / Nisreen Alyan
Haaretz 4 Apr — The missiles from Gaza land in the south of the country on the heads of all the citizens, regardless of their nationality, religion or language. But the government claims that the risk that a Jewish community will be hit is greater than the risk to an unrecognized Bedouin village in the Negev, even if they are both the same distance from the danger originating in Gaza. Therefore the Jewish communities in the south have protection, while tens of thousands of people who live in the unrecognized villages are abandoned to their fate, and all that’s left for them to do is pray that the missile won’t land near them. The Bedouin’s fears are based on a tragic reality. During Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014, Ouda al-Waj, a Negev resident, was killed, and several other Bedouin were wounded by exploding rockets. As a result, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel submitted an urgent petition already during the course of the operation, with a demand to protect the Bedouin villages. The High Court of Justice dismissed the urgency of the appeal and continued to discuss the subject, until recently it issued a final rejection of the petition. In doing so, the High Court left tens of thousands of citizens with insufficient protection and without a genuine solution. The Home Front Command tried to reassure the residents and provide a simple explanation to the High Court justices by means of a special plan, which included the suggestion to the Bedouin in the unrecognized villages to dig trenches by themselves; instructions to protect themselves by lying on the ground and placing their hands on their heads; and even the distribution of pocket brochures. The Home Front Command also suggested to the residents to run to the protected clinics located in the recognized Bedouin villages – a distance of several kilometers – when a siren is sounded….
http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.781260

Israel ‘studying’ Russian statement on Jerusalem recognition
JERUSALEM (AP) 7 Apr —  Israel says it is looking into a Russian statement that recognizes its claim to Jerusalem while also recognizing the Palestinian claim. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday it reaffirms “the status of east Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state…we regard west Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel.” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said Israel is “studying” the statement, the practical implications of which are unclear.  Israel captured east Jerusalem along with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 war.  Nearly all embassies are located in Tel Aviv because their countries refrain from recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital until its status is resolved in future peace talks
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11833709&ref=rss

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